Saturday 29 July 2017

Winner of J Dawn King Giveaway

Author J Dawn King
Recently I was joined by the lovely J Dawn King for a game of twenty questions, related to your view of Darcy and Elizabeth. We shared what we thought and settled whether we thought Mr Darcy had a unibrow / monobrow! Answers can be found on the original post. Joy was very generously giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to a commenter on the post. Joy chose a winner at random and that person is...

Elizabeth Hossenlopp

Congratulations to you, Elizabeth! Joy will be in touch via the email address you left.

Thank you so much to everybody who posted their views, and huge thanks to Joy for the wonderful giveaway!

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer - Giveaway Winner

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer
Apologies for my lateness in posting this. Recently Eliza Shearer visited the blog with a guest post and excerpt of her debut novel, 'Miss Darcy's Beaux'. Eliza was also giving away an ebook of the book. I assigned each of the comments a number and used the random number generator on Google to pick a winner, who was....

Deborah Ann

Congratulations to you, Debbie! I will be in touch.

Huge thanks to Eliza for the guest post, and to everybody who commented. For those of you who missed out, there is a Goodreads giveway for a print version of the book which is open to many countries.

When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams Blog Tour and Giveaway

When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams - Blog Tour
Today the blog tour for Caitlin Williams' new book, the 'Pride & Prejudice' variation, 'When We Are Married' stops by. I get to share my review with you, and there is a giveaway of an ebook of the story for a commenter on this post. Read on for more details!

Friday 21 July 2017

Joy Dawn King - Guest Post and Giveaway

Author J. Dawn King
Today I am welcoming one of my favourite blog visitors, author J Dawn King. Joy has brought a conversation piece and giveaway, so channel your inner Lady Catherine de Bourgh; you must have your share of the conversation!

Usually when an author stops by, they are here to share their latest release, however Joy asked if we could play a game. Without further ado, I will pass over to Joy.

* * *

Tuesday 18 July 2017

200th Anniversary of Jane Austen's Death - What Jane Means to Me

Jane Austen
Today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death and I wanted to mark the day with a little tribute to her and share with you what Austen and her work means to me. Her sister Cassandra said,
“I have lost a treasure, such a sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed. She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow; I had not a thought concealed from her, and it is as if I had lost a part of myself.” 
This is a wonderful tribute from her closest friend. Cassandra had lost a personal treasure and the wider world had also lost a treasure. Austen was only 41 when she died; who knows what else she might have written if she had lived longer. I suppose we will have to be philosophical about it, and instead focus on the positives. Her works – the six major novels, plus the lesser works and juvenilia have given me and hundreds of thousands of others worldwide many hours of enjoyment and enriched our lives. In fact, Austen’s works were actually prescribed reading for former WWI soldiers to soothe them. There is comfort in reading her novels, in a world where everybody knows their place, but there is more to their popularity than just that.

Austen didn’t write about the wider world in which her novels were set, the world news, and she lived in a tumultuous time, with Napoleon marauding across the continent. But that wasn’t what Jane was about, and she was perfectly well aware of that:
‘What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited sketches, full of variety and glow? How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour?’ – Jane Austen, letter to her brother, 1816
This is one of the things I love about her work – the details are exquisite, the embroidery of the details and humour makes it come alive.

She was criticised by Charlotte Bronte for the lack of passion in her work:
‘She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy Sisterhood’
I love Charlotte Bronte’s work, but I really think she was unfair to Jane here. Not only was Jane forging a path that Charlotte could benefit from in the departure from the norm in the new style of work that she was writing but I find Jane’s books so much more real to me, as they don't have the dark streak and melodrama that are so often found in the works I've read by the Brontes and are things which are thankfully absent from my life.

I was lucky in that I ‘found’ Austen fairly early on in life. Teenage Ceri, in the pre-internet era, was mooching about the house on a rainy day and feeling pretty bored. So I thought I’d read a book. This in itself wasn’t unusual because I read books A LOT.

So, I was perusing my mother’s bookshelves and found a book called ‘Sense and Sensibility’. I was vaguely aware that this was a famous book, and if it was that old and still famous then I reasoned that it was probably quite good, so I read it. Since I always enjoyed quite old books (the Secret Garden, Heidi etc.) the vocabulary wasn’t an obstacle to me, and I found, to my surprise, that not only was it quite good, it was also quite funny. So I embarked upon ‘Pride & Prejudice’. From the first line, my attention was caught and within no time at all I had fallen in love with the book. I found Elizabeth so relatable; she was just like me but with a tall, handsome admirer. What was not to love?! It amazed me then and still amazes me now that Austen was able to write a character that was so timeless, despite the time gap and societal change, Elizabeth was easily accessible to a young person reading the story nearly 200 years later.

I went on to read Austen’s other main works, and her letters, and I found that, as funny and as biting as her humour was in her published works, she was reining it in. The woman had a truly wicked sense of humour. She would without doubt have a place on any fantasy dinner table of mine!

Austen wrote some very quotable quotes. I would just like to share some of my favourites with you. This first one sums up one of the reasons she is my favourite authors. I read for escapism - other people may like gritty realism; they are welcome to it! I want happy endings.
‘Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody not greatly in fault themselves to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.’ – Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
And this one, which tells me that we have the same idea of how to have a good time!
‘By the bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many douceurs in being a sort of chaperon, for I am put on the sofa near the fire and can drink as much wine as I like.’ – Jane Austen – Letter, 1813.
And this one, which is so true.
‘It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.’ –  Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Edited to add: This quote is actually not Austen, but widely misattributed to her; it's from the 2008 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility

Austen is not only the writer of my favourite novel, ‘Pride & Prejudice’, but the writer of the most exquisite page of any book I’ve ever read. Captain Wentworth’s letter in ‘Persuasion’ is just perfection. I would like to quote the entire letter in all its glory, but instead, as it is spoilery, I will content myself with:
'You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.' - Jane Austen, Persuasion
So today I’ll spare a thought for Jane Austen, and be thankful for the wonderful works she brought into the world. What is it about Jane’s work that speaks to you? Do you have any favourite quotes that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments and have your share of the conversation.

Friday 14 July 2017

Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza ShearerToday I have the pleasure of welcoming new author Eliza Shearer to the blog. Eliza has written a book described as a 'Persuasion', 'Mansfield Park' and 'Pride & Prejudice' continuation which focuses on Miss Georgiana Darcy after the marriage of her brother. The book is already getting excellent reviews so I'm pleased to be able to bring you some insight into the author's feelings towards Miss Darcy, plus an excerpt to whet your appetite to read the book. In addition, Eliza is offering to give away an ebook of 'Miss Darcy's Beaux' to a commenter on this post. Please read on for more details!

Saturday 1 July 2017

Planned Reading for July 2017

Picture of Author Jane Austen, drawn by her sister CassandraAlthough it doesn't feel like July at the time of writing, my calendar assures me that it is so. Happy July to you, my friends. In the UK the kids have 3 more weeks in school so we're not in full summer mode yet. So, what do I have planned for July?  First and foremost, as I'm sure you're aware, the middle of this month is the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, my favourite author. Therefore I hope to have a bit of a Jane-fest, and read some books about her as well as books inspired by her.