First Impressions (and a free Valentine’s gift for all fellow Austen lovers!)

First Impressions (and a free Valentine’s gift for all fellow Austen lovers!)

I’ll never forget my first introduction to Jane Austen’s books.  I was eleven or twelve, and my family was listening to an audiobook of Pride and Prejudice while taking a long road trip.  (My parents both have their PhD’s in English Literature; classics on audiobook during all car rides was just how our family rolled).  I can remember stopping at a rest station after we’d listened to the first several chapters– I think we were somewhere up through the events of the Netherfield Ball– and commenting to my mom something along the lines of, Wow, this Mr. Darcy is really pretty much of a jerk.

My mother as you’ll probably guess responded with, Just wait.  Just wait and you’ll fall in love with him right along with Lizzy.

She was right, of course.  Even at twelve, I fell completely in love with Mr. Darcy.  I fell in love with all the characters, with everything about Jane Austen’s world.  Oddly, though, the character that I felt most connected to in the book wasn’t Lizzy or even Jane.  It was Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana.  She doesn’t even have a single speaking line in the book– her dialogue is all summarized by the narrator.  Yet something about her drew me.  Maybe it was her shyness.  At twelve, I was very, very shy.  Maybe it was her relationship to her much older brother.  I have a much older brother, too– thirteen years older, to be exact.  Somehow I felt connected to Georgiana, and it was her fate that I wondered about most when I let myself imagine what might have happened after the close of the book.  Did she ever overcome her shyness?  After her awful experience with Wickham, did she ever find her own happily-ever-after?

Georgiana Darcy's Diary book coverWhen I first started writing Jane Austen inspired fiction, I (of course!) was delighted at the idea of spending more time thinking about Darcy and Lizzy and all the other fabulous cast of characters.  But again, it was Georgiana’s character that most captured my imagination.  I wanted to write her story, to let myself dream up where life might have taken her, and to give her love and romance of her own.

That’s how Georgiana Darcy’s Diary was born.

I think in many ways the genius and enduring, immortal charm of Jane Austen is her ability to make us care so very much about her characters– even her minor ones.   Mr. Darcy and  Lizzy and Georgiana,  Emma and Mr. Knightly, Fanny and Edward, Anne and Captain Wentworth . . . we fall in love with  all of them, and simply don’t want to let them go when the story ends.

Every book I write, I feel so privileged to spend my workday letting my imagination run wild in Jane Austen’s world– and I’m so thrilled now to be a part of the Austen Authors blog, connecting with other authors and readers who love Jane Austen and simply want more.

Since Valentine’s Day is this week, I wanted to come up with a free gift for everyone who visits the blog– something to share with all my fellow lovers of Jane Austen’s works.  So with the help of my fabulous husband (who really is nothing like Mr. Darcy, but I’m keeping him anyway!) I’ve designed some Jane Austen themed valentines as a free download.  There are two different designs, each with one of my favorite Jane Austen quotes on love.

Feel free to download them, print them out, share them, etc.  If you decide to post them on your own blog or website, it would be lovely if you could link back here.

Card #1 (PDF) “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” (Emma)

Card #2 (PDF) “You pierce my soul.” (Persuasion)

33 Responses to First Impressions (and a free Valentine’s gift for all fellow Austen lovers!)

  1. What a wonderful sharing, Anna. I was around your age when I was first introduced to P&P by my mother who brought home an abridged copy of P&P from her school library. A few years later my best friend lend me a omnibus volume of Jane Austen’s three novels and that’s where I read the full text. I loved the plot and characters so much that I printed out the complete text from the internet. I didn’t own a paperback novel yet until I saw it in a bookshop after high school.

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful Valentine’s Day cards too. I loved them.

  2. Lovely post! I’m on the opposite end. I read P&P when I was 17 and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I’ve been more drawn to Georgiana. And I kind of feel for Lydia too. I think I wasn’t as interested in the characters that were younger. Beautiful cards too, thanks!

  3. I know exactly what you mean about Georgiana. I was drawn to her as well, and had to write her a novel all her own. Love them or hate them, Austen’s characters are captivating, even the minor ones. As the Austenesque genre continues to expand, more authors are turning to the lesser known characters. I think this is awesome!

    Thanks for the Valentines, Anna. They are lovely. 🙂

  4. I pretty much started reading Jane Austen when I was about 10-12 years old and fell in love with her novels. I read all the time as I child since I only lived one block from the library and that was before tv. We listened at night to the radio and mostly what my parents wanted to listen to and we behaved quietly. When I discovered P & P variations, I fell in love all over again. Many great authors I I truly love and the variations in the stories I have read. I will continue reading til I no longer can read. Thank you all for many hours of enjoyment and for all the research, thought and work you put into these novels. I’m sure Jane would approve of them just as I do! I am a retired RN, widow and 77 yrs young so you know how long I have been reading. I have read over 250* variations. Keep them coming!

  5. Thanks for sharing the story of your first encounter with Pride and Prejudice and I loved to read your thoughts about Georgiana Darcy! As for the cards, they are absolutely exquisite! Thanks for this magical gift and I hope that you and your Mr Darcy have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

  6. So lovely of you to do this, Anna – and they’re both so pretty. “You pierce my soul” has always been one of my very favorite Austen quotes – how could it not?

    Thanks so much, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  7. I love your Georgie books. I have both of them as well as Kitty and Margaret. Margaret is the only one I haven’t read (yet). I think my favorite thing about the Georgie stories is that she comes into her own and it’s just awesome to see. I fell in love with Mr. Knightley (yes, he’s my favorite) and all of Austen’s works when I was very young, I don’t remember HOW young. Just fell in love with her stories and word sketches of people. I love it that you all take these people that have come alive in our minds and give them some more time!!

  8. I appreciate people like you who share my Austen obsession and have writing skills and creativity. I am the reader enjoying your books. Thank you for the downloads. Lovely valentines.

  9. What a lovely present, Anna! You and your Mr. Darcy are very talented. I loved the story of how you were introduced to Pride and Prejudice. Would that all young girls had the same experience. Your parents sound just lovely. I am glad that you have focused on Georgiana and I look forward to reading more about her.

  10. Hi Anna, thanks for the Valentines. I’m going to print them off. I too have a soft spot for Georgiana and am currently writing a story that gives her a much larger part. I also read your version of her diary sometime ago and loved it. Happy Valentine’s Day! Jen Red

  11. Anne, loved your book. I’ve read it a few years ago. I believe you have other books? Will have to go look on my kindle. Looking forward to getting to know you and reading your blogs.

    • Thank you so much, that’s lovely to hear! Yes, there are 2 more books in the Pride and Prejudice Chronicles and then I’ve also written Margaret Dashwood’s Diary, a Sense and Sensibility sequel.

  12. Hi Anna. It is wonderful to hear about how you first met Mr. Darcy. I, unfortunately, was not introduced to Mr. Darcy until much later in my life, not until my mid-forties…and by my DH, my own Mr. Darcy. Your books are on my TBR and am looking forward to reading them. Thank you for the downloads.

  13. Hi Anna. Thanks for the Valentine’s Day gifts. They’re absolutely gorgeous. The Persuasion quote is, I think, my favourite from all of Jane Austen’s works. Who couldn’t but respond in the positive to that letter?

    Georgiana Darcy’s Diary was one of the earliest JAFF works I read when I first came across this lovely online community just over a year ago. I followed links across the internet and into the Kindle store and there she was. Even better, she was free! I’ve yet to read the sequel but it IS on my TBR list.

    Like you, I was very similar to her at age 16. Very shy, introverted and wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Fortunately, when I went away to University, I met my future husband, who is more Bingley than Darcy and he helped draw me out of my shell. I’m the one who, even after knowing him for over 40 years, still has “Darcy” moments and can come across as a bit standoffish at times when I’m confronted with a load of people I don’t know.

    • ?Thank you so much for the kind words, Angi! As much of a Pride and Prejudice lover as I am, I have to say that Captain Wentworth’s letter in Persuasion is my very, very favorite passage from any of Jane Austen’s works. I’d say the same about my husband– more Bingly than Darcy and definitely cured my shyness. 🙂

Your thoughts are precious!