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Archive for the ‘Jane Austen Centre’ Category

I’m absolutely thrilled with this wonderful review from Laura Boyle in the Jane Austen Centre Online Magazine:-

Searching for Captain Wentworth: A Review

For those who love, time does not exist
Searching for Captain Wentworth is unlike any Jane Austen inspired novel I’ve ever read. I suspect it’s unlike any Jane Austen novel ever written! Part love story, part time travel fantasy, part Austen biography, it’s all about the author’s (Jane Odiwe) love for Jane Austen and the city of Bath, her ‘Fairyland’ city.
Reading it (in 24 hours! I couldn’t put it down!) was like taking a walk with friends through old, familiar places. Jane’s use of Bath (both in the present and during the Regency) and Lyme, coupled with her deft weaving of historical fact and Austen lore, Austen novels (especiallyNorthanger AbbeySense and Sensibility andPersuasion) and films made for a book that felt like there was a cameo appearance on every page. It is truly a book written by someone who knows Austen’s life, novels and films inside out, and though any and all might enjoy the wonderful story she has crafted, for those in the “know”, Easter eggs abound, almost like the many inside jokes, shared by the Austen family, that made their way into Jane Austen’s writing.
Jane Odiwe’s descriptions of Bath, both past and present, make the city come alive, reviving happy memories for those who have visited the beautiful white limestone city, and painting a vivid tour of city highlights and must visit stops for anyone contemplating a visit. Equally compelling are the settings in Lyme Regis, from Cobb to country house to assembly room.
In the story, heroine Sophie Elliot moves into her great-aunt’s flat in Bath, while she recovers from a broken heart, determined to put the past behind her and move on with her life and writing. The house, adjacent to the home occupied by the Austen family in 1802, proves to be full of secrets and surprises, and once her adventure begins, she transports between present day Bath and a hopeful friendship with her new neighbor (and perhaps something more?) and 1802, where she slips into the life of her ancestor Sophie Elliot, and a friendship with Jane and Cassandra Austen.

Charles Austen’s portrait, the “Rice” Portrait of Jane Austen and a Regency Era inlaid rosewood box all feature prominently in the story.
When Charles Austen, a young Naval officer, enters the scene, Sophie’s life becomes decidedly complicated. Persuasion may be the initial inspiration for the story, a novel many feel was Jane Austen’s attempt to rewrite history in her own life, however, questions remain, “Can the past be changed? Should the past be changed? Are happy endings only to be found in fiction?” A rosewood box and pair of gloves may hold the key to all the secrets of the novel, and in finding them, Sophie discovers the truth about herself and her heart.
It is known that Jane Austen drew her characters from the traits she noticed in those around her, and recognizable characterizations abound including the snobbish Elliot family themselves…oh-so like their “fictional” counterparts. Conversations and scenes from Austen’s novels are woven together in new and unexpected ways, providing a canvas that the “real” Jane Austen might later use in her writing. Additional portrayals of Cassandra Austen, Charles Austen and even Henry and Eliza Austen ring true and offer glimpses of family life that are not only faithful to the recorded history we have, but also all any “ardent admirer” of Jane Austen’s works and life could hope for.

The magically beckoning gate in Sydney Gardens that transports Sophie into 1802.
Moving along at a brisk pace, the story jumps quickly from the present to the past and back again, and readers will visit the amusements, pleasure gardens and assembly rooms of Bath and Lyme and the countryside beyond in both 2012 and 1802. Odiwe cleverly ties up her threads by the end of her story, though readers are left to wonder if Sophie is the only one of her family to have enjoyed the company of L’amiable Jane…leaving room, perhaps, for future stories.
I, for one, certainly hope so!
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Paintbox Publishing (7 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095457222X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954572228
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I recently met up with lovely author Sue Wilkes in Bath. She’d been invited to a gorgeous afternoon out with Tim Bullamore (publisher of the Jane Austen magazine) and some of the ladies at the Jane Austen Centre to see Clare Tomalin’s talk at the Bath Literary Festival. Sue and I met for lunch and had a lovely chat – we’ve corresponded for years ever since we did an article or two together on Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, but this was the first time we’d actually met. Incidentally, Sue had tea at the Jane Austen Centre afterwards – lovely treat. I’ve been there myself and highly recommend the cheese toasted sandwich!
I always enjoy Sue’s articles and she has also written some fabulous non-fiction books. Her latest, Regency Cheshire is about that county, but filled with so much more, lots of fascinating stories about the era in general.
It was an age of unique style and elegance; the era of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Regency Cheshire explores the scandals, sports and pastimes of the great county families such as the Grosvenors of Eaton Hall. Their glittering lifestyle is contrasted with conditions for humble farmers and factory workers. The gentry and mill owners created elegant new villas and beautiful gardens while workers huddled together in slums with inadequate sanitation. The Prince Regent and his cronies danced and feasted while cotton and silk workers starved. Cheshire’s rural tranquility was under siege; smoke belched out over the textile and salt towns. Stage coaches rattled through the streets; packet boats and barges sailed down the canals. The author traces the changes in the county’s transport system and the effect on its chief industries: silk, cotton, salt and cheese. Reform and revolution threatened the old social order. Blood was spilt on city streets during election fever and in the struggle for democracy. Napoleon’s forces were poised to invade – but Cheshire troops battled their own countrymen instead of marauding Frenchmen. Balls and bear-baiting; highwaymen and hangings; riots and reform: Regency Cheshire tells the story of county life during the age of Beau Brummell, Walter Scott and Jane Austen.

Read more about Sue and her books on her blog

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Here’s a review for Willoughby’s Return from the Jane Austen Centre online magazine!

Set four years after the close of Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby’s Return starts off apace with a surprise visitor (no, not that one…) plans for a ball and mounting tension in the Brandon household. Marianne Brandon wonders if she has lost that part of herself that used to be so wildly impetuous and romantic. Has marriage and motherhood irrevocably changed the girl that her husband fell in love with… or was he ever in love with her at all? It is possible that he only married her because of her resemblance to his lost love? While their marriage seems outwardly happy, Colonel Brandon’s many extended visits to Eliza Williams and her daughter cause Marianne to wonder if he might find her, so very like her mother, to be his true heart’s home.

Meanwhile, at Barton Cottage, Margaret Dashwood prepares for her first grand ball—and an introduction to one on whom all her hopes of future happiness depend. Mrs. Jennings, ever a convenient source of gossip is full of the news of Mrs. Smith’s imminent demise and the return of the Willoughbys to claim Allenham as their own.

It is impossible that all should not meet, that relationships and passions once lost should not be rekindled, for Willoughby, too, has not been unaffected by the passing years. Realizing the mistakes of his youth, how he had valued the demands of his pocketbook above those of his heart. Is it too late for true love? Can the past be undone? Are future generations doomed to repeat his mistakes?

Fans of Sense and Sensibility will rejoice to find all their old familiar friends (Middletons, Steels, Ferrars and more) once more in “all the old familiar places”. From cozy scenes at Delaford and Barton Cottage to the hectic rush of a Season in London, author Jane Odiwe constructs a compelling tale of love in all its forms. Appealing to all ages, fans of happy endings will be delighted with how the author spins her story, weaving suspense and intrigue into a well-crafted tale that manages to answer the many questions left by the original.

True love does conquer all!

There’s lots of information on the Jane Austen Centre’s fabulous website for interested Janeites and they have a sale on at the moment in their gift shop! Becca, the shop manager has recently joined Twitter – you can follow her tweets by clicking here!

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