P & P Personal Ads

The virtual book tour for Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley is wrapping up, but you may still have a chance to win a free copy if you hurry (see previous post, Launching without Getting Wet, for the full schedule with links). Meanwhile, it’s time for me to think about moving on. 

I came across a clever blog post I thought you might enjoy (please read it here at Bas Bleu). The author of the article has taken on the job of writing dating profiles (or personal ads, if we think a couple decades back) for some of our favorite literary personalities: Miss Havisham, Mr. Rochester, Nancy Drew, Hamlet, Anna Karenina, etc. But the one that naturally caught my eye was Fitzwilliam Darcy’s, transcribed below.

A Three-Hour TourFitzwilliam Darcy –
Single man in possession of a good fortune in search of a wife to help manage my estates and serve as a respectable role model for my younger sister. I have little interest in dancing or the theater, though I do appreciate a pretty singing voice and a pair of fine eyes. In fact, I have no time for frivolities beyond the usual social responsibilities; I much prefer more intimate pursuits such as quiet evenings in my library, long rides across my vast country estate, and intimate tête-à-têtes with women of deep intellect and charm. You should know that I am fiercely protective of my friends and family and will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe.

Fits him, don’t you think? And the long rides across Pemberley and quiet evenings in the library sound pretty good to me. How do you suppose he’ll do with this profile? Some ladies may be disappointed that he doesn’t care to dance and spends most of his time in the country, but I expect that the hint to his exceptional wealth (“good fortune… vast country estate”) will overshadow the negatives and bring him a bushel full of responses. Would Elizabeth Bennet be among them, though? What kind of man does she originally have in mind? Remember, she liked Wickham far better than Darcy on first acquaintance. I think her ad might look something like this:

bonnet - elizabethElizabeth Bennet – A gentleman’s daughter of independent spirit seeks companion with open manner and amiable temper. Must be honorable, generous, and in possession of a quick, lively mind. He who thinks too well of himself and too meanly of others need not apply. As to fortune, I am not completely indifferent. Plain or handsome, one must have something to live on, after all. But my needs are fairly modest. Where there is true affection, I should be just as happy with a curate as with a lord. I love to laugh, to take long walks in the countryside, and to improve my understanding by reading widely. I play the pianoforte only moderately well, but I am often complimented for my light figure, my pleasing singing voice, and my ability to hold my own with the best in a joust of words and wit.

So much for Darcy and Elizabeth. I trust that fate will see they find each other in the end, with or without personal ads. But what about some of the less glorious personalities of P&P. Perhaps they’re the ones who truly need all the help they can get.

Mr. CollinsReverend Mr. William Collins –  On the explicit advice of my noble patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I now seek a suitable partner for my future life. She must be a gentlewoman, but not brought up too high – someone useful, who is able to make a modest income go a long way. Not that what I have to offer a wife is so small a portion! I flatter myself that any woman must deem herself fortunate indeed to acquire by marriage, in addition to a competent living and a comfortable home, the notice and kindness of one of the greatest ladies in the land! And there is the expectation of a tidy estate in Hertfordshire as well, when my cousin, who is without heir, should die. Duty requires that I presently offer to make the family some amends. But, after that, my conscience will be clear and I shall be free to chuse for myself.

Miss BingleyMiss Caroline Bingley – Statuesque lady, who has graced the finest drawing rooms of London and Derbyshire, desires to do the same in yours. I possess all the usual accomplishments (music, dance, and the modern languages) as well as that certain indefinable something in air that testifies to style and good breeding. The first blush may be off the rose, but is not the flower the lovelier for being a bit more fully in bloom? Money and position are of the highest consideration; affection no doubt will follow. Even failing that, I see no reason why the partnership should be unsuccessful. If all my longstanding hopes in a different quarter come to nothing – something likely to be soon determined – I shall then be willing to entertain other offers.

But is there someone else secretly desiring to find a mate? Someone very unlikely, and yet perhaps lonely?

lady caherineLady Catherine de Bourgh – Widow of excellent fortune and noble birth is willing to consider a second liaison, if the situation is right. I must say at the outset that my standards are extremely high. I am accustomed to having my way and the very best of everything. I see no reason to accept less than that in a husband. I lack nothing as to wealth, position, and autonomy. And let me be rightly understood; I will surrender none of these to marriage. My first husband learned these things by degrees, but I have no intention of being so patient a second time. Still, I can appreciate that an intelligent, entertaining companion could be of service at my time of life. If you have what is required, send application to my solicitor, who will be managing the preliminary screening for me. On no account should you have the effrontery to present yourself without a proper introduction.

What do you think? Is there any hope for these lost, lovelorn souls?

She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both… (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 50)

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Launching without getting Wet

celebration-balloonsWoohoo! Today’s the day my latest novel officially debuts! Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley is now available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. Audio will be coming soon too.

Once again, I have the honor of “launching” the book at Austenprose, where my hostess is the lovely and gracious Laurel ship launchingAnn Nattress. There will, I trust, be no water involved (first definition of launch: cause to slide into the water). Water and books don’t go well together. Other definitions fit better for the occasion. Yes, the book will be put forth, start, set going, and set out into the world. That’s cause for celebration, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Austenprose. Read about my inspiration for the book and enter to win one of the exclusive prizes being offered!

Miss Georgiana of Pemberley - blog tour banner (1)Then I hope you will follow along on my virtual book tour in the weeks to come. I have been invited to stop by the blogs listed below to share about Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – something new and different at each one. If you stay with me, not only will you have a pretty good chance of winning a prize, you should also be quite an expert on the book when we finish. Of course, I hope that somewhere along the way you’ll decide to read it as well!

“I shall be miserable without you – t’will be a most pleasant tour to you… pray, be persuaded.” (chapter 6 of Jack and Alice – a juvenile work of Jane Austen)

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Georgiana Darcy’s Full Cover Revealed!

A few days ago, I revealed the cover for my upcoming book at Austen Variations – front only – and shared some of the thoughts behind the design. But I had to hold a little something back for my own blog. So now, for the first time anywhere, here is the full cover for Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley, scheduled to release in a few weeks.
Miss Georgiana of Pemberley cover wrap comp 14

As I said in that earlier post, I wanted the design to reflect the fact that this book is related to The Darcys of Pemberley but not to be so similar that it’s mistaken for it. So we’ve used the same artwork, the same color palate, and some of the same words in the title, but it’s all assembled in a fresh, new way. I’m delighted with the way it has turned out!

Comments from others have been all positive as well – from the “elegant” background to the “perfect” miniature painting on the front. One reader thinks the oval frame makes the picture look like a brooch someone might wear, which I thought was an inspired idea. I may look into what it would take to get such a thing made. Anybody want to pre-order one of your very own? Notice that the oval motif is repeated on the back as well, where my designer, Micah Hansen, has created another lovely vignette from the original artwork.

We have nothing from Jane Austen on the subject of the perfect book cover, since nothing of this sort was known in her day. But in a word search of the data base for “cover,” I did come across this passage from one of her letters, where Jane advises her niece Anna on that young lady’s attempt at a novel:

Your Aunt C. does not like desultory novels, and is rather afraid yours will be too much so… I allow much more latitude than she does, and think nature and spirit cover many sins of a wandering story…”

Does my story wander? I admit, it does meander a little, following Georgiana’s narration along her indirect path to a happy ending. Perhaps the fact that I have wrapped the whole thing a pretty cover will help to obscure any flaws.

I hope you are as pleased with the cover as I am – both front and back. More importantly, though, I’ll be eager to hear what you think about what’s in between!

Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley will be available on July 21st! If you want a sneak peek before then, I invite you to read the first chapter here on my site. Other preview excerpts are posted at Austen Variations on March 23March 30, April 27, and May 26.

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Springtime in the Country

20150528_115744Every year about this time, I feel compelled to expound on the glories of spring in some way or another. Today is a beautiful day in the great Pacific Northwest. The sun’s out, the birds are singing, and it’s the perfect temperature – not too hot or too cold. I’ve got all the windows of the house open for fresh air and, if the breeze blows the right direction, I can smell this fragrant azalea that’s blooming outside my front door.

I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the world and in a semi-rural area where tall evergreen trees and tangled undergrowth still dominate the landscape. On days like this, there’s no place I’d rather be. Fanny Price felt the same way about the lush greenery of Mansfield Park.

It was sad to Fanny to lose all the pleasures of spring.  She had not known before what pleasures she had to lose in passing March and April in a town.  She had not known before how much the beginnings and progress of vegetation had delighted her – what animation both of body and mind she had derived from watching the advance of that season which cannot, in spite of its capriciousness, be unlovely, and seeing its increasing beauties, from the earliest flowers in the warmest divisions of her aunt’s garden, to the opening of leaves of her uncle’s plantations, and the glory of his woods.     (Mansfield Park, chapter 45)

20150518_152624She’d been sent back to Portsmouth where confinement, bad air, bad smells, substituted for liberty, freshness, fragrance, and verdureThe contrast made her appreciate the delights of her adopted home all the more. Fanny Price’s preference for country life over town reflects her author’s own bias.  Jane Austen spent five unhappy years in Bath, where the family moved after her father retired and was obliged to give up the Steventon rectory in Hampshire.

From Persuasion, here’s more evidence of Jane Austen’s dislike of town, Bath specifically:

Anne entered [Bath] with a sinking heart, anticipating an imprisonment of many months, and anxiously saying to herself, “Oh! When shall I leave you again?”

In The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, where Anne’s character is a representation of Jane’s own life and views, I expanded on this thought. On her return to Bath from a seaside holiday, Jane is thinking…

IMGP2528The setting itself gave me no comfort, for I had learnt to dislike Bath. Not least among its detractions for me was the familiar din that greeted us immediately upon our arrival – the dash of other carriages, the heavy rumble of carts and drays, the bawling of newsmen, muffin-men, and milk-men… For me, it was a sad thing indeed to exchange the natural music of wind and wave for the mechanical clatter of town.

>Part Three: Hampton Court, Sonehenge, and BathI visited Bath once a few years ago and didn’t find it at all unpleasant. But I guess I wouldn’t want to live there – or in any other city – permanently either. I much prefer the country. That’s another thing Jane Austen and I have in common.

Well, the wind chimes outside my window have just stirred, generating their natural music and reminding me that I shouldn’t be sitting inside at my computer, not on such a perfect spring day. I think I’ll go out for a walk or take some more pictures of flowers to share.


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Me, Myself, and I

20150427_155238Yay! I just finished my most recent book, which will probably be titled Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – a companion novel to The Darcys of Pemberley, this time written from Georgiana’s perspective. (Learn more about it in Work-in-Progress). There will of course be rewrites, editing, proofreading, cover design, and formatting before it’s published, but it feels good to have the story itself completed.

Since the whole point of this book was to give Georgiana’s view of events, I decided to write the book in first person, as if she were telling you the story herself. So there’s a whole lot of “me, myself, and I” in it.

Writing novels in first person seems to come into and go out of fashion periodically. It was pretty much unheard of in Jane Austen’s day as far as I know, and her six novels are all written in third person omniscient point-of-view. So that’s what I used for my two P&P sequels (The Darcys of Pemberley, Return to Longbourn). But I tried the first person approach in For Myself Alone and I discovered I enjoyed it. Since then, I used it in The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen as well as this latest book.

So what’s the advantage of writing/reading in first person? I think it allows you to feel closer to the hero/heroine because you’re basically living inside that character’s head throughout the entire story. You see what s/he sees, hear what s/he hears. You are privy to all his/her thoughts, internal debates, and emotions. Whatever s/he knows, you know.

The disadvantages are the flip side of the advantages I just mentioned. Because you are inside the heroine’s head, you can ONLY see what she sees, hear what she hears, experience what she experience, and nothing else. If something important happens elsewhere, you (the reader) don’t get to know about it unless/until the heroine of the book finds out. (Some writers get around this limitation by switching back and forth between two or more point-of-view characters, but that can be tricky too.)

It seems to me, though, that this is the most realistic way to present a story. Think about it. Every one of us experiences life in “first person.” We have no choice. We know only what we know. We’re clueless about what’s going on in somebody else’s head unless they choose to tell us, and even then the chance for miscommunication (or deliberate deception) is high. We have to stumble through life with incomplete information, often basing our actions on the way our minds fill in the blanks – what we’re guessing motivated another’s actions, what we assume someone meant by what they said, etc.

No wonder there are so many misunderstandings! Makes things tough in real life, but of such is good conflict in fiction made. Look at Darcy and Elizabeth:

D & E, back turned“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil – a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.”

“And your defect is to hate everybody.”

“And yours,” he replied with a smile, “is willfully to misunderstand them.” (Pride and Prejudice)

Their misunderstandings keep us going for nearly the full length of the novel. Why? Because Elizabeth can’t see inside Darcy’s head to know why he behaves as he does, says what he says. Good thing she’s kept in the dark too, or there would be no story.

As a reader, do you have a preference – first-person versus third-person stories? Why?

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My Movie Picks

High SocietyA week or two ago I put up a post on Facebook asking my 455 friends to recommend movies they thought I might like:

I really want to add to my movie collection, but it seems like there aren’t that many made for my taste. I’m betting there are a few great ones out there I haven’t discovered yet, and maybe you have. I’ve probably already got the obvious ones, so suggest a less obvious favorite to me, please! (skip the horror/action/sci-fi stuff, and there MUST be romance or why bother)

Enchanted April 2I received a wonderful response. There had to have been at least 150 movies mentioned, some multiple times, and they’re still coming in. Many of these I had already seen and some have already earned a place in my personal library. But after eliminating these, I was still left with around 40 new leads – movies I haven’t seen before and, in many cases, had never heard of. I’ll spend the next few months happily working my way through the list, one by one. A big thank-you to everybody who contributed!

Now it’s my turn. I want to share my “favorites” list with you.

How does any of this relate to my blog’s stated twin themes: Jane Austen and writing? It’s all storytelling; only the form is different. But I did have difficulty finding a JA quote related to movies, as you might imagine. Instead, I’ve chosen a quote from one of her nieces about Jane and her way of entertaining children:

Her first charm to children was great sweetness of manner… This is what I felt in my early days, before I was old enough to be amused by her cleverness. But soon came the delight of her playful talk. She could make everything amusing to a child. Then, as I got older, when cousins came to share the entertainment, she would tell us the most delightful stories, chiefly of Fairyland, and her fairies had all characters of their own. The tale was invented, I am sure, at the moment, and was continued for two or three days, if occasion served.

Becoming Jane 2I enjoy this endearing picture of Jane Austen – very real, very human – and it’s also evidence of her genius, that she was able to make up complex and entertaining stories on the fly.

Anyway, the point is that Jane loved stories and storytelling. So I’m pretty confident she would have shared the fondness most of us feel for the filmed versions as well, given the chance.

Just a couple of comments, then, before I unveil my list. 1) When I recommend a movie to someone, I often feel like I need to offer a disclaimer along with it. I like my movies pretty “clean,” and yet there are certain aspects of some of these that don’t completely qualify. Use your own judgement, of course, but I hope the value of the movie as a whole outweighs the bits that some of us might have preferred edited out.  2) It goes without saying that the many wonderful adaptations of Jane Austen’s books top my chart of favorite films to watch over and over, so I haven’t bothered to include them here.

Daniel Deronda 2Favorite Period Movies/Series: Anne of Green Gables, Amazing Grace, Becoming Jane, Casanova, Daniel Deronda, Gosford Park, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, Little Women, Miss Potter, Miss Pettigrew, Much Ado About Nothing, North and South, Phantom of the Opera, Possession, A Room with a View, Shakespeare in Love, Somewhere in Time, The Winslow Boy, Wives and Daughters.

Other Favorites: An Affair to Remember, August Rush, Circle of Friends, Dan in Real Life, Enchanted, Enchanted April, The Family Man, Father Goose, The Jane Austen Book Club, High Society, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Lake House, Letters to Juliet, Mama Mia, Meet Joe Black, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nine to Five, No Reservations, Return to Me, Roman Holiday, Shall We Dance, Sleepless in Seattle, Sliding Doors, Something New, Sound of Music, Strictly Ballroom, When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail.

No Reservations 2It was difficult to narrow down the field, but these are the ones (along with my Jane Austen collection, of course) that I return to again and again – some for the romance, some for the music, and some for the laughs. Usually it’s a combination of things.

I hope you find we have a few favorites in common and a few new movies for you to try as well.

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The Enigmatic Miss Darcy

Georgiana1Who is Georgiana Darcy, anyway? I’m halfway through a book I’m writing about her, and I’m still not sure I’ve got all the answers.

I think most of us have this vague idea about Miss Darcy from Pride and Prejudice – that she’s a sweet, soft-spoken girl – but that’s hardly a well-rounded, fleshed-out character sketch. The trouble (or maybe it’s an opportunity) is that we’re actually told very little about her in the book. We know she has lost both her parents and she has a devoted brother more than ten years her senior. When Elizabeth meets her (chapter 44), she finds Georgiana exceedingly shy, tall with a womanly gracefulness, not as handsome as her brother, but with sense and good humour in her face, and her manners are unassuming and gentle. That’s about it.

This scene in Lambton and the subsequent interactions at Pemberley are described by narration, not shown in conversation. In fact, poor neglected Georgiana is not given a single line to speak in the entire book, if you can imagine. (I plan to correct that!)

Oh, yes. We know one more thing about her – something that also happened off camera. According to her brother’s letter to Elizabeth (chapter 35), Georgiana nearly eloped with the nefarious Mr. Wickham.

Last summer she went with the lady who presided over [her school] to Ramsgate; and thither also went Mr. Wickham, undoubtedly by design; for there proved to have been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs. Younge, in whose character we were most unhappily deceived; and by her connivance and aid, he so far recommended himself to Georgiana, whose affectionate heart retained a strong impression of his kindness to her as a child, that she was persuaded to believe herself in love, and to consent to an elopement. She was then but fifteen, which must be her excuse…

Georgiana and Wickham at RamsgateBasically, this one event establishes the sole reason for Georgiana’s inclusion in the book. Think about it. There is no other logical need for Mr. Darcy to have a sister or for her to be introduced to the reader at all, even in this limited way. It’s her scandalous history with Mr. Wickham that is crucial to the story line. It provides the rational as to why Mr. Darcy secretly (for he naturally wishes to conceal the unsavory truth from the world) despises Mr. Wickham, which in turn causes Elizabeth to misjudge both men and persist in her bad opinion of Mr. Darcy so long. Were it not for this fact, she might have fallen in love with him more quickly and accepted his first proposal = story over.

So now we know why Jane Austen needed to invent Georgiana in the first place. And such a juicy detail should give us some additional insight into her character. But instead, it raises more questions in my mind. Was Mr. Wickham able to convince Georgiana to do something she clearly knew was wrong because she was too young and unsure of herself to resist his persuasion? Or had she been passionate and bold at fifteen, only becoming unsure of herself (quiet and exceedingly shy, as Elizabeth later observed) as a result of her close call with Wickham and her shame over her own foolish behavior in the affair? Interesting possibilities, but maybe the truth lies somewhere between the two.

I’m not the only one struggling to figure her out, though. Her own brother, Mr. Darcy, hasn’t a clue. Here’s what I’ve written in the prologue of the book I’m working on:

When it comes to romance, it seems [Georgiana’s] good sense, considerable charm, celebrated accomplishments, and known sweet temper cannot prevent her tumbling headlong into one scrape or another. Unfortunately, neither can her illustrious brother, try though he might.

Still waters run deep, it is said.

Past events have forced Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy to accept that this disquieting idea is just as true in the case of his young sister and ward as it is in his own. Once Georgiana entered the uncharted territory of adolescence, she stopped confiding in him. Now her ways are entirely inscrutable, her thoughts unreadable. Even a year of marriage, gratifying as it has been for Mr. Darcy, has proved insufficient education to acquaint him with the intricacies of the female mind – not his wife’s, and still less so his sister’s. However, a man’s mind and a man’s motives he has no difficulty developing. And, when it comes to Georgiana’s safety, that is what worries him most of all.

georgiana at pianoSo what is your opinion? Is Miss Georgiana Darcy just what she appears upon our limited acquaintance with her – sweet, sensible, and introverted. Or is her unassuming manner merely a facade hiding a far more complex and possibly less perfect interior landscape?

For more information on this book and to read chapter 1, see Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.

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