Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sense and Sensibility - first published in 1811!

In 1811, Jane Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility was published on October 30th by Thomas Egerton. Jane paid for the privilege and awarded her publisher a commission on sales. She made a profit of £140 on the first edition, which sold all 750 printed copies by July 1813. A second edition was advertised in October 1813. Note the title page in the last illustration - there is no reference to Jane as the author. It simply states - By a Lady - it was not considered quite the done thing to be a lady novelist and so keeping her name a secret was preferred.
On April 25th of that year she was doing the last edits to her book. I love this snippet to Cassandra in a letter sent whilst she was staying at her brother Henry's house in Sloane Street, London. If you remember, this was the brother who had married Eliza de Feuillide. Jane writes:

No, indeed, I am never too busy to think of S. and S. I can no more forget it than a mother can forget her sucking child; and I am much obliged to you for your inquiries. I have had two sheets to correct, but the last only brings us to Willoughby's first appearance. Mrs. K. regrets in the most flattering manner that she must wait till May, but I have scarcely a hope of its being out in June. Henry does not neglect it; he has hurried the printer, and says he will see him again to-day. It will not stand still during his absence, it will be sent to Eliza.

Here is that passage describing Willoughby's first appearance:

They set off. Marianne had at first the advantage, but a false step brought her suddenly to the ground, and Margaret, unable to stop herself to assist her, was involuntarily hurried along, and reached the bottom in safety.

A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers playing round him, was passing up the hill and within a few yards of Marianne, when her accident happened. He put down his gun and ran to her assistance. She had raised herself from the ground, but her foot had been twisted in the fall, and she was scarcely able to stand. The gentleman offered his services, and perceiving that her modesty declined what her situation rendered necessary, took her up in his arms without farther delay, and carried her down the hill. Then passing through the garden, the gate of which had been left open by Margaret, he bore her directly into the house, whither Margaret was just arrived, and quitted not his hold till he had seated her in a chair in the parlour.

Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at their entrance, and while the eyes of both were fixed on him with an evident wonder and a secret admiration which equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized for his intrusion by relating its cause, in a manner so frank and so graceful, that his person, which was uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice and expression. Had he been even old, ugly, and vulgar, the gratitude and kindness of Mrs. Dashwood would have been secured by any act of attention to her child; but the influence of youth, beauty, and elegance, gave an interest to the action which came home to her feelings.

Later on in her letter, Jane Austen describes a party that Henry and Eliza were giving for friends - it gives us a delicious insight into her world.

At half-past seven arrived the musicians in two hackney coaches, and by eight the lordly company began to appear. Among the earliest were George and Mary Cooke, and I spent the greater part of the evening very pleasantly with them. The drawing-room being soon hotter than we liked, we placed ourselves in the connecting passage, which was comparatively cool, and gave us all the advantage of the music at a pleasant distance, as well as that of the first view of every new comer.

I was quite surrounded by acquaintances, especially gentlemen; and what with Mr. Hampson, Mr. Seymour, Mr. W. Knatchbull, Mr. Guillemarde, Mr. Cure, a Captain Simpson, brother to the Captain Simpson, besides Mr. Walter and Mr. Egerton, in addition to the Cookes, and Miss Beckford, and Miss Middleton, I had quite as much upon my hands as I could do.

Poor Miss B. has been suffering again from her old complaint, and looks thinner than ever. She certainly goes to Cheltenham the beginning of June. We were all delight and cordiality of course. Miss M. seems very happy, but has not beauty enough to figure in London.

Including everybody we were sixty-six - which was considerably more than Eliza had expected, and quite enough to fill the back drawing-room and leave a few to be scattered about in the other and in the passage.

The music was extremely good. It opened (tell Fanny) with "Poike de Parp pirs praise pof Prapela"; and of the other glees I remember, "In peace love tunes," "Rosabelle," "The Red Cross Knight," and "Poor Insect." Between the songs were lessons on the harp, or harp and pianoforte together; and the harp-player was Wiepart, whose name seems famous, though new to me. There was one female singer, a short Miss Davis, all in blue, bringing up for the public line, whose voice was said to be very fine indeed; and all the performers gave great satisfaction by doing what they were paid for, and giving themselves no airs. No amateur could be persuaded to do anything.

The house was not clear till after twelve. If you wish to hear more of it, you must put your questions, but I seem rather to have exhausted than spared the subject.

Willoughby's Return is to be published officially tomorrow. If Jane was half as excited about her publication she must have been happy indeed!

Jane Austen, Henry Austen by Jane Odiwe
Title page of Sense and Sensibility

Friday, October 30, 2009

P and P Tours!

It's always lovely to go visiting places associated with Jane - what a brilliant idea to turn a hobby you love into an activity that will give others pleasure too. I'm very tempted by the tours offered on the P&P Tours website, and now their newsletter is tempting me even more.

Why not give a P&P Tours voucher as the perfect Christmas gift? Delivered in gift vellum with a letter from Jane herself and tied with ribbon, each comes with a complimentary upgrade to a Darcy, or Lady Catherine package - or an equivalent superior on our other tours. Redeemable until December 2012. Priced from £25 up to as much as you like! There's even a chance to win £100 off the next tour! Visit the website and e-mail for a subscription to the newsletter for more details.

Never mind the P&P tour, I'd love to go on the Sense and Sensibility tour! Do you think if I drop enough hints, the lovely ladies Helen Wilkinson and Maddy Hall who run these splendid tours might invite me along one of the days? I can always be available for a reading in Bath!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Blog Tour has started!

I've been having a lovely time visiting the blogs of Lori Hedgpeth Psychotic State blogspot and Mandi Schreiner Smexy Books

Click the links above to read their interviews!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Willoughby's Return - Reviews!

Thank you to Barbara, Bella, and Mandi, who have taken the time to read and review Willoughby's Return on their blogs. I'm looking forward to their interviews!

Everything Victorian and More...
In this new sequel to Sense and Sensibility, Ms. Odiwe has captured Jane Austen's style with ease and eloquence, making this book a rare reading delight.

A Bibliophile's Bookshelf

I openly admit that I’m a Pride and Prejudice fan. I know Pride and Prejudice inside out, and it is one of my most beloved books in my bookcase. Having said that I do have a soft spot for Jane Austen’s other novels, and in particular to the tale of Sense and Sensibility. Of all of Jane Austen’s heroine’s Elinor Dashwood is right up there alongside Eliza Bennet as one of my favorites.

Imagine my delight when I was asked to review an upcoming sequel to Sense and Sensibility called Willoughby’s Return by the lovely Jane Odiwe. A chance to dive back into the sweet story of Sense and Sensibility, with the impetuous Marianne and the strong, beautiful Elinor. Of course I had to say yes, and thus started a wonderful reading journey back into the world of the Dashwoods.

Willoughby’s Return sets the scene three years after Sense and Sensibility, and sees Marianne and Elinor happily married, with a few bumps in the road occurring when John Willoughby re-enters their lives.

Jane Odiwe writes with such eloquence and style that you can’t be helped for thinking that you are reading a Jane Austen book, but no it is definitely Jane Odiwe’s name on the cover!

In characters, plot and style, Willoughby’s Return is so beautifully written, that there is barely a seam between Sense and Sensibilty and Willoughby’s Return.

Despite the premise on the back-cover, this story centers more around Margaret Dashwood, as Marianne plays matchmaker and tries to set her up with the wealthy Henry Lawrence.

I loved the plot, and the way that Margaret is cast into the spotlight. For me, it kept the storyline fresh and interesting, and between Margaret and Marianne I was glued right through to the last pages.

This is Jane Odiwe’s second book, and it is clear that her skills as a writer are developing and becoming better and better. I thoroughly enjoyed Willoughby’s Return and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for her next novel.

Smexy Books

Willoughby's Return is a delightful tale that swept me away for the time I was reading. For those who are looking to return to the Austen world with a very sweet story, I definitely recommend this book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Author Copies of Willoughby's Return and Dinner at the Reform Club

My author copies have arrived! I can't tell you how exciting it is when the box of books arrives - so much more thrilling because they have travelled 3963 miles to get here. I love the look of the book, it sounds silly, I know, but I can't stop stroking the cover - Sourcebooks have the most wonderful book designers. Thank you, Brenden Hitt, for an amazing cover, I couldn't have imagined anything as fabulous. Thank you very much to everyone at Sourcebooks - Dominique Raccah, Deb Werksman, Danielle Jackson, and to everyone else who has worked so hard to realise another of my dreams of seeing my work in print.
It's always very strange to think as I sit in my little room, here in England, sending files through the internet to America on the other side of the world, that they will be turned into a book that I can hold in my hands.

My Sourcebooks publisher, Dominique Raccah, invited me and some of the othor Sourcebooks authors to dinner at the Reform Club last week. It was a day where the rain lashed down relentlessly, so I was a bit damp when I arrived. However, just walking down Pall Mall was exciting enough in itself, the whole area is seeped in history, and as I walked past the scarlet-coated, busby-wearing soldiers guarding St. James's Palace, I couldn't help thinking of Pride and Prejudice, nor of how Lydia Bennet would have appreciated seeing the soldiers!

Do you remember the references to St. James's Palace in P&P? Here's one - Jane Austen is describing Sir William Lucas:

By nature inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James's had made him courteous.

The Reform Club was founded in 1836, in Pall Mall, in the centre of what is often called London’s Clubland. The founders commissioned a leading architect of the day, Charles Barry, to build an imposing and palatial clubhouse. Opened in 1841, membership was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party.

The Reform Club is no longer associated with any particular political party, and now serves a purely social function. While the Club presents a chaste and stately appearance on the outside, inside it is richly flamboyant. Large portraits of Whig and Radical leaders of the nineteenth century reform movement are set in panels in the upper and lower floors of the atrium. The walls and columns are faced with marble and scagliola, an artificial marble, the secrets of whose manufacture have only been rediscovered in recent years. The colours are deep red and green, white, sienna, black and gold.

Dominique and her husband were the most lovely and gracious hosts, and I was very lucky to meet four authors whose work I admire very much - Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell, Helen Hollis and last, but by no means least, the lovely Monica Fairview who I know from blogging with the Historical Romance UK authors. Sadly, Amanda Grange could not join us - she was greatly missed! A lovely evening was had by all, and will be one of those I have safely stored in my memory box of special treasures!

Pictures and photos:

Willoughby's Return
Monica Fairview, Jane Odiwe, Helen Hollis
Helen Hollis, Dominique Raccah, Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell
Reform Club
St. James's Palace (old print)
Elizabeth Chadwick and Jill Mansell

Review for Willoughby's Return on Everything Victorian and more

There's a review up on Everything Victorian and More... for Willoughby's Return. I shall be interviewed by Barbara on November 3rd, so I hope to see you there!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dancing with Mr Darcy!

Last night Monica Fairview (The Other Mr Darcy) and I went to the book launch of Dancing with Mr Darcy. If you haven't heard about this book before it's a selection of short stories inspired by Chawton and connections to Jane Austen. What is really worthwhile, I think, is that the proceeds of the book go back into Chawton House, which I'm sure you know was rescued, restored and turned into a library, which collects women's literature from 1600 - 1830 by the fabulous lady Sandy Lerner.
The book started as a competition where anyone who felt inspired could submit their short story with a chance of being published. I've bought the book, and very good it is too - it was lovely to meet some of the authors - I now have a signed copy! We thought you'd enjoy seeing the pictures as so many of you who visit my blog live so far away. I'm always fascinated by the number of different countries that visitors to my blog come from - UK, America, Sweden, Italy, France, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Australia, Phillipines, Russia, Denmark, Canada, India, Africa - to name but a few. I know you would all have loved to have been there last night, so I hope this gives a flavour of the evening.
The wonderful author Sarah Waters introduced the book to us all, and then the winner, Victoria Owens treated us to a splendid reading of her story.
It was lovely to see Tom Carpenter from Jane Austen's House again as I haven't seen him for a while - there's another lovely place to visit. A few of the stories have the house as their inspiration. If you've ever been lucky enough to go and visit Jane's house you'll know what an inspiring place it is to visit. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all - my congratulations to all involved - I wish you every success with the book and your future careers!

The authors
Monica Fairview
Tom Carpenter and Jane Odiwe
Sarah Waters and Jane Odiwe

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Willoughby's Return, Colonel Brandon and Marianne!

There are just fifteen days left before Willoughby's Return comes out on November 1st. It's an exciting time, but two weeks seems such a very long time at this point. The cover picture is now up on Amazon - hopefully, my author copies will be arriving soon! Seeing the book cover go up on the internet is wonderful but nothing compares to getting your hands on a real copy.
I am going to be doing a blog tour - Here are some of the blogs I shall be visiting - I'm looking forward to it all very much.

Jane Austen's World
Smexy Books
Book Nerd Extraordinaire
Everything Victorian
Savvy, Verse and Wit
A Bibliophile's Bookshelf
The Bookworm Blogspot
Books Like Breathing
Fresh Fiction
I'm going to be doing interviews and 'talking' about the inspiration behind the book, as well as my artwork, which I must admit has been a little neglected of late. In celebration of the publication there will be some new paintings, some fun stuff, quizzes and the like, as well as prizes! So keep an eye open on my blog towards the beginning of November!

I loved writing about the relationship between Marianne and her husband Colonel Brandon. They love one another deeply, but are often guilty of not communicating (in a very English way) on subjects that are dear to their hearts. What people say to one another and what they keep back is a fascinating subject for me. I thought the relationship that the Colonel shares with his ward Miss Williams alongside the relationship with her child who is also Willoughby's daughter would create a certain tension between them. Punctuated by outbursts from Marianne followed by silences on the subject as she listens to her sister's advice, I felt the conflicts would most likely end in reserve and avoidance.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lacock, Meryton and Pride and Prejudice!

Pictures from Lacock - the pretty, typically English village that has been used so many times in Jane Austen adaptations. I thought I'd show you some of the less familiar scenes away from the main street.
Lacock has been used in many BBC productions and films - when I visited, the locals in the teashop told me about their experiences as extras which sounded great fun! Lacock was used in the lovely 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice for the town of Meryton. Here's how Jane Austen first introduces Meryton.

The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way. The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters', and when nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pictures from Bath!

I love going to Bath as you've probably gathered if you read my blog - it's a bit like Jane Austen fairyland for me. From the minute you see the signs on the motorway and make the turning onto the winding, leafy road which descends into Bath itself, I always feel as if I've left the real world and made my escape! Part of the pleasure is the feeling that you are going back in time as you travel past the Tollgate tea shop,which is always busy at any time of day, Dyrham Park, a lovely 17th century Baroque house, and little villages, no more than a few houses each with tantalising names like Pennsylvania - yes, really!
This top photo shows a view looking toward the Cross Bath - the view from the other end was used in the filming of Persuasion. There is something so elegant about the line of columns - so pleasing to the eye!
I don't think there is anywhere else in England where there are so many examples of Georgian houses and buildings all in one place. Although I've been many times over the years there are still new places I find, interesting shops, museums, restaurants and pubs to discover, not to mention all the wonderful walks to go on. I always come back with aching legs! Recently, I saw these amazing sculptures in the square by Bath Abbey - the contrast between old and new made a good photographic opportunity.
The last view is of Abbey Green just a short step away from the Abbey itself. This area with its little shops and lanes is a favourite of mine - narrow alleyways lead off to places like Sally Lunn's, and the Bath Sweet shop - still a favourite with my children, and take one's footsteps to the river and Pulteney Bridge.
Writing in June 1799 Jane Austen wrote about Bath shops to her sister and about her purchases:

My cloak is come home. I like it very much, and can now exclaim with delight, like J. Bond at hay-harvest, "This is what I have been looking for these three years." I saw some gauzes in a shop in Bath Street yesterday at only 4d. a yard, but they were not so good or so pretty as mine. Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers', but I have never seen any of them in hats. A plum or greengage would cost three shillings; cherries and grapes about five, I believe, but this is at some of the dearest shops. My aunt has told me of a very cheap one, near Walcot Church, to which I shall go in guest of something for you. I have never seen an old woman at the pump-room.

Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza's, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this. . .

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Musgroves at Uppercross, Persuasion

Here I am at Uppercross - at least, the location where they filmed the 1995 and 2008 adaptations of Persuasion. If you remember, the Musgrove family live here and in the book there are some hilarious moments as Anne finds herself party to all the complaints from everyone who wishes to take her into their confidence! I must admit the 1995 version is my favourite of all the adaptations, I think because it is so true to the book. All the actors did a wonderful job - Amanda Root is perfect as Anne Elliot and Ciaran Hinds her perfect complement as Captain Frederick Wentworth (swoon!) But there are memorable performances from a delightful cast who give me huge pleasure every time I watch this BBC classic.
From Jane Austen's wonderful book, I have selected two extracts for your delight:-

Chapter 6

Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross, to learn that a removal from one set of people to another, though at a distance of only three miles, will often include a total change of conversation, opinion, and idea. She had never been staying there before, without being struck by it, or without wishing that other Elliots could have her advantage in seeing how unknown, or unconsidered there, were the affairs which at Kellynch Hall were treated as of such general publicity and pervading interest; yet, with all this experience, she believed she must now submit to feel that another lesson, in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle, was become necessary for her; for certainly, coming as she did, with a heart full of the subject which had been completely occupying both houses in Kellynch for many weeks, she had expected rather more curiosity and sympathy than she found in the separate, but very similar remark of Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove: "So, Miss Anne, Sir Walter and your sister are gone; and what part of Bath do you think they will settle in?" and this, without much waiting for an answer; or in the young ladies' addition of, "I hope we shall be in Bath in the winter; but remember, papa, if we do go, we must be in a good situation: none of your Queen-squares for us!" or in the anxious supplement from Mary, of "Upon my word, I shall be pretty well off, when you are all gone away to be happy at Bath!"

I love this next extract which shows Jane Austen's mastery in creating the characters we feel we know!

One of the least agreeable circumstances of her residence there was her being treated with too much confidence by all parties, and being too much in the secret of the complaints of each house. Known to have some influence with her sister, she was continually requested, or at least receiving hints to exert it, beyond what was practicable. "I wish you could persuade Mary not to be always fancying herself ill," was Charles's language; and, in an unhappy mood, thus spoke Mary: "I do believe if Charles were to see me dying, he would not think there was any thing the matter with me. I am sure, Anne, if you would, you might persuade him that I really am very ill - a great deal worse than I ever own."

Mary's declaration was, "I hate sending the children to the Great House, though their grandmamma is always wanting to see them, for she humours and indulges them to such a degree, and gives them so much trash and sweet things, that they are sure to come back sick and cross for the rest of the day." And Mrs. Musgrove took the first opportunity of being alone with Anne, to say, "Oh! Miss Anne, I cannot help wishing Mrs. Charles had a little of your method with those children. They are quite different creatures with you! But to be sure, in general they are so spoilt! It is a pity you cannot put your sister in the way of managing them. They are as fine healthy children as ever were seen, poor little dears, without partiality; but Mrs. Charles knows no more how they should be treated - ! Bless me! how troublesome they are sometimes. I assure you, Miss Anne, it prevents my wishing to see them at our house so often as I otherwise should. I believe Mrs. Charles is not quite pleased with my not inviting them oftener; but you know it is very bad to have children with one, that one is obliged to be checking every moment, "don't do this, and don't do that;"; or that one can only keep in tolerable order by more cake than is good for them."