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This week, we’re examining what Jane Austen has meant to us–and to say that Austen has informed every aspect of my subsequent reading and writing would not be an overstatement. In fact, Austen’s themes and style is present in my own writing even when I don’t realize it.

My romantic women’s fiction title, Vanity Fare, comes out in less than two weeks (Dec. 26), and some early reviewers are pointing out the similarities to Pride and Prejudice–more similarities than I even realized I had! I knew that I had put in a very Mr. Darcy moment when one of the characters rescues another from a bad financial situation. But there’s more Austen in there, as a review from Book Lovers, Inc. points out:

“In fact, it was clear to see many connections with Pride and Prejudice in the book, from the portrayal of Nick and Simon, to the financial mess Molly’s mother was going through. It was a modern take on the classic, albeit one that could stand on its own merits too.

As much as the story was about Molly finding a way to pay the bills and maybe find love, it was equally about Molly finding herself. Jane Austen’s generation might have tsk’d at the idea of this, but it was very cool to see Molly go from being dependent on her ex-husband to being able to speak for herself and find the strength within to become self-sufficient.”

While this example is both self-serving and timely, my Austen experience covers more than just my latest release. Austen embedded human truths within a deceptively simple read, and each reading, or viewing of the screen interpretations of her work reveals some new facet to the truths.

Thanks, Jane. You rock.



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Last week I gave a quick overview of my visit to England and today I wanted to talk a little more about the visit to Chawton, where Jane Austen made her home for nine years, polished and wrote her novels, and hung out with vampires (next book!). Naturally I haven’t finished unpacking yet and some of the stuff will get tossed into the bigger suitcase for Nationals, for which I really didn’t buy any more clothes. Sorry. I leave all that to Amanda.

Before visiting Chawton, we went to St. Nicholas Church in Steventon, which is where Jane Austen’s father was vicar, a living taken over by one of Jane’s brothers. The house where they lived no longer exists, but the church still stands, a tiny, charming building.

Austen enthusiasts from all over the world have visited and contributed money to restore the church.

Outside the church door is a venerable yew tree nine centuries old, where once the church key was hidden.

From there we went to Chawton, a place I hadn’t visited in about fifteen years so I was thrilled to see the changes there. The working areas of the house have been restored–the seventeenth century house was once a farm, so it has substantial outbuildings as well as a lovely garden.

Here’s Jane’s donkey cart, used on shopping expeditions (they kept two donkeys) and the copper (for washing clothes) and bread oven.

The kitchen has been fitted out with a range which is early Victorian but not period, and to the left of it is a Rumsford stove, probably original. The bricks above the fire had holes into which pots could be lowered or placed above. (If you’re going to attend my presentation on servants at the Beau Monde Conference next week you’ll see these pictures again!)

I was struck by how tiny and crooked the rooms in the house were–probably less crooked two centuries ago! Very little family furniture remains, although there is a desk and two chairs in the parlor which came from Steventon. And of course the most famous writing table in the world is there too.

It had been very hot the previous week and the weather had only just broken, so the garden possibly isn’t as lush and green as it should have been, but I thought it was gorgeous.

And here’s the last picture, the new cover for Jane and the Damned. When they told me it was going to be pink, I wasn’t very happy. I’m not a pink sort of girl and Jane Austen, as I depict her, wasn’t either. But I love it! Grubby pink works so well. What do you think?

Have you visited Chawton? What did you enjoy seeing there?

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Welcome to the Jane Austen Movie Club!

We here at Risky Regencies love to talk about movie and TV adaptations of Regency-era novels…and today we’re talking about the 1980 BBC version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE! (Also known as “the one with David Rintoul.”)

I watched this adaptation first when I was a teenager, and then again a decade later. The first time, I had already read the novel (at least once), but no other Austen. I recall liking it all right, but not being thrilled with it.

The second time, I had read all of Austen’s novels at least twice, but not seen many adaptations of her works. My housemate (the oft-mentioned book-goddess Heather) and I started putting on Regency “teas” — casual affairs where we would watch Austen adaptations and try out period recipes (I had a little trouble with the orange fool, but the syllabub was delicious.)

I recall our friend Jack (a Jane Austen Ball veteran — when he dances a Trip to Paris, all the kittens run and hide so they don’t get stepped on!) recommended this adaptation when we had our Pride and Prejudice tea — if I recall correctly, he particularly liked David Rintoul’s interpretation of Darcy.

I know I did like this version better that time than I had when I’d first seen it. Was it my greater knowledge of Austen, or of the period? Or was it the wine in the syllabub? Only Jane Austen knows!

I have now watched this adaptation a third time, so let the discussion begin!

To aid the discussion, I’ve listed the major credits below; tidbits about where else you may have seen the actor are in italics.

DIRECTOR: Cyril Coke



Sabina Franklyn: Jane Bennet

Elizabeth Garvie: Elizabeth Bennet

Garvie appeared as Diana Rivers in the 1997 version of JANE EYRE (the one with Ciaran Hinds.)

Tessa Peake-Jones: Mary Bennet

Peake-Jones played Bridget Allworthy in the 1997 TOM JONES.

Clare Higgins: Kitty Bennet

Natalie Ogle: Lydia Bennet

Moray Watson: Mr. Bennet

Priscilla Morgan: Mrs. Bennet

David Rintoul: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Regency fans will also have seen Rintoul as Dr. Clive, ship’s surgeon on two episodes of the recent HORNBLOWER series.

Osmund Bullock: Mr. Bingley

Marsha Fitzalan: Caroline Bingley

Jennifer Granville: Mrs. Hurst

Edward Arthur: Mr. Hurst

Irene Richard: Charlotte Lucas

Richard played Elinor in the 1981 SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and Mrs. Fitzherbert in the 1996 A ROYAL SCANDAL.

Peter Howell: Sir William Lucas

Malcolm Rennie: Mr. Collins

Peter Settelen: Mr. Wickham

Andrew Johns: Capt. Denny

Michael Lees: Mr. Gardiner

Barbara Shelley: Mrs. Gardiner

Moir Leslie: Anne de Bourgh

Judy Parfitt: Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Emma Jacobs: Georgiana Darcy

Elizabeth Stewart: Lady Lucas

Desmond Adams: Col. Fitzwilliam

So…what did you think? And if you haven’t seen it recently, how well did you like it when you last saw it?

All answers welcome!

And come back the first Tuesday of next month, when we’ll be discussing the film MASTER AND COMMANDER!

Cara King, who can’t think of anything clever to put in her sig line

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Welcome back to Risky Regencies’ JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB!

Today we’re discussing the new SENSE & SENSIBILITY, particularly its second half.

If you’d like to look at last week’s discussion, or the cast list for this adaptation, just click here.

So: what did you think???

All comments welcome!

Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER, in which no one chops logs and men rarely take off their coats

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If you want to see all of this picture, go on over to the Wet Noodle Posse blog where today I’m blogging about conflict. (And if you’ve ever wondered, when you google for Darcy wet shirt you will come up with about 102,000 hits and 16, 700 under google images.)

So is it too easy?

We have so much information at our fingertips and the actual process of writing itself is so easy–cut n paste, cut, copy, and so on–that I wonder if we’ve lost something in the process. Consider Jane Austen who had limited amounts of time (well, that hasn’t changed much), and wrote in a room that was shared by family members. Paper was expensive. It was important to get things right the first time–or almost right. How many of us would have started writing without a computer? (To answer my own question: I’m not really sure.)

I think the challenges we have now (along with the same old same old of lack of time, family obligations, and having to make a living as well–or relying on someone else to do so) are more insidious. Do we suffer from a surfeit of riches–too many resources, too much advice, and do you think it’s harmful?

It seems ironic that writing, an essentially solo operation, now has become a community, if not team, activity. It’s much easier to talk about writing than do, too easy to go online to see what others are saying and thinking. Some is useful. A lot, in my opinion, is damaging.

For one thing, it stops you from writing, from actually doing the work. And I’m one of the worst offenders, ever. The temptation to just hop over to see what’s happening at a blog (this one, say) and then you follow a few links and before you know it hours have sped by… The other point is that not all information is equal, particularly online where opinion and information seem to overlap; where the trivial and the significant get mixed into one big internet stew.

And the worst thing of all–if you take too seriously what others are doing or saying, you can lose faith in your own work. Actually, two worst things of all. Take all the advice, or try to, and you’ll end up with something lifeless that just isn’t good enough.

So what do you do to protect yourself and spend your time wisely? What are your favorite places online that you feel are useful and reliable? And do you feel the need to limit your time online, and if so, how do you do it?

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