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Archive for May, 2009

Print shops were very popular in Jane Austen’s England. In particular, the political cartoonists of the day like James Gillray (1757-1815) and Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) provided entertainment for the masses who crowded round the print shop windows to see their latest pictures.

Here is a little nugget of Jane Austen’s treasure for your delight. Admiral Croft’s character is painted so beautifully in a few sentences. To accompany it is a Brock illustration and a photo of the shop in Bath which they used for the print shop in the 1996 adaptation which has to be my favourite of all adaptations, I think.

Anne was too much engaged with Lady Russell to be often walking herself; but it so happened that one morning, about a week or ten days after the Crofts’ arrival, it suited her best to leave her friend, or her friend’s carriage, in the lower part of the town, and return alone to Camden Place; and in walking up Milsom Street she had the good fortune to meet with the Admiral. He was standing by himself, at a printshop window, with his hands behind him, in earnest contemplation of some print, and she not only might have passed him unseen, but was obliged to touch as well as address him before she could catch his notice. When he did perceive and acknowledge her, however, it was done with all his usual frankness and good humour. “Ha! is it you? Thank you, thank you. This is treating me like a friend. Here I am, you see, staring at a picture. I can never get by this shop without stopping. But what a thing here is, by way of a boat. Do look at it. Did you ever see the like? What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that any body would venture their lives in such a shapeless old cockleshell as that. And yet here are two gentlemen stuck up in it mightily at their ease, and looking about them at the rocks and mountains, as if they were not to be upset the next moment, which they certainly must be. I wonder where that boat was built!” (laughing heartily); “I would not venture over a horsepond in it. Well,” (turning away), “now, where are you bound? Can I go any where for you, or with you? Can I be of any use?”

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Print shops were very popular in Jane Austen’s England. In particular, the political cartoonists of the day like James Gillray (1757-1815) and Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) provided entertainment for the masses who crowded round the print shop windows to see their latest pictures.

Here is a little nugget of Jane Austen’s treasure for your delight. Admiral Croft’s character is painted so beautifully in a few sentences. To accompany it is a Brock illustration and a photo of the shop in Bath which they used for the print shop in the 1996 adaptation which has to be my favourite of all adaptations, I think.

Anne was too much engaged with Lady Russell to be often walking herself; but it so happened that one morning, about a week or ten days after the Crofts’ arrival, it suited her best to leave her friend, or her friend’s carriage, in the lower part of the town, and return alone to Camden Place; and in walking up Milsom Street she had the good fortune to meet with the Admiral. He was standing by himself, at a printshop window, with his hands behind him, in earnest contemplation of some print, and she not only might have passed him unseen, but was obliged to touch as well as address him before she could catch his notice. When he did perceive and acknowledge her, however, it was done with all his usual frankness and good humour. “Ha! is it you? Thank you, thank you. This is treating me like a friend. Here I am, you see, staring at a picture. I can never get by this shop without stopping. But what a thing here is, by way of a boat. Do look at it. Did you ever see the like? What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that any body would venture their lives in such a shapeless old cockleshell as that. And yet here are two gentlemen stuck up in it mightily at their ease, and looking about them at the rocks and mountains, as if they were not to be upset the next moment, which they certainly must be. I wonder where that boat was built!” (laughing heartily); “I would not venture over a horsepond in it. Well,” (turning away), “now, where are you bound? Can I go any where for you, or with you? Can I be of any use?”

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I’m at the editing stage of my latest work in progress. Surely this has to be the most trying and difficult part of writing a book. It’s when I feel I’m completely on my own – and I feel a little bit lonely. I start to read it through, feel quite pleased with how it’s all going, and then the doubts start to creep in. That part doesn’t feel quite right – I remember when I was writing it that I thought I’d written something memorable, but no, it’s reading like a pile of pants as my youngest might say. OK, I think that’s better – then the next chapter doesn’t seem to work. Lizzy, would you really have said that? And Darcy, have I painted you a little too grave? Time for a coffee, I think, and didn’t I promise to phone someone? I waste an hour or two with important jobs that I convince myself couldn’t possibly be done at any other time before I sit down to work again. I’m in a ruthless mood! I start slashing away cutting out large chunks of text, hours of work that once seemed so right. There’s something wrong with the timeline and I suddenly realise that one event couldn’t possibly have happened. What I thought was careful planning and plotting has gone completely awry! This is when I start to write lists going over and over my notes and wondering how I’m going to resolve everything. It’s all going so horribly wrong. Back to the typescript – oh yes, I like this part, I’m happy, not even a pen mark on the next twenty pages. And, I wouldn’t admit it to everybody, but I actually laugh out loud at that bit – yes, I’m on a roll!!! Reward myself with a fat bar of chocolate. So the first hurdles were just a blip, I think, until I come to a bit of sticky re-writing that I just don’t want to do. Hold my head in my hands. The sun’s over the yard arm – a glass of wine will help, I’m positive – mmm, yes, lovely, things definitely don’t seem quite as bad now. I’ve done it at last, I’m satisfied it says what I want, but then, is it now too long? Could I cut it back a little? I’m reading again, nearly there, just another fifty pages and I’m finished – well, before I bring it out and start all over again!

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I’m at the editing stage of my latest work in progress. Surely this has to be the most trying and difficult part of writing a book. It’s when I feel I’m completely on my own – and I feel a little bit lonely. I start to read it through, feel quite pleased with how it’s all going, and then the doubts start to creep in. That part doesn’t feel quite right – I remember when I was writing it that I thought I’d written something memorable, but no, it’s reading like a pile of pants as my youngest might say. OK, I think that’s better – then the next chapter doesn’t seem to work. Lizzy, would you really have said that? And Darcy, have I painted you a little too grave? Time for a coffee, I think, and didn’t I promise to phone someone? I waste an hour or two with important jobs that I convince myself couldn’t possibly be done at any other time before I sit down to work again. I’m in a ruthless mood! I start slashing away cutting out large chunks of text, hours of work that once seemed so right. There’s something wrong with the timeline and I suddenly realise that one event couldn’t possibly have happened. What I thought was careful planning and plotting has gone completely awry! This is when I start to write lists going over and over my notes and wondering how I’m going to resolve everything. It’s all going so horribly wrong. Back to the typescript – oh yes, I like this part, I’m happy, not even a pen mark on the next twenty pages. And, I wouldn’t admit it to everybody, but I actually laugh out loud at that bit – yes, I’m on a roll!!! Reward myself with a fat bar of chocolate. So the first hurdles were just a blip, I think, until I come to a bit of sticky re-writing that I just don’t want to do. Hold my head in my hands. The sun’s over the yard arm – a glass of wine will help, I’m positive – mmm, yes, lovely, things definitely don’t seem quite as bad now. I’ve done it at last, I’m satisfied it says what I want, but then, is it now too long? Could I cut it back a little? I’m reading again, nearly there, just another fifty pages and I’m finished – well, before I bring it out and start all over again!

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Haddon Hall Gardens

The gardens at Haddon are lovely – I really enjoyed the views from the terraces – the formal gardens contrasting with the wildness of the landscape beyond. I have seen photos of the Hall in summer – I shall definitely have to visit again to see the riot of roses clambering over stone walls and framing windows – even in April the garden was very pretty. I hope you enjoy the photos!



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The gardens at Haddon are lovely – I really enjoyed the views from the terraces – the formal gardens contrasting with the wildness of the landscape beyond. I have seen photos of the Hall in summer – I shall definitely have to visit again to see the riot of roses clambering over stone walls and framing windows – even in April the garden was very pretty. I hope you enjoy the photos!



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Book Review from the Jane Austen Society of North America – Kelly M. McDonald

Lydia Bennet’s Story was reviewed alongside Carrie Bebris’ novel, The Matters at Mansfield so I’ve extracted the relevant parts of the review which concern my book.

A good opening line can instantly vitalize a novel…Jane Odiwe sets her scene exceedingly well: “The true misfortune, which besets any young lady destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family.” The two books share many characteristics: they grab the reader from the beginning; sustain momentum; and present work of talented authors. They likewise extract from Austen two bad boys everyone loves to hate,…and pivot their denouements upon ill-advised marriages, for ultimately these men stray from the fold.

Blending narrative with diary extracts, Jane Odiwe presents Lydia in all her giddy, officer-hungry glory. Odiwe’s subtle and pointed conveyance of a character’s manners or foibles in a few words is a delight – an example, Lydia’s asides concerning her mother. While burning an unwanted gift from a potential lover, Lydia comments, “It caught the attention of my mother who is generally not so observant but she has a suspicious nature.” Mrs Bennet is seen only through Lydia’s eyes, and this manner of characterization is Odiwe’s asset, especially when dealing with the popular Darcys and Bingleys. She paints the two couples very lightly, and thereby avoids upsetting the reverence they generate in many Austen fans. Lydia Bennet’s Story stands on its own, though the action and characters from P&P are utilized as needed, usually via a few deft references.

Lydia’s time in Brighton, among the uniforms she so adores, comprises the early section of the novel; by mid-point she and Wickham have been discovered by Darcy and are wed, though happiness is definitely not on the horizon. Wickham is already on the outlook for his next conquest, and the diary device allows revelations of Lydia’s more secret traits. Concerning her move to Newcastle, the new Mrs. Wickham discloses, “What I would really like is a house on the higher slopes of town whre the wealthy are settling, not timbered lodgings in the old part of town.” One spouse with a roving eye, the other with illusions of grandeur, spells trouble.

Readers who wish for a little sensuality in their Austen might welcome Lydia’s gentle trysts, though one might expect a bit more effort on Mr. Wickham’s part for this overt cad to have won his Lydia. His real competition comes from the Rev. Alexander Fitzalan, brother of Lydia’s friend Isabella. This pair undeniably forms the romantic center of the novel. Readers will stay up late in order to finish Lydia Bennet’s Story quickly and leave well pleased with a nice narrative.

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