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.