Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Prince and the Author - Dedication of Emma

After finishing the post, please read the important postscript because it is, well, important.

One of Jane Austen’s most ardent supporters of her writing efforts was her brother Henry. Despite being cautioned by his sister that she did not want her identity known, Henry could not help but brag about his younger sister’s success, especially when the very popular Pride and Prejudice went into its third printing. It was Henry, from his sickbed, who successfully negotiated her agreement with John Murray, Lord Byron’s publisher, for her fourth novel, Emma. After an agreement had been secured with Murray, Jane went up to London to see if she could expedite the printing of her book. During her stay, she was contacted by Rev. James Stanier Clarke, the Regent’s librarian. His Royal Highness had learned that Jane was in town from his physician who also happened to be her brother Henry’s doctor.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom from an Edwardian Nursery

I am reading An Edwardian Childhood by Jane Pettigrew. In this charmingly illustrated book, Pettigrew recounts what it was like to be a child growing up in an Edwardian Era home where there was sufficient income to hire a nanny. One of my favorite passages was "Nursery Philosophy," that included favorite sayings of Nanny, some of which have been around for hundreds of years: "Save your breath to cool your porridge," which appears in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, or "Eating toast crusts makes your hair curl, so eat them up," a wisdom shared when I was growing up. (It'd didn't work.) Here are a few others:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Five-star Review for Anne Elliot, A New Beginning

I received a five-star review from Grace Lociano at Books Like Breathing. This is especially gratifying because Grace has a reputation for not pulling her punches. For the entire review please visit her website.

In this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Anne Elliot is tired of being a pushover. She has lost the love of her life because she let herself be influenced by Lady Russell and is constantly ignored by her father and sister. She begins a regular regimen of running and exercise. Through these activities, she gains confidence and the strength to tell all of these morons where to stick it. She is also able to make Captain Wentworth fall in love with her again by showing him that she will not be influenced by anyone again and that she is a stronger woman.

I love Anne Elliot. She has always been the one character that should have annoyed me, but I just can’t help but love her…  I also love how we got to know Captain Wentworth better. I have always been curious about his motives during his flirtation with Louisa. Although I could see his reasons, it always angered me a little. Swoosh, the streetwise orphan that befriends both Anne and Captain Wentworth, was awesome. He was so spunky, intelligent and quite adorable. He was one of the biggest highlights of the book.

This book was a treasure that I really thought… wouldn’t be believable. I mean, the idea of a Jane Austen character taking up running was as plausible to me as having Mr. Darcy walking to the middle of the drawing room and start doing the chicken dance… If the thought of Anne running was implausible, the thought of her gaining a backbone was darn near impossible. However, the way that Simonsen altered the story was ingenious. Anne changes so much because of one decision. It was amazing how Simonsen could pull such a subtle shift in character and plot without it being too outlandish.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen sequels and are looking for something different, pick this one up. I am looking forward to Simonsen’s next Jane Austen adaptation, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, coming out in January.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Austen Blog

Sharon Lathan and Abigail Reynolds, two of the giants of Austen re-imaginings, have started a blog called Austen Authors that will have its debut on September 6th. This will be a place where you will be able to keep up with what your favorite authors are doing. I hope you will bookmark this site and visit us on September 6th. More info as it becomes available.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

I love witty quotes, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan was a noted wit during his lifetime.

Before Noel Coward, there was Sheridan, poet and playwright, who wrote the brilliant comedy of manners, The School for Scandal, which was performed at the Royal Theatre, Drury Lane, during Jane Austen’s lifetime. She most assuredly would have been acquainted with the play as we know that she had read The Critic.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) was born in Ireland and was the owner of Drury Lane. On February 24, 1809, the theatre burned down. He observed the conflagration while drinking a glass of wine, and Sheridan was famously reported to have said: “A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.” This  man, who had once served as Treasurer of the Navy, was a notorious spendthrift and refused to satisfy his creditors on the grounds that “paying only encourages them.” For thirty-two years he was also a Whig member of the House of Commons and friend to Charles James Fox and the Duchess of Devonshire. He is buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mrs. Bennet's First Name

What is Mrs. Bennet's first name? According to someone at Yahoo Answers, it is Blossom, which the respondent says Mr. Bennet used quite a bit. Who knew? LOL

P.S. Someone on just informed me that Mr. Bennet calls Mrs. Bennet "Blossom" in the 2005 movie. I'll have to rewatch it now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

For All the Wrong Reasons - Short Story

This short story is more serious than the ones I have posted recently. I hope you enjoy it, and please feel free (compelled) to comment. :)

Chapter 1

As Darcy paced, Georgiana watched. It was the young Miss Darcy’s letter that had triggered everything. When she had posted the letter to her brother at Netherfield Park, she had placed no particular importance on anything contained therein. It was merely a summary of the latest news being circulated around town, including a one-line item in a gossip sheet that she thought would amuse her brother: Caroline Bingley to wed Peter Grayson. But Will’s reaction had been immediate and dramatic, and two days later he had arrived in town with Charles Bingley in tow. Poor Mr. Bingley, equally surprised by the turn of events as Darcy had been, had set out for London for the purpose of finding out the truth of the matter.

Weeks earlier, Caroline and Louisa had returned to London from Hertfordshire. Because of their brother’s marriage to Miss Jane Bennet, there was no reason for them to remain in the country as Jane was now mistress of Netherfield Park. In addition to Caroline’s intense dislike of Jane’s relations, most especially Eliza Bennet, there was another reason for their departure. She had finally come to the realization that she was never going to secure Mr. Darcy, and in her unhappiness, she had told Charles that she had felt ill used by that gentleman. If he had had no interest in her, then why had he remained at their country house, week after week, month after month, she had asked her sister? And how was one to account for the many comments he had made about her accomplishments? Why, on numerous occasions, had he complimented her on her proficiency on the pianoforte, her exquisite needlework, and her fine voice? Why bother saying anything at all if he had no intention of making her an offer?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

90th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage

New York Times columnist Gail Collins has an excellent article on the approaching 90th anniversary of women's suffrage. Here is a teaser:

"The story in American history I most like to tell is the one about how women got the right to vote 90 years ago this month. It has everything. Adventure! Suspense! Treachery! Drunken legislators!

But, first, there was a 70-year slog. Which is really the important part. We always need to remember that behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring and frustrating things for a prolonged period of time."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A while v. awhile

What is the difference between awhile and a while?  As a noun phrase after a preposition such as after, for, in, within, one should use two words, a while. In that case, it means 'a short or moderate time.' If one is using the term adverbially, it should be spelled as one word, awhile, which means 'for a short time.' Examples of each are: I will stay for a while at the party. He stayed awhile. This topic is a fine point of grammar, and for many uses, only writing it will distinguish which syntactic structure one should use.

I assume that if I find something interesting, everyone else will as well. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review of Anne Elliot on Austenesque Reviews

Anne Elliot, A New Beginning: A Persuasion Re-imaginingMeredith from Austenesque Reviews has a four-star review of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning on her blog. I hope you will have a look.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This and That in Austen World

JJ at Citivolus Sus has a review of Laurie Viera Viegler's new novel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Check out Casey Childers's blog, The Newlywed Austenite. Casey is the author of Twilight of the Abyss, a Pride and Prejudice Variation.

Jennifer Becton's new novel Charlotte Collins will be released on September 1. If she sells 1,000 copies, her novel will be picked up by Sourcebooks!

If you are a Georgetter Heyer fan, there is a month-long celebration of the author and her works at Austenprose, and Jane Austen World has a review of Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester.

Privies and Water Closets in Regency England is the topic on Jane Austen World. Come on! Admit it. You are curious.

Meredith at Austenesque Reviews has the second part of her comprehensive guide to Pride and Prejudice tie-ins.

August 5 is the last day to enter Irena's giveaway of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Review of To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary EditionThis year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, one of the great novels of American literature. The story centers on the defense of a black man in Depression-era Alabama, who is accused of raping a white woman. A local lawyer, Atticus Finch, agrees to defend Tom Robinsion even though he knows that an acquittal is virtually impossible in the South of the 1930s. When asked by a neighbor why he is doing something that will only anger the town, he states: “[Even though] you’re licked before you begin, you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what.” It is simply a matter of a decent man doing the right thing.

The heart of the story belongs to Atticus's six-year old daughter, Scout, her older brother Jem, and a visitor, Dill (based on Harper Lee’s friend, Truman Capote). Although they are merely children, they sense that a great injustice is about to descend on the head of Tom Robinson, whose only crime is that he is black. Forbidden by their father to attend the trial, they sit in the “colored gallery” in the courtroom and watch as Atticus destroys the case against Robinson.

Foreshadowing the tragedy that will soon unfold, when his children receive air rifles for Christmas, Atticus tells them that they can “shoot all the blue jays they want,” but they must remember that “it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.”  As a neighbor explains, “They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” To Kill a Mockingbird is not a story about justice, because there is none, but individual courage and the death of innocence.

This is Harper Lee's one and only novel, but when you write a masterpiece your first time out, it is enough.