“Edward, you look so handsome tonight,” Louisa Hurst said to her husband of six years. Although short, portly, and balding, Mr. Hurst was the apple of Louisa’s eye. Others might criticize his appearance or misinterpret his silence as a lack of wit or vocabulary or intelligence, but that was because his company misunderstood him. Unlike Darcy, who rarely spoke without saying something that would amaze the whole room, or Charles, who hated pregnant pauses and would rattle on endlessly, Edward engaged others in conversation only when he had something substantive to contribute. But his darling wife knew that there were few who appreciated Edward’s sardonic wit or who would guess at the fun they had behind closed doors. After a half dozen years of marriage, there were few married couples who could make such a claim for contentment.
“Do you really think so, my dear? The buttons on my waistcoat are popping,” Edward said while looking at his bulging vest.
“That is true, my love. But do you not think a flat stomach is a sign of poverty? After all, it is only the rich who suffer from gout. Besides, it takes effort and fine dining for one to burst one’s buttons,” his wife said while tickling his stomach.
“I am so glad you think so. I know that your sister does not approve of my expanding girth.”
“Please give me one example of anyone, other than Mr. Darcy and Miss Darcy, who my sister does approve of?” Louisa asked, her mood immediately souring.
“No one comes to mind, except, as you say, the Darcys. Will you allow Caroline to lead you around by the nose tonight?”
“Of course I shall. If I do not, she will whine and pout and stamp her foot, and if that does not work, she will say something unkind about you and that is something I cannot bear.”
“Your sister is need of a set down herself. I wonder if anyone is up to the task?”
“If such a thing does happen, it will have to come from Mr. Darcy as Caroline does not give a brass farthing about anyone else’s opinion.”
“I wish it would happen sooner rather than later. Even though I do enjoy annoying your sister with my snoring, I am tired of pretending to fall asleep on the sofa every night.”
“Well, you shan’t have to pretend tonight as we have an assembly to attend, and while I am dancing, you will visit the card room and win lots of money for us as you always do.”
“That certainly is my intention,” and Edward gave his wife a quick kiss. Continue reading →
You might be expecting me to be reporting from the Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting happening this week in Dallas, Texas. But I’m not. No, today I’ll be blogging to you (through the magic of my smartphone) from the New York Comic Con!!!
Because I just had to cement my reputation as the weirdest of the Austen Authors. (Vera’s giving me a run for the title) Actually, I’m going because I’m a completely out-of-the-computer-closet Geek and I love geek culture. That’s what Comic Con is all about- It’s not just comic books. NYCC happens annually at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. It’s a gathering for creators and fans of science fiction and fantasy books, movies, computer games, TV shows and yes, comic books. There is also an Anime festival happening at the same time one floor down. (Anime is a wildly popular type of Japanese animation.)
So, you’re wondering what this has to do with Jane Austen, and I’ll admit it’s a bit of a stretch, but I’ll try: there are literary authors at Comic Con, and last year there was a whole booth for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Okay, I’ll admit that’s a pretty weak example) Also, Marvel comics have adapted Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma into comic book form. I’m hoping they continue with Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Mansfield Park, in roughly that order.
But the main reason NYCC is relevant to Austen (besides its being just so cool) is Austen’s own timelessness. Her plots are true classics that can be adapted for many different settings. That very much includes Science Fiction, Fantasy, or even Super-Heroes *whistles innocently* And Jane Austen based media is certainly not limited to books, but includes movies, TV, computer games, comics, or really any thing that allows someone to tell a story to another.
Now, I know I’ve blogged about Austen’s widespread adaptability before, but it’s something I am very committed too. I really believe the bones of Jane Austen’s stories are universal, thanks to her phenomenal understanding of human nature. I believe those bones can and are used all over, in many, many formats. Honestly, I just enjoy noticing them, seeing her works retold in new and different ways. So that’s what I’ll be doing at Comic Con as I see the sights and learn about what new pleasures we can expect from the geeking world.
And the winners are … Lieder Madchen and Con H. – congratulations to you both!
All of this is thanks to my wonderful readers!
Last Saturday I went into London – and it felt like I’d travelled back to 1811! The Royal Overseas Club near Green Park was adorned with ladies in silks and muslins, bonnets and spencers, gloves and reticules. Add some soldiers in dashing scarlet coats, and a few gentlemen in breeches and cravats, and you have the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Regency Readers’ Day in full flow.
We were celebrating Jane Austen, of course – the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense & Sensibility, to be precise. And we were also paying tribute to Georgette Heyer, who wrote wonderful Regency romances like These Old Shades and Regency Buck. I had a great time catching up with Jane Odiwe and Monica Fairview, and we shared a ‘Lydia Bennet moment’ when the soldiers came into view. Can you blame us? (Photos courtesy of Regency novelist Jan Jones.)
The day kicked off with a lively panel discussion on Sense & Sensibility – Julie Cohen kept Nicola Cornick, Beth Elliott and myself in order as we talked about the novel’s structure (it’s the same story, told twice) and characters, especially the heroes. Continue reading →
Did the title catch your attention? I hope so! If not, all the incredible images below will, especially the one to the left of Guest Blogger Janet Mullany’s newest novel, Jane Austen Blood Persuasion. Yes, Janet is with us again and she is at it again, bringing to the world another paranormal Austenesque novel. Following on the heels of Jane and the Damned, Janet’s new release is sure to be a hit. Here is a synopsis from Janet’s website–
It’s 1810 and Jane Austen settles down to some serious writing in the peaceful village of Chawton. But it’s not so peaceful when the Damned introduce themselves as her new neighbors. Jane has to deal with the threat of a vampire civil war, her best friend borrowing her precious silk stockings for assignations with the Damned, and a former lover determined to hold a grudge for eternity.
Perfect for the Halloween season, isn’t it? Pop over to Janet Mullany, Where Wit and Passion Meet to learn more about Janet and the diverse novels she writes. Also, be sure to scroll down the home page and enter the cool drawing she has going on until October 26. And speaking of drawings and contests, Janet will be giving away one signed copy of Jane Austen Blood Persuasion to a lucky US winner. Be sure to comment on this blog and share with everyone you know on Twitter, Facebook, etc. for extra points! The deadline is 10/19 with the winner to be announced shortly thereafter. Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you.
And now, heeeerrre’s Janet!! Continue reading →
The winner of Mr. Darcy’s Bite from the Austen Authors entry is Margaret.
Congratulations, Ladies. You will be receiving an e-mail from me shortly asking for your mailing information. If you enjoy the story, I hope you will let me know and consider posting a review on Barnes and Noble and/or Amazon. If you don’t like it, please remember that silence is golden.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog and Austen Authors to help me celebrate my launch.
Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles as it’s known in Christian literature, is a major holiday dating back to biblical times. It’s the only holiday other than Passover that lasts for 7 days, though fortunately only the first two days are yom tovs – days where we can’t use electricity or travel or work blah blah blah. The intermediary days are known as Hol Moed, when we can do ordinary things with certain holiday restrictions. In Israel it’s a national vacation week, and a lot of people do some traveling and the like. The major Israeli sci-fi convention, Icon, occurres during Hol Moed of Sukkot.
The major bit about Sukkot, around which the holiday revolves, is the building of and eating in a sukkah, which is a kind of hut that Jews must eat in the whole week to remind of us of the mobile life we had when we wandered for forty years in the desert of Sinai, relying on G-d’s decision not to have it rain that day and get it wet. The laws of building a sukkah are very specific, but here are the key points:
1. Though it may touch other buildings, it must be a free-standing structure without foundation or support from other structures.
2. It must be at least 8 feet tall – probably more, come to think of it – and have at least 3 sides.
3. Though the walls of the sukka may be constructed of anything sturdy, the roof must be covered in skath, which are materials like palm leaves, branches, or bamboo, so that you can see the stars when you look up and are exposed to the elements.
4. The sukkah must not be under any other structure, such as another building or trees, so the sky view is not blocked. If you live in an apartment in a city, this is by far the most frustrating law, because you have to see if the city will let you build a sukkah in your courtyard, on your roof, or in some cases, on the sidewalk in front of your building. Communal sukkahs are common here in NYC, and my apartment is fortunate enough to have one, but if you live in a high rise and you have to go to eat in the sukkah at the local synagogue and you can’t use the elevator on Yom Tov and Shabbat, it’s very annoying. My parents in New Jersey build theirs on their porch; most people put them in the driveway or on their lawn.
5. The sukkah must be constructed between Yom Kippur and the start of Sukkot, which is a 4 day window. After the holiday it is taken down and the materials saved for next year.
Laws and Customs of Sukkot
1. Men must eat all of their meals in the sukkah. Some men say that this only applies to meals that have bread, which qualifies it in Rabbinic terms as a meal, and they will just avoid bread when they don’t want to eat in the sukkah. Some men are strict, and eat everything in the sukkah. Women are not obligated to eat in the sukkah because women are not obligated to time-bound mitzvot, but they often do for holiday meals because everyone else is. This week makes me really happy to be a woman, because I can be really lazy if it’s chilly outside or I’m just trying to eat my breakfast without a whole mishigas of taking everything outside.
2. Both men and women are exempt from eating in the sukkah if it is too cold or raining. I just assume my Russian ancestors never ate in their sukkah, though they certainly did construct one.
3. Many people have a custom (which is different from a law) to sleep in the sukkah. This custom is far more popular in places where it’s still warm in October. I’ve never slept in a sukkah.
4. It is important, but not a law, to decorate the inside of the sukkah. Most people put up fruits (plastic, to avoid bees) and in America, dried corn cobs, because Sukkot is a harvest time holiday. We also use streamers, Christmas lights, posters, and other things that will get totally destroyed when it rains because we are stupid.
5. Kosher restaurants, if they can, will often put up sukkahs so that people can eat in the restaurants on Hal Moed (when we can spend money). In Israel, even Burger King had a rudimentary sukkah. Other places where Jews stay – hospitals, hotels – will often put up a communal sukkah.
6. One can actually keep the sukkah up the rest of the year, and turn it into kind of a deck, but it then becomes a permanent structure and you cannot use it the next year and must construct a new sukkah. It also marks you as kind of a weirdo. Illegal settlers in Israel do this all the time, actually – they’re not allowed to build in the area, but they are allowed to put up a sukkah, so to skirt the law they put the sukkah and then don’t take it down, but instead seal it up with real building materials after the holiday and hope no one notices their house has another room, then repeat the process the following year.
The Lulav and Etrog
By far the most confounding law to other people on my subway is the carrying of the lulav and etrog, which is taken to synagogue and shook every day except Shabbat. The lulav is a palm branch with two sticks of myrtle and two sticks of willow attached on each side, and the etrog is a citron fruit with is really expensive before Sukkot and like a dime after. By biblical commandment, each day we hold the lulav in one hand and the etrog in another, and shake them in what must be the most obvious fertility ritual ever, though somehow we manage to do it with a straight face every year.
Price-gouging is common for etrogim/lulav sets. Sometimes the prices are raised very high and the money is given to tzedakah (charity), and sometimes the guy selling you one is just a jerk. Last year I think I bought one for $15 and this year I couldn’t find one for under $25, with the guy at the stand blaming Egypt for their palm-branch embargo even though most of the palm branches in America do not come from Egypt.
(If some of this sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because the custom of carrying actual palm branches on Palm Sunday in Christianity is derived from this custom)
Buying a really great etrog and paying too much for it is said to bring good luck. This is taken to the extreme of people paying hundreds of dollars for their etrog. There’s actually a good Israeli movie called Ushpizin (guests) about a poor Hasidic couple in Jerusalem who recieve a special government stipend and decide to spend it entirely on the best etrog available, and then there’s a happy ending.
After the holiday, the etrog may be eaten. The Mishnah (second century CE) says, “Forthwith[after the holiday], the children threw away their lulavin and ate their citrons,” (Mishnah Sukkot, 4:7) but it’s not very good as a fruit. I can’t recommend it.
Up next: Shmini Atzeret, the made-up holiday, and Simfas Torah, my favorite holiday.
Many thanks to all of the Austen Authors for hosting me on my very special day. Today, October 11th, my anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, releases from Ballantine Books. I have been working on it for close to two years now so this day is very exciting for me and the twenty four contributing authors – four of which are your members: Diana Birchall, Monica Fairview, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway.
It’s hard to pinpoint when the inspiration for the anthology finally became a passionate goal for me. Like Lizzy Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, “It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” I had long admired Jane Austen’s work, enjoyed the movie adaptations and read many of the sequels in print, but I must credit the 1995 A&E/BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice for rekindling my passion for all things Austen. I was not alone. Many new books inspired by Jane Austen’s novels arrived shortly after the landmark 1995 airing of P&P. We can credit Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt and the Internet for giving “our Jane” a renaissance and creating a whole new book genre – Austenesque!
On a whim, I created my blog Austenprose.com in 2007. At the time I had no great aspirations for it. I just wanted a creative outlet for my passion for Jane Austen and the books and movies that she had inspired. As I connected with authors to help promote their new Austenesque books, I began to see an interesting connection with them. It was obvious that they were all passionate about Austen and writing, but what was so encouraging to me was that they were all so genteel, friendly and helpful. Austen’s era of civility had truly extended into the 21st century. I thought to myself, “I want to work with these writers. Why not do a short story anthology and I could be the editor?”
That notion rolled around in my head for years as I continued to work with new authors and my network in Jane’s world grew. I had never been published before and new nothing about how to make a book deal happen, but I did know other authors who did, so I reached out to close friends like Diana Birchall, Margaret Sullivan and Laurie Viera Rigler for advice. When I was contacted by a literary agent to thank me for helping promote his authors’ work, I saw an opportunity, garnered all my courage and pitched my anthology idea to him. He loved it. Within a week he had presented the idea to Random House and they loved it too. Huzzah! I was going to publish a book and it was just too surreal. Me? No way! I was an Austen version of Cinderella, and I was going to the Netherfield Ball!
The fun part of the project was writing down a list of my favorite Austenesque authors that I wanted to contribute a story to the anthology. The day I sent out the e-mail inquiries is one I shall never forget. Literally, within one minute I had positive replies. Wow! All day long they continued to flood in. I was overwhelmed with emotion. So were my editor and agent! Within a week we had our lineup and the wheels were set in motion to create the book. Now the real work was yet to come.
Working with Diana, Monica, Jane and Caitlen was such a joy. Their stories are all so unique and entertaining. I hope that you will find humor and delight in Diana’s “Jane Austen’s Cat,” Monica’s “Nothing Less Than Fairyland,” and Jane and Caitlen’s “What Would Austen Do?,” and all of the other eighteen stories in the anthology.
Thanks again to Sharon and Abigail and all of the Austen Authors for hosting me on my special day – and for all of your wonderful Austenesque novels. Your passion and dedication is inspiring to me and many others.
I am off to Ft. Worth, Texas tomorrow for my book launch on Friday, October 14 during the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting! Wish me luck everyone. I shall be in august company representing the little guy who got there 15 minutes of fame!
Laurel Ann Nattress
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present she delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966
Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by midnight PT, Monday, October 24, 2011 stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!
It’s Party Time!!!
The day is finally here, and the anthology is at hand! Jane Austen Made twenty-two of us do it! The celebrated author had all of us scribbling away, imaginary quills between our fingers, looking to her for inspiration. If only she could see us now! (Though perhaps she might very well sue the whole lot of us).
Jane Austen may have been the inspiration, but it was Laurel Ann who made our stories a reality, giving us the necessary nudge to allow inspir
ation to sprout from seeds into seedlings and then full-fledged stories. I have to say I’m delighted that I had this opportunity.
The seed of my story first appeared when I was watching the 2009 production of Emma with Romola Garai, and it suddenly occurred to me what a “modern” idea Jane Austen was advocating. Knowing that Emma would have a difficult time leaving her father, Mr. Knightley — gasp! — actually offers to come and live with her at her father’s house!
Think about it. Even in this day and age, how many men would be willing to abandon an extensive property like Donmill Abbey to move into a more humble house and live with a curmudgeon of a father-in-law? It’s a point most people gloss over, and in the novel it’s not dwelled on at all, but once it had captured my attention I couldn’t help thinking about it. It was a remarkably nice thing for him to do. It certainly proves his affection for Emma. Mr. Knightley may not seem like the romantic hero – especially since he is much older than Emma – but in this at least he is certainly knightly!
So when Laurel Ann approached me to write a story, I thought — it’s all very well, a very fine gesture and all that, but would it work? How on earth was Mr. Knightley going to
put up with an anxious hypochondriac like Mr. Woodhouse? Could they co-exist in the same space?
That, dear reader, is the origin of “Nothing more than fairy-land,” a phrase Miss Bates uses in the novel.
If you want to know more about what happens when Knightley moves in, you’ll have to read the story.