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Archive for the ‘jane austen’ Category

I have a treat for you today, dear readers! John Kessel’s latest novel, Pride and Prometheus, has just been released, and the publicist is kindly offering a hardcover giveaway for my U.S. readers.

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About Pride and Prometheus

Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

Pride and Prometheus fuses the gothic horror of Mary Shelley with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

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About the Author

John Kessel

Photo Credit: John Pagliuca

Born in Buffalo, New York, John Kessel’s most recent book is the new novel Pride and Prometheus. He is the author of the earlier novels The Moon and the Other, Good News from Outer Space and Corrupting Dr. Nice and in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence.

Kessel’s stories have twice received the Nebula Award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, in addition to the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Poll, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. His play “Faustfeathers’” won the Paul Green Playwright’s Prize, and his story “A Clean Escape” was adapted as an episode of the ABC TV series Masters of Science Fiction. In 2009 his story “Pride and Prometheus” received both the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. With Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sf, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He and his wife, the novelist Therese Anne Fowler, live and work in Raleigh, NC.

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Giveaway

The publicist is kindly offering a finished hardcover edition of Pride and Prometheus to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to readers with U.S. addresses only (sorry!) and will close on Sunday, February 25, 2017. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let me know what interests you most about the book. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Amy George to Diary of an Eccentric as part of the blog tour for her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, The Sweetest Ruin. After hosting the cover reveal, I was dying to read the book, so I bought it on release day and savored it over the course of a week when I should have been writing my novel or doing countless other tasks on my to-do list. It was totally worth falling behind on everything else so I could finish it (you can read my brief thoughts here), and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat!

Now, Amy is here to talk about Austen’s Elizabeth and her modern-day Elizabeth. How exciting! Please give her a warm welcome:

Good afternoon, Anna. It’s such a honor to be here at Diary of an Eccentric, to be with your readers today to share this post for the blog tour of my new release, The Sweetest Ruin. This new book is a modernization of Pride & Prejudice, but naturally there are connections between the two stories which transcend time; just like Jane Austen’s Elizabeth, my Elizabeth is also an avid reader.  So I thought it would be fun today to highlight the connections between these two characters’ lives, as well as to the woman who started it all, the beloved Jane Austen!

“We have tried to get Self-controul, but in vain. I should like to know what [Mrs Knight’s] Estimate is, but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever and of finding my own people all forestalled.”
(Jane Austen, 30th April 1811)

In today’s modern world, we tend to take books for granted, even though many of us relish being able to walk into a bookshop or a library and walk out with a bundle of papers teeming with stories waiting to share the lives of people lived in hundreds of different centuries, in a million elsewheres. Many of us have even discovered the thrill of owning an e-reading device, where we can peruse a wide assortment of titles and sink ourselves into thousands of books all with the tap of our fingertip.

We are women and we read.

Yet when we think about our own joyful access to books, it’s difficult to imagine how this access has been limited to millions of women in the past (and is still in many places). There was a time instead when women were educated from their earliest years in the nursery about how to run a household and not in the subjects we are able to study today, such as math, history, or science. We might often picture Elizabeth Bennet as a reader, but she was one of the lucky ones! Her father found solace in his library and, fortunately for [at least one of] his daughters, he was likely to allow them to read most of the tomes he possessed at Longbourn.

“Purchasing new works of fiction would have been beyond the likes of the modest Austen family. Jane, who read extensively from a young age, relied on her family’s libraries, borrowing from friends and circulating libraries. Published works during her life were mainly gothic, sentimental, melodramas. Dr Gillian Dow, of Southampton University and director of research at Chawton House Library, says they were read and loved by Jane Austen as much as poetry, classics and works from the Continent.”

“Austen’s letters, family biographical notes and novels are peppered with admiration for different writers and works.” We know she read Ann Radcliffe, who was known as the pioneer of the Gothic novel, as well as novelists Frances Burney and Maria Edgeworth.  The final paragraph of Burney’s novel Cecilia, a favourite of Austen’s, uses the phrase Pride and Prejudice three times in block capitals and probably inspired her own novel’s title:

‘”The whole of this unfortunate business,” said Dr. Lyster, “has been the result of PRIDE and PREJUDICE. … Yet this, however, remember: if to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you owe your miseries, so wonderfully is good and evil balanced, that to PRIDE and PREJUDICE you will also owe their termination…”‘ (Frances Burney, Cecilia).

Samuel Johnson, William Cowper, George Crabbe, Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Henry Fielding were her favorite male writers, with Samuel Richardson being “the writer she consistently read, re-read and quoted throughout her life.” Richardson is also said to have been “a big influence on her teenage writing.” It has been noted that when her family moved to Bath,  Jane was in utter despair at the loss of access to her father’s library and it wasn’t until she moved to Chawton that she had regular access to a library again, when she would visit the Great House, her brother Edward Knight’s estate.

In The Sweetest Ruin, Elizabeth studies literature. I imagine she’s a fan of Poe and Stephen King because she’s dark, but she’s not dark dark. She probably also gets a kick out of the occasional romance novel (to blow off steam) and twisty mysteries like Gone Girl. On days she feels a little cut off from the world, she might pick up some sci-fi like Ready Player One or Red Rising. Though she doesn’t have a lot of time once she meets William Darcy, she’s a voracious reader who will consume nearly whatever book is in her path. Except, probably, self-help books. She’s interested in actual psychology, not the pop psych flavor of the month.

Still today, all over the world, women are denied access to books, to education. One of my personal heroines, Malala Yousefzai, was shot in the head because she wanted an education. She wanted access. Malala is lucky. Elizabeth is lucky. We’re lucky. Because we have all this amazing access through school, through libraries, through commerce.

We can read anything and everything because the world evolved and keeps evolving. And knowing that gives me hope that one day we’ll all have the chance to visit the worlds that Elizabeth Bennet loves through our access to books.

We are women. And we READ.

Reference: Jane Austen: What books were on her reading list?, 23 January 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/0/21122727

Thank you for sharing that powerful essay, Amy, and congratulations on your new release!

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About The Sweetest Ruin

Amazon | Amazon U.K.

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About the Author

Amy George

Amy George is a middle-aged woman who got rid of her old lady/grown up and has since purchased an unreasonably small car. She refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a small town in the Midwest where the bookstore and yarn shop are neighbors and most food is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum.

She has been writing since she was a child and ran the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.

Fun fact: My birthday is January 30th so this is like a big birthday party.

Connect with Amy via Facebook | Goodreads | Meryton Press | Twitter

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Giveaway

As part of the blog tour for The Sweetest Ruin, Meryton Press is offering 8 ebooks, open internationally. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

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January 29  Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Giveaway

January 30  My Jane Austen Book Club; Excerpt Post, Giveaway

January 31  Of Pens and Pages; Guest Post, Giveaway

February 1  More Agreeably Engaged; Guest Post, Giveaway

February 2  Babblings of a Bookworm; Excerpt Post, Giveaway

February 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Book Review, Giveaway

February 4  My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, Giveaway

February 5  Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Giveaway

February 6  Margie’s Must Reads; Book Review, Giveaway

February 7  From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt Post

February 8  Savvy Verse and Wit; Book Review, Giveaway  

February 9  Just Jane 1813; Guest Post, Giveaway

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Hello, my dear readers! I can’t believe January is over already. Things are busy, busy, busy, so I haven’t been able to blog as much as I used to, but I have been reading and wanted to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read and what’s coming up for the blog in February. At least for the near future, I will be posting mini reviews of books from my personal library, with longer reviews planned for books I accepted for review. First up today, mini reviews of the books I read in January:

The Sweetest Ruin is a novella in which Pride and Prejudice meets Las Vegas. William Darcy feels suffocated by his family after a heath crisis and takes a spontaneous trip to Sin City, where he meets Elizabeth Bennet, a college student and a cocktail waitress at a casino. The two meet and sparks fly. Their whirlwind romance has some complications, namely William’s sister back in England and Elizabeth’s over protective best friend Thad. This was such a fun novella, with lots of steamy bits and humor as William and Elizabeth work to overcome the odds stacked against them. There were characters I loved and characters I loved to hate, but mostly they were characters I didn’t expect (Jane Bingley, for one). Amy George turns Pride and Prejudice on its head, and it was fantastic!

Lady Catherine’s Lover is a short story sequel to Pride and Prejudice in which the Darcys are awaiting the birth of their first child, making Darcy unwilling to chase after Lady Catherine when rumors swirl about her relationship with her late husband’s cousin, who requested an urgent meeting with her in London following the death of his wife. Darcy and Elizabeth watch things unfold from afar, and while the story is amusing, I wish it had been a little longer. It ends rather abruptly, and I really wanted to know what happened next!

The Austen Addiction is a novella about Sharon, a young woman recovering from a tragic accident that took the life of her parents. She moves in with her aunt while she tries to figure out her next step and befriends the neighbors, a charming lawyer named Devon, his sister Clara, whose husband is serving in the military overseas, and Clara’s young daughter, Victoria. As Sharon’s friendship with Devon begins to grow into something more, she must come to terms with the aftermath of the accident, learning to live in the present rather than escaping to the past through Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Some readers might be put off by the strong Christian themes, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, though the pacing was a bit quick for a story with such heavy themes.

First Impressions is a short story that follows Stephanie Sleuth, a time detective, as she travels through the whorls of time from 2017 to 1811 to remedy a mistake in Pride and Prejudice. Stephanie meets up with Jane, not for the first time, to try to uncover what influenced the most recent mistake in the book, which Jane is currently writing. It’s an interesting premise, but something that really needs a longer format to provide the necessary backstory and explanations so readers can follow the action.

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Now that I’m spending more of my free time (not that there was much to begin with!) working on my novel (which I’ll post about here when I’m further along in the process), I’m no longer accepting review copies. I do still have review books on my shelf, and I’m working my way through them as time permits — and lately it feels like I’m reading in slow motion. I’m still finishing up Ellen Marie Wiseman’s The Life She Was Given, which is a beautifully written though heartbreaking tale about a young girl sold into the circus in the 1930s. (Click the link to read the excerpt that Ellen shared with my readers over the summer.)

Another fun book I’m working my way through is Katwalk by Maria Murnane, which I hope to finish soon. I’m really enjoying it! Here’s the blurb:

Katrina Lynden has always walked a straight line in life, an approach that has resulted in a stable career and pleased her hard-nosed parents but that has also left her feeling unfulfilled—and miserable. When her best friend suggests they quit their Silicon Valley jobs and embark on two months of adventure in New York City, Katrina balks at the idea but ultimately agrees, terrified yet proud of herself for finally doing something interesting with her life. But when her friend has to back out at the last minute, Katrina finds herself with a tough decision to make. Much to her surprise, she summons the courage to go alone, and the resulting journey changes everything. Along the way she makes new friends, loses others, learns what is really important to her, and finds a way to grow up without leaving herself behind.

So watch this space for these reviews!

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I’m still hosting guest spots so I can let you all know about new releases that I’m excited about, and in February, I will have several guests: Amy George, author of The Sweetest Ruin (see my review at the very beginning of this post); Monica Fairview, author of When Pride Prevails; and Mark Brownlow, author of Cake and Courtship. I hope you’ll stop by for a variety of guest spots and giveaways!

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What are you reading right now? Any exciting plans (reading or otherwise) for February! I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

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My dear readers, I am so excited to have Nicole Clarkston as my guest again today. She has written a new scene tied to her Pride and Prejudice variation These Dreams, which made my Best of 2017 list (click to read my review). I’ll let her introduce the scene and the giveaway, so please give her a warm welcome:

Thank you, Anna, for having me today on your blog! It is always a pleasure chatting with you. Today I bring you a scene related to These Dreams, featuring everyone’s favourite Colonel Fitzwilliam (before he was a colonel). This short scene is set three years prior to the events of Pride and Prejudice (and also These Dreams).

Richard Fitzwilliam was wounded in battle in Portugal, but had befriended young Portuguese Lieutenant Rodrigo (Ruy) de Noronha. Invited to convalesce at his new friend’s family home in Lisbon, Richard made the acquaintance of the lieutenant’s lovely young sister Amália. Their initial meeting appeared first as a blog post on Austen Variations and then as a post-script after the epilogue of These Dreams. Today’s vignette, however, you will only find here. Enjoy it, and stick around for a chance to enter the giveaway at the end!

~NC

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Major Richard Fitzwilliam, decorated commander of the First Division Light Cavalry and an acclaimed hero of the battlefield, was in full retreat.

Oh, he would never confess as much. It would be too disgraceful, if any of his comrades in arms detected signs of weakness in his warrior’s armor. But there it was, a fissure the size of a Derbyshire canyon, cracking right through his chest into his viscera. And it widened every time she smiled at him.

Amália. He had never heard a lovelier name. Both sweet and flinty, gentle yet perplexing. It suited her, this enigma of a girl, barely old enough to dress as a lady and act as her father’s hostess. She came near him now, those delicious pearly teeth and peerless golden eyes flashing in an artless smile as she clutched a book in her hand. “Major, you are not in town with Ruy today?”

He looked up from the writing desk where he was composing a letter to his father. He shifted in the chair, pressing back against his seat and holding his breath, lest he catch her fragrance again. “Not today. He had some business with his commanding officer, but I do not report until next week.”

“Then you will be leaving us, no?”

Was that a tinge of wistfulness in her voice?

Richard cleared his throat. “Only if I have overstayed my welcome. I am to report, but I am not required to remain with my regiment. My commanding officer does not desire me back on active duty until my arm is fully healed.”

She smiled again… blast. “You are most welcome to remain here, Major. My father, he is… honoured, no? He tells everyone how you save Ruy.”

Richard’s neck felt hot. “I fear his narrative does your brother too little credit. The Lieutenant’s actions and bravery gave much courage to his men. Likely enough, we would both have been killed if the line had faltered.”

Her expression froze, and he could see the horrifying reality playing through her thoughts even behind her lingering smile.

“But let us speak of other things,” he corrected swiftly. “It was generous of your father to offer his hospitality.”

She warmed again, glanced about, and finally settled herself into a chair opposite him. “He wished to hold a dinner party for you and Ruy, but that would not be proper just now.”

“Nor would I wish him to exert the effort. I am simply grateful for such a comfortable and welcoming house in which to convalesce, though I do not quite share my commanding officer’s opinion that I must take such a long time about doing it.”

Those eyes sparkled again as she opened her book. “One must not attempt to heal too quickly, Major.” She dropped her attention to the pages then, giving every impression that she had sought this room, and that very chair, simply so she might enjoy her book in proximity to him.

They were hardly alone in the room, though it seemed that way to Richard. A woman of reduced circumstances, as they would have called her in England, always shadowed the daughter of the house, and half a dozen others came and went in that room on some errand or another. None, however, spoke to either of them, and the two were left in an uncomfortable peace. Uncomfortable to him, at least, and becoming more so by the minute.

He squirmed in his chair, doing his best to not think of her soft pale gown, or the way the spirals of hair curled round her tender neck, or the delicate fragrance which was even now assaulting his senses… dash it all.  He snatched the paper on which he had been writing and crumpled it for the fire, for he had written some words which had nothing at all to do with correspondence with his father.

She looked up in mute surprise as he thrust the wad of notepaper to the front of the desk, but he glanced at her only long enough to acknowledge her notice. He forced his attention back on the fresh sheet before him, flexing his fingers and shuffling his feet beneath the desk.

Seven hours. That was how long he could remain at attention without flinching. He knew, for he had done it not long ago; polished and ready for battle atop his charger, with a heavy bayonet at his shoulder. Seven bloody hours. He blinked a sudden rivulet of perspiration from his eyes. Apparently, he could not last even seven minutes with her in the room.

The paper was still blank, and he used the back of his hand to surreptitiously wipe another bead of sweat from his brow. It had nothing to do with the Portuguese summer heat, either, for it was still… not even June, and his composure was faltering by the second.

Darcy could have done it. Richard’s fingers tightened on the quill as he thinned his lips. Oh, yes, Fitzwilliam Darcy could have successfully ignored a woman with a book… whose eyes made his spine tingle every time they rose from her page. That old stick, he could have made a woman feel the full measure of his casual disregard, and suffered not a moment’s discomfort for it! Unlike himself… Richard writhed in his chair again.

“Major, you are not unwell?” that musical voice queried.

“I?” he jerked faintly. It was difficult enough to pretend that all his senses were not trained on her, without her bloody speaking to him! He had not been prepared for that. He cleared his throat again. “No, I am quite well.”

“You are not too warm? The sun, no, it comes in through the window. Perhaps you would prefer the garden air? Your letter would be easier after a walk, no?”

Oh, not the garden! He would never survive, not if she offered to act as his guide again. “I am quite well, thank you. I do not write quickly or easily. A family trait, I am afraid.”

“Then we must find some way to set you at your ease.” She rose, leaving her book in the seat. “Do you like reading, Major?”

“I used to. I have little time or patience for it now.”

“What of music? It relaxes the mind, no?”

That was precisely what he did not need, but he made an amiable reply. “It is a particular weakness of mine,” he answered, his voice lower than he would have liked. “And of every soldier, so far as I know, senhorita.”

“Then it will be my pleasure,” she beamed. “Senhora Ramires,” she turned to her companion, “will you play for the Major, and I will sing?” She turned back to him then, clasping her hands in apology. “I am hopeless on the instrument, but I do love to sing.”

She seemed to be waiting for him to rise, which he did—rather stiffly. He made her a quick, playful bow, mostly to hide something of his discomposure, and then… his stomach leaped somewhere into this throat when she blithely took his good arm to walk toward the piano. He stopped when she did, then gratefully dropped into the seat she indicated and crossed his legs.

She nodded to her companion, who dutifully took up the notes of a song he did not know. The opening lines were unremarkable enough, and would likely have remained so in his memory, until she lifted her voice.

He could not understand most of the words. He had a passing familiarity with Portuguese, and more so now than ever, but some combination of emotion and inflection rendered half the words foreign to him. He did not need them, however, to interpret the meaning of the song. She sang of young love, of searching and loss, despair, and then joy at reunion. Her clear voice rang with such power and intensity that tears began to pool in the corners of his eyes during the verses of tragedy and mourning.

The tone gradually changed, growing and building with the fire of hope. His eyes fixed upon her lithe figure, swaying as the music possessed her, capturing her breath until she gasped faintly between the lines and her feminine shape seemed ready to burst with the force of the passion the song had awakened. Just as the melody swelled to its most glorious, she met his eye, a faint smile about her lips as she continued to sing. Richard could not remember when he had last drawn breath, nor did he feel inclined to try to do so now.

He should stop her. He should declare himself unfit for company and retire to his room… and rejoin his regiment at first light tomorrow. Another trickle of moisture troubled him, but this time, he realised, it was a tear. And then a second. They mirrored the tears of the singer as she poured forth joy and lament, suffering and triumph, and with her final loving notes, Richard Fitzwilliam’s last defences fell.

Her voice quieted, like the dying breeze on the battlefield that leaves the flags limp and shell-shot at the end of the day. A soft sigh—hers or his, he was not certain—and the ruin was complete. He sat there in the deafening stillness, his skin still prickling and his lips parted, just as were hers.

She was staring at him now, the hands she had lifted at the pinnacle of her song now lowered, her breath slowing. Five seconds… the handspan of time it took for a fuse to detonate its source, but the shuddering, racking pain exploded within his own heart.

She blinked, and he did the same. The spell, for the moment, was lifted, but never again would it be broken. At her brother’s voice in the outer hall, Amália drew a refreshing breath, smiled, and dipped him a curtsey. “I hope the song gave you some peace, Major,” she offered, a blush staining her youthful cheeks.

“I would not call it peace, senhorita, but it is a performance I shall never forget,” he answered in a husky voice.

She dashed the last of the moisture from her eyes, a relic of several seconds ago, and her expression brightened again to that of the girl he had thought he knew. “Perhaps we will go to Ruy now?” she suggested.

He rose at last, then gave her his arm to walk together toward her brother. She took it with girlish grace, smiling up at him, and the yawning ache widened in his soul. In two weeks’ time, he would leave her behind, never again to be troubled by her intoxicating scent, her lyrical voice, or those bewitching, golden eyes. The arm she clasped would be given again in service to King and Country, safe from her reach. His heart, however, had declared its home– in the palm of her hand.

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Well, do you love the dear colonel as much as I do? So many of us know him as “Richard,” even though Jane Austen never gave him a name. It’s strange how his is one of the many characters Austen scarcely introduces, and he has come to life for us as a fully developed persona. Perhaps it is a combination of the fertile minds of JAFF authors and the fabulous actors who have portrayed this gentleman.

What do you think, who is the best film version of Colonel Fitzwilliam? Leave your thoughts, and you will be entered in our giveaway. Up for grabs is a reader’s choice of any of my books in any available format. The giveaway is international, so scroll our lovely men and name your pick!

 

Gerald Oliver Smith from the 1940 Pride and Prejudice

Desmond Adams from the 1980 Pride and Prejudice

Anthony Calf from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice

Cornelius Booth from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice

Tom Ward from Death Comes to Pemberley

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Thank you so much, Nicole! I absolutely loved Richard and Amália in These Dreams, so it was wonderful to see them again. I have a soft spot for the 1940 Pride and Prejudice since it was the first film version I saw, though it was so different from the book. But there’s something very appealing about Tom Ward… 😉

For the giveaway, please leave a comment with your answer to Nicole’s question, and include your email address so I can contact you if you win. The giveaway will close on Friday, January 26, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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About These Dreams

An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn — alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain
and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Goodreads | Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

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About the Author

Nicole Clarkston

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Connect with Nicole: Website | Goodreads Author Page | Goodreads Blog | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter

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I have a special treat for you today, my dear readers! It is always so exciting to get a peek at a new cover before everyone else and then get the chance to share it with the world! Before I unveil the gorgeous cover for Amy George’s latest book, Amy is here to introduce you all to The Sweetest Ruin. Please give her a warm welcome:

I am easily influenced.

As a young writer (a child), I spent a lot of time watching soap operas with my grandmother. My very first story was sort of a cross between “Guiding Light” and “The Boxcar Children.” As a teenager, there were copious amounts of New Kids on the Block fan fiction revolving around the Mary Sues of my best friend and I.

And then there was Jane.

She came into my life and let me fall in love with Darcy & Elizabeth. And I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

I wrote a tropical paradise continuation inspired by the music of Jimmy Buffett. I wrote a role reversal story with Lizzy as the snob. I wrote a murder mystery that got me kicked off Drool (and here I am showing my age to some members of the fandom). When that happened, my fiercely protective previously mentioned best friend put in all the work and made me the figurehead of a little place called the Hyacinth Garden.

The Garden was always a writer’s community. That was the intent from the get-go. So since most of the writers in the community felt safe, a lot of us used it as a place to experiment. We held writing challenges. There were dribbles and themed competitions revolving around racy short stories we called Naughty Bits.

I loved and appreciated this supportive environment more than you will ever know. I did a lot of writing for the Garden.

Including this story.

The Sweetest Ruin was the story that my readers asked for. Apparently, they were convinced I could not write a tale that didn’t emotionally jerk them around. They wanted low angst and this is what I came up with. I would post each chapter and used the comments to guide the story. Those readers from the Hyacinth Garden did as much to write this story as I did or as my beloved editor, Debbie Styne, a former Garden Hoe herself, did.

I invite you to take a trip to Vegas with Darcy, Lizzy, and me. This story is proof positive that while what happens in Vegas may stay there, what happened in the Garden was meant to be shared.

We are scheduling this blog tour from January 29 – February 9, 2018. The book will be released this week.

****

Meet Amy George:

“Amy George is a middle-aged woman who got rid of her old lady/grown up and has since purchased an unreasonably small car. She refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a small town in the Midwest where the bookstore and yarn shop are neighbors and most food is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum.

She has been writing since she was a child and ran the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.”

Fun fact: My birthday is January 30th so this is like a big birthday party.

****

Thanks, Amy! I am very excited to read this book, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I know all of you are ready to see the cover, but first, the book blurb:

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for:

Isn’t that a fantastic cover?!? It seems to fit the book perfectly. I just love the silhouette of our dear couple. I’m a huge fan of modern retellings, so I am anxiously awaiting the book’s release and the blog tour. Please show Amy some love for the cover in the comments! 🙂

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Before I share my thoughts about this book with you all, I want to apologize to the author and to the blog tour host for missing my tour date on Friday. I pulled a back muscle and that put me out of commission for a few days. Thanks to some meds and lots of rest, I’m feeling a lot better. 🙂

I was excited for the chance to read Volume I in Collings Hemingway’s The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy. The premise is so intriguing! What would Jane Austen’s life have been like had she married? Would she still have written the novels that I love so much? And if she would have had the opportunity to write while running her household, how would her marriage have changed those stories? This first volume doesn’t focus much on Jane’s novel writing; it’s set from 1802-1805, during the time she lived in Bath. But the story is rich nonetheless.

Hemingway’s Jane Austen came to life for me, from her wit and impertinence to her intelligence, her understanding of the world and her place in it, and her hope for happiness. Whether it is an accurate portrayal or not, one will never know, but she felt real to me. From page one, I fell in love with this version of Jane. I loved her snarky remarks to her aunt Perrot, her desire for adventure, and her impulsiveness. There were many scenes in which she reminded me of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Hemingway also brought Ashton Dennis to light, Jane’s childhood friend, five years her junior. He is shy and impulsive, large and clumsy. He has inherited a fortune and an estate, and his Lady Catherine-esque mother very much dislikes his close friendship with Jane. Meanwhile, Jane understands her limited options in society and prepares to live out her life unmarried, constantly traveling from the home of one relative to another with her sister Cassandra. As time passes and Jane begins to understand herself and Ashton more fully, she wonders whether she will ever have a chance to marry for love.

I loved the way the story unfolded, gently and realistically, and I enjoyed that it was more than just a love story, as Hemingway weaves in tales of war and other aspects of history.  I am looking forward to reading the next two volumes and seeing how this alternative life for Jane plays out.

****

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: A Novel by a Gentleman Volume I
by Collins Hemingway

Publication Date: June 20, 2015
AuthorHouse
Hardcover, Paperback, & eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

Everyone should marry once for love – Even Jane Austen

Jane Austen, single and seemingly comfortable in the role of clergyman’s daughter and aspiring writer in the early 1800s, tells friends and family to hold out for true affection in any prospective relationship. Everybody, she says, has a right to marry once in their lives for love.

But when, after a series of disappointing relationships, the prospect of true love arrives for her, will she have the courage to act? The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen re-imagines the life of England’s archetypal female by exploring what might have happened if she had ever married. It shows how a meaningful, caring relationship would have changed her as a person and a writer.

It also takes her beyond England’s tranquil country villages and plunges her info what the Regency era was really about: great explorations and scientific advances, political foment, and an unceasing, bloody war.

In such times, can love—can marriage—triumph?

Amazon | Austen Books | Barnes and Noble

Praise

“What if Austen, who penned so many classic love stories, found her own romantic match? Ashton Dennis fits right into the Austen universe, while this Jane remains true to life, an intelligent and determined young woman. The writing is Austen-ian, and Hemingway has a talent for witty banter and wry observations that would make Elizabeth Bennet proud. An enjoyable first novel in an imaginative, well-researched series.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A skillful portrayal of a … literary icon takes this historical romance on an imaginative journey of the soul. … Insight and intuition, along with meticulous research, have created a believable version of her character in this tender story of Ashton and Jane. … Excellent character development enhances the plausibility of the scenario. Background, motivation, eccentricity—everything that constitutes a personality allow these fascinating people to step off the pages in lifelike form.” —Julia Ann Charpentier, Foreword CLARION Reviews, 4 stars

“All readers of Jane Austen wonder what Jane’s life might have been like had she married, or had money. The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen explores these intriguing possibilities. It also depicts Austen in a rapidly changing world, connecting her to important aspects of the era-war, slavery, indistralization, and new modes of travel. Heminghway’s book raises many ‘what if’s’ in his thoughtful and thought-provoking portrayal of Jane Austen falling in love.” -Susannah Fullerton, author of A Dance with Jane Austen and Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

“[An] engaging and remarkably convincing romance. … Wry, observant, laconic—much like Jane Austen herself, without ever dipping into pastiche or mimicry. … Hemingway, with the lightest touch, builds up a thoroughly convincing alternative history for Jane. … [A] thoughtful re-imagining of Austen’s love life.” —Joceline Bury, Jane Austen’s Regency World

About the Author

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives and everything that makes tThe hem complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world’s thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.

Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Disclosure: I received The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Volume I from the author for review.

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Today I have a real treat for you, my dear readers! Rose Fairbanks is releasing her next Pride and Prejudice variation on March 29 (possibly sooner) — click here to preorder — and I will be revealing the cover right here, right now. And she is generously sharing an excerpt and a giveaway with you as well!

Before I show you the beautiful cover for The Secrets of Pemberley, here is the blurb:

To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He’s the young master to one of the kingdom’s oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect façade lies the truth: he’s the product of his mother’s affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

Doesn’t that sound intriguing? And here is the cover that seems to capture the book so well:

And the entire print cover:

Wow! The mask hints at some secrecy, and the statute on the back cover has a vulnerability about it that just tears at my heart! I’m dying to read the book, and I’m sure many of you are as well. In the meantime, here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

“You have done this, Anne, and I will never forgive you.”

A large, stern man hovered over Fitzwilliam Darcy’s sobbing mother. Her cries awoke the boy of eight from his night time slumber in the small Scottish cottage where he and his mother shared a room. The only light was a lantern in the man’s hand. Outside the open window, the world remained quiet except for the sound of horses snorting and stamping impatiently. A coachman attempted to calm them.

“But do not take him away from me! Do not take my boy!”

Fitzwilliam attempted to hide behind his mother who now sat on his bed.

“You have taken mine!” the man roared. “Have you no words of regret on the passing of your firstborn? My son! My heir! He needed his mother — but no, you were here.”

Lady Anne Darcy remained mute and continued her sobs. Her son peered curiously at the angry man. Mother had another child? He had a brother?

“Do not fret,” the man glared and had no sympathy for the tears he saw. “I kept your affair a secret, and he has my name. He will be accepted.”

“But he will not be loved!” Lady Anne sobbed anew, and she hugged Fitzwilliam.

“You should have thought of that before you played the harlot.”

“If you would allow me to come with you,” she pleaded.

“Absolutely not. You will remain here for your “health.” Now, pass the boy over.”

The man looked at the Fitzwilliam. He looked strange, unfamiliar and in clothing that showed no signs of wear. Mother had always said one day his father would come for him one day, but looking at this man, Fitzwilliam did not want to go.

“No, anything but that please,” Mother cried.

Large hands tried to snatch Fitzwilliam’s arm, and she threw herself in front of the child. He darted to the other side of the room.

“Anne,” George said in a warning tone. “The law is on my side.”

He sounded angry, and Fitzwilliam flinched at the voice, but his mother did not cower. Either Mother was very brave, or perhaps there was no reason to fear violence from the man.

“Allow me to say goodbye,” Mother pleaded.

At last, the towering man relented.

“Fitzwilliam, my darling son,” Mother choked out and embraced him.

He wrapped his hands tightly around her waist and pressed his head to her chest. “Mama, please do not send me away. Do not make me go with that man.” Tears streaked down his face, and he trembled in fear. Other than Cook and the maid, he had seldom known other people. He was even too shy to greet the minister they saw every Sunday.

“He is your father,” Mama said.

The man snorted, and Fitzwilliam lifted his head.

Mother turned her head to face Father. “What else is there to tell him, George?”

“Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence,” he said through gritted teeth. “Am I not lying enough as it is?”

“Please,” Mother asked as her chin trembled and tears fell down her cheeks. “Please.”

“Blast it. You always knew how to get your way,” Father whispered. “I will tell him when he is old enough.”

Fitzwilliam felt relief in his mother’s frame, and she exhaled the breath she had been holding.

“Thank you.”

Turning back to her son, she ran comforting hands over his hair and face. “Now, you will go with your Papa and learn everything you can about running a big estate. So many people will look up to you and will count on you. Do you think you can do that?”

Fitzwilliam shook his head.

“Our son was never afraid of anything,” Father said sadly. “Did you ever wonder?”

Pain and anguish flooded Mother’s eyes, and she squeezed them shut. Upon opening, determination filled them.

“You can do this! I know you can! Do you remember the name of the estate?”

“Pember…Pemberley?”

“Yes! See how smart you are already?”

Fitzwilliam did not care about praise at this moment. Why did he have to leave Mother behind? “When will I see you again?”

“Do not worry about that,” she answered with a quavering voice. “I must remain here and get healthy.”

Mother often said they lived here because of her health. She never seemed ill to him, only sad. However, he would never wish to hurt her. “Must I go?”

“Yes, it is your duty to be the heir of Pemberley.” She pulled him into a crushing hug. “Now, never forget how I love you. No one will ever love you as your mother.”

“Boy, it is time,” Father called.

After another minute, Mother released him and gave him a kiss on each cheek. He reluctantly walked to his father’s side.

“I am pleased to meet you, Father,” he said.

George Darcy harrumphed and left the sparse room. Fitzwilliam cast a parting look at his mother, who tried to smile and waved goodbye. Then, he trailed down the stairs and maintained silence until they were in the carriage. As they pulled away from the cottage which been his only home, Fitzwilliam cried.

How heartbreaking! I really need to know what happens next!

If you’re as curious as I am, Rose is generously offering two lucky readers the chance to win The Secrets of Pemberley: one ebook, open to readers internationally, and one print copy, U.S. only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and whether you are entering for the print copy or the ebook. This giveaway will close on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Rose, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your upcoming release!

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