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Jane Austen Made Me Do It

I was in need of a quick Persuasion fix this morning – and thought you’d enjoy the reminders below! My favourite adaptation is the 1995 film with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root – I’d love to know which is your favourite and why!

Persuasion is a wonderful novel, and when I was lucky enough to be asked by Laurel Ann Nattress to contribute a short story to her anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I knew I wanted to write a story inspired by Jane Austen’s last book.

I’d always wanted to write about how Anne and Frederick Wentworth met, and I was able to indulge that fantasy in my story, Waiting. Here’s a little taster:

A garden party at the rectory brought them together again. The curate liked providing opportunities for his parishioners to mingle, and besides, he’d observed the way his brother had been taken with Miss Elliot, hearing him drop her name more than once into the conversation. Anne made an early appearance to see if she could help, and to bring a basket of roses from Kellynch. She could see the marquee but there was no one about when she walked into the walled garden. It promised to be a beautiful day. Lances of sunlight speared through the canopies of boughs, high- lighting pink brick and rambling honeysuckle but making violet shadows on the green lawn still wet with dew. A few cloth- covered tables were already set out. Anne was placing her basket when she heard a voice call out behind her. 
“Miss Elliot, forgive me for not greeting you sooner, but I’m afraid I’ve rather had my hands full.” 
Lieutenant Wentworth advanced bearing plates of cake and thinly sliced bread and butter. 
“Oh, do let me help,” cried Anne, rushing forth to relieve him, glad to do something to cover her confusion. Just seeing him 
again overset all her feelings. 
“We’re all hands on deck in the kitchen,” he continued. “Mrs. Badcock’s fairly cooked herself out with a battery of buns and cakes, and though I can slice a loaf to within a sail’s breadth, I must admit to being all at sea with their display.” 
Anne laughed. “I’d be happy to arrange slices of cake, or anything at all! Show me the way.” 
The curate was rather shocked to fi nd the baronet’s daughter in his kitchen but she protested against being shooed out. Anne took pleasure in selecting the prettiest floral china and deciding what must go where, and then she and Lieutenant Wentworth 
took everything out into the garden to cover it all carefully with snowy cloths before the guests arrived. 
“I was rather hoping you might help me with something else later on,” he said, as they both took the ends of a tablecloth between them. “I have a feeling that your particular talents will be needed.” 
Anne  couldn’t imagine what he meant, though she expressed her willingness to be of help.
“I noticed when we were in church last Sunday how you kept some of the noisier children amused with pencils and paper. I confess; it was your gentle way with them that impressed me. You seem able to make them do as you wish with the smallest effort.” 
“Idle hands are often mischievous ones. I find if the children are occupied, it follows they are no trouble. Their contentment had little to do with me.” 
“You are too modest, Miss Elliot. I’ve seen how your particular methods work on the most troublesome case. I am certain you could persuade anyone to anything. Indeed, no one could be safe from the charms of Miss Anne Elliot.” 
Anne could not decide what he meant nor did she know how to answer. Smoothing the corner of the cloth with her fingers, she avoided looking up directly at the face she knew was scrutinising hers. 

Writing this story made me realise how much I wanted to write a Persuasion inspired book. Searching for Captain Wentworth is the title, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all. I am thrilled to announce that I shall be talking at the Jane Austen Festival this year, and I hope to meet you there to tell you all about my new book!

 I have so many favourite extracts from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but there is something wonderful about this part of the book where Anne spies Captain Wentworth in Bath – a total surprise! I love the pace of this paragraph; you feel as if you are there with Anne and experience every emotion.

 It was fixed, accordingly, that Mrs. Clay should be of the party in the carriage; and they had just reached this point, when Anne, as she sat near the window, descried, most decidedly and distinctly, Captain Wentworth walking down the street. Her start was perceptible only to herself; but she instantly felt that she was the greatest simpleton in the world, the most unaccountable and absurd! For a few minutes she saw nothing before her.: it was all confusion. She was lost, and when she had scolded back her senses, she found the others still waiting for the carriage, and Mr. Elliot (always obliging) just setting off for Union Street on a commission of Mrs. Clay’s. She now felt a great inclination to go to the outer door; she wanted to see if it rained. Why was she to suspect herself of another motive? Captain Wentworth must be out of sight. She left her seat, she would go; one half of her should not be always so much wiser than the other half, or always suspecting the other of being worse than it was. She would see if it rained. She was sent back, however, in a moment, by the entrance of Captain Wentworth himself, among a party of gentlemen and ladies, evidently his acquaintance, and whom he must have joined a little below Milsom Street. He was more obviously struck and confused by the sight of her than she had ever observed before; he looked quite red. For the first time since their renewed acquaintance, she felt that she was betraying the least sensibility of the two. She had the advantage of him in the preparation of the last few moments. All the overpowering, blinding, bewildering, first effects of strong surprise were over with her. Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure – a something between delight and misery.

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Congratulations! The winner of the copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It is Sophia Rose! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, Sophia.

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 It’s my great pleasure to welcome my guest, Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It to the blog today. Everyone knows Laurel Ann from her wonderful blog, Austenprose, and now she’s just become a published author! Over to you, Laurel Ann.

You Pierce My Soul Persuasion: A Look at Jane Austen’s Most Romantic Novel

 Hi Jane, thanks again for hosting me during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.
Besides being total Jane Austen enthusiasts Jane, you and I share an affinity for Persuasion, Jane Austen’s last and most romantic novel. I was so excited then you shared with me that you were inspired to write a short story for Jane Austen Made Me Do It based upon Jane Austen’s characters Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. I adore their love story and was so interested to see what you would do with the backstory of their first meeting and early romance that is only alluded to in the original novel. I was thrilled with the result Jane, and I hope readers will enjoy your sojourn with one of our favorite Jane Austen couples.
Persuasion is really a unique novel in Jane Austen’s canon. It is the last novel that she completed before she died in 1817 at the age of forty-one, and reflects her more mature style with an intriguing introspective narrative.
At age twenty-seven, its heroine Anne Elliot is considered “on the shelf,” – past the marriageable age to catch a rich husband worthy of her snobbish father, Sir Walter Elliot’s approval. She and our hero Captain Wentworth’s failed romance and separation for over seven years is the center of the story. Themes of regret, misdirection, and lost hope all fuel the plot. This may sound very dour, but Austen’s brilliance as a writer, tempers the bad with the good to create conflict and humor with a wonderful resolution. The famous “you pierce my soul” letter by Captain Wentworth at the end of the novel is one of the most romantic ever written, and their eventual reunion and prospect for life together the most fulfilling “happily-ever-after” in literature. Even though Pride and Prejudice gets all the attention, I think Persuasion is a refined and mature work of a brilliant storyteller, and is really her masterpiece.
During the editing process of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, I was really delighted to see a few authors interested in writing stories inspired by Persuasion. The end result is some of my favorites in the anthology. Here is a brief preview of them:

“The Love Letter,” by Brenna Aubrey
Young doctor Mark Hinton thinks his life is perfect.  He is just about to finish his residency and has accepted the offer of a fabulous new job.  Things could not be better…  until the arrival of an anonymous letter in the mail forces him to confront the truth he’s been hiding from for seven years.
Sent on a quest by the mysterious contents of the letter, he is forced to discover the contents of his own heart thanks to Jane Austen, a canny librarian, a cantankerous patient, and a coolly observant sister.
“Waiting: A story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion,” by Jane Odiwe
Captain Wentworth and his beloved Anne Elliot have waited almost nine years to be together. At last all misunderstandings are swept aside. They have declared their love for one another, and all that remains is for their union to be blessed by Anne’s father, the irascible Sir Walter Elliot, and for the family members to be told. As Anne and Frederick ponder their futures each is reminded of the past, and all that has happened. Anne recalls the heady days of their courtship, but Frederick finds his memories overshadowed by the recollection of Sir Walter’s former hostility. Anne waits patiently for the outcome, but is disappointed by her sister Elizabeth’s reaction to the news, and further dismayed when she sees Captain Wentworth’s expression telling her all has not gone well with his interview. However, Anne is resolute. Despite being persuaded in the past against the match, she is determined to marry the Captain whatever the opposition. To her relief she discovers that Sir Walter has given his blessing, albeit grudgingly, and that at least one of her sisters is moderately pleased for her. Anne and Frederick know there are more obstacles to their happiness to come, but rejoice in the old adage that ‘good things come to those who wait.’
“Heard of You,” by Margaret C. Sullivan
In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, we are told that Admiral and Mrs. Croft married a shockingly short time after their first meeting, but that they had heard a great deal about each other before they met. How could they have known each other so well? In the midst of war, an unlikely Cupid brings together one of Austen’s best married couples in a story inspired both by Persuasion and by Captain Frederick Marryat’s novel Peter Simple.

I hope that readers will be as charmed and delighted with how Persuasion inspired these three writers to create their unique stories.
Thank you Jane for your wonderful contribution “Waiting,” and for hosting me today on your blog. It was a pleasure.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Thank you, Laurel Ann, for joining me today. I’m so thrilled to be a part of your wonderful book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and have enjoyed reading all the fabulous stories!

Editor bio:
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966
Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by November 6th 2011, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and announced on Monday November 7th 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!


     

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Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by the wonderful Laurel Ann Nattress is launched today. I’m thrilled to be a part of this book and have enjoyed reading all the amazing stories written by all the fabulous authors. The launch party is being kindly hosted over at Austen Authors with guest posts written by Laurel Ann Nattress, Monica Fairview, Diana Birchall, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, and Me!


I also found this lovely review


Stories by: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley 
“My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy’s heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world. 

In Lauren Willig’s “A Night at Northanger,” a young woman who doesn’t believe in ghosts meets a familiar specter at the infamous abbey; Jane Odiwe’s “Waiting” captures the exquisite uncertainty of Persuasion’s Wentworth and Anne as they await her family’s approval of their betrothal; Adriana Trigiani’s “Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane” imagines a modern-day Austen giving her niece advice upon her engagement; in Diana Birchall’s “Jane Austen’s Cat,” our beloved Jane tells her nieces “cat tales” based on her novels; Laurie Viera Rigler’s “Intolerable Stupidity” finds Mr. Darcy bringing charges against all the writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels, spin-offs, and retellings; in Janet Mullany’s “Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” a teacher at an all-girls school invokes the Beatles to help her students understand Sense and Sensibility; and in Jo Beverley’s “Jane and the Mistletoe Kiss,” a widow doesn’t believe she’ll have a second chance at love . . . until a Miss Austen suggests otherwise.

Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors.



Competition Winner announcement!


The winner of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is Renee Reardon – Congratulations! Thank you to all who entered!

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I think I may have mentioned how proud I am to be a part of this fantastic collection of short stories, but if that wasn’t enough, now I am thrilled to tell you about a new website which is up and running to celebrate all things about this new book.

Laurel Ann Nattress, the wonderful editor of the book writes about the chance to win a book:


Jane Austen Made Me Do It officially releases on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 – which is over a month away. I hope that you are as anxious to read it as I am to hear your reactions. If you want to be one of the first to peruse the pages of this new anthology, you could be one of the lucky Janeites to own a copy before publication. In celebration of the website’s official reveal, we are offering you the chance to win one of four advance reading copies. Just check out the details to qualify for a chance. Good luck, and thanks for sharing with me in my excitement of the publication of my new book.


Do have a look on the website for news about how you can win a book, read all about the authors and their stories, and who won the competition to have their short story included in the book! 


I can’t wait to see my story amongst all those written by fabulous authors.
“Waiting: A story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion,” by Jane Odiwe



Captain Wentworth and his beloved Anne Elliot have waited almost nine years to be together. At last all misunderstandings are swept aside. They have declared their love for one another, and all that remains is for their union to be blessed by Anne’s father, the irascible Sir Walter Elliot, and for the family members to be told. As Anne and Frederick ponder their futures each is reminded of the past, and all that has happened…

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As I’m sure you know by now the very lovely Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose  has a book coming out in October! Jane Austen Made Me Do It is being published by Ballantine books, and is available for pre-order! In case you’ve forgotten, though I’m sure I’ve mentioned it once or twice, I have contributed a short story to this amazing anthology. Just look at the fantastic authors featured on the cover – I’m thrilled to think that my piece inspired by Persuasion is to be amongst them, and I can’t wait to read all the stories.
I am so excitied about this book, not least because there’s a chance I may even see it on a bookshelf here in the UK, which will be a rare treat for me!


Adam Spunberg who runs the wonderful Jane Austen Twitter Project with Lynn Shepherd contacted me to tell me about an exciting interview he had with Deborah Moggach who wrote the screenplay for the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice. It’s a lovely interview which also features our very own Sharon Lathan who was so inspired by the film. Sharon runs the group Austen Authors along with Abigail Reynolds – if you haven’t come across this blog before do have a look. There are always quizzes and competitions to win our books, as well as articles of every kind to tempt you!

Laurel Ann also told me about a new production of Northanger Abbey here in the UK, which I would love to see – Traffic of the Stage presents Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, adapted by John Cooper at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, in Highgate, north London, 19 April to 14 May 2011.
Directed by Harry Meacher, designed by Bryan Hands , cast includes Ashley Charles (James Morland), Terry Diab (Mrs Allen), Victoria Emslie (Catherine Morland), Sasha Jacques (Mary Andrews/Alice), Oliver King (Henry Tilney), Anna Passey(Isabella Thorpe), Tom Reah (General Tilney), Fergus Rees(John Thorpe), Toby Spearpoint (Captain Tilney), Saskia Willis (Eleanor Tilney).



I’m pleased as punch with this gorgeous review from Meredith at The Librarian Next Door 
Thank you so much, Meredith, you’ve made my week!
Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy are now happily married and settled into life at Pemberley. As Lizzie sets out to learn about being the mistress of such a grand home, she tries to help Georgiana overcome her shyness and attempts to reconcile her husband with his disagreeable aunt, Lady Catherine. But it’s the gossip and innuendo from local families that threatens to destroy Lizzie’s hard-won happiness. Hints of hidden secrets swirl, leaving Lizzie unsettled. Meanwhile, Darcy is adamant that Georgiana marry quickly – and not for love, but for money. Suddenly, Lizzie isn’t sure she knows her husband at all.


Picking up where Pride and Prejudice left off, Jane Odiwe’s Mr. Darcy’s Secret explores the possibilities of Lizzie and Darcy’s life after the wedding. While there is certainly no dearth of Pride and Prejudice“sequels,” Odiwe’s book stands out for being both original and highly Austen-ish. Reading this book, you can almost imagine that Austen herself is continuing her story. While familiar faces continue to grow and evolve, they still resemble the people we know and love from the original. Add in an intriguing and intricate plot with new characters, secrets to discover and mysteries to unravel and you have a thoroughly enjoyable story.
As with Pride and Prejudice, everyone’s favorite literary couple are front and center. Odiwe’s Lizzie and Darcy are very much like Austen’s – Lizzie is still spirited, quick-witted and intelligent, while Darcy can still be arrogant and conceited. But they also learn from each other, changing over time. Lizzie is determined to fit into her husband’s world and prove the naysayers wrong, so she begins to bite her tongue and passively accept the things she cannot change. Darcy, meanwhile, realizes the benefit of tempering his pride and admitting his mistakes.
Any Austen fan wants a happily-ever-after for Lizzie and Darcy, of course, and while Odiwe does give it to them, she makes them work for it. The Lizzie and Darcy of Mr. Darcy’s Secret don’t have a perfect marriage. It’s flawed, but it’s also completely realistic and watching them stand up and fight for one another is my favorite part of this book.
A handful of subplots include Georgiana discovering her own strength and a certain talent for rebellion, a still-bitter Caroline Bingley falling for an artist and hilariously attempting to impress him, and near-perfect representations of Austen’s most outrageous characters, including Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine. The eponymous secret of the title keeps you guessing right up to the end of the novel and, to her credit, Odiwe doesn’t necessarily resolve the mystery neatly. There’s still just a hint of ambiguity, leaving the smallest seed of doubt in readers’ minds.
Jane Odiwe’s Mr. Darcy’s Secret is a beautifully written and well-told story that echoes Austen’s original and then takes off in a new and creative direction. It’s a great addition to the ever-growing world of Pride and Prejudice inspired literature – a must-read for any Austen fan or even anyone who has ever wondered what happened after Lizzie and Darcy said, “I do.”
This last nugget of news isn’t really Jane related, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who was so kind when our poor cat Marley died recently. We have a new kitten who is really helping to cheer us all up. Little Vinny is so cute – he’s melted all our hearts, though I have to say when he’s running up the curtains during one of his ‘mad’ half hours before he collapses and falls asleep, cute is not the word that immediately springs to mind. More like naughty scamp!

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Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed a lovely holiday over the festive season!  Thank you to everyone for visiting my site during the last year, and for those who leave their kind comments on the blog, it really gladdens my heart. An especial thank you goes to all those lovely readers who take the time to write to me individually, and to the wonderful blogging community out there who are always so supportive. I’m very excited that the time for publication of Mr Darcy’s Secret is getting nearer – just a month away – thank you to everyone who have expressed such interest in my new book.
I hope 2011 brings you all health and happiness – I’ve not started too well myself, I’m battling with flu at the moment, but I had to tell you this exciting news from Laurel Ann at Austenprose. I am thrilled to be a part of her short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It! 

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest 2011 graphicThe Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Short Story Contest Begins
January 1, 2011
In conjunction with the publication of the new anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Ballantine BooksAustenprose.com, and The Republic of Pemberley are pleased to announce an online short story contest.  Please note that this competition is only open to U.S. residents.
Enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize: publication of your entry in the anthology – a collection of original short stories inspired by the life and works of popular English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817).  Hosted by the Jane Austen web site The Republic of Pemberley, the contest begins on January 1, 2011. Publication of Jane Austen Made Me Do It is tentatively scheduled for publication by Ballantine in Fall 2011.
Contest Highlights
  • Eligibility: Previously unpublished U.S. residents over the age of 18
  • Entries must be approximately 5,000 words in length
  • Manuscript submission January 1 – February 13, 2011
  • Voting for the Top Ten finalists February 14 – 28, 2011
  • Top Ten finalists announced on March 1, 2011
  • One Grand Prize winner receives $500.00 and a contract for publication in the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It
  • Grand Prize winner announced Fall 2011 in conjunction with the official release by Ballantine Books (Random House, Inc.) of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Jane Austen Made Me Do It contains more than twenty best-selling and popular authors who have contributed short stories inspired by Jane Austen, her novels and her philosophies of life and love. From historical continuations of her plots and characters to contemporary spinoffs and comedies, the stories encapsulate what we love about our favorite author: romance, social satire and witty humor. Contributing to the line-up are best-selling authors Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club), Adriana Trigiani (Brava, Valentine), Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation series), Laurie Viera Rigler (The Jane Austen Addict series), Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen), Stephanie Barron (Being A Jane Austen Mystery series), and the husband and wife writing team of Frank Delaney (Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show) and Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances). Many Austenesque authors and others from related genres have also contributed stories to the project. One spot in the anthology remains open for the lucky Grand Prize winner.
The anthology’s editor, Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose.com, is very excited at the prospect of discovering the next star in the burgeoning sub-genre of Jane Austen sequels and inspired books. “Jane Austen has been inspiring writers for close to two hundred years. It seems quite fitting that she should be the witty muse of our anthology and short story contest. Encouraging writing and discovering new talent is in spirit with her true legacy. I am ‘all anticipation’ of what will develop, and am honored to be part of the selection team.”
Visit the official Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest web page for official contest rules and eligibility requirements.  Best of luck to all entrants.
“[S]uppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford.” Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 60

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