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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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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.

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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.

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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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