Saturday, January 28, 2012

4.5 Stars for Captain Wentworth - Home from the Sea

I'm so pleased with a review I received from Meredith at Austenesque Reviews for my novella, Captain Wentworth - Home from the Sea. Here is a part of her review:

My favorite aspect about this novella (and every novel I've read by Mary Simonsen) is her accurate renderings and illustrative augmentations of Jane Austen's characters. I adored Mrs. Simonsen's depiction of Anne; she was so patient and compassionate, and I enjoyed seeing her tender nature with Frederick.


To read the full review, please click here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Physiognomy and Jane Austen


While reading Patricia Meyer Spacks Annotated Pride and Prejudice, I read a footnote in reference to the following statement from Elizabeth (in speaking to Jane): “I can much more easily believe Mr. Bingley’s being imposed on, than that Mr. Wickham should invent such a history of himself as he gave me last night; names, facts, every thing mentioned without ceremony. If it be not so, let Mr. Darcy contradict it. Besides there was truth in his looks.”

My take on that quote was that Elizabeth believed Wickham’s tale because he was an accomplished liar and gave nothing away by his facial expressions. But according to Spacks, there was more to it than that:

“Interest in physiognomy, a pseudo-science that purports to read character from facial expression, was widespread in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries... Joseph Kaspar Lavater, a Swiss clergyman, wrote an extensive treatise on the subject (1778). Translated into English in 1793, it exercised considerable influence. Austen, however, is skeptical. A propensity to judge people on the basis of their looks turns up again in Emma, where Emma’s initial enthusiasm for Harriet Smith is based mainly on the girl’s “soft blue eyes” and her “look of sweetness.” Both Elizabeth and Jane have consistently cited Wickham’s looks as evidence of his amiability and authenticity.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review of Becoming Elizabeth Darcy

May I brag? I received a wonderful review from Kimberly at Reflections of a Book Addict for Becoming Elizabeth Darcy. Here is part of it:

I feel that Simonsen has a great balance between these themes of humor and seriousness, and this makes the novel an exciting and fulfilling addition to the fan fiction world.  Simonsen has once again shown that she can tackle any JAFF genre and is a force to be reckoned with.  I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!


Thank you, Kimberly. I hope you will stop by and read the entire review.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Conspicuous By Its Absence

Et Tu, Brute!
Do you every wonder where a particular phrase originated? I can actually hear you nodding. One of those phrases is "conspicuous by its absence." So I looked it up. According to Brush Up Your Classics by Michael Macrone (a book I picked up from a remainder table), it goes back to Imperial Rome. It has been attributed to the Roman Chronicler Tacitus in a description of the funeral of Junia Tertulla, the sister of Marcus Brutus, one of Julius Caesar's assassins, and the wife of Cassius, Brutus's co-conspirator.

"Though she died sixty-three years after Marc Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 44 B.C., her relatives' crimes had not been forgotten. The emperor Tiberius, a rather touchy individual, might have been expected to bear a grudge because his stepfather was Caesar Augustus, Julius's nephew. But in rare show of restraint, Tiberius allowed Junia a ceremonial funeral." Among the statues lining the funeral route, conspicuous by their absence were monuments of her brother and husband.

British Prime Minister John Russell used the phrase in his 1859 address to the Electors of the City of London. He was referring to a provision lacking in a reform bill. O'Henry used it as well, and if you care, so have I.

So there you have it. Mystery solved!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Time Travel on Austen Authors

Today, I have a post on Austen Authors talking about time travel. In my novel, Becoming Elizabeth Darcy, Beth Hannigan, a 26-year old American, wakes up in the body of Elizabeth Darcy in 1826. What would she have found in the late Regency Era. More importantly, if you could travel through time, where would you go and who would you meet? I hope you will join me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jakki's Review of Robin Helm's SoulFire

In the second volume of The Guardian Trilogy, Fitzwilliam Darcy, powerful Chief of all guardian angels, adjusts to life with a dual nature. An angel/human, Darcy seeks to win the love of his beautiful partner in SoulFire Ministries, Elizabeth Bennet, as they travel together across the country. While keeping his true identity hidden, Darcy joins archangels Michael and Gabriel in defending and protecting Elizabeth from the schemes and trickery of Gregory, the Dark Prince, and Lucifer, his father. The question remains, will Elizabeth find the strength within herself to forgive Darcy for his secrecy after she discovers that he was her guardian angel, or will Gregory be ultimately successful in separating this match made in heaven? (From the Publisher)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is based on the true story of a mole buried deep inside the British Intelligence Services in the 1950s. In the film, the story is moved forward to the 1960s. In the purge following the capture of a British agent in Budapest and the subsequent debacle, Intelligence Officer George Smiley is sent packing from the Circus, the headquarters in London for British spies. But when evidence surfaces proving the existence of a mole, Smiley (Gary Oldham) is asked to investigate and ferret out the spy in their midst. Possible suspects include Bill Hayden (Colin Firth) and Roy Bland (Ciarnan Hinds).

The story’s setting is the 1960s in an unscrubbed London: soot-stained buildings, dirty windows, and gloomy skies set the stage. It is a time of bad tailoring, bell bottoms, dress patterns you should only see on upholstered furniture, and bad haircuts. Colin Firth is either wearing a hair extension or he has the biggest head in England. Benedict Cumberbatch (George Smiley’s right-hand man, Peter Guilliam) gives us an idea of what Justin Bieber will look like when he grows up. As for my daughter’s crush, Tom Hardy, he looks like a poster boy for an STD-prevention campaign.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review of Caroline Bingley by Jakki Leatherberry

From the back jacket of Jennifer Becton's Caroline Bingley: "When Charles Bingley and Mr. Darcy made proposals of marriage to the Bennet sisters at the end of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley was both distressed by her brother's choice of bride and humiliated by Mr. Darcy's rejection of her... Now banished from her brother's household, Caroline must return to her mother's home in the north of England until she can make amends with both Bennet sisters... Instead, she seeks an alternative route back into society in the form of Mr. William Charlton, heir to a barony… However, she must also contend with her vexing emotions regarding Mr. Patrick Rushton... When all that Caroline has ever dreamed of attaining… is finally within her reach, will she grasp for it even if it means disregarding the workings of her own heart? Or will she cast off the trappings of society and give herself to true love?"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Daylesford House, Gloucestershire, Chimney-piece

Daylesford House, Gloucestershire Chimneypiece*


A night of entertainment at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips:


When this information was given, and they had all taken their seats, Mr. Collins was at leisure to look around him and admire, and he was so much struck with the size and furniture of the apartment, that he declared he might almost have supposed himself in the small summer breakfast parlour at Rosings; a comparison that did not at first convey much gratification; but when Mrs. Phillips understood from him what Rosings was, and who was its proprietor, when she listened to the description of only one of Lady Catherine's drawing-rooms, and found that the chimney-piece alone had cost eight hundred pounds, she felt all the force of the compliment, and would hardly have resented a comparison with the housekeeper's room.


I think even Lady Catherine would have been impressed by this chimney-piece. Jane Austen visited Daylesford in 1806. It was the home of Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of India.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review of Mr. Darcy's Letter by Jakki Leatherberry

I love books, but because I write books, I don't like to comment on the work of other authors. On the other hand, I know my readers would like to know when a good novel comes out, especially an Austen re-imaging. To that end, I have asked Jakki Leatherberry to help me out, and she has agreed to post her reviews on my blog. For her debut, she has chosen to review Abigail Reynolds' Mr. Darcy's Letter.

Abigail Reynolds writes another Darcylicious novel, Mr. Darcy's Letter. Reynolds's decision to have Elizabeth not read Darcy's letter after his disastrous proposal changes many of the events in the story. In this version, there are a few more misunderstandings between Darcy and Elizabeth; however, I feel they add to the storyline and the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth.