Jane Austen in Lord Moira’s Echo ~ Guest Visit from Author Stuart Bennett & Book Giveaway

 

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[See updated information at the end of the post]

I welcome today Stuart Bennett [no relation to our esteemed Mr. Bennet – the difference a “t” can make!], antiquarian bookseller and author of two novels starring Jane Austen. You can read my April 2012 interview with Stuart about his first novel The Perfect Visit here:

As you know I loved this book because of its time-travel intrigue wherein we meet Shakespeare and Jane Austen, as well as its literary and bibliographical adventure through the London and Bath of the 16th and 19th century. Stuart’s new novel, Lord Moira’s Echo, has just been published and has a new and historically fascinating take on Jane Austen’s “lost” years from the spring of 1801 through the fall of 1804. I highly recommend it – it offers a tale of those years when “Jane Austen went missing” as biographer David Nokes writes, that is certainly as plausible and interesting as any of the other various fictional efforts in this vein out there. I cannot say more because the post would be an entire “Spoiler Alert” that would ruin the pleasure of your own reading! Please see below for the book giveaway.

I have been asked if one should read The Perfect Visit first, and I say that while this second book does stand completely on its own, an understanding of Vanessa and her story of being catapulted into Jane Austen’s England would only enhance your enjoyment.

~

So in lieu of an all-out review, I have asked Stuart to tell us something about this new work:

Stuart: I discovered references to the Austen family in the unpublished Hastings family archive at the Huntington Library in California. From these, I felt I could introduce this historical character, Francis Rawdon Hastings, the second Earl of Moira, as one who might have met Jane Austen during those lost years. The novel tells its story from two perspectives, Lord Moira’s own, and a young Canadian musician, Vanessa Horwood, who was the protagonist of The Perfect Visit; Vanessa is from our time, caught in a time-travel snafu and stuck in early 19th-century England. The narrative of my new novel shifts back and forth from 1823 to 1801 and 1802, imagining what might have happened if the Earl, about whom Jane’s banker brother Henry spoke bitterly even after Jane’s death in 1817 and who features in Austen family correspondence well into the 1830s, had been more than a just a shadowy figure in the lives of the Austens.

Jane herself plays a major part in the 1801-1802 sections of Lord Moira’s Echo. Lord Moira, whom I first discovered in a glancing reference in Brian Southam’s Jane Austen and the Navy, really could have played the role I give him. The social history of Regency England is full of much stranger tales.

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

Thank you Stuart, and also a hearty thanks for offering a copy to commenters. For those in the Vermont JASNA region, Stuart spoke on this novel as a work-in-progress in September 2012, where we were all intrigued to hear of his take on Jane Austen’s mystery love. He just recently spoke at the JASNA-MA and JASNA-SC regions, and is scheduled with the JASNA-Maine group in September. For readers wanting the full historical tale behind the references to the Austen family in the Hastings archive, Bennett’s essay, “Lord Moira and the Austens,” will appear in the next issue of Persuasions – Vol. 35 (2013), due out this May.

You can find more information on both novels at the Longbourn Press: http://longbournpress.com/

Lord Moira’s Echo is available in large format paperback ($14.95) and as a Kindle download ($2.99) via the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/Lord-Moiras-Echo-Stuart-Bennett/dp/1494475197/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394040137&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Lord+Moria%27s+Echo%3A+A+Novel

The Perfect Visit can be found here: pb ($13. 46); kindle ($2.99)

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Visit-Stuart-Bennett/dp/0615542700/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323810829&sr=8-1

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

Bennett photo-ILABAbout the author: Stuart Bennett was an auctioneer at Christie’s in London before starting his own rare book business. He is the author of the Christie’s Collectors Guide How to Buy Photographs (1987), Trade Binding in the British Isles (2004) which the London Times Literary Supplement called “a bold and welcome step forward” in the history of bookbinding, and many publications on early photography, auctions and auctioneers, and rare books, and of course these two novels on Jane Austen. He currently lives and works near Boston, Massachusetts.

Book Giveaway!

Please leave your questions or comments for Stuart in the comment section below to be eligible for a free inscribed copy of Lord Moira’s Echo by Monday April 21, 2014, 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced on Tuesday April 22nd.  Open to US respondents only (sorry, but postal rates are now over-the-top!)

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Update:

1. see this review, by Rebecca Rego Barry on the Fine Books & Collections blog here: http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2014/04/stuart-bennett-on-austens-lost-years.phtml

2. I’m adding here two questions from the comments with Stuart’s very thoughtful answers, as they give a little more insight into the writing of this tale of Jane Austen in love, and I didn’t want them to get lost in the comments……:)

*What made you be inspired to write the book? [Patricia Finnegan]

Dear Patricia Finnegan,

Thank you for writing. The inspiration to write the Lord Moira novel came in the same odd way that it did for my first novel, The Perfect Visit. I imagined a character in a situation (it was one of the time-travelers for the first novel) and, once imagined, the character wouldn’t let go of me. Other characters appeared to join him and they all started doing things, and waking me in the middle of the night with their conversations (this is true, and I had to write the conversations down right away because by morning they were gone).

When I discovered Lord Moira in a glancing reference in Brian Southam’s Jane Austen and the Navy, he intrigued me, and when I discovered the Hastings archive at the Huntington Library and started reading his letters, and the repeated references to the Austen family, that did it. Lord Moira came alive, started reminiscing, and one thing led to another. As Deb Barnum says in her blog, if I give you more than that I’ll have to cry “spoiler alert.”

~

*Stuart, I do have a question if you do not mind. Since this is fiction based on facts, what percentage is fact and what percentage is fiction? The premise is intriguing. [Joy King]

Dear Joy King,

The “fact/fiction proportion” question is a great one, and not that easy to answer. Apart from my fictional Vanessa and her romantic interest, almost every character in the novel is real and could have been when and where I put them. This is especially important, of course, in the case of Lord Moira himself. But the Jane Austen narrative is deliberately put in the years when almost nothing is known of her movements, and although I have appropriated the surviving rumors about her for 1801-1802, I can’t say these, or my narrative is actually “historical.”

One of the best reviews I ever read of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels said that if one of Jane Austen’s nautical brothers had shared her literary gifts, he would have written like O’Brian. I make no such claim for my own writing, of course, but what I think the O’Brian reviewer meant – among other things – was that O’Brian’s books transported the reader to Nelson’s navy and, once there, the reader never felt the anachronistic lurches that turn up in so many would-be historical novels. Readers have complimented my books on their historical accuracy, and if you’ll allow me to include the details of my novel in the fact/fiction equation I think I can safely say the factual side is well in the ascendant.

Thanks for writing!

c2014, Jane Austen in Vermont
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17 thoughts on “Jane Austen in Lord Moira’s Echo ~ Guest Visit from Author Stuart Bennett & Book Giveaway

  1. Though I can’t wait to read the novel “Lord Moira’s Echo,” I also look foward to reading “Lord Moire and The Austens.” I’m interested in finding out what kind of references Stuart Bennett discovered in the Hastings family archives.

    Like

  2. I can’t believe I missed hearing about Stuart Bennett’s first book, despite both being a dedicated reader of Jane Austen in Vermont and someone who has, myself, been writing a time-travel story involving Jane Austen. Eager to see how Mr. Bennett, who sounds even more clever than his one-t namesake, has resolved the challenges currently bedeviling me!

    I would love to win a copy of “Lord Moira’s Echo,” but right now I just need to go off and download “The Perfect Visit.” Thanks for this.

    Like

  3. It worries me about you Americans.. If you can somehow link Jane Austen , with America you will. So, Lord Moira ( Francis Rawdon Hastings) Fought with the British forces at Bunker Hill!! I thought you wouldn’t want to bring that particular element into the equation. What is a War of Independence between friends anyway!!!
    I was in Salisbury Cathedral last year with some American acquaintances .There are some ancient regimental flags rotting away in the north aisle.One of them actually was flown at one of those independence battles. George Washington himself may well have sighted the very flag, but I digress as you do Stuart, but good luck anyway with the novel. Tony.

    Like

  4. What an interesting approach to a historical novel! I have not read, ” A Perfect Visit”, but I look forward to reading it this summer. “Lord Moira’ Echo” would be a welcomed edition.

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  5. Well, it wasn’t a totally blank time. Although based in Bath I suppose, in their retirement, George and Cassandra,(Mum and Dad) thought they should take full advantage if their time left on Earth. There are records,, letters etc of them gallivanting around seaside resorts along the south coast and also into Wales. Jane and sister Cassandra would have been with them assuredly. I like to think of Jane visiting Tenby, on the south coast of Wales. A place very close to my heart. The people in Castle Hill Museum in Tenby are convinced the Austens stayed in Tenby. They just don’t know which house!!! As for meeting Lord Moira, I thought it would have been unlikely unless Henry included Jane in the meetings with his clients.. Perhaps she did meet his clients socially when she stayed with henry in Henrietta Street etc. Anyway, Stuart a good theme to fantasise over. I have often thought about the also rans, mentioned in Janes letters such as the Lance family and Dr Mant in her Southampton letters and so on and so forth. Once again, good luck with the book.

    Like

    • Tony – you are far too serious! Those years largely are a blank and what better way to fill them up than with a love story! – this one is more interesting than most because of the real connection that Lord Moira had with the Austen family – you can read all about it at the end of the book as well as the “Persuasions” issue coming out in May, where there is additional, and I might add, ground-breaking information on this family connection. Stay tuned!

      – oh and by the way, one of the surprises of my life was to stumble upon a bust of George Washington in the Crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral! what say you about that??!

      Thanks as always for visiting Tony!
      deb

      Liked by 1 person

      • George Washington on British soil!!!! ha! ha!
        I’ve not seen the bust in the crypt of St Pauls. That is strange. I thought it was only the great and good of Britain that ended up there. There is a statute of George Washington in Trafalgar Square. The good people of Virginia ,, in 1920, wanted to give the British a present of the statue. It was discovered that GW, in his will,, stated emphatically, that he never wanted to stand on British soil. The good people of Virginia were in a quandry. Then, somebody came up with the bright idea of digging up a lorry load of good Virginian soil and shipping it over to Britain. This is what they did. A large hole was dug in Trafalgar Square,and it was filled with the soil from Virginia and George was plonked on top. Everybody was happy.
        Just thought I might tell you that!!! Have a great day,, Tony

        Like

      • Yes, Tony I knew that – a very good story too! – it seems that Britain has been smitten with Gen’l Washington – impressed with his leadership despite the result of losing the Colonies. If only you could be so generous with our adoption of your Jane Austen!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Deb, I don’t mind you lot liking or even loving Jane at all. There are quite a few American writers I admire and love. Talent is talent.. It’s what you do with her that gets to me!!!!?? ha! Ha!. The industry in spin off novels is immense it seems.The standard of writing, well?? A few nice sentences doesn’t make literature. If somebody could produce a novel of the standard of The Wide Sargasso Sea, then I would be right with them!!!

        Like

  6. Stuart, I do have a question if you do not mind. Since this is fiction based on facts, what percentage is fact and what percentage is fiction? The premise is intriguing.

    Like

    • Stuart’s answer:

      Dear Joy King,

      The “fact/fiction proportion” question is a great one, and not that easy to answer. Apart from my fictional Vanessa and her romantic interest, almost every character in the novel is real and could have been when and where I put them. This is especially important, of course, in the case of Lord Moira himself. But the Jane Austen narrative is deliberately put in the years when almost nothing is known of her movements, and although I have appropriated the surviving rumors about her for 1801-1802, I can’t say these, or my narrative is actually “historical.”

      One of the best reviews I ever read of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels said that if one of Jane Austen’s nautical brothers had shared her literary gifts, he would have written like O’Brian. I make no such claim for my own writing, of course, but what I think the O’Brian reviewer meant – among other things – was that O’Brian’s books transported the reader to Nelson’s navy and, once there, the reader never felt the anachronistic lurches that turn up in so many would-be historical novels. Readers have complimented my books on their historical accuracy, and if you’ll allow me to include the details of my novel in the fact/fiction equation I think I can safely say the factual side is well in the ascendant.

      Thanks for writing!

      Like

  7. Just reading Jane Austen and the Huntington Library in one sentence had me swooning Stuart. You have succeeded in combining my two loves. I am of course quite envious that they let you behind the ‘black veil’ into the stacks of the library! What great skeletons you discovered.

    I have already purchased a copy of the book, so no need to enter me in the drawing Deb. I have already started reading and am enthralled.

    Cheers, LA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stuart’s answer:

      Dear Patricia Finnegan,

      Thank you for writing. The inspiration to write the Lord Moira novel came in the same odd way that it did for my first novel, The Perfect Visit. I imagined a character in a situation (it was one of the time-travelers for the first novel) and, once imagined, the character wouldn’t let go of me. Other characters appeared to join him and they all started doing things, and waking me in the middle of the night with their conversations (this is true, and I had to write the conversations down right away because by morning they were gone).

      When I discovered Lord Moira in a glancing reference in Brian Southam’s Jane Austen and the Navy, he intrigued me, and when I discovered the Hastings archive at the Huntington Library and started reading his letters, and the repeated references to the Austen family, that did it. Lord Moira came alive, started reminiscing, and one thing led to another. As Deb Barnum says in her blog, if I give you more than that I’ll have to cry “spoiler alert.”

      Like

  8. Pingback: Jane Austen and Stuart Bennett’s Lord Moira’s Echo ~ Book Giveaway Announced! | Jane Austen in Vermont

  9. generalgtony wrote, “If somebody could produce a novel of the standard of The Wide Sargasso Sea, then I would be right with them!!!”

    I feel compelled to say that while Wide Sargasso Sea may be a great novel, it is also very depressing. The Austen-inspired novels (which, by the way, are written by British as well as American writers) tend to be uplifting and to give joy. I’d take that any day over WSS. As Austen put it, “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.”

    Like

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