Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

Just a quick post to announce the winner of the 'Bluebells in the Mourning' Giveaway...

Well done to Regina (! I hope you enjoy the book and I would love to hear your thoughts on it! You will be contacted by the author shortly with the story :)

Thank you all for entering! I hope you enjoyed reading the interview :)

P.s. I was so pleased to hear that Jane Austen is to be the face of the ten pound note from 2017! A great recognition of her wonderful work!


Your affectionate friend,
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Theatre Production of Pride and Prejudice

This afternoon (July 18th - I couldn't post this right away) at 2.15pm I finally saw a theatre production of my favourite novel, which I have been hoping to see for so long! And I was glad I waited for this production because it was an amazing production.

Adapted for the stage by Simon Reade.
Based on the novel by Jane Austen.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”
As the Bennet sisters haplessly search for love in Jane Austen’s ultimate romantic comedy, it is Mr Darcy who unwittingly finds his match.
Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice.


  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh - Jane Asher
  • Mr Collins - Ed Birch
  • Miss Mary Bennet / Miss de Bourgh - Leah Brotherhead
  • Miss Kitty Bennet - Imogen Byron
  • Miss Georgiana Darcy - Sophia Capasso
  • Miss Charlotte Lucas - Olivia Darnley
  • Mrs Gardiner - Caroline Harker
  • Mr Bingley - Rob Heaps
  • Miss Jane Bennet - Yolanda Kettle
  • Miss Elizabeth Bennet - Jennifer Kirby
  • Mrs Bennet - Rebecca Lacey
  • Miss Caroline Bingley - Frances McNamee
  • Mr Darcy - David Oakes
  • Mr Wickham - Barnaby Sax
  • Miss Lydia Bennet - Eleanor Thorn
  • Mr Bennet - Timothy Walker
  • Sir William Lucas / Mr Reynolds - David Whitworth

I thought this was absolutely wonderful! I think it was very cleverly condensed to a 2 hour 15 minute production whilst still having the dialogue very accurate to the book - a lot of scenes and conversations were lifted directly from the book, which is always good (notably accurate scenes were the ones at Netherfield, the confrontation with Lady Catherine as well as the ending scenes - they included a lot of the chapters which are after the engagement in the book and which most adaptations leave out. It was so nice to see it so accurate and not tampering with the script - as Jane Austen's wonderful words don't need changing! (The producers of the 2005 film take note - they condensed it to 2 hours better than you did!)
The staging was very clever, allowing for changes of location well. In some stage performances I have heard of, due to staging they leave out many of the other places Lizzy visits (the visit to Pemberley was left out, someone once told me, in one they saw - how can Lizzy not go to Pemberley?!)  I particularly liked the way they incorporated the portrait scene at Pemberley and the fact that they had a piano just to the side was a nice addition, as a piano does feature quite heavily. It was very clever.

I enjoyed the performances of all the actors a great deal; most notably Mr Darcy, (and not just because he is Darcy!) Mr Collins, Mr Bingley, Mr and Mrs Bennet. Well done to the actress's who played Lizzy and Lydia, both who were making their debut performances.

Mr Darcy: he was suitably proud and arrogant (and handsome!), strutting around the stage but he also showed his tender side when it was called for. He didn't model his interpretation of Darcy on either Firth or MacFadyen but he made it his own, and very like the Darcy I imagine when reading the novel (I now have someone to imagine when I next re-read the story!) His sparring matches with Lizzy were wonderful and he was the master of subtly; his reactions to Caroline Bingley's constant attention, Mr Collins's unwelcome attention and the wish for Lizzy's undivided attention were brilliant.

Mr Collins: What a fun character! He has always been one of my favourite secondary characters in all Austen's novels and he was a delight to watch. He was extremely obnoxious and very funny, always getting in the way and doing all the wrong things. You couldn't help but laugh when he was on stage!

Mr Bingley: He was just what Mr Bingley ought to be. Sensible, good humoured and I never saw such happy manners. (That sounds familiar... anyway! :P) He was all affability and he made me smile. He wasn't a complete bumbling fool as he sometimes can be played but he was a young, joyful, handsome man and very sweet to dear Jane.

Mr and Mrs Bennet: They were a wonderful pair. There was a great connection between the two of them and Mrs Bennet was suitable hysterical at times and embarrassing at others while Mr Bennet was always a great tease. I think they worked well off the reactions of each other and performed their roles brilliantly.

Now, I don't want to leave the other wonderful cast members out!

Elizabeth: This was an interesting interpretation of her character. She was more outspoken than I imagine Elizabeth to be, a little more impertinent than perhaps was proper, however it was great to see she didn't try to copy the interpretations of the actress's who have played her before - as I imagine that would be easy; if I were playing Lizzy I would find it very hard not to base it off Jennifer Ehle's performance as I have seen the series countless times! She is to be commended for her debut performance.

Jane, Lydia, Kitty and Mary: Jane was a very sweet girl and I was pleased to see she didn't take Jane down the overly shy route, as it could be easy to do. Kitty was well played and wasn't quite as bouncy as her younger sister, but was sufficiently enamoured by all the officers. Lydia was very flirty and confident, dancing around the stage - and the officers - having a wonderful time. She is also to be commended on her debut performance. Mary was a fun character. She was rather over acted, I felt, but I enjoyed this as it added a fun comedic element, and besides, how can you take Mary seriously with all her philosophic speeches and horrendous singing? She also made a suitably weedy Anne de Bourgh!

Lady Catherine: Jane Asher was a wonderful Lady Catherine and she was very haughty and walked around as if she owned the stage. Her confrontation with Elizabeth was one of the best scenes, being extremely accurate to the book in length (meaning the argument was included pretty much in its entirety) and language (there is no need to alter Austen's own wonderful words so I was pleased they didn't, as I have already said before!)

The Lucas's: Charlotte was played well, one of my favourite interpretations of her character in fact. She was not a dull Charlotte and she still managed to give her a more lively character than is sometimes seen which was nice.  Sir William Lucas was the rambling fool he was meant to be, popping up here and there and making us all smile with his pointless comments and observations. He then made a stately and informative Mr Reynolds, when showing Lizzy and her Aunt around Pemberley.

Wickham: Wickham has a decidedly smaller part in this production but I really enjoyed his character. He was everything charming and I could have been easily drawn in by him if I didn't know the story already! He was a very good humoured man and perfectly relaxed and at ease, easy to fall for. What I commend him for is his change when he appears with Lydia; he seems rightly subdued and a little embarrassed at the whole affair, as he should be, as well as already seemingly becoming annoyed at his new insufferable wife!

Mrs Gardiner: There was no Mr Gardiner but Mrs Gardiner was still the sweet and favourite Aunt to Elizabeth. She also had a smaller part but when she was on stage she was happy and friendly and very motherly to Elizabeth.  She had more spirit and character than other interpretations of Mrs Gardiner, which made a nice change.

Georgiana: Unfortunately, she was hardly on stage but her few lines she spoke were innocent and sweet. She was a more confident Georgiana than I have seen in the past, but then again, she needed to make the most of her short stage time!

Caroline Bingley: She was haughty and stuck up, as she should be. She was very irritating and it was clear that Darcy had no interest in her what so ever... She reminded me very much of the Caroline I imagine from the novel.

Throughout Pride and Prejudice there are a number of letters sent to various characters. I liked the way that the characters who sent the letters would appear on stage and 'read' the letters as the recipient would be reading it. This was particularly effective at the end; in most adaptations (1995 and 2005 included) once Lizzy and Darcy are engaged it either skips to the wedding and then ends or it just ends there. Some of my favourite chapters in the novel are the final ones when Lizzy and Darcy spend a little more time together and ask questions about when they fell for each other and then we see the reactions of all the other characters, predominantly through a number of letters. It was nice for these to be included, having Lizzy read the letter she sends to her Aunt telling her to 'indulge her fancy in every possible flight' with Darcy sending his love, 'at least, any he can spare from me', followed by Darcy's letter to his Aunt which made me laugh in the way he spoke it, sounding rather smug with himself for going against her and pleased to announce it was her visit to Lizzy who gave him hope she cared for him (!) and then a little note from Caroline as well; this sort of epilogue to pride and prejudice is, as I have said, normally not included and I was glad it was for a change.

The plot was naturally altered and certain scenes were condensed due to time constraints and the fact that it was a live stage performance! But, bravo to the script adapter as he condensed the story very well and it felt as if most of the scenes were included (even though naturally they were not) and as I have said already numerous times, the language was not tampered with and it was wonderfully accurate to the book! (I think you can tell by now that I was pleased they kept it true to the book, as far as they could!)

I think my favourite scenes would be...

The dance at Netherfield because although it was shorter than the original, the two of them were great together. The dance was very awkward and so therefore fun to watch!  
The scenes at Netherfield when Jane was ill were very complete and accurate and the four of them (Darcy, Bingley, Lizzy and Caroline) acted together brilliantly.

All the proposals were great: Collins's was hilarious, Bingley's was so sweet and Darcy's first was very intense and second extremely romantic :)

I also loved, as I have already mentioned, the ending when they included the letters and reactions of the other characters to Lizzy and Darcy's engagement.

What was rather funny was the random pigeons which kept landing on stage and walking through Netherfield or Rosings or Longbourn :P

I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite the ridiculous heat and lack of shade, and I could have happily gone back in a few hours to see the evening performance! I also wished to be up there with them, as it looked like a lot of fun and I could have fitted in nicely I believe ;) I wouldn't have taken much training as I know most of the words and even found myself mouthing along - whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I shall leave it to you to decide!

A thoroughly enjoyable day out and I only wish it were not over so soon or ending so soon so as to make the possibility of seeing it again an impossibility...

Your affectionate friend,

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Miss Delacourt Series by Heidi Ashworth

A very good friend of mine told me about this book she had just read, Miss Delacourt Speaks her Mind. She told me that I just had to read it.  So, I went away and bought the book straight away and I am really glad that I did. I read, and loved, the first book and then I found out there was a sequel! Since reading the first two stories a Christmas short and another novel have come out; here are my thoughts about all 4 stories.

Miss Delacourt Speaks her Mind

"When the dowager duchess of Marcross insists he accompany her niece, Ginny, into the country for the day to execute a special task, Sir Anthony is appalled, to say the least. Ginny, who thinks little of the fashionable Sir Anthony, is as eager to be done with the chore as he, but before they arrive at their destination they are stranded by highwaymen and launched into adventure.
Forced into each other’s company, Ginny begins to sense the passionate nature beneath Sir Anthony’s mask of ennui, while his exasperation with the forthright Ginny turns into admiration of her wit and charm. Then beautiful Lucinda Barrington and Lord Avery, a poet, come onto the scene, sparking Ginny’s imagination and revealing a way to unmask the true man behind Sir Anthony’s frivolous facade. Meanwhile, the dowager duchess has plans of her own for this pair, and her special task turns into a battle of words, wills, and wit."

I am very glad I was put onto this book. It was a fun, light-hearted, funny, romantic (but clean) and a refreshing regency romance. Will the head-strong and out-spoken Miss Ginny Delacourt be able to discover the man behind the mask of the overly-polite, but dashing, Sir Anthony Crenshaw?

With great characters, interesting twists in the plot, lots of mishaps and misunderstanding, I leave you in suspense of duels, games of "hide the slipper" that turn into romantic confusion, wrong turns that end in books being thrown at heads, heroines nearly falling out of windows, "betrayal", masquerades, headstrong comments answered with takes-the-heroines-breath-away kisses, soliloquies that reveal pent-up feelings, weeping poets, run-away couples, stolen roses and lots of comedy and confusion!

It is definitely worth a read;
I think it was the fastest I had read a book in a while when I read it. Once I started, I didn't want to put it down as I had to see what was going to happen next.

Miss Delacourt has her Day

"Ginny Delacourt felt the course of true love could not have run smoother. After all, it required only a fortnight, a pair of highwaymen, a pox quarantine, a sham betrothal, and a masquerade ball to bring Sir Anthony up to snuff. When her beloved suddenly becomes the heir to his uncle, the Duke of Marcross, protocol dictates that he drop the "Sir" from his name. It's his uncle who insists Ginny, daughter of a lowly vicar, is not the proper bride for a future duke. Lucinda and Lord Avery arrive on the scene to stir up trouble, and Ginny's normally manipulative Grandaunt Regina seems helpless to arrange anything, least of all a frowned-upon wedding. It's up to Anthony, with help from his fussy valet, to see to it that Ginny has her day. The road to true love just got  a little bumpier."

This was a lot of fun! I think I prefer the first one, because it is all about the courtship of the lovely Sir Anthony and Ginny, but this sequel is still wonderful and a great read!
With many of the original characters making another appearance, as well as some unwelcome new additions, it all adds to making this a lovely sequel with a very interesting, and at times worrying, plot! When Sir Anthony's Uncle, the Duke of Marcross, hears of his attachment to a certain Miss Ginny Delacourt, he calls Anthony to him as he is not the least bit pleased! Will Anthony be able to over-come the objections put forward by his scheming Uncle by completing three impossible tasks?

So whist trying to fathom out his uncle's real motives behind his strange requests, working out how to accomplish these impossible tasks, as well as facing the disapproval of his choice of bride from many, and importantly from his mother, and when a past love, Lady Derby, comes onto the scene, recently widowed and not without the hope to marry again, will poor Anthony be able to pull through everything and marry his, rather doubtful, Ginny?

I will leave you in suspense of boxing matching and bruised hands, fainting maidens, dances with the wrong ladies, (and right ladies!) mud covered coats, drowning boys and rooms covered from top to bottom with torn up fabric and thousands of feathers!

Lady Crenshaw's Christmas

"Ginny and her beloved Anthony, Lord Crenshaw, are finally married and have spent the bulk of their first blissful six months of marriage in the country. However, Ginny must now hostess a Christmas ball at Dunsmere, the estate of the dowager Duchess of Marcross. How is a mere vicar's daughter to carry off such an event with no experience and little exposure to the ways of the ton? And how is she to meet the expectations of her Grandaunt Regina, earn the good graces of Anthony's uncle the Duke of Marcross, endure the spite of the duke's new wife, manage the hysterical escapades of Lucinda, Lady Avery, and find the perfect gift for her husband, all while expecting a babe? All these questions and more are answered in Lady Crenshaw's Christmas, a short story follow-up to two full length novels, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind and Miss Delacourt Has Her Day available via Montlake Romance."

This was a cute little story showing Ginny and Anthony's married life, but it is not all plain sailing! I loved how certain characters made a reappearance from the other two novels, adding many humorous scenes! The story was very fun and it was a nice little Christmas story with two of my favourite characters (which is always fun to see when you have got to know two wonderful characters over two brilliant novels) which was nice to curl up with during the holiday season!                   

Lord Haversham Takes Command

"Lord Haversham feels as if he is always running, first from Lord and Lady Avery, his foolish parents, then from the consequences of a schoolboy prank gone awry. Now a secret service agent to the young Queen Victoria, he has run back to England from traitors who seek his life. Little does he know he is running into danger of a different kind; the perceptive, sapphire-blue gaze of his childhood love, Miranda Crenshaw. How is he to win her heart without giving away his secret and endangering the life of the Queen?

Mira's parents, Sir Anthony and Lady Crenshaw, had always assumed their daughter would wed her lifelong friend, Harry. However, when he returns to England after a long absence, gone is the boy they had known and loved. Instead he is Bertie, a silly fop exactly like his flibbertigibbet parents. As such, her parents feel obliged to wed her to George, the young Duke of Marcross, whom Mira despises. Instead, she dreams of the man Harry was meant to be. When she catches a glimpse of him beneath his silly facade, she must find a way to persuade her parents he is the man for her--before he once again runs out of her life."

I enjoyed this.  It was fun to read more about the characters I have already read and loved in three previous books and it was nice to see so many of them return, whether in a good way or bad! The new characters were also wonderful, especially Harry the hero! The story was fast flowing and very interesting as well as being full of humour. It was nice to read another Miss Delacourt adventure :)

The Lord Who Sneered and Other Tales: A Regency Holiday Anthology 

These three short stories are a wonderful addition to the already wonderful Miss Delacourt Series and they give a nice insight into some of the characters we already know and love as well as introducing some fun new characters.

"Three touching, inspirational tales that evoke the essence of what we love most about the cold weather holidays.

The Lord Who Sneered: Christmas 1818. Debutante Lady Sophie Lundell has been warned away from the Marquis of Trevelin by her father, but why? When she meets the infamous Marquis at her first ball, she is fascinated by his scar, one that causes his mouth to be drawn into a perpetual sneer. So determined is she to learn how he came by it, she follows him out onto the veranda and insists on hearing the story from his own lips. Her curiosity transforms into a profusion of emotions when she discovers there is more to the Marquis' wicked reputation than his injured mouth. When Christmas day dawns, she learns that the best of gifts are bestowed only by the heart.

Ghosts in the Graveyard: October 1816. When Sir Anthony's cousin dies, a grieving widow is left behind, one no longer wanted when her father-in-law, the Duke of Marcross, sires a new heir. She is welcomed to Dunsmere by the Dowager Duchess; she has a plethora of empty bedrooms now that Sir Anthony and his bride, Ginny Delacourt, have moved from the premises. When Lady Avery claims she saw a ghost in the graveyard attached to the church on the Dunsmere estate, Anne, with help from Baldwin, the gardener, and handsome stranger Mr. Williams, attempts to unearth the meaning behind the eerie happenings at the Duchess' estate. Will they solve the mystery of the ghost before the cantankerous Dowager Duchess sends Mr. Williams away and all of Anne's hopes with him?"

The Lord Who Sneered:
I was very much looking forward to reading this story was the heroine was called Sophie! I was also intrigued by the premise of the story.   It was a very sweet story! I loved Lord Trevelin, the hero of the story. The story he told was very sad and his emotions seemed so deep – I was surpised that in so short a number of pages I felt I really knew him well and the emotions described were powerful for so short a story. It's astonishing! I am normally weary of novella's because everything happens so fast but not this one. It felt right. I was not let down by Sophie, the heroine, and I could relate to her in some respects, which is always a bonus.

Ghosts in the Graveyard:
This was a cute little story with a bit of mystery.  Mr Williams, the hero, is very much the gentleman. Anne, the heroine, was also great and she had great character, and together they are great.  The story was all a bit of fun as they go on a ghost hunt around the house and grounds, asking anyone if they have seen this ghost!  There was also a brilliant ending which was very fitting and unexpected!

A Rose for Christmas:
This story touching. It was fun to see some background to Grandaunt Regina and her love of roses. It was also nice to see a young Ginny Delacourt and a glimpse of the handsome young Sir Antony. I really like the character of the gardener, Baldwin, who first appearing in Ghosts in the Graveyard. The morals behind this short story were great.


Your affectionate friend,
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pirates and Prejudice by Kara Louise

I have now read Darcy's Voyage and also Only Mr Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise and I have enjoyed them both, but I think this latest story, Pirates and Prejudice, has possibly become my favourite work by this author, or at least a very close second to Darcy's Voyage.

Ok, I will admit it, when I first read the blurb for this story I thought it sounded very... improbable.  The idea of Darcy being brought so low by Lizzy’s rejection and abandoning all care for his personal appearance and to sprawl around London, rather drunk, and then to be mistaken for a pirate all seemed a little... far-fetched.  However, once I got past that and thought ‘why not’, I really rather enjoyed this story, much more than I was expecting to.  It was a story full of fast-paced adventure, amusing comedy and passionate romance.

Having Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley mistaken as the infamous pirate Lockerley, with his long beard and curly hair, and consequently thrown into jail was funny in itself, but then to have Darcy agree to impersonate this pirate in the hopes to catch the real Lockerley was even funnier! Imagining Mr Darcy agreeing to something like that is difficult, I grant you (especially given that disguise of every sort is his abhorrence), but it soon seemed like a perfectly normal adventure for Darcy to get involved with! It was a lot of fun, once he had agreed to this impersonation, to see Darcy trying to ‘forget’ how to be a gentleman (and his “gentleman-like manner”!), walk with a much less graceful posture and learn to talk like a commoner!

Once Darcy was able to drop the Lockerley act, he still couldn’t reveal his true identity (well, didn’t want to – it would be a little embarrassing wouldn’t it?) he adopted the character of a rather heroic and dashing Captain Smith. And it falls to this Captain Smith to rescue a certain Miss Elizabeth Bennet who has been taken hostage by pirates (three guesses which pirate!) who very quickly falls for this mysterious captain, whom she seems to recognise (I wonder why?). I can easily see why Lizzy would fall for Captain Smith; Darcy makes a rather magnificent pirate and there are some rather impressive sword fights (where Darcy's fencing skills finally come in useful!)

There were many clever quotes and scenes which are recognisable from the original story but put into a completely different context (such as Lady Catherine’s disapproval of Darcy’s actions (and not because of his choice of bride this time!)).  As Lizzy does not recognise Darcy straightway (understandably!) there are a few scenes where previous meetings and conversations are referred to (such as the conversations at Netherfield and their dance at the ball) which was rather amusing to read and very clever at times.

And never fear Wickham was still in the story, but the way in which Darcy comes to the rescue of Lydia is in a completely different way to the original and was a clever way to bring Wickham into the story I thought.  Georgiana also makes an appearance and her relationship with Lizzy was sweet, if little seen and explored in this variation.

Something which always annoyed me when I read Pride and Prejudice in my English class at school was the number of cynics among my class who said the only reason (and I emphasise the only) Lizzy changed her mind and married Darcy was because of Pemberley, which is nonsense. (Yes she says ‘And of this place I might have been mistress’ and yes she jokes that she first fell in love with Darcy after ‘my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley’ but no, she was not being serious!) Anyway, in most other variations I have read (if not all other) Lizzy does see Pemberley before they marry. However, (I am finally coming to my point now!) Lizzy never actually sees Pemberley till after the marriage; so there, cynics in my class! It was quite nice to have a story where she fell for Darcy without seeing him in his own environment contributing at all to her altered opinion of his character, as it does play an important part in many variations as well as, of course, the original story.

As for the romance, you will not be disappointed. It was, without giving anything away, a perfect ending. For the story, the set up for the ending was ... well, perfect. It cleverly linked back to important scenes earlier in the story when Darcy was disguised as Captain Smith. In fact, throughout the final few chapters when Darcy was once again the clean-shaven, well dressed gentleman we all know, there were many links and references back to the pirating adventure. The ending was also not abrupt, as it sometimes can be, as we see some sweet little scenes of the wedding day and there is a short epilogue where we see what became of some of the characters we met earlier in the story, which is always a nice touch.

Although this is the most far-fetched variation I have read, it has easily been one of the most enjoyable Pride and Prejudice variations, without a doubt! It is such a lot of fun, full of adventure and breathtaking romance! I stayed up rather late into the night to finish this one, which has to be a good sign. Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy now has some stiff competition from Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy!

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview with KaraLynne Mackrory and a Giveaway!

I had the pleasure of doing my first interview (or rather question and answer) with the wonderful author KaraLynne Mackrory. KaraLynne is the author of two Pride and Prejudice variations, Bluebells in the Mourning and Falling for Mr Darcy.  As you can tell from my reviews, I love both these stories and it was really interesting finding out more about the author and the ideas and inspirations behind the stories.

    1. It is evident from the two wonderful stories you have written that you are an avid Janeite and enjoy Jane Austen’s amazing stories. So, how did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing and carriages and courtship?

I think like most people, my first introduction to Jane Austen came from a high school English class.  My 15 year old self was required to read Pride and Prejudice.  Confession: I remember being kind of bored by it for the first 50 pages or so.  It took me a while to warm to the archaic language and to be pulled into the romance and humour of the story.  But once I did, I devoured the rest of the book in no time.  It was the first time I remember not being able to put a book down.  I have since redeemed my youthful indiscretion of being bored at first by reading all of her other books a few years ago.


2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels need I ask which your favourite is? I assume from your novels that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?

Your assumption is correct.  My favourite is Pride and Prejudice - but it only just barely beats out Persuasion and Mansfield Park.  I think what I like about P&P the most is the idea of a man who in the essentials is a really really good man but is a bit flawed and mostly misunderstood.  I also like the idea of a woman inspiring a truly life changing love in such a man without even knowing it.


3.  Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like? And which is your least favourite work of Ms. Austen’s?

As I mentioned above, I really like Persuasion and Mansfield Park.  They tie for second and third is Northanger Abbey (that Mr. Tilney is scrumptious).  Persuasion is just brilliantly written in such a way that it draws the reader into the emotion of the book.  I like Mansfield Park because I like the idea of falling in love with your best friend.  My least favourite is Sense and Sensibility.  It was just too slow for me and I find myself unable to forgive Edward Ferrars his duplicity.


4.  So, in your two novels you take the wonderful story and explore a ‘what if’ (and two very interesting ‘what ifs’ at that) Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I read such variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy!

I never imagined myself writing any books at all actually.  I read lots of these “what if” books and loved them all.  Then one day I woke up after having a dream of the first scene in Falling For Mr. Darcy in the forest.  At that point I just had to write it out.  It was initially just for fun and for a bit of giggles for myself and my friends.  Soon the rest of the plot outline came to me and I slowly worked my way through it.  My second book, Bluebells in the Mourning, came in a similar fashion.  I had an idea that it would be cool to make a situation where you could mesh elements of the Hunsford scene with the Lambton Inn scene where Elizabeth gets her two letters from Jane about Lydia’s elopement.  I like to take parts/phrases from one part of Jane Austen’s book and mix it up some place else.


5.  Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for what if variations, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility with the plot and characters?

I've thought about this before and I still don’t know.  I think Persuasion has the best chance for a modern adaptation and I have read a few really good ones.  I'm sure you could make variations on her others but I don’t know them well enough to really feel I could tackle the characters properly.


6.  What is your opinion on modern variations of Ms. Austen’s work such as Clueless, or the bollywood Pride and Prejudice or the recent YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, or even paranormal variations such as Pride and Prejudice and Vampires? Would you ever think about writing a modern variation, or like me, do you prefer her stories to be kept to the era in which they belong?

I like just about all ways to adapt Jane Austen’s books.  I am not a purest for the most part as long as the characters are consistent with hers. She was the original artist and I do feel that if you are going to piggyback on her work you ought to respect it enough not to make a mockery of her characters. The best compliment I can think of ever receiving would be to hear that my characters stayed true.  Id hope that in the after-life, Jane Austen would bump fists with me, not punch me for my work.   I do prefer regency time overall because it has so much class. 


7.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both your wonderful stories; they were so well written and both really interesting routes to take the stories down. While I was reading both of them, I was wondering how you came up with such interesting variations. Where did your inspiration for the stories come from, what gave you the ideas?

I confessed this above but suffice it to say – I read so many variations and the original so many times that Mr. Darcy lived in my head as a real person.  When that is the case, you can think of all kinds of what ifs. 


8.  Mr Darcy has to be one of the most famous heroes in all of literature and for many the saying ‘searching for Mr Right’ turned into ‘searching for Mr Darcy’ after coming across Pride and Prejudice (well, it did for me!) In some variations I have read and in a few adaptations I have not liked how Darcy has been portrayed, but in your stories I absolutely love your portrayal of Darcy! What appeals to you about Mr Darcy (or dare I say it, why did you start ‘falling for Mr Darcy’!)? I noticed that, especially in Falling for Mr Darcy, you brought forward Darcy’s humorous and light-hearted side a lot earlier, which I really enjoyed seeing.  Was Darcy a lot of fun to develop and explore in your stories?

All the time I was writing my books I didn’t really think that I patterned my Mr. Darcy after any actual person.  Then my husband would read my book and say  “This is me!” to which I would smile sweetly at him and allow him to think so.  But now that I think of it – it probably was.  He is quiet, a bit introverted, soundly competent in lots of things, humble, funny (but only shows this side when he is comfortable) and super handsome.  Bonus: he has a British accent.  So even though I didn’t set out to pattern Mr. Darcy after him, I just pictured a hero like Jane Austen’s and later found it matched my husband.  And looking back I think I must have recognized the similarities long before I wrote my books because I gave him an old leather-bound edition of Pride and Prejudice from England for a wedding gift.


9.  There are many scenes in both your stories which are highly romantic and had me (just like many other readers) sighing (and swooning!) with happiness as we read them. I really admire you for keeping your novels clean; it just shows how stories can be highly romantic whist remaining clean, unlike so many variations out there. How important is this to you? 

It is probably my number one pet peeve in this genre actually.  You have got to give Jane Austen credit for creating love scenes where no actual love making occurs. If this genre was created because people were Jane Austen inspired then it ought to be obvious that if she can and would write love without love making then it should be possible (and essential) that we do too.  That being said – everyone takes their tea differently.  Or in other words – to each his own.


10.  I enjoyed your books immensely, as I have already said, and something I really enjoyed was how you played around very cleverly with iconic quotes from the original, placing them in the mouths of other characters and in different contexts. Did you enjoy writing this as much as it was fun to read? Any favourite examples?

This perhaps part of my personality coming through.  I like to laugh and I like to make others laugh.  For me, every time I misplace and mix-up quotes or scenes in my books it makes me laugh and hopefully would make someone familiar with Pride and Prejudice do so too.  I have too many favourites to name though.  As often as I can – I like to reappropriate phrases/scenes.


11.  I will wrap up the questions now but there is one burning question that we all want an answer to; any further ideas for another story? Any clues or at least any assurances that there will, sometime or another, be a third story for Darcy and Lizzy for us to look forward to?

I have two other ideas that I am playing around with and have actually written a little of one already.  Sadly, I have very little time to write currently.  And I know that if I were to start I would have to finish.  I am a bit of a binge writer and I write a lot all at once and I just cant commit that much time yet.  So for now these stories will have to remain in my head. :)

I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I did. :) Thank you again to KaraLynne for answering these questions for me...

... and for also providing a giveaway of an ebook copy of Bluebells in the Mourning, her latest novel.

To enter the giveaway either...
1. Mention KaraLynne and her book on twitter by linking into the tweet @kamackyah or
2. Commenting on my blog post :) (preferably with your email address at the end of the comment so I can contact you) 

I will choose a winner from a random draw (you will be counted twice if you comment on my blog and twitter) in two weeks, on the 24th. Good luck :)

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, July 01, 2013

Only Mr Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise

Her worst fears come true...
After her father's death, Elizabeth Bennet goes to work as a governess. Little does she know the Willstones are social acquaintances of the Bingley's and the Darcy's, and Elizabeth finds herself once again drawn into Mr. Darcy's orbit. To make matters worse, Mrs. Willstone's sister sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. With Elizabeth's social status even lower than it was before, she knows she must abandon all hope of Darcy renewing his proposals, even as she begins to see him in a completely different light...
I have now read quite a few Pride and Prejudice variations, and once again I was not disappointed with Only Mr Darcy Will Do. I had already read and loved Darcy's Voyage. I look forward to reading Pirates and Prejudice and Assumed Engagement, also by Kara Louise.
I liked the basis for this story; I had always wondered what might happen to the Bennet girls had the Collins’ moved into Longbourn.  Jane and Lizzy having to become governesses is very believable and very likely what would have had to happen had Mr Bennet died.  It was sweet that the Gardiners took Jane for a governess to their children, meaning the family was not too split up and that Lizzy’s position allowed her to visit Jane and her aunt and uncle on her days off.  I enjoyed seeing Lizzy as a governess and how she would fair in such a position, not having had a governess herself (much to the surprise and disapproval of Lady Catherine!) Mrs Bennet, Lydia, Kitty and Mary were hardly in this story which was a nice change.
The characters were once again portrayed faithfully and there were some wonderful new additions. I particularly enjoyed Darcy’s other cousin, Mr Hamilton.  In many variations Colonel Fitzwilliam is a favourite character to develop further and bring into the story more, however in this variation, this part was given to an equally as amusing and fun character, Mr Hamilton.  Colonel Fitzwilliam does make an appearance in the story, but mostly this Mr Hamilton takes the (what I will call) ‘Colonel Fitzwilliam limelight’. He was a very loveable character, just like Fitzwilliam, and is a great addition to the story and anytime he was around, I was laughing! 
Having just said how Colonel Fitzwilliam is not in the story as often as in some variations, he does make an appearance and the small part he plays is an important and rather sweet role. I won’t say anymore! 
Another wonderful character was Emily, the little girl to whom Lizzy is governess.  She is a wonderful little character! Her relationship with Lizzy is adorable and you could see they have a very strong bond. Emily was almost like a young Lizzy; her character discernment and ability to asses people’s feelings from their facial expressions was very reflective of Lizzy’s own abilities. I could see Emily growing up to become a very witty and lively girl, just like Lizzy is.
Georgiana was another whose character was developed further and that was great to see.  We see how she fairs being the hostess of a party of people invited to stay for a few weeks. Her friendship with Lizzy and how that develops with Lizzy now being a governess was interesting and there were times when you could see how much Georgiana depended on and was grateful to Lizzy. There was one scene I particularly enjoyed; Lizzy was teaching Emily on the piano when Georgiana comes along to listen, and before long Georgiana takes over the lesson and starts teaching Emily, and very successfully, I might add!      
I think my favourite addition to the story, character wise, was Rosalyn.  She seemed like a lovely character, until it became clear that she had her sights set on Darcy! Having Lizzy have the competition for Darcy instead of Darcy having the competition was another interesting twist with this story.  As well as this, Rosalyn provides the possibility of feeling a little sympathy for Caroline Bingley! I never thought I would be able to feel sympathy for her, of all people! When it is discovered that Rosalyn is aiming for the highest prize in the marriage market, Darcy, she very quickly dissolves into a scheming, false and annoying woman, and the friendship between her and Lizzy had built up quickly disappears! Does this mean that Caroline was once a friendly and reasonable woman and that is was her want to marry Darcy that turned her to what we see in the story? Maybe… but then again maybe not! But it does make you think that maybe the wonderful marital prize that is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley turns all the woman, who set their sights on him, into scheming and manipulating and generally horrible woman! Of course, Lizzy never planned on marrying Darcy and so she never undergoes this character change, unlike Rosalyn and (maybe) Caroline!
As in Darcy’s Voyage, there are some iconic scenes that we know from the original which are included but, of course, have twists thrown in; one of my favourites in this story was the classic argument between Lizzy and Lady Catherine! All I will say is a few more people get involved in the argument…
One of my favourite parts of the original story is when they run into Darcy at Pemberley and we see Darcy, the levelheaded, kind and sensible master of Pemberley. As this is one of my favourite parts it was great to see more of this relaxed Darcy.  There were many times when Darcy’s care and concern for his tenants was clear; especially when there is a flood and Darcy allows all those whose houses are in danger from the water to stay at Pemberley (as well as climbing a tree to save one of the little girls cats from being drowned!) As well as seeing his care for his tenants, you also get to see Darcy's more relaxed and fun side. This is shown through a multitude of different acts and conversations; among my favourites was a treasure hunt designed by Darcy for his guests!
Finally onto Lizzy and Darcy; I don’t want to give too much away but the story is full of romance as well as trials and tribulations for the two. Darcy is not bitter and his pleasure at seeing Lizzy again is clear and he does everything in his power to treat her with civility and show her how her words had affected him.  Lizzy begins to realise how strongly she may have misjudged Darcy and how much of a mistake she may have made in refusing him over a year ago!  Through important and revealing games of chess, morning walks round Pemberley and accidental meetings in rather personal places Lizzy comes to understand who the real Fitzwilliam Darcy is and why so many woman do fall for him!
Your affectionate friend,
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