Archive for September, 2012

Review by Nancy Kelley for Indie Jane –

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Persuasion is quite possibly my favorite of all Austen’s books, and Captain Wentworth is in a dead heat with Darcy for favorite literary hero of all time. With that background, it would be easy to think that any novel based on Persuasion would automatically win my good opinion, but the opposite is rather true. With something so beloved, I will only be swayed by a treatment that is truly superlative. I’m happy to say I was not disappointed in Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe.
There is so much to love about this book, it’s hard for me to express it clearly–so if I jump around a bit, please forgive me.
First, I love parallel story lines when they are woven together in such a way that they support each other. As Sophie jumps back and forth between the past and present, the things that have just happened to her in the other time inform her decisions where she is now. The two stories are really one story–Sophie’s story.
Second, one of the fun things about reading fiction is figuring out what the author’s other passions might be. When you read Searching for Captain Wentworth, it quickly becomes obvious that Jane Odiwe loves and knows art. She uses various paintings throughout the story as props to guide us into a deeper understanding of Jane, her times, and the story at hand.
Third, it is apparent right from the start of Searching for Captain Wentworth that she is intimately familiar with both Bath and Jane Austen. There is a vibrancy to her descriptions of the city that could not come from someone who did not love it dearly. Amazingly, her picture of Regency Bath is just as clear as the vision of modern Bath–and yes, there have been some changes over the last 200 years.
As for Austen… Ah, and here is where this book really grabbed my heart, reader. Since Jane Austen is actually a character in Searching for Captain Wentworth, one of the more delightful things in the novel was the way Jane Odiwe sprinkled names, situations, and quotes that one could easily see later went on to inspire our Jane in her works. If you are an author, you know that some of your best scenes are the ones you have either witnessed or experienced. Why wouldn’t the same be true for Austen?
Yes, yes. So the writing is fabulous, but what of the story? The story, at its heart, is a classic story of a young lady dissatisfied with her own life who manages to escape to a fantasy. The fact that her fantasy is actually history merely adds flavor. Will she allow herself to be sucked into the fantasy, leaving behind those who love her at home, or will she use the lessons she learns in the past to grow in the present?
loved the heroes in this book, both of them. The historical Wentworth was so very dashing and handsome, and the modern Frederick (Okay, Josh…) was gallant and chivalrous. I have to say, I’m really a little envious of Sophie, having the love of two such men!
In short, if you love Bath, art, romantic heroes, or Jane Austen, you will love this book.
Five Stars

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Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe (2012)We can only imagine what life would have been like in the great Georgian resort town of Bath, England circa 1800. There are vintage illustrations of buildings, maps of the winding streets, and descriptions from travelers and writers of the time to help us visualize. And then there is the Bath that we know of from Jane Austen’s two novels: Persuasion andNorthanger Abbey. Her characters visit the famous pump-room, dance at the Lower Assembly Rooms, climb that noble hill Beechen Cliff, and propose on the gravel walk. We can visit this enchanting town today and still see much of what Austen experienced, but what if there was a way to be magically transported back in time to discover that Jane Austen is your next door neighbor and her dashing younger brother, Lieutenant Charles Austen, is home on leave from his duties with the Royal Naval? Would you take that journey through time no matter what the unknown risk?
Sophie Elliot, the heroine of Jane Odiwe’s new Austen-inspired novel Searching for Captain Wentworth, unknowingly faces this dilemma the first time she is transported two hundred years into the past through a magical glove once owned by Lt. Austen. Sound fantastical? Well, yes it would to any skeptic, including myself. Recent movies such as Lost in Austen and the Austen Addict book series: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict have softened my resolve. I enjoyed both the mini-series and the novels so much that “suspending my disbelief” and considering that anything is possible (in fiction and in life) opened up a whole new genre to me. Odiwe has created a clever combination of the past and present that took me on a journey through Jane Austen’s world, both familiar and fantastical.
Inspired by Austen’s Persuasion, we encounter many thematic elements inSearching for Captain Wentworth that Austen wanted us to experience in her own novel: love, heartbreak, friendship, snobbery and renewal; all through the eyes of young Sophie who is staying in the upper floor of a Bath townhouse owned by her family since the early 1800’s. She has aspirations to be a writer and hopes that by walking in Austen’s footsteps she will discover her talent and get over the painful loss of her boyfriend. Downstairs is occupied by the mysterious and handsome Josh Strafford who is working at the Holburne Museum on their next Regency exhibit. When Sophie sees him drop a white glove on the pavement outside their townhouse, she picks it up and follows him attempting to return it. When she passes through a white gate in Sydney Gardens she is transported back in time; a timeslip into another era, and her ancestor Sophia’s life.
I have long enjoyed Jane Odiwe’s Austen-inspired novels: Lydia Bennet’s Story,Willoughby’s Return and Mr. Darcy’s Secret. Her in-depth knowledge of Regency history and culture combined with her understanding of Jane Austen’s plots and characters results in a sensitive, engaging and romantic narrative that never disappoints. This time I was especially impressed with her character descriptions:
“All my feelings of self-doubt and of being an absolute failure at everything were returning. I just kept thinking how he’d probably tell the lovely Alison at the museum all about his narrow escape from the lecherous clutches of his neighbor who had delusions of becoming a writer.” – Sophie Elliot (p. 71)
“Every detail of his appearance sharpened into focus. Dark curls fell on the high collar of his black coat, cut to display a flash of white silk waistcoat with buttons faced in pearl, that led the eye to the swell of satin where breeches began…He looked beautiful if I can use that word to describe a man, I only knew I was not the only woman in the room who glanced his way or sat up in their chair.” – Sophia Elliot’s reaction to Lt. Austen, p. 91
As Sophie/Sophia’s romance with Lt. Austen parallel’s the romance in Persuasion, we are even treated to a letter that rivals the famous “You pierce my soul” love letter that Captain Wentworth gives to Anne Elliot. *swoon*
“I read it again and again committing to memory the words that thrilled every sense and awakened every feeling. How would I ever recover from such a letter?” – Sophia Elliot (p. 237)
Indeed! Odiwe has created the perfect reason to never want to recover from such feelings. Searching for Captain Wentworth will send you on a magical journey through time, and your heart, that you will not soon forget.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars

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Last night we were treated to a delicious evening’s entertainment from two of our wonderful British actors at the Jane Austen Festival. Adrian Lukis (who is a very well-known and loved actor in the UK –  he played Mr Wickham in the classic 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation)  and Caroline Langrishe (who is well-known for her roles in Judge John Deed, Lovejoy and Sharpe) entertained us with a selection of duologues – some of the most memorable scenes from Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and of course, Pride and Prejudice. My personal favourites were the scenes from Persuasion – beautiful!
They were absolutely brilliant and brought all of the characters to life – it’s always wonderful to hear Austen performed ‘out loud’ and the audience lapped it up – the room echoed to the sounds of their laughter!  

Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis performing Austen duologues – Jane Austen Festival

I was very lucky to meet Adrian and Caroline when I appeared in a Masterchef episode for the BBC last year – celebrating the 200th anniversary of Sense and Sensibility. We had a lot of fun filming the episode, especially off camera and it was lovely to catch up with Caroline last night – they both graciously appeared after the show to chat with everyone gathered there – what a treat for Austen fans!

Adrian Lukis at the Jane Austen Festival

Adrian Lukis and Caroline Langrishe are currently touring with a play, The Handyman, with Timothy West and will be appearing in Cheltenham tonight!

“Harwood’s best and finest play”
 The Sunday Times
Ronald Harwood, Academy Award-winning playwright and screenwriter is the author of this intelligent and stimulating story about law, justice and revenge.
Cressida and Julian Field live comfortably in the Sussex countryside with their elderly Ukrainian odd-job man and friend of the family, Romka. He cooks, mends fences, trims hedges and grows vegetables. Cressida calls him her ‘life-saver’. Then suddenly two police officers from the War Crimes Squad arrive… What has Romka done? Is he guilty? Is there a time limit on punishment?
The Handyman looks at responsibility and the possibility of evil, in a story that holds and intrigues from start to finish. 

The week-long shows begin at 7.45pm with additional afternoon shows taking place on the Thursday (September 20) and Saturday (September 22) at 2pm.
Tickets cost from £10 plus a booking fee and are available by calling the Everyman Theatre Box Office on 01242 572573 or by visiting www.everymantheatre.org.uk.

I shall be talking at the Jane Austen Festival on Wednesday 19th September – it would be lovely to see you there!

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I’m having a lovely time at the Jane Austen Festival catching up with friends Juliet Archer and Abigail Reynolds and watching all the fun!
Yesterday I went to watch the costumed Promenade which assembled in Queen Square and attended the Festival Fayre – everyone was very gracious about letting me photograph them! I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Tomorrow, as part of my blog tour for Searching For Captain Wentworth I shall be Laura Gerold’s guest on Laura’s Reviews– I hope you can join me!

Jane Smith Deisgn – http://www.janesmithdesign.co.uk
Author, Lauren Nixon
Matthew Anderson Cloth to Costume http://www.clothtocostume.com
Hand Made Period Clothes http://www.sarcenett.co.uk
Juliet Archer
Abigail Reynolds and Me
Jackie Herring, Festival Director, (right)
with a friend
Tim Bullamore – Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine

http://www.virginiacreeper.co.uk Dressmaker, costumier, Doll artist

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The Pump Room, Bath

Today I am the guest of Laura Hartness on the Calico Critic Blog. There’s an exclusive extract from Searching for Captain Wentworth and I’m talking about Time Travel and the books I loved as a child. I’d love to know which were your favourites – please leave a comment on her blog!

Yesterday, I was Maria Grazia’s guest and she interviewed me for My Jane Austen Book Club. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback copy of Searching for Captain Wentworth do leave a comment!

The day before I was Laurel Ann Nattress’ guest on Austenprose where I shared an exclusive ‘audio’ excerpt from my new novel.

I’ve also been to visit Vic Sanborn on Jane Austen’s World – she celebrated 500,000 hits on her blog with a giveaway-competition now closed.

Tomorrow, I shall be visiting Nancy Kelley – I hope you can join me!

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I’m having a lovely and very busy day!

The white gate in Sydney Gardens

Laurel Ann Nattress invited me to guestblog on her wonderful Austenprose blog and I really wanted to do something a little different this time. I discovered Soundcloud the other day and it means you can record excerpts or readings – whole books for that matter – and then share them. The technology is simple – I even managed to record it on my phone – I’m not a great fan of listening to myself, I must admit, but I hope you enjoy my efforts! I’ve always enjoyed reading aloud. Having a younger sister and brother meant I did a lot of it in my youth and then I had three children who loved listening to endless books and stories. I was always volunteering for reading in Assembly at school – it’s something I love doing so I hope you get a chance to listen. I’m reading from my new book, Searching for Captain Wentworth!

The Jane Austen Centre

I’ve written a new article for the Jane Austen Centre websiteDiscovering Bath with Jane Odiwe.
This was a challenge because I could write a book about what I love about Bath and couldn’t talk about everything but do pop over there and have a look.

I went to the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms today – I hope you enjoy some of my photos!

Please join me tomorrow when I’ll be visiting Maria Grazia on her lovely blog My Jane Austen Book Club – hope to see you there!

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How exciting! It’s the official publication day for Searching For Captain Wentworth- and made more exciting by the fact that I’ve just found out my book is on the Kindle top 100 Amazon Bestsellers list and a hot pick in Time Travel! I’m thrilled – thank you to all my US readers who have downloaded my novel. I hope you enjoy my book.

I’ve had a couple of lovely reviews-

A Winter’s Day in Lyme-sun still shining!

Five stars from Vic Sanborn – I’ll admit that I have a fondness for Ms. Odiwe’s books. In this new endeavor she has outdone herself. After finishing Searching for Captain Wentworth I felt as if I had taken a trip to Bath and Lyme Regis, met Jane Austen, and been treated to a wonderful romance.

Four stars from Maria Grazia- Gifted writing makes the blend a successful, entertaining whole. You’ll find yourself smiling in recognition at this lovely tale with lots of familiar quotes and characters, events from Jane Austen’s life and hints to her letters. “Searching for Captain Wentworth” is a new delightful, unmissable read for anybody loving Austen-inspired fiction.

Next week I shall be visiting a few blogs – 

Monday 10th September I’ll be visiting Laurel Ann Nattress on Austenprose 
Tuesday 11th September I’ll be visiting  Maria Grazia on My Jane Austen Book Club
Wednesday 12th September I’ll be visiting Laura Hartness The Calico Critic
Thursday 13th September I’ll be visiting Nancy Kelley Nancy Kelley

Hope you can join us! 

Competition Time!

I’ve another paperback copy to give away. And for this one I’d love to know who was your favourite Captain Wentworth. Both were gorgeous so it’s a hard call, but I know which one is my favourite. Please leave your comments below with your contact details- the competition will be open until September 30th! 

Ciaran Hinds Persuasion 1995
Rupert Penry-Jones Persuasion 2007

Thank you to everyone who has been such a support lately – it’s meant the world to me!

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