Sunday, November 22, 2009

Searching for Pemberley

Author: Mary Lydon Simonsen
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402224397

My Review:

On a trip to England, after World War II, an American woman, Maggie James, sets out to investigate a rumor concerning Jane Austen's writing of literature's famous Pride and Prejudice. The history of Pemberley begins to open as she meets the residents of a beautiful stately mansion in the countryside. Was this the actual home of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? Through reading a series of old documents, Maggie begins to unravel the history and personalities behind one of the most beloved romances in literature.

The author's writing flows with ease from page to page, making it an easy, fast read. It's a story that brings new insight, meaning, and possibilities to an old favorite that is sure to fascinate Austen fans.

(Thanks to SourceBooks for my review copy.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The winner of Willoughby's Return is Laura Hartness. Congratulations! Please send me an email with your mailing address.

Thanks to all who entered.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jane Odiwe: Author of "Willoughby's Return" Interview + Book Giveaway

Author: Jane Odiwe
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
(November 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 140222267X

Dear Friends,

We are so fortunate today to be interviewing, Jane Odiwe, author of the new Jane Austen sequel, Willoughby's Return. Her publisher, SourceBooks, is also giving away one brand new copy of the book, to a lucky reader of this interview--you can find out how to enter at the end of the posting. Happy reading!

Now to our interview:

1. What inspired you to write about the main character?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. She’s a heroine who wears her heart on her sleeve and never loves by halves. In Jane Austen’s book Marianne has two great love affairs – firstly, with the dashing Mr Willoughby, who ignites the feelings of her first great passion but who lets her down badly, and secondly, with Colonel Brandon, an older, steadier man who is the real hero, the one she marries. The ending of Sense and Sensibility surprises some readers who can’t believe that Marianne really loves the Colonel enough to marry him. This intrigued me, and the fact that she is a character we easily identify with – I’m sure most people have known a Willoughby at some stage in their lives, but have been able to move on and find lasting, true love with somebody who really suits them. Colonel Brandon has also suffered from the disappointment of a first love and I wanted to explore not only their relationship but also how the impact of those first attachments might affect their lives together.

2. What is your favorite line from this book?

Gosh, what a good question! This is a difficult one, but when Marianne meets Willoughby again and has to be escorted into dinner by him she finds herself in a very difficult situation. Here’s the line: Despite purposefully leaning as far away from him as she was able, she could not help but be aware of his nearness, and of his smell, emanating like an elixir from a bygone age, mingled into a potpourri of fragrant images from the past.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?

I was a very small girl when I first started writing, but then I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I still have a series of little books about the ‘Smiles Family’ that I made when I was about eight or nine. I think it’s taken a lifetime to develop my craft and I’m still learning now!

4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book/books made the biggest impact on your writing?

Of course Jane Austen is a huge influence. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and all of her books have made the biggest impact. But I also love any books by Frances Hodgson Burnett, (The Making of a Marchioness) Edith Wharton, (The Age of Innocence) and Fanny Burney (Evelina) to name but a few of my favourite writers. There are so many wonderful books out there that it’s hard to choose. Writers of the past rather than the present are my biggest influence because those are the books I tend to prefer – I love the quality of writing that you get in an older book.

5. Who is your favorite writer?

No contest – Jane Austen. Her books have been the pleasure of my life and the reason I have become a published writer. She is recognised now as a genius, but I wish she had known in her lifetime how her writing would eventually be regarded - how much her work is revered and loved today!

6. Does storytelling run in your family?

We all enjoy a good book or story. My parents encouraged us to read and told stories when I was young. I hope I’ve passed this love of storytelling to my children. My husband is a brilliant storyteller – I think he’d write a marvellous book.

7. When creating the story, which is the most difficult, the beginning, middle, or ending?

The middle is the most difficult for me, most definitely. I think you have to be able to keep the reader interested in turning the pages and keeping up the momentum being careful not to give too much away too early and tying it all up too soon before you get to the end.

8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or night person? Do you have a special place you like to go to for inspiration? What energizes you?

I am a morning person, but that can mean very early morning. Sometimes, I wake at three in the morning with an idea, and I have to write it down because if I don’t I’ll forget it before I wake up again the next day. I think I must be solving problems in my sleep because this happens quite a lot. There is something lovely about writing in the early hours when there is no one about – my little writing room is next door to my bedroom so it’s very easy to pop in there and switch on the computer. I love my room, I am so lucky to have one all of my own. It’s lined with books, and filled with objects, pictures and paintings that I love. I have a desk before the window and watch all the world pass by whilst I’m writing. It’s great inspiration.

9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?

Keep striving to learn how you can improve your writing, and read, read read! Remember why you started writing in the first place when you get bogged down with problems – that’s sometimes forgotten when you are in pursuit of getting published and you’ve just received a rejection letter.

10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

I sometimes get to meet the people who have read my books – I can’t tell you the thrill it is when someone tells me or writes to tell me that they enjoyed a particular book. I indulge myself in my favourite activity on a daily basis and also get to spend huge chunks of the day in another century in Jane Austen’s world (or my version of it, at least) – what more could anyone wish?!

Thank you, Ms. Odiwe, for the interesting answers and much good luck with your new book.

Readers please remember: SourceBooks is giving away one brand new copy of "Willoughby's Return."

To enter:

*Please leave a comment with your email address for 1 point
*Become a Follower for 5 points (tell me if you already are)
*You must be a resident of the USA or Canada to win.
*Winner will be announced on November 10, 2009

(Thank you to SourceBooks for the giveaway copy)
My Review of Willoughby's Return can be found below.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Willoughby's Return / Review

Author: Jane Odiwe
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (November 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 140222267X

My Review:

After her marriage to Colonel William Brandon, Marianne (formerly Marianne Dashwood) seems more settled and content, but things are about to change, drastically, for the normally impetuous heroine, when the Colonel is called away. An unexpected, charming, old flame resurfaces, opening up old wounds and new passions.

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.

Note: I will interview author Jane Odiwe on November 3rd. Please drop by!
(Thank you to SourceBooks for my complementary review copy.)

Monday, October 12, 2009


The winner of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy is MARILYN. Congratulations!! Please send your address to me by email.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Interview with Sara Angelini + Giveaway

Author: Sara Angelini
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 2009)
ISBN-10: 140222110X

Today I am interviewing Sara Angelini, author of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy. Ms. Angelini has kindly agreed to answer some questions concerning her life and writing.

I am also giving away 1 copy of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy on Oct. 12th, compliments of Sourcebooks. To enter:

*Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry.
*Become a follower for 3 entries (let me know if you already are.)
*Blog about this giveaway for 3 entries (let me know if you do this).
*Last day to enter is October 11th.
*Drawing is open to Us and Canada residents only

Author interview:

1. What inspired you to write about the main character?
The main character, Will Darcy, is a contemporary version of Mr. Darcy. In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we don’t really get to know Mr. Darcy very well. We know that he’s wealthy, proud, not afraid to speak his mind, and well-liked by those who know him. But we don’t really know what he’s like: what makes him tick. Does he have a sense of humor? Is he content? Does he understand the responsibilities of his position or does he take his wealth for granted? We see shades or hints but never the full picture. That is perhaps one of the most intriguing things about Mr. Darcy. Austen has given him “good bones” but left it up to the reader’s imagination to flesh him out.

2. What is your favorite line from this book?
“Should I make the check to F. Darcy? Middle initial U?”

3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?
I have always been a writer, even as a little kid. I wrote little two-page books and illustrated them; I wrote poems for my mom on holidays. In junior high and high school I enjoyed writing essays and often had my work read by the teacher in class. My father thought I should have been a journalist, but I wound up going to law school. I still get to write every day, but it’s not very creative.
I don’t think I actively strive to develop my craft. As a mom and full-time lawyer, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and write. I see it more as a pleasant pastime, a way to unwind when I can. That keeps it from becoming a stressful task.

4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book/books made the biggest impact on your writing?
Reading is a large part of my life but I do not have enough time to devote to it anymore. These days I read maybe a book a month; shameful, I know.

5. Who is your favorite writer?
It depends on my mood. I do love JK Rowling; my husband and I like to read Harry Potter out loud to each other, complete with character voices. I also recently re-read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series; such a wonderful look at history!

6. Does storytelling run in your family?
I would say humor runs in our family, but not storytelling.

7. When creating the story, which is the most difficult, the beginning, middle, or ending?
The beginning, hands down! I can have a fully-formed story pressing against the dam, ready to burst forward, but I cannot get it down on paper until I’ve got the beginning down.

8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or night person? Do you have a special place you like to go to for inspiration? What energizes you?
I like to write at night, when the house finally gets quiet. I don’t have an office anymore so I usually end up on the couch with a laptop listening to music. I get a lot of inspiration when I’m in my car on the commute to work; I listen to the radio and somebody will say something funny or I’ll hear a song that will inspire a scene. I am energized by getting the ball rolling. As many writers know, the toughest challenge to writing is just sitting your butt down and getting started. Once I have eliminated distractions and begin to write, it’s like gliding down a hill on a sled; brisk, fun, and maybe leaves your cheeks pink.

9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?
I’m not really the person to give advice to emerging writers as I’m still one myself! The one piece of advice I followed - write what you know - worked for me, so maybe that will work for someone else.

10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Getting to tell a story exactly the way you want it. So many times I’ve read stories that I liked but that I felt were missing something, or that I hated and wanted to revamp from top to bottom. When you write, you are in full control of your characters. Every stumble and success comes from you. Of course you also have nobody but yourself to blame!
Thank you so much for having me here at Serenity Gate, it’s been great fun!


Monday, October 5, 2009

OCTOBER 7TH: Author Interview with Sara Angelini / The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy

Author: Sara Angelini
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 2009)
ISBN-10: 140222110X

Book Description:
A sexy, bold adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that re-paints favorite characters in twenty-first century colors.

Judge Fitzwilliam Darcy, a legal expert on both sides of the Atlantic, is ready to hang up his black robe and return to the life of a country gentleman—until he meets Elizabeth Bennet, a fresh-faced attorney with a hectic schedule and no time for the sexy but haughty judge.Tempers and sparks fly in Judge Darcy's courtroom— and outside, in a series of chance encounters that give each of them pause—as the two match wits and try to fight their overwhelming attraction. When they meet up in England at an international law conference, they embark on a hot, heavy affair. Back in the States, though, ethical considerations intrude, and each is subjected to a torturous period of soul-searching before they can find their way back to each other.



The winner of a copy of The Other Mr. Darcy is Sheila. Congratulations! Please email your address within 48 hours.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways in the near future!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy

Author: Sara Angelini
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 2009)
ISBN-10: 140222110X

Book Description:

A sexy, bold adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that re-paints favorite characters in twenty-first century colors.

Judge Fitzwilliam Darcy, a legal expert on both sides of the Atlantic, is ready to hang up his black robe and return to the life of a country gentleman—until he meets Elizabeth Bennet, a fresh-faced attorney with a hectic schedule and no time for the sexy but haughty judge.
Tempers and sparks fly in Judge Darcy's courtroom— and outside, in a series of chance encounters that give each of them pause—as the two match wits and try to fight their overwhelming attraction. When they meet up in England at an international law conference, they embark on a hot, heavy affair. Back in the States, though, ethical considerations intrude, and each is subjected to a torturous period of soul-searching before they can find their way back to each other.

My Review:

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett are once again united in the new sequel, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, a contemporary love story based on Jane Austen's unforgettable Pride and Prejudice. In this sequel, the wealthy Darcy is a notable judge who has become bored with his profession when he meets the attractive attorney, Elizabeth.

As soon as I heard about the new book I could hardly wait to read it, but from the very beginning I was surprised when the historically charming Mr. Darcy, one of my favorite gentleman heroes in literature, started dropping the rather crude and vulgar F-bomb. Even though this is a modern-day novel, I felt this one element was completely out of character and was taken too far. Overall, the book was an interesting adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
(Thank you to Sourcebooks for my review copy.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Interview with Monica Fairview + Giveaway

Today I have the privilege of interviewing guest author Monica Fairview. Ms. Fairview is the author of the new Pride and Prejudice sequel, The Other Mr. Darcy, which will be released in October. (Please see my review below this interview.) She has graciously agreed to answer a few questions for my readers.

*GIVEAWAY--I will give away 1 copy of The Other Mr. Darcy on October 5th, compliments of Sourcebooks. The rules are:

*Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry.
*Become a follower for 3 entries (let me know if you already are.)
*Blog about this giveaway for 3 entries (let me know if you do this).
*Last day to enter is October 4th.
*Drawing is open to Us and Canada residents only.

Author interview:

1. What drew you to portray the main character of the book?
Caroline Bingley was wronged. I don’t know at what stage of re-reading Pride and Prejudice I reached that conclusion, but it was around the time I became aware of how cleverly Jane Austen conceals Lizzy Bennett’s point of view under the guise of a third person narrator. I admire Jane Austen’s brilliance in having us look at everyone in the novel from Lizzy’s perspective, even when Lizzy isn’t there. Anyone who wants to learn about subtlety in POV would do well to look at Pride and Prejudice.

But then you have to go on to the next step: as the title indicates, the novel is about pride and prejudice. Lizzy is the one’s who’s prejudiced. She’s quick to judge people, and she is often wrong. She has to change her mind about a number of people throughout the novel. She is more like Emma than one would think. She is wrong about her own friend Charlotte as well as about Darcy, Wickham, (and, briefly) Georgiana, so why couldn’t she have misjudged Caroline as well? When she goes to visit Pemberley and sees Caroline there, she acknowledges that the motivation for Caroline’s behaviour was jealousy, and has a rare moment of empathy for her, knowing that her intrusion would be unwelcome. But that thread isn’t developed any further, and by then the damage is already done, so Caroline comes out as the bad guy (or woman). I wanted to write something that would give Caroline a chance to win her Mr. Darcy. Hence The Other Mr. Darcy.

2.What is your favourite line from this book?
“One does not always want to bare one’s soul. And sometimes, if it is important enough, one doesn’t even know how.”
I’ll leave you to guess who said them.

3.When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 8. I was in bed, and I invented this whole play in my mind. I don’t remember what it was about, but it was very sad, and made me cry, and the next day I tried to write it down, but it didn’t come out quite the way I wanted, so I was frustrated. But I remember answering whenever someone asked me the usual question about what I wanted to be when I grew up: “A famous author.” It’s taken me so many years, though, to realize that I really wanted to be a writer.

4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book made the biggest impact on your writing?
Heavens, yes! It always was. I remember when I was 12 setting out on the ambitious project of reading all Charles Dickens’ novels. I read quite a few of them, but then, when I got to Bleak House, I decided I’d have enough, and went on to reading something a lot lighter. Then of course I studied literature and taught it at the university, so reading became my profession.

I don’t have a single book I can point to that influenced my writing. I’ve been reading so long my mind has turned into stacks that are overflowing with books. One very influential book for me when I was younger was Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, because I loved the stream of consciousness idea. Obviously right now Jane Austen is number one on the list!

5. What are your three favourite books?
My reading’s very eclectic, and my favourites change all the time, so I can only tell what I really like right now. The Time Traveller’s Wife, Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion, and Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I are three of many favourites right now. Ask me in a week and it will be different.

6. Does storytelling run in your family?
No, though my grandfather wrote poetry, so I suppose I have the gene from him. My mother couldn’t have told a story to save her life. We always laughed when she tried to remember a joke, not because of the joke, but because she hardly ever got it straight. My father loved telling us stories when we were little, but they were usually retellings of well-known fairytales. So I don’t know where this impulse comes from. Mind you, I don’t tell stories either. I need a pen and paper (or a computer) to get me started.

7. When creating a story, which is the most difficult, the beginning or the ending?
Neither. Funnily enough, when I have an idea for a novel, it usually starts as a prologue or first chapter. Then, as in the case of The Other Mr. Darcy, I think of an ending, and I write a big chunk of the last chapter. The hard part is filling the space in between.

8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or a night person? Do you have a special place you like to go for inspiration? What energizes you?
I’m not a morning person, but I have a young child, and she goes to school, so I have to write when she’s away, and then after she’s gone to bed. I tend to stay up late because my ideas flow better at night. There’s something about the night – the hush in traffic, the darkness, the sound of people sleeping – that makes ideas flow.

I don’t have a special place to go for inspiration, but I almost always go to the library in search of a particular book before I start writing. I have a sudden urge to read something in particular, and it has to be now. Then I get the book, read a few pages of it, drop it, and start writing. Most of the time, the book I’m looking for has nothing to do with what I’m writing. It may be that I need to capture a certain mood or a certain point of few, and that’s what drove me to get the book. It not something conscious.

If you want to see me energized, you should see me when I have an idea about a book. I’m full of nervous energy, and I can’t wait to get it all down on paper. Then once I’ve settled into a routine, things quiet down.

9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?
Writing is hard work. Yes, there are those sudden moments when things click, or an idea is there, just waiting to be written, but the actual writing process is about gritting your teeth and getting on with it, with a great deal of teeth gnashing and moments of grim despair thrown in (alright, it’s not that bad). But, if you keep going and have faith in yourself, sooner or later, you’ll get there. But I think the single most important thing I learned as a writer was to take criticism and to learn from it. It’s a very tough lesson, but you have to be grateful if someone is willing to tell you what’s wrong. It’s the only way to improve your writing.

10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Seeing the flat words on a page (they’re just letters of the alphabet, after all) magically conjure up worlds and people. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the sheer enchantment of this process.
The Other Mr. Darcy—in stores October 2009!
Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin...

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

About the Author:
As a literature professor, Monica Fairview enjoyed teaching students to love reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized what she really wanted was to write books herself. She lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston as a student and professor, and now lives in London. To find out more, please visit


You can find MY REVIEW below.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Other Mr. Darcy / Review

Author: Monica Fairview
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140222513X

My Review:

Caroline Bingley is overwhelmed and heartbroken over the marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. But soon, at a very awkward moment, a mysterious gentleman enters her life--Mr. Darcy's cousin from America. Tension immediately follows between the two as Caroline shows contempt for her American acquaintance. Although, Robert Darcy falls in love with Caroline, their worlds are very different and far apart.

This book is so elegantly written, the reader would think they are reading Jane Austen. I knew from the very beginning this was going to be an excellent book and I wasn't disappointed.

Please Note: Tomorrow I will have an interview posted here with Ms. Fairview plus a giveaway! Be sure to drop by.

(Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mr. Darcy Vampyre / Review

Author: Amanda Grange
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (August 11, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1402236972

My Review:

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett are married only a short time before Darcy begins to exhibit strange mood swings. The couple is on their way to a honeymoon in France and beyond, taking Elizabeth into a strange world that is completely foreign to her. Although, she likes Paris, she becomes aware of how different their lives are - how simple her former life had been, compared to his. Darcy is a gentleman of great wealth, recognition, and social standing, while she had been only the daughter of a country gentleman. Eventually, she is swallowed up in a cold, vulgar world of wealth, position, and dark personalities. Throughout the book, Elizabeth shares her misgivings and unhappiness in letters to her sister, Jane.

Although, the reader must suspend all previously conceived fantasies about the married life of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, this book proves to be exciting for any fan of gothic romantic thrillers. From dark ancient castles to the elegant ballrooms of Paris, the author transports the reader into a place far from the delightful walls of Pemberley. Amanda Grange has created a new twist for Austen addicts, even though it may be too far flung for the purist, or the Jane Austen scholar.

I give the book 5 stars for having as its author a woman who writes beautifully, and can step outside the box with her imagination. It is well-told and unforgettable.

(Thank you to Sourcebooks for my review copy.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

After The Ball

Author: Barb Greenberg
Publisher: Rose Path Press
107 Pages

My Review:

After the Ball is an inspirational book for single, married, widowed, or divorced women. In a short story, fairy tale format, Cinderella and Snow White tell their stories--the stories of two women who thought they had married their own Prince Charmings, but later are disappointed in their choice of men. The two friends decide to take their sadness to a woman of wisdom, Annetta, who lives in the woods. Before the two guests leave her enchanted house, Annetta gives them the gift of peace and wholeness.

After the Ball is a beautiful book about loss, difficult choices, support systems, and discovery of self. Can a princess find true happiness?

(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The winner of 1 set of 2 books, The Pemberley Chronicles and My Cousin Caroline by Rebecca Ann Collins is Joanne. Congratulations!! Please email your address within 48 hours.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rebecca Ann Collins, Author of My Cousin Caroline Interview and Book Giveaway

Today I have the honor of interviewing guest author Rebecca Ann Collins. Ms. Collins is the author of the new Pride and Prejudice sequel, My Cousin Caroline which came out in bookstores on September 1st. She has most graciously agreed to answer a few questions for my readers.

*GIVEAWAY--I will give away 1 set of 2 books: The Pemberley Chronicles and My Cousin Caroline, to one lucky winner on SEPTEMBER 22nd, compliments of Sourcebooks.

The rules are:
*Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry
*Become a follower for 2 entries (let me know if you already are.)
*Blog about this giveaway for 3 entries (let me know if you do this).
*Drawing is open to Us and Canada residents only.

Author interview:
Q1- What drew you to portray the main character of the book?
Ever since I completed the first volume in this series- The Pemberley Chronicles, in which I developed the character of Caroline Gardiner from a rather pert young girl into a lovely, personable young woman, I was drawn to the idea of giving her a book of her own. Setting up her love affair and marriage to Colonel Fitzwilliam, a minor but attractive character in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, provided the opportunity to do this. She is intelligent and capable; yet she has a streak of romanticism; I have always been interested in the development of character and Caroline’s is a more modern and complex disposition than we encounter in most Regency novels. In writing My Cousin Caroline, which has a time span crossing over several of the volumes, I had the chance to do just that with Caroline and several other characters in the series.

Q2- What is your favourite line in the book?
There are several but the one that encapsulates the relationship between Caroline and Fitzwilliam is my favourite: He had been attracted by her beauty and sweetness of disposition and loved her for her passion, her loyalty and determination; she had frequently astonished and delighted him and sometimes, very rarely, exasperated him, but he loved her dearly and had never tried to change her. He would not do so now.

Q3- When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?
Since I was about nine years old when I had a story published in a children’s page of a Sunday paper. I have been working at my craft throughout my days at university and thereafter, writing both fiction and non-fiction. Apart from music, it is my most absorbing interest.

Q4- Is reading a large part of your life? Which book made the biggest impact on your writing?
Reading is a vital part of my life. I recall being read to by my parents when I was two or three years old and reading anything I could lay my hands on, as I grew up. As a teacher and then a librarian, as well as a writer, I have been intimately involved with the promotion of reading to both children and adults.

Several books, and their authors, have had an impact on my writing; I cannot really name one. I might say, generally, that good literature is the best source of inspiration and example for any writer.

Q5- What are your three favourite books?
I have many favourites, but Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh would be the chief among them.

Q6- Does storytelling run in your family?
No, not in a formal sense, but as children, (in the era before Television) we used to tell stories to entertain our families and friends and “published” a monthly handwritten and illustrated “magazine” which we circulated by hand, among our circle of friends. It was a great vehicle for imaginative young writers!

Q7- When creating a story, which is more difficult, the beginning or the end?
The beginning is most important; it has to create interest, so the reader wants to go on reading, point forward to the progress of the story and provide a logical starting point for the narrative. Once you have the plot moving forward and the characters developing within a defined context, the ending evolves logically. While a surprise ending may sometimes be appropriate, I don’t like shock endings, which are designed to manipulate the reader.

Q8- What is the writing process like for you-?
Once I have designed the framework of the piece I am working on, the process is mainly one of doing the research, developing the characters and plot , writing, re-writing and refining the composition of the work. It is hard work, but very rewarding.
(b) Are you a morning or a night person?
Definitely and evening to night person.
(c) Do you have a special place you like to go for inspiration?
No, but I am inspired by certain special places- for example when working on Mr Darcy’s Daughter- a visit to a a genuine Regency residence built in the era of Jane Austen , set in beautiful grounds and and maintained in 19th century style, inspired the idea of Camden House , which Mr Darcy purchases for Cassy and her family.
(d) What energizes you?
Creative Imagination and energy - are the source of my inspiration and drive to write. The positive response of readers adds pleasure and encouragement too, but the main urge comes from within.

Q9- What advice would you have for emerging writers?
First- Don’t write for a “market,” write because you have something to say or a story to tell, which is new and interesting and the market for it will grow. Second, write as you think and feel- not what you think someone expects to read. Third, if you are writing a “sequel” to another writer’s work, remember to respect the original writer. When you borrow his or her characters, as you would expect to be respected for your work.

Q 10- What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
The absolute delight of sharing your characters and their stories with others is unarguable; but when one is published and read by readers all over the world- there is a very special thrill. The response that the Pemberley Chronicles Series has received from individual readers, who have written, emailed and blogged their warm appreciation and love of the characters and stories of the Pemberley Chronicles is my greatest reward.

Readers, be sure to enter the giveaway. Good luck to all and happy reading!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Cousin Caroline: Review

Author: Rebecca Ann Collins
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1402224311

Book Description:

Sixth in the bestselling Jane Austen sequel series.

In this installment of The Pemberley Chronicles series, Mr. Darcy's cousin Colonel and Elizabeth's cousin Caroline Gardiner take center stage.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Caroline develops from a pretty young girl into a woman of intelligence and passion, embodying some of Austen's own values. Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, and the Wickhams all move through the story as Caroline falls in love, marries, and raises her children. Caroline rejects the role of a compliant Victorian wife and mother, instead becoming a spirited and outspoken advocate of reformist causes in spite of the danger of scandal.

Caroline's advocacy of reform, undaunted by criticism, demonstrates strength in a time when a woman's role was severely restricted.

My Review:

Written in much the same style and tradition of her predecessor, Jane Austen, the author brings to life the love story of Caroline Gardiner and Mr. Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

The novel takes place in a time of tremendous upheaval in England; a time of great economic depression and public unrest. Due to the writer's vast knowledge of the political history and cultural norms of that period, the reader can glean a wealth of insight into the era, while enjoying the familiar characters found in Jane Austen's original classic, Pride and Prejudice.

As an Austen fan, I found this masterfully written and historically interesting. It's a book I'm sure Ms. Austen would appreciate.
(Thank you to Sourcebooks for my review copy.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The winner of the set of sequels The Darcy's and the Bingleys, and The Plight of the Darcy Brothers is Ms. Lucy. Congratulations!

Thanks go to Sourcebooks for the giveaway!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interview with Marsha Altman, Author of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers + Free Books

Everything Victorian is proud to welcome author, Marsha Altman, as our special guest today. Marsha is the author of the newly released The Plight of the Darcy Brothers. She's going to talk about her new book and also answer a few of our questions.
Marsha Altman is an author and historian specializing in Rabbinic literature in late antiquity. She has a degree in history from Brown University and an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York.

(A book Giveaway can be found at the end of this interview.)

In this lively second installment, the Darcys and Bingleys are plunged into married life and its many accompanying challenges presented by family and friends.
With Jane and Elizabeth away, Darcy and Bingley take on the daunting task of managing their two-year- old children. Mary Bennet returns from the Continent pregnant by an Italian student promised to the church; Darcy and Elizabeth travel to find the father, and discover previously unknown—and shocking—Darcy relations. By the time Darcy discovers that there's more than one sibling of questionable birth in the family, the ever-dastardly Wickham arrives on the scene to try to seize the Darcy fortune once and for all.

A Bit About the Time Period of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers and My Research By Marsha Altman

My stories (The Darcys & The Bingleys, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers, and the Feburary 2010 release Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape) actually takes place in the Regency, not the Victorian period. I will point out that if readers keep buying the books, future books will be in the Victorian period, or at the very least the brief reign of William IV. Interesting trivia here: Queen Victoria had her first official meal after coming “out” (meaning, she ate with the adults at a dinner party) at Chatsworth, a manor house owned by the Duke of Devonshire, who also owned “half of Derbyshire.” Jane Austen visited Chatsworth during her travels in the North, and since Darcy owns a great house (named Pemberley) and “half of Derbyshire,” it is assumed by many Austen fans that Pemberley is based on Chatsworth, and Darcy’s financial situation is based loosely on part of the Duke’s holdings. This led Joe Wright to film the exterior shots of Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie at Chatsworth, which starred Keira Knightly (The interiors could not be used because the rooms are too small for filming). Now to play six-degrees-of-separation to some extent, Keira Knightly also stared in The Duchess, where she played the Duchess of Devonshire, and one scene was filmed in the gardens at Chatsworth, which means she sat/stood on the steps to the same house for two different films.

I visited Chatsworth as part of my research for books 2 and 3 in March 2008, and they wouldn’t let me run down the steps ala Pride and Prejudice (that particular set of steps is closed to the public), but they did have the old table settings out that may have been used later in the century for Queen Victoria’s first dinner, as the audio guide told me.

Not to contradict history more than necessary, in the universe in which the events of my books occur, Darcy owns Pemberley and half of Derbyshire and the Duke of Devonshire owns Chatsworth and the other half. The Duke is mentioned but is not an appearing character, though in a later novel Darcy and his relatives are invited to the dinner with the future Queen and they recount that. But we’re not that far in, so here’s hoping the series is good and readers will want more so we can get that far for that one reference that I wrote in after my Chatsworth visit.

A few questions for Marsha:

1. What drew you to portray the main character of the book?

If I have to pick a main character, and I really do, it’s probably Darcy, and I wanted to challenge his assumptions of the universe. Now that he’s happily married, it’s time for some new challenges, which involve rescuing another Bennet sister’s reputation and digging up some old and uncomfortable family history.

2. What is your favorite line from this book?

Wow. There are a lot to choose from, and most of them give away a lot of the plot or don’t make sense out of context. Here are two lines between Darcy and his toddler son that I think some people will miss:

“Was Mr. Wicked really my uncle?”
“Mr. Wickham. And yes, he was.”

3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?

3rd grade. I started working on my first book then, which was called Joey, and about an alien who came to earth and had various adventures like going to a parade and playing baseball. Since then I’ve always been writing something or other. Redwall spinoffs. SeaQuest DSV fanfic. I spent a lot of time writing fanfic for cartoon shows – a lot of time. These were like book-length stories and they took up a lot of time in high school. In college I wrote a lot of urban fantasy/cyberpunk and vampire novels that haven’t been published, probably because they weren’t good enough to be published, but I did try to get them published.

In terms of developing my class, I had a double major in college of history and creative writing at Brown, though really the focus in creative writing classes is on the short story, a form I’ve never been thrilled with, because it enables the class to be able to review each other’s work in a timely fashion. Also, everyone wrote about themselves. Then I took an adult ed class held in a local high school while I was applying to grad schools, and everyone wrote about themselves but were far less pretentious about it. I have a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from City College, where I spent 2 ½ years studying literature and taking workshops were everyone wrote about themselves. What I learned from all this is that I don’t care for workshops and also I learned way too much about the personal trauma my classmates had endured in their lives. This is totally the wrong blog to say this, but I was once in a class where every person wrote about either their first “intimate” experience or the time they O.D.’ed. The professor said he would fail me if I didn’t write something personal, and seeing my options, I wrote a story about the time I was in post-op and they gave me too much morphine and I had respiratory depression, which was somewhat less dramatic than crack or heroin rehab but all I could offer. I passed. Meanwhile, I was writing the novels people are reading now (books 1 and 2 of my series, and several to come). The Darcys and the Bingleys was published six months after graduation. Since it had a book offer and was headed for publication my advisor let me use it as my thesis.

4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book made the biggest impact on your writing?

Reading pretty much is my life, or has been since I started writing historical fiction. My overburdened and starting-to-warp-from-the-weight shelves can attest to that. I can’t really point to a particular author as an inspiration, as there have been so many over the years and they all have been so different. I love Jane Austen, but I’m not capable of writing like her and it would be really stilted if I tried. Each time I finish a novel I think, “If only I could write like that” so really I should just point to what I’ve read recently, which is a variety of fictional accounts of the life of Alexander the Great. Actually most of them have been terrible in terms of writing, and I would actually say they inspired me not to write like them.

5. What are your three favorite books?

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (duh)
Mossflower by Brian Jacques

6. Does storytelling run in your family?

No. In fact, family members frequently ask for my help on writing anything at length.

7. When creating the story, which is the most difficult, the beginning or ending?

Ending. Opening lines are easy because I spent so much time learning how to write a good one, as the opening line is crucial to setting up the entire book, and in publishing it can be crucial to getting your book sold. I have no idea how to write an ending line. Nobody writes books on that.

8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or night person? Do you have a special place you like to go for inspiration? What energizes you?

I very rarely write in daylight. I have to be either under a deadline or incredibly enthusiastic to be writing in daylight. Most of my writing is done between about 11 pm and 5 am. As for inspiration, I usually find it along the way while I’m doing something else; I don’t actively seek it out. As for energy, I don’t have any. Thank G-d I’m a writer. Not a lot of physical activity required there.

9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?

Write a lot. It doesn’t really matter what it is yet. I recommend fan fiction, because you get feedback and encouragement without having to seek it out by bugging all your friends to read (and therefore praise) your work. Also, don’t think seriously about publication until you’re at least 20. Even if you do manage to get published earlier, you will be really embarrassed by your early work.

10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Seeing my novel in the bookstore, something I used to dream about when I went into stores.

Thank you Marsha for the lovely interview. Best wishes with you ventures!

A set of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers and The Darcys and The Bingleys will be given away to one lucky winner on August 15th. Entering is simple:

* 1 entry per comment per day

* Become a follower for 2 entries.

* Drawing is open only to residents of US and Canada

(Thanks to Sourcebooks for the giveaway.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: Review

Marsha Altman will be here Monday for an interview. She will talk about her new book, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers.

My Review:

Darcy and Elizabeth are disappointed when Elizabeth loses a baby, but unexpected news comes rather quickly, sending the couple on an unpleasant trip to the Continent.

While away from home they meet an unusual young man who has a major impact on their lives, and gives them some startling information that sends Darcy into a tailspin.

There is a surprise on almost every page of this book. It is well-written, exciting, and certainly intriguing. In my opinion, this sequel is the author’s best yet.

**This review is also posted on Amazon. com under B. Davis "crazy about books." If you like the review, I would very much appreciate a "yes, it was helpful" vote on the Amazon site. Thank you so much!

(Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Marsha Altman Interview and Book Giveaway Coming Soon

I'm having author Marsha Altman as my guest on August 10th. She will be answering my questions and talking about her new Jane Austen sequel, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers.

A set of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers and The Darcys and The Bingleys will be given away to one lucky winner on August 15th. So please stop by on the 10th for a visit with Marsha and to enter the drawing.

(Thanks to Sourcebooks for the giveaway.)


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Darcys & the Bingleys

Author: Marsha Altman
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (September 1, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1402213484

About the Author:
Marsha Altman is an historian, and is an expert on Jane Austen sequels, having read nearly every single one that's been written. She has worked in the publishing industry with a literary agency and is writing a series continuing the story of the Darcys and the Bingleys. She lives in New York.

My Review:
Have you ever wondered what happened after Pride and Prejudice? Well, this is the continuing story as imagined and told by author, Marsha Altman.

A few days before their double wedding, Charles Bingley has a question for his friend, Mr. Darcy. Bingley is getting the jitters and starts to doubt his skill in the bedroom. Much to his surprise, Darcy kindly provides him with a copy of an old how-to book with illustrations. And from there, the story gets even better.

This is a romantic book that will make you smile. It continues with all the characters you loved in Jane Austen's enduring classic.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen

Author: Patrice Hannon, PH.D.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Adams Media (January 19, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1598692844

Product Description:

Sure, we've read the novels, but what do we really know about Jane Austen herself...Who was the Irishman who stole her heart? Why was their affair doomed? Which Austen heroine most resembled Jane herself? Who were the real Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy? In "101 Things You Didn't Know about Jane Austen", readers learn the answers to these fascinating questions and much, much more. As evidenced by the ongoing spate of Austen-inspired films and novels - from the most recent remake of "Pride and Prejudice" starring Keira Knightly to the bestselling novel "The Jane Austen Club" - fans of this celebrated novelist can never get enough Jane Austen. Written in an engaging, easy-to-read format, this lively guide to all things Austen is sure to please romantics everywhere - and just in time for "Becoming Jane", the new film about Jane's own star-crossed love life!

About the Author:

Patrice Hannon, Ph.D. (New York, NY), received her doctorate in English literature from Rutgers University. She is the author of Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine's Guide to Life and Love. Among her publications on British literature is "Austen Novels and Austen Films: Incompatible Worlds?", which appeared in Persuasions: The Journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She has taught Austen's novels to hundreds of students at several colleges.

My Review:

I'm a fan of Jane Austen and can't seem to get enough books and movies associated with her. I have several books on her life and the times in which she lived. Each one has its own unique quality and information. "101 Things You Didn't know About Jane Austen" did not dissappoint me. It's a little treasure book of Austen facts.
Just to give you an idea of what you will find in this book, here are a few of the many chapters which are included:

*Bloodline of a genius

*Jane's education

*The other writer in the Austen family

*What did Jane really look like?

*Was Jane Austen a snob?

*Love at first sight

*What do Austen's novels say about beauty?

*What killed Jane Austen?

This little book is compact and easily carried along on a walk or a trip. I have enjoyed my copy and keep it in my purse for those little quiet times alone.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The winner of The Jane Austen Handbook is robin titan. Congratulations!! Please send your mailing address to within 48 hours, otherwise another name will be drawn.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I'll have another contest soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Giveaway

One copy of The Jane Austen Handbook (see photo below) will be given away, by drawing, on July 27th. The rules are as follows:

*1 entry-Leave a comment telling which Jane Austen book is your favorite.
*2 entries- If you are now, or if you become a follower of this blog (Everything Victorian). Please let me know if you are already a follower.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Jane Austen Handbook

Author: Margaret C. Sullivan
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (April 19, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594741719

Have you ever dreamed about living in Jane Austen's world and wondered what she might do under certain circumstances? How to dress? How to pay a morning call? How to attend a ball? How to run a house? How to throw a dinner party?

Well, now there's a darling little book called,"The Jane Austen Handbook, A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World" by Margaret C. Sullivan. It is absolutely the cutest little thing and just full of Victorian information, all 224 pages.

I can't even begin to tell you all the information that's in this very sweet and pretty book. There's just too much to mention. But I do highly recommend it to all Austen fans. It's a book you should not be without if you want to really understand her works and life.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give this little jewel a 10+. If you are thinking about buying it, don't hesitate! You will be thrilled!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single,

All things by a law divine

In one another's being mingle—

Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven,

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdain'd its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea—

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts."

-Charles Dickens

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

By- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

My Top Ten

Here's a list of my top ten favorite books (so far):

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Hester (Margaret Oliphant)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
The Woman In White (Wilkie Collins)
The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
Emma (Jane Austen)
Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

How does this list compare to yours? What would you change or add?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Agnes Grey: A Review

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Agnes Grey was first published in 1847. In what appears to be an autobiographical rendering, Anne Bronte, the sister of Charlotte and Emily, seems to draw heavily from her own life in this Victorian classic.

The story begins as Agnes Grey's family fall on hard times. Although young, with very little world experience, she is determined to help her family, financially, by hiring herself out as a governess.

Agnes manages to find a job as governess and companion to the children of some wealthy people, but finds the working conditions intolerable and leaves. She eventually is hired by the Murray family and stays with them even though her life is still miserable.

After meeting Mr. Weston, a local curate, Agnes becomes more positive and dreams of a life with him.

Although, I feel the story lacks depth, it does carry strong messages on morality and self-respect, and gives the reader a realistic glimpse into the life Anne Bronte probably experienced.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Margaret Oliphant

A few weeks ago I read "Hester" by Margaret Oliphant. It was the first book I had read by her and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I thought it would be interesting to have a comprehensive list of her works, so listed below are what I believe to be all of her novels.

Novels by Margaret Oliphant

1849-Margaret Maitland
1851-Caleb Field
1851-John Drayton
1852-Adam Graeme of Mossgray
1852-The Melvilles
1852-Katie Stewart
1853-Harry Muir
1854-Magdalen Hepburn
1854-The Quiet Heart
1855-Christian Melville
1857-The Athelings
1857-The Days of My Life
1858-The Laird of Norlaw
1858-Orphans: a Chapter in Life
1858-Agnes Hopetown's Schools and Holidays
1860-Lucy Crofton
1860-The House on the Moor
The Last of the Mortimers
1863-Heart and Cross
1863-The Rector and the Doctor's Family
1863-Salem Chapel
1864-The Perpetual Curate
1866-Miss Marjoribanks
1866-A Son of the Soil
1866-Madonna Mary
1869-The Minister's Wife
1870-John: a Love Story
1870-The Three Brothers
1871-Squire Arden
1872-At His Gates
1873-Innocent: a Tale of Modern Life
1874-For Love and Life
1874-A Rose in June
1875-The Story of Valentine and his Brother
1876-The Curate in Charge
1876-An Odd Couple
1876-Phoebe Junior
1877-Mrs Arthur
1877-Young Musgrave
1878-The Primrose Path
1879-The Greatest Heiress in England
1879-Within the Precincts
1880-He that Will Not When He May
1880-A Beleaguered City
1881-Harry Joscelyn
1882-In Trust
1882-A Little Pilgrim in the Unseen
1883-Hester: A story of Contemporary Life
1883-It Was a Lover and His Lass
1883-The Ladies Lindores
1884-Sir Tom
1884-The Wizard's Son
1886-A Country Gentleman and His Family
1886-Effie Ogilvie
1886-A House Divided Against Itself
1886-Oliver's Bride
1887-The Son of His Father
1888-Cousin Mary
1889-Lady Car
1888-The Second Son
1888-The Land of Darkness
1889-Neighbours on the Green
1889-A Poor Gentleman
1890-The Duke's Daughter and The Fugitives
1890-The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow
1890-Sons and Daughters
1891-The Railway Man and His Children
1892-The Cuckoo in the Nest
1892-Diana Trelawny
1892-The Heir Presumptive and the Heir Apparent
1892-The Marriage of Elinor
1893-Lady William
1893-The Sorceress
1894-A House in Bloomsbury
1894-The Prodigals and Their Inheritance
1894-Who Was Lost and Is Found
1895-Sir Robert's Fortune
1895-Two Strangers
1896-Old Mr Tredgold
1896-The Two Marys and Grove Road
1896-The Unjust Steward
1897-The Lady's Walk
1898-That Little Cutty
1898-A Widow's Tale

Are you acquainted with Ms. Oliphant's work? Which would you recommend?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Broken Wing: A Review

"Broken Wing"
By- Judith James
440 pages
Publisher-Medallion Press

Sarah, Lady Munroe, better known as the Gypsy Countess, and her half brother Ross, Earl of Huntington, are in search of their little brother James. He has gone missing; they have hired investigators to hunt for him. Upon hearing the news that their baby brother has been found living in one of the finer Parisian brothels, the two set out to bring him home to the safey of their family, though expecting the worst.

Arriving is Paris, Sarah and Ross find James has not been harmed, only because a male prostitute, Gabriel, has befriended the little boy and protected him at all costs.

Gabriel is intelligent, musically gifted, and handsome, but has known nothing else but life in the high-class brothel, having been brought there as a child, himself.

Little James is insistent that Sarah and Ross obtain Gabriel's freedom and bring him home to live with them as the child's companion. They offer Gabriel the position, which he accepts, and strike an expensive deal with Madame Etienne for Gabriel's release.

This is where the love story begins and what a love story it is! Taking place in the Napoleonic era, it is full of secrecy, danger, suspense, and intense romantic devotion and desire. It takes the reader on a whirlwind adventure into the lives of Sarah, Gabriel, Ross, Gypsy Davey, and an assortment of other interesting characters.

Judith James has created a well written, sexy, fast moving, extraordinary book that the reader can barely lay aside once they open the book and begin to read.

Readers who are looking for historical romance, high adventure, a page-turner, and don't mind adult content, will love this book as much as I did.

Note: Thanks to Judith James for my review copy.

(I'm reviewing the book on this blog because it is so close to the Victorian era. You can also find the review at The Serenity Gate.)

Happy reading!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Victorian English Tea Time

One of the most elegant traditions of the Victorian Era was Tea Time, which was usually set for 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. We often read about it in Victorian novels.

I have participated in High Tea once in my life, on a 7-day ocean cruise. Tea was served each afternoon at 4:00 p.m. in the dining room, by waiters in formal attire. There were fabulous breads, butters and spreads, finger sandwiches, small cakes and tarts, tiny cookies, and of course, hot tea, served in fine china. I could have lived on that ship for the rest of my life, partaking of tea every day!

For more information on English Tea Time, you can go here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Charles Dickens

How many of the following books by Charles Dickens have you read and which is your favorite?

1.The Pickwick Papers
2.Oliver Twist
3.Nicholas Nickleby
4.The Old Curiosity Shop
5.Barnaby Rudge
6.Martin Chuzzlewit
7.A Christmas Carol
8.Dombey and Son
9.David Copperfield
10.Bleak House
11.Hard Times
12.Little Dorrit
13.A Tale of Two Cities
14.Great Expectations
15.Our Mutual Friend
16.The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lady of Shallot

The Lady of Shallot
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

This painting was fashioned after the poem "The Lady of Shallot"
by- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-Emily Dickinson
(Doesn't this poem remind us of just how very big the little things are?)

Hester - A Review

By Margaret Oliphant
(Oxford World Classics)

Catherine Vernon was 65 years old and a wealthy spinster. This did not mean that Catherine had never been in love. On the contrary, she had been engaged in her young adulthood, to her cousin, John Vernon. Sadly, John, who was the head of the family bank, had fallen in love with another woman, and to everyone's surprise, had jilted Catherine. The betrayal had broken her trusting heart.

To make matters worse, John had suddenly run away after embezzling money from the bank, almost ruining the great institution. Catherine stepped in at the last moment-- putting every penny of her own fortune on the line. She became the beloved heroine of the community -- a person of great integrity.

As fate would have it, life comes full circle when John's daughter and widow come back into Catherine's life.

This is not only the story of Catherine, but also the story of young Hester (John's daughter), and the three men who are in love with her. It's the story of the lust for money, power, and control; the story of resentment and rebellion; of flirtation and love. It is a story of a fascinating relationship between two rival women--one in the blossom of youth and the other in the winter of her life.

Ms. Oliphant wrote over 100 novels in her lifetime -- "Hester" being one of the most popular. It is beautifully written with strong character development; a Victorian masterpiece. If you like reading Jane Austen or Wilkie Collins, you are sure to enjoy Margaret Oliphant's "Hester."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnet 27 - My own Beloved, who hast lifted me

My own Beloved, who hast lifted me

From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown,

And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown

A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully

Shines out again, as all the angels see,

Before thy saving kiss! My own, my own,

Who camest to me when the world was gone,

And I who looked for only God, found thee!

I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad.

As one who stands in dewless asphodel

Looks backward on the tedious time he had

In the upper life,—so I, with bosom-swell,

Make witness, here, between the good and bad,

That Love, as strong as Death, retrieves as well.

By- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After reading this poem, which line do you like best?

Saturday, June 6, 2009


The Human Seasons

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;

There are four seasons in the mind of man:

He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear

Takes in all beauty with an easy span:

He has his Summer, when luxuriously

Spring's honied cud of youthful thought he loves

To ruminate, and by such dreaming high

Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings

He furleth close; contented so to look

On mists in idleness--to let fair things

Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,

Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

By- John Keats

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jane Austen Quote....

“What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!”
-Jane Austen

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Woman In Black
By- Susan Hill
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David R Godine (February 1, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1567921892

Arthur Kipps, a happy man, is enjoying a Victorian Christmas Eve with his family. As the lights are turned down and the family sits around the fireplace, someone suggests telling ghosts stories. Arthur refuses. The guests insist until Arthur storms out of the house into the snowy holiday night.

He does have a ghost story to tell, but one that he had rather forget. After his initial uneasiness subsides, he decides to write his story, and so it begins.

I had never heard of author, Susan Hill, before reading The Woman In Black, but must say this is a first class thriller that provides the chills we seek in a book of this genre. It provides enjoyable controlled horror without going over the top with intense repugnance.

The Woman In Black has been compared to The Haunting of Hill House by the great writer, Shirley Jackson.

Susan Hill, has also written, just to name a few:

The Man In The Picture

The Vows of Silence

The Mist In The Mirror

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jane Austen Victorian Classics

Everyone loves Jane Austen.....

Below is a list of her famous, beloved works. How many have you read from this list and which are your favorites?

1. Sense and Sensibility

2. Pride and Prejudice

3. Mansfield Park

4. Emma

5. Northanger Abbey

6. Persuasion

7. Lady Susan

8. Love and Friendship

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bracelet Winner!

The winner of the Victorian Teapot bracelet is Ms Lucy. Congratulations!

Please email your address, so I can send your bracelet right out.

Thanks to all who entered. There will be another drawing shortly.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Woman In White / Movie Version

In recent months, as I've tracked down the well-known, and the obscure in Popular Victorian Fiction, I've found that a great many of the classics which are still in print, have a corresponding movie version. All one need do is to search internet sellers such as

Lately, after finishing a piece of Victorian literature, I've ordered the movie version and in turn been happily reminded of the book and greatly entertained.

This afternoon, I watched Masterpiece Theatre's "The Woman In White" by Wilkie Collins on DVD, starring Tara Fitzgerald and Justine Waddell.

The movie takes about 2 hours to watch and does not, exactly, follow the book, but I did find it full of suspense and entertaining.

I would definitely recommend the movie, although, one should first read Collins' exceptional masterpiece.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lady Audley's Secret - A Review

Lady Audley's Secret
By- Mary Elizabeth Braddon
(Oxford World's Classics)

"Lady Audley's Secret" was first published in serial form in 1861. By 1862 it had become immensely popular and has remained a favorite novel among readers of Victorian Popular Fiction.

The story begins as Miss Lucy Graham, a beautiful and mysterious governess, meets the wealthy widower, Sir Michael Audley. Sir Audley falls desperately in love with Lucy and begs her to marry him.

Lucy agrees to the marriage, but doesn't tell Michael she is already married to a man she hasn't seen in three years and believes him to be dead.

Lucy's husband, George Talboys, unexpectedly, returns home to find his wife's father has declared her dead and buried. This is where the mystery begins! Does George find his wife who has married another man? What will happen if and when he does?

I've read several Victorian novels in the past, but this is definitely one of my favorites. It has everything a good read should have--romance, murder, suspense, a surprise ending. It is fast moving and holds the reader's interest.

The author has become one of my favorites and I'll certainly look for more of her books in the future. Expect more reviews to come.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Remembering Tasha Tudor

"Einstein said that time is like a river, it flows in bends. If we could only step back around the turns, we could travel in either direction. I'm sure it's possible. When I die, I'm going right back to the 1830s. I'm not even afraid of dying. I think it must be quite exciting." ~Tasha Tudor

Do you remember Tasha Tudor?

Once upon a time, when I was a young mother, I became a devoted fan of the illustrious artist. She mesmerized me, as she captured in watercolor, the heart and soul of childhood, in all its whimsy, and sweet innocence.

Recently I took a trip along memory lane and revisited Ms. Tudor in the gorgeous book "Tasha Tudor's Garden." What a pure delight to catch a glimpse, once more, of this self-sufficient lady; to walk in her gardens and visit her rustic home through these pages.

Although Ms. Tudor did not live in the Victorian era, she felt and lived as though she did. Modern conveniences seemed to never interest her. Her lifestyle was legendary and still is--it was magical and spilled over into her many books, including "Corgiville Christmas", her award winning "Mother Goose" and "1 is One."

In "Tasha Tudor's Garden" the reader will find:

*A Garden Lost In Time"

*Flowers In Profusion"

*Daisy Garlands and Delphiniums

*Lilies and Berries to Spare

*Gathering the Harvest

*and much more

This book is filled with color photographs of the famous artist and her lifestyle. If you like the magic of the 1800s, you are certain to enjoy this beautiful book and an intimate visit with an exceptional lady, who actually lived between 1915-2008, but surely was from another period of time--the 1800s.