Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Inspired by Pride and Prejudice’ Category

Jane and her fatherSome years ago, I painted a little picture of how I imagined Jane and her father would look when she was about five years old. I thought about this painting whilst I was writing a little scene in Project Darcy when Ellie goes back into the past and becomes Jane Austen, and tied it in with what seem to be Jane’s own recollections that she wrote about in Northanger Abbey. Although she is writing about Catherine Morland when she says her heroine was ‘noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house’, I have a feeling she was referring to a memory of doing that herself. If you’ve ever been to Steventon to see the site where the rectory stood, the back of the garden has a pronounced slope! Here’s how I imagine Jane and her beloved brother Henry playing at the back of the rectory. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt from my latest novel, Project Darcy.

 

IMG_4033

The slope at Steventon Rectory


The moment she stepped through the hedges and trees that screened the fields, Ellie knew something was different – her world was changed in more ways than she could ever have imagined. Like the little girl in Alice in Wonderland, she’d grown smaller and everything around her had doubled in size. Trees were so tall she could not see the top of them and the grass that tickled her bare legs nearly came up to her knees. Ellie looked back towards the way she had come but she knew it was fruitless. There was only one way to go, and that was to follow the sound that beckoned her. It was as if she saw everything through mist, layers of white vapour that rose to reveal a reality that became sharper with every passing minute. She was no longer Ellie Bentley; that she knew. She was a child, perhaps no more than five years old, and her thoughts intruded until Ellie had none left of her own. Her world was larger, more defined, sounds and smells were fresher, brighter and vivid. More than that, she felt different. Ellie saw life through the eyes of someone else, and when she heard the boy’s voice calling her name she knew him to be her brother.

Site of Steventon Rectory

Site of Steventon Rectory

Henry pulled me up the slope to the top of the field where the elm trees stood like sentinels and whispered over our heads in their hushing, leaf language. The day was hot like the one I’d left behind, and my legs struggled to keep up with him in the heat. He sensed that my small legs were tiring and he turned to wait, looking at me with a grin. Light flickered in his hazel eyes, those that I knew grown-ups said were so like mine, but his were almost golden on this day, like Baltic amber. The grass up at the top of the terrace was so long; it prickled the back of my legs. Beads of dew, like fairy necklaces strung along green blades, felt cold under my feet. When we reached the top, he showed me how to lie down in line with the trees, my toes pointing one way and my arms stretched over my head.‘Come on, Jane, let us go again!’

‘Jane, wait until I count to three,’ I heard him say.

Lying in the sweetly fragrant meadow, I felt so excited I started to giggle, and my body fidgeted in response. And before he’d managed to shout out the number three, I’d started going, rolling down the hill, and gathering momentum until the world was spinning. There was a blur of blue sky; then green fields, and then over I went again like a flyer on Nanny Littleworth’s spinning wheel. I could see Henry overtake me, going faster than ever. He got to the bottom before me but I came to a standstill at last, my heart beating with pure pleasure as I lay in the grass chuckling and laughing. There were grass stains on my dress and daisies in my hair, which Henry picked out, one by one.

Sitting up, I could see a house that I knew was my home and I had a sudden longing to see my father.

 Site of Jane Austen's home, Steventon Rectory


Site of Jane Austen’s home, Steventon Rectory

‘Are you not coming up again, little Jenny?’ Henry asked, calling me by the pet name my family used when they wanted to appeal to my better nature. He had his hands in the pockets of his breeches. His shirt was crumpled and stained like my gown. Brown curls flopped over his eyes, which looked into mine so tenderly that I almost changed my mind. I ran to hug him, stood on my tiptoes and planted a kiss on his cheek. Henry was my protector, and my beloved playmate. I longed to be just like him but my mother scolded me when I behaved too much like a tomboy. I knew I should not run or jump or shout, as my brothers did, but nothing she said would deter me, so when Henry begged me to play with him I did not usually need to be asked twice. But, as much as I wanted to be with him, home was calling.

I shook my head and muttered, ‘I’m going to see Papa.’

 

I have vivid memories of rolling down the slope in the park at the back of my childhood home with my brother and sister, which was a thing we all loved to do. I remember one time when we were recovering from German Measles, and the grass made our rashes flare up again, all very prickly and itchy – but we were all so glad to be outside again. Most of my childhood seemed to be spent outdoors playing, or indoors drawing and writing if the weather was bad – I’d love to know what pastimes you enjoyed as a child!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Steampunk Darcy

I am thrilled to welcome my fellow Austen Author, Monica Fairview, today on my blog – Monica has a fabulous new book out – Steampunk Darcy – I love the premise of her new novel and can’t wait to read it. She kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog and tell us all about the background to the amazing new Steampunk world she has created. I have a book to give away for a lucky visitor to the blog – please leave a comment and contact below, if you’d like to be entered. This is offered to readers anywhere in the world and the closing date is Sunday November 3rd, so don’t miss it! Over to you, Monica!
First of all, many thanks to Jane Odiwe for having me on her wonderful blog. I’m a great admirer not only of Jane’s writing but of her artwork as well, so it’s a particular pleasure to be here.
If anyone had told me ten years ago that I’d be writing a novel set in a Victorian universe, I would have split my sides laughing. I would have thought they were insane. Of all the periods in English history, the Victorian was my least favorite. Part of the reason for this was the fact that when I was studying History at my English school in Manchester, I was physically present in one of the centers of the Industrial Revolution, with its dirty brick buildings, terrible slums and chimneys (Manchester has since cleaned up very nicely). As part of my last years of schooling, I was required to specialize in a certain period in history. I chose the period 1830-1920 in British history to focus on.
There were certain topics we were required to cover in depth, and this involved a lot of independent study. One of the requirements was to learn about all the major discussions in parliament and the groundbreaking laws that were passed. The result was I knew more than anyone had any right to know about labor laws and the background to them – the atrocious conditions of workers in factories and the slums that they lived in. Add to that, I was reading Dickens and Gaskell. And although I applauded Prime Ministers Disraeli and Gladstone for their achievements, I never wanted to hear about the sordid Industrial period ever again. Because ultimately, I didn’t see anything positive in it.
Progressively, over time, as I read certain novels set in the Victorian period, I relented a bit. Yes, the Victorian period was grim and grimy and smoky, but there were good things to it, too. Various influences were changing my opinion of a period I thought of as insufferably tight-laced. John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman(the novel rather than the film), and A. S. Byatt’s Possession, TV dramas such as North and South, Cranford and Bright Star all contributed to my seeing the period differently.
Without knowing it, I was growing intrigued.
Then the whole Steampunk aesthetic burst on the scene, grabbed hold of me and hookedme (William Darcy loves that word). Steampunk enabled me to discover a playful Victoriana – one that revealed some of the era’s more positive aspects. Then, within a short period of time, I read two books that made up my mind: Gail Carriger’s Soulless, and Nothing But a Dog by Connie Willis. Now it wasn’t the first time I read that particular Connie Willis novel, but I found myself doubling over with laughter. I found it hilarious.
Which decided things for me. Two hilarious novels set in a Victorian context. Who could resist something so perfectly delicious?
Monica Fairview
This is when the idea of writing a Steampunk Darcy novel came to me.
If you look at either Carriger’s novel or Willis’, you won’t understand why I suddenly wanted to put Darcy in a Steampunk context to see what he’d do. But I suppose it was something about the language, about the sharp humor and playfulness of both novels that reminded me of Jane Austen. It made me feel that perhaps the division of the 19thcentury into Regency and Victorian was not as rigid as I thought, and that Jane Austen belonged in that same age even if she straddled two different centuries.
Once I’d made up my mind to write a Darcy that fit into a Neo-Victorian context, the novel began to write itself. But that prefix “Neo-Victorian” or “Retro-Victorian” – the Victorian period as seen through 21st century eyes – is very important. It’s a Victorian period through rose-colored goggles. The difference is crucial – I still think an actual Victorian woman couldn’t possibly be as playful as Lizzy Bennet. Then Seraphene appeared on the scene, not of course as a corseted Victorian lady but as a corseted aviator, and the hot air balloon ascents that were so popular in Jane Austen’s time became part and parcel of the brave new world of Darcy’s descendant. The book took off.
The rest is history.

Monica Fairview
Steampunk Darcy
A Pride and Prejudice-Inspired Comedy Adventure
William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the Uprising) stone by stone, and he wants to employ reconstruction expert Seraphene Grant to help him.
Or does he? Seraphene wasn’t born yesterday. She can smell a rat, particularly when it stinks all the way up to her airship. She knows Darcy is hiding something. But with the Authorities after her and her other options dwindling by the moment, the temptation of genuine English tea and a gorgeous Steampunk gentleman are very difficult to resist.
But what if Darcy’s mystery job courts nothing but trouble? What if Darcy is harboring a secret to kill for? When kiss comes to shove, will Darcy’s secret destroy Seraphene, or will it be her salvation?
Join us on a romantic adventure like no other in this whimsical Pride and Prejudice-inspired tribute, featuring Darcy (of course) Wickham, dirigibles, swash-buckling pirates and a heroine with fine eyes and an attitude.

Bio
Monica can be described as a gypsy-wanderer, opening her eyes to life in London and travelling ever since. She spent many years in the USA before coming back full circle to London, thus proving that the world is undeniably round.
Monica’s first novel was An Improper Suitor, a humorous Regency. Since then, she has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins (both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Ballantine). Steampunk Darcy is her latest novel.
Monica Fairview is an ex-literature professor who abandoned teaching criticism about long gone authors who can’t defend themselves in order to write novels of her own. Originally a lover of everything Regency, Monica has since discovered that the Victorian period can be jolly good fun, too, if seen with retro-vision and rose-colored goggles. She adores Jane Austen, Steampunk, cats, her husband and her impossible child.
If you’d like to find out more about Monica, you can find her at www.monicafairview.com, austenauthors.net, Monica Fairview’s blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @Monica_Fairview


Thank you so much for joining me today, Monica – don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a copy of Steampunk Darcy!

Read Full Post »