Elegant Arts Society invites you…

New Haven, Connecticut is the scene for the Elegant Arts Society’s Regency Assembly, taking place on Saturday, October 17; further events on Sunday, October 18:

country-dance-pic“Please join the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Elegant Arts Society for a weekend of the delightful dances of the era of Jane Austen, Napoleon, Lords Nelson and Byron, and Beau Brummel.” There will be country dances done in period style, quadrilles, waltzes (including the bouncy sauteuse waltz), and reels, including the lively nine-person Country Bumpkin. “Spare Parts” provides the music.

This is part of a weekend of events that includes a park stroll, and tea-and-games on Sunday. Venues are Trinity Lutheran Church and St. Thomas Episcopal Church, both in New Haven. Advance reservations are strongly recommended, as the Assembly has a limit of sixty attendees.

We include the flyer (in PDF): page 1 and page 2; and a registration form.

As well, for further information, dance-instructor Susan de Guardiola’s website (www.kickery.com) and an email address for the Elegant Arts Society (info at elegantarts dot org).

A dance workshop takes place on the Saturday from 2:00 to 4:30, with the Assembly Ball beginning at 7:30 p.m. Period costume is admired and encouraged, but not required (though they will assist you in proper attire should you desire!); otherwise, dress is formal for the ball, informal (no jeans or T-shirts) for the card party, and casual for the workshop.

[posted by Kelly, thanks to Janeite Bonnie]

Book Giveaway ~ and the winner is….!

Corinne!  Congratulations on winning the book giveaway of Juliet Archer’s The Importance of Being Emma!  Please email me your address and contact information –  the publisher Choc-Lit will send you the book directly.

Many thanks to everyone for the great questions and comments – and especially to Juliet Archer for her in-depth responses that gave us some great insights into her imaginative re-creation of a 21st century Emma and Mr. Knightley.  Cannot wait for the next book with Captain Wentworth and Anne!

[On a side note – I have Austen scholar Dr. Joan Klingel Ray here with me for the weekend as she will be speaking at our JASNA-Vermont gathering tomorrow – she happily assisted me by pulling the winning name out of a hat this evening!  I also I think she has become very interested in this very modern Mr. Knightley!]

Again, thanks to all, and a hearty thanks to Laurel Ann at Austenprose for posting the book giveaway news on Jane Austen Today – and hence sending all those comments our way!

Last Chance! ‘The Importance of Being Emma’ ~ Book Giveaway

Reminder to all:  the deadline for posting comments and / or queries to author Juliet Archer to win a free copy of The Importance of Being Emma is midnight Friday September 25! 

book cover importance of being emma

Posts to comment on:

Just a comment or a query and you will be entered in the drawing.  The book will be sent to you directly from the publisher Choc-Lit.

Thanks to all who have participated, and a hearty thank you to Juliet Archer for her very thoughtful responses!

[Posted by Deb]

You are Cordially Invited to an Afternoon with Professor Joan Klingel Ray!

A reminder to all who happen to be in lovely autumnal Vermont on Sunday September 27, to join us for our celebration of Jane Austen’s move to Chawton!  We are hosting former JASNA President and current President of the North American Friends of Chawton House Library Joan Klingel Ray.

joan ray picture

Author of Jane Austen for Dummies, Prof. Ray, as “Doctor of Austenology”  will regale us with her humorous Austenesque insights in her presentation “Jane Austen for Smarties” ~  to be followed by a mini-concert with Lar Duggan and Dominique Gagne of “Impropriety” and dancing demonstrations by a few couples from the Burlington Country Dancers[with our own JASNA member Val Medve and husband Tom!]  Light refreshments will be served, plenty of time for questions and answers with Joan, and copies of JA for Dummies will be available for sale – all graciously autographed by the author!

book cover ja for dummies

 Dr. Ray is a Professor of English and President’s Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.  She has published scholarly articles on Charles Dickens, George Herbert, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Samuel Johnson [the subject of her dissertation], and thankfully for all of us, Jane Austen.  A number of these articles on Austen are available at the JASNA website, and I append several of the links here for your reading enjoyment. 

We are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Austen’s July 1809 move to  Chawton Cottage.  After five years of living in Bath [1801-1806] and three years in Southampton [1806-1809], Mrs. Austen and Cassandra and Jane finally were coming home to their beloved Hampshire.  Her brother Edward Knight [nee Austen] had inherited the estate at Chawton House, now home to the Chawton House Library for Early Women Writers, and offered the nearby Cottage to his mother and two sisters.  It was here that Austen was finally able to persue her writing – she revised the three novels she had penned at Steventon [Northanger Abbey, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice] and wrote three more [Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion].  We can be forever grateful to Edward for this gift of a such a home!

Hope you can join us for the celebration!  The event runs from 2-5 pm and is free and open to the public.  The Hauke Family Campus Center is at 375 Maple Street, Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont.

Further Reading:

  • A few articles by Joan Klingel Ray:

“Jane Austen’s Case Study of Child Abuse:  Fanny Price,”  Persuasions 13 (1991), p. 16-26

 “In Defense of Lady Russell, or the Godmother Knew Best,”   Persuasions 15 (1993), p. 207-215.

“The One-sided Romance of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy,”  Persuasions On-Line Vol. 28, No. 1 (Winter 2007)

“‘The Amiable Prejudices of a Young [Writer’s] Mind’: The Problems of Sense and Sensibility,”  Persuasions On-Line, vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter 2005)

“James Stanier Clarke’s Portrait of Jane Austen,”  with Richard James Wheeler, Persuasions 27 (2005), p. 112-118  [available in Adobe pdf file]

“Victorians versus Victorians – Understanding Dear ‘Aunt Jane’,”  Persuasions30 (2008), p. 53-66.   [not yet online; this is also the paper of her “Smarties” talk, so don’t read it if you are joining us on Sunday!]

  • A few articles on Chawton:

McDonald, Irene B.  “The Chawton Years (1809-1817) – ‘Only’ Novels,”  Persuasions On-Line, vol. 22 No. 1 (Winter 2001)

Bowden, Jean K.  “Living at Chawton Cottage,”  Persuasions 12 (1990), p. 79-86.

  • Reviews of Jane Austen for Dummies
  1. A review at JASNA.org
  2. Reviews and comments at Amazon
  3. Information at the Dummies Store at Wiley Publishing
  4. Laurel Ann’s review at Austenprose

And finally, see the post at AustenBlog for August 18, 2006, where Mags and Joan have a lively conversation on reading Austen, writing about Austen, JASNA, the AGMs, the writing of Dummies, and the dangling “equipment” of pigs in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice.

And now, after all that reading homework, please join us on Sunday!

An Austen Brothers & Sisters Bibliography

Take a quick look at the JASNA website where a select bibliography on “Austen’s Siblings in Fact and Fiction in JASNA Publications”  has been posted ~ all in preparation for the upcoming AGM in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love.  All the articles are in JASNA publications, many with online links.

Here is a taste to start your reading adventure:

Tthe facts“Austen Brothers and Sisters” by Park Honan. Persuasions 10 (1988): 59-64.

The fiction:  “Sisterhood and Friendship in Pride and Prejudice by Deborah J. Knuth. Persuasions 11 (1989): 99-109.

AGM 2009 banner

Juliet Archer’s “Emma”, Part 2 ~ Book Giveaway!

Life certainly gets in the way of blogging! – here is the promised Part 2 of my interview with Juliet Archer, author of The Importance of Being Emma, and a confessed “19th-century mind in a 21st-century body.”  [see Part 1 of this interview here].  Please see below for the book giveaway info… we welcome your queries and comments!

book cover importance of being emma


Deb:  Welcome back Juliet!  You mention in your last answer that the next novel in your series  “Jane Austen in the 21st Century Series”  is “Persuade Me”, after Austen’s “Persuasion”–  why did you start with “Emma”?

 JA:  Although Emma’s the first Austen modernisation I’ve had published, it’s actually my third attempt. I’ve done very early drafts of both Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. When I realised how wide a gulf there was between writing something and getting it published, I focused on Emma because it was my most recent work and I thought it would need less doing to it. I was wrong! 

I think Emma is Austen’s most comic novel, so I was thrilled when The Importance of Being Emma was shortlisted for the 2009 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance.  

Deb:  [Congratulations on that! ] ~ What do you think Austen would say to your “meddling” with her story?  What would she say about all the sexual content? 

JA:  There’s been so much ‘meddling’ with Austen already that she’d probably be bored rigid by the time she got to The Importance of Being Emma! I hope she’d be proud to see her story adapt so well to a different time period and social setting, and that she’d be sympathetic to the changes I’ve made. Most of all, I hope she’d have a good laugh!

 As for the sexual content, for my hero and heroine it sits firmly within a framework of love, commitment and ultimately marriage – a scenario which comes across very strongly in the original novels. Given the world we live in, I felt I couldn’t modernise Austen without including some sexual content and, fortunately, readers seem to think I’ve struck the right balance.

 Deb:  I do agree with your readers here!  I think your characterization and plot devices are spot-on and the sexual scenes are so very well done, and of course we know how it ends – marriage IS the goal after all!  Which leads me to my next question:  We all do know this story and how it ends, so there are no surprises here – how did you go about creating enough interest and tension to make your reader want to keep turning those pages?  [I know that I did!] 

JA:  [Thank you!] First, with most mainstream romantic fiction, Austen-based or not, we can guess instantly who’s destined for whom – the interest is in how they get together. So in that respect my story’s no different from many others. Second, as you’ve already indicated, the alternating 1st person point of view helps to create interest and tension. And finally, in my opinion Austen does two things – effortlessly – that make the reader want to keep turning the pages: characterisation and dialogue, often laced with humour. By imitating her work, I hope I’ve written what many readers see as a ‘page turner’.

Deb:  Yes, indeed you have!   And now for a few personal questions if you don’t mind…  What else have you written? 

JA:  What started me writing novels was the BBC’s dramatisation of Gaskell’s North and South, starring Richard Armitage. So I’ve got a few modern ‘fanfics’ lying around and still hope to have a 21st-century version of North and South published – although not until I’ve got Austen modernisations out of my system. 

Before that, I wrote very bad, unpublishable poetry – rather like my version of Giles Benwick in Persuade Me.

 Deb:  The Armitage “North & South” adaptation seems to have set off a number of fan-fic writers – there are whole blogs devoted to it!  I would eagerly await your updated version – [and hopefully Mr. Armitage could be persuaded to play the part yet again…?] – but I digress! – What is your writing habit?

JA:  I work full-time in London Monday through Friday, so I fit my writing into my spare time and also get up early most mornings. In the evenings, a glass of wine is known to get me in the mood! My family keep me grounded and occasionally remember to feed me. 

Most of my first draft goes straight onto the computer – PC in the study, laptop in the garden or bed! But I’m always printing pages off so that I can read and edit on the train going to and from work. For me, there’s no substitute for the printed word – yet. 

Deb:  Oh, I like hearing about your love of the PRINTED word! Anything else you would like to share? 

JA:  I’m married with two teenage children and live in Hertfordshire, Pride and Prejudice country. Unlike Anne Elliot in Persuasion, I resisted well-meant advice and married young, before graduating from university with a First in French and Russian. Initially I worked in IT and company acquisitions, then ran my own consultancy business, and now I work for a national healthcare organisation. 

Finally, I love hearing from Jane Austen fans, so please visit my website – and I welcome readers to contact me directly.

Deb:  Thanks so much Juliet for visiting us and sharing your thoughts on the writing of YOUR “Emma”!   I wish you much success – and am looking forward to “Persuade Me ” and making the acquaintance of your Captain Wentworth! ~ Now Gentle Readers, please send in your queries and comments to participate in the book giveaway…


Book Giveaway:  Juliet has most graciously offered to answer any questions you might have for her – all queries and comments posted between today and midnight September 25, 2009 will be entered into a drawing for the free book giveaway, courtesy of Choc-Lit.  All are eligible to enter.

The Importance of Being Emma
by Juliet Archer
Harpenden, UK:  Choc-Lit, 2008   £7.99 / $13.07 [paperback]; also available in an ebook version direct from the publisher for £3.99 / $5.99
ISBN:  978-1-906931-20-9

[Posted by Deb]