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.