Today the interview I am posting is from the lovely Alice's blog, Reading With Alice.
She is a very good friend of mine and I was only to happy to agree to an interview with her! I would just like to say thank you very much to Alice for asking me - it was a very fun interview from a very fun person! (She is also very skilled at adding very appropriate photos to the interview!)
Alice knows me very well and so, naturally, there are quite a few questions revolving around Jane Austen - what a surprise! There was understandably an overlap of questions between the two interviews and so a few answers are the same or similar - I can't come up with a different answer to the same question! - but there are also some delightful different questions which I enjoyed answering.
I am SO happy to introduce my amazing friend and fellow blogger- Sophie! I have asked my friend to my blog for a friendly chat and a little blogger to blogger talk.
Sophie, it's SO good to have you!!!!! :D
It is wonderful to be participating in this interview! Thank you for asking me! :D Be warned that once I begin to answer my answers are bound to keep going and going.... and going (and going!) I am rather a rambler and am bound to go off topic at least twice!
That's perfectly fine, I'm the same way! >:)
Tell us a little about yourself, your lovely blog (and the purpose of it):
Well hello! Sophie here, from good old England. I have one sister and I suppose we are a little like the Dashwood sisters – and I'm Marianne, the hopeless romantic... ;) I am an avid Janeite (as this interview will prove if you are in any doubt (or just take one look at my blog!) Give me anything and everything to do with Jane Austen! I am in my final year at school. It was school which threw me head-long into Jane Austen so although me and school don’t and have never got on, I must be grateful for this one thing!
The purpose of my blog... well, I do know that yes there are many Jane Austen blogs out there, but why not have another one? But, going back a little further, when I began my correspondence with you (bless the day <3 -haha you're so sweet. ;)) as well as with a few other international friends who all shared a love of Jane Austen, I was told that I had a lot to say about Jane Austen and then the idea of a blog was suggested. To begin with I was very reluctant about the idea; ‘Me? Do I really have enough to say to form a blog? How do I even begin such a thing?’ But, with a lot of encouragement from my friends, you and another fellow blogger in particular, I finally thought I would give it a go. And here we are – one rather successful blog (even if I do say so myself :P)!
Well, your blog is definitely a success, and absolutely delightful- I love how it's presented in such a friendly manner. :) Keep up the good work, love!
What are some things you would love to accomplish through your love and knowledge of Jane Austen and her era?
An interesting question... What do I want to accomplish? Well, I would like to think that my love of Jane Austen has already helped me to gain a much better knowledge of the regency era and a broader historical knowledge (as since Jane Austen I have read a wide range of historical romance) I would like my love of Jane Austen to hopefully, someday, be something I have to do... I am not quite sure how I will land in a job based on Jane Austen but I can hope! I would actually hope to one day write a book; whether it be a non-fiction book or a fictional story I am not sure.
I'm sure you could do either (writing non-fiction vs. fiction). Having read so much regency fiction, you would certainly know how to present a story, and having from those stories gained a wide range of knowledge concerning the era, you could easily pull all that knowledge together to write something historical yet fun! :D
When did you become an avid Janeite?
A few years ago when I was 9 (ok, so maybe it was more than a few years, nearly 9, in fact - wow... anyway!) I saw the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen but I was too young to really understand the language so it didn’t exactly make an impression on me... I watched that film quite a few more times and as I grew up I began to love it – as I could understand it! But I still wasn’t hooked on Austen (I think I was more just hooked on Mr. Darcy!) However, in 2011-2012 I was going to study the novel Pride and Prejudice for my English lessons at school, so the summer of 2011 I had to read it. Ok, so up to this point I really wasn’t a reader and had never read another ‘proper’ book before! (I know I know it’s appalling!) However, even though I wasn’t a reader, given that I enjoyed the film I was rather looking forward to reading it! Over the summer when I went on holiday I read it in a week (which is pretty quick for a new reader!) I could not put it down once I had started! My mother found it strange to see me reading as until then I had been like Emma Woodhouse in regards to books and reading... I re-read it straight away afterwards and I really enjoyed studying it at school.
I was astounded by the humour and sarcasm; I knew Jane Austen was funny because of the films I had seen but you really don’t get to appreciate her wit first hand unless you read the books; something seems to get lost in translation when it is gets made into a film, the true Austen humour must be experienced straight from the authoress herself. It then struck me that the film had to leave out and condense a number of scenes, and I loved reading all these scenes in full or discovering new scenes which I didn't know existed! It also surprised me how accurate the 1995 mini-series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth really is (with the exception of adding a few scenes where Colin Firth is wearing minimal (or wet) clothing, but who’s complaining?) and I immediately wanted to re-watch the mini-series again (which I did.)
After reading Pride and Prejudice I immediately wanted to seek out and read her other novels! So, I read Sense and Sensibility, then Emma, followed by Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield Park. I loved them all and I was completely addicted, fascinated and captivated by Jane Austen and the regency world; I wanted to learn more and more about her and her works as well as find other authors writing similar regency romances for me to read! I also wanted to discuss the books with other people however no-one else in my class at school had any interest in this subject (very few even read Pride and Prejudice for the English classes so I had no one at school to discuss it with!) I eventually found Goodreads, a wonderful website (which I describe as a literary version of Facebook) and I am part of many groups (two Jane Austen ones, one of which I now run.) I also wanted to get my hands on as many of the film and TV adaptations as possible (and a few months ago I finally completed my collection – that was a very proud moment!)
What about Jane Austen's works drew you in? :)
I have already mentioned the humour, wit and sarcasm. I also love the wonderful and realistic characters but as well as that I really enjoy the complex story lines of Austen’s novels. When I first learned the story of Pride and Prejudice I was taken in by Wickham and found Darcy rather proud and disagreeable and I never guessed the real relationship between those two! Emma as well – I was always wary of Frank Churchill but never did I imagine him to have been secretly engaged to Jane for the entire novel! Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility as well, and so the list goes on and on... Her stories are so well written that it is hard to make all the connections between characters and I much prefer stories when you don’t know what is going to happen! I also enjoy the light-hearted nature of Austen’s stories; a happy ending is guaranteed and this leaves you feeling much happier than those stories which have a very unsatisfactory ending! The romance in her stories is also so pure and innocent, not like the gothic romances that were becoming increasingly popular thanks to the novels of the Bronte sisters. I much prefer the clever conversations and cheerful atmosphere portrayed in Austen stories to hearing constantly about the pain and torment the heroines are experiencing which is being, coincidently and conveniently, reflected by the weather all the time! (Yes I am referring to the Bronte sisters and yes I am not a Bronte fan!)
I agree! I love the humor, wit, sarcasm, characters, plot, everything! ^_^ (and I'm not a Bronte fan either! ;))
What is your favorite Jane Austen novel, and why?
I think you may have already guessed this by now... but my favourite is *drum roll* Pride and Prejudice! As I said, it will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first Austen (and my first... book...) but, aside from it being my first, Pride and Prejudice is just, to me, perfect in every way. I won’t discuss my every reason but my main two reasons I think would be...
One, it has an ideal balance of characters to love and characters to hate as well as having very relatable characters; everyone knows a flirt like Lydia, a chatterbox like Mrs Bennet, a buffoon like Mr Collins or an overbearing interferer like Lady Catherine! And then there is the hero and heroine; Darcy and Lizzy are two of the most famous character in all literature! Their classic hate growing to love relationship is a great story to read and I think most people come away from reading Pride and Prejudice with a strong literary crush on Darcy – I certainly did! Many of my favourite conversations were between them. And two, Pride and Prejudice contains some of my favourite (and I personally think her best) humorous comments, witty conversations and sarcastic remarks. Mr Bennet made me smile and there are many moments when I laugh out loud at what Austen writes (of which, again, I won’t (and no doubt have no need to) list now!) The entire feel and combination of everything makes Pride and Prejudice, to me, so enjoyable to read (as well as to watch) and in a word, perfection :)
(Hehe! I am having way too much fun with all these Jane Austen film pictures! >:))
It really is such a great series! =)
Who is your favourite Jane Austen Heroine, and which do you most relate to?
Ok, I am really starting to sound completely bias towards Pride and Prejudice but I would be lying if I didn’t say this (I mean, have you seen my blog?!)) Elizabeth Bennet. Do I really need to explain why? She is such a wonderful character; she is witty and fun, likes to defy society and its rules and she is a great tease! Like the best characters, she is not, by any means, perfect; she may think she is a good judge of character but she can be too quick to judge (as Darcy finds out!) and she is also proud and can become easily prejudiced. I love her connection with her sister Jane as well as with her father, and not to mention how her relationship with Darcy alters. Her character development through the story is a great development to read about as, to me, it seems very realistic and entirely plausible given what she experiences and has to learn through the story.
I am sure you have done the ‘Which Jane Austen heroine am I?’ quiz, (and probably the one saying who your hero is as well!) I have, and, happily, I got (I’ll give you three guesses)... Elizabeth Bennet. I have done a lot of those quizzes and every time I get the same answer (and I always get the same hero too, and yes it is Darcy, and no I don’t rig my answers to get the answer I want(well, not much anyway!))
I am like Lizzy in many respects – I do have a rather teasing nature (but nothing like her sharp wit) and I also have her wish to go against the grain of society and not to follow the rules and conventions you are expected to follow. As well as Lizzy, I am also very much like Marianne Dashwood; I am, just like Marianne, a complete and utter hopeless romantic and my romantic sensibilities can get the better of me... If I was to be swept off my feet after spraining my ankle (which I do do frequently, I am so accident prone...) by a handsome man on a white horse I would fall for this man without really finding out much about him first (and believe me, I have gone for many long walks in the rain in the hope of being rescued... as yet I have had no luck, but I will keep trying! Someday...-you are too funny! x)) The final strong characteristic I share with a character would be the naivety of Catherine Morland; I am not so naive as to not realise I am naive, but I am still quite inexperienced and clueless about some things and also I am very much like Catherine in being a very easy target for teasing! I can be wound up, mocked and laughed at far too easily (which I discovered to my great cost and great amusement to my friends...) Of course, I much prefer to think of myself as a Lizzy rather than a Marianne or Catherine!
I think everyone has a bit of each Jane Austen heroine in them. ;)
Which is your favourite Jane Austen Hero?
It will come as a real shock when I tell you it is Mr Darcy I’m sure ;) Again, do I really need to explain why? Imagine becoming Mrs Darcy! To live at Pemberley, located in the gorgeous and beautiful Peak District and be loved by the wonderful (handsome) Darcy! The love which you can see Darcy has for Elizabeth would be something which I would love to experience (and which I do hope I will experience from my own husband, whoever he may be, not just from my literary husband!) Darcy is not perfect and he changes through the story, for the girl he loves. He is a complete and utter gentleman (with a few exceptions at the beginning of the novel!), so kind and caring towards his family, tenants and servants; how anyone could not fall in love with Mr Darcy is beyond me!
I know you read/review a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction/variations; which author/story would you say stays the most loyal and accurate to the original novels?
I do read a lot of variations, you are correct. I never thought I would enjoy them actually, but then (I can’t remember why) I read ‘Falling for Mr Darcy’ by KaraLynne Mackrory (I think I just liked the sound of it) and I really, really enjoyed it and since then I cannot get my hands on enough variations! I much prefer variations and ‘what if’ stories to continuations of the stories; seeing different ways for the hero and heroine to come together interests me far more than reading about the couple once they are married – I know they will live happily ever after! ;) I also have discovered that I do in fact enjoy variations which stray really far from the original plotline! I find the stories which are so out-there actually so bizarre that they are really good - you can’t come to Jane Austen adaptations with a serious literary hat on!
What I do not like is when authors transport the original characters and stories into the 21st century; in my opinion, it just doesn’t work. I read an interesting one called ‘The Heart does Whisper’ by Cynthia Hensley which was set in the 1980’s but it was not directly about Lizzy and Darcy, it was based on their descendants – it was really good and worth a read! Anyway! You have asked me about the author who stays closest to the plotlines, not strayed far from them! Of the stories I have read I think the one staying closest to the plotline is ‘Falling for Mr Darcy’ as well as her second novel ‘Bluebells in the Mourning’. Then again, I say stay closest to the novel... they don’t really! I don’t think any variations can stay that close to the original as that would just be... re-writing the original? Thinking about it however I have read The Diary Series by Amanda Grange which recounts the original tales but from the hero’s point of view, so I suppose really that should be my answer. (These are also really good!)
I really can't wait to read these!!! =D
I really enjoyed both by KaraLynne Mackrory’s variations, in particular ‘Bluebells in the Morning’. Here is the blurb so you know what I am talking about...
“Is it true that nothing can be lost that love cannot find? Jane Austen's beloved "Pride and Prejudice" is readapted 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 also might just mark the end of his own hopes with Elizabeth.”
The other one I mentioned was ‘Pirates and Prejudice’ by Kara Louise. I said in the previous question that the storylines which stray really far from the original I actually rather like and this is an example of that...
“After Elizabeth Bennet refuses Mr. Darcy's offer of marriage, it takes a heavy toll on him. He withdraws to London and disappears near the docks, away from family, friends, and acquaintances. When he is mistaken for an escaped pirate, he is thrust into an adventure he would never have imagined. Will this be what he needs to forget the one woman he had come to love?
When her aunt and uncle have to cancel their plans to tour the Lake District, Elizabeth Bennet has the opportunity to sail to the Isles of Scilly with her father. After a pleasant visit, the voyage home brings storms, a shipwreck, and pirates! When she is rescued by gallant Captain Smith, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. What will she do when she discovers he is the very man whose offer of marriage she refused just a few months earlier?”
I really can't wait to read this one! >:) I love pirate stories (when they are good. ;))
What do you consider necessary to make the perfect novel? Everything which Pride and Prejudice has in it? Not a valid answer? Ok ok... A perfect novel, well my perfect novel needs to have... Humour, wit, funny conversations and sarcastic comments – a book which doesn’t make you laugh at least once is not a good book! I dearly love to laugh! (:D) A good story also needs to have brilliant characters. The hero and heroine of the story must be strong and interesting characters who are also very likeable.
Other secondary characters must be good additions as opposed to unnecessary extras that just confuse the story! I also have to have some character who you can hate, and love to hate them! What is a story without a baddie? I also like to have stories which have characters that I can relate to, or that feel very realistic (they need flaws, no-one is perfect!) Another vital aspect would be a good story line! What else is going to hold your attention and make you want to finish reading the story? In this storyline I also like to have a bit mystery to keep things interesting and if I cannot guess how this mystery is going to be solved, even better! What have I left out...? Oh yes! Of course! A perfect novel, for me, must have ROMANCE! (I bet you’d never have guessed that ;)) A story doesn’t need to be focused on the romance (and by romance I mean clean romance) (although I do enjoy stories where that is the case, as long as there are other things going on and not just the romantic plot!)
I totally agree! Sounds like an incredible novel! ;)
What are a few of your favorite things about England? Another interesting question which is hard to put into words... Well, I love the landscape you can find in England – I am perfectly happy to holiday in England rather than go elsewhere to a foreign (and probably hotter!) country! I love the Lake District and Peak District (yes, Mr Darcy’s Derbyshire...) and also the Yorkshire Dales – the unending hills and dales are beautiful to me. I also love England’s history and how much we have of it! Part of this history is, unsurprisingly, England being the home of Jane Austen and being able to visit her house and other similar places is great for a Jane fan! What I find quite funny is the amount of interest England holds for so many across the world! This is partly down to the history which I mentioned but mainly, I think, down to our accent – what is it with the English accent!? You enjoyed hearing my voice for the first time didn’t you, thinking I sounded like I belonged from a period drama? (a huge compliment, by the way!)
YES, I admit, one of my favorite things about England is definitely y'alls accents. ^_^
(These are pictures from Sophies' recent holiday visit to the Yorkshire Dales. :))
My hobbies and pastimes... Well, many of the hobbies are very ‘Jane Austen heroiney’ activities. But I didn’t start all these after becoming obsessed with Jane Austen, honestly! My favourite hobby I think would be playing the piano. It is my way of relaxing after coming home after a stressful, busy day at school! I love to play the music of composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Phamie Gow and Helen Jane Long but I also enjoy playing (since watching more and more Austen films) the soundtracks from the films. My favourite music to play is from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film (‘Dawn’ and ‘The Secret Life of Daydreams’ in particular) but the theme to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and some songs from Sense and Sensibility and Emma are also a lot of fun! I also enjoy cross stitch (ok, so I am now cross stitching Jane Austen quotes but I started cross stitch before my addiction took hold, I did, I did!) and I used to do knitting as well, but I prefer cross stitch these days. I take pleasure in baking as well – that is baking sweet things, not cooking savoury things! Obviously since beginning my blog about a year and a half ago I have been blogging, and I try my hand out at drawing but... well let’s just say the National Art Gallery won’t be knocking on my door any time soon! Oh, well I suppose I should also say reading but I don’t think that should be classed as a hobby – I think it should be a compulsory daily activity!
You are an incredible pianist! :D I love baking and reading too...
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Well I naturally cannot include America to meet you because it is not a case of ‘if you could’ as I WILL meet you someday! So, I think I would like to visit Canada. I am not entirely sure why but I have always been interested in Canada and its connections. I also hear it is a beautiful country. I also would like to visit Ireland (I know, it is only next door to where I already live!) to experience the culture and the people, the good old Irish charm. A few of my favourite books I have read have been set partly in Ireland as well as a few of my favourite films, such as Leap Year, which I think has increased my desire to visit Ireland.
Aw! Haha I can't wait to meet you!!! <3 I have some friends in Canada- so say hello when you go! ;) It's always been my dream to visit England, Ireland, and Scotland; I'll take you with me. ;)
Thank you SO much, Sophie, for stopping by! It was delightful getting to chat. Happy blogging! :)
No thank you for having me! This was such a wonderful interview and so much fun! :D I hope to have an interview with you on my blog in the near future! :)
Ooh, I can't wait! ;)
Once again, please go over and have a look at Alice's lovely blog Reading With Alice!
Your affectionate friend,