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Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Second Stay at 4 Sydney Place

At the beginning of November I had another trip to Bath - I had a few people to meet. Once again thanks to 'Bath Boutique Stays' I was able to stay at 4 Sydney Place again (for those who maybe missed my last post it is the very house where Jane Austen lived with her family from 1801-1804.)

Once again I had a lovely time. I stayed in the second floor apartment this time, Mr Darcy's apartment. This visit felt even more special because Mr Darcy's apartment contains the room in which Jane and her sister, Cassandra, actually slept in while they were living there. So I was sleeping in the same room as Jane Austen had, 210 odd years earlier! Wow...  

The living and dining room

Mr Darcy's apartment has moved into top spot for me. Emma's is lovely, but Darcy's has just edged it! I liked the more masculine décor.

It was a bit misty though!

You don't have the garden as you do with Emma's (not that I mind at this time of year!), but being on the second floor meant there was a lovely view over Bath actually.

It was looking very autumnal as well!


I like the compact but fully equipped kitchen too - even if my father (who was staying with me) couldn't work out the touch screen hob!

The bathroom was particularly nice too, more spacious than in Emma's apartment.

 My favourite room, however, has to be the bedroom - I'll give you three guesses why!

Yes! The rather fun décor in this room; some appropriate wall art...

...and a lovely painting of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy.

There was a lovely dressing table as well, which I also discovered very prettily reflected the quote on the wall too!

While I was there I had a catch up with friends from the Jane Austen festival, and attended a Jane Austen Dancers practice session, and also saw the lovely Gabby Malcolm (check out her book - it is a great read!)

I also had a lovely breakfast at the Pump Rooms one morning. I do like it in there.

Some wonderful musicians kept me entertained as well. (I would quite like a classical trio to accompany my breakfast every morning!)

Gorgeously decorated room.

I don't even mind the famous Bath waters myself!

The Pump Rooms

During a spare moment I also popped into Bath Cathedral. It is a beautiful place. 
Stunning ceiling. 

It looked beautiful lit up in the evenings too.

There was a special display for Remembrance Day as well.

              I added my cross.

I bought my first Christmas decoration while I was there as well; Jane Austen for my fee of course!

I also finally got myself some of the Bath gin! (Love the winking Jane!)

It was another very lovely trip to Bath, and I already can't wait to return - which I am doing in December, to have a look round the famous Christmas market!

So, that is two apartments at 4 Sydney Place down, and two to go! Currently Mr Darcy's second floor apartment takes top spot! As before, the hospitality and welcome I received at 4 Sydney was just great. I really do enjoying staying there, and not just because Jane lived there - that is just an added bonus!

Your affectionate friend,
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blog Tour: Longbourn's Songbird by Beau North

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for the lovely Beau North's release, Longbourn's SongbirdMy thanks must also go to Jakki of Leatherbound Reviews for asking me to be part of this tour.

Book Blurb:
“Someday some lark is gonna spell you with a song, Will Darcy. She’ll call you with music and you’ll be as good as lost.”

In the autumn of 1948, young millionaire Will Darcy comes to the sleepy, backwater town of Meryton, South Carolina to visit his best friend, Charles Bingley. When Darcy becomes enchanted by a local beauty with a heavenly voice, his business dealings with Longbourn Farms may close the door to his romantic hopes before they are given a chance to thrive.

Still healing from heartbreak, Elizabeth Bennet takes solace in her family, home, and the tight-knit community of Meryton. That foundation is shaken when Will Darcy makes a successful offer to buy the family farm. Blinded by hurt, will Elizabeth miss the chance to find in him the peace and comfort her heart truly needs?

Confronting the racial, economic, and social inequalities of the times, Longbourn’s Songbird is an imaginative romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and told through the lens of post-WWII America, a story layered with betrayal and loss, love and letting go.

I’d like to first off thank Laughing with Lizzie for participating in my blog tour! I feel so lucky to have landed such a great blog with such an engaged following.

For those of you who don’t know, Longbourn’s Songbird is set in 1948 in South Carolina. A romantic time and place for some, a terrifying and oppressive one for others. I try as best I can to show both sides of that coin. I haven’t lived in the South for quite a few years now, but it is the place that made me, for better or worse.

The Southern United States is a beautiful, difficult place. It’s a wilderness tempered with strict, if unspoken, rules of society. Like in Austen’s time, a young southern lady’s reputation was her most valuable asset. Genteel good manners were lauded, and proper comportment expected at all times. The public display of high emotions were taboo and even speaking above a certain volume was frowned upon.


Naturally, over time many of these rules have relaxed somewhat. A lady may slouch if she wishes, though she should expect some side-eye from any nearby matronly types. A lady may let her displeasure be known when she is met with cruelty or unkindness. And, thankfully, a lady may speak at any volume she chooses.


The final draft of Longbourn’s Songbird was not as colloquial as it could have been. Many of my “southernisms” I removed from the manuscript. For my first stop in the blog tour I thought it might be fun for the girls to let loose a little, so to speak. I’m going to take this opportunity to provide you with some of my favorite southern expressions, spoken the young ladies of Longbourn’s Songbird, who are for this engagement only, allowed to be as informal as they please.


A’Larking - harmless mischief

“Papa’s gone and hidden mama’s smelling salts again.” Jane shook her head, a small smile playing across her lips. “You’d think he’s too old to go a’larking like that.”


Bowed Up - In ill humor, disapproving

“Who is that man and why is he so bowed up after just walking in the door?” Elizabeth asked. “Why, that’s Mr. Darcy!” Charlotte replied.


Cain’t Never Could -roughly, “you’ll never know if  you don’t try”

“Mama I can’t walk all the way to Netherfield!”

“Well, Jane, cain’t never could. Do you want to see Mr. Bingley’s sisters or not?”


Dills My Pickle - annoys

“That Mr. Darcy is always looking down his nose at us. He really dills my pickle.”


Fixin’ - To be on the verge of an action, to prepare

Kitty pulled her gloves as she called to her sisters in the next room. “We’re fixin’ to walk into Meryton if anyone wants to join us.”


Horse Sense - common sense

“Jane and Lizzy at least have horse sense,” Mrs. Gardiner said to her husband. “But those other three!”


Make Lincoln Wink - frugal, miserly

“Oh please,” Anne said. “You know mother’s can squeeze a penny hard enough to make Lincoln wink.”


Reckon - to believe something is true

Charlotte looked down at her hands. “I reckon you think I’m making a mistake, marrying Mr. Collins.”


And of course, we can’t forget the best, most well-known, and quite possibly the most complex bit of Southern terminology…


Bless Your Heart - 1. term of sympathy 2. term used to indicate someone not blessed with an abundance of education, wit, or sanity 3. term used to indicate misfortune


“I can’t walk into to Meryton today, Elizabeth.”

“Bless your heart, Jane, are you feeling poorly?”


“Here comes Aunt Phillips to wag her tongue at Mama,” Mary said with a sigh.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Yes, I guess Mr. Bingley’s return has given her plenty to discuss, bless her heart.”


“That’s quite a story Eliza, are you sure that Mr. Darcy was so very cruel to George Wickham?”

“Of course I’m sure, Charlotte! That devil Darcy took everything from the poor man, bless his heart.”


I hope that any readers from the area will chime in with some of their favorite Southernisms. Or, what are some of the more perplexing/charming phrases from where you hail from?

Thanks everyone!

Author Bio:

Beau North is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with English Literature. In her spare time, Beau is the brains behind Rhymes With Nerdy, an internet collective focused on pop culture. This is her first novel.

You can connect with Beau on Twitter @beaunorth and on Facebook, or via http://beaunorth.merytonpress.com. If you’ve enjoyed this book, we welcome your fair and honest review on Goodreads and Amazon.



** GIVEAWAY - ends Wednesday 18th November**
One lucky winner will receive an ebook copy of Longbourn's Songbird. It 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 Jakki who will be in touch.

Good luck! (All giveaway books are ordered at the same time. Therefore, winners from the beginning of the blog tour will have to wait longer to receive their book than winners from the end of the tour. Thank you in advance for your patience.)

My thanks again goes to Beau North for this fun post - I have learnt a lot from it! My thanks also to Jakki for setting up this tour!

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

Your affectionate friend,
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blog Tour: The Unthinkable Triangle by Joana Starnes - with giveaway!

Today I welcome Joana Starnes to my blog! I have a video of myself reading an excerpt from her latest novel, 'The Unthinkable Triangle'. And there is also a giveaway - details below!

Thank you so much, Sophie, for welcoming me to ‘Laughing with Lizzie’ to start off the blog tour for my new book, and extra-special thanks for dressing up in all your finery to read out and record the excerpt. You have such a wonderful voice, perfect for Regency novels!

 My latest one, as you probably know, is the story of a love triangle.

"All is fair in love and war – or is it? What if Mr. Darcy’s rival for Elizabeth Bennet’s affections is not some inconsequential stranger, but his dearest, closest friend? How is he to reconcile the claims of loyalty and kinship with the urge to pursue his heart’s desire?"


A story not for the faint-hearted, ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’, begins at Rosings, when Mr. Darcy crosses paths with the enchanting Miss Elizabeth Bennet just as he had persuaded himself that he had finally put the past behind him.
Of course, that is nothing but self-delusion. He had not put the past behind him. The lure is as strong as ever, and growing stronger every minute that he spends in such enticing company. So there is nothing to be done about it. He must propose. He must secure her. He is most confident of her acceptance. Supremely confident, in fact – so much so that he even sets the date. The wedding is to be in two weeks’ time. A fortnight, and not one day more, until he would have his heart’s desire. And little does he know that this is nothing but yet another self-delusion, and that his well-laid schemes are to blow spectacularly into pieces. Because, a mere day before Darcy’s planned proposal, Miss Elizabeth Bennet has accepted another offer of marriage. From his best friend and dearest cousin. And, far from being over, Mr. Darcy’s troubles had only just begun.



** GIVEAWAY - ends Thursday 1st October **
I hope you will enjoy listening to the following excerpt from ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’, read out so beautifully by lovely Sophie. There is a giveaway as well, for two Kindle copies, available internationally. Please leave a comment for a chance to win. The giveaway ends on 1st October. Thanks for reading and listening, and the very best of luck!

Good luck!
Thank you again to Joana for this giveaway, and for the brilliant extract - I enjoyed reading it! I wish you all the best with this story and any future stories!

Your affectionate friend,
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Friday, September 18, 2015

A Very Special Announcement


Today I have a very special announcement to share with you! 

But rather than making my own announcement, I am going to let the wonderful Caroline Jane Knight, Jane Austen's 5th great niece, tell you all!

"It is inspiring to see the positive influence Jane has on people’s lives today.     They say life is about what you leave behind and I couldn’t be more proud of Great Aunt Jane’s legacy, my inspiration for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.     As Jane’s popularity continues to grow, I wanted to extend her legacy by harnessing the global passion for Austen to improve literacy rates.    Literacy is the key to self-improvement and unlocking potential.    Reading and writing are essential skills for anyone who wants to understand, enjoy and influence the world around them. The foundation raises money to help create CONFIDENT READERS and PROUD WRITERS by providing FREE books and writing materials to communities in need around the world, in honour of Jane.     We are a volunteer organisation with all monies raised spent on literacy resources and fundraising activity.   We are currently raising funds to provide literacy resources for the displaced children of Syria, delivered on the ground by UNICEF.

I only joined Facebook a year ago and was amazed to discover a world of Austen, involving Janeites from around the world, enthusiastically and vibrantly celebrating and discussing all aspects of Jane’s life and works.      With over 7000 websites and social media profiles associated with Jane, there is a never ending stream of content to keep even the most ardent Janeite engaged.    

One in particular caught my eye; “Laughing with Lizzie”, a young woman who seemed to have a lot of fun dressing up in regency costume, visiting Jane’s former homes, participating in Austen events and sharing it all with thousands of followers in a well written blog.     I was intrigued.   Why did this young woman dedicate her time to celebrating Jane Austen?     I reached out and arranged to talk to the woman behind the blog, Sophie Andrews.    Sophie is a delight to know personally and her journey with Jane truly heart-warming, a story I will leave for Sophie to share.

Before discovering Austen, Sophie wasn’t a big reader but the discovery of the magic that lay in the pages of Pride & Prejudice, that just got better with every read, changed that and was the start of Sophie's love affair with the written word.  As a keen writer herself, Sophie was able to imagine the frustration of wanting to write but having no paper or pen and without hesitation offered to help promote the foundation.

I am pleased to announce Sophie Andrews, aka “Laughing with Lizzie”, as an Ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.     We are thrilled to have Sophie’s support to help us create CONFIDENT READERS and PROUD WRITERS, in honour of Jane."

Thank you Caroline for such kind words, and more importantly, for allowing me the opportunity to be an ambassador for such a worthwhile charity. It is an honour and I am very much looking forward to doing all I can to help the charity!


As Caroline mentioned, Jane Austen has been very important in my life, for many different reasons. I was just9 when I saw the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, but I was a little too young to fully understand the language, so it didn’t really make an impression on me. I watched that film a few more times and as I grew up I began to fall completely in love with it!  But I still wasn’t hooked on Jane Austen, it was just Pride and Prejudice – or actually, to be more accurate, I was just hooked on Mr. Darcy! However, back in 2011 I was going to be studying Pride and Prejudice for my English exams, and so that summer I had to read it - you have to understand that at the time I really wasn’t a reader. However, given I enjoyed the film, I was looking forward to it. When I was on my summer holidays I read it in a week. I just couldn’t put it down! It seemed strange to my family to see me engrossed in a book, as I guess I used to be like Emma Woodhouse in regards to books and reading! Pride and Prejudice was amazing from start to finish, and from that point I was caught up in the elegance and eloquence of Miss Austen's world and words!

I re-read Pride and Prejudice straight afterwards and I really enjoyed studying it at school, becoming the class expert. Following this, I read Sense and Sensibility, then Emma, followed by Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield Park. There was no stopping me! Having devoured the 6 main stories, I devoted myself to studying all aspects of the Jane Austen phenomenon, from the film and television adaptations, to the fan fiction, commentaries, critiques, information books and biographies, as well as the worldwide online Jane Austen community. There was no going back now - I had become a true and proud Janeite.

Fast forward a year or so, and after a lot of 'persuasion' (if you'll excuse the pun!) from a friend, I eventually started my blog, "Laughing With Lizzie" . It was my space to rant and rave about my passion for Jane Austen. It was also my escape; I was having a hard time at school and some family illnesses at the time (that is a whole other story I won't go into now!), and so I really threw myself whole heartedly into the world of Jane, enjoying my escape into her world through her books, and subsequently my blog. Slowly, slowly my blog became more well known, and then about a year and a half ago I started my facebook page. From there, I have no idea how, but so many amazing things have happened for me and I have participated in so many wonderful events. I have to pinch myself every day, as it is all beyond my wildest dreams.

An example of the charity in action
Fast forward again to a few months ago, when I noticed a certain Caroline Jane Knight had liked my facebook page. I sent Caroline a message of thanks, and before I knew it, I was actually talking to Jane Austen's descendant on skype! Caroline told me all about growing up Chawton House, and about her charity she has recently founded. I was fascinated by both, but the foundation really caught my attention; a charity that was using Jane's popularity and her legacy to do some good in the world. It really hit home with me, given how much Jane Austen has changed my life. We continued to skype every few weeks, until Caroline asked if I would be an ambassador for the charity. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance! 


I mentioned earlier how I never used to be a reader, well, the truth is that I had never read another ‘proper’ book before Pride and Prejudice!  Jane Austen brought me to reading, and so being able to have the opportunity to help bring the joy of reading to others, as Jane did for me, is truly wonderful.

The foundation is also helping to create proud writers, as well as confident readers, and this is also something I really would like to help in promoting, for, without the ability to write, I would not be sitting here right now writing this post. I would not have had a blog full stop.

Jane Austen really has been a huge influence in my life, even in just 5 years! As I cannot thank Jane Austen personally for all she done for me, this opportunity to help use her legacy to bring the ability to read and write to others seemed like the perfect way of saying thank you to Jane for bringing reading, and to a certain extent writing, to me.


I am even more pleased to be able to say I had the opportunity to meet a fellow ambassador the other day. Simon Langton, director of the ground breaking 1995 mini-series of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, was announced as the first ambassador a few weeks back, and during a recent conference at Chawton House Library - which is even more appropriate, given that the founder, Caroline Knight, was the last generation of Knights to grow up there! - celebrating 20 years since the mini-series. It was lovely to be able to meet him in person. He was a lovely gentleman and just as passionate about the charity as I am.


 Can you spot anything different about the front of the books we are holding? That little white label proudly adorning our books? What you can see is a very special Jane Austen Literacy Foundation bookplate! Bookplates are a traditional way to indicate ownership of physical books. Especially when books were scarce and expensive, labelling books was an important way of keeping track of your property, whilst still allowing them to be loaned out and circulated.   And what is even better is that you can own one yourself, personalised with you name in Jane's hand and its own unique number, perfect to stick into your favourite book, showing your support of the charity. All you have to do is head over to the foundation website,click on the donate button, and once your donation has been processed, you will receive by email your personalised bookplate! Simple as that!


Once again I would like to say a big thank you for allowing me to come onto your blog to share my special announcement with you and your readers. I did not come empty handed either, I am able to say that I have a fantastic competition to enter!


Bath Boutique Stays have been so kind as to offer a 1 Night Mid-Week stay for two in an apartment at 4 Sydney Place, Jane Austen’s former Home in Bath.

All you need to do to enter to win this fabulous prize, is to predict the following question:

How many steps is it from Lizzy Bennet’s Penthouse Apartment to the carriage awaiting her at the front door of 4 Sydney Place?

 (Three flights of stairs and the hallway.)

Please email your answers to Lucy Bennett (her real name!) at lucy@bathboutiquestays.co.uk and the person who guesses the correct - or comes closest to it! - amount of steps will win! 

The competition entries end on 2nd October.



Your affectionate friend,
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