It’s a while since I’ve posted here at Austen Variations, and it’s lovely to be back! What’s more, I’m bringing a guest with me: my friend and writing partner, Ada Bright. We’ve just spent a fantastic year co-writing a contemporary mystery-cum-romance set against the backdrop of the beautiful city of Bath during the annual Jane Austen Festival – with one very special attendee (I’m sure you can guess who)!
As authors, readers and huge fans of the characters and stories created by Jane Austen, we spend quite a bit our lives immersed in the world she created and enjoying the wonderful ‘what ifs’, variations and re-imaginings we are so fortunate to have access to.
Here’s a ‘what if’ for you, though!
What if something had prevented Jane Austen from ever publishing? Have you ever thought about the implications of not having one of our favourite authors in our midst, even 200 years after she left us?
No books? Terrible thought! Never to have read the sparkling wit of Elizabeth Bennet or Captain Wentworth’s dreamy letter? No adaptations? Colin Firth would certainly never have dived into that lake, and Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon would never have charmed us as he read poetry to Marianne.
Whilst the sheer horror of such a world is beyond our comprehension, this is precisely what Rose, the heroine of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, has to face up to! But more of that later…
We recently hosted a series of guest posts over on our Blog and asked our visitors the same question: how would your life be affected if Jane Austen had never published her novels? The answers were incredibly varied and fascinating and showed how far reaching Jane Austen’s touch is on people’s lives, including people who would have different jobs or who might not have met their husband! For Ada and myself, we were forcibly struck by the loss of so many friends – friends we would never have made or met.
When we were writing the book, however, we began to notice other things – the minutiae of life – and how those small things might also change.
For example, were you or a family member named for a character in one of Jane’s works – or do you know someone who was? Do you have a pet called Darcy or Lizzy? Filch’s cat in the Harry Potter series, Mrs Norris, would have a different name, as J.K. Rowling has said it came from the character in Mansfield Park! I even named a car Fitz once, simply because there was an F and a Z in the registration number!
How would your bookshelf look? Would there be pictures missing from your walls, keepsakes no longer hanging from your keychain, or would your phone have a different cover or ringtone?
It’s food for thought, isn’t it?!
So – what is the book about?
Although it’s a mystery/romance, the underlying theme is friendship, especially online friendships.
Our lead character, Rose, has long been an avid Jane Austen fan, so much so some decisions in her life have been influenced by her love of the author, including the choice to rent the basement apartment below No 4 Sydney Place as her home.
Rose has a rich social life on the Internet, based mainly around Austen-related forums, something she has been able to hide pretty effectively from her friends and colleagues in her day to day life, but this year, that is due to change. Rose has invited her best friend, Morgan – a Californian, whom she has never met in real life, to the annual Jane Austen Festival. Despite some trepidation over mixing these two worlds, Rose is convinced it’s going to be the best week of her life.
That is, however, until she begins to get distracted by the visitor staying in the flat above hers, the ground floor holiday apartment of No 4 Sydney Place. The young lady is clearly a dedicated Jane Austen fan, from her very authentic Regency clothing to her tendency to speak in a Regency style, but she seems both fascinated and amused by this Festival honouring the famous author.
Rose’s continued interactions with the lady begin to cause her some disquiet, but things soon take a dramatic turn, and Rose and her new friend find themselves in an alternate reality with no clear idea of how to set things right.
With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?
We’re offering a giveaway (open internationally) to one lucky reader – to enter, simply leave a comment sharing something in your life (major or minor) that would change if Jane Austen had never published her books.
- A copy of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (paperback or eBook – winner’s choice)
- A ‘Peacock Cover’ compact mirror
- A miniature copy of Pride & Prejudice from the Jane Austen House Museum
- A set of Bennet sisters’ badges
- A necklace with a quote from Darcy’s first proposal
There are links on our Blog here to online outlets stocking the paperback and eBook, should you decide to follow Rose’s adventures in Bath, or you can follow us on social media via the following links:
Thank you for letting us visit at Austen Variations! We hope you enjoyed this post and good luck to all those who enter into the draw. The winner will be picked on Sunday, 17th July (because it’s my husband’s birthday)!