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Monday, 23 October 2017

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Riana Everly is paying her first visit here today on the blog tour for her debut novel. Teaching Eliza is a mash up of Pygmalion (My Fair Lady) and Pride & Prejudice. This may sound familiar, because last week we had another visitor who had written a book with a similar premise. Riana Everly is here today with a guest post, excerpt and giveaway. I'll share the book blurb with you first, and then hand over to Riana for her to tell you about her book and the unintended joint release!

Blog Tour: Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly


Book Description

Book Cover: Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly
A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

“With her clever mash-up of two classics, Riana Everly has fashioned a fresh, creative storyline with an inventive take on our favorite characters, delightful dialogue and laugh out loud humor. Teaching Eliza is certain to become a reader favorite. It’s a must read!” – Sophia Meredith (author of the acclaimed On Oakham Mount and Miss Darcy’s Companion)

Teaching Eliza is a full-length novel of about 110,000 words.

Teaching Eliza – Riana Everly

This past summer, we were lucky enough to see a great deal of excellent theatre, including two very different productions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. One was put on by the world-class Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario. The other was a Shakespeare-in-the-Park affair, starring young and promising actors with the Canadian Stage Company, as the audience sat on a rocky hillside surrounded by trees and mosquitos.

My daughter, while a theatre fanatic, was unsure about this. “Why see both?” She asked. “Aren’t they the same? And which one will be better?”

Aha! A Teachable Moment! And so we launched into a fabulous discussion about the nature of art and interpretation. These two productions of the same play were a contrast in almost everything. The settings were different (a vaguely Renaissance city state and a modern Hotel Illyria, complete with luggage carts, service elevator and hotel gym), the text was different (Stratford, with its comfy theatres put on a full production, while Can Stage abridged the play to 90 minutes so our poor backsides wouldn’t get too numb from sitting on the ground). The casting was different, and even some of the characters’ motivations were different. Which was better? That’s not a fair question, because both had a great deal of merit, and we enjoyed both a great deal. They were the same, from the same pen, and yet they were so different, and it was a real treat to be able to compare without having to choose.

Likewise in music, different performances can highlight different aspects of the same piece. Bach played fast is different from Bach played slowly, and you hear different things in each performance.  Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is a masterpiece, no matter the orchestra playing it, but one conductor might emphasize the melodic line (da-da-da-DUMMMM), while another might find the repetition of that rhythmic motif in each movement and bring that out.

Now wait a moment, you’re thinking. This is a Jane Austen-related blog. What does all of this have to do with Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy? Quite a bit, really. Let me explain.

Blog Tour: Teaching Eliza by Riana EverlyI had the brilliant idea (if I may be so modest) to do a mash-up of Pride and Prejudice and Shaw’s Pygmalion, the inspiration behind the movie My Fair Lady. If you follow this lovely blog, you’ll realize that Barbara Silkstone was even more brilliant, because she beat me to it. (Insert big cheesy grin here!) She has just published a delightful romp called My Fair Lizzy, which had been my original title.

Our books are so similar in so many ways – same concept, same inspiration, same original title even! But, like the two productions of Twelfth Night, or the myriad recordings and performances of Bach and Beethoven, they are also very different. Our settings are different, our characters’ situations are different, all the details that bring a concept to life are different. Even my final title – Teaching Eliza – is different.

And different can be delightful! How fun to have two such different takes on a single theme published within a couple of weeks of each other! It’s a great way to see how authors’ minds shape common ideas.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning of my new release, Teaching Eliza. Read Ms. Silkstone’s excerpt from a few days ago, then read this, and enjoy!

Viva la difference!

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Excerpt From Teaching Eliza

Book Cover: Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly
Lizzy found herself recounting to Jane the conversation she had unwittingly overheard between the Bingley sisters. “I hate to admit it,” she concluded, “but they are correct. I would be a disaster in London, and I have resolved to write back to our aunt as soon as we are home and explain why I cannot accept after all.”

“Surely not, Lizzy,” Jane soothed. “You shall be valued for yourself wherever you go, and not for your country accent or country ways.”

“No, Jane, it cannot be. You did not hear Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst as they spoke. Their words were cruel but true, and I know that I shall meet many more like them in London, far more than the gentler souls who might overlook my origins. I shall be tarred by their brush long before I even have the chance to prove my character.”

Jane’s lovely face fell as she considered these words. “But is there no hope, Lizzy? Surely there is some remedy…” She lit up as she said, “Why not ask Professor Darcy to help you? I know what he did for Charles, and he is widely considered a formidable expert in this area. You have a quick ear and are intelligent. I am certain he would know just what to do to let you move easily in the upper circles of society!”

I can take even a flower girl, with her kerbstone English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days, and within three months pass her off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.

Those had been Professor Darcy’s words, and they reverberated through Elizabeth’s head as readily as if she heard them spoken aloud. “Three months…”

“What do you say, Lizzy?”

“Three months! Last night, the professor boasted that he could transform a flower girl into a duchess in three months. I am hardly a flower girl, but I wonder…”

*** (Lizzy wanders to the library where she finds Darcy and Colonel F in conversation) ***

Lizzy found a suitable volume and was about to depart when she looked again at the two men, and deciding that she might have no better opportunity to do so, resolved to speak to the professor immediately about Jane’s idea.

“Professor Darcy,” she began as she turned to face them directly. The colonel’s eyebrows rose slightly at her forward address; the professor gazed into the middle distance, his eyes hooded, his jaw lax. “I wish to engage you to teach me to improve my accent.”

Darcy gave a visible start and stopped still in his place with his eyes wide; even the colonel, normally so easy to adapt to any circumstances, stared at the young woman who made this statement.

“Teach you, you say? Why on earth would I wish to do that?” He had raised his chin and levelled a piercing gaze at her.

Elizabeth did not waver, nor did she back down. She had taken her first step and was determined in her efforts. “You did say that you are not above giving lessons. I have heard this from others, and I heard it from you, yourself, last night. I wish to take lessons. If you have condescended to teach upstarts from Kentish Town and men from merchant families like Mr. Bingley, you should have no objection to teaching a gentle-born woman such as myself.” She kept a steady gaze on him and did not allow him to drop his eyes.

“Why on earth, madam, should you wish for speech lessons? Do you hope to better yourself in society? You are already of the first family in the area; do you wish to alienate your friends by putting on airs?”

“I do not wish to alienate my friends. I wish to be able to move in society in Town.” There. She had said it.

“Miss Elizabeth,” the colonel asked politely, “what do you mean? Is your father hoping to send you to London?”

“No, not he. My aunt—or rather, my aunt’s sister—” She described her relationship to the newly raised baronet and his lady, and added, “Lady Grant has become a dear friend and with her husband’s position and new estates, wishes to help me in society. They have offered to provide me with a home for a season and with the funds to outfit myself, as well as a generous increase to my dowry, but I have become all too aware of late that my manners and speech mark me as being of the country, and very much below all the other ladies of the circles in which I am expected to move. And so, Professor, I wish you to teach me to speak and act as they do.”

Darcy tilted his head backwards slightly and impaled with her a hard stare. He rose to his feet and regarded her from his superior height, looking once more down his patrician nose. “And what,” he demanded, “am I to receive for my efforts? I know your family’s situation, Miss Eliza. You are hardly in a position to pay me the amount I usually receive for my efforts.”

To this, Elizabeth had no answer. She began to stumble through a reply when the colonel leapt up suddenly and pulled Darcy aside, then whispered at some length into his ear. This monologue was interrupted at intervals by expressions such as “No. Absolutely not,” and “You have got to be mad!” but at length these protestations lessened in ferocity and the forbidding head began to nod.

Slowly, Darcy walked back towards Elizabeth, a saturnine look in his dark eyes. “Miss Eliza,” said he, “I believe I may accept your request. However, in return I have one of my own. It concerns your payment.”

Lizzy was shocked. He could hardly mean….

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Buy Links:

You can buy the book now, and also add it to your Goodreads shelf.

About the Author

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

You can connect with Riana on Facebook or catch up with her on her website.

Giveaway Time!

Riana is kindly offering an ebook giveaway to five lucky winners across the blog tour. To enter, use the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Stops

Blog Tour: Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly


Remember, this is just one of the blog tour stops. Here are details of the other stops.

Oct. 19            From Pemberley to Milton
Oct. 23            Babblings of a Bookworm
Oct. 24            So Little Time… So Much to Read!
Oct. 25            Diary of an Eccentric
Oct. 27            Savvy Verse and Wit
Oct. 28            My Love for Jane Austen
Oct. 30            More Agreeably Engaged
Oct. 31            Savvy Verse and Wit (review)
Nov. 1             Austenesque Reviews

37 comments:

  1. Good to know that the Colonel is in your story

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    1. The colonel is one of my favourite characters. I couldn't leave him out. And he has a brother too... just saying. :-)

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    2. Hi Vesper. The Colonel is always a big favourite with readers. I like to see him included because you feel like he and Darcy are on an equal level, whereas Bingley seems to look up to him.

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  2. What is it that they say...in for a penny, in for a pound? I plan to read the other book so this would be a good contrast. I am wondering if it is a rom-com or a more serious production?

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    1. While there are definitely light and funny parts to my story (I hope, anyway!), it also delves into some more serious areas. I think it's a definitely contrast to Barbara's book, although it never gets particularly dark or heavy. Is this helpful, or maddeningly vague? I'm happy to answer questions. :-)

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    2. I'll be interested to see what you make of these, Sheila! Good luck in the giveaway.

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  3. Oh, this sounds delightful. I love different interpretations. I look forward to reading this. Blessings on the launch and success of this work. Thanks Ceri for hosting. Thanks to Riana for the generous give-a-way.

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    1. Thank you so much. It was so fun to see how Barbara and I took the same idea in two such different directions. Good luck in the raffle.

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    2. I do too, Jeanne. It always fascinates me to see how differently two stories can go from a similar beginning.

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  4. Oh,my! What a fantastic excerpt! Just enough to whet our appetites and leave us wanting more!

    I must say that I'm intrigued at what persuasive means the good Colonel employed to change Darcy's initial unwillingness to coach Elizabeth! What exactly did he say or indeed promise him?
    As to the ways and means he expects to be paid.......I guess we'll just have to buy the book to discover the answer for ourselves!!

    Best of luck with this book,Riana!
    Ceri,cheers for such an intriguing post. It certainly provided food for thought! ��

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    1. Thanks for those kind words. I do hope you enjoy the rest of the story.

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    2. I thought so too, Mary, I'm very interested to know what the Colonel said.

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  5. Certainly two people can have two books out with similar premises. Much like no two people are alike, those two people must also be able to write books that won't be alike. I'm sure they will both be equally enjoyable, and I look forward to reading them.

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    1. At first we were amazed at how we had the same idea, but when we started reading each other's stuff, we were amazed at how different they were. It was really fun! I hope you enjoy both books.

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    2. It really was a delight to read Riana's tale. The books are like fraternal twins, similar but oh so different. Such fun!
      Barbara

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    3. Definitely, Ginna. I think that taking two stories and combining them are likely to give you greater divergence than some P&P variations where a change is made from canon. I've read a few of those where the turn of events is similar, but I'd expect more difference between these two stories.

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  6. So many JAFF stories, your bound to have similar plots, but like you mentioned all have varying attributes.

    I'm curious to know what the Colonel said to Darcy to get him to agree as well. Congrats on your new release. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, the colonel had a rather unusual idea... I hope you enjoy reading all about it.

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    2. Hmm, very intriguing, an unusual idea? Good luck in the giveaway :)

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  7. Wonderful excerpt. You have me intrigued! Where could this be going! Glad to see the colonel too! Congratulations

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    1. I couldn't leave out the Colonel. He's one of my favourite characters. I hope you enjoy the story.

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    2. Thanks for commenting, Becky. I hope you enjoy the story when you read it.

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  8. It is going to be interesting to read this and the other one with a similar premise. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I do hope you enjoy both books. We have very different styles, and it was fun to see how we tackled the same basic premise and got two very divergent results.

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    2. Thanks Sheila! Hope you enjoy seeing the differences between the stories.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Eva! I hope you enjoy the story when you read it.

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  10. Carole in Canada24 October 2017 at 18:15

    I loved how Elizabeth didn't allow Darcy to intimidate her...well at least she held her ground. I can hardly imagine what the Colonel said to Darcy, but it certainly changed his mind! I also liked your teachable moment to your daughter! Again congratulations on your debut novel!

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    1. Elizabeth has her work cut out for her, but Darcy may have met his match. And yes, my daughter ended up loving both plays. I'm really quite delighted in what a little theatre fan she has become. She's only 13, but loves a night out to see a play.

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    2. Hi Carole. I like an Elizabeth whose courage rises with every attempt to intimidate her :)

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  11. Oh yes, I do enjoy variations to catch a different facet of a piece. One of these years I will get to visit Stratford Ontario for their festival.
    I do love that two creative sorts have mashed up these stories and look forward to your version, Riana.

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    1. I heartily recommend Stratford. We are so lucky to be within an easy drive, and we usually see five to eight plays a summer. It's all just first rate stuff. I hope you enjoy both books!

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    2. I hope you manage to make the festival one day Sophia! I love stuff like that :)

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  12. Love the excerpt! Hmmm, I wonder what the colonel said to Darcy? And how will Elizabeth pay for her lessons?

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Thanks! Good luck in the raffle.

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    2. That's the question, isn't it Pam! Good luck in the giveaway.

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