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Posts Tagged ‘the particular charm of miss jane austen’

Source: The authors
Rating: ★★★★★

How could she have known what a love of Jane Austen’s writing had brought her: the friends, the life choices which had led to a job she loved, a slow but steadily growing confidence in herself as someone of value?

She felt like someone had died, the sense of loss was so severe.

(from The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen)

In The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, Ada Bright and Cass Grafton ponder what the world, and one woman’s life in particular, would be like if Jane Austen never existed. The novel is set in Bath during the annual Jane Austen Festival and centers on Rose Wallace, who lives in a basement apartment in the building the Austen family occupied in Bath. Rose is happy with her job at a company that rents out luxury apartments in the city for people on holiday, and she is ecstatic that her online friend, Morgan, is coming from California to meet her in person and attend the festival.

Rose and Morgan’s friendship is a testament to the welcoming online community that has been created around a mutual love for Jane Austen’s novels. Rose is quiet and reserved, especially around her crush, Dr. Aidan Trevellyan, who she sees only once a year during the festival. Morgan’s outgoing personality, and her ability to make friends everywhere and anywhere she goes, takes Rose out of her comfort zone but complements her perfectly. And it is this friendship, as well as the novels of Jane Austen, that could be lost forever when Rose meets a mysterious, intriguing stranger.

If I hadn’t been so busy the last couple of weeks, I would’ve devoured this book in a day! Bright and Grafton give readers a little of everything: friendship, romance, time travel, and plenty of humor to keep the sense of despair from weighing down the story. The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is an endearing tale that had me pondering how my life would be different without the influence of Jane Austen — from the novels I love so much that I read them over and over again to the fan fiction that means I never have to say goodbye to my favorite characters, from the friends I’ve made in the JAFF community to the novel I’m working on right now.

I loved everything about this book: the characters, the relationships, the setting, the writing. I especially enjoyed how Bright and Grafton opened the door for a sequel, and I am dying to see what happens next! Definitely a contender for my list of favorite books read this year.

Disclosure: I received The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen from the authors for review.

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PrintI’m delighted to welcome Ada Bright and Cass Grafton to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, which I will be reviewing later this summer. Please give them a warm welcome!

Thank you so much, Anna, for inviting us to visit you at your Blog! We are so pleased to be here and to share with your readers an excerpt from our newly released novel and to offer a giveaway of the book.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is a contemporary mystery-cum-romance set against the beautiful backdrop of the city of Bath.

When the story opens, it’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the Jane Austen Festival, an annual celebration of the famous author and her works.

Rose, a Bath resident as well as an avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and for the Festival to start, but she’s unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a magical secret that ultimately leads to Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy disappearing!

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

We’d like to share with you an excerpt from Chapter Twelve of our story, but beforehand, here is a little background.

Rose, our heroine, is such a dedicated Jane Austen fan, it has influenced her choice of home (the basement flat located beneath No 4 Sydney Place, the Austens’ main Bath residence) and her choice of job. She has a rich social life on Internet forums, based mainly around Jane Austen’s life and works, something she has effectively hidden from her friends and colleagues in her day to day life, but this year, that is due to change. Rose has invited her best friend, Morgan – a Californian, whom she has never met in real life, to the Festival.

Despite some trepidation over mixing these two worlds, Rose is convinced it’s going to be the best week of her life. That is, however, until she begins to get distracted by the visitor staying in the flat above hers, the ground floor holiday apartment of No 4 Sydney Place. The young lady is clearly a dedicated Jane Austen fan, from her very authentic Regency clothing to her attempts to copy the author’s familiar handwriting, and Rose is intrigued.

This afternoon, Rose and her friends are attending a beginners’ dance class in preparation for attending the ball at the end of the week, but soon Rose’s mysterious neighbour arrives and once again she finds herself drawn to her.

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve

4 Sydney PlaceRose smiled happily as she moved elegantly – or so she hoped – along the line as they followed the instructions of the incredibly patient caller, a cheerful if emphatic lady called Diana. They had been at the beginners’ dance class for over an hour now, and Rose’s cheeks ached with laughing, but, though it could hardly be said they were moving as one, they were definitely making progress.

Everyone was in good spirits, gamely stepping well out of their comfort zone, but Rose had been surprised to find Morgan hadn’t mastered it in her usual quick way. Not that it dampened her friend’s mood as she sailed off in the wrong direction once more. ‘I think I got it that time. No!’

‘Your other left!’ Rose called over her shoulder as Morgan skipped straight into the next line over from them, laughing and apologising at the same time.

Rose was enjoying the swishing of her long skirt as it brushed against her ankles. Whilst there were a fair number of people in period dress, she had opted for a full-length but modern skirt and an Empire line top. Morgan had been instantly regretful for throwing on her jeans, and Rose and her friends had quite a job on their hands persuading her against grabbing one of the white cloths from the tables in the foyer to fashion a makeshift skirt of her own.

Stopping triumphantly on the final note of the music, Rose turned with everyone else to cheer their almost successful completion of a whole routine. Tess and Sandy, who were attending the advanced class later in the week, were watching from the side lines and applauded enthusiastically. Morgan was high-fiving Marita, celebrating their survival of the set if not their dancing prowess, and Leo was bowing deeply to a blushing Chrystal. Turning back, Rose smiled – their second dance, if she was not mistaken.

It was exactly as she’d imagined it should be: laughter and music and friendship. She looked around at the happy faces and sighed blissfully. Just then, however, she spotted Jenny gliding towards the chairs lining the walls and taking a seat. Like Rose, she wasn’t in costume today but wore a similar floor-length, full skirt, a neatly buttoned blouse and clutched a shawl in her lap. Making a sudden decision, and under the distraction of everyone grabbing cups of water – it was surprisingly warm work – Rose walked over to sit beside her.

‘Are you going to join in? It’s so much fun.’ Rose gestured towards the milling dancers as they chatted and practised a few steps.

‘Good afternoon.’ Jenny looked briefly in Rose’s direction, those bright eyes sparkling as always. ‘It is not my purpose – no.’

‘But it’s a dance class.’

‘A fine sport indeed.’

‘So…’ Rose turned in her seat to face Jenny, who glanced at her again but this time did not turn away, her eye caught by the necklace around Rose’s neck. Then she raised her gaze to meet Rose’s and smiled. There was something in her steadfast gaze…

‘I’m curious; why did you come if you don’t want to dance?’

Jenny glanced around the room. ‘Is one obliged to participate? Did you never attend the theatre merely to enjoy the performance? Do those who follow the sporting endeavours of others join them on the field of play? There is ample amusement to be derived from observation and thus little need for the effort of partaking.’

It was the most Jenny had ever said to her, but Rose found herself wrapped in circles over what her actual meaning was. Perhaps she was best left to her own devices after all.

‘Do not mistake me, Miss Wallace. I appreciate your interest, but please rest assured I am perfectly content.’

Realising the dancers were reassembling, ready for more mayhem, Rose stood up. ‘Well then, I’ll leave you in peace. See you later.’

‘Had a nice chat?’ Morgan grinned as Rose rejoined her.

‘I asked if she planned to join in. But Morgan – I wonder…’

‘Yes, you wonder a lot about her. Rose, let it go.’ Morgan threw her a fond look.

‘I’m trying but I just can’t help but feel I’m missing something. And it’s weird; when you talk to her, when she’s got you fixed with her eye…’

finalfinalmap‘Her eye? Now you’re making her sound spooky. She’s just a mad crazy fan who learned how to write like a famous author – or… I dunno, maybe she’s like an actress, playing a role. Hey, that’s it!’ Morgan laughed. ‘She’s one of those; you know, the ones who have to live the part they are about to play. What do they call it? Role immersion? No, wait – Method acting.’

Rose tried to apply it to everything she’d seen, to how she felt when in Jenny’s company. ‘I don’t know. It’s even more than that. It’s not as if she’s trying to live the life so much as – it is her life.’

‘Well, that’s the point of the Method, I think. It’s that, or she’s even more delusional than we first thought.’ Morgan turned back to face the dance hall.

‘But I don’t want her to be delusional. I so want to believe in her.’

‘What?’ Morgan choked back another laugh. ‘You want to believe she actually is Jane Austen? Rose –’

‘No! Of course not. But I don’t want her to be a criminal either.’ She glanced over her shoulder, then back to Morgan. ‘I feel some sort of – oh, I don’t know… connection when I see her? Like she’d be fun to know?’

‘Despite the possible forged letters you saw – and the candles and all the loot?’

‘Maybe it’s as we first thought and she’s just something to do with antiques? She clearly loves the past and anything associated with it – and why not? Perhaps the letter-writing is something she enjoys, loves to indulge? What if she’s pretending she lives in that era and because of her job, she’s able to acquire the props to help her live the dream?’ The more she spoke, the more sense it made to Rose.

Morgan eyed her sceptically, then grinned and waved a hand at the lines of dancers who were trying some new steps under Diana’s careful guidance. ‘You’d have thought she’d have leapt at a chance at this, then. Why don’t we both go and see if we can persuade her? I still think her lack of interest does hint more at fraudster than obsessive fan, though.’

Rose looked around again, just as Jenny raised her head and they locked eyes. They stared at each other for a second before a flash of unease crossed the lady’s face. ‘Shit, she’s seen us looking at her. I have to go and–’

Morgan grabbed Rose’s arm. ‘Where are you going? No! Are you kidding me? You can’t just accuse her of being a fraud – or a loony!’

‘I’m not going to,’ Rose muttered. A whirlwind of images spun through her mind as she stared at Jenny: the inexplicable disappearance into thin air, the figure staring reverently at Jane Austen’s books in Waterstones; her well-worn costumes and the curiously old-fashioned style she favoured at other times. Then there was the vast array of candles in the flat above hers, the boxes spilling their old yet suspiciously fresh contents over the floor, and the handwriting, using proper ink and a genuine pen of the era…

Trying to read the look on Jenny Ashton’s face as she got slowly to her feet and picked up her shawl, Rose narrowed her gaze, her head swirling with all sorts of impossible thoughts. Then she murmured, ‘Jenny. That was Mr Austen’s pet name for his youngest daughter.’

Morgan rolled her eyes. ‘Okay, look, just hold on. We don’t want to scare her. Let’s just–’

‘She’s going,’ Rose said urgently as the lady turned to leave the room.

‘Well, no surprises there. You’ve been staring at her! Enough to freak any normal person out, never mind Crazy Jenny!’

‘I’m going after her.’

Morgan had to walk with a sort of trot to keep up as Rose strode out into the entrance hall and pulled open the door to the street.

‘Rose, seriously.’

‘I want to catch her before she disappears.’

She hurried down the steps to the street just in time to see Jenny escape from view around the corner, and Rose drew in a steadying breath. For a reason she couldn’t quite explain, time seemed critical, as though she didn’t have a moment to waste.

‘I’m cold! Let’s just go back inside.’ Morgan rubbed her arms, but Rose shook her head. ‘I just want to ask her about some things. That’s all. This is my own… quest or… delusion or… something.’ For a second, the image of Jenny’s face from moments earlier appeared before her, and Rose gasped. ‘And she knows.’

Morgan frowned. ‘Knows what?’

‘She knows that I suspect she’s…’ Rose stopped. What on earth did she suspect? ‘Please bear with me! I have to find her, I have to talk to her.’

‘Rose, she will think you are the mad one!’

‘Then she and I will have to run mad together!’ She gave her friend a quick hug before turning and walking rapidly down the street in Jenny’s wake.

Then she called over her shoulder as she broke into a run, ‘But do not worry, we shall not faint!’

About the Authors

IMG_9793-LAda Bright by Cass

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Ada. She likes Cheerios and bacon burnt beyond recognition (though not on the same plate), and she has an interesting sense of direction. This doesn’t just apply to getting from A to B, but also in reading – she read the third Harry Potter book first – and likes to read the end of every book before she starts.

She’s a talented artist, photographer and writer, but more than that, she’s one of the best friends I have ever made.

Since we met 14 years ago, she’s had three gorgeous children and moved house twice – from Pasadena in California to Pasadena to… wait for it – Pasadena!

Oh, and she’s so cool, her name reads the same backwards too – that can’t be just a coincidence, can it?

IMG_9762-LCass Grafton by Ada

I am very lucky to be able to count Cass as a best friend and writing partner for over a decade. She likes cold wine, cats, and the written word. People are drawn to the beauty of how she strings words together to create a story, but I love the humour with which she does it.

She is a poet in her writing, an adventurer in her life, and the most generous host I’ve ever known.

Since we met, oh so long ago, she has lived in three countries and thrown more parties than I have washed dishes. She has also celebrated the joys in my life with the same love and attention as she has her own family. Though, at this point, I have to say that family is basically what we have become.

She deserves top billing here, but, being Cass, she would not hear of it. Alphabetically is simply how these things are done, and there is really no use doing anything if you’re not going to do it right.

We love to hear from readers! Please follow us or contact us via the following social media links:

tabbycownostrilOur Blog: Tabby Cow

Facebook: Ada | Cass

Twitter: Ada | Cass

About the Book

It’s September, and the city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works.

Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and the Festival to start, unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy at risk.

With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

Amazon.co.uk (paperback and ebook) | Amazon.com (paperback and ebook) | Barnes & Noble (paperback) | Barnes & Noble Nook Store (eBook) | Kobo (eBook) | iBook Store (eBook) | Smashwords (all eBook formats, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iStore, PDF and more)

Giveaway

Ada and Cass are generously offering a winner’s choice international giveaway (paperback or ebook). To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about the excerpt. This giveaway will close Sunday, July 31. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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