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Sunday, July 13, 2014

A 'No Reason Not to Have a Giveaway' Giveaway!

The lovely and talented author KaraLynne Mackrory is feeling generous and wishes me to host a giveaway! KaraLynne has been a regular guest to my blog and I am happy to welcome her back yet again!


A little while ago, I interviewed KaraLynne about her inspiration and her stories - to find out more about the author, read the interview here!



In case you didn't already know, I am a huge fan of her stories. She has written three wonderful stories...

Falling for Mr Darcy (see my review here!)


"In this Regency adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, the simple truth is proven that sometimes a gentleman never knows his heart until a lady comes along to introduce it to him.  When Mr. Darcy encounters Elizabeth Bennet injured after a fall, his concern for her welfare cracks the shell of his carefully guarded heart and a charming man emerges.   Elizabeth sees an appealing side of him she never believed possible from the stoic, proud master of Pemberley.  They find the simple gentlemanly act of assisting her home will test both Mr. Darcy’s resolve to keep his heart safe and Elizabeth’s conviction that this is the last man on earth she might have ever been prevailed upon to marry.  Soon, falling for Mr. Darcy becomes a real possibility."




Bluebells in The Mourning (see my review here!)

"Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice is re-adapted in this regency tale of love in the face of tragedy.  Mr. Darcy is thwarted in his attempt to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford when he encounters her minutes after she receives the sad news from Longbourn of her sister’s death.  His gallantry and compassion as he escorts her back to Hertfordshire begins to unravel the many threads of her discontent with him.  While her family heals from their loss, Darcy must search London for answers – answers that might bring justice, but might also just mark the end of his own hopes with Elizabeth.  Is it true that nothing can be lost that love cannot find?" 






and Haunting Mr Darcy: A Spirited Courtship (see my review here!)

"What happens to the happily ever after when the ever after has already happened?
A spirited courtship indeed! Jane Austen’s much adored Pride and Prejudice is transfigured in this regency adaptation.  That fickle friend Fate intervenes when an unexpected event threatens the happily ever after of literature’s favorite love story.  The gentlemen from Netherfield have left, winter is upon the land and after a horrifying carriage accident, Elizabeth Bennet finds her spirit transported as if by magic into Mr. Darcy’s London home.  Paranormally tethered to the disagreeable man, it doesn’t help that he believes she is a phantasm of his love struck mind, not the real Elizabeth.  Somehow they must learn to trust, learn to love and learn to bring Elizabeth back to her earthly form before it is too late."



My favourite story has to the latest one, Haunting Mr Darcy! It was so unique and clever! But Falling for Mr Darcy will always have a very special place in my heart as it was my first Pride and Prejudice variation which introduced me to the world of Fan Fiction! Bluebells in the Mourning was also a fantastic read with a very interesting twist! I highly recommend them all!






**GIVEAWAY - ends Sunday, 20th July **


KaraLynne is giving away some lovely Jane Austen cookies along with a copy of one of her books - you choose which you would like to read! Due to the perishable (and breakable!) nature of the biscuits, this giveaway is open to entrants in American only.  (KaraLynne is very sorry for having to limit this giveaway - she is very against restricting giveaways!)

To enter, leave a comment below and the winner will be picked randomly.


Please leave your email address and which book would like a copy of out of the three choices. If you are the lucky winner, I will pass on your email to KaraLynne who will be in touch to get your mailing address.

Good luck!

Thank you again to KaraLynne for this giveaway! I need another book to read please soon so get writing!


Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Father's Sins by Joy King - with giveaway!


I was very pleased when I was asked if I would review A Father's Sins for the lovely Joy King.(I was provided with a review copy but this is my honest, unbiased opinion.) And I was not disappointed as I really, really enjoyed this book! It was perhaps a more serious variation than I usually would choose, however it was very unique and a very interesting idea to explore.
Joy was a guest on my blog a little while ago where she gave us an insight into the character of Miss Bingley in her story, as well as a very funny extract! Follow this link to read it!

"How do Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet overcome the consequences of poor decisions made by their fathers when Darcy and Elizabeth were young?

In A Father's Sins, Mr. George Darcy, father of an illegitimate child raised by his steward, Mr. Wickham, agreed with his wife, Anne, that the firstborn son of their marriage would be heir to Pemberley. However, Mr. Darcy loved his eldest son, George Wickham, and indulged him by bringing him to Pemberley to live after the death of his wife. His heir, Fitzwilliam Darcy, paid a heavy price for this decision.

Mr. Thomas Bennet, an educated gentleman and father of five daughters, favored his second born, Elizabeth. Unexpectedly, his wife gave birth to a son and heir. Mr. Bennet, at the persistent urging of his wife, chose not to have his youngest children vaccinated for smallpox. When the plague hit Longbourn it devastated their family. Elizabeth paid the heaviest price for this decision of her father.

What happens when Darcy and Elizabeth meet? Will they be able to overcome the consequences of the choices their fathers made? When George Wickham, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. William Collins, and the Fitzwilliam family arrive in Meryton, how will that impact their growing attraction? How does the same decision by Mr. Bennet influence the relationship between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley? Will love have a chance?"
 
 

I found the writing in this book to be very good, especially being this author's debut novel. The language seemed appropriate and it flowed well as I read. There was a good balance between dialogue and passages of internal thoughts or description as well.

As I said, the story and theme of the book - how a father's bad choices or actions can affect the children and even the grandchildren - was quite serious and very sad at times because of seeing the effects on the children, most prominently on Elizabeth and Darcy. It was a really interesting route to explore and very cleverly done, I felt.  As well as Elizabeth and Darcy, there are other characters that have been affected by the decisions of their fathers and the theme really was masterfully weaved through the story. What was also interesting was that to begin with, the story happens very much in canon to the original - Jane falling ill at Netherfield, Mr Collins coming to visit etc - but Lizzy is in a very different situation!

As well as the serious side to this tale, it was also very drama filled and fast moving! Joy certainly knows how to capture the reader’s attention from the very start! I was hooked into this story from very early on and it stayed that way until the end! It was very powerful and intense at times, but completely compelling and captivating - it resulted in a late night as I just had to race to the end to see how it would resolve!

As well as the drama and the sadness caused by the seriousness of the story, there is also some humour which lightens the mood, so don't worry that this is a story with no laughs - I certainly laughed quite a bit!  And of course, unsurprisingly, there is a lovely, romantic and satisfying happy ending!

Both Elizabeth and Darcy are very much characters to be admired in this story, particularly Elizabeth, after what they have been through as a result of their fathers.  Beginning with Darcy; Wickham actually is his half-brother in this variation and Wickham is the favoured son. And Darcy pays heavily for this favouritism, and subsequent bitterness from Wickham when he doesn’t receive what he believes is his due, being the eldest son.

We see a different Darcy in this story, thanks to a brief meeting between him and Elizabeth quite a few years before the rest of the story is set. They happen to meet each other in a book shop, and both are impressed by the other. When they meet again years later, thanks to the much more favourable first impression from all those years ago, they get on much better! Darcy is charming and polite to Elizabeth from the off, and we also get to see his brotherly nature and love of his sister much sooner which again is lovely.

Let alone the difficulties of the past, Darcy has a hard time of it through this story; due to an incident, which I shall not give away the details of, Darcy ends up injured for quite a bit of this book. Things change when illness occurs and we see a new side to Darcy. As well as some fun, fever induced conversations, we get to see a rather vulnerable Darcy. And who doesn’t like a Darcy who needs to be taken care of for a while? (I would have loved to be Elizabeth caring for him!) We get to see his true nature much faster – for it is rather hard to keep up the ‘master of Pemberley’ act while in a fever!

As I said, Elizabeth really is one to admire in this story. Her problems with her father and her past are really shocking and you can’t help but feel sorry for her. However, she still is recognisable as the Elizabeth we know and love as she takes her misfortunes and tries to make the most of them and enjoy her life regardless of the past. She has such a strong and determined spirit. We see her caring side as she nurses Darcy through his illness, her comforting side as she helps Georgiana to cope with all that is happening and her powerful side as she deals with some challenging situations and confrontations.

Due to the similar situations regarding problems with their fathers, I think the fact that Darcy and Elizabeth get off to a much better start and have a good relationship from the beginning is perfect. Through all the problems facing them from other people, they at least don’t have problems with one and other, and instead have each other to turn to and find comfort.  There is no previous pride or prejudice getting in the way and they are open with each other. Elizabeth is so caring of Darcy when he is ill, and they really become close during this time. I really loved them in this story and the way their relationship develops in the different and most unusual circumstances.

Aside from Darcy and Elizabeth, my other favourite character in this story was Georgiana. As I said earlier, she is in the story from the very beginning so we really get to know her and she is lovely! I love the journey she has through this story; she grows and matures and flourishes thanks to the friendship of Elizabeth. You see an interesting side to Georgiana as well, again due to Darcy’s illness, watching her trying to cope and deal with what is happening.

Elizabeth and Georgiana really get on well in this story. I always think Georgiana and Elizabeth would be great friends, and so it is lovely to see them spend so much time together in this tale. Elizabeth is a real comfort and a wonderful role model for Georgiana and she really helps to bring her out of shell and to mature into a strong young woman. As well as Elizabeth and Georgiana, when Darcy is with these two as well the scenes are just wonderful. The three of them complement each other perfectly and have such a brilliant relationship. They all, in turn, comfort each other through a variety of trying situations.


Now to a less pleasant subject... Mr Bennet. As you can see from the blurb, the fathers in this story are not nice, and I am afraid the Mr Bennet we know and many of us love is a monster in this story. He is very different and be prepared to not like him, at all. But do not fear – he is very easy to separate from the Mr Bennet we know and love in Pride and Prejudice!  Mrs Bennet is also not much better, and even Jane is slightly changed as a result of the influence of her father and being away from Lizzy for 5 years. But, this is a variation and changes are to be expected, and I did enjoy these changes and this new and unique twist on the Bennet family as a change. It is not all bad for Elizabeth; while Lizzy’s own family is not kind to her, the Gardiners are very sweet and caring to her throughout!

Where would we be without Wickham causing trouble? He causes plenty of problems and grief for poor Darcy in this story! He is a real menace and because of the twist with his connection to the Darcy family, you will hate him even more and feel even sorrier for Darcy - I did anyway! (Although I will also admit that I did actually feel a little sorry for Wickham at times - but only slightly!)

Who could forget the Bingleys! Mr Bingley is just as sweet and affable and Caroline is just as jealous and determined to become the Mistress of Pemberley as ever. Bingley really grows from a slightly na├»ve young man into a mature gentleman through this story and it was nice to see this development. (I can't wait for his own story which Joy is currently working on!) Caroline, on the other hand, is still a pain but she gets her comeuppance which is hilarious -  you can read about this here in the guest post Joy posted a little while ago.

I love Colonel Fitzwilliam, and it is always great to see more of him in these variations. And I was not disappointed with the Colonel in this story! He is brilliant; funny and loveable as we know him to be. Again, because of Darcy’s illness, we get to see his caring side which was a lovely change. (I can't wait for his story either which will be written after Mr Bingley!)

A wonderful addition is the Matlock family, and I love them! The relationship and obvious love of their niece and nephew is touching. They also are quickly pleased with and impressed by Elizabeth, and are kind and really respect her. Lord and Lady Matlock are both very strong characters and I defy anyone who doesn’t love them to bits by the end of the book! It really was interesting to see the family behind the wonderful Colonel Fitzwilliam.

How could we have a story without some interference from Lady Catherine? She turns up to cause problems, and plenty of them! Lady Catherine is just as horrid and scheming as we expect from her. Anne, however, is rather changed from how we know her and this was a lot of fun to read!  One of my favourite Lady Catherine scenes was the iconic confrontation between her and Lizzy, however this time it is Darcy holding his own... “She is the daughter of a gentleman, as I am the son of a gentleman. In that, we are equals.”

To end this drama filled story there was a particularly lovely epilogue. I do love it when there is an epilogue tying up any loose ends and letting us know what happens to all the characters!

As you can probably see, I really enjoyed this story. It was unique and different. This is a much more serious variation than I usually read, but it was an interesting and enjoyable change. I particularly loved the more positive start to Lizzy and Darcy’s relationship as well as the friendship between those two and Georgiana. Also, the addition of the Matlock family was wonderful! The story was very dramatic and fast paced but had romance and humour - a perfect mix! Joy really is a talented author and I can’t wait for more!


**GIVEAWAY - ends Wednesday, 16th July **

Joy has provided me with yet another giveaway!  Three lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of A Father's Sins. This giveaway is open internationally. 

To enter, leave a comment below and the winners will be picked randomly.

Please leave your email address and which format you would like for the ebook. If you are one of the lucky winners, I will pass on your email to Joy who will be in touch.

Good luck!

Thank you again to Joy for this giveaway! I wish you all the best with this story as well as the future ones!

Your affectionate friend,
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blog Tour: Stronger Even Than Pride by Gail McEwen



I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for the lovely Gail McEwen's latest release, Stronger Even Than PrideMy thanks must also go to Jakki of Leatherbound Reviews for asking me to be part of this tour.

I have asked Gail a few questions about her love of Jane Austen and her new story! I always enjoy finding out more about people behind the stories!


About the book:

" “…in his behaviour to me there were stronger influences even than pride.”

When George Wickham speaks these words to an impressionable Elizabeth Bennet, she can have no idea how true they will turn out to be. Stronger Even Than Pride, Gail McEwen’s latest novel, explores whether love can survive the biggest obstacles fate—and a most ruinous stubbornness—can conjure up to separate two people destined to be together. After Miss Bennet refuses to read the faithful narrative of Darcy’s dealings with Mr Wickham, this Pride and Prejudice variation takes an unexpected turn when she chooses to exonerate the wrong man.

Events quickly spiral out of control and Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to watch helplessly as the woman he loves slips further and further from reach. Can there be a happily ever after for them? Can a love, stronger than pride, redeem even the worst mistakes?"


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Welcome Gail! Thank you for stopping by my blog for this interview about your latest release!  Although I haven't yet got round to reading one of your stories - so many books, so little time! - they sound interesting! 

Thank you for having me, Sophie!


1. Obviously as a writer of Jane Austen fan fiction, you are an avid Janeite and very much enjoy Jane Austen’s work. How did you first come across Jane Austen and fall in love with the regency world of dancing, carriages and courtship?

It was the result of the best and worst summer of my life. A dear friend needed to escape a bad situation at home and she came to live with my family for a few months. Along with seven children and a few bags of clothes, she came with movies! ET’s S&S, Paltrow’s Emma and A&E’s P&P taped from television. Almost every afternoon we’d send the kids outside to play, get a tall glass of ice water, curl up on the sofa and indulge. With her seven and my four, we really needed that mental break.  

 
2. Of Ms. Austen’s six major novels, need I ask which your favourite is? I would assume from your stories that it is Pride and Prejudice. What appeals to you so much about Pride and Prejudice? The characters, the story, the humour?

It’s the characters. I love the humanity of them – Jane shows us their frailty as well as their nobility, how they fight to overcome their faults yet sometimes fail, honestly portraying flawed but very likeable characters. I also love the constraints that manners required – all the subtle communication when so much had to be said without the freedom to say anything.
 

3. Now, aside from Pride and Prejudice, which other work do you particularly like? And which is your least favourite work of Ms. Austen’s, if you have one?

Persuasion is my #2 – I like it more as I get older. My least favourite has to be Mansfield Park. I’m ashamed to say I have only read it once. I disliked Fanny so much I could never bring myself to try it again. I’m sure I’m missing a lot by ignoring it all these years… maybe one day I’ll pick it up and give it another go.

 

4. In your stories you take Ms. Austen’s plotline and explore a ‘what if’ idea and take the story down a completely different route - a darker route in this latest release. Why did you want to write these variations? Did you want to explore the world of Lizzy and Darcy a little more? I adore reading these ‘what if’ variations as I cannot get enough of Lizzy and Darcy!

Mostly, I just wanted to see if I could do it! Before this, I co-wrote The Lord & Lady Baugham series with my partner Tina Moncton. They are set in Jane Austen’s world, with Elizabeth and Darcy as important, but not the main, characters. Stronger Even Than Pride is my first full on Pride & Prejudice variation.


5. Do you think there is another one of Ms. Austen’s stories which would have the potential for a ‘what if’ variation, or do you think that Pride and Prejudice holds the most possibility? 

They are all brilliant stories (my opinion of MP notwithstanding) and all have great potential for variations – but the truth is, the audience for other story ‘what ifs’ is just not the same. Everyone loves Lizzy and Darcy!


6.  Mr Darcy and Elizabeth have to be one of the most famous couples in all of literature. What appeals to you about those characters? Who is your favourite to develop and explore in your stories? Or perhaps you enjoy writing another character, like Wickham for example? Wickham certainly seems to play a big part in the latest story by the sounds of things! 

I enjoyed exploring the less-than-wonderful sides of Elizabeth and Darcy. Not that I think either are bad, but they are human (in our minds anyway) and humans are not always perfect. Sometimes they try to do what’s right, but fail. Sometimes they don’t want to do the right thing at all. Sometimes they’re selfish, and sometimes they just make terrible mistakes.
 
But you're right, I enjoyed writing Wickham very much. I wanted him to be despicable, but not evil, so I had to do a lot of thinking about how to portray him.
 
 
7. Stronger Even Than Pride sounds very intriguing! What gave you the idea of having Elizabeth choose to not read that oh-so-important explanation letter from Darcy, and consequently taking the story down a completely different and darker path? Where does your inspiration come from?

The biggest reason I chose this particular ‘what if’ is that I wanted one that hadn’t been done before. Plus I’ve always been intrigued by Mr Bennet’s claim that Elizabeth would be neither happy nor respectable, and could scarcely escape discredit and misery, if she married a man she couldn’t look up to. I wanted to see what that would look like, and to see if or how she and Darcy could still find their way to each other. I also found it telling that Mr Bennet says this to his favourite daughter after he has already given Darcy his consent. That made me think that he was equally careless with all his daughters, even if he liked some better than others.


8. Of all your stories you have now written, which has been your favourite to write? Or do you not have a favourite and love them all equally?

I love them all for different reasons: I’m very proud of my original novel, To End All Wars… I believe it tells an important story that is too easily forgotten. I love the Baugham stories because I adore Holly and his lordship and my brilliant partner makes writing them a genuine pleasure.

But Stronger Even Than Pride was my biggest challenge and stretched me the most – because of this twist, I had to be very confident in my own mind of every action and thought I gave them, of every decision they made, while keeping their basic character consistent with Miss Austen’s originals. I know not all readers will agree that I have accomplished it, but I’m okay with that. I feel a great sense of accomplishment having finished it according to my vision.

Thanks again for stopping by and best of luck with this latest book! 


And thank you! It’s an honour to be featured on your beautiful blog.

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Author Bio:

It took a few decades, but Gail finally took her English teacher’s advice and “became a writer.” It’s not that she didn’t want to be a writer – she always wanted to be a writer – she just didn’t know how to go about it. Because, truthfully, if one is going to write, one must eventually allow others to read what has been scribbled in that notebook shoved in the back of the drawer.

Gail eventually worked up enough nerve to share her efforts with the anonymous world of the internet, after that she ventured out to college classes, writing contests, and eventually found a publisher.

Gail’s newest book, Stronger Even Than Pride, is a wicked twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Depending on your measure, her success is either modest or phenomenal – while she is in no danger of growing either rich or famous, she is a published, award-winning author! Gail chooses the latter yardstick.

So it just goes to show – you should always listen to your teachers.



My thanks again goes to Gail McEwen for this interview and to Jakki for setting up this tour!

I wish Gail all the best with this latest release as well as any stories in the future!



Your affectionate friend,
post signature

Monday, June 23, 2014

Joy King: Guest Post - with giveaway!



Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the lovely Joy King to my blog. Joy has recently had her first story, A Father's Sins, published and she is going to tell us a bit more about the story, particularly how the love-to-hate character Miss Bingley plays a part in the story!
Joy has also provided me with a VERY generous giveaway (details to follow at the end) - you really don't want to miss this one!
Throughout the post you will notice a variety of pictures which Joy tells me she used as inspiration when writing - some are just the various Caroline's from adaptations, but some, as you will see, are not!
 
"How do Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet overcome the consequences of poor decisions made by their fathers when Darcy and Elizabeth were young?
In A Father's Sins, Mr. George Darcy, father of an illegitimate child raised by his steward, Mr. Wickham, agreed with his wife, Anne, that the firstborn son of their marriage would be heir to Pemberley. However, Mr. Darcy loved his eldest son, George Wickham, and indulged him by bringing him to Pemberley to live after the death of his wife. His heir, Fitzwilliam Darcy, paid a heavy price for this decision.

Mr. Thomas Bennet, an educated gentleman and father of five daughters, favored his second born, Elizabeth. Unexpectedly, his wife gave birth to a son and heir. Mr. Bennet, at the persistent urging of his wife, chose not to have his youngest children vaccinated for smallpox. When the plague hit Longbourn it devastated their family. Elizabeth paid the heaviest price for this decision of her father.

What happens when Darcy and Elizabeth meet? Will they be able to overcome the consequences of the choices their fathers made? When George Wickham, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. William Collins, and the Fitzwilliam family arrive in Meryton, how will that impact their growing attraction? How does the same decision by Mr. Bennet influence the relationship between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley? Will love have a chance?"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sophie, thank you so much for your invitation to your blog. When I am stressed, harried, overworked, under pressure, I love to browse your blog, Laughing With Lizzie. The photos make me chuckle, sigh, and swoon. Definitely a mood changer!

You are most welcome, Joy. I am very glad to hear my blog can help brighten your day! First, are you Joy or Dawn or J. Dawn?

I am just Joy. If my Mom is angry with me, though, I am Joy Dawn (spoken very quickly and with much force).

I would like your opinion on a matter of global interest. Why do you think we love to scorn Miss Caroline Bingley?

The importance of a bad woman in a good book is first found in the Bible. Eve must have been temptation incarnate to have Adam do something to displease his God over a piece of fruit. Since then, it appears that, whatever the medium, readers and viewers love to have someone to scorn or blame. This is typically a character that stands in stark contrast to the hero or heroine. In Pride and Prejudice we have George Wickham and Caroline Bingley. They are both a delight to develop and I thoroughly enjoy the many different variations of their characters in the many adaptations of the novel.

So tell me about Miss Caroline Bingley in ‘A Father’s Sins’, please.

In my book, Caroline Bingley is ambitiously seeking to attach herself to the Darcys to elevate her own standing in society. She comes off as comical in her efforts to achieve her goal. In fact, here is an excerpt from my book where she decides to compromise Mr. Darcy so that he is forced to offer her marriage. They are at Netherfield Park. The next day, all occupants of the estate are planning to permanently remove themselves for their homes in London. Please enjoy the following:



“My, my, cousins, but this room is busy at this hour of the night.” It did not surprise the Colonel that Darcy could not sleep. Too much was riding on the events that would unfold in the morning. He was, however, surprised to see Georgiana. “Poppet, what are you doing awake at this hour?”

“Apparently, like you, I was unable to sleep and it is just as well. We are about to partake in a real life drama. William is the intended victim and you and I shall be the witnesses to the crime.”

“What is this you are speaking of?” The Colonel was puzzled.

Before Darcy could enter the conversation, Georgiana spoke again. “Richard, tonight Miss Caroline Bingley is going to try to trap William into marriage. We need to have a plan of action, a strategy. Something like you would use in the military.” Darcy could tell that his young sister was getting some sinister delight in these circumstances.

“Into battle we shall go!” The Colonel could not hide his pleasure at watching his usually composed cousin facing down a hungry predator.

“Richard! You shall wake the house.” Darcy reprimanded him.

“Hush, please, both of you. Your voices are deep and loud and we do not want to discourage Miss Bingley from coming into the library. This is just too, too fun.”

“Georgie!” Both men exclaimed at the same time.

“Oh, come on you two. This is better than what the gothic novels, that I am not supposed to read, contain. Now, hush!” she whispered. Like a general on a campaign, she positioned them where she felt best; her and the Colonel sitting in the high-backed chairs with their backs to the library door, where they would be invisible to anyone entering, and Darcy standing at the fireplace. The three cousins had just gotten into position when the door handle moved for the third time since Darcy had entered the room. The door slowly opened and the flicker of a candle  approached.

Spying Darcy, Miss Bingley assumed they were alone. “Mr. Darcy, were you unable to sleep? Is there anything that I could do to see to your comfort? Might I, perhaps, get you something warm to drink from the kitchen?”

“I thank you, Miss Bingley, however, it is inappropriate for us to be in the room together so late at night. I shall retire immediately to my room.” He started to move past her to the door.

“No!” Caroline Bingley was not going to allow her last opportunity to pass without accomplishing her goal. Quickly, she placed the candle on a table and undid the belt on her robe, pulling the front open and sliding it off onto the floor. Darcy quickly turned his back to her when he realized her intentions.

“Miss Bingley!” He was horrified and amused at the same time. Realizing how affronted she would be if she only was aware of his feelings, he steeled himself not to chuckle. This was not working out well for Miss Caroline Bingley. There were two witnesses that she was unaware of being in the room, and her own housekeeper had kindly and effectively warned him in advance. “Please, dress yourself. As much as I would dislike seeing you in such a state, I am confident that my cousin and sister would dislike it even more. Now, dress yourself.” He repeated when he heard no sound of movement, nor any rustling of fabric.

“Mr. Darcy, what have your cousin or sister to do with us? You are a reasonable man. Surely, you know how deep my love is for you and how I long to be your wife. Our marriage would unite our families and you, then, could call your best friend brother. There are so many advantages for us to wed. Please, Mr. Darcy,…” she paused before she could say another word as the noise of the turning of the library door handle sounded once again. This time, it was not a hesitant turning, but one of force. Mrs. Hurst charged into the room.

“Ah, ha!” she exclaimed. “Mr. Darcy, you have compromised my sister and will have to wed.” The only thing in her vision was Mr. Darcy and Miss Bingley, both standing with their backs to her. She could clearly see her sister’s form, silhouetted in the firelight. Had Mr. Darcy but turned around, he could have seen the same.

Suddenly, from the chairs to the right of Mr. Darcy, came laughter. At this, Caroline Bingley was moved to action and she quickly recovered her robe and wrapped it around herself, not even taking time to put her arms in the sleeves. Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana rose from their chairs and faced the Bingley sisters at the same time that Darcy turned to confront them.

“Miss Bingley, Mrs. Hurst, what is the meaning of this?” Darcy asked, though he knew the answer. He had to admire Miss Bingley for her attempts at an explanation as her own sister spit and sputtered at seeing Georgiana and the Colonel.

“Oh, Mr. Darcy, I was unaware you were here. I had been dreaming of reading a book from this very library and must have walked in my sleep. However did I end up here?” She blinked her eyes rapidly as if she were just awakening from a deep sleep.

At this, the Colonel and Georgiana only laughed louder. Georgiana was overcome by such a fit of mirth that tears poured from her eyes and she ended up tipping over onto her cousin, Richard. It was obvious that Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst completely missed the comic aspect of this spectacle. Realizing that he would get no help from his relatives, Darcy walked around Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst to open the library door and yell for a footman. When the man responded, he asked him to retrieve Mr. Bingley and Mr. Hurst directly and escort them to the library. Bingley would have to deal with his sister as Mr. Hurst would have to deal with his wife.
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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What a most amusing except! Thank you for posting that. Caroline really did make a fool of herself! Now I really cannot wait to read A Father's Sins! (I will be reading it very soon so watch for my review!) 
 
 
**GIVEAWAY - ends Friday, 4th July **

Joy has provided me with a very, very generous giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive a £50 gift card for the Jane Austen Gift Shop  ! Yes - £50! This giveaway is open internationally. 

To enter, leave a comment below and the winner will be picked randomly.

Please leave your email address. If you are the lucky winner, I will pass on your email to Joy who will be in touch.

Good luck!


Thank you again to Joy for this great post and for the most generous giveaway! I wish you all the best with this story as well as any future ones!


Your affectionate friend,
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Masha Laurence: Guest Interview

Today I welcome the wonderful artist Masha Laurence to my blog! Masha specialises in custom watercolours and illustrations inspired by classic literature. Her drawings are beautiful!

I have asked Masha a few questions about her work and how she goes about coming up with such wonderful illustrations, particularly the inspiration behind her Jane Austen prints, of which there are many!


She has also been so kind as to offer a giveaway of three lovely prints to one lucky winner - I will give the details below!

Visit Masha's blog here. And her lovely shop on Etsy here.


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1.  The majority of your lovely prints in your shop seem to be orientated around Jane Austen; her world, her works, her characters. How did you first come across Jane Austen; reading one of the stories? Seeing an adaptation? Which story is your favourite?
 
 I first came across Jane Austen watching the 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation with my mother-in-law.  It was love at first site.  I have since read and re-read all of Jane Austen’s books and many spin-offs too.

I love all of them really, for different reasons.  But my favorite story is Persuasion, because it mirrors my own love story in a small way.
 

2. Why do you love Jane Austen and what is it that appeals to you about her work? What inspired you to begin painting Austen related artwork in the first place; her wit? The strength of her characters? Did you think that the beauty which just resonates (well I think it does!) from her books and the world she creates needed to be drawn?

What I love about Jane Austen’s work is first romance, I love how funny it is, and how witty, how clean, how polite and how honest it is.  Some people might think that Jane Austen glossed over things of her era, but I think she was incredibly honest about her life and I love how she made everything turn out beautifully in the end, unlike what really happened to her and Cassandra.  What first inspired me to paint Jane Austen related pieces was my love of costumes.  I grew up in a theater family and my mom was a costumer who took me to work often, I remember wandering through big hallways lined with costumes for ballets and operas and wanting to be big enough to try one on.  I scribbled dresses on everything I could growing up and after we watched Pride and Prejudice and every other JA movie I could lay my hands on my mother-in-law suggested that I draw some of the heroines, because it looked like something I am always drawing anyway.  Yes, the beauty does resonate from her books and I am so glad I can put it on paper in my own way.

3. You are a really talented artist! The elegant style of your paintings is delightful. They really have a charm about them! When did you start drawing? Were you ever taught how to draw and paint? Of course, you must enjoy sketching and painting; do you find it relaxing? (I really wish I could draw!) 
Thank you.  I started drawing like I said, when I was little, my dad is also a self taught artist and he painted murals on our walls and floors and whenever I would come into his room he would hand me crayons (very rare commodity in Russia at that time) and let me draw.  I believe we are all born with a creative spark within us and I do find it relaxing, and challenging too, but mostly, like any creative hobby that helps us escape the real world I really love how art takes me someplace else. 

4. How exactly do you go about drawing the characters? Do you base them off actors who have portrayed them in adaptations? Or do you use your own ideas of what they look like for the drawings? On the subject of film and television adaptations, which is your favourite?
I base my characters on many different things.  To be completely honest I am not a good portraitist, so if you were to look at the models I base my characters on you wouldn’t recognize them.  I get inspired by JA or other period movies.  I look up good images from movies on the internet.  I look up poses and facial expressions on Getty Images and costumes on Pinterest and in books.  But most often I will just be reading a Jane Austen novel and a paragraph will jump out at me and I can see it in my mind, so I get to work on it as soon as I have time and search for the right pose, the right face, the right costume, put it all together and voila, those turn out the best.  I believe in inspiration. 
My favorite movie adaptation is Pride and Prejudice of 1995 and the close second is Northanger Abbey done in 2007.  And 2009 Emma, my husband and I watched that one together and we both just loved it.

4. Who's your favourite of Jane Austen's wonderful characters? (Mr Darcy?! He is mine!) How about when you draw them; who is your favourite to draw? Who did you find the easiest? And the hardest to draw?
You can have Mr.Darcy, as handsome and mysterious as he is, I prefer the sincere and caring Mr.Knightley and straightforward and open Captain Wentworth.  My favorite to draw are the heroines, they don’t have annoying legs that are so hard to get right, just lovely flowing skirts that are easy to draw.  The hardest are people with smiles and hands, if you look at my paintings I try to hide their hands and they never have a full smile, I am still learning the necessary skill for those.

5. I believe I saw somewhere on your shop that you can also do custom orders? What type of things do you do for this? Do you enjoy doing special requests?
I do custom orders quite often. A lot of us have favorite parts of Miss Austen’s novels that we would like to see in a piece of art.  And when people come to me with those questions I get to sketch out their ideas on paper until I catch their vision and go on to paint it.  I do enjoy special request very much as they are challenging and interesting, it is always fun to see what other people want to see in a piece of art.  One of my requests was a Lizzy and Georgianna at the piano, even though it’s not in the book,  and another was a portrait of the Bennet sisters in the room with their parents when Kitty’s cough was bothering Mrs.Bennet and another one of Captain Wentworth walking the pier on a windy day in Lyme.

Thank you for a most interesting interview. It is always good to find out more behind an artists inspiration! 
Sophie, thank you for having me on your lovely blog.  

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**GIVEAWAY - ends Monday, 30th June **

Masha is providing three lovely 5x7 prints for a lucky winner! This giveaway is open internationally. 

To enter, leave a comment below and the winner will be picked randomly.

Please leave your email address and please say whether you are in the US or UK or otherwise (please state country). If you are the lucky winner, I will email you to ask for your mailing address. 

Good luck, and thank you again to Masha for this interview and for offering this giveaway!
 

(Visit Masha's blog here. And her lovely shop on Etsy here. )


Your affectionate friend,
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