The story that Sally Smith O'Rourke shares with us today is both heart wrenching and touching. The first time that I read the story, tears came to my eyes. As I read on, the sadness became interlaced with warmth and happiness, feelings generated by the actions of a single and special encounter. I was deeply moved. Thank you, for sharing your story, Ms. O'Rourke. Giveaway details at the bottom of this post!
I was incredibly lucky enough to have been given one of the
first mouse pads graced by Janet Taylor’s wonderful painting of ‘the kiss’ from
the BBC/A&E 1996 Pride and Prejudice mini-series. So More Agreeably Engaged
seemed the perfect forum for this story.
Some of you may be aware that my late husband, Michael, and
I collaborated on The Man Who Loved Jane
Austen. It was a very personal project that he called the ultimate
valentine because it came out of our love for each other.
We decided to bind the finished product and give it as gifts
to friends and family. Originally we did a dozen copies that were hand bound
with green ribbon in three volumes as Austen’s books were printed. When people
started asking for additional copies we had them professionally printed and
bound rather than trying to keep up with the demand with handmade editions.
It was fun that everyone seemed to enjoy the book, but the
fun didn’t last long. My world crashed when I lost Michael suddenly on November
14, 2001. Everything went on the shelf, even my life.
A few months after the funeral, a close friend (the best man
at our wedding) called and told me that I needed to get out so he was taking me
to the screening of a movie. He was right of course; it would have been very
easy for me to become a hermit. As a member of BAFTA (British Academy of Film
and Television Arts) he had passes to an, as yet, unreleased British film. I
grudgingly agreed to go and just as I was leaving he called again and asked
that I bring a copy of the book. “Why?” I asked (he had gotten one of the
original hand bound editions). “I want to give it to someone.” I picked up a
copy and left.
The screening was at one of the film and television studios
in Hollywood. As it was only a short time after 9/11 the security was extreme.
There were check points to get on to the parking lot, the walk through gate,
the building entrance and the theatre itself. Very time consuming.
When we reached the stairs leading to the theatre it was
clear the theatre was not yet open as a crowd was gathering in the hall.
Apparently the film had arrived without numbers differentiating the reels so
the projectionist had no idea in which order they were to run. Until it was
cleared up they wouldn’t let anyone in the theatre (never was really sure why,
overly secure I guess). A tall, handsome young man politely made his way
through the crowd and straightened it all out and we were finally allowed to
enter the screening room.
While Roger made his rounds to visit with friends I sat down
and waited, still finding it difficult to mingle with people; particularly
strangers. After a while he came over, handed me the book and looked up the
aisle, “Go give it to him.” I looked over my shoulder, six feet away was the
star of the movie we were there to see. The tall young man who had fixed the
film roll problem. I looked back at Roger quizzically. “You dedicated the book
to him, give it to him.” “Seriously?” I asked. He pulled me to my feet, “Yes.”
dedicated the book to him. To him, Jennifer
Ehle and Jane Austen. I took a deep breath and looked back at Roger; he nodded
his head and sat down. Slowly I made my way up the steps and stood next to him
as he finished a conversation with someone else. He turned to me and smiled,
“Hello.” I didn’t reciprocate the greeting, I just said, “I have something for
His lovely smile turned to trepidation and I realized that
he was afraid I was a stalker. I assured him I wasn’t, told him about the book
and showed him the dedication. The smile returned and he thanked me as the
house lights dimmed and we returned to our seats.
After a much anticipated Question and Answer session with
the film’s director, producer and cast, Roger and I headed to the exit. As we
neared the door the young man stopped me. He thanked me again, saying he was
exceedingly touched and had never been given a nicer compliment. He bent down
and kissed my cheek and then was pulled away by another fan.
In the tram that took us to the car a woman’s voice asked,
“You’re the one who gave Colin the book aren’t you?” I turned around, the
question had been asked by Minnie Driver who was sitting next to Saffron
Burrows. I only had time to respond in the affirmative when we arrived at the
I realize now that it was an amazing evening but I wasn’t
able to really appreciate and enjoy it as much as I might have. The wound
incurred by the loss of Mike was still raw and I was very much in a daze most
of the time. Still the gracious young man left an indelible impression and what
else can you say when you’ve been kissed by Colin Firth?
, also dedicated to Jane Austen, Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, is
the expansion and continuation of the story in The Man Who Loved Jane Austen,
our ultimate valentine. It delves
into the complex nature of Fitzwilliam Darcy, the 21st
American horseman who slipped through a rip in the fabric of time and met Jane
Eliza Knight, the Manhattan artist who finds the letter
proving to Darcy that he did, in fact, travel in time, has fallen in love with
the enigmatic Virginian after a long weekend at his home, Pemberley Farms. His
epic tale of love and romance in Regency England makes Eliza wonder if it’s
possible for her to compete with the inimitable Jane Austen. And things are
happening in the small hamlet of Chawton, England that could change everything.
Will Jane Austen be the wedge that divides the modern couple or the tie that
Ann Channon of Jane Austen’s House Museum (Chawton Cottage)
I have finished Yours Affectionately, Jane
Austen and really liked it. Your books are imaginative and very different. Your
ideas are new and fresh and endearing. Well, done.
Jocelyn Bury of Jane
Austen’s Regency World magazine said:
O’Rourke creates a world that
defies cynicism and demands suspension of disbelief – even in this age of doubt
and hyper-realism. Sheer escapism at its best. Clever, charming and affectionate –
is the real Mr. Darcy unmasked?
Kimberley Truesdale said on IndieJane:
didn’t know I needed Mr. Darcy with a Southern drawl until I read Yours
Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke. Take a moment and soak
that in… Mr. Darcy with a genteel drawl… yes.
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is available in the following:
Amazon Trade Paperback
Barnes & Noble Nook
Personal Information for Sally Smith O'Rourke:
Amie McCracken said:
I’m very excited that I got to review this book when I did because this year
is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice. I will be rereading Jane’s
book in honor of that and I highly
recommend Sally’s book as well.
(the everything Austen site)
Below is a trailer for Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
by Sally Smith O'Rourke. Enjoy.
A special 'thank you' to Sally Smith O'Rourke for her generous giveaway of the two book set, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen and Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen. This giveaway is international for eBooks and domestic for paperbacks. To be entered please leave a comment below. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, April 28. Good luck.