Posts Tagged ‘rose servitova’

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rose Servitova to celebrate the release of her newest book, The Watsons, a completion of the unfinished Jane Austen novel. I read Austen’s fragment several years ago and was intrigued by the story, and I think it’s very brave of her to “finish” Austen’s novel. I hope you all are as excited as I am about the novel. Please give Rose a warm welcome!

What inspired you to write a completion of The Watsons? Do you think it was harder to write this book, particularly since Austen never finished writing it? Or did you feel that it gave you a little more freedom in your story?

I had not thought of The Watsons at all until I went to a talk in Bath by Jane Austen expert Paula Byrnes. I was writing another manuscript that just was not working and I had more or less accepted that I would have to walk away from it. As I sat listening to Paula speak so passionately about Austen’s unfinished works and Juvenilia, I decided that perhaps I should read them and consider completing one of the unfinished works, if I liked it. I confess, the task was a little difficult as Austen had not placed much color on the fragment. As Virginia Woolf commented of The Watsons, it was as if she had meant to come back and add layers to it and had not. I had to ensure that I enhanced and added to what existed and not deflate or take from it. The characters she created had huge potential so I knew that if they came alive for me, they would take over the story and write it themselves. I feel that is what happened.

What do you think Jane Austen was starting to do with the themes in The Watsons? Are they different or similar to her other works?

Interestingly, Sanditon is very different from her other novels but The Watsons is somewhat similar. There are themes in The Watsons that we see elsewhere, such as sisterly love, female financial dependence, attempts at climbing the social ladder and family obligation.

Can you describe the main characters? What did you think of them, and what were the challenges in continuing their story?

Emma Watson has returned to her home after spending fourteen years with her rich aunt. Once a presumed heiress, she is returned penniless to her family when her aunt remarries. Emma is kind above all else. It leads her to act at times when others would hesitate or fear the opinion of others. She cannot watch others suffer and do nothing. Well educated and refined, she finds it difficult initially to resettle in the family home.

Her sister Elizabeth Watson is nine years older than Emma. Taking the role of matriarch in the family when she was but a child herself (on their mother’s passing). Elizabeth is outspoken, warm, witty and a little blunt.

Mr. Watson is their ill clergyman father, whose health often necessitates staying in bed. He is a sentimental lover of Shakespeare and a kind father.

Margaret and Penelope Watson are the two other sisters. Margaret is petty and loves gossip. Penelope is sharp-witted and conniving.

Robert and Sam Watson are the brothers in the family. Robert is married and doing very well in Croydon. Sam is an apprentice surgeon who is rarely free to visit.

Lord Osborne, Tom Musgrave, Mr. Howard, Mr. Shaw and Solomon Tomlinson are many of the male characters who play a role in this book. Lord Osborne is the socially awkward heir of Osborne Castle, Tom Musgrave is his charming, socially-climbing side-kick, Mr. Howard is an astronomy-loving clergyman at Wickstead on the Osborne estate, Mr. Shaw is a witty, wealthy bachelor from Chichester who abhors marriage and every mention of it, and Solomon Tomlinson is the arrogant curate at Wickstead.

When/how did you discover Jane Austen, and why do you think she and her novels remain so popular today?

My granny’s house had books – all the classics. When I was a teenager, I read Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, the Brontes and all of Austen’s novels. I really have no idea why her books remain so popular today except to say that there is, within the pages, a secret formula that is impossible to describe but which leaves such a satisfaction in the reader that is unmistakable.

When/how did you discover Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF), and what prompted you to write your own?

To be honest, I am not an avid fiction or JAFF reader. In my free time, I am more inclined to read non-fiction. I get a great kick out of the screen adaptations and spin-offs however. I really enjoyed Bride & Prejudice recently. I thought it was an amazing adaptation that captured Austen’s essence perfectly yet altered almost every detail of the book. It was a joy to watch. I felt for many years that if I were ever to write a book, it would have some connection to Austen and, in particular, to Mr. Collins. This dream came true with The Longbourn Letters. I was not sure that I would get involved in any more Austen related writing but then The Watsons happened.

Could you share with us a little about your writing process and describe your writing space (or share a peek via photo)?

Rose Servitova writing

Writing my debut novel, The Longbourn Letters, was very different to writing The Watsons. I work full-time so I have to steal time where I can. The Longbourn Letters was largely concocted while out walking the country roads near my home and later typed up in a café while listening to classical music on my headset. I tended to write at No 1 Pery Square – a Georgian hotel, the setting was perfect by a sash window (see photo). For The Watsons, I gathered all my ideas and notes and took off to a writer’s retreat for a couple of nights – writing the first draft in less than a week and then spending about nine months, here and there, editing and rewriting. Contemporary music played a part – helping me find the emotions I was trying to evoke for key scenes. I also created a visual chart for the characters, basing them on actors, fictional characters etc.; for example, two of the characters are based on Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. As a child, the verbal combat and onscreen chemistry of these two left its mark on me – it was a meeting of minds. I don’t share my work while it’s a work-in-progress. I tend to trust my gut and then trust a very good editor friend.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Her Kind by Niamh Boyce. Her debut novel, The Herbalist, is one of my favorite books and I’m looking forward to Her Kind as it is based on the Kilkenny Witch Trial of 1324.

Are you working on another book at the moment, and if so, any hints as to what it’s about?

I wrote an outline to Sanditon in early 2018, putting it aside when I heard ITV were filming an adaptation. It’s a manuscript I hope to return to someday. I started a historical fiction crime novel set in a convent in Ireland in the 1930s but work on that has stalled while focusing on getting The Watsons out into the world. The essay is a form of writing that I love and I would like to write a collection of essays at some point. It’s my hope to write them in between writing novels. I’m also a huge fan of travel books and would like to write my own one day.

Fantastic! Thanks for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!


About The Watsons

Can she honour her family and stay true to herself?

Emma Watson returns to her family home after fourteen years with her wealthy and indulgent aunt. Now more refined than her siblings, Emma is shocked by her sisters’ flagrant and desperate attempts to ensnare a husband. To the surprise of the neighbourhood, Emma immediately attracts the attention of eligible suitors – notably the socially awkward Lord Osborne, heir to Osborne Castle – who could provide her with a home and high status if she is left with neither after her father’s death. Soon Emma finds herself navigating a world of unfamiliar social mores, making missteps that could affect the rest of her life. How can she make amends for the wrongs she is seen to have committed without betraying her own sense of what is right?

Jane Austen commenced writing The Watsons over two hundred years ago, putting it aside unfinished, never to return and complete it. Now, Rose Servitova, author of acclaimed humour title, The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence between Mr Collins and Mr Bennet, has finished Austen’s manuscript in a manner true to Austen’s style and wit.

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author

Rose Servitova

Irish author Rose Servitova is an award-winning humor writer, event manager, and job coach for people with special needs. Her debut novel, The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr. Collins & Mr. Bennet, described as a ‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication in 2017. Rose enjoys talking at literary events, drinking tea and walking on Irish country roads. She lives in County Limerick with her husband, two young children and three indifferent cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.


November 18            My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)

November 18            Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)

November 19            The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

November 20            Austenesque Reviews (Review)

November 20            vvb32 Reads (Review)

November 21            All Things Austen (Review)

November 22            My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)

November 25            From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

November 25            Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)

November 26            So Little Time… (Excerpt)

November 27            Impressions in Ink (Review)

November 27            Babblings of a Bookworm (Spotlight)

November 28            More Agreeably Engaged (Review)

November 29            My Vices and Weaknesses (Excerpt)

November 29            The Fiction Addiction (Review)

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Today marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and to celebrate her life and her novels, my guest today is Rose Servitova, with an excerpt from The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence Between Mr. Collins & Mr. Bennet.

Please give her a warm welcome:

I love minor characters and believe they add so much to novels. What I loved about writing this book, is the licence it gave me to allow Austen’s brilliant characters such as Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh, Mary Bennet and Mrs Philips as well as Mr Bennet and Mr Collins more ‘air-time’ to develop and become more tangible. It also enabled me to introduce new, comical minor characters such as the charismatic Reverend Smellie, the eccentric inventor Mr Lucas, the carriage-driving Baroness Herbert and Reverend Green (who walks an invisible dog).

This excerpt is taken from the second chapter of The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr Collins & Mr Bennet, when the plot of Pride and Prejudice is coming to an end (Lady Catherine’s fury at Darcy and Elizabeth’s engagement sparks a sudden visit by Mr and Mrs Collins to Lucas Lodge). The relationship between Mr Collins and Mr Bennet, although in its infancy, is on the cusp of taking on, as it does for the remainder of the novel, a life of its own.


An excerpt from The Longbourn Letters, courtesy of Rose Servitova

Lucas Lodge

11th October, 1792


My Dear Sir,

We have just now arrived at Lucas Lodge and wish to let you know of our unexpected arrival into the Hertfordshire countryside and your neighbourhood. Charlotte, in her condition, was eager to spend time with her family, while her health permits it but, in truth, we are moved more speedily hither due to a matter of great concern to me.

Lady Catherine was rendered so outraged by the news of her nephew’s engagement and left lose all her disappointment and fury that much of it fell on my own head. She stated that my being Elizabeth’s cousin and Charlotte as her childhood friend were responsible for throwing the lovers together and, indeed, almost conspiring against her. In such a state of trepidation, we felt it safest to remove ourselves immediately to Lucas Lodge to take cover and wait for the worst of the storm to pass, though I must confess, that it may take some time. I should never wish to witness her ladyship in such a distressed state again and pray that it shall not happen for the remainder of my residence at Hunsford.

I can only wonder that her deep disappointment perhaps stemmed from not soon calling Darcy her own son, adding vinegar to the wound, for it was certain in her mind that fate would have it so. Indeed, I too am bitterly disappointed for my vision of their wedding ceremony is crushed and there is no occasion now fitting my great passages. I shall bear it as best I can but I must confess I am perplexed that you did not heed my warning and part the lovers until a more convenient route be found. One wonders how he could be thus tempted to act in such a rash and unguided manner when he could have had Rosings in addition to Pemberley. I will, however, put aside my displeasure to add that I sincerely wish them well and hope that, although it would be impossible for Lady Catherine to degrade herself by attending the wedding ceremony, both Charlotte and I would be flattered to be present. I believe I heard from the servants that, not one, but two, pineapples have been ordered for the celebrations of this momentous occasion.

We encountered Baroness Herbert, her dog and carriage on the final stretch of our journey. Indeed she does move at alarming speed, displaying a wildness of character quite unbefitting a member of the aristocracy. 

We will no doubt, sir, be delighted to see you within the next day or two.

With compliments to your wife and daughters,


William Collins


Postscript: I am all astonishment with regards your prize-winning blackcurrants for when I first visited Longbourn last year, I shook my head with regret that the bush was in such a sorry state. I will not tell you, sir, that it was dead but it was certainly not alive. Your lettuce, which I momentarily mistook for cabbage, existed for the sole purpose of feeding the local population of rabbits and slugs. That the blackcurrant bush not only survived but went on to win first prize with its crop is a miracle, cousin, of biblical proportions. I myself have enjoyed some little success at the Westerham Fair, third prize in the categories in which I entered, but as the first and second prizes were all won by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I was deeply humbled and delighted to witness my name listed next to hers in the winners logbook. In her current fury, however, all that is forgot.




11th October, 1792


My Dear Sir,

I congratulate you, for you must be delighted. Elizabeth’s impending marriage to Darcy makes you practically a nephew-in-law of Lady Catherine in all but name. Little did you think when you were casting yourself at her feet as a humble servant that you would one day look her in the eye as an equal and relative? I hope in time, when her fury takes a turn for the better, that she will relish, nay enjoy, the connection as much as we do. Fear not, your wonderful ‘passages’ will get a day out, at some future time. Keep them safe, sir, for you never know when your eloquent passages will be in great demand amongst the upper gentry of this fair land.

May I caution you, sir, not to trouble yourself with rushing to our sides on this visit. We know that you will be tending to the needs of your wife during this delicate time of expectancy and we would not have it on our consciences, if she should need you at Lucas Lodge while you were entertaining us. Yours is a generous spirit and one we must take care not to take advantage of. If we see you within the week, we will consider ourselves most fortunate.

Another reason which would have me delay the pleasure of your company is that you would find us not quite ourselves as wedding preparations have taken over our lives, minds and purses. The weddings will be joined – Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley. The date will soon be fixed and if you hold tight at Lucas Lodge, you most probably will be in attendance, for these lovers have no patience.

As you can imagine, Mrs Bennet has already made her way to the draper in Meryton for the sole purpose of returning to inform me that there is nothing therein fit for the clothing of one who will be soon the mother-in-law of both gentlemen. She must, she declares, absolutely must, visit the best warehouses in London in the company of her sister-in-law, Mrs Gardiner. I encourage it, and choose to forget the cost, for the few days of peace it will afford me. The older I get, it seems, the greater value I put on my time rather than my money. Mrs Bennet will take our daughters with her and so, I will once again be free to roam my house without interruption and, temporarily at least, become the head of the house once more. Only last week, while searching for an old map of the West Indies, I entered the back room, wherein the lady of the house occasionally retires when she has one of her headaches, to discover I had not set foot in it for over a year and it had new wallpaper, a bureau and armchair which I had never seen in the course of my life. A veritable stranger, I have become, in my own home!

I will send for you to join me for dinner on one of these quiet evenings, when I have the house to myself and we can do as we please without offence to any other. It will also give me the opportunity to show you the first prize ribbon which my blackcurrants won for me and we can marvel together at this miraculous happening.

Your cousin,


Henry Bennet

Thank you, Rose, for sharing this delightful excerpt with me and my readers. I can’t wait to read the book!


About The Longbourn Letters

Where Pride and Prejudice ends, a new relationship begins.

Good-humoured but detached and taciturn, Mr Bennet is not given to intimacy. Largely content with his life at Longbourn, he spends his evenings in the solitude of his library, accompanied only by a glass of port and a good book. But when his cousin, the pompous clergyman Mr Collins, announces his intention to visit, Mr Bennet is curious to meet and appraise the heir to his estate.

Despite Mr Bennet’s initial discouragement, Mr Collins quickly becomes a frequent presence in his life. They correspond regularly, with Mr Collins recounting tales of his follies and scrapes and Mr Bennet taking great pleasure from teasing his unsuspecting friend.

When a rift develops between the men, Mr Bennet is faced with a choice: he must withdraw into isolation once again or acknowledge that Mr Collins has brought something new and rich to his life.

Tender, heart-warming and peppered with disarming humour, The Longbourn Letters reimagines the characters of Pride and Prejudice and perfectly captures the subtleties of human relationships and the power of friendship.

Check out The Longbourn Letters on Goodreads | Amazon


Book Trailer


About the Author

Rose Servitova

Irish woman, Rose Servitova, is an award-winning humour writer, event manager and job coach for people with special needs. She has published in a number of literary journals as well as being short-listed in the Fish Flash Fiction Prize and at Listowel Writers Week. Other than PG Wodehouse, Rose is a lifelong fan of Jane Austen. Her first novel, The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr Collins & Mr Bennet, described as a ‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication earlier this year. Rose is also curating Jane Austen 200 – Limerick, a festival celebrating Limerick’s many links to Austen while nodding at its extensive Georgian heritage through literature, architecture, screen, theatre, fashion, talks and, of course, tea!! Her next novel is in the offing.

Connect with Rose Servitova on Facebook | Twitter | Website



Rose is generously offering 2 signed paperbacks of The Longbourn Letters, open internationally. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and tell me how you are celebrating Austen’s life and works or what intrigues you most about this book. This giveaway will close on Monday, July 31, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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