Thursday, November 14, 2019

Falling for Mr. Thornton...Tales of North & South

This has been such a highly anticipated day for twelve authors and several others of us. The anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North & South was planned to launch today, November 14th! Guess what! Today is also the day that the miniseries, North & South with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe first aired on BBC One in 2004. Isn't that neat! I think so! What a perfect day to release the anthology!

To get this launch party started, I will post the blurb for the book first; then we will hear from Trudy Brasure and Nicole Clarkston. They will tell us how the anthology came into being. Next on the queue, the authors will be introduced and each will share how they first discovered John Thornton and Margaret Hale. Have you discovered them yet? If so, in the comments, tell us how you discovered them. I will, if you will! :) 

Thanks for stopping by today. Let's have a great time and show these ladies and all their hard work some love!

Book Blurb:

Amidst the turbulent backdrop of a manufacturing town in the grips of the Industrial Revolution, Elizabeth Gaskell penned the timeless passion of Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale. A mixing of contemporary and Victorian, this short story anthology by twelve beloved authors considers familiar scenes from new points of view or re-imagined entirely. Capturing all the poignancy, heartbreak, and romance of the original tale, Falling for Mr. Thornton is a collection you will treasure again and again.


Stories by: Trudy Brasure * Nicole Clarkston * Julia Daniels * Rose Fairbanks * Don Jacobson * Evy Journey * Nancy Klein * M. Liza Marte * Elaine Owen * Damaris Osborne * Melanie Stanford ** Foreword by Mimi Matthews **


Trudy and Nicole, I'm turning this over to you! 

Q: How did this project all start?

Trudy Brasure: The initial motive was a bit personal. It had been over five years since my last N&S variation was published and I really wanted to publish something before another year had passed. My current work in progress has been long in coming, so I decided that if I started a short story collection with other authors, I could reach my goal of publishing within a year.

But besides all that, it's one of my great joys to spread and encourage the love North and South in any way. I was particularly eager to entice some Austen writers to join my venture! I knew there were a few of them who were Thornton fans as well. And since I already knew most of the other North and South authors out there, I was fairly confident there would be interest in creating a North and South anthology.

Not wanting to do this all on my own, I asked Nicole if she would be my partner in this project. Nicole has the unique distinction of being the only author to have successfully straddled both the Austen and Gaskell domains—she has published multiple novels in each world.  And I needed someone who had current experience in the ever-changing publishing scene. 

 Q: So what was your response to Trudy’s idea, Nicole?

Nicole Clarkston: I didn’t have to think about it for even a second. I loved the idea! How could I not? I had been toying with the notion of doing a North and South story collection, but the idea was bigger than I wanted to tackle on my own. 

Teaming up with Trudy was a dream! Hers were the first North and South variations I found when I first fell in love with John Thornton, and she has been a dear friend for a few years now. We have had so many fun chats about our favorite top-hat-wearing gentleman! She is truly knowledgeable about the era and the Victorian authors, and she knows these characters like they are her best friends. 

I will be honest: some readers and authors are hesitant to give North and South variations a try. I believe part of that is because it is a more sombre original work, being set in an industrial Victorian city rather than a cheerful countryside of a (slightly) more carefree era. However, that only highlights how rich and admirable the story and the characters truly are. In order to draw out the depth and feeling of the story, an author needs to understand the very Victorian challenges, attitudes, morals, and faith that these characters must wrestle with. Every author in this collection has invested a lot of time and heart to earnestly search out the nuggets of inspiration and breathe life into the characters.

Trudy Brasure: Yes, and we wanted to let each author's unique perspective and talents showcase the varied aspects of Gaskell's story. We had a very open guideline for contributing. We wanted a variety of tales: from Victorian to modern, time mix-ups, humorous and intently serious.

I knew I wanted to ask all the previously published N&S authors if they would like to contribute a story for the project. And I knew a couple of Austen writers who I thought would love to try a short story as their first dabble in Milton. It wasn't hard to find enthusiastic authors, was it, Nicole?

Nicole Clarkston: No, the problem was actually that some had to bow out due to scheduling 
conflicts after joyfully embracing the idea. Everyone we talked to was excited about the project and it was truly a delight to see it come together. Most of us didn’t know each other well, but everyone was such a pleasure to work with! These are some remarkable authors and human beings, and the early stage of writing and taking over plot lines was a blast. 

When the stories started rolling in, we knew we had a special collection. Each author truly went for the heart of the story, and each in their own unique style. The blending of voices and imaginations beautifully captures just why North and South resonates with so many readers: because it is a story that transcends circumstances and styles and speaks to the root of human relationships. 

Speaking of what is so special about North and South, we asked each of our authors how they first discovered John Thornton and Margaret Hale. 



Nancy Klein I read "North and South" in graduate school in 1985. It was part of my Victorian Novel class and loved it. Fast forward to 2005 and I'm strolling around Best Buys on Christmas Eve, looking for a DVD to play on the player my brother and sister are buying for me in another part of the store. Bingo--there's "North and South." I watched it in one sitting on December 26, and there was no going back after that. The music, the smouldering, the scene at the train station--wait, that didn't happen in the book. Who cares? I'm in love.

Nicole Clarkston I was already in love with "Pride and Prejudice" and I was looking for something I could love just as much. I happened to turn on the miniseries during a home renovation project, when I needed something to keep me awake while I worked through the night. My expectations were not very high. However, by the time The Kiss happened, I was a drooling, wide-eyed, sleep-deprived John Thornton devotee. I drove all the way across Portland the next day after calling all the local book retailers to see who had it on the shelf (because 2 day shipping was way too long to wait). I loved the book even more! After three years had gone by with no sign of my obsession abating, I decided I had to put pen to paper, and here we are.

Kate Forrester A confession, my love of North and South came from the BBC adaptation staring Danielle Denby Ash and Richard Armitage and not Mrs Gaskells novel, my love of that came later. Christmas 2007 my daughter received North and South as a gift. We didn’t watch it until the new year - the first Sunday in January to be precise. From the opening scene I was hooked. I loved the train, and Margaret’s reflection. I adored the minor characters Mr Hale, Bessie Higgins, Nicholas Higgins, the fabulous Fanny Thornton, and the indomitable Hannah Thornton. Then there was John Thornton, Master of Marlborough Mill – the man who didn’t know how to dabble but had a foolish passion for a woman who didn’t look back but who did eventually come home with him after the most romantic kiss ever seen in a BBC Sunday drama. Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Thornton was perfection. Sunday lunch was forgotten as we binged watched all four episodes – the first of many viewings.

Rose Fairbanks I fell in love with North and South after watching the BBC production with Richard Armitage. I was so good back then and only watched one episode a night even though I was watching on Netflix. By episode two, Mr. Thornton was haunting my dreams. I watched several more times back to back and it reignited my love for Victorian literature. I finally realized it was based on a book and decided to read it. I actually didn’t think the book could be even better than the production (I mean, that kiss!), but I was so pleasantly surprised.

Damaris Osborne My husband was on deployment abroad, and my daughter and I sat down to watch another Sunday evening BBC four parter from 19thC literature. Austen was exhausted, Dickens was getting dreary. North & South sounded potentially a bit ’trouble at t’mill’ grim, but the quality of the production both in front of and behind the camera made it a ‘we must see next episode’ from the first. However, it was the ‘look back at me’ scene that left me speechless. Good looking chaps in their thirties are not rare on screen, but one who could draw one into the anguish of a soul through eyes alone was amazing. By the end (despite shouting at the screen that anyone canoodling on a station platform would have caused public outrage) I was eager to see how much of the tale was dramatic television licence and how much was the brilliance of Gaskell. It turned out that the book was different, but had its own glittering high points, and showed just how underrated Mrs Gaskell has been for far too long. My parody is of the television series, since parodying Mrs Gaskell would be an insult.

Don Jacobson The honest truth is that I went backwards into "North and South" after reading Nicole Clarkston's variations. Up to the point, I had been exclusively reading Pride and Prejudice variations. When Nicole asked me to beta-read "Northern Rain" (we had been sharing each other's work for a year by that point) I was hooked. Then I resolved to go back and read the original source story. WOW again. Buried inside of the traditional romance was a potent social commentary about rising by the dint of one's talents while also being held back by those who rose before you were able to escape your station.

Elaine Owen I got into North and South around 2015, after seeing so many people who were usually calm and sensible completely gush about something that happened on a train platform! I finally gave into curiosity and watched the movie, and just that fast, I was one of those people whimpering over a solitary yellow rose. Then I read the book and fell in love once more.

Evy Journey I actually didn’t know about Gaskell’s novel until I saw the miniseries which I found surfing Netflix for something to watch. Like many viewers, I loved it. When that happens I very often read the book it’s based on. As it also sometimes happens when a book or film touches me, I continue the story in my mind.

Trudy Brasure I stumbled upon the BBC’s adaptation of North and South in October 2009 when my friend and I searched for something to watch on Netflix. I didn’t know it then, but it was a pivotal event for me. I’d never heard of Elizabeth Gaskell before. Richard’s performance of the lonely and misunderstood John Thornton was utterly riveting. I don’t think I’d ever seen a romantic hero as vulnerable as Thornton was during that profoundly moving scene with his mother the night before he proposed. I immediately searched for information on Richard Armitage and Gaskell’s story afterward and found a community of fans at C19 that encouraged and nourished my fascination with North and South. I ordered the book and flew through it—it’s now one of my prized possessions, with all my markings over the years on its pages. Consumed with re-imagining that painful good-bye scene from the mini-series, I began writing the opening scenes of A Heart for Milton early in 2010.

Melanie Stanford My mom has always loved classic literature and the movies and mini-series that go along with it. One day when I was visiting, she begged me to watch one of her favourites- Cranford. I enjoyed the movie and decided that next time I visited, I'd watch another Gaskell with her. My choice- Wives & Daughters, because the third movie in the boxed set, North & South, looked blah to me. I wanted to watch a movie about families and flirtations, not one about a mill owner during the industrial revolution. Well. I did eventually give North & South a try and WOW. After just one watch, North & South became one of my all-time favourite movies and Richard Armitage a beloved actor. It didn't take long (or too many re-watches) for me to read the book and then write my own modern retelling. Two years later and I still love North & South and I'm so happy I got this chance to dive into the world Gaskell created and write another retelling. 

M. Liza Marte In all honesty, I found Elizabeth Gaskell and her story, North & South by way of John Jakes. I was a huge fan of the TV mini-series, North and South based on John Jakes novels. When I heard there was a BBC adaptation I thought, “How can they remake a British version of the Civil War story?” It made no sense to me. A friend, who was a great admirer of the lead actor in the BBC version told me it was a different story, with many similarities to “Pride & Prejudice,” my favorite book. With that inducement I watched and fell in love with the story, the characters, Milton, everything!



Blog Tour Schedule:
14/11/2019 More Agreeably Engaged; Blog Tour Launch & Giveaway
19/11/2019 My Jane Austen Book Club ; Author Interview & Giveaway
21/11/2019 From Pemberley to Milton; Review & Giveaway
25/11/2019 So Little Time…; Guest Post & Giveaway
05/12/2019 My Vices and Weaknesses; Review & Giveaway
10/12/2019 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post & Giveaway
16/12/2019 Babblings of a Bookworm; Review & Giveaway
20/12/2019 Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post & Giveaway

Buy Link:


It is so exciting to have this many authors together and writing about John Thornton and Margaret Hale. I've been anxious to have this in my hands and read it anytime I have a few minutes. I will be able to get my North & South fix and enjoy a story or two. I know I will be reading Falling for Mr. Thornton over and over. 
For those of you that love Pride & Prejudice with Darcy and Elizabeth, I hope you will give this anthology about the beloved characters of North & South a chance. You may just fall in love with them too. Who knows, you may then move on to the original book by Elizabeth Gaskell. You may even want to watch the miniseries with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, if you have not already done so. 

Congratulations to each of the twelve authors. You have an awesome anthology that will introduce new readers to the wonderful world of Milton, John Thornton, Margaret Hale, and even Nicholas Higgins! 

If you would like to read the full blurb for each of the twelve stories and see what type of story it is, please click here. It will pull up a pdf document for you to read. It also includes the author bio and contact information for each author. 

Thank you, Rita Deodato, for organizing the blog tour and allowing me to launch it!

Giveaway:
Take a look at all those books above which are the main giveaway for this blog tour. That is amazing! Good luck to everyone!

The authors will offer one big prize to one reader following the entire blog tour. This prize will contain 13 different ebooks, once copy of Falling For Mr. Thornton and one other ebook from each author.
Additionally, the authors would also like to offer 2 bookmarks of Falling for Mr. Thornton at each blog. Both giveaways are international. 

Leave a comment below to be entered for the bookmarks. Use the Rafflecopter to enter the grand prize of thirteen eBooks. Good luck to all of you.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A Covenant of Marriage...C. P. Odom

My special guest is C. P. Odom. His newest release, A Covenant of Marriage has been the #1 New Release for several days and is still holding that place of honor this morning. Congratulations, Colin!

Have any of you read the book yet? I have, and I really enjoyed it. I love books where Darcy and Elizabeth are either forced to marry or have an arranged marriage. Colin explains this more in our chat below. He has been generous enough to discuss his book with me, and he has answered some of my questions. Before we get to the interview, let's take a look at the blurb.

Blurb:

A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!

Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.

With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together?


*****
Janet:   Today I’m interviewing C. P. (Colin) Odom, the author of his new Pride and Prejudice variation, A Covenant of Marriage. A covenant is a contract, isn’t it?
C. P. Odom:    That’s pretty close, Janet. The dictionary defines a compact as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. In my novel, it applies to the marriage agreements that Fitzwilliam Darcy takes to Elizabeth’s father when he seeks to marry her.
Janet:   So this is a forced marriage story, right? Those are among my favorite Pride and Prejudice variations.
C. P. Odom:    I think of it as an arranged marriage story, and while forced marriage and arranged marriage stories are close, I consider there to be a distinction between the two. In a forced marriage, the parties involved must marry for one of several reasons, usually due to actual or perceived transgressions. These may range from scandal or rumors to breaches of propriety ranging from an incautious embrace to actually being discovered in bed together. So, while the couple may enter into a lifetime union somewhat unwillingly, they accept the necessity of that marriage.
Arranged marriages, however, were somewhat different—marriages arranged between the families involved irrespective of the wishes of the future bride and groom. They had been de rigueur among the nobility for centuries in order to protect bloodlines of, especially, kings and queens. I read of one case during medieval times in which the newly married presumptive heir to the throne and his virginal bride were conducted to their bedchamber and observed by the court while they got into bed. The drapes were then pulled around the bed, providing the privacy of not being seen, but the court could still hear as they sat around and listened as the marriage was consummated. After that, the bed clothing was examined for blood, verifying a virginal female consummation! Yuck!
Janet:   I agree! That sounds really weird!
C. P. Odom:    I certainly thought so when I read it. I can’t remember if this continued until the bride became pregnant, but the object was to make sure the first-born was actually conceived by the newlyweds, so it might have.
Janet:   And it doesn’t sound romantic at all!
C. P. Odom:    I agree again. In such arranged marriages, brides and grooms sometimes became “engaged” soon after birth, along with extensive and formalistic documents—compacts, if you will—outlining the parameters of their future marriage. The bride and groom might not even meet until just before the wedding, with all kinds of possible repercussions. It’s no wonder that, once the couple had produced “an heir and a spare,” they often found lovers outside the marital bonds to satisfy their needs. It must be said that this was significantly more hazardous for the wives than for the husbands, since members of the nobility even went so far as to recognized an illegitimate son or daughter and raise them in their own household. But woe unto the wife who became pregnant without having been visited by her husband sometime before her condition became obvious.
Janet:   It doesn’t sound anything like what Jane Austen wrote about how men and women met and interacted and decided to marry.
C. P. Odom:    By the time of the Regency, arranged marriages had gone out of fashion among the gentry and, of course, had hardly ever occurred among the lower classes. The Royals still used the arrangement for the highest levels, but most matches among the gentry and most of the aristocracy were now considered to be “love matches.” I put quotation marks around that because the Regency definition of a “love match” differed greatly from what we are used to in modern times since the pool of potential spouses was much smaller. The upper classes had to pick from among the upper class and aristocrats married other aristocrats. Na├»ve and inexperienced young ladies from the gentry and aristocracy often fancied themselves in love with gentlemen they hardly knew, and gentlemen often fixed on ladies based on their appearance only. Since couples were strictly chaperoned, there was seldom an opportunity for any intimacies, so many marriages resulted from the couples being more “In Lust” than “In Love.”
Janet:   How did you come up with the central themes for your novel?
C. P. Odom:    I certainly didn’t start by saying, “I want to write a forced or arranged marriage story.” As in the case of most of my novels so far, I was thinking over which of the many coincidences in Pride and Prejudice might lend themselves to taking the storyline in a different direction. One of the most unlikely of coincidences was the manner in which Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy met at Pemberley. It was critical to how the plot developed, since it informed Elizabeth that Darcy might still be fond of her, informed Darcy that she did not look on him with the same disdain as at Hunsford, and it allowed her to be informed of Lydia’s catastrophic elopement in time for Darcy to rectify the situation and make a happy ending possible for both Jane and Elizabeth. But even the most minor of variations would have precluded that fortuitous encounter—it really was the most unbelievable of coincidences.
So I decided to prevent that meeting by having the Gardiner party journey to the Lake District instead of Derbyshire, and one catastrophe after another devastated the Bennet family. One thing led to another as I developed my plotline, so that I was left trying to find a way to bring Darcy and Elizabeth together after several years of angst and suffering. I considered simply having Darcy slice the Gordian Knot by coming to Longbourn and seeking to court Elizabeth, but that simply didn’t ring true to me. His confidence was too devastated by his rejection, and such a course of action didn’t fit his character as I conceived it. Also, it seemed too modern to me.
And even when I came up with the arranged marriage idea, I couldn’t see that Darcy would take care of everything on his own and go to Elizabeth’s father with a “compact of marriage.” So I enlisted the help of two of my favorite characters—Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle—to assist him.
Janet:   Okay. So now you’ve resolved matters between the central couple. But what about Elizabeth’s sister? Did Bingley wait for years also before he finally got together with Jane after Elizabeth and Darcy settled their issues?
C. P. Odom:    Ah, you’re trolling for spoilers now, aren’t you? Well, that topic is one I discuss in another stop on this blog tour. For now, I’ll only say that the two of them don’t spend their lives alone and unmarried.
Janet:   You’re not being very cooperative, Colin! Very well, then. Do you have any other Austenesque projects on the back burner?
C. P. Odom:    For one thing, I’m working on re-writing a story I did as fanfiction called "Determination." One of the main characters in that story is Colonel Fitzwilliam, and I’m about 70% complete with it. One of the interesting things about Fitzwilliam is that he makes a single appearance at Hunsford and then disappears in Pride and Prejudice. It leaves him almost completely undefined—a blank slate for an author, you might say. I’ve worked him into other novels, but he’s central to "Determination."
Janet:   That really sounds interesting. When do you think you’ll finish?
C. P. Odom:    I really ought to have finished before now! But I’ve been kind of busy, both with writing and with all the minutia of real life. My older daughter graduated from college a few years ago with an engineering degree, and my younger daughter is in college now pursuing a nursing degree. But I’ve also been working with Meryton Press to turn my previously published novels into audiobooks.
Janet:   How’s that going?
C. P. Odom:    One audiobook, Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets, is finished and is available on Audible.com. Another one, my first novel, A Most Civil Proposal, has been narrated and submitted to Audible. It takes a while for Audible to check it over and make it available. A third audiobook, Consequences, is partway through being narrated. And my fourth novel, Perilous Siege, will start narration after the first of the year. Each one takes a lot of my time in reviewing the narration and checking it against the written word.
Janet:   You’ve been a busy little beaver, Colin! Anything else?
C. P. Odom:    This is really tentative, but I recently did a vignette for Meryton Press titled “The Haunting of Longbourn” as part of the lead-in to Halloween. A number of people who commented on it asked whether I might extend it and add more detail (there was a limit of 3,000 words on the vignettes, which is really short!). While I could never expand such a vignette into anything like a novel, I thought it might fit as a novella. So, when I finish with other stuff in my schedule, I’m thinking about generating some undeveloped plots into short stories or novellas. But it’s really tenuous at this time, other than the “Haunting” vignette.
Janet:   Well, thanks for stopping by, Colin. And good luck with A Covenant of Marriage.
C. P. Odom:    Thanks for hosting me, Janet. And thanks for your work in managing your More Agreeably Engaged blog.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~**********~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author Bio:

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the  Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.
I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife's beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published:  A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, A Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).


Contact Info:

Buy Links:  
Amazon US eBook, Paperback, Kindle Unlimited
Amazon UK eBook, Paperback, Kindle Unlimited



Blog Tour Schedule:

Giveaway:
Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of A Covenant of Marriage. Use the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. 

We'd love to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Bride of Northanger...Diana Birchall

My stop in the blog tour for Diana Birchall's The Bride of Northanger is a review of this lovely book. I will get to the review in a minute, but right now let's take a look at the blurb or book description and get to know the author. 

First, you know me and covers, and don't you just love this one! I think it is beautiful. Abigail Reynolds' daughter, Rebecca, did a fantastic job on it! Congratulations to Rebecca and Diana.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:


A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share - that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real...until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied - events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other...

AUTHOR BIO:

Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen's style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale. Visit Diana at her Austen Variations author page, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.




THE BRIDE OF NORTHANGER BLOG TOUR BLURB:

The Doyenne of Austenesque fiction, Diana Birchall, tours the blogosphere October 28 through November 15 to share her latest release, The Bride of Northanger. Thirty popular bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed continuation of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey.  

My share in the conversation... 

A Book Review: The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall

The book begins with a quick history of the relationship of Catherine Morland and the Tilney’s, especially Henry. The author does not get bogged down in the retelling of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, but gives just enough information to set the stage for her own story.

On the evening before the wedding, Henry is preoccupied and a little troubled. He must relate to his soon-to-be bride and her parents, a secret that involves his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. As stated in the book description, there is a curse on the family. This curse has troubled all the first-born sons for many centuries. After much discussion, it is agreed that curses do not exist, and all retire for night with pleasant thoughts of the much-anticipated wedding.

The newly married couple arrive at their home in Woodston and begin a happy time as newlyweds. Before their required trip to visit General Tilney and the Abbey, we get glimpses of their life and a few clues of foreboding.

During their second week of marital bliss, the couple leave for Northanger Abbey. Thankfully, Eleanor and her new husband, Charles, will also be there. That reunion is a joyful one, although the one with Henry’s father and his brother, Frederick, is not so nice. The General also has other guests coming and from this point, much begins to happen. It is quite scary at times and kept me reading and wondering what was coming next. Catherine proves herself as a true heroine throughout, and the love she and Henry share only strengthens.

This is a beautifully written book. Diana Birchall has an almost uncanny way of writing Jane Austen. I could nearly believe I was reading Jane’s own words. It was a treat in of itself. The book and its story were the icing. The Bride of Northanger is an excellent book and one I highly recommend. It is a love story continued, an awakening of the past, and uncovered secrets. There are some original characters revisited and some new ones introduced. All are well-developed and their role is significant to the story. Yes, it is a Gothic novel and is eerily spooky at times, but it is delightful to read. One part of the story brought a few tears to my eyes. Well done, Diana Birchall. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

PURCHASE LINKS:


SOCIAL MEDIA:

·        Diana Birchall’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/diana.birchall
·        Diana Birchall’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/64135.Diana_Birchall
·        Diana Birchall’s Twitter page: https://twitter.com/Dianabirchall
·       Twitter handles: @DianaBirchall, @WhiteSoupPress

Thank you to everyone for stopping by. I hope you will share your thoughts on The Bride of Northanger and/or my review or both. :) If you haven't read this book, I do so hope you get the chance to read it soon. I highly recommend it. 

Best wishes to you with your new book, Diana Birchall. Thank you, Laurel Ann Nattress, for organizing this blog tour and for including me and my blog. It has been a pleasure.

If you have missed any of the previous stops on the blog tour, the full schedule is below.


THE BRIDE OF NORTHANGER BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

October 28                My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
October 28                Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
October 28                vvb32 Reads (Spotlight)                           
October 29                A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide of Life (Guest Blog)
October 29                From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
October 30                Drunk Austen (Interview)
October 30                Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)
October 31                Jane Austen’s World (Review)
November 01            So Little Time… (Interview)
November 01            Laura's Reviews (Review)
November 04            English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)
November 04            Confessions of a Book Addict (Spotlight)
November 05            More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
November 05            Vesper’s Place (Review)
November 06            Jane Austen in Vermont (Interview)
November 06            Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)
November 07            All Things Austen (Spotlight)
November 07            A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
November 07            Let Them Read Books (Excerpt)  
November 08            Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
November 08            vvb32 Reads (Review)
November 11            My Jane Austen Book Club (Review)
November 11            Reading the Past (Spotlight)
November 12            Jane Austen’s World (Interview)
November 12            The Calico Critic (Excerpt)
November 13            The Book Rat (Review)
November 13            Austenesque Reviews (Review)
November 14            Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust (Review)
November 14            The Fiction Addiction (Review)
November 15            My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)
November 15            Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (Review)                       

Thursday, October 31, 2019

By Time Divided...Elaine Jeremiah

Happy Halloween to everyone. We have no tricks, but we do have Elaine Jeremiah stopping by, and she has some special treats for us. She is giving away two eBooks, too. How's that for a fun way to end October!

Elaine's latest book, By Time Divided, is the second book in her JA-inspired time travel trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is Love Without Time. Elaine first visited my blog in February of this year. to talk about Love Without Time. If you would like to take a look at that post, click here.

*****

Thank you for having me on your blog today Janet. I wanted to briefly share some thoughts about the writing of this book, ‘By Time Divided’.

In this second book, I decided to change the location, and the city of Bath was the ideal choice. I know Bath quite well – I’ve lived in the nearby city of Bristol for the best part of 20 years and so I felt qualified to write about it in some detail. It’s still an obviously Regency city, with beautiful buildings and a real atmosphere to it. Visiting Bath is like stepping back in time. That made it easier to imagine how it might have felt to live or visit there in Jane Austen’s time.

Initially I wanted to have my heroine, Cassie, looking for Ted, the twenty-first century man who she got to know in Regency England, and struggling to find him. But somehow, as often happens when writing, the story just developed in my mind and Cassie ends up being told that he’s in Bath, so there’s no desperate search for him.

That doesn’t mean there’s no drama, however. I won’t give the plot away but there’s plenty of trouble in store for Cassie and Ted along the way! Not least of Cassie’s worries is her friend Mia, who’s mentioned in the first book in the trilogy, ‘Love Without Time’, but plays a big role in this second book.

I decided a long time ago that Mia, Cassie’s best friend, would be mixed race – i.e. someone who would be described in the Regency era as a ‘mulatto’ – a derogatory term to us today of course, but how people like Mia would have been referred to at that time. I thought it would be really interesting to have her unexpectedly travel back in time with Cassie to the Regency era – at the end of book one, ‘Love Without Time’, Cassie travels back to the twenty-first century briefly and ‘By Time Divided’ picks up immediately from where the first book ends.

With Mia in the Regency era, it gave me a lot of scope to think about how someone of her race would have been treated back then. Of course, I’ve used my imagination for the interactions between Mia and the Regency characters, but obviously it would have been incredibly hard for someone who wasn’t white back then. They’d be seen as so different and the assumption would be made that they were lesser somehow, lesser humans and therefore not worthy of good treatment or respect.

I found that Mia’s character came into her own and she really helped to drive the plot forward, taking it in directions that I hadn’t at first considered. I love her as a character as well – she’s feisty and straight talking and won’t take the shabby treatment she receives in Regency England lying down.

I do hope you get the chance to read my books and I’d love to know what you think.

Excerpt:


 The weather had turned in Regency England. It was noticeably cooler – and wet. I shivered as I chased after Mia who was charging ahead of me across the lawn towards Westerleigh Hall. I could see that she was now dressed in a pale blue gown complete with a bonnet and pelisse. I didn’t need to glance down at myself to realise that I was too.

The tightness around my middle told me I was wearing a corset once again and I grimaced as I caught up with Mia. Catching hold of her hand, I pulled her around to face me. Confused doesn’t begin to describe the expression on her face, which had a whitish tinge to it instead of its usual honey tones.
‘You weren’t lying were you, Cass?’ she said, her breathing laboured and uneven. She looked down at herself and gasped. I shook my head.
‘I wish I had been.’
‘What are we going to do?’ she wailed. She fell silent, then turned around and began to walk purposefully back towards the woods.
‘If you’re thinking about the gate, I tried that the last time,’ I told her as I hurried to catch up with her. ‘I don’t think it’ll work.’
Mia stopped walking so suddenly I almost banged into her. ‘But you said that you came back through the gate.’ Her tone was accusing.
‘I know. But I couldn’t return to our time when I tried to walk back through it, just after I got here. It wouldn’t work.’ I met her troubled gaze. ‘Mia, I’m so sorry that this has happened.’
Mia closed her eyes, nodding. ‘I know. And I’m not blaming you. But I still want to see if I can get it to open. I’m not giving up yet.’
I sighed. ‘OK.’
Once we found the gate again, looking pristine and brand new as before, Mia tried at least half a dozen times to walk through it and back into the twenty-first century. It didn’t work of course. I kept looking behind me through the trees towards the great house as Mia walked back and forth through the gate, anxiety coursing through me.
‘You’re right,’ Mia said at last, coming to a halt beside me. ‘There’s no way we’re getting back home.’ She sighed and slumped to the ground, disregarding the wet forest floor. I looked down at her, my heart heavy.
‘No there isn’t. At least not yet,’ I told her. Mia buried her head in her hands.
I crouched down next to her, ignoring the corset digging into my ribs. ‘Being stuck in the past may seem terrible now but…’
‘But what?’ came the muffled reply. I said nothing for a moment. In many ways, it was terrible here in Regency England. Corsets, no indoor plumbing, no electricity, no rights for women… There were good sides to it though – if I could remember what they were!
‘It gets easier with time.’ This much was true at least. ‘And it is lovely to see how unspoilt England was. Or rather is. People are more unspoilt here too.’
Mia raised her head. ‘In what way?’
‘Well the girls for one are a lot more innocent. They’re less complicated than in the twenty-first century.’
‘How do you mean? They don’t know about sex?’
‘It’s not that exactly. They don’t know as much as you and me – women are expected to wait till they’re married to have sex – but they’re not completely clueless about the opposite sex and relationships.’
‘So what is it?’
‘I guess it’s something to do with society’s expectations on them. You know, they don’t have a formal education like the men, and much of what they learn is training on how to be a dutiful wife…’
‘Sounds bloody awful!’
I grinned. ‘Yeah, I s’pose it is. But what I’m trying to say is that in many ways it’s a simpler life. For men and women. There’s no electricity for one thing, which means no electric lighting, no washing machines or dishwashers and certainly no internet.’
‘So no Facebook or Twitter.’
‘Exactly. Less pressure on people in many ways. Or at least there is pressure, but a different kind.’ I held out my hand to Mia. ‘Come on, get up. You’ll ruin that dress and we need to get indoors. The rain’s getting heavier.’
Mia grabbed hold of my hand. ‘Look at you, calling the shots,’ she said as she stood up. ‘I’m impressed.’ She gave me a half-smile and seemed less subdued, following me as I made my way out of the woods and back onto the massive lawn. 

Blurb:


Having accidentally time travelled to Regency England, Jane Austen fan Cassie Taylor finds herself unexpectedly back in the twenty-first century. But everything has changed. She’s been missing for three weeks and her parents are upset and disbelieving when she tells them where she’s been. The police aren’t too pleased either.

Cassie’s best friend Mia doubts the story, yet stands by her friend. And then the unthinkable happens when both of them end up in Regency England. Now Cassie has an even bigger problem: Mia is mixed race and they’re stuck in an era where the slave trade has only just been abolished. Cassie must somehow explain herself to her Regency friends – why she vanished and who her friend is. She also needs to find Ted, the love of her life.

How will Cassie manage to protect Mia from the insults of Regency people who see her as worthless? And how will she ever find a way for her and Ted and Mia to finally return home?

Author Bio:


Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband and their golden retriever, Dug. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire.

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel ‘Love Without Time’, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. ‘Love Without Time’ is the first in a trilogy best described as a Jane Austen-inspired time travel romance. ‘By Time Divided’ is the second book in the trilogy.

If you want to connect with Elaine online, her Facebook page can be found here:

Her Twitter handle is: @ElaineJeremiah

Her website is here: https://elainejeremiah.co.uk/

‘Love Without Time’ is available from Amazon.com here: http://amzn.to/2DxRPHO
It’s also available from Amazon UK here: http://amzn.to/2Dywq0y
‘By Time Divided’ is on Amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/2YEKzzH
It’s on Amazon UK here: https://amzn.to/2KokZtv

*****

It is so good to have you visit again, Elaine. It is always a pleasure having you stop by. Thank you for sharing the excerpt with us and sharing some of your thoughts about writing this second book. I look forward to seeing the last book in the trilogy, and I hope you will come back then. Best wishes with this second book.

 Giveaway:


Elaine Jeremiah is giving away one eBook of her first book, Love Without Time, and one eBook of her latest, By Time Divided. That's right, Dear Readers. Elaine is giving away two eBooks. Isn't that awesome! Thank you, for your generosity, Elaine. I know my readers are appreciative. Good luck to everyone. The giveaway is international and will end at midnight on the 5th of November. Please make sure I have a way of reaching you.