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Tag Archives: Bespelling Jane Austen

I am so excited! This weekend I will be headed down to Fort Worth, TX for the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America)’s AGM. I have wanted to go to this for many years, but the timing was never right until now. I get to wear my new Regency gown, listen to some great workshops, and best of all room with Risky Janet. Look for more info here next week…

Since I’m trying frantically to pack and also finish this chapter on the WIP, I am turning today’s post over to you–what was the first Austen you ever read?? What is your favorite? Which one do you feel like reading right now?

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When my daughters were young, I read to them all the time. This summer, I had the joy of doing it again.

We’ve always had a rule of reading the book before watching the movie. I wanted us all to be able to watch THE LORD OF THE RINGS together, so I was urging my younger daughter to start reading THE HOBBIT. Although an avid reader, she resisted, saying she didn’t like reading books with long paragraphs. And so I decided to read THE HOBBIT aloud to her, and discovered that she was right. Tolkien did tend to use longer paragraphs than is common in more recent fiction and it can look a bit daunting on the page.

The previous summer, I read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE to my older daughter, again in preparation for watching the films. Much as I love Jane Austen, I know her style is difficult for young teens, with sentences that can run paragraphs long and paragraphs that can take over a whole page. And confusing period details. (“No, undressed ball does not mean they go naked.”) So when I suggested she try NORTHANGER ABBEY this summer, she still wanted me to read along with her. How could I refuse?

The whole reading-together project was a huge success. My younger daughter is now reading THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING on her own, and the older one is moving on to EMMA. So I’ve got them firmly hooked on some classics! I feel vindicated as a mother.

As an author, though, I’m aware that modern readers can have difficulty with older styles of writing. I would never write a sentence as long as this one:

Mrs Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—or at least books of information—for provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all.

There are also some grammatical constructions that trip up the reader, such as “Are not you wild to know?” Did your mind automatically change it to “Are you not wild to know?” That’s what happened to me as I was reading aloud, and it made me stumble.

I want to have a period feel to my books, but I do avoid anything like that that could trip up a reader. I also tend to use pretty short paragraphs, because I think having some white space is easier on the eyes.

But what a shame it would be if no one bothered to get past some of the challenges in the classics, if the stories lived on only in their films (fantastic as many of them are).

What do you think?

But before we chat, here are the winners of this week’s drawing for the Kindle edition of LADY EM’S INDISCRETION.

Cathy P

Congratulations! Please send your email and the email of a friend who you think might enjoy the Kindle ebook to elena @ elenagreene dot com.


I am pleased to announce the winners of the Smelling Like Badgers Contest. As you may remember, I held a contest last week for suggestions for Regency pastimes that might suit the modern sensibility. The results were interesting and bizarre. Thanks for playing, everyone.

The winners are:

Lorraine, who suggested playing the bagpipes which is an image I can’t get out of my mind. Every time I return to my WIP I start thinking of a possible opportunity for someone to whip out a bagpipe.

Jane, who suggested a visit to the museum to ogle the nude male statues.

Lorraine and Jane, please visit Bingley’s Teas — I love their Jane Austen-inspired line, shown above, which are actually packaged to look like books and you’ll find all sorts of teas including herbal– and then email riskiesATyahooDOTcom with the blend you’d like and your snailmail. And I shall order forthwith!

Talking of Jane Austen, there’s a wonderful article, actually a review of two new books, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Just Like A Woman. The books are Why Jane Austen? by Rachel M. Brownstein and William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter. Have you read either of them? I really want to read Deresiewicz’s which is an account of how a guy learned to love Austen.

And finally in this post full of trivia–that, kittens and the obvious is what the internet is for–we’re now going to have some serious academic study. Translate:

Han muutti minut sammokoksi

It is of course Finnish for “She turned me into a frog” (or, as Google Translate quaintly puts it, “He moved me to a frog”) the opening line of my novella Little To Hex Her from the Finnish version of Bespelling Jane Austen. I received a handful of copies in the mail the other day which was quite exciting as I’ve never received any of my books in translation before.

Have you read either of the two new books above about Jane Austen? Are you planning to attend the JASNA Conference (AGM) in Fort Worth next month (aargh! next month! Must email my mantuamaker immediately!)? Amanda and I will be there and we’ll give a full report.

First, big news that Diane hinted at last week and that finally I found out about a day later. Jane and the Damned was picked as one of Booklist’s Top Ten Horror books of 2011. I’ve no idea who that Stephen King guy is or how he got on it. Here’s Booklist’s blurb:

Mullany rewrites history in more ways than one in this novel, which sets up Jane Austen as a vampire. A fast-paced adventure for those who don’t mind the vampire craze impinging upon historical events and beloved authors.

A mass market edition of Bespelling Jane Austen comes out September 27, available for preorder at Amazon or Bookdepository (where it’s on sale with free shipping worldwide). I really love this cover.

Other than that, the big news here is the earthquake and although I’m becoming anxious for another topic of conversation I did want to talk about it a little. However I think the next topic of conversation will be the storm of the century, year, month, or even week–as the Washington Post eloquently predicts it will be “dumping inches of rain.” I love that precision. Inches, eh. Two inches? Six? I guess wet is wet.

But what I found really interesting was the reaction of people to it, what they felt and heard. I was at work. My office is about three blocks from the White House, so we tend to get rather nervous about the unexpected, particularly on fine autumnal days. My experience was this: there was a tremendously loud bang and a jolt. I noticed my legs were shaking. Much later I realized that it wasn’t my legs. My first thought was that a truck had smashed into our building but we could see nothing outside. Then we noticed everyone else was leaving the building. So we did too. Wrong! Bits n pieces could fall on your head. They didn’t.

So we hung around outside and enjoyed the sunshine. Everyone was on their cell and, naturally, posting to FB. By then we’d figured out it was an earthquake although the only one I’d experienced before was much quieter. After a while our boss ushered us back inside and sent an email that the next time it happened we should huddle with him beneath a table (no thanks).

And that was it. I can’t say I was scared particularly but a lot of people who experienced more dramatic shaking and swaying of their locations were; I was on the second floor of a fairly solid 1930s building. Everyone’s perception of the event was different and everyone’s story of it is changing and will change.

And that’s pretty much what happens when you take on one of the beloved tropes of mass market fiction and make it your own–do it well, and it will change.

In preparation for the rigors of the weekend I went to the library to pick up some reading material in case the power goes out–this is my version of emergency preparedness, folks–and left with that special warm glow you get for paying your fines up to date.

My emergency reading matter–other than a kindle full of Austen–are books I’ve been meaning to get to for some time, so they constitute some sort of guilty pleasure wishlist: Faithful Place by Tana French, North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris (love that title! And I’m meeting her at the JASNA conference in October) and Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner.

What’s your emergency reading matter?

Happy Tuesday everyone! I promised opinions on the weekend’s Big Wedding, and of course I have them (if I can remember what they are, after spending the weekend wearing tiaras, drinking tea, eating cake, and critiquing hats with like-minded friends! Why don’t we wear more hats over here anyway???). But here is basic outline of what I thought:

1) Kate looked like absolute perfection for the event. Regal, elegant, and classic. (I doubt anyone will look at these images in 20 or 30 years and say “what was she thinking??” like with Diana), but also young and beautiful. Just like a royal bride should look.

2) I seriously, seriously covet Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress (which also comes in red!). If you have an extra one of these just lying around the atelier, House of McQueen, send it my way pretty please?

3) And those children are the absolute definition of total adorable-ness. Makes me want to get married just to have a passel of attendants just like them. Plus a dress like Pippa’s. And a carriage to ride around in. And a chance to make all my friends wear hats.

4) Amid all this elegant appropriateness, someone needs to bring the Crazy. So thank you, princesses of York! We can always count on you.

And thank you, Victoria Beckham, for showing us the latest in maternity wear–8 inch heels for the 7 months pregnant lady. (She looks fab as always, though. Definitely the most glamorous one there next to the bridal party…)

And can I just say how disappointed I was in the American news coverage?? I don’t get BBC America on my TV or I would have watched them. I did get to watch ITV until they got cut off, and I loved their snarky comments on all the arrivals. The American newscasters didn’t even know or care who anyone was, and had no snark in them at all. Ah well. I still had fun.

Speaking of dating and romance and all those fun things–I thought I would turn to the Arbiter of All Things, Jane Austen herself, to see what her view of these events would be. If I lived in JA’s time, of course, I would be firmly on the shelf and gathering dust, no wedding in my future, but honestly I think I would have quite liked that. Better than having 20 kids and a passel of unruly servants to oversee. Now–well, who knows? Let’s ask Aunt Jane.

“This sensation of listlessness, weariness, stupidity, this disinclination to sit down and employ myself, this feeling of everything’s being dull and insipid about the house! I must be in love” –Emma

“I am always in love with every handsome man in the world” –Juvenilia

“There was a scarcity of men in general, and a still greater scarcity of any that were good for much” –Letter to Cassandra

“The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom can I really love. I require so much!” –Sense and Sensibility

“I think I could like any good-humored man with a comfortable income” –The Watsons”

“But there are certainly not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women to deserve them” –Mansfield Park

“Is not general incivility the very essence of love?” –Pride and Prejudice

Also, this weekend I will be headed to Kansas City to see the Princess Diana exhibit (which includes her wedding gown! Wish they could fly in Kate’s to display right next to it)–more info and pics to come next week. And my novella, “Snowbound & Seduced” in Regency Christmas Proposals is nominated for a Readers Crown award! Let me know if you’re planning to be at RomCon in Denver this August and look for me there.

What is your own favorite Austen quote on love and marriage? What did you like best (and least) about the royal wedding? And what kind of hat would you wear to my wedding???

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