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All Things Austen: Persuasion

13 Apr

Persuasion is my very favorite Jane Austen novel.  And the movie of the same name is one of the best screen adaptations I have seen.  Faithful to the novel, the movies’s settings and costumes are beautiful.  You do not want to miss this great Austen adaptation.  Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root are wonderful as Capt. Wentworth and Anne Elliot.  Other cast members include Corin Redgrave, of the famous Redgrave acting family, and Sophie Thompson, sister of Emma Thompson

In 1814 England, 27-year old Anne Elliot lives an oppressive life with her father, Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall, and her elder sister Elizabeth, both of whom are incurable snobs. Eight and a half years ago, Anne been persuaded to refuse an offer of marriage from the man she loved, a young naval officer of no position or fortune. Now, after the Napoleonic wars, Captain Wentworth has gained both rank and money, and chance has thrown them together again. Anne finds herself confronted with thoughts of might-have-been as she watches Wentworth court her brother-in-law’s sister, Louisa. But an accident causes Wentworth to realize whom he truly cares for, and he follows Anne to Bath. But her cousin William (the heir to Kellynch Hall) is also pursuing her and is rumored to be engaged to Anne. And she must overcome this last obstacle before she can persuade Captain Wentworth as to the true nature of her affections.

Click HERE to watch the movie trailer.

All Things Austen: Lost in Austen

4 Apr

What would happen if you were suddenly transported into your favorite book?  That’s what happens when Amanda Price finds herself in the Pride and Prejudice. After another unsatisfying date with boyfriend Michael, Amanda finds Elizabeth Bennett examining her bathroom.  Amanda has been dreaming of a time when manners mattered and love was romantic.  Elizabeth shows up and shows Amanda the door (literally) into the world of Austen. The result is an often laugh out loud good time with enough P&P for the true Austen fan.  Amanda’s presence throws enough monkey wrenches into the story that the original plot lines become hopelessly lost.  She tries her best to make the story come out the way Jane Austen wrote it.  Originally a mini-series on BBC television, Lost in Austen is available on DVD.  This mini-series is a lot of fun and a must watch for any devotee of Pride and Prejudice.



All Things Austen: Mr. Darcy’s Story

27 Mar

There are so many sequels to Pride and Prejudice out there.  You can find Elizabeth Bennet fighting zombies, married to a vampire or solving mysteries.  But one of my favorite sequels tells the story from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Pamela Aidan lets Darcy tell the story in her trilogy, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman.  I think my favorite of the 3 is Duty and Desire which follows Darcy through those days after his proposal and before Elizabeth’s appearance at Pemberly.

From Wytherngate Press:

An Assembly Such As This, book 1

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s classic novel is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?

In An Assembly Such As This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley, and reveals Darcy’s hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice.

As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley’s persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows, as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.

Setting the story vividly against the colorful, historical, and political background of the Regency, Aidan writes in a style comfortably at home with Jane Austen, but with a wit and humor very much her own. Aidan adds her own cast of fascinating characters to those in Austen’s original, weaving a rich tapestry from Darcy’s past and present. Austen fans, and newcomers alike, will love this new chapter of the most famous romance of all time.

Duty And Desire, book 2

“The inferiority of her connections, yet never was he so bewitched!”

Though Darcy struggles privately with his desire for Elizabeth Bennet, he must still fulfill his roles as landlord, master, brother, and friend.

In Book Two, the “silent time” of Austen’s novel, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his personal world emerge as he deals with his servants, including a valet with aspirations of sartorial triumph; his sister, who is only just emerging from a crippling depression; his cousins, the still-squabbling Fitzwilliam brothers; and his hound, Trafalgar, who he calls “Monster” with good reason.

A visit to an old classmate in Oxford designed to shake Elizabeth from his mind sets Darcy amidst husband-hunting society ladies and friends from his university days, all with designs on him…some for good and some for ill. Darcy, and his Shakespeare-quoting valet Fletcher, must match wits with them all, but especially with the mysterious and dangerous Lady Sylvanie.

These Three Remain, book 3

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.”

His proposal of marriage to the lovely, but socially inferior, Elizabeth Bennet thoroughly rejected, Darcy must come to terms with her evaluation of his character and a future without her.

Book 3, These Three Remain, recounts Darcy’s painful journey of self-discovery in his quest to become the gentleman he always hoped he would be and the kind of man of whom Elizabeth Bennet would approve.

A chance meeting with her during a tour of his estate in Derbyshire offers Darcy a new opportunity, but the activities of his nemesis, George Wickham, interfere once more in a way that may ruin everyone’s hopes for happiness, unless Darcy succeeds in putting his new-found strengths to the test.


Pamela Aidan grew up in small towns outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from high school with the desire to be a history teacher, but changed her major to Library Science after her first year at college.Later, she earned a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has worked as a librarian in a wide variety of settings for over thirty years.

Besides writing and operating Wytherngate Press, she is also the director of Liberty Lake Municipal Library in eastern Washington, a short distance from her home in Idaho.

She and her husband have six children, three children each from former marriage sand, so far, six grandchildren.

All Things Austen: A Contemporary Christian Twist

20 Mar

Debra White Smith, a christian romance author, has written a contemporary series adaptation of Jane Austen’s Novels.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you’ll love the engaging characters, contemporary situations, issues of faith, and the intricacies of love in Debra White Smith’s updated retelling of Austen’s endearing stories.

First Impressions —  When Eddi Boswick is cast as Elizabeth, the female lead in a local production of Pride and Prejudice, she hesitates. Dave, the handsome young rancher cast as Darcy, seems arrogant and unpredictable. Accepting the challenge of playing opposite him, Eddi soon realizes that he is difficult to work with on and off the set.

But when a tornado springs our of nowhere, Dave protects Eddi…much to her chagrin. And he is shocked to discover an attraction for the feisty lawyer he can’t deny. Sparks fly wehn Eddi misinterprets his interest and discovers the truth he’s trying to hide.

Will Eddi’s passionate faith, fierce independence, and quick wit keep Dave from discovering the secret to love…and the key to her heart?

Reason and Romance — Sense and sensibility collide when love comes calling for sisters Elaina and Anna Woods….

Ruled by reason, Elaina remains calm in every situation–even when she meets Ted Farris. Although attracted by his charming personality, she refuses to be swept away by love. Accused of never listening to her heart, Elaina finally gives in to her feelings. As her relationship with Ted develops into something magical, they seem destined to be together–except for one tiny detail. Will Lorna Starr keep them apart?

Anna longs for the day she’ll meet her prince. When she’s rescued by the handsome Willis Kenney, has her dream turned into reality? Inseparable from the start, neither of them worries about the past. Anna, refusing to listen to her sister’s cautious voice of reason, let’s her romantic heart run wild. Caught in an emotional whirlwind, she and Willis revel in the hope of two passionate hearts. Will their impulsive love endure despite the mistakes of yesterday?

Romance and reason merge in this captivating story about the joys and follies of infatuation and how faith in God reveals true love.

Central Park —  Wrenched from her family, young Francine is terrified by her new life with her Aunt Mariette and Uncle Tom Barrimore in New York City….
But their foster son, Ethan, comes to Francine’s rescue. As the years pass, the bond between the two deepens…and they spend many hours enjoying the serenity of Central Park. When Ethan goes to Paris for a missions trip, Francine realizes affection has transformed into love. She dreams of the day Ethan will arrive home and share her love.

But when Ethan returns, he brings two newcomers–the beautiful and wealthy Carrie Casper, who has obviously captured his heart, and her flirtatious brother, Hugh, who flashes his inviting smile at Francine and her two cousins. As the Caspers cast their spell over the Barrimores, Francine alone senses the danger behind their facade of respectability.

As the days go by, Francine is forced to face the truth: Ethan’s heart belongs to the lovely Carrie. When the playful Hugh turns his charms toward Francine, she wonders if he’s finally left his playboy days behind. Pressured by her uncle to accept Hugh’s advances, Francine is torn between remaining true to a love that will never be or settling for a marriage of convenience.

Northpointe Chalet — Texas native Kathy Moore loves her new home in Northpointe, Colorado. The 22-year-old’s bookstore is thriving. And her social life is picking up. New friends Liza and her brother, Ron, an unrepentant heartbreaker, are constant visitors. It’s her personal life that needs a dramatic twist—like the ones in the thrillers she devours….

Then one dark and stormy night, a kind stranger takes refuge in Kathy’s store. When she learns he’s Ben Tilman, one of the residents of the mysterious chalet overlooking Northpointe, Kathy is smitten. But Ben’s reserved behavior suggests she’s too young and flamboyant to be relationship material for him, an established pastor. Suddenly, like in one of her suspense novels, an old man corners Kathy with warnings about the murderous Tilman patriarch–warnings she must investigate. Will Kathy’s growing suspicions and topsy-urvy investigation put an end to her deepening relationship with the man of Northpointe Chalet?

Amanda — Amanda Priebe is smart, funny, and generous—a great friend to have until the matchmaking bug bites. Deciding that her secretary, Haley, needs a beau, Amanda dreams up the perfect match—Pastor Mason Eldridge. Never mind that Haley is seeing Roger, a respectable dairy farmer. And it doesn’t really matter that Mason might be attracted to someone else….

When it comes to her own heart, Amanda can’t seem to make up her mind what she wants to do. The handsome and debonair Franklyn West is available so is the ever-present Nate Knighton.

In this tangled web of best-laid plans, who will end up with whom? Will Haley find true love? Will Amanda realize what her heart’s known all along?

A lively tale of plans gone awry, affection in unexpected places, and the ultimate power of faith and love.

Possibilities — “A yardman?” Landon’s thin eyebrows arched. “You want to marry a yardman?” Her blue eyes couldn’t have been wider…or more disdainful….
Practical, down-to-earth Allie is the daughter of Willis Elton, a wealthy, respected gentleman farmer. Although allowed to attend college and obtain a masster’s degree in horticulture, she is expected to marry well and take her place in society. But Allie has a problem. She’s in love with the handsome Frederick Wently–the yardman.

Yielding to family pressure, she withdraws from the relationship. But as the years pass, her heart refuses to surrender. When Frederick turns up on the arm of a close family friend, Allie struggles with jealousy and heartbreak. What can she do to get him back? And should she even try?

From Focus on Fiction:

Debra White Smith is the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books, including Romancing Your Husband101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage, and the popular Seven Sisters fiction series. In addition to her writing, Debra is also the founder of Real Life Ministries, and a popular speaker at conferences and events across the nation.  Debra holds a B.A. and M.A. in English and is pursuing a second Master’s Degree through Trinity Seminary.  She currently makes her home in East Texas, with her husband of 21 years, two children, and a herd of cats.

All Things Austen: Bollywood Style

14 Mar

There have been many sequels and movies made of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. But  I think one of the most fun is the movie Bride and Prejudice — a Bollywood version filled with dancing, singing and the occasional elephant.  Set in India, England and the United States, this film is fun to watch.  Last year, the women’s group at my church featured the movie for an International Dinner And A Movie Night.  So call up the girl friends, grab the snacks and settle in for a laughter filled girls night.  Not to be missed is Maya/Mary’s snake dance performance. And if you think Mr. Collins is ridiculous, get ready for Mr. Kohli!  (Bride And Prejudice is rated PG 13 for some sexual references,)

A Bollywood update of Jane Austen’s classic tale, in which Mrs. Bakshi is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. When the rich single gentlemen Balraj and Darcy come to visit, the Bakshis have high hopes, though circumstance and boorish opinions threaten to get in the way of romance.





All Things Austen: Jane Austen Ruined My Life

7 Mar

Though not a sequel to her famous books, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is a novel based on scholarship surrounding Austen’s works.  The premise is that there is a secret society that has maintained the private letters of Jane Austen thought to have been destroyed by her sister Cassandra.  Emma, a professor of English Literature specializing in Austen, is lured to England by the promise of viewing and perhaps publishing the letters.  With her marriage and career at an end, she seizes the opportunity to put her life back to rights.  I really enjoyed Emma’s travels to the places dear to Jane Austen’s heart, as well as her journey towards healing.

Emma Grant has always done everything just the way her minister father said she should — a respectable marriage, a teaching job, and plans for the requisite two children. Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author might say, until the day Emma finds her husband with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are.

Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal, Emma packs what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. A reclusive widow claims to have the author’s correspondence, but she allows Emma to see the letters only if she promises never to tell anyone about them. Emma reluctantly agrees and sets off across Austen’s England — from Steventon to Bath to Lyme Regis — to complete a series of tasks that bring her closer and closer to the secret Jane Austen hoped to bury. And the reappearance of Emma’s old friend Adam doesn’t make her quest any easier.

As Emma uncovers the legendary author’s innermost thoughts, she begins to understand the reasons for her idol’s secrecy and Austen’s own struggles as a woman of faith. Laced with excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who discovers the true meaning of loyalty.

Other Austenesque novels by Beth Patillo:

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart.  Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister’s behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She’s been dating Neil, a nice — if a bit negligent — sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy — leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author’s own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn’t logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All.  Ellen and Mimi Dodge have never been close, but their mother’s dying wish sends them on a walking tour of Hampshire, England, that follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Their mother also left them something else: a diary that belonged to Jane’s sister Cassandra. These pages shed light on the secrets that nearly tore the Austen sisters apart and inspired one of the greatest love stories of all time. They also bring Jane to life in a way that no one has ever seen before: through the eyes of her sister. As the Dodge sisters embark on their walking tour, they too are drawn together in ways they never expected. They also discover that Cassandra’s diary holds secrets, and someone doesn’t want Ellen and Mimi to discover the truth. As they stumble on their way toward love, the women learn how Jane and Cassandra Austen inspired the original Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and come to realize that despite their very different personalities, they are a vital part of each other’s happy endings.   (Not yet released).

From the authors website:

Beth PatilloI am a born and bred Texan, but I haven’t lived in Texas since my college days at Trinity University in San Antonio. Oh, San Antonio, how I love your delicious Mexican food and rich culture.

Where was I? Oh, yes. After college, I moved to Nashville where I earned a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University and met my wonderful husband. Our careers took us to Jackson, Tennessee, and then to Kansas City, Missouri, where my son was born. I started my first novel while in KC but didn’t sell a book until after we moved back to Nashville and had a second child, my darling daughter.

Now, I wear a lot of hats — mom, wife, writer, daughter, friend — just like so many other women. I’m lucky that I love being all of these things. The challenge is keeping up with all the demands!

I’ve had the opportunity to write historical romance, chick lit, mystery, and women’s fiction. All my books do have two things in common — heroines and humor! I love a strong female character and lots of laughter.

2 Birds/1 Stone — All Things Austen/Series Spotlight

27 Feb

This week I decided to combine All Things Austen and Series Spotlight by featuring Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries.

Series Inspiration (from the author’s website):

Pregnancy, I firmly believe, is a hallucinatory state.

When I was five months gone with my first son, I began to neglect my dog. I had repeated car accidents. I left the groceries standing by the side of the curb, while I drove away toward home; and I even managed to hear voices.

One of them was Jane Austen’s.

I had been rereading Austen’s oeuvre, as I do nearly every winter. Her prose is peculiarly suited to the winter months: to sharp frost twitching the nose, reddened fingers, a sofa or chair pulled up to a good fire, a glass of sherry at hand. I love to read Austen when it rains – particularly if the book is Persuasion, her last and most autumnal novel. The damp seems to seep directly from Kellynch and the shingle of Lyme, from the foxed pages of an old volume, to pool around one’s feet as the chapters slip by.

This particular winter – February, 1994 – I had read Austen to such an extent that her syntax and oddities of speech had infiltrated my own. The third-person narrative voice of Austen’s novels is passive in its construction; and the dialogue always operates on about four different levels, replete with meaning. It is utterly at variance with the operative mode of our day – the sound-bite – which in its didactic simplicity, communicates nothing. I reveled in Austen’s speech. I adopted it as my own.

I was, I am convinced, channeling Jane.

I sat down to write what she told me.

And what emerged was Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, a fictional edition of Austen’s long-lost journal, recently unearthed in the cellar of a Georgian manor on the outskirts of Baltimore.

(I am fortunate enough to possess a beloved friend by the name of Philip Carroll, whose Georgian ancestor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, built just such a manor. It is the perfect sort of place for an American cousin to deposit, and forget, Jane’s private diaries.)

I had studied Napoleonic France during my undergraduate years at Princeton; I now undertook to master its corollary, Regency England. I knew Austen’s books, Austen’s characters – but very little about Austen’s life.

I turned to the primary source on Jane: her collected correspondence; and to the excellent secondary sources on her life that fill the bookshelves of most libraries in the world. In the letters, however, I discovered the best character of all: Jane herself.

Jane AustenWhen Austen wrote to an intimate – most frequently her sister, Cassandra – she was Jane Unbound: caustic, funny, judgmental, dismissive. She possessed and dominated everyone she knew by subjecting them to her wit – and she delighted in the past time. This was a Jane remarkably equipped to investigate murder, a Jane who understood the power of motivation and the essence of the human heart. She delighted in the absurd, punctured the ridiculous, and demurred for no man. She was heroine to die for. [This watercolor of Jane was done by Cassandra in about 1810, when Jane was 35; this is the only known representation of Jane’s features. Credit: The World of Jane Austen by Nigel Nicolson.]

I wrote Scargrave Manor well before any of the films of Austen’s work –Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, or Mansfield Park – appeared on the screen. But the book’s publication in the spring of 1996 appeared perfectly timed to capitalize upon the rediscovery of Austen’s fiction. For this apparent prescience and monetary aim, I was at times castigated; and at others, ignored. With each subsequent novel – there are presently eight, with a ninth currently in the works – Jane’s audience, however, has grown.

I think that she would have been delighted. Novel-writing, in Austen’s day, was regarded as a frivolity, for the simple reason that it depicted life as it was actually lived – and because its primary readers were women. Mystery novels fill a similar gap in the twenty-first century: in stories of detection, we study conflict and its resolution; we reimpose order on a chaotic world. Had she lived, Jane would be writing detective novels today. How much better, then, to star in them?

My Impressions:

Barron’s series now features 10 books, with the newest being Jane And The Madness of Lord Byron. I still have 5 books to go; 3 are on my TBR shelves. Barron’s mysteries are evocative of the time and life of Jane Austen. The fictional Jane is very believable — especially in her relations with family and the problem of her spinsterhood. Through the course of her travels, Jane encounters people and places that could easily have been the inspiration of the real Jane’s novels.  And if you love the romance that Austen described in her books, you won’t be disappointed in fictional Jane’s romantic encounters.  While the books will satisfy an Austen junky, the mysteries will keep you reading into the night.  Check out The Jane Austen Mysteries — you’ll love them.

About The Author (also from her website):

Stephanie Barron was born Francine Stephanie Barron in Binghamton, NY in 1963, the last of six girls. Her father was a retired general in the Air Force, her mother a beautiful woman who loved to dance. The family spent their summers on Cape Cod, where two of the Barron girls now live with their families; Francine’s passion for Nantucket and the New England shoreline dates from her earliest memories. She grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, a two hundred year-old Catholic school for girls that shares a wall with Georgetown University. Her father died of a heart attack during her freshman year.
In 1981, she started college at Princeton – one of the most formative experiences of her life. There she fenced for the club varsity team and learned to write news stories for The Daily Princetonian – a hobby that led to two part-time jobs as a journalist for The Miami Herald and The San Jose Mercury News. Francine majored in European History, studying Napoleonic France, and won an Arthur W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities in her senior year. But the course she remembers most vividly from her time at Princeton is “The Literature of Fact,” taught by John McPhee, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and staff writer for The New Yorker. John influenced Francine’s writing more than even she knows and certainly more than she is able to say. If there were an altar erected to the man in Colorado, she’d place offerings there daily. He’s her personal god of craft.

Francine spent three years at Stanford pursuing a doctorate in history; she failed to write her dissertation (on the Brazilian Bar Association under authoritarianism; can you blame her?) and left with a Masters. She applied to the CIA, spent a year temping in Northern Virginia while the FBI asked inconvenient questions of everyone she had ever known, passed a polygraph test on her twenty-sixth birthday, and was immediately thrown into the Career Trainee program: Boot Camp for the Agency’s Best and Brightest. Four years as an intelligence analyst at the CIA were profoundly fulfilling, the highlights being Francine’s work on the Counterterrorism Center’s investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and sleeping on a horsehair mattress in a Spectre-era casino in the middle of Bratislava. Another peak moment was her chance to debrief ex-President George Bush in Houston in 1993. But what she remembers most about the place are the extraordinary intelligence and dedication of most of the staff – many of them women – many of whom cannot be named.

She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Fifteen books have followed, along with sundry children, dogs, and houses. When she’s not writing, she likes to ski, garden, needlepoint, and buy art. Her phone number is definitely unlisted.

You can also find out more info at Barron’s blog.  Click here.