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Archive for October, 2008

I wrote this short piece for a guest blog today on Serena’s blogspot Savvy, Verse and Wit. I am grateful also to her for a review for Lydia Bennet’s Story, which you can read by clicking here

October 31st, 1801

“I’ll bet you’ll see your true love by midnight,” said our maid Mary, and she looked so mysterious and meaningful that we took her at her word and arrived at the kitchen door as late as we dared. It was very quiet and I was all for bursting in at the door but Kitty was already nervous on account of being told to come without candle or lantern. At her timid knock, the door was suddenly thrown back and the vision that greeted us was so terrifying that Kitty let out the most bloodcurdling scream you have ever heard. When we realised it was Mary with a hollowed turnip candle held under her chin we laughed so hard, I thought I might be ill.

The kitchen was very dark but for the glow of turnip candles on every surface illuminating several strings of apples suspended from the ceiling. A large bowl of water with more apples floating atop was set before a looking glass, which strangely resembled the one from my bedchamber.

“We’ll have snap apple and bobbing for apples later but first there is a tradition that all young ladies must perform. You must stand before the glass, quite alone in the dark, and a vision of the man you are to marry will appear within, before the bewitching hour,” said Mary.

“I will not,” cried Kitty, “No fear, I’m not standing here in this horrid, dark place for anything, even if Prince George himself was to appear.”

“Lord!” said I, “There’s nothing to it, Kitty, but I warn you, if I see Prince George, I’ll slit my throat. Ugh, can you think of anything more disagreeable than marrying that oaf!”

I must admit I felt a slight apprehension when they’d extinguished every candle before leaving me, and the hairs on my arms and legs prickled up at the unfamiliar sounds in the cold kitchen. There was a scuffle in the corner and the thought of a mouse nearly had me running for the door.

I stood before the glass and soon became quite engrossed with my own reflection which it has to be said looked most becoming by the soft bars of moonlight creeping through the window.

It was then that I thought I heard breathing. I looked behind me but there was no one there. I turned back to the glass and caught sight of a glimmering light in the background, so I spun round again only to find it had disappeared. I wheeled back to the glass once more determined to catch sight of whatever apparition was about to materialize when I got the fright of my life. A phantom in white, and not at all my impression of a handsome beau was leering at me in the dark, with hideous, grinning teeth. I screamed and fainted into the arms of the horrible ghoul!

The door burst open and there, holding onto their sides, falling upon themselves with laughter, were Kitty and Mary. My assailant had me blindfolded before I could protest further and in a soft voice not in the least unbecoming, begged for a kiss from his future wife. What else could a girl do in the dark, I ask you, other than oblige? In any case, I had guessed from his delicious smell that it was Mr Edwards, who it is well known has something of a passion for me and, indeed, is quite the best-looking young man of my acquaintance!

Of course, I protested loudly through the whole sordid exhibition and it was only when we went to bed that I admitted to Kitty, that although I do not think I found my husband on All Hallows Eve, I certainly enjoyed my adventure!

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I wrote this short piece for a guest blog today on Serena’s blogspot Savvy, Verse and Wit. I am grateful also to her for a review for Lydia Bennet’s Story, which you can read by clicking here

October 31st, 1801

“I’ll bet you’ll see your true love by midnight,” said our maid Mary, and she looked so mysterious and meaningful that we took her at her word and arrived at the kitchen door as late as we dared. It was very quiet and I was all for bursting in at the door but Kitty was already nervous on account of being told to come without candle or lantern. At her timid knock, the door was suddenly thrown back and the vision that greeted us was so terrifying that Kitty let out the most bloodcurdling scream you have ever heard. When we realised it was Mary with a hollowed turnip candle held under her chin we laughed so hard, I thought I might be ill.

The kitchen was very dark but for the glow of turnip candles on every surface illuminating several strings of apples suspended from the ceiling. A large bowl of water with more apples floating atop was set before a looking glass, which strangely resembled the one from my bedchamber.

“We’ll have snap apple and bobbing for apples later but first there is a tradition that all young ladies must perform. You must stand before the glass, quite alone in the dark, and a vision of the man you are to marry will appear within, before the bewitching hour,” said Mary.

“I will not,” cried Kitty, “No fear, I’m not standing here in this horrid, dark place for anything, even if Prince George himself was to appear.”

“Lord!” said I, “There’s nothing to it, Kitty, but I warn you, if I see Prince George, I’ll slit my throat. Ugh, can you think of anything more disagreeable than marrying that oaf!”

I must admit I felt a slight apprehension when they’d extinguished every candle before leaving me, and the hairs on my arms and legs prickled up at the unfamiliar sounds in the cold kitchen. There was a scuffle in the corner and the thought of a mouse nearly had me running for the door.

I stood before the glass and soon became quite engrossed with my own reflection which it has to be said looked most becoming by the soft bars of moonlight creeping through the window.

It was then that I thought I heard breathing. I looked behind me but there was no one there. I turned back to the glass and caught sight of a glimmering light in the background, so I spun round again only to find it had disappeared. I wheeled back to the glass once more determined to catch sight of whatever apparition was about to materialize when I got the fright of my life. A phantom in white, and not at all my impression of a handsome beau was leering at me in the dark, with hideous, grinning teeth. I screamed and fainted into the arms of the horrible ghoul!

The door burst open and there, holding onto their sides, falling upon themselves with laughter, were Kitty and Mary. My assailant had me blindfolded before I could protest further and in a soft voice not in the least unbecoming, begged for a kiss from his future wife. What else could a girl do in the dark, I ask you, other than oblige? In any case, I had guessed from his delicious smell that it was Mr Edwards, who it is well known has something of a passion for me and, indeed, is quite the best-looking young man of my acquaintance!

Of course, I protested loudly through the whole sordid exhibition and it was only when we went to bed that I admitted to Kitty, that although I do not think I found my husband on All Hallows Eve, I certainly enjoyed my adventure!

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Fiction set in the Regency era often has an incident or event taking place in a country inn in England. The first thirty years of the nineteenth century saw the growth of such hostelries as the rise of coach and post-chaise travel expanded and peaked.

I really like to read contemporary descriptions which help inspiration for writing. The first is by the English writer, George Borrow.
…an army of servants… was kept; waiters, chambermaids, grooms, postillions, shoe-blacks, cooks, scullions, and what not, for there was a barber and hair-dresser who had been at Paris, and talked French with a cockney accent…Jacks creaked in the kitchens turning round spits, on which large joints of meat piped and smoked before great fires. There was running up and down stairs, and along galleries, slamming of doors, cries of “Coming, sir,” and “Please to step this way, ma’am,” during eighteen hours of the four and twenty. Truly a very great place for life and bustle was this inn.
The next description is from an American writer, Henry Tuckerman.
The coffee room of the best class of English inns, carpeted and curtained, the dark rich hue of old mahogany, the ancient plate, the four-post bed, the sirloin or mutton joint, the tea, muffins, Cheshire and Stilton, the ale, the coal-fire and The Times, form an epitome of England; and it is only requisite to ponder well the associations and history of each of these items to arrive at what is essential in English history and character. The impassable divisions of society are shown…the time-worn aspect of the furniture is eloquent of conservatism; the richness of the meats and strength of the ale explain the bone and sinew of the race; the tea is fragrant with Cowper’s memory, and suggestive of East India conquests; the cheese proclaims a thrifty agriculture, the bed and draperies comfort, the coal manufactures; while The Times is the chart of English enterprise, division of labour, wealth, self-esteem, politics, trade, court-life, “inaccessibility to ideas” and bullyism.

I can think of a few inns still existing today which still embody most of the above and where, as you walk in, the ghosts of the past seem thick in the air about you.

The top print shows the west country mails at the Gloucester coffee house, Piccadilly, an engraving after James Pollard, and the second shows a bedroom at an inn from Eugene Lami’s Voyage en Angleterre, 1830.

Jane Odiwe

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Fiction set in the Regency era often has an incident or event taking place in a country inn in England. The first thirty years of the nineteenth century saw the growth of such hostelries as the rise of coach and post-chaise travel expanded and peaked.

I really like to read contemporary descriptions which help inspiration for writing. The first is by the English writer, George Borrow.
…an army of servants… was kept; waiters, chambermaids, grooms, postillions, shoe-blacks, cooks, scullions, and what not, for there was a barber and hair-dresser who had been at Paris, and talked French with a cockney accent…Jacks creaked in the kitchens turning round spits, on which large joints of meat piped and smoked before great fires. There was running up and down stairs, and along galleries, slamming of doors, cries of “Coming, sir,” and “Please to step this way, ma’am,” during eighteen hours of the four and twenty. Truly a very great place for life and bustle was this inn.
The next description is from an American writer, Henry Tuckerman.
The coffee room of the best class of English inns, carpeted and curtained, the dark rich hue of old mahogany, the ancient plate, the four-post bed, the sirloin or mutton joint, the tea, muffins, Cheshire and Stilton, the ale, the coal-fire and The Times, form an epitome of England; and it is only requisite to ponder well the associations and history of each of these items to arrive at what is essential in English history and character. The impassable divisions of society are shown…the time-worn aspect of the furniture is eloquent of conservatism; the richness of the meats and strength of the ale explain the bone and sinew of the race; the tea is fragrant with Cowper’s memory, and suggestive of East India conquests; the cheese proclaims a thrifty agriculture, the bed and draperies comfort, the coal manufactures; while The Times is the chart of English enterprise, division of labour, wealth, self-esteem, politics, trade, court-life, “inaccessibility to ideas” and bullyism.

I can think of a few inns still existing today which still embody most of the above and where, as you walk in, the ghosts of the past seem thick in the air about you.

The top print shows the west country mails at the Gloucester coffee house, Piccadilly, an engraving after James Pollard, and the second shows a bedroom at an inn from Eugene Lami’s Voyage en Angleterre, 1830.

Jane Odiwe

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The weather here in the UK has been getting colder with freezing winds blowing down from the north. Last night was most unusual for this time of year as autumn was quickly ousted by winter. Last night we had lightning, a thunderstorm, followed by snow – huge, fat flakes of twirling ice hurtling to the ground and settling to form a blanket over the garden and the street outside. Everywhere looks so pretty, and as I write there is a pink glow from the sun as it rises, gilding the tops of snow-covered roofs with rose and gold. A day to stay in by the fire, I think!

Here, in contrast to the chill outside, is a lovely review from Sharon at her blog, Ex Libris

Title: Lydia Bennet’s Story Author: Jane Odiwe Publisher: Sourcebooks Rating: 5/5

“The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family.” (pg. 9)

The opening line of Chapter 1 of Jane Odiwe’s sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice describes the character of Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest sister Lydia to a tee. In Lydia Bennet’s Story, Jane Odiwe brings to life Lydia’s lively, high-spirited character as we gain insight to her side of the Wickham debacle through her eyes – and her heart.

Lydia Bennet’s Story begins at the point where Lydia becomes increasingly involved with that dastardly rake, George Wickham. Lydia, who cares not to think beyond a new bonnet and how many suitors will ask her to dance at the next assembly, falls quickly under Wickham’s spell. To Lydia, who is high spirited and wants nothing more than to be married to a wealthy, handsome soldier, Wickham seems to be the man of her dreams. But she finds out the hard way that Wickham’s heart has never been hers and that he only wants her as a connection to Mr. Darcy and his money.

Odiwe weaves her fiction into Austen’s story seamlessly, as we follow Lydia through the aftermath of her marriage to Wickham and the subsequent scandals she is subjected to because of him. We also watch Lydia transform from a selfish girl into a mature young woman who wants nothing more than to love and be loved – in style, of course.

I enjoyed Lydia Bennet’s Story immensely. It was a fun story with everything I love about good Regency fiction – good writing, plenty of period descriptions and background information that lend authenticity, and romance that is exciting but not over the top. Odiwe did an excellent job of staying true to Austen’s style while creating new characters and plots to make the story fresh and interesting. She also gave me a new appreciation for the character of Lydia. In an age of numerous Austen sequels, this one is definitely worth reading.

The illustrations show Jane Austen’s first home, Steventon Rectory, Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra walking in the snow outside their home at Chawton.

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The weather here in the UK has been getting colder with freezing winds blowing down from the north. Last night was most unusual for this time of year as autumn was quickly ousted by winter. Last night we had lightning, a thunderstorm, followed by snow – huge, fat flakes of twirling ice hurtling to the ground and settling to form a blanket over the garden and the street outside. Everywhere looks so pretty, and as I write there is a pink glow from the sun as it rises, gilding the tops of snow-covered roofs with rose and gold. A day to stay in by the fire, I think!

Here, in contrast to the chill outside, is a lovely review from Sharon at her blog, Ex Libris

Title: Lydia Bennet’s Story Author: Jane Odiwe Publisher: Sourcebooks Rating: 5/5

“The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family.” (pg. 9)

The opening line of Chapter 1 of Jane Odiwe’s sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice describes the character of Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest sister Lydia to a tee. In Lydia Bennet’s Story, Jane Odiwe brings to life Lydia’s lively, high-spirited character as we gain insight to her side of the Wickham debacle through her eyes – and her heart.

Lydia Bennet’s Story begins at the point where Lydia becomes increasingly involved with that dastardly rake, George Wickham. Lydia, who cares not to think beyond a new bonnet and how many suitors will ask her to dance at the next assembly, falls quickly under Wickham’s spell. To Lydia, who is high spirited and wants nothing more than to be married to a wealthy, handsome soldier, Wickham seems to be the man of her dreams. But she finds out the hard way that Wickham’s heart has never been hers and that he only wants her as a connection to Mr. Darcy and his money.

Odiwe weaves her fiction into Austen’s story seamlessly, as we follow Lydia through the aftermath of her marriage to Wickham and the subsequent scandals she is subjected to because of him. We also watch Lydia transform from a selfish girl into a mature young woman who wants nothing more than to love and be loved – in style, of course.

I enjoyed Lydia Bennet’s Story immensely. It was a fun story with everything I love about good Regency fiction – good writing, plenty of period descriptions and background information that lend authenticity, and romance that is exciting but not over the top. Odiwe did an excellent job of staying true to Austen’s style while creating new characters and plots to make the story fresh and interesting. She also gave me a new appreciation for the character of Lydia. In an age of numerous Austen sequels, this one is definitely worth reading.

The illustrations show Jane Austen’s first home, Steventon Rectory, Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra walking in the snow outside their home at Chawton.

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It is an extraordinary thought for me to contemplate, that an idea for a book which started in my head here in High Barnet, England, and was transmitted by e-mail ‘over the ether’ should now be sitting on shelves in book form all over the United States. You can imagine how much a new writer wishes to see her book on a shelf in a bookshop and here it is, kindly sent by Laurel Ann of Austenprose at my cheeky request. Thank you so much Laurel Ann, I can’t tell you what it means to see Lydia on a bookshelf. I only must add that I am feeling very envious of her adventure and can only hope that one day I will get the opportunity to follow her!
I wanted to thank all those people who have taken the time to write to me about my book and I am absolutely thrilled to find that not only has Lydia visited the United States but several other countries too. I am very touched by all your good wishes.
Also, thank you very much to the lovely, hard-working Danielle at Sourcebooks who sends Lydia off on her travels for reviews and such-like.
If anyone out there would like to tell me about any of Lydia’s further adventures, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at austeneffusions at bt internet dot com.

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