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Jane in January: Jane Austen’s Darling Child – Cassandra Grafton — 72 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your thoughts and snippets from Jane’s letter to help recreate the scene of her receiving back her published book.

    Alas, P&P is not my favorite of her novels that would be Persuasion and Elizabeth is not my favorite of the P&P characters as I prefer Colonel Fitzwilliam, but that is not to say that I dislike the book or Lizzy. 😉

    • Persuasion always vies with P&P when I am asked for my favourite. Quite often, it wins as well! Colonel Fitzwilliam gets so little page time in the book, but I do love the way he has become such a much loved character in the continuations, variations, sequels etc. I love writing the Colonel; I find he’s one of the easiest to do (along with Lady C. Not sure what that says about me!) 😮 LOL

      I am pleased you enjoyed the post nonetheless! 😀

  2. That was delightful. I can just visualise the ladies sitting around the fire getting comfortable to hear this new novel that Jane had received, and I can feel Jane’s secret amusement and anxiousness as how her ‘own darling child’ would be received.

  3. Lizzy is my favorite, and I believe Miss Jane based her on much of her own personality. The observations, the ready wit, and the belief to only marry for the deepest love. Jane never married, so she gave her Lizzy( her literary daughter) the happy ending with true love she probably hoped for.

    • I think there is a great deal of Jane Austen in Elizabeth Bennet, and it would explain her close connection to the character. Lizzy can be a little too sharp at times and we know that was something Jane Austen was sometimes, too!

      I think that’s a lovely thought over her giving Elizabeth the happy ending she dreamed of for herself (and let’s face it, many of her fans dream of when they have read the book!)

  4. We do know that Miss Austen spoke (or wrote, I should say) as intimately about Emma – “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like”. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything she said about any others.

    Persuasion is my favorite book, and Wentworth my favorite character of all – but in P & P it is actually Mr. Collins who is my favorite character. I love to laugh at him almost as much as Mr. Bennet did.

    • I love that quote of how she felt other people would perceive Emma, and I especially love that she didn’t care, she was going to write the heroine she wished to create anyway!

      Persuasion is pretty much a tie for me with P&P a lot of the time. I adore that story and both Anne and the Captain.

      I love your reason for Mr Collins being your favourite character, and it’s so refreshing! Jane Austen certainly gave him some classic lines!

  5. Thank you for guiding us through the “delivery” of Jane’s child, Cassandra. It was lovely trying to imagine Jane’s feelings on this occasion. I think she deserves a medal for writing the first “modern” heroine — a flesh and blood creature with flaws and uncertainties who is realistically charming and intelligent. And then she gave us all those other wonderfully memorable characters, too! A truly remarkable woman with an amazing talent and a tiny table. Plus it was all written with a quill!

    • I know, Monica! With a quill!! Phew, I just don’t know how she had the patience.

      I love to write long-hand, but with a retractable pencil so I don’t even have to stop to sharpen it. I can’t imagine having to pause every few words to dip the pen in the ink! I know it was all they were used to, but all the same!

      We do take that delete key for granted, don’t we, once we get it onto the machine! 😀

  6. Beautifully evocative, Cassandra! You’ve ‘painted’ in the scenes so well-I love the way you took us into Jane’s mind and feelings! I’m sure the publication of P&P was a great excitement for her, and I think there’s a little evidence in another letter that she saw them all as her ‘children’.
    She did refer to Sense and Sensibility when she was staying in London with her brother Henry, and correcting proofs in the year of its publication.

    April 25th 1811
    No, indeed, I am never too busy to think of S&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.
    The Incomes remain as they were, but I will get them altered if I can. I am very much gratified by Mrs. K’s interest in it; and whatever may be the event of it as to my credit with her, sincerely wish her curiosity could be satisfied sooner than is now probable. I think she will like my Elinor, but cannot build on anything else.

    • Thank you for flagging that up, Jane! I’ve read the letters before but didn’t recall that specific mention.

      One of the things in the letter to Cassandra on 29th January I loved was Jane referring to the few errors in the text and also some criticism of her own writing in places. Combined with this piece above about waiting on proof readers to forward their changes shows us that very little changes in the writing process, despite the centuries passing!

  7. Thank you for the wonderful information on Jane’s “darling child.” I like how she read it without saying who wrote it to get an honest reaction from her friend. I like Darcy and Lizzy equally. I am so happy Lizzy wasn’t perfect, she has flaws like most people. I wouldn’t like her so much, otherwise. Darcy reminds me of my husband who has never been comfortable in social situations and can be very off-putting. I love how both characters grew throughout the story.

    • Funnily enough, Deborah, Jane wasn’t quite so happy with the follow up reading to Miss Benn, which she wrote of to Cassandra on 4th February! Rather amusingly, she is rather out of sorts about it and blames her mother for reading too quickly!

      I agree, Lizzy having flaws makes her all the more real, we can relate to her because we see her make mistakes and learn from them.

  8. Thank you so much for this, Cassandra. Knowing how Miss Austen felt about the publication of P & P is so meaningful for me. I know that the first time I saw and held my first book (an academic book), co-written with my husband, in my hands (which happened at the book fair at a convention) I was shaking, gobsmacked, etc., etc. (My book had been 15 years in the making.) For a woman in regency England how much greater would that feeling of awe be? I love Lizzy. Of course I know her better than JA’s other heroines, given how many P & P fanfics I’ve read. I love her for her wit and her self-discovery, well, I just love her. Perhaps the introvert in me is attracted to the extrovert Lizzy; I wish I could be so clever. I don’t know. I love Persuasion, and Anne and Captain Wentworth, but P & P holds pride of place in my heart.

    • I know, Beth! I really cannot imagine how she actually felt, though I’d love to know! I suspect she was calmer than we expect because to us it’s ‘OMG, it’s Pride & Prejudice’ but to her it was a new book and would it sell or wouldn’t it?

      I adore Persuasion too, and Anne and Wentworth.

  9. P&P was the first novel of hers that I read: I read it without knowing the plot ahead of time – the book was assigned reading for my ‘English’ class. Having never read a novel of its type, and with no expectations, I was as shocked as Lizzy when Mr. Darcy proposed!

    Persuasion is my favorite of her novels, which is why I would be most interested in Shannon Winslow’s book.

    • LOL Leslie. You sound like me! I read it as a set book for an examination in school (we read it aloud in class, lesson by lesson) and I can still recall being gobsmacked when Darcy first proposed! I think my astonishment was at least as severe as Elizabeth’s! Jane Austen did a fabulous job of structuring that!

      Persuasion is right there level with P&P for me. Talking of children, it’s almost like having to choose your favourite! I find it pretty impossible!

  10. Thank you for a fascinating article! I love reading about Jane’s correspondence and imagining her joy as a new book is published.

    I live in the US, and I prefer print books, please. Thanks for all the great giveaways.

  11. Thank you for the interesting article. And thank you for the giveaway! I live in Canada but I also have a mailing box in the US.

  12. I am happy to know the significance of this day, visiting Elizabeth and her Mr. Darcy in their world is a trip I take frequently, whether in dear Jane’s own words or in one of the many JAFF tributes to her beautiful works.
    If chosen, I would love Evie’s soaps. They are so beautiful.

    • I love that you called JAFF stories ‘tributes’, Kathy! That is exactly what they are. She has inspired so many people to write, her characters have captured so many people’s imaginations and I think it’s a wonderful compliment to her that so many people (writers and readers) cannot get enough of them (the characters or the stories!)

      I hope you win the soap! I have some and they are gorgeous!

  13. Thank you for helping us celebrate this glorious anniversary with Jane and everyone who loves her, Cassandra! Yes, I love Elizabeth Bennett better than any other heroine ever, I do believe, and have longed to be more like her! And P&P is my all time favorite fiction book ever… faithfully able to cheer me up anytime it’s needed, and always light, bright and entertaining!

    In my email this morning came a fun post from Bas Blue, a lovely little sales catalogue I receive. They shared their “list of twenty-eight life lessons we learned from Miss Austen, Lizzie Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and, yes, even Mr. Wickham”. It would be too long to include here, but perhaps if anyone is interested they can go to their website to see it… or ask me for it and I’ll forward it on… Here are two of my favorites from the list: “Sharp wit and a pair of fine eyes are worth far more than an expensive dress.” and, ““Obstinate, headstrong girl!” really is a compliment!” 🙂

    • So pleased you enjoyed the read, Carol, and thank you for sharing your thoughts on Elizabeth!

      The 28 life lessons sound like they were a fun read. I love the two you quoted and quite right too! 😀

  14. Overall favorite? I think that depends on my mood. P&P with Persuasion a close second, but character? I do love Darcy and Elizabeth dearly, but there is something about Colonel Fitzwilliam that comes to mind when I think favorite. Some of my favorite variations are due to him having an expanded character roll.

    Wonderful post. Thank you!
    (US)

    • Thank you, Becky. So pleased you enjoyed it.

      I’m with you on being torn between those two books! I’m also with you on there being ‘something’ about Colonel Fitzwilliam. Jane Austen gave us very little to go on about him, but he has been completely embraced by the JAFF world, writers and readers alike! I would have to agree on that basis to him being a favourite character too!

  15. Lovely, lovely post! And what would have been her thoughts if she knew that her work was loved and admired 202 years later!

    • Thank you, Kara Louise. I am so pleased you enjoyed it.

      Oh how I wish we could know her thoughts on how things stand today!!!

  16. I’m hoping this will be my lucky week. I have been vying for the international prizes for some time now. Here are my preference:

    1) Austensibly Ordinary
    2) The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen
    3) Dying to Write

    Thank you to the authors and Evie for their kind contributions.

  17. Jane’s ‘darling child’ must have given her such a sense of accomplishment and pride and an inner glow. I think you and the other authors would be able to relate well to her in that regard. It must have been difficult to hear any criticism against it except by herself!

    I would have to say Elizabeth and Darcy are my favourites, but I do so love Jane, Bingley, Kitty, Colonel Fitzwilliam…Then of course there is Anne and Captain Wentworth and I can’t forget Colonel Brandon. It’s really tough to narrow it down!

    By the way, we were fortunate to have missed the snowstorm that blew up the eastern coast. We have had sunshine and bitter cold but the fire is wonderful and the sunshine just makes everything sparkle!

    • Oh, Carole, I so understand the difficulty in choosing just one favourite character! It’s impossible, isn’t it? I love Colonel Fitzwilliam’s popularity. If only he knew! LOL

      I am pleased the snowstorm missed you! That winter cold with the bright sunlight is perfect, especially if there’s a warm fire at the end of the day! Stay warm!

    • I am so pleased you enjoyed the post, Eva!

      Yes, Elizabeth is a wonderful character, isn’t she? No wonder Jane was so proud of her!

  18. What an anniversary to celebrate! I often mentally couple JA with Emily Dickenson in their impact on the literary world and its further implications on society as a whole: softly spoken, quietly treading, ultimately packing a whollop.

  19. Wow. Well done Cassandra! This matches so closely to how I would perceive Jane Austen’s behavior – you have written this superbly.

    Elizabeth is my favorite character, by far. She had so much to lose with her choices. Fortunately for everyone, she visited Pemberley and changed her mind! 😉

  20. Such a lovely post, Cassandra! It does make me wonder, especially today, January 28th, if JA had any personal celebrations to mark the publication of P&P… Fun to think about her mindset on this special day 🙂 .

  21. Wonderful post! I love Elizabeth. I like to think I’m like her in some ways 🙂 and that Jane was like her, too.

    Thanks for the generous giveaway. I’m in the U.S. and would love to be entered for a Kindle copy of Shannon’s ebook, PP&the Perfect Match, or the soap.

  22. Thanks for helping all of us mark this notable anniversary by sharing it with JA herself! Elizabeth is my favorite character (and P&P my favorite book hands down). I love that she is witty but also so kind and compassionate. When her sister Jane finds happiness with Bingley, Elizabeth doesn’t show the slightest bit of jealousy, but is truly happy for her deserving sister, despite Elizabeth’s own remorse in love at the time. I love the way she is able to think of witty come backs in the heat of the moment, something I am not very good at. She really comes across as a complex character, which makes her real and easy to identify with, even 200+ years after she was “birthed”.

    • You’re welcome! 😀

      I love your interpretation of Elizabeth’s character. You are quite right about her witty comebacks in the heat of the moment! I am like you and not very good at it at all! Isn’t it a pain when the perfect response comes to you later and you can’t go back and say, ‘hey, by the way, this is what I was thinking but couldn’t find the words for’?

      Jane Austen gives us such rounded characters, it’s no wonder we identify with them as real and they remain as ‘alive’ today as they did then. 😀

  23. How delightful! Thank you for this wonderful insight. I Loved the references to her letters and her connection to the character of Elizabeth Bennet.

  24. Thanks for such an informative post, Cassandra. It’s strange to think how restrained Jane herself seems to have been regarding the publication of her books. I know I’d be shouting it from the rooftops, but they were different times and having to have her book published “by a lady” or “by the author of…” reflects that, I guess. I still get a shiver down my spine when I remember seeing her writing table, in real life, for the first time. How many hours did she spend at that table revising the manuscript she first wrote so many years before?

    My visit to Chawton on New Year’s Eve was one of the highlights of 2014 for me, in addition meeting your good self in the summer, of course! The top highlight, though, has to be my son’s graduation from Uni – my own darling child got a first, better than either of his parents.

    The photo of the writing table above is almost exactly the same as the one I took in landscape with the intention of it becoming my desktop wallpaper, which it has. Also took one in portrait to have on my phone. The picture of the cottage is almost identical to one of mine, too.

    Like many others, I’ve always thought that Elizabeth was probably the nearest in character to Jane herself. Maybe that’s why, of all her books, it seems to resonate the most with us. I’ve always thought that Persuasion also had a lot of Jane in it, too. Is Shannon’s latest book nearer the mark than any of us could guess? Like you, Persuasion certainly vies for top place as my favourite.

    When it come to the draw, please could I be entered for Austensibly Ordinary and Dying to Write. I either have all of the others or I not eligible.

    Thanks to all of you for Jane in January. I’m enjoying renewing my acquaintance with Theo on FB and so looking forward to the launch of TDB next week.

  25. Congratulations to your son, Anji! You must be so proud!

    I loved your tale of your unexpected visit to Chawton, it was so heart-warming! (And I loved meeting you too! Another lunch in Harrogate must be on the cards some time this year!)

    I do agree with you that there seems to be a lot of Jane Austen in Persuasion, the older more reflective Jane. Though very different in temperament, it makes you wonder how Elizabeth Bennet would have been at 27 had she and Darcy never got their second chance. Would she still be holding onto the love she discovered too late or would she have been able to move on?

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Anji!

  26. Its hard to say who my favorite character is, it’s a hard fight between Elizabeth and Darcy. I love her wit and gentleness, but its hard not to love Darcy’s transformation throughout the book.

  27. Love your post. Love Elizabeth Bennet, too. She was definitely ahead of her time. If Darcy was real, any woman would want to be attached! Look at Caroline Bingley. She thought she was a barnacle!

  28. Charming post, Cassandra. I loved your thoughts on what Jane might have been doing that day. I have a difficult time choosing a favorite between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. That each have such definite attractions as to make each of them easily a favorite. If I had to choose, it would be Elizabeth with Mr. Darcy running a ‘very close’ second.

    • Now there’s a lovely image, Janet: Mr Darcy running to keep up with Elizabeth! 😉 I feel a short story coming on!

      So pleased you enjoyed the post!

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