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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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Last Thursday evening I was invited along by Helen Wilkinson of P and P tours to come and do a reading of Willoughby’s Return to a group she was leading on their Persuasion/Sense and Sensibility tour. Most exciting was the fact that the house I was to be giving my talk in was the very one they used in the BBC 1995 version of Persuasion which is a favourite film of mine. The house is stunningly beautiful and is also a B&B so you can actually stay in the house where Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds played Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Here is a link to a website about the house:Bathwick Gardens
I was invited to supper beforehand which was taken in the dining room. Apparently, the BBC painted the walls especially for the film – the swags of fabric you can see in the photo are painted – a wonderful trompe l’oeil. Everyone had dressed for dinner and all looked so gorgeous – quite a few ladies, and two very brave gentlemen! I also met Hazel Jones, the author of Jane Austen and Marriage – click here for her website which has information on Jane Austen courses that she runs.
We made our way upstairs to the splendid drawing room afterwards passing a large window on the stairs which I recognised (and its view) from the film. The drawing room is beautiful with so many lovely features from the floor length windows to the fireplace. I was made very welcome by everyone and had a really lovely time even though I felt very nervous. I enjoy reading aloud very much and always used to love reading to my children and to the pupils I used to teach. I realised how much I miss it – now my children are grown up and I no longer teach – I really would like to do readings more often.
After a mug of hot chocolate I left them all watching Persuasion in the very room where Captain Wentworth tells Sir Walter that he wishes to marry Anne. I only wished I could be joining them on their further travels!
Thank you so much Helen, I do hope you’ll ask me again!
Jane Odiwe

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This is in response to a post I blogged about earlier – I was doing some research on names and discovered the village of Wentworth in South Yorkshire where the aristocratic families of Wentworth, Watson, Woodhouse and Fitzwilliam ruled over the area. As these names are all connected with characters in Jane Austen’s novels, I thought there must be some significant connection. I wanted to know why she had chosen so many of these names for characters in her novels. A bit more searching on the website Wentworth village.net reveals the fact that a certain Eleanor Wentworth married Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey – and if you know anything about Jane Austen, you are aware that Jane’s mother was related to this family.

On Stoneleigh Abbey’s website there’s a fascinating page on Jane Austen’s connection with her Leigh ancestors and a portrait of the woman, Elizabeth Lord, who may have inspired the character of Anne Elliot. I am absolutely intrigued by this story – I feel a trip to Stoneleigh coming on!

I don’t think it’s necessary for me to repeat everything on these websites, but do take a look – I’m sure others must have discovered this before me, but I’ve found it all so interesting.
One further point – and this is all a little fanciful, but I can’t help wondering if it’s mere coincidence that the first Earl of Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, not only shared the same christian name as someone who had been important to Jane Austen, but he also was a lawyer, studied at the Inns of Court, and became Lord Deputy of Ireland. Can you guess who sprang into my mind when I was reading about him? Why did Jane choose Wentworth as the name of the hero in her last and most romantic tale? It’s probably nothing, I’d love to know what you think about all of this and the above!

Illustration: The cover of the dvd Persuasion starring Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root – absolutely gorgeous, and one of my favourite adaptations.

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I’ve been very busy writing a new book which always involves a certain amount of research. I was looking for a surname for a character of my own; it had to be linked to the name Wentworth in some way, so I decided to put in a search in google. I hit upon a site about Wentworth village in south Yorkshire Wentworth village.net and have found it totally fascinating, as I am sure you will too.
I discovered that the family names of Fitzwilliam, (as in Darcy) Watson, Woodhouse and Wentworth are all linked – they are all related in some way in a family tree that goes back to the 1200’s. There was even an Emma Woodhouse born in 1220.

Do have a look at it – I can’t help thinking that Jane Austen was inspired by this family for the names she uses in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, The Watsons, and of course, Persuasion.
I am having a lot of fun with my latest book – there’s still a way to go, but at least I’ve finally got a name for my hero. I wonder if you can guess which surname I chose.
This novel is not a sequel, it started out as one, but I got completely side-tracked and excited by a whole other idea. I might return to the sequel sometime, but this one has completely taken me over.

Now the question that is puzzling me is why Jane chose this particular family – does anyone have any idea? There doesn’t seem to be anything obvious, but maybe I’ve missed something. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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I make no apology for reproducing this letter in full – it is a masterclass in Jane Austen wit and hilarity. It’s February 1st today and here is the letter that Mary Musgrove sends to her sister Anne Elliot whilst she is in Bath on that day in 1815 in Jane Austen’s wonderful novel Persuasion. It is the letter that gives Anne hope that perhaps not all is lost for a reconciliation between her and Captain Wentworth.
Jane Austen has captured Mary’s character to perfection – she’s never happy unless she is grumbling about something or someone and it is a missive full of contradictions. I think the comment about Mrs Harville being an odd mother to part with her children for so long a very funny one because we already know that Mary has no scruples about leaving her children to someone else’s care at the drop of a hat, as she did when she first goes to meet Captain Wentworth with her husband leaving Anne to take care of her son who has a broken collar bone. Further on in her letter she says she is quite easy about leaving her children with her in-laws for six weeks or more! Amusing to read but I would think she’d be a trial to live with!

The photos were taken when I visited the gardens of the house Sheldon Manor(Uppercross) where they filmed Persuasion.

February 1st – .

“MY DEAR ANNE, – I make no apology for my silence, because I know how little people think of letters in such a place as Bath. You must be a great deal too happy to care for Uppercross, which, as you well know, affords little to write about. We have had a very dull Christmas; Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove have not had one dinner-party all the holidays. I do not reckon the Hayters as anybody. The holidays, however, are over at last: I believe no children ever had such long ones. I am sure I had not. The house was cleared yesterday, except of the little Harvilles; but you will be surprised to hear that they have never gone home. Mrs. Harville must be an odd mother to part with them so long. I do not understand it. They are not at all nice children, in my opinion; but Mrs. Musgrove seems to like them quite as well, if not better, than her grandchildren. What dreadful weather we have had! It may not be felt in Bath, with your nice pavements; but in the country it is of some consequence. I have not had a creature call on me since the second week in January, except Charles Hayter, who has been calling much oftener than was welcome. Between ourselves, I think it a great pity Henrietta did not remain at Lyme as long as Louisa; it would have kept her a little out of his way. The carriage is gone to-day, to bring Louisa and the Harvilles to-morrow. We are not asked to dine with them, however, till the day after, Mrs. Musgrove is so afraid of her being fatigued by the journey, which is not very likely, considering the care that will be taken of her; and it would be much more convenient to me to dine there to-morrow. I am glad you find Mr. Elliot so agreeable, and wish I could be acquainted with him too; but I have my usual luck: I am always out of the way when any thing desirable is going on; always the last of my family to be noticed. What an immense time Mrs. Clay has been staying with Elizabeth! Does she never mean to go away? But, perhaps, if she were to leave the room vacant, we might not be invited. Let me know what you think of this. I do not expect my children to be asked, you know. I can leave them at the Great House very well, for a month or six weeks. I have this moment heard that the Crofts are going to Bath almost immediately: they think the Admiral gouty. Charles heard it quite by chance: they have not had the civility to give me any notice, or offer to take anything. I do not think they improve at all as neighbours. We see nothing of them, and this is really an instance of gross inattention. Charles joins me in love, and every thing proper. — Yours, affectionately,
“MARY M –
“I am sorry to say that I am very far from well; and Jemima has just told me that the butcher says there is a bad sore throat very much about. I dare say I shall catch it; and my sore throats, you know, are always worse than anybody’s.”

So ended the first part, which had been afterwards put into an envelop, containing nearly as much more.

“I kept my letter open, that I might send you word how Louisa bore her journey, and now I am extremely glad I did, having a great deal to add. In the first place, I had a note from Mrs. Croft yesterday, offering to convey anything to you; a very kind, friendly note indeed, addressed to me, just as it ought; I shall therefore be able to make my letter as long as I like. The Admiral does not seem very ill, and I sincerely hope Bath will do him all the good he wants. I shall be truly glad to have them back again. Our neighbourhood cannot spare such a pleasant family. But now for Louisa. I have something to communicate that will astonish you not a little. She and the Harvilles came on Tuesday very safely, and in the evening we went to ask her how she did, when we were rather surprised not to find Captain Benwick of the party, for he had been invited as well as the Harvilles; and what do you think was the reason? Neither more nor less than his being in love with Louisa, and not choosing to venture to Uppercross till he had had an answer from Mr. Musgrove; for it was all settled between him and her before she came away, and he had written to her father by Captain Harville. True, upon my honour! Are not you astonished? I shall be surprised at least if you ever received a hint of it, for I never did. Mrs. Musgrove protests solemnly that she knew nothing of the matter. We are all very well pleased, however; for though it is not equal to her marrying Captain Wentworth, it is infinitely better than Charles Hayter; and Mr. Musgrove has written his consent, and Captain Benwick is expected to-day. Mrs. Harville says her husband feels a good deal on his poor sister’s account; but, however, Louisa is a great favourite with both. Indeed, Mrs. Harville and I quite agree that we love her the better for having nursed her. Charles wonders what Captain Wentworth will say; but if you remember, I never thought him attached to Louisa; I never could see any thing of it. And this is the end, you see, of Captain Benwick’s being supposed to be an admirer of yours. How Charles could take such a thing into his head was always incomprehensible to me. I hope he will be more agreeable now. Certainly not a great match for Louisa Musgrove, but a million times better than marrying among the Hayters.”

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I’ve read Jane Austen’s Persuasion many times, but it was only recently that I read this passage and puzzled over it.

Anne…hastened forward to the White Hart, to see again the friends and companions of the last autumn, with an eagerness of goodwill which many associations contributed to form. They found Mrs. Musgrove and her daughter within, and by themselves, and Anne had the kindest welcome from each. Henrietta was exactly in that state of recently improved views, of fresh-formed happiness, which made her full of regard and interest for everybody she had ever liked before at all; and Mrs. Musgrove’s real affection had been won by her usefulness when they were in distress. It was a heartiness, and a warmth, and a sincerity which Anne delighted in the more, from the sad want of such blessings at home. She was intreated to give them as much of her time as possible, invited for every day and all day long, or rather claimed as a part of the family; and, in return, she naturally fell into all her wonted ways of attention and assistance, and on Charles’s leaving them together, was listening to Mrs. Musgrove’s history of Louisa, and to Henrietta’s of herself, giving opinions on business, and recommendations to shops; with intervals of every help which Mary required, from altering her ribbon to settling her accounts, from finding her keys, and assorting her trinkets, to trying to convince her that she was not ill-used by anybody; which Mary, well amused as she generally was, in her station at a window overlooking the entrance to the Pump Room, could not but have her moments of imagining.

The part that puzzled me was about the White Hart and the fact that Mary could stand at the window and see the entrance to the Pump Room. The only White Hart I know in Bath is in Widcombe, but nowhere near the Pump Room. After a little further investigation I discovered that there had been a White Hart Coaching Inn situated opposite the Pump Room in Stall Street. It was a major coaching inn – Charles Dickens also makes mention of it in Pickwick Papers.

And at seven o’clock p.m. Mr. Pickwick and his friends, and Mr. Dowler and his wife, respectively retired to their private sitting-rooms at the White Hart Hotel, opposite the Great Pump Room, Bath, the waiters, from their costume, might be mistaken for Westminster boys, only they destroy the illusion by behaving themselves much better.

Not only was this building eventually demolished but the Grand Pump Room Hotel which replaced it was also pulled down in1958/9 to be replaced by shops. I found this really interesting site with lots of images of Bath from the past Click here to see Bath in Time.

Another wonderful site is Bath360 If you click the link you can see what the Pump Rooms look like today – the White Hart and Grand Hotel are shops today, which can be glimpsed through the colonnade.

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I’m in Bath today, and whenever I’m here, my thoughts turn to Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. My painting of the Pump Room was inspired by Jane Austen’s letters – as a young girl Jane came to Bath and stayed with her aunt and uncle Leigh-Perrot – I feel sure her first reactions to Bath were probably like Catherine Morland’s: Catherine was all eager delight — her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs… Later on when her father retired, she came to live in Bath and from this time many writers have concluded that she was unhappy here because her letters talk of leaving the city with “what happy feelings of Escape”. I am not sure that I entirely agree with this point of view, (it was not in her nature to be so melancholy) although undoubtedly the death of her father and their resulting straitened circumstances would have had their impact. I’m sure she was glad to leave, but that doesn’t necessarily mean her time spent here was completely awful. After all, both heroines from her novels set in Bath find their happy endings here – Catherine and Henry Tilney, and Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth fall in love in Bath and I cannot think they would have done so if Jane had disliked Bath so much.
Anyway, here is an extract from Northanger Abbey for your delight. Just one more note – it always amuses me that the flighty Isabella is unimpressed with the book, Sir Charles Grandison. This novel by Samuel Richardson was one of Jane Austen’s favourites – her family all loved and enjoyed it, quoting passages and lines from it, as we might from Pride and Prejudice or any of Jane’s other novels.
The following conversation, which took place between the two friends in the pump–room one morning, after an acquaintance of eight or nine days, is given as a specimen of their very warm attachment, and of the delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary taste which marked the reasonableness of that attachment.

They met by appointment; and as Isabella had arrived nearly five minutes before her friend, her first address naturally was, “My dearest creature, what can have made you so late? I have been waiting for you at least this age!”

“Have you, indeed! I am very sorry for it; but really I thought I was in very good time. It is but just one. I hope you have not been here long?”

“Oh! These ten ages at least. I am sure I have been here this half hour. But now, let us go and sit down at the other end of the room, and enjoy ourselves. I have an hundred things to say to you. In the first place, I was so afraid it would rain this morning, just as I wanted to set off; it looked very showery, and that would have thrown me into agonies! Do you know, I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine, in a shop window in Milsom Street just now — very like yours, only with coquelicot ribbons instead of green; I quite longed for it. But, my dearest Catherine, what have you been doing with yourself all this morning? Have you gone on with Udolpho?”

“Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to the black veil.”

“Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world! Are not you wild to know?”

“Oh! Yes, quite; what can it be? But do not tell me — I would not be told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is Laurentina’s skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.”

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

“Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?”

“Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them. I wish you knew Miss Andrews, you would be delighted with her. She is netting herself the sweetest cloak you can conceive. I think her as beautiful as an angel, and I am so vexed with the men for not admiring her! I scold them all amazingly about it.”

“Scold them! Do you scold them for not admiring her?”

“Yes, that I do. There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong. I told Captain Hunt at one of our assemblies this winter that if he was to tease me all night, I would not dance with him, unless he would allow Miss Andrews to be as beautiful as an angel. The men think us incapable of real friendship, you know, and I am determined to show them the difference. Now, if I were to hear anybody speak slightingly of you, I should fire up in a moment: but that is not at all likely, for you are just the kind of girl to be a great favourite with the men.”

“Oh, dear!” cried Catherine, colouring. “How can you say so?”

“I know you very well; you have so much animation, which is exactly what Miss Andrews wants, for I must confess there is something amazingly insipid about her. Oh! I must tell you, that just after we parted yesterday, I saw a young man looking at you so earnestly — I am sure he is in love with you.” Catherine coloured, and disclaimed again. Isabella laughed. “It is very true, upon my honour, but I see how it is; you are indifferent to everybody’s admiration, except that of one gentleman, who shall be nameless. Nay, I cannot blame you” — speaking more seriously — “your feelings are easily understood. Where the heart is really attached, I know very well how little one can be pleased with the attention of anybody else. Everything is so insipid, so uninteresting, that does not relate to the beloved object! I can perfectly comprehend your feelings.”

“But you should not persuade me that I think so very much about Mr. Tilney, for perhaps I may never see him again.”

“Not see him again! My dearest creature, do not talk of it. I am sure you would be miserable if you thought so!”

“No, indeed, I should not. I do not pretend to say that I was not very much pleased with him; but while I have Udolpho to read, I feel as if nobody could make me miserable. Oh! The dreadful black veil! My dear Isabella, I am sure there must be Laurentina’s skeleton behind it.”

“It is so odd to me, that you should never have read Udolpho before; but I suppose Mrs. Morland objects to novels.”

“No, she does not. She very often reads Sir Charles Grandison herself; but new books do not fall in our way.”

“Sir Charles Grandison! That is an amazing horrid book, is it not? I remember Miss Andrews could not get through the first volume.”

“It is not like Udolpho at all; but yet I think it is very entertaining.”

“Do you indeed! You surprise me; I thought it had not been readable. But, my dearest Catherine, have you settled what to wear on your head tonight? I am determined at all events to be dressed exactly like you. The men take notice of that sometimes, you know.”

“But it does not signify if they do,” said Catherine, very innocently.

“Signify! Oh, heavens! I make it a rule never to mind what they say. They are very often amazingly impertinent if you do not treat them with spirit, and make them keep their distance.”

“Are they? Well, I never observed that. They always behave very well to me.”

“Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited creatures in the world, and think themselves of so much importance! By the by, though I have thought of it a hundred times, I have always forgot to ask you what is your favourite complexion in a man. Do you like them best dark or fair?”

“I hardly know. I never much thought about it. Something between both, I think. Brown — not fair, and — and not very dark.”

“Very well, Catherine. That is exactly he. I have not forgot your description of Mr. Tilney — ‘a brown skin, with dark eyes, and rather dark hair.’ Well, my taste is different. I prefer light eyes, and as to complexion — do you know — I like a sallow better than any other. You must not betray me, if you should ever meet with one of your acquaintance answering that description.”

“Betray you! What do you mean?”

“Nay, do not distress me. I believe I have said too much. Let us drop the subject.”

Catherine, in some amazement, complied, and after remaining a few moments silent, was on the point of reverting to what interested her at that time rather more than anything else in the world, Laurentina’s skeleton, when her friend prevented her, by saying, “For heaven’s sake! Let us move away from this end of the room. Do you know, there are two odious young men who have been staring at me this half hour. They really put me quite out of countenance. Let us go and look at the arrivals. They will hardly follow us there.”

Away they walked to the book; and while Isabella examined the names, it was Catherine’s employment to watch the proceedings of these alarming young men.

“They are not coming this way, are they? I hope they are not so impertinent as to follow us. Pray let me know if they are coming. I am determined I will not look up.”

In a few moments Catherine, with unaffected pleasure, assured her that she need not be longer uneasy, as the gentlemen had just left the pump–room.

“And which way are they gone?” said Isabella, turning hastily round. “One was a very good–looking young man.”

“They went towards the church–yard.”

“Well, I am amazingly glad I have got rid of them! And now, what say you to going to Edgar’s Buildings with me, and looking at my new hat? You said you should like to see it.”

Catherine readily agreed. “Only,” she added, “perhaps we may overtake the two young men.”

“Oh! Never mind that. If we make haste, we shall pass by them presently, and I am dying to show you my hat.”

“But if we only wait a few minutes, there will be no danger of our seeing them at all.”

“I shall not pay them any such compliment, I assure you. I have no notion of treating men with such respect. That is the way to spoil them.”

Catherine had nothing to oppose against such reasoning; and therefore, to show the independence of Miss Thorpe, and her resolution of humbling the sex, they set off immediately as fast as they could walk, in pursuit of the two young men.

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