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Janeite Deb:

Syrie James on her new novel “Jane Austen’s First Love” – don’t miss out on the giveaways from Austenprose and others on the Blog Tour! Can’t wait to read this – Love Syrie James’ books!

Originally posted on Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog:

JAFL blog tour banner x 500

I am very pleased to welcome author Syrie James to Austenprose today to officially open her virtual book launch party and blog tour of Jane Austen’s First Love, published by Berkley Trade. This new Austenesque novel is a fascinating combination of fact and fiction, exploring the first romance of fifteen year-old Jane Austen with the handsome and sophisticated Edward Taylor. 

Syrie has generously offered a guest blog sharing her inspiration to write her new book—and to add to the festivities—we will be offering an amazing selection of giveaways including: trade paperback copies of Jane Austen’s First Love, a muslin tote bag stuffed with Jane Austen goodies, and a specially commissioned painting inspired by the novel. Just leave a comment following this blog post to enter. The contest details are listed below. Good luck to all. 

Please join us in welcoming Syrie James.

The inspiration for my…

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We are very fortunate today to welcome Laurel Ann Nattress, creator of the blog Austenprose,  and editor of the just released Jane Austen Made Me Do It, a collection of Austen-inspired short stories.  The book was just launched ~ on October 14, 2011 at the Fort Worth JASNA AGM!  

Hello Laurel Ann!  

A hearty welcome to you today as you trek around the world on your Grand Blog Tour!  A lovely time here in Vermont, so sorry we are doing this via cyberspace rather than a true visit over a hot cup of tea on a colorful fall day – but alas! this will have to do! 

Before we get to your new [and very exciting!] book, I’d like to start with a few general questions about you and Jane Austen. 

JAIV: Most of us in “Jane Austen Land” know you as the dedicated, enthusiastic, and insightful author / editor of the Austenprose blog.  Just give us a brief look into your personal history, your first experience with Jane Austen and why she has remained such an integral part of your life. 

LAN: Hi Deb, thanks for inviting me to chat with you today on Jane Austen inVermont. Can we have some of your famous Vermont maple syrup with the hot cup of tea?   

 *blushes* Your diplomacy in describing my Jane Austen output is very kind, but honestly, it is all just a wonderful outlet for my Austen obsession that began with the 1980 airing of PBS/BBC Fay Weldon television adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I knew of Jane Austen previously, but that five hour miniseries was a life altering experience. Compelled to discover more works by this fabulous author, I read all of Austen’s novels and worshiped in silence. There is just something so intriguing about the Regency era; a simplicity and civility that is so refreshing to our complicated modern lives. Looking back is delightful – though, I do prefer modern conveniences such as the Internet, plumbing and social advances.

Austen has remained integral to my life because her characters have. Her astute observation of human nature is around me every day in my family, friends, people I meet through my work as a bookseller, and through my blog. I recently had an encounter with a modern-day Fanny Dashwood that I was much wiser of because of Austen’s portrayal of her in Sense and Sensibility. Austen makes me think – and learn – and I love the challenge.

JAIV:  Can I dare ask that always-asked / impossible-to-answer question – which is your favorite Austen novel and why? 

LAN: You are right Deb, this is an impossible-to-answer question! I could give the politically correct answer and say that my favorite Jane Austen novel is the one I am currently reading, but I won’t, and will go out on a limb and say it wavers between Mansfield Park and Lady Susan. Are you shocked? Oh, I do dearly love to laugh with Pride and Prejudice and get pierced through my soul with Persuasion, but I am one to root for the underdog, so I will stick with my first choices. I think I am drawn to the dark characters in both of these novels and how they are played against the plot. The novella Lady Susan is especially intriguing to me because it was an early work, not as developed and polished as her full novels, and its eponymous heroine is just out-and-out wicked. I would love to see it made into the next mini-series or movie. (hint, hint) 

JAIV:  I agree with you Laurel Ann – I do wonder why Lady Susan has never been made into a movie – casting it would be great fun!…

If you were to start an Austen library, what would you say are the essential works to have [the Complete Works and Lettersbeing a given]? 

LAN:  here you go for starters:

Fiction: Novels by her contemporaries of course: Ann Radcliffe: Fanny Burney, and Samuel Richardson, but also contemporary authors who continue her legacy: Georgette Heyer, Stephanie Barron, Lauren Willig and Syrie James to name only a few.  

Non-fiction: *walking to my bookshelves* My favorite biography: Jane Austen: A Life, by Claire Tomalin, and Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels, by Deirdre Le Faye. 

Reference Sources: For the Inner-librarian in us all: A Bibliography of Jane Austen, by David Gilson and for general Regency & Georgian culture: All Things Austen, by Kirstin Olsen. 

JAIV:  Your introduction contains many fine quotes from Austen’s works – if you could choose one quote from all her writings, what would be your favorite? 

LAN: From a letter to her sister, Cassandra – 13 May, 1801 

‘Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card-table, with six people to look on and talk nonsense to each other.’ 

The whole letter is just a cut up of the characters and family in the neighborhood. I enjoy seeing her unguarded and making sport of the humanity that surrounded her. Jane Austen did not suffer fools gladly, which probably got her into trouble with her family. It may be one of the main reasons that her sister destroyed much of their personal correspondence.  

JAIV:  So now let’s talk about your book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart: 

This is your first venture into editing and publishing – please tell us about how this all came about? – a dream-come-true really, isn’t it? 

LAN: Indeed a dream project Deb, that came about because of my blog Austenprose. Isn’t the Internet grand? It (and the movies) has opened up Austen to a wider audience. 

I feature many book reviews and author interviews on my blog, and as I continued to work with them, I saw a thread connecting them and my passion for Jane Austen. They were all so enthusiastic about her work and how Austen had inspired them. One day, out of the blue, I thought to myself, “Why couldn’t I edit an anthology of Austen-inspired stories? I could ask all of the authors that I had worked with to contribute a story!” 

Of course, my biggest challenge was if I could find a publisher, so I reached out to some of the authors I knew for advice. Before I could write up a book proposal, I was contacted by a literary agent who wrote to me in appreciation of the work I had done promoting his client.  I thought about it for about 10 seconds, and then I seized the opportunity at once, called him inNew York, and pitched my idea to him.  He loved it.  So did Random House.  I had a book deal within a week and twenty authors lined up in about a month.  It was truly a day when my stars and planets aligned and magic happened.

JAIV:  I love subtitles – they give the author an opportunity to give a real hint of what’s inside, a well-worded tug on the reader.  Your title of Jane Austen Made Me Do Itis just brilliant, and the subtitle defining Jane Austen as an “astute observer of the human heart” is in itself an astute description of our favorite author – how long did it take to come up with this title, or was it always floating around in your head? 

LAN: I must give all the credit of the title to my agent, Mitchell Waters.  He thought of Jane Austen Made Me Do It and presented it to my editor who loved it.  The subtitle arose from some of my writing on my blog that my editor was struck by.  She elaborated and lengthened it. I liked it, so we used it.

JAIV:  And, I love the cover, a creative way of getting all those words onto the cover without looking wordy! – and the young lady in forward motion, almost saying to us, “come on, let’s look inside, shall we?”  How much input did you have on the cover design and other physical aspects of the book? 

LAN: Cover design is an art. I see hundreds of new ones arrive monthly at my job as a bookseller.  Some just jump out at you from the new release tables. Others, not so much.  The first time I saw the cover design for Jane Austen Made Me Do It I was taken aback.  It was striking and so different than any other cover I had seen. 

Authors have very little input on cover design or marketing.  We are just the talent.  The publisher is the sales professional.  The only thing that I requested to change was the ribbon color from orange to pink and that they add a grosgrain texture.  I was relieved when they agreed and I think the end result is amazing.

JAIV:  I know you are familiar with many of the Austen-inspired fiction writers, either through their works or befriending them through your blog – how ever did you choose from the many excellent authors out there? And what was the writing requirement you posed to them?

LAN: Since the 1995 A&E/BBC airing of Pride and Prejudice staring the dishy Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, the output of Austen-inspired novels has created a new book genre – Austenesque.  We all have our favorite authors that we personally connect with and want to read over and over.  The same is true for me of Austen-inspired novels.  It took me about 15 minutes to compile a list of my dream authors for my editor to look through.  Happily she agreed with all of them and added a few new authors that she knew admired Jane Austen.  The day I sent out the email query was amazing.  Within ten minutes I had my first response from Lauren Willig.  She was ecstatic.  Everyone that I had worked with previously said yes over the next few days.  Within a month, we had our line-up set. 

I was pretty open with the requirements with the authors.  The story needed to be about five thousand words in length, but other than that, they could write in any genre and era.  I threw this quote at them and let them loose. 

“[S]uppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford,” Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Ch 60. 

JAIV:  The variety and diversity of these stories is quite amazing, all connected to Jane Austen in some way – she is either in the story or her presence is felt in some way; there are historical tales and contemporary tales; some of her characters are revisited; there are love stories and ghost stories, we get to visit with Stephanie Barron’s (and Jane’s!) favorite gentleman Lord Harold Trowbridge again!, and even The Beatles make an appearance! – were you surprised by this so very wide range of tales?? and how so? 

LAN: Yes, I was entirely surprised and delighted by the diversity. We had hoped for about half historical and half contemporary stories so that it would appeal to a wider audience.  The authors sent me their ideas and I encouraged them in certain directions.  When the stories started arriving, I was thrilled with the result.  There were very few re-writes and then copy editing followed for all.  It took about two years from concept to curtain.  All of my authors, except for the short story contest winner, were polished pros.  They came though like champions. 

JAIV:  How ever did you figure out the order of stories? 

LAN: This was entirely my choice.  It was gut instinct really and a bit of formula that will remain a secret! ;-)

JAIV:  There are twenty-two stories, written by known published authors – all but one that is –  “The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey [which I have to say is in my top three list – will say which in my review!), winner of the short story contest  – tell us about the process of that contest and the difficulties in choosing just this one from so many entries? 

LAN: The Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest was also entirely my idea.  I thought it in keeping with Jane Austen’s dedication of her craft to inspire novice and unpublished authors to write.  It was held online at the Republic of Pemberley last January. The stories were submitted and posted on the contest board and the public voted on the Top Ten. Those finalists advanced to the review by my editor and me with my agent stepping in if there was a tie. 

We were blown over by the response.  Eighty-eight stories were submitted. They were amazing.  Selecting the Grand Prize Winner was quite a challenge, but from the moment I had read Brenna Aubrey’s “The Love Letter,” I knew that it was very special.  I was thrilled that it made it into the Top Ten and that my editor loved it too.  You can still read the stories online – so please check them out. 

JAIV:  You have not published a book before.  Here you had to choose and edit the stories; write the introduction; add in author bios; create and implement a marketing strategy to include the book’s website, PR materials [bookmarks and posters and magnets, oh my!); launch the book, etc! – what in this whole process surprised you the most? Discouraged you the most? Inspired you the most? 

LAN: You are so observant Deb.  Jane Austen has taught you well.  Yes, there is a huge process to bring a book to publication and market it.  I had seen the end product – the sales part of it – when a book hits the bookstore.  I also had been involved in the marketing end while working with publishers and authors on my blog, but I knew nothing about the process before that. 

One hears horror stories about the long road to publication.  Our dear Jane Austen had her own trials before Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811. As I mentioned previously, I presented my idea to a literary agent who took the chance on an unpublished blogger and connected me with the perfect editor at Random House who loved the idea.  Working with Caitlin was so encouraging.  She is very positive and nurturing for a new editor.  Her expertise and instincts guided me to many of my decisions.  I was surrounded by an amazing team of agent, editor and authors.  I am very grateful and am so pleased with the result.  

JAIV:  Jane Austen Made Me Do It officially launched on Friday, October 14, 2011 in the Barnes & Noble in Fort Worth, Texas, during the JASNA AGM.  Please tell us about this evening – the whole event, who came, what was said, what yousaid, questions asked, etc… 

LAN: I could write a whole blog (and will) on the eventful book launch. Here it is in a nutshell: in attendance were Pamela Aidan, Stephanie Barron, Carrie Bebris, Syrie James, Janet Mullany, Margaret Sullivan and me.  It was the trifecta of Jane Austen book launches with two of my anthology authors: Carrie Bebris and Janet Mullany also sharing the limelight launching their new titles: The Deception at Lyme and Jane Austen Blood Persuasion.  I was very nervous.  I had never spoken in public before.  I was told I was as white as a sheet, but that my talk went off well.  We had about 150 in attendance, many of which were attendees of the JASNA conference.  I inscribed a lot of books that night.  It was surreal. 

JAIV:  What is next for you with this book? – any more launch parties? book talks? etc?

LAN: I have my local book launch for Jane Austen Made Me Do It on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at Barnes & Noble in Lynnwood, WA.  This is my store (I work there) so it is particularly eventful to celebrate with friends and family and co-workers.  I have other events in the queue, but I do get a rest for a while, which I really need after weeks of build-up and writing 32 blogs for my Grand Tour of the blogosphere! Phew!

JAIV:  And now that you have had this first publishing experience, what is your next project? – would you do another such anthology? and what would you say was the most valuable lesson you learned this first time out? i.e. what is your best advice to a would-be writer? 

LAN: I have two projects that are in development.  One is an anthology and the other is a new kind of annotated edition of Austen. I will leave you hanging in suspense Deb! 

JAIV:  You and I have had numerous discussions on the popular culture aspect of Jane Austen today: the movies, the continuations, the sequels, prequels, retellings, the comic books and graphic renditions, the mash-ups and the paraphernalia, the you-tubes, the facebook and twitter pages and blogs – the list is endless as you know! – so what would you say to the person most horrified by these reincarnations of Jane Austen, these 21st century takes on her classic literary talents, that person who wants her and her characters left in peace, that person who will re-read the originals over and over before daring to tread into these murky insane waters of popular culture – what can you say to them so they might be encouraged to read these works, to hopefully discover your book to be a fine start?! 

LAN: The Austen purist is a tough convert. If they enjoy the original author only and do not want to try anyone else, I can only add that I hope they might consider branching out and being adventuresome. I hope that they might be tempted by my anthology because it was written in the spirit of Jane Austen’s ideals of creativity and craft development.  It might just make them laugh – and even Austen’s self-elevating heroine Emma Woodhouse, who she feared no one would like but herself, is appealing because she has the keen sense of laughing at the sublimely ridiculous Mr. Elton: 

“After this speech he was gone as soon as possible. Emma could not think it too soon; for with all his good and agreeable qualities, there was a sort of parade in his speeches which was very apt to incline her to laugh. She ran away to indulge the inclination, leaving the tender and the sublime of pleasure to Harriet’s share.” Emma, Chapter 9

JAIV:  And finally, if you weren’t reading Jane Austen, if heaven-forbid there never had been a Jane Austen [gasp!], what would you be doing?

LAN: I would be obsessed with James Fenimore Cooper. The Last of the Mohicans is actually Sense and Sensibility with guns, Indians and red coats! But that is a whole other blog post, right? 

JAIV:  Indeed it is!  Thank you Laurel Ann for so graciously answering all my questions! I wish you the best of everything with this book – I loved it and will post a review in the coming week…

LAN: It was my pleasure Deb.  Thanks for your inspiring questions.  Hope to meet you again soon to share that cup of tea and more musings on our favorite author! 

*******************************

About the editor:

 Laurel Ann, on the right, with Syrie James, one of the anthology
authors, at the JASNA AGM in Fort Worth

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0345524966 

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It 

Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by midnight October 26, 2011 [i.e. the morning of the 27th], stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on October 27th, 2011.  Open to all and will ship internationally.  Good luck to everyone!

 Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum, at Jane Austen in Vermont

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Congratulations to Laurel Ann of Austenprose fame on today’s unveiling of her new website!  Laurel Ann is the editor of a new Jane Austen anthology,  Jane Austen Made Me Do It – follow her tale on the journey to publication!  meet with the 22 authors included in the anthology!  read the short story summaries! subscribe to the blog! enter to win a copy of the book!  Click here to become part of the story yourself!

Best wishes to you Laurel Ann! – cannot wait for the official launch in Fort Worth at the JASNA-AGM! Offical release date is October 11, 2011 – but you can pre-order your copy now:

Ballantine Books
Trade paperback (464) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966
Available: 11 October 2011
$15.00

Pre-order the book at your local book store, or:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
IndieBound
Book Depository
Random House

Copyright @2011 Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont

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I made a promise to myself back in August 2010 to finally read Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, this promise made after reading Laurel Ann’s Austenprose interview with Lynn Shepherd.  Shepherd is the author of the  Austen-inspired mystery Murder at Mansfield Park, but also a Samuel Richardson scholar and author of  Clarissa’s Painter: Portraiture, Illustration, and Representation in the Novels of Samuel Richardson (Oxford University Press, 2009].

I have had Clarissa sitting on my bedside table for years – a friend gave it to me as a joke, daring me to read the thing – I was tempted to tear it into nine parts [an easy thing to do!] and have each of my book group buddies read their piece of the book and report on it – an easy way to lessen the pain of reading this rather large tome – my copy [the Penguin edition of 1985 with introduction and notes by Angus Ross] measures 9 x 6 x 2.75″ with a total of 1534 pages, a heady feast of endless words in very small print!  But alas! I could not go the book destruction route, it’s not in my genetic makeup, and so have just stared at this thing for years, dusting it occasionally, contemplating its use as a doorstop or such [it weighs 2 lbs, 11oz!], but somewhat guilty all the while…  an English major who cleverly avoided this book or any Richardson for that matter because everything is just so long and not to mention depressing! And despite Richardson being Jane Austen’s favorite author, and that she read and re-read his works and was greatly influenced by him, I just haven’t done it… until now…

So when I read Lynn Shepherd’s post and saw the brilliant suggestion to read Clarissa in ‘real time’, starting on January 10th, and finishing on December 18th, I thought this was a perfect solution, nearly a whole year to finish the thing,  not much time to be spent on a daily basis – how bad can it possibly be?  So, Dear Readers, I have begun – January 10th, with already a welcome reprieve as the next letter is not until January 13th… 

When I told my gifting friend that I was finally going to read the thing – she wondered how I would be able to put it down and not read ahead – I told her I did not think that would be a problem in this case – and indeed it seems not to be so far!

I welcome anyone else who would like to join me in this – there have been group reads of Clarissa on other listservs – I am not going to post about the book,  just periodic updates of my reading progress.  My only concern is I am already looking forlornly at Richardson’s other book on my shelf, Pamela, a much shorter and happier exercise in reading what Jane Austen read… – so wish me luck and join me if you can!

Samuel Richardson (NNDB)

Further reading on Samuel Richardson:

Copyright @ 2011 Deb Barnum, Jane Austen in Vermont

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Portland AGM – Day Two ~ I first refer to Laurel Ann’s post at Austenprose for her take on Day 2 – we did a lot together, but also tried to attend different break-out sessions –  so here is a quick summary of my day two: I should start this by saying something about my love of Northanger Abbey – it took me few readings, over a few years, but now I count it as one of my favorites, Catherine an engaging heroine and Henry quite to-die-for and Austen more on her game than she is often given credit for – you can read this former post about my thoughts on NA, rather than repeat all that – but just wanted to emphasize how much I was looking forward to this AGM and it most certainly exceeded my expectations!

I was completely bummed that I had to miss the Team Tilney offering headed by Maggie “‘Da Man” Sulllivan and thankfully Laurel Ann shared the happenings with me – I had to go off to a THREE hour [yikes!] regional coordinator training session, which was great – some new people, some old friends, some great new ideas – Claire Bellanti, VP of Regions gave an inspiring meeting – and we all left with plans for new programs and ways to connect with each other in our varying attempts to bring Jane Austen into the lives of the folks in our respective regions.  Claire had us all introduce the person next to us and we each had to share what book, other than of course any Austen, we would want with us if stranded on a desert island – interesting responses [perhaps a future post]!

After a quick lunch with Laurel Ann, we headed into the official AGM opening, hearing President Marsha Huff on her love of Northanger Abbey; the JAS Secretary Maureen Stiller who spoke of the loss this year of two great Austen scholars Elizabeth Jenkins and Brian Southam; and Steve Lawrence from Chawton House Library and Joan Ray thanking members for their generosity to the NAFCHL [North American Friends of Chawton House Library] –

and then on to the Plenary speaker Stephanie Barron, noted  author of the Jane Austen mysteries, on Suspicious Characters, Red Herrings, and Unreliable Detectives: Elements of Mystery in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey – a delightful talk on the mystery elements in Austen, a crime in every novel, the heroine as solver, the detectives and pseudo-detectives, and the final restoration of order.  Barron quotes W. H. Auden and his three requirements of a mystery novel, all present in Austen’s works: a closed society; a state of innocence with the “crime” committed by a fallen member of the society; and the societal ritual that the criminal has knowledge of in order to commit the crime, but is overcome by one of superior knowledge who restores order [thankfully!] –  Barron then applies this pattern to Northanger Abbey – the investigators, the clues, the red herrings – Henry as the consummate detective, Catherine as ignoring the clues, Isabella the dropper of clues, John Thorpe as the red herring, General Tilney as the fallen one – with Henry finally restoring order, Catherine all the while gaining understanding of the male world, “penetrating the veil” as in all good gothic novels.  Barron ended her talk with a comment on the Kathryn Sutherland kerfuffle about one’s editors [you can read more about it here], a reference to her short story to be part of Laurel Ann’s Jane Austen short story anthology Jane Made Me Do It [we all whooped! Laurel Ann swooned!], and answered some questions on her latest book Jane Austen and the Madness of Lord Byron – she spoke about following Austen’s chronological real life in the writing of her fictional mystery series, and oh! what will happen in 1817.  All in all quite a wonderful introduction to this year’s AGM!

Then off to the first of many break-out sessions – and what a task to choose! – each session offering such variety and depth – the choice so difficult – I decided to do at least one on the gothic literary features of NA, one on fashion and all that muslin, and of course, something on Henry Tilney.  So my first was to hear the ever interesting Janine Barchas on The Real Bluebeard of Bath: A Historical Model for Northanger Abbey a brilliant tour through the nightmarish history of the Farley-Hungerford Castle, within driving distance form Bath, and a place that Austen would likely have visited or known about in her time in Bath. Professor Barchas shared the words in a contemporary guidebook, Richard Warner’s Excursions from Bath [1801], a book known to have been in George Austen’s library and containing Jane’s marginalia – and here we have some real-life gothic tales about what went on in Farley Castle and may have served as Austen’s inspiration for her own Abbey story, truth of course being far more bizarre than fiction!

Then off to see Stephanie Eddleman on “Henry Tilney: Austen’s Feminized Hero?” – One of the things that can get my dander up in a discussion about NA is talk that Henry is too feminine to be a true hero, or too condescending to be an equal lover to Catherine, or too distant as a character to engage the reader – so I was hoping that Prof. Eddleman would give me much needed ammunition! – and she did indeed:  Henry as the one hero who stands apart – he is her only witty hero; he is feminized but not feminine, and unlike Austen’s other feminized male characters [Frank Churchill, Robert Ferrars], Austen is not critical of Henry.  I most appreciated Eddleman’s answer to Marvin Mudrick’s contention that Henry is a detached, disengaged character – she feels that Henry develops intimacy through his intelligence and wit, always encouraging Catherine toward her own independent thinking.  I hope this talk will be in Persuasions – it gives much needed support for Henry as True & Worthy Austen Hero.

With all these great thoughts swimming around in my head, off we ran to the Portland Art Museum for the General Reception with the Wild Rose Garland Dancers – we arrived slightly behind schedule and found long lines for food and drink – Laurel Ann off for food, I did drinks – the long line frustration only lessened by a gentleman who told me all about his breakout session by James Nagle on “Dismemberment in the Library with the Quill Pen” – all about Regency succession rules, primogeniture, entails, etc. – Laurel Ann also went to this, so between the two of them I felt as though I had not missed this obviously interesting and entertaining talk – so this made the line move – we ate and drank and stood for the dancers as there was not a seat in sight – the dancers quite lovely and great fun to watch – here are a few pictures [with apologies for the dark and motion]:

Wild Rose Garland Dancers

the woman who would not sit down

The Dancers and the Players

“]

Sneakers- for my son

Player Gerhardt Quast on his Bodhron

[with thanks for letting me take a picture of his sneakers for my son!]

Next to me, however, was a woman who said she was sorely distracted by the distant statue of a rather large naked man [rear view only] – pictures duly taken, much laughter around and we were lost in the giggles for the rest of the evening [too much wine perhaps and not enough food?] – I see that Laurel Ann posted on this and the woman left a comment, so we are glad to have found her – and send you thanks Brenda for making our evening! – not that the dancers were not fabulous – we were just giddy at this point and who could resist!

 I regret not taking more photos of the museum offerings – I see that Diana Birchall has several on her blog – so I send you over there for a peak to Light Bright and Sparkling.  And you can view the Museum website as well.

And then the evening not nearly over – back to the hotel for the author book signings and to hear Jeff Nigro’s talk on Mystery Meets Muslin: Regency Gothic Dress in Art, Fashion and the Theatre.”  Jeff is the new RC for the Chicago Region and had spoken at that AGM two years ago on Art – so here again, another interesting visual treat about art and fashion and the literary and theatrical world of Austen’s time – I am not sure I will ever look at the art of the period the same ever again, or at least trust what I am looking at! – I am not even sure I can understand my notes! – so much information in this talk! – the mixing and matching of styles in the historical and contemporary works of art, with an emphasis on the “Gothick Picturesque”, the eclectic Regency gothic – Nigro shows that Austen’s Northanger Abbey is itself an eclectic mix, an overlapping of genres, as encompassed in both the Thomson and Brock illustrations. This was such a visual tour, one must see it to appreciate it, and not well described without the visual piece to accompany it – I would dearly love to get Jeff to visit Vermont and share his love of the arts with us…

So Day Two –who knew that just sitting around and absorbing all things Austen could be so invigorating and exhausting!  I will add this – hanging out with Laurel Ann had many perks! – the book she is editing involves a number of great Austenesque authors who have each contributed a story to the anthology [see Austenprose for details] – but while I have been attending AGMs for a number of years and was happy to introduce Laurel Ann to a number of JASNA people [and as soon as they understood she is the force behind Austenprose they all nearly genuflected!] – but her contacts with her authors was a treat for me to be introduced and spend some time with them as well – I have a few pictures of them and append them here with links to their sites – great writers all who embrace Austen in their own imaginative ways – I look forward to Laurel Ann’s book publication [alas! not until next October – just in time for the Fort Worth AGM!] – so thank you Laurel Ann for this – great fun all around!

Syrie James, Laurel Ann Nattress, and Cindy Jones

Syrie James and her husband Bill were a delight to meet – she costumed every day and he for the ball [will save the elaborate ball dress for tomorrow!] – Syrie has authored The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte [we bonded on a mutual love of Jane Eyre], and Dracula, My Love [on my TBR pile -I hear it is great!]  Visit her website here.

Cindy Jones has a new book coming out [March 29, 2011] My Jane Austen Summer: A Season at Mansfield Park - we had a great chat and I look forward to reading her book – please visit her blog at First Draft to learn more about her and her forthcoming  book. Cindy is also blogging at the new Austen Author’s blog.

Marsha Huff, Laurel Ann Nattress, Laurie Viera Rigler

Marsha Huff is, of course, JASNA President – this is her last AGM as head of the troops, and she has now passed on the torch to Iris Lutz from the Tucson Region – it has been a wonderful four years with Marsha and we will miss her – but I don’t think she will wander very far from the activities!  In this picture, she has just given Laurel Ann her JASNA Life Member pin! – so congrats to Laurel Ann on this!

Laurie Viera Rigler needs no introduction, but you can view her website here and her blog here – always a sheer pleasure to spend time with Laurie – but alas! no gossip on her next book – we must content ourselves for now with her “Sex and the Austen Girl” creations [such a punishment...]

And I will close with another fashionista picture of Rebecca Morrison-Peck, one of the Emporium vendors – you can visit her shop at Etsy here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/thethatchedcottage, where you will find all manner of Regency fashion pieces.  I was quite disappointed to try on two lovely spencers – one too large, the other too small – so will wait for another day to adorn myself – I purchased a Regency dress pattern three years ago , and that is as far as I have gotten – my Singer retains its dust and I think I should just give in and buy something from one of these far more talented mantuamakers!

Rebecca Morrison-Peck - The Thatched Cottage

Vic, who we sorely missed and hope one of these days to meet at an AGM, has posted links on her Jane Austen Today blog to several of the AGM posts already out there – so check out the thoughts and pictures of everyone else! … and finally,

Stay-tuned for tomorrow, Day Three and the Ball fashions! – I think this was the most costumed AGM yet!

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Here is the review of Georgette Heyer’s Bath Tangle that I wrote for the “Georgette Heyer Celebration” at Austenprose:

I first encountered Georgette Heyer’s Bath Tangle via audio and I was enchanted – the head-strong Hero and Heroine, not always likeable, at odds with each other from page one – so I was delighted to read the book when Laurel Ann asked me to do this review – another Heyer, another cast of characters, and an abundance of Regency settings to savor!

Serena Carlow, 25, a titian-haired beauty, strong-willed, headstrong, accomplished*, daring and tempestuous, certainly anything but “serene”, has suddenly lost her father, the Earl of Spenborough.  He leaves a twenty-two year old wife, no male heir with his estate passing to a cousin, and a will that provides for Serena’s fortune to be under the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham.  Fanny, now the widowed Lady Spenborough, a young girl, barely out of the schoolroom when she was pledged to the 47 year-old Earl against her will, is well-named – Austen’s Fanny Price looms over this character.  Though of a shy, retiring disposition and propriety-bound, she and Serena, so very different, have forged a true friendship – they move together to the Dower House, leaving the cousin and wife, a la the John Dashwoods in Sense & Sensibility, to take over the Earl’s entire estate. Serena is left with an allowance, her fortune of 10,000 pounds a year to be passed to her only upon her marriage to a man approved by Rotherham …which of course sends Serena “up into the boughs.”

Major back story, as in Persuasion:  Serena and Rotherham were betrothed three years before, her father’s wish, but Serena crying-off shortly before the ceremony because “they did not suit”.  Rotherham is after all a harsh and arrogant fellow, with an “imperious and tyrannical disposition”, “high in the instep”, barely even handsome [but he has great hands! and those powerful shoulders!] – they do their “dagger-drawing” from page one and while they may not think they suit, we know quite differently, that they are meant for each other, everyone else paling in comparison…..[Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew comes to mind!]

Fanny and Serena decamp to Bath for a change of scene during their mourning period – and so enters Major Hector Kirkby, Serena’s “first and only true love” from six years before – and she, Hector’s “goddess”, his dream become real when they once again meet.  Hector is fine and handsome, but a tad frightened of Serena’s strong personality of “funning humours and openness of temper”. They set all the tongues of Bath wagging, embark on a secret engagement [due to mourning etiquette], Rotherham is consulted and approves, then announces his own engagement to the not-yet 18 year old Emily, and suddenly, Everyone Ends Up In Bath: Mothers in the marriage mart; Aunts critical of Serena’s behaviors; Rotherham’s family demanding attention and money; Hector’s dream; Serena feeling 19 again; the fortune-seeking Lalehams, pushing Emily into the arms of the Marquis; and Mrs. Floore, Emily’s grandmother, one very lively jump-off-the-page character, “of little height and astonishing girth”, vulgar and socially stigmatized, with an outrageous sense of fashion; and Rotherham, the jilted lover, who says of Serena “she would have been well-enough if she ever broke to bridle”, he is“blue-devilled” and angry, bordering on the cruel throughout most of the book…

Heyer gives us what we love her for: the witty dialogue; the fashions described; the list of cant terms [ramshackle, clodpole, “the dismals” feather-headed, ninny-hammer, on-dits, bird-witted, toad-eating, etc]; the Hero and Heroine throwing all the barbs known – abominable, wretch, odious, detestable, termagant, etc.]; and Bath in all its glory – the Libraries, Assemblies, name-dropping of real residents [Madame D’Arblay, Mrs. Piozzi, the scandalous Caroline Lamb and her Glenarvon];  the political arena of the time [Rotherham is in Parliament] – all the many details that make this visit to the Bath of Regency England so very real, so very engaging, and with that Heyeresque rollicking Romance, a courtship novel with its Many Tangles to help turn the pages – Delightful!

[*Note:  Jude Morgan’s An Accomplished Woman [St. Martin’s, 2009] literally duplicates this Heyer formula and does so quite well – I recommend it!]

[Posted by Deb]

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As mentioned in a previous post, Laurel Ann at Austenprose has been celebrating Georgette Heyer through the month of August, with various guest reviews of the novels and interviews with Heyer experts.  Laurel Ann had asked me to write a review of The Quiet Gentleman, which is posted today, and Bath Tangle which will be posted August 20th. 

Reading Georgette Heyer is a new experience for me, and the immersion has been quite enjoyable – I most like stumbling upon her Austen echoes, and they are there in her characters, her settings, her plots – Heyer greatly admired Austen amd read and re-read her through the years.  I don’t agree with those who think that Heyer is another Austen [here is a short article on the topic], but it is a lesson in influence to read Heyer’s romances [and her mysteries aren't half-bad either!], and see where Austen touches her.

You can read the review of ‘The Quiet Gentleman’ here  at Austenprose – please visit and comment; I’ll post the full text here next week.

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