This month, it is our pleasure to welcome avid Jane Austen enthusiast Carole in Canada to the blog. Thank you for joining us, Carole! She has some delightful thoughts to share about Jane Austen, and the community of admirers who love her work.
She is graciously hosted this month by Jack Caldwell, and Jack has offered his complete Crescent City trilogy as a welcome gift. What a treat! We invite you to sit back and enjoy their little chat.
Books, Movies, or JAFF: How did you first discover Jane Austen?
I first discovered Jane Austen via the 1995 Andrew Davies Pride & Prejudice production and my love was born! Since then, I was on the hunt for any movies, books and JAFF (which was limited back in 1995) that I could get my hands on. There has been an absolute explosion in the past several years, but I am not complaining! I just need more time to read as many as I can!
Which is your favorite Jane Austen couple, and why?
My favourite Jane Austen couple is Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Why…?
The impertinence and joie de vivre of Elizabeth and the reserved but intelligent Mr. Darcy provide such balance to each other. The undercurrents of their passionate natures strike a chord with me.
Why do you think Jane Austen’s work is so wildly popular today?
I feel Jane’s work is so wildly popular today for many reasons (in no particular order):
- Her ability to ‘sketch’ a character
- Her wit
- The respect and civility of manners that seems so lacking in the world today
- The ability to provide a set down without swearing
- Each of us knows someone within our friends and family that we can relate to one of her characters – people have not changed over the past 200 years
- An opportunity to go back to a time that we feel is less hectic and where we are not bombarded by media of any sort other than the written word in newspapers/books. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a simpler time as war was a constant, life was hard/short, there was still murder/mayhem…you just didn’t hear about it constantly, there were unscrupulous people etc.
- The beauty of her writing
- Her sense of right and wrong that is embedded in her work.
Why do you think the JAFF community is so special?
I think the JAFF community is so special for various reasons as well. We can talk about our love of Jane, her books, and JAFF and are immediately understood. We don’t need to explain ourselves or justify why we love it. Believe me, I gave up trying to explain to my own sisters my obsession with Jane and the JAFF community. There is such a camaraderie and generous spirit that exists within this community. Each of us are given a chance to be heard and supported in their endeavors, be they author, blogger, reviewer, and/or commentator/participant. Each are valued, supported and encouraged.
Are there story ideas you would like to see explored someday, or have you thought about writing your own?
As the years have gone by, I have been amazed, delighted and surprised with the story ideas authors have come up with. I love when secondary characters are given ‘a voice’ and more stories are being written for them. Kitty Bennet is a favourite of mine, but I think I would like to see more on Jane Bennet. I am not one to get upset with her being given another character to fall in love with…but I do love her with Bingley especially when he is given a spine! As for writing one myself, well let’s just say, years ago I thought I might, but it took me years to have the confidence to write reviews, so I will leave it to others to put forth their ideas for our enjoyment!
What would you like to see more of here at Austen Variations?
Oh, that is a tough one! I have been a long time follower and have enjoyed Austen Variations. What about posts on Regency fashions, accessories and dare I say…lace? We don’t want to send Mr. Bennet to the library nor set off Mrs. Bennet’s nerves!
What Questions do you have for Jack Caldwell?
Jack, do you plan to continue expanding your Fighting Men series beyond ‘Rosings’ and ‘Persuaded’? ‘The Three Colonels’ is an all-time favourite and I have ‘The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel’ to read soon.
Carole, thank you for your kind words about THE THREE COLONELS. As for more books in the series, it all depends on the muse!
I write historical romance, with the focus on historical. Jane Austen didn’t realize it, but she lived during a pivotal point in world history. Napoleon Bonaparte was trying to conquer Europe, the infant United States wanted to expand throughout North America while Britain was expanding its colonial empire, and the Industrial Revolution had just begun. That’s why I chose to write about Waterloo (THE THREE COLONELS, THE LAST ADVENTURE OF THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, PERSUADED TO SAIL) and the period following—the Year Without Summer and the late Regency (ROSINGS PARK). Austen’s characters lived during this time, so these two things come together very nicely!
I need a story to tell, and ROSINGS does a good job describing life in post-war England during a severe depression, and all the unrest that comes with it. How the Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Bufords, and others deal with a world changing in ways they cannot predict.
I’ve toyed around with a book about Lydia’s adventures with her Colonel Denny during the East India Company rule in India (the Company Raj – 1757-1858), particularly during the administration of Governor-General Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings (1813-1823). The Third Anglo-Maratha War occurred from November 1817 to February 1818, which puts Lydia and Denny there. Of course, a story about Lydia wouldn’t be heavy lifting, like COLONELS. After all, we’re talking about Lydia here. Imagine the colonel’s pretty, flibbertigibbet wife, enchanted with the colorful saris of India, and what a commotion in the expatriate community that would cause! I’d have to put in A LOT of research on Indian history to do it justice, and I’ve got other books on tap to write.
In a way, there is another book already out there that takes place during this timeline. THE PLAINS OF CHALMETTE features a distant Darcy relation fighting for the Americans and a disinherited brother of Colonel Fitzwilliam on the British side. While it’s part of a different universe (the CRESCENT CITY series), you might enjoy it.
I want to personally thank you for supporting us authors by reading our books.
It takes a real man to write historical romance
Carole in Canada lives by the water in the idyllic Prince Edward County in Ontario, Canada…not to be confused with the province of Prince Edward Island… where she immerses herself in all things Jane and trolls auction sites for bits of history related to the time period. When not reading and reviewing JAFF, Victorian/Edwardian/Cozy Murder Mysteries, etc, she is spending time with family (2 grandchildren ages 3 and 6), playing cards with her 92 year old mother-in-law, kayaking, going to workout or visiting family in the U.S. and more than tolerates her husband’s interest in militaria of the 18th and 19th Century. Which, coincidentally, meshes with her interests from the same era!