Thursday, 2 September 2010

Austen Authors Invitation

Writers of Jane Austen fiction

cordially invite you to the



‘Austen Authors’

and to share in our passion for her world

... because there’s never enough Jane Austen.

We look forward to the pleasure of your company on

Monday, September 6, 2010,

and daily thereafter.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Migrating to new blog

Hello everyone. I haven't been updating for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that I've been inundated with spam messages that keep coming in, which has been extremely frustrating. Thank goodness I set up the blog to intercept the comments!

The good news is that I've now joined a new blog especially set up for Jane Austen sequel enthusiasts, which includes many of your favourite Austenesque Authors (at least, it includes quite a few of mine). This means I'm going to be migrating over to the new blog, though I'll keep this blog here for the time being. We'll be coming live on September 6th, so make sure to drop in on that day to see what's in store for you! I'm sure you'll find everything your Austenesque heart could wish for.


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Jane Austen inspired Anthology to be published by Random House

I am very pleased to announce that I will be participating in an anthology of short stories inspired by Jane Austen to be published in 2011 by Random House.

Of course, I won't the only one. I'm listing the participants below. If you enjoy Austen parliterature, I'm sure you'll recognize quite a few names here.

Pamela Aidan (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy)
Elizabeth Aston (Mr. Darcy’s Daughters, & Writing Jane Austen)
Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series, & The White Garden)
Carrie Bebris (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series)
Diana Birchall (Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, & Mrs. Elton in America)
Frank Delaney (Shannon, Tipperary, & Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show)
Monica Fairview (The Darcy Cousins, & The Other Mr. Darcy)
Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club, & Wits End)
Amanda Grange (Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, & Mr. Darcy’s Diary)
Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, & The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte)
Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances)
Janet Mullany (Bespelling Jane Austen, & Rules of Gentility)
Jane Odiwe (Lydia Bennet’s Story, & Willoughby’s Return)
Beth Pattillo (Jane Austen Ruined My Life, & Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart)
Alexandra Potter (Me & Mr. Darcy, & The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather: A Novel)
Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino Bradway (Lady Vernon & Her Daughter)
Myretta Robens ( , Just Say Yes, & Once Upon a Sofa)
Margaret C. Sullivan (, & The Jane Austen Handbook)
Adriana Trigiani (Brava Valentine, Very Valentine, & Lucia, Lucia)
Laurie Viera Rigler (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, & Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict)
Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series)

There is still room for one more participant, to be chosen in a competition run by The Republic of Pemberley.

For more information about the anthology and the competition, please visit Austenprose, since Austenesque reviewer Laurel Ann is the one who put this fantastic anthology together.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Thoughts on Bright Star: Between romantic poetry and Jane Austen

Laurel Anne's post on Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine reminded me that Bright Star had been sitting on top of my tv for some time, and that it was time to watch it. Bright Star is the story of the doomed poet John Keats' (Ben Whishaw) relationship with his next door neighbor Frances/Fanny Brawne (Abby Cornish).

Having seen Jane Campion's The Piano some years since, I knew this was not going to be steamy fast-moving romance. The music of the opening credits sets the tone of the film, and that never wavers: quiet, dignified, beautiful and poignet.

For those of us used to watching Jane Austen adaptations, the film is a feast for the eyes -- particularly at the beginning when Fanny channels all her creative instincts into creating one lavish costume after the other. The outdoor shots are heavenly (literally, if we are following Keats' poetry) particularly the spring shots. They are especially delightful when we see things through Keats' eye: whether it's 'Ode to a Nightingale' as we hear birds sing, "My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains/My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk," or the superb shot of Keats "floating" on a tree full of blossoms.

There are echoes of Jane Austen in the film. Fanny's supreme self-assurance at the beginning is reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma, and I couldn't help comparing Margaret/Toots (Edie Martin), Fanny's sister, to another Margaret in Sense and Sensibility. (Is it just me, seeing Jane Austen everywhere, but doesn't the still on the left remind you of Jane Austen's portrait?) The restraint of the lovers is also reminiscent of Jane Austen, though there is no smouldering Mr Darcy here. This is where the film departs from Austen. The romance itself is not played out Jane Austen style. After all, it's about a Romantic poet, and the poetry speaks for itself

In this sense the film captures beautifully the often confusing tension in Regency England between the new wave of Romanticism -- the cult of nature and stormy passion -- and the ideals of Reason and Wit which were still highly valued by society, and which Jane Austen embodies to a large extent.
Jane Campion makes this explicit by having Fanny argue at the beginning that she is more interested in wit than in poetry. The transformation that comes over Fanny as she moves from one to the other is reflected in her costumes; her elegant, crisp, and carefully crafted outfits gradually become looser, with large floppy shirt collars, looser hair and more down-to-earth clothing.
(I'm wondering if the hat that gave Georgiana so much grief in The Darcy Cousins wasn't something like this?)

Jane Campion also captures a specific aspect of Romanticism that is reflected in many of the romantics' works -- their obsession with death, a particularly poignent aspect of their writing since several of the major romantic poets died young: Keats at 25, Shelley at 32, Byron at 36.

Most moving, I thought, was how the film doesn't shy away from showing the raw and absolute nature of poverty. However much we might want the lovers to be together, we know that the grinding poverty John Keats faces is a destructive force, and very different from the genteel 'poverty' Fanny is used to.

A film well worth seeing for the wonderful way it converts the Romantic sensibility into images, and for a love story that will cost you a box of tissues.

Click to see a trailer of Bright Star.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Other Mr Darcy now available on Kindle, and Volcanic Ash

Just discovered that The Other Mr Darcy is back on Kindle again. I know some of you were asking about that. The Darcy Cousins, by the way, is already on Kindle.

The big story in the UK now is the Volcanic Ash that is descending upon us. It's certainly ironic that this happened just after my last post! I promise you I can't predict volcanic eruptions, though I did once have an incident in which I "predicted" an earthquake.

I was living in Corvallis, Oregon, at the time. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine for our regular brisk walk, but when she called me to agree on the time, I told her I wasn't up to it.
"I don't know what it is," I said. "I feel kind of shakey, as if the ground is unsteady under my feet. I don't feel good at all."
My friend laughed. "That's the worst excuse to get out of exercise I've heard yet!"
I protested that it was true, but I couldn't quite explain it.

That night when I was sleeping, I woke to the sound of rattling objects. I turned on the light. My books on the shelves had moved, and several of them had fallen (of course, I'd look at my books first!). I was puzzled, but since nothing else happened, I shrugged and went back to sleep.

The next day my friend woke me up with a excited phone call and told me there had been a mild earthquake the night before. "I can't believe it! You know, you can make a fortune, being able to predict earthquakes before they happen."

I don't know if I can, since I've never been in an earthquake again, very fortunately.

Meanwhile, I'm daily awaiting one of two things: the ash itself, which has already fallen on numerous communities in Scotland, and the spectacular sunsets painted by Turner and featured in The Darcy Cousins.

It's oddly silent outside. There is the constant rumble of traffic, of course, but I didn't realize how much the thundering of airplanes intrudes on the corner of our consciousness. I live about 45 minutes from Heathrow and about 20 minutes from Gatwick, and although planes rarely take a direct route overhead they're still always there, somewhere in the distance. Now with all the airplanes grounded, the skies are soundless. When there are no cars passing by, the silence is eery, reminiscent of by-gone times.

I wonder how many other things intrude on our consciousness without us noticing, and we become aware of them only when they're absent? That's if we don't think of all the unseen and unheard things that pass through us and around us -- microwaves, satelite signals, ultraviolate rays, and all the sounds that are just beyond our hearing.

Meanwhile, I wait for the ash to descend, and for the airplanes to ascend again. Their absence seems like a loss. I want them again, hovering above me like great birds, taking people across the world to their various destinations -- holidays, new beginnings, escapes, tragic events, and mundane business trips -- the spectrum of human emotions flying above us like self-sufficient worlds.

The Day the Planes Stood Still.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Snowy Peaks and Volcanic Eruptions: The Year Without Summer

I heartily beg your forgiveness for this lamentable lapse in blogging. I would like to remind you that though I am not blogging here, I am blogging elsewhere, so you can still enjoy my insightful and witty remarks ;-) if you follow my blog tour (dates and locations on the right).

Meanwhile, I'd like to share some photos from a trip I made to Switzerland (you may remember that I have a 100 year old grandmother that lives there) since I can't resist it. Nothing to do with Austen, though there is a strong Regency connection, since Byron and the Shelleys spend the summer of 1816 in Switzerland.

Unfortunately, it was a very unpleasant summer because it was the notorious "year without summer". A cold spell hit the northern atmosphere after Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, sending debris into the atmosphere resulting in weather chaos. Crops failed, leading to food shortages, famine, and riots. The flooding and the cold led to the spread of disease as well.

It was in Switzerland, on a dark and stormy night, with the gloomy weather preying on her, that Mary Shelley penned her famous Frankenstein. Imagine Frankenstein's famous monster in the cold snowy peaks above. They look quite beautiful now, don't they? At the time though, the snow was a source of misery for thousands, not only in Europe, but in the Northeast of America and Quebec as well, where thousands of farmers faced financial failure and were forced to migrate.

It is certainly a very good thing The Darcy Cousins is set the year before, otherwise it would have been quite impossible for Georgiana and Clarissa to enjoy rowing on the river or visit the ruins of Waverley Abbey.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Year of the Hat 1814

One could call 1814 the Year of the Hat. The fashionable young lady of the time was quite spoilt for choices, some of them quite extreme. There was always the turban, which was still in, though in lighter materials. But if you really wanted to be all the rage, then you had to be aware of two things. The first is that height was important – some of the hats could easily compete with a man’s top hat for height. The second was that elaborate trimmings were essential. If you were able to combine flowers with lace with different coloured silk, then you could count yourself successful. (Image from Clarmont College Collection)

Which leaves young ladies such as Georgiana Darcy with a difficult choice. Should she be fashionable, or should she not? Her cousin Clarissa advocates that she needs to take more risks with her outfits, and convinces her to buy a rather conspicuous hat. But is it the right choice? The following excerpt from The Darcy Cousins illustrates the difficulty of making such onerous decisions.

“We have bought ourselves new hats,” said Clarissa, glancing sideways at her reflection in the window. “You must tell us what you think. You must be perfectly candid, mind.”
“I congratulate you on your choices, for you look very dashing indeed,” said Mr Channing. “You, too, Miss Darcy. Your hat is charming, but of course, so is its wearer.”
His eyes lingered on her face. She had intended to give him a dazzling smile, but her smile wavered under his intense scrutiny. He continued to gaze at her until Clarissa thanked him very prettily, and he turned to respond to her.
Still, Clarissa could not be satisfied when the other gentleman in the carriage had not yet expressed an opinion.
“Mr Gatley, you have said nothing.”
“I think your turban very pretty. It suits your character well, and it is exactly what I would have expected you to wear. I cannot make a judgement on Miss Darcy’s hat, however, for it is too modern for an old-fashioned gentleman such as I.”
Considering the exquisite and expensive tailoring of his navy waistcoat, matched with a cravat that was a masterpiece of white perfection, one could be forgiven for thinking him more concerned with fashion than he admitted.
Georgiana understood his comment as a rebuff, and turned her face to hide the conflicting feelings which were surely branded on her face. On the one hand, she was chastised, for she knew she should not have allowed Clarissa to convince her to buy the hat. She should have trusted her own judgement. On the other hand, she – very naturally – resented the slight.
“Look at what you have done now, Mr Gatley,” said Clarissa, “you have made my cousin sad.”
“Come, Gatley, must you be so thoughtless?” said Channing. “Surely you can do better than that.”
“I am not as skilled at flattering ladies as others of my acquaintance are,” he said, his colour heightened. “I never study my compliments. When I pay tribute to someone, it is because I mean it.”
Georgiana, further annoyed now by Clarissa’s interference, deemed it time to speak, if only to show how very little Mr Gatley’s opinion mattered to her.
“Some gentlemen seek to stand out from the crowd by professing to be harsher than others, and so lay claim to the higher moral ground. That is how they assert their own superiority,” she said, in a light, dismissive tone. “In such cases, I believe, it is far better not to give their remarks too much importance by taking them seriously.”
“How so, Miss Darcy?” cried Gatley, “When I am endeavouring to be as sincere as possible?”
“By George!” said Channing, bursting into laughter. “I think she has your measure, Gatley!”

© Monica Fairview. This text may not be reproduced except with the express permission of the author.

Friday, 19 March 2010

12 Days to Launch: Darcy Cousins in the US

I can't believe there are only twelve days left for The Darcy Cousins to come out. And of course it's always thrilling to start reading the reviews and see all the different perspectives people bring to your writing. I've already had two reviews that I enjoyed very much -- Laurel Ann's over in Austenprose, and Jean Wan's on All About Romance.  

Meanwhile, I've been having a great time reading Jane Austen's Sanditon with the group read, and following the guest posts on Austenprose. I've certainly learned a lot about the fashionable resorts of the time, what ladies wear to promenade, and Jane Austen's attitude towards the world of taking the waters.

I particularly enjoyed learning that Colin Firth's modesty in Pride and Prejudice's wet shirt scene was actually historically inaccurate, since males at the time generally bathed nude in lakes and rivers. Well, the filmakers missed their chance...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Swan Protest

My attention was captured today by the picture on the left, especially because I loved the caption The Guardian attached to it:

‘This brave creature made a one-swan sitdown protest in the middle of Kew bridge, south-west London, causing traffic chaos for over an hour before it remembered that is was mute and therefore incapable of communicating its demands or having them met. Whereupon it flew gracefully away. And the Daily Mail Scoffs: As excuses go, it sounds unlikely - 'Sorry I'm late, I got held up by a swan'.

The picture resonated with me in several ways. The first was that it reminded me the flock of geese that impeded Caroline Bingley on her way to Pemberley in The Other Mr Darcy. She certainly had the excuse: ‘Sorry I’m late, I got held up by a flock of geese’.

It also resonated with my new novel, The Darcy Cousins, in which swans are featured as a centerpiece -- so to speak. Both editions of my novels have swans on the cover, a reference to a boating trip Georgiana Darcy takes on the river Thames. And of course Kew Bridge is down the road – or river – from Richmond, where an important scene in the novel occurs.

Fortunately for Georgiana and her companions, she did not take her boating trip in the third week of July, otherwise she would have found the river rather crowded, since that’s when Swan Upping takes place.

Swans have been part of the Thames landscape since at least the 12th century. In the 15th century, a Royal Charter established Swan Upping, in which a swan census is taken and young cygnets are marked. By this Charter, the swans on certain areas of the river were divided up between two Livery companies and the Crown, the “Seigneur of the Swans.” Accordingly, three different groups of skiffs round up the swans on the river and mark them: those collected by the Dyers (cloth dyers) are marked once on the bill, those collected by the Vintners’ (wine merchants) are marked twice, and those caught by the Queen’s skiffs are left unmarked, since by law all unmarked swans in a certain area of the Thames belong to the monarch (the marks have been replaced by identity markers). While originally this was done because swans graced the royal table, this has not been the case for a long time, and the ceremony now serves an environmental purpose, which is the protection of mute swans.

This ceremony takes place only in specific areas of the Thames. Traditionally, the swans in other areas had other owners, and were marked in various ways to indicate ownership. To see the markings that were still registered in Georgian and Regency times, follow this link.

Mute swans have for the longest time symbolized harmonious love, since they mate for life, and their lives in the wild can be as long as twenty years. Male and female swans also share equally in taking care of their nest and their young cygnets.

And then there is of course the story of ‘The Ugly Duckling’, in which an ugly duck that ostracized by its fellow ducklings because it doesn't fit in grows up to become a beautiful swan. In the novel, Georgiana’s tries so hard to fulfill Society’s expectations, yet feels somehow that she doesn’t belong. The swan plays an important role in her understanding of who she is and what she wants.

All this to explain why I loved the picture of a swan sitting in the middle of the road, asserting its existence, and daring anyone to deprive it of its right to be there!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Darcy Cousins: Official Launch Day Today!

Today's the day! The official launch day of the UK hardcover edition of The Darcy Cousins!

Between you and me, The Darcy Cousins feels rather special to me because I had a good time writing it. The Other Mr Darcy was a book that required toil and a lot of energy. Getting into Miss Bingley's mind wasn't easy, and it was also a challenge to show Robert Darcy entirely from her viewpoint. I was determined throughout not to show things from the hero's perspective, because that's what Jane Austen did with Mr Darcy, apart from the famous letter, of course. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't an uphill struggle by any stretch of the imagination, but it required sustained effort.

By the time I got to write The Darcy Cousins, I began to work out how Jane Austen really did that. Her sly style is very deceptive. She doesn't show his point of view, but because of the omniscient narrator there's a great deal that gets slipped in so that we don't miss his point of view at all. I had fun with that idea. I also had fun with having Georgiana and Clarissa interacting -- two very different young ladies with very different ideas about how to approach attractive young gentlemen. And I really enjoyed writing about Lady Catherine, who takes her villainy a step farther. Plus I was able to write about Mr Darcy as a brother, and to give some insight into the Darcys' happy marriage from a different perspective.

In other words, there was a great deal of fun to be had.

Of course all writing is labour intensive, so I should add that the notion of 'fun' is relative...

So here it is -- the one and only: The Darcy Cousins, now available for purchase at Waterstones, and for my international audience, from The Book Depository.

I hereby cut the ribbon and launch the new publication.

I will however have to excuse myself immediately because I hear champagne flutes clinking in another room. Could they possibly have opened the bottle without me?

Monday, 15 February 2010

An Improper Suitor: New Paperback Large Print Edition

My Regency novel, An Improper Suitor, has now come out in a paperback Large Print edition by Camden Press/Chivers. This is very reasonably priced and is available in the UK from BBC audiobooks. The original release is still available from The Book Depository with free international shipping.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott: pioneers of the novel

I have a new blog up on my group blog, Historical Romance UK, in which I talk about how novels were perceived during the time of Jane Austen. So if you'd like to head over there and tell me what you think, I'd love it.

See you there!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Other Mr Darcy named Buried Treasure 2009 on All About Romance

Senior Reviewer Rike Horstmann at All About Romance selected The Other Mr. Darcy as her Buried Treasure pick for 2009!

I'm really thrilled to see my name up there on the list. It really is an honor, since this means it's one of only 16 books from smaller publishers or new authors that has been highlighted as deserving special attention. Hurray!

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Other Mr Darcy now available on Kindle

Unfortunately, The Other Mr Darcy has been temporarily removed from Kindle. I'm not sure about the reason, but I believe it is being sorted out. I hope to be able to announce that it is back up again soon. Many apologies for the inconvenience!

Previous text:

Just wanted to let those of you who are in possession of this marvelous space-saver that The Other Mr Darcy is available internationally on Kindle. This means that those of you who own Kindle can now download it wherever your are, so I no longer need to talk about US editions and UK editions, which is far more democratic, in my mind.

Click here to see more about the Kindle edition of The Other Mr Darcy.

Of course, Kindle isn't exactly a freebee...  

Monday, 18 January 2010

Proofs and Covers for The Darcy Cousins

Today I received the proofs for The Darcy Cousins, my second book in the Darcy Cousins series, and I'm thrilled, as it means it will soon be time for the novel to be released in the USA. The date is set for April 1st, which isn't an April's fool trick (I hope).

Here's the Sourcebooks cover:

Quite a change from The Other Mr Darcy, isn't it? I love the young lady in the foreground. She has very expressive eyes.

Many people are under the mistaken impression that writers decide what they want on their book covers. The truth of the matter is that many writers have little control over what goes on the cover of their books.

At Sourcebooks, however, I was lucky enough to have had some imput, which is why we now have a young lady on the front. The original cover was like this:

I must say, this cover is quite lovely. It captures the playfulness of the novel really well. I especially like the colors. But the costumes weren't right.

Since it would have been impossible to redesign the cover entirely at this stage (and in the book industry, time is always short) the thoughtful young lady was introduced.

The Robert Hale version (UK) of the novel couldn't be more different. This cover uses original artwork from the artist/book designer:

Isn't the piano wonderful? And I love the sense of conspiracy between the two young women, with the young regency gentlemen strolling casually in the background.

Both covers are based on a scene in the novel where a group of young people go for a boat ride on the Thames at Richmond.

What do you think?