Friday, August 18, 2017

Babbling of a Bookworm Guest Post and Excerpt (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

The penultimate day of the blog tour takes me to Babblings of a Bookworm, a blog which I have long wished to visit. Come by to read about my history with Alice in Wonderland and read an excerpt from Darcy in Wonderland:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell Review (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Today Darcy in Wonderland has a review posted at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell. It includes a rather interesting prediction:

"I think Alice will grow up to be an author. I am sure of it."

Read the full review at the link below!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Jane Austen Book Club Guest Post and Giveaway (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Wow! We're starting to wind down. A few more days of the blog tour (honestly, I need the rest!), and one more giveaway, today at My Jane Austen Book Club. Have you been curious about the fate of the other characters from Pride & Prejudice, a few decades on? Come and learn where the Collinses, Miss Bingley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam landed, plus enter the international giveaway:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More Agreeably Engaged, Conversation with K. Wiedemann and Giveaway (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Today's stop on the blog tour is at the fabulous blog More Agreeably Engaged, home of Janet Taylor: Austenesque artist extraordinaire.  It only seemed appropriate when visiting Janet to use the opportunity to showcase my sister's illustrations for Darcy in Wonderland. Join us for an international interview and a conversation between Katy Wiedemann and myself about the process of creating the images.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Diary of an Eccentric Guest Post and Giveaway (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Today takes me to the blog of my fabulous editor, Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. I've spent a lot of time on the Darcy in Wonderland blog tour focused on Darcy and Alice, as well as the other children, but today I've made Elizabeth my subject. Stop by to see how masterfully she mistresses Pemberley and enter the international giveaway.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Musings from the Yellow Kitchen Review and Recipe (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

I love scones! And I love tea parties. So does Alice, which makes it infinitely appropriate that my hostess today at the beautiful blog, Musings from the Yellow Kitchen, should include a delicious looking scone recipe along with a delightful review of Darcy in Wonderland. Here's a snippet. Continue reading at the link below:
But the character who steals the show is little Alice. She is a delight – headstrong and imaginative, with her mother’s impertinence and a sense of wonder that is infectious.  She has no trouble offering her opinions, even when they are not wanted, and is happy to allow her curiosity free reign. While her poor father frets over the bizarre events around him in Wonderland, Alice happily accepts a world in which animals talk and people can grow and shrink with a nibble of food or a sip of some potion. From her first impulsive dash after the White Rabbit to her bewildered participation in the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game, she is never without something to say.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

"Sofa Chat" with Sophia Rose at Goodreads (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Whew! We're half way there.

Today the blog tour takes me to Goodreads for a sofa chat with the delightful Sophia Rose. She has been supportive of my books from the very beginning and has also posted an excellent review of Darcy in WonderlandHere is just a quote (read the complete review here).
From the moment I heard of Darcy in Wonderland, I was drawn to it. I thought it exciting that the talented author was turning her attentions to writing a mash-up of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Full of curiosity and anticipation, I began and I only set it down twice before finishing it on a note of complete satisfaction.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Austen Authors, Excerpt and Giveaway (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

OK, so it's my regular day at Austen Authors, which just so happened to conveniently fall smack in the middle of the Darcy in Wonderland blog tour! Very convenient. Today I'm offering another international giveaway (almost at the end of those, so don't miss out) and an excerpt from the book. It's the Caterpillar scene, which leads right into the long-necked moment portrayed on the front cover. Lots of fun. Please join me!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

From Pemberley to Milton, Review and Giveaway (Darcy on Wonderland Blog Tour)

The Darcy in Wonderland blog tour rolls on! A second day at From Pemberley to Milton brings us a beautiful 4 and a 1/2 star review from hostess, Rita Deodato. I think she described the book particularly well in this passage:
Darcy in Wonderland is not a romance, and readers who merely want an Elizabeth/Darcy story will not find it here, but they will find a beautiful sequel showing us how delightful their life was after they married, and how funny their household became over the years with so many different children. The relationship they established with their children is endearing, and we also have the pleasure of seeing how happy and content they are as a couple.
Also readers may enter for a second opportunity to win the international giveaway of a copy of the book. Please join the fun!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

From Pemberley to Milton, Guest Post and Giveaway (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Today I'm having my first visit to Rita Deodato's fascinating blog, From Pemberley to Milton, where I am excited to be sharing information about Alice Liddell, the young girl for whom Lewis Carroll wrote his memorable tales. It's a strange story, full with lots of questions, but it's also fascinating, if a tad sordid. As well as the guest post, there is also an international giveaway on the table.  Come join us!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Just Jane 1813 Interview, Review, and Giveaway (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Today Claudine at Just Jane 1813 was kind enough to interview me, write a lovely review, and host an international giveaway of Darcy in Wonderland. Please visit her beautiful blog for more, but I just had to include a bit of the review:
This is also one of those heartfelt stories where we’re able to catch up with the Darcys many years after their wedding, and not only enjoy their happiness, but also see how the bonds of parenthood have changed them throughout the years. Readers are reminded once again why we have such high hopes for their marital felicity when we close the final pages of Pride & Prejudice. Alexa Adams’ new story allows us to experience their parenthood in a highly imaginative way.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Austenesque Reviews Guest Post and Giveaway, Plus Excerpt at VVb32 Reads (Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour)

Join me today at one of my favorite blogs, Austenesque Reviews, where I am offering an international giveaway of Darcy in Wonderland and introducing you to the six Darcy children: Bennet, Ellie, Helen, Rose, Cassie, and, of course, Alice. Don't miss out on the fun!

Also today find a short except from the book and a preview of one of the illustrations at another delightful blog I have been visiting for years: VVB32 Reads.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Laughing with Lizzie Guest Post and Giveaway - First Stop on the Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour!

The blog tour is off and running! The fun begins at Laughing with Lizzie, where you can read a guest post about combining the worlds of Pemberley and Wonderland and enter an international giveaway to win a copy of the book. Don't miss out!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Darcy in Wonderland Blog Tour

My new book is out! The ebook was released two weeks ago, the paperback one, but as I was traveling in the United States at the time, I did not get a chance to properly announce and celebrate. So here it goes. Yippee! My first publication since the "big move." Thank goodness I am finally back in the game.

So on Saturday I officially launch the book with a two week blog tour. Here is the schedule. Lot's of chances to win copies of the book, read about the writing process, and examine excerpts. I hope you will join me as I visit many old friends (and some new ones) to spread the world about Darcy in Wonderland.

August 5th - Laughing with Lizzie
August 7th - Austenesque Reviews
                     VVB32 Reads
August 8th - Just Jane 1813
August 9th - From Pemberley to Milton (Guest Post & Giveaway)
August 10th - From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
August 11th - Austen Authors
August 12th - Sophia Rose's Blog (Goodreads)
August 13th - Musings from the Yellow Kitchen
August 14th - Diary of an Eccentric
August 15th - More Agreeably Engaged
August 16th - My Jane Austen Book Club
August 17th - Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
August 18th - Babblings of a Bookworm
August 19th - Savvy Verse & Wit
                       For Love of Austen

Buy the book now at!

Friday, July 14, 2017

My 7/14/17 post for Austen Authors! Check out the original to join the conversation:

My new book, Darcy in Wonderland, come out tomorrow! Well, the ebook does (paperbacks to follow soon). Next month we'll have a giveaway and release party, but today I just want to step back and reflect on how much fun I had writing this book! Though the book is both a Pride and Prejudice sequel and an Alice in Wonderland mashup, I've filled it with references to other Austen novels, some more obvious than others. In particular, I had an amazing time taking the poems that occur throughout Alice in Wonderland and parodying them with a twist of Austen thrown in. Lewis Carroll's poems are parodies themselves of verses that would have been quite familiar to his Victorian audience, so it felt like a very natural place to go a bit wild. Here is a couple of my favorite. Do you recognize the references? Also get a glimpse of some of the original illustrations by K. Wiedemann featured in the book. Share your thoughts and insights on both in the comments!

‘Tis the voice of the Lobster: In tones not muted,
‘Take no pleasure in novels? Intolerably stupid!’
Like a lady when shopping for muslins and lace,
Our minds shout agreement, even as our hearts race.
‘Little boys and girls should be tormented,’ he said,
But only so long as it is good for their heads:
‘To torment or instruct: words found synonymous.’
All precision of language has now simply gone amiss.

I passed by his garden, and to my surprise,
Something shocking indeed was happening inside.
‘Indeed! Of what nature!’ The questions were fret.
‘More horrible than anything we’ve met with yet.’
‘Good heaven! A riot? Give me peace of mind!’
‘I expect murder and everything of that kind.’
 Laughing, ‘The riot is only in your own brain!
The confusion there might drive anyone insane.’

Know the scene and place? Well this one is a bit more tricky:

They told me you had writ to her
And mentioned me to say,
Good things about my character:
That she should hear me play.

She then sent word that I should come
And be her governess.
The offer like a cherry plum.
Refusal, stubbornness.

I gave her one, and then two more,
And yet three more in time,
Excuses, each that she ignored,
And yet I still opined.

We learned through hearsay, during tea,
Just after I gave in,
A sickly woman ceased to be   
To no one’s great chagrin.

This obstacle now done away,
He only needed come,
To Mrs. Suckling’s great dismay,
I passed the cherry plum.

In wedded bliss I soon shall bask,
At Enscombe, a few miles hence.
Not of you shall I ever ask,
Nor give you recompense.

And let's wrap up with an easy one. Everyone should get this:

“You are old, Lady Catherine,” the young girl said,
“And your hair has become very white;
Yet you improved Rosings alone, you swellhead!
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” Lady Catherine said to the girl,
“I’d command someone else to do it;
But since the first time that I gave it a whirl
I know no one more equal to it.”

“You are old,” said the girl, “as I mentioned before,
And your bones have become quite brittle,
Yet you goad your relations, prompting uproar —
Don’t you fear it will end in committal?”

“In my youth,” said her ladyship, a frown on her face,
“I’d lambaste you for speaking so shrill;
But now that death and I shall so soon embrace
I’ll simply write you out of the will.”

“You are old,” said the girl, “and your jaws are too weak
For little else other than pudding
Yet you told off the Rector, the Cook, and a Sheik —
Why so disagreeable, woman?”

“In my youth,” said the Dame, “I knew it my call,
And argued with all and sundry.
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw
Allows me to keep speaking bluntly.”

For more fun, order the book from Amazon today:

And check out more of my sister's amazing artwork as and

Friday, June 16, 2017

Finding Solace in Austen, today at Austen Authors

View the original post at

Did you know that during World War I, Jane Austen's novels were recommended as an antidote for soldiers coping with shell-shock? And during the Second World War, sales of her works in England tripled? If you are unfamiliar with it, I highly recommended reading Rudyard Kipling's short story The Janeites, which provides insight into the importance Austen held to soldiers in wartime. It is believed that when Kipling's own son, John, died in WWI, that it was the writer's reading of Austen's books aloud to his grieving family that helped them to overcome their grief. I know in my own life, whenever tragedy strikes, I immediately turn to Austen for escape. She led me through my first and most agonizing miscarriage, helped me conquer the debilitating bouts of depression I suffered in my 20s, and provided a much needed outlet in 2014, forever in my mind branded as the year of death (I lost three beloved grandparents within six months of each other, as well as a host of other relations and friends). There is no doubt in my mind that Austen's books provide solace and comfort when little else can, but what is it about her stories that endows them with this extraordinary power to heal?

Jane Austen herself lived in a time of massive upheaval. Revolutions were changing the world, and England was at war for almost her entire life. Uncertainty about what the future might bring was rampant and justified. In many ways, it was a lot like our own time, when her popularity and devotion to her has reached unprecedented heights, yet such chaos rarely makes an appearance in Austen's books. Many believe it is precisely this almost blithe dismissal of the world's dangers in which lies her appeal: allowing readers to escape present angst and replace it with drawing-room etiquette, witty observation, and timeless romance. But are Austen's novels so very void of turmoil? Certainly, the Dashwoods' entire existence is thrust into uncertainty with the loss of their home and financial security, and the Bennets' live beneath the specter of the same real threat. Only Emma Woodhouse, of all Austen's heroines, lives a truly charmed existence. Nevertheless, despite the fragility of her characters' financial status, it is inarguable that Austen rarely confronts the horrors of war that permeated her world. Yes, most of the books contain a fairly strong military presence, but the dangers these soldiers and sailors face in the line of duty are barely addressed. There is almost no acknowledgement that they might die, or be maimed, yet we know from primary sources that limbless former soldiers littered the city streets, begging for the assistance that the government refused to provide. Of course, Austen knew the very real consequences her naval brothers faced when she saw them off to sea, but nothing of that concern is imparted to sensitive and intelligent Fanny Price, when she says good bye to William, her own sailor brother. Indeed, Fanny's sorrow in seeing him off seems all based in selfish concern for her own comfort, which is really rather bizarre in a character as selfless and sacrificing as Fanny:
Before the week ended, it was all disappointment. In the first place, William was gone. The Thrush had had her orders, the wind had changed, and he was sailed within four days from their reaching Portsmouth; and during those days she had seen him only twice, in a short and hurried way, when he had come ashore on duty. There had been no free conversation, no walk on the ramparts, no visit to the dockyard, no acquaintance with the Thrush, nothing of all that they had planned and depended on. Everything in that quarter failed her, except William's affection. His last thought on leaving home was for her. He stepped back again to the door to say, "Take care of Fanny, mother. She is tender, and not used to rough it like the rest of us. I charge you, take care of Fanny." 
William was gone: and the home he had left her in was, Fanny could not conceal it from herself, in almost every respect the very reverse of what she could have wished. It was the abode of noise, disorder, and impropriety. Nobody was in their right place, nothing was done as it ought to be.

Typically, the military is highly glamorized in Austen: dashing men, handsome in their uniforms, off to make great names for themselves while exploring the world. Pride and Prejudice gives us some inkling of the nuisance the military (particularly a militia) can prove, but generally it is all pomp and circumstance. Indeed, it is only in Persuasion that Austen gives us some true inkling of the dangers associated with war. We receive a sense of uncertainty in Captain Wentworth's future in chapter four, when Anne's recalls the arguments used to persuade her to break off their engagement, yet these can be interpreted as fear of financial insecurity rather than of the possible loss of life. Wentworth rather flippantly jokes about the possibility of his death when dining at Uppercross, but even this might be read as merely a way to poke at Anne for her abandonment of him and test her sensibilities: "Four-and-twenty hours later, and I should only have been a gallant Captain Wentworth, in a small paragraph at one corner of the newspapers; and being lost in only a sloop, nobody would have thought about me."

It is only in the very last lines of the novel that the true perils inherent to Captain's Wentworth's career are seriously expressed:
His profession was all that could ever make her friends wish that tenderness less, the dread of a future war all that could dim her sunshine. She gloried in being a sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.
There are two casualties of war in Austen, both in Persuasion:. The first is Richard Musgrove, lost sometime, somehow, at sea. However, his death is little lamented:
The real circumstances of this pathetic piece of family history were, that the Musgroves had had the ill fortune of a very troublesome, hopeless son; and the good fortune to lose him before he reached his twentieth year; that he had been sent to sea because he was stupid and unmanageable on shore; that he had been very little cared for at any time by his family, though quite as much as he deserved; seldom heard of, and scarcely at all regretted, when the intelligence of his death abroad had worked its way to Uppercross, two years before. 
He had, in fact, though his sisters were now doing all they could for him, by calling him "poor Richard," been nothing better than a thick-headed, unfeeling, unprofitable Dick Musgrove, who had never done anything to entitle himself to more than the abbreviation of his name, living or dead.
Doesn't exactly evoke sympathy, does it?

The other casualty is Captain Harville, a fully developed and relatable character, but his injury acts more as a plot device than anything else: "Captain Harville had never been in good health since a severe wound which he received two years before, and Captain Wentworth's anxiety to see him had determined him to go immediately to Lyme."

Yet even though Austen never fully confronts the realities of war, she does give us the tools, modeled in her best heroines, to cope with such shattering anxieties: Elinor Dashwood's stoicism while her relations fall apart, Elizabeth's determination to follow her heart despite external pressure, and, more than any of the others, Anne's philosophical approach to loss, resignation, and survival. I think this is why Persuasion has always been my favorite of the six novels. Anne imbibes the reader with strength when all seems lost, and gives us hope that we may triumph in the end, even when the future appears immeasurably dark. I think not just of her advice to Captain Benwick, or even of her moving words to Captain Harville on constancy (so often overshadowed by "the letter," which immediately follows), but the unwavering example she provides in her conduct of humanity's ability to endure sorrow with grace and resilience. Yogis would call her zen. Many ask, "What would Jane do?" But in my mind, the question is always, "What would Anne do?"

How has Austen's writing provided solace to you in times of sorrow? Which characters galvanize you the most? Please share your stories in the comments. Like Austen's novels, they might prove just the inspiration another needs to carry on.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Darcy in Wonderland Cover Reveal, Today at Austen Authors

Join the conversation at Austen Authors.

My next book, Darcy in Wonderland, will be published this summer - assuming I can focus long enough to get the final draft to my editor! The book is part Pride and Prejudice sequel, set twenty some years after the Darcy's marriage, and part pure mashup with Alice in Wonderland. I'm super excited because this project has given me an opportunity for which I have long yearned: to work with my incredibly talented little sister, Katy Wiedemann, who has created beautiful illustrations for the book. It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I am able to reveal the cover, featuring one of her drawings, here today. She based her image of Darcy on David Rintoul, who played the role in the 1981 BBC mini-series. Isn't she incredible?
One of the great challenges I've encountered in writing this story is trying to combining the styles of two very different writers. This proved a particular problem when it comes to the thorny issue of contractions.
Over the years, I've been told by more than one person that Jane Austen never used contractions. This is not exactly true, though her use of contractions is very limited. Lewis Carroll, on the other hand, uses contractions nonstop. I compromised between the two by limiting the characters from Austen's world to her contractions, letting Carroll's characters pretty much run wild (it would have been impossible to fight this, as that is just what Carroll's characters do), and I split the difference on Alice. As a result of this process, I produced a rather handy list of contractions Austen did use in her six major novels and those she did not (several do appear more frequently in her earlier works). Let's start with those she definitely never uses:
aren't, couldn't, could've, didn't, doesn't, hadn't, hasn't, haven't, he'd, he'll, he's, how'd, isn't, it'd, it'll, it's, let's, mightn't, might've, mustn't, must've, needn't, oughtn't, she'd, she'll, she's, shouldn't, should've, that'd, that'll, there's, they'll, they're, wasn't, we'll, we're, weren't, we've, what's, where's, who'd, who'll, who's, wouldn't, would've, you'd, you'll, you've
Now let's discuss what is far more interesting: those contractions Austen does utilize and why.
There are only three she uses fairly regularly: don't, 'tis, and won't (note that 'tis never occurs in Persuasion, while making a regular appearance in all five of the other novels).
There are a three more that appear a handful of times in the novels: can't, I'll, and shan't/sha'nt (note that the latter is only ever used by Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Bennet, and Miss Bates).
Then there are those that appear very infrequently. Word geek that I am, I find this highly compelling. Usually, these contractions reflect a character's lack of education or refinement. Let's take a look at them in context.


This archaic contraction occurs a bit more frequently than the others on this list, but really only in Sense and Sensibility, in which it is used five times.
Anne Steele (she uses it twice - also see notes below on "I'm"):
"Lord! my dear, you are very modest. I an't the least astonished at it in the world, for I have often thought of late, there was nothing more likely to happen."
Mrs. Jennings:
"Mind me, now, if they an't married by Mid-summer."
"The Colonel is a ninny, my dear; because he has two thousand a-year himself, he thinks that nobody else can marry on less. Take my word for it, that, if I am alive, I shall be paying a visit at Delaford Parsonage before Michaelmas; and I am sure I sha'nt go if Lucy an't there."
And, curiously, Fanny Dashwood:
Perhaps Fanny thought for a moment that her mother had been quite rude enough,--for, colouring a little, she immediately said,
"They are very pretty, ma'am--an't they?" But then again, the dread of having been too civil, too encouraging herself, probably came over her, for she presently added,
"Do you not think they are something in Miss Morton's style of painting, Ma'am?--She does paint most delightfully!--How beautifully her last landscape is done!"
Fanny is a far more socially elevated character than the other two, and I think Austen very deliberately puts this contraction into her speech in order to display Fanny's internal coarseness, despite her fashionable trappings.
The only other time "an't" occurs is in Emma, where it is used by Mrs. Elton when speaking to Jane Fairfax. She is a character rather like Fanny, when you stop to consider their personalities. Both are petty and self-absorbed. It is also possible that both ladies saying 'an't' is some kind of affectation, perhaps a modish slang. If so, I think it is clear Austen does not approve of such verbal laziness.
"Now I say, my dear, in our case, for lady, read----mum! a word to the wise.--I am in a fine flow of spirits, an't I? But I want to set your heart at ease as to Mrs. S.--My representation, you see, has quite appeased her."


Toni Collette as Harriet Smith, 1996.
Used four times, and in a rather broad set of circumstances. Anne Steele, who uses more contractions than any other character in Austen, says it once:
"Good gracious! (giggling as she spoke) I'd lay my life I know what my cousins will say, when they hear of it. They will tell me I should write to the Doctor, to get Edward the curacy of his new living. I know they will; but I am sure I would not do such a thing for all the world.--'La!' I shall say directly, 'I wonder how you could think of such a thing? I write to the Doctor, indeed!'"
It occurs twice in Mansfield Park, and always by the Portsmouth Prices. First by William:
"I should like to see you dance, and I'd dance with you if you would, for nobody would know who I was here, and I should like to be your partner once more."
And then later in the story by his father, who uses courser language than any other character in Austen:
"But, by G--! if she belonged to me, I'd give her the rope's end as long as I could stand over her. A little flogging for man and woman too would be the best way of preventing such things."
It is also used once in Emma, by Harriet Smith:
"Will you read the letter?" cried Harriet. "Pray do. I'd rather you would."


Austen only uses it three times, and just in her first two novels. Anne Steele says it in Sense and Sensibility: twice in the same sentence! Anne's frequent use of contractions is definitely a reflection of her lack of education and low status, and this paragraph is loaded with them:
"Nay, my dear, I'm sure I don't pretend to say that there an't. I'm sure there's a vast many smart beaux in Exeter; but you know, how could I tell what smart beaux there might be about Norland; and I was only afraid the Miss Dashwoods might find it dull at Barton, if they had not so many as they used to have. But perhaps you young ladies may not care about the beaux, and had as lief be without them as with them. For my part, I think they are vastly agreeable, provided they dress smart and behave civil. But I can't bear to see them dirty and nasty. Now there's Mr. Rose at Exeter, a prodigious smart young man, quite a beau, clerk to Mr. Simpson, you know, and yet if you do but meet him of a morning, he is not fit to be seen.--I suppose your brother was quite a beau, Miss Dashwood, before he married, as he was so rich?"
Lydia Bennet is the other character to utilize "I'm":
"Oh!" said Lydia stoutly, "I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I'm the tallest."



Elizabeth Spriggs as Mrs. Jennings, 1995.
Only used once by Mrs. Jennings, another great peddler of contractions:
"Oh, Lord! I am sure your mother can spare you very well, and I do beg you will favour me with your company, for I've quite set my heart upon it. Don't fancy that you will be any inconvenience to me, for I shan't put myself at all out of my way for you. 

How d'ye

Bit of a weird one, and akin to our modern "how'd." I definitely think she is representing colloquial speech with this contraction. It is always used in greeting. John Thorpe says it in Northanger Abbey:
"Make haste! make haste!" as he threw open the door-- "put on your hat this moment -- there is no time to be lost -- we are going to Bristol. --How d'ye do, Mrs. Allen?"
It is how John Knightley greets his brother in Emma (love this quote, by the way):
This had just taken place and with great cordiality, when John Knightley made his appearance, and "How d'ye do, George?" and "John, how are you?" succeeded in the true English style, burying under a calmness that seemed all but indifference, the real attachment which would have led either of them, if requisite, to do every thing for the good of the other.
Miss Bates also uses it:
"How d' ye do?--how d'ye do?--Very well, I thank you. So obliged to you for the carriage last night. We were just in time; my mother just ready for us. Pray come in; do come in. You will find some friends here."
And Admiral Croft says it in Persuasion, when he is walking with Anne:
"But here comes a friend, Captain Brigden; I shall only say, `How d'ye do?' as we pass, however. I shall not stop. 'How d'ye do?' Brigden stares to see anybody with me but my wife."



Romola Garai & Johnny Lee Miller as Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley, 2009.

This one is very interesting. It only occurs twice in Austen. Both times are in Emma, and both occur in the same chapter (12). I have to wonder if this wasn't an editing oversight on Austen's part, because instead of the "that's" being dropped by side characters of questionable educational background, here it is used by our hero and heroine. The other theory I have is that both characters are flustered when they use the contraction. Perhaps it reflects their state of minds? First it is used by Emma:
"That's true," she cried—"very true. Little Emma, grow up a better woman than your aunt. Be infinitely cleverer and not half so conceited.
And then later by Mr. Knightley, when he is trying to redirect the dinner conversation away from the subject of Mr. Perry's medical opinions:
"True, true," cried Mr. Knightley, with most ready interposition— "very true. That's a consideration indeed.—But John, as to what I was telling you of my idea of moving the path to Langham, of turning it more to the right that it may not cut through the home meadows, I cannot conceive any difficulty."


Only appears once in Austen, in Sense and Sensibility. Servants don't usually have much of a voice in Austen, but the Dashwood's Thomas has quite a speech at the end of the novel, in which he drops the "they'd":
"I happened to look up as I went by the chaise, and so I see directly it was the youngest Miss Steele; so I took off my hat, and she knew me and called to me, and inquired after you, ma'am, and the young ladies, especially Miss Marianne, and bid me I should give her compliments and Mr. Ferrars's, their best compliments and service, and how sorry they was they had not time to come on and see you, but they was in a great hurry to go forwards, for they was going further down for a little while, but howsever, when they come back, they'd make sure to come and see you."


Daisy Haggard as Miss Steele, 2008.

We wrap up where we began, with Anne Steele:
"Dr. Davies was coming to town, and so we thought we'd join him in a post-chaise; and he behaved very genteelly, and paid ten or twelve shillings more than we did."
So what have we learned from all this? While some contractions are broadly used by all manner of characters in Austen, her use of them is highly selective, usually chosen to highlight lack of education or some other character fault. I hope this exercise is useful to my fellow writers, and that it provides a heightened awareness in readers of Austen's careful choice of language.
Thanks for joining me on this exploration into some of the less obvious aspects of Austen's writing style.
More information on Darcy in Wonderland coming soon!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Old BBC Austen Adaptations, Today at Austen Authors

It's my turn again! This month I'm reviewing the old Austen adaptations I love so well. Please join me!

I have long championed the old BBC Austen adaptations, produced in the 70s and 80s. I was so fortunate as to receive the pictured box set several years ago as a Christmas gift, and since I have watched these films time and time again. Now, if you require beautiful cinematography and have no tolerance for this style of old, made for TV literary adaptation, which admittedly tend to be long, move slowly, and are hampered by unfortunate production quality, then no amount of praise from me will help you find enjoyment in these movies. You will lose your patience. But for me, it is precisely such attributes that make these versions feel a little more true to Austen. There is a quietness to the old adaptations, incompatible with the glossy and dramatic versions made over the last quarter of a century, that better conveys the atmosphere of her books. Not that I don't adore the newer movies - they're (mostly) phenomenal - but these are excellent too, and should not be forgotten. In some cases, I have yet to see a version I prefer. So here is a brief intro to and scene from each film. When I've written them, I've included links to reviews. Unfortunately, the quality issues sometime appear worse than usual in the clips, due to the quality of the recordings, but they still provide a taste of each film.

Sense and Sensibility, 1981

I believe Sense and Sensibility translates to film particularly well, and all the versions I have ever seen of it are quite good. I'm not sure why this version was included in the box set instead of the 1971 version (it features Joanna David as a wonderful Elinor, familiar to Janeites from her portrayal of Mrs. Gardiner in Pride and Prejudice, 1995, and a fabulous performance by British TV icon Patricia Routledge as Mrs. Jennings). Both versions leave out Margaret Dashwood entirely out of the script, which I find problematic.
The 1981 adaptation stars Irene Richards as Elinor Dashwood (also Charlotte Collins in the 1980 Pride and Prejudice), Marianne is played by Tracey ChildsBosco Hogan is Edward Ferrars, and Robert Swann is Colonel Brandon, but none of these actors are in the clip below. Instead, I have chosen a scene dominated by Amanda Boxer, who portrays Fanny Dashwood. She is my favorite actress in this role. Throughout the film she is odiously smug and collected, and to see her lose it on Anne Steele (Pippa Sparkes) is hysterical. Often film makers forget that Austen is, first and foremost, a comic writer, and I really appreciate it when they pay homage to her love of absurdity and amusement in human folly. Also featured are Julia Chambers (who is fabulous) as Lucy Steele, and Peter Gale as John Dashwood.

Pride and Prejudice, 1980

I think it is fair to claim that this is the most beloved film in the collection. Many Janeites continue to prefer this version of Pride and Prejudice to the more acclaimed, recent versions. I think that's because Elizabeth Garvie is so good as Elizabeth Bennet, and David Rintoul, while a bit stiff, just looks perfect as Darcy. Also, because the story has been less, um, sensationalized (no wet shirts here), it comes off as the coziest of the Pride and Prejudice adaptations available.
The scene below is the party at Lucas Lodge and features Irene Richards as Charlotte (since we missed her in action as Elinor). We also get quick glimpses of Tessa Peake-Jones as Mary Bennet (my favorite Mary!) and Priscilla Morgan as Mrs. Bennet

Mansfield Park, 1983

This is by far and away my preferred Mansfield Park, and for that reason alone is enough to make it my favorite film in the boxset. There are only three versions of Mansfield Park, and both the more recent films make the fundamental mistake of trying to fix the novel. This is the only one that honestly attempts to capture the true story, and Sylvestra Le Touzal (who also played Mrs. Allen in the excellent 2007 version of Northanger Abbey) is the only actress to have portrayed the real Fanny Price on screen. She is supported by Nicholas Farrell as Edmund Bertram. Both are in the featured clip, along with Bernard Hepton as Sir Thomas (he was also Mr. Woodhouse in Andrew Davies' 1996 Emma), and my favorite performers in this production: Anna Massey as Aunt Norris and Angela Pleasence as Lady Bertram. This clip has fun with both, in which Fanny has been invited to her first dinner party at the Grant's.

Emma, 1972

I really love this one, despite the fact that I think all three of the more recent versions of Emma are better. For whatever reason, I've consistently watched it more often than the other films in the boxset. Part of it, I think, is that like Sense and SensibilityEmma works very well on film. Highlights of this version include Mollie Sugden (best known as Mrs. Slocombe on Are You Being Served?) as Mrs. Goddard, and my favorite Mr. Woodhouse, Donald Eccles, who is fabulously nervous. The below clip shows Emma (Doran Godwin) and Harriet Smith (Debbie Bowen) paying their first, introductory call on the new Mrs. Elton (Fiona Walker). This moment is only mentioned in the book, and the dialogue actually comes from Mrs. Elton's return call on Hartfield. The end of the scene isn't in Austen at all, but it is quite amusing, nonetheless. Mr. Elton is played by Timothy Peters. Mr. Knightley, unfortunately not featured here, is excellently captured by John Carson.

Persuasion, 1971

This is my favorite Persuasion adaptation. It isn't perfect, but unlike both more recent versions, it does not rely on Austen's cancelled chapters of the story for plot. This really bothers me! It pains me there isn't a better, yet still accurate, film adaptation of my favorite Austen novel. So when I want to watch Persuasion, this is my go to, for it causes the least frustration.
Anne Elliot is played by Ann Firbanks, and Bryan Marshall is Captain Wentworth (though it appears to be Robert Swann - Col. Brandon from Sense & Sensibility - on the DVD cover. Such quirks I suppose to be part of the experience). The moment is when Wentworth writes and Anne receives THE LETTER. I chose it because it is almost verbatim from the book, giving viewers the opportunity to relish the complexity of the scene as Austen wrote it, and because Anne (thank goodness!) does not take to the streets of Bath and run about like a madwoman. I find that immensely gratifying. Also featured are Georgine Anderson as Mrs. Croft, Noel Dyson as Mrs. Musgrove, and Michael Culver as Captain Harville.

Northanger Abbey, 1987

Easily the strangest Austen adaptation ever made, the 1986 version of Northanger Abbey doesn't really fit with the other films in this boxset. It is by far the shortest (only 78 minutes), and it wildly diverges from the novel, playing up it's gothic aspects. A source of both outrage and fascination for fans, it is something you should really see at least once, if for no other reason than to join the debate. Also, Northanger Abbey has only ever been made into a movie twice. For those long horrified by this version, the 2007 film is so magnificent that they might like to forget this one ever existed. I think that's a mistake. Especially now that we have a much more accurate adaptation to cling to, I can appreciate this film for just being so darn bizarre.
The below scene is an example of this outlandishness. Instead of the Pump Room, it takes place inside the King's Bath (read my review for more history/explanation on the craziness here portrayed). You only see Mr. Tilney (Peter Firth) for a moment at the very beginning. In the baths are Catherine Morland (played by Katharine Schlesinger), Mrs. Allen (Googie Withers), Miss Tilney (Ingrid Lacey), and a most skin crawling duo: Cassie Stuart and Jonathan Coy as Isabella and John Thorpe. If you thought they were bad in the book, they are absolutely revolting here. The 80s-gone-18th century coiffures are marvelously awful. Actually, the whole film might be worth watching for the crazy head gear alone, which is on incongruous display below.

Have you seen and enjoyed (or hated) these films? I'd love to read your thoughts. Do share them.