Hello Gentle Readers: I welcome today Karen Doornebos, author of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY, as she travels the web for a blog tour and book giveaway. I had reviewed Karen’s first book Definitely Not Mr. Darcy back in 2011 [click here], and have enjoyed entering her Jane Austen world yet again with her new book, just released on December 3, 2013. Karen joins us today to tell a bit about her trip to Jane Austen country and how it inspired her – you should visit the other blogs on the tour to get the whole travelogue! And please see below for the giveaway info to win one of two copies of Undressing Mr. Darcy!…
Happy 238th Birthday to Jane Austen…from her writing table at Chawton!
Thank you, Janeite Deb, for hosting me on this very special day for Janeites worldwide. It’s an honor to be here today. Shall we raise a glass of French wine that Austen liked to have when it was offered her?
As an ice-breaker to each leg of my Blog Tour for UNDRESSING MR. DARCY, I’m taking you along for a ride to England, where I traveled during the summer of 2012 to do some research for my book. Yes, I was on The Jane Austen Trail all right!
Where am I on this stop? Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton and her brother Edward’s inherited estate just up the road, the gorgeous mansion that is now Chawton House Library. I was lucky enough to spend the night on the grounds of Chawton House Library, and you can too, in the renovated stables that serve as the most stunning B&B. You will soon get an insider’s look at that gorgeous estate owned and so lovingly restored by Sandy Lerner.
First, let’s have a cuppa at Cassandra’s Cup…
Across the street from Jane Austen’s cottage is Cassandra’s Cup tearoom, where I can recommend the scones with jam and clotted cream as well as looking up at the ceiling to admire all of the teacups. I had to set part of a scene in my new book here, didn’t I?! How could anyone resist the charm? [I have heard, however, that the shop had recently gone up for sale. Has anyone heard anything further about that?]
A visit to Jane Austen’s cottage and yes…her chamber pot.
Jane Austen in Vermont readers, you’ve seen photos of Austen’s cottage before. But have you seen a photo of her chamber pot? Here it is! You can count on me to point out the offbeat:
Knowing as I do the distinct hierarchy of carriages, I stood for a long time in front of Jane Austen’s donkey cart. She most certainly did not even have a gig like the lowly John Thorpe, much less a chaise and four like Lady Catherine. Somehow, our Jane deserved more than a donkey cart, did she not? But there it was, a simple, rudimentary, but functional contraption. A distinct reminder of her position in her society.
I had to admire the oak leaf and acorn Wedgwood pattern on the Austen’s china, and there is a moment in my new novel where my heroine and some tourists from Australia discuss the significance of this pattern. Acorns figure prominently in Regency art and architecture, and I found it interesting that acorns can symbolize strength and power in small things. I think Austen herself gathered strength and inspiration from the simple, small things in her life, would you agree? Speaking of simple, I really enjoyed the Austen’s bake house and the range where Austen herself would make breakfast every morning.
Chawton House Library…a home Austen knew well…
I was lucky enough to spend a night at the renovated stables on the grounds of what is now Chawton House Library, and you too can stay there when you visit. It was the most stunning B&B I’d ever stayed in. I’ll never forget having breakfast in the solarium off the kitchen in the stables: bliss. The grounds, the gardens, the long drive leading up to the house…all of it stood in sharp contrast to Jane Austen’s simple cottage. Yet, Austen herself no doubt had plenty of opportunity to visit here and partake of the opulence and…the library.
One of the most striking paintings in the home to me was the one done of Edward Austen Knight. This painting, as well as the silhouette done of Edward’s adoption by the Knights signify turning points in my novel for my heroine. The silhouette in particular, dramatized to great effect, nevertheless captures the poignancy of the moment. Young Edward, just a boy, had been plucked from his family, but destined for wealth, position, and security his Austen siblings would never know. If it weren’t for Edward’s luck at being adopted by the wealthy and childless Knights, his sister Jane may never have known the comfort of her Chawton cottage…and we might never have known her novels…that only could have been written with a certain amount of security that the cottage provided. Granted, Jane Austen had to work hard, sewing shirts, cooking, making orange wine and brewing spruce beer, but thanks to the Knights she was able to sneak in a little time to write.
Come the evening at Chawton House Library, I ambled over to the nearby churchyard and stumbled across Cassandra Austen’s gravestone. Sigh. Nothing could have prepared me for the range of emotions I experienced at Chawton.
Imagine a history lesson where you watch a very handsome Regency gentleman lecture about his clothing as he proceeds to take it off—down to his drawers. This is the premise of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY!
He’s an old-fashioned, hard-cover book reader who writes in quill pen and hails from England. She’s an American social media addict. Can he find his way to her heart without so much as a GPS?
You can read the first chapter here!
Austenprose gave it five out of five stars and you can read the review here.
Jane Austen in Vermont readers, comment below for your chance to win one of TWO copies of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY… How are YOU celebrating Jane Austen’s birthday? To increase your chances of winning you can share this post on your Facebook page or Twitter—let us know you’ve done that! You can also increase your odds by following me on Twitter or Facebook, or, if you’re not already, following Deb on her social media [Jane Austen in Vermont on facebook or Austen in Vermont on twitter]—don’t forget to let us know about it in your comment, thanks! Contest limited to US entrants only.
Mr. Darcy’s Stripping Off…
…his waistcoat! At each blog stop Mr. Darcy will strip off another piece of clothing. Keep track of each item in chronological order and at then end of the tour you can enter to win a GRAND PRIZE of the book, “DO NOT DISTURB I’m Undressing Mr. Darcy” door hangers for you and your friends, tea, and a bottle of wine (assuming I can legally ship it to your state). US entries only, please.
Karen Doornebos is the author of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY published by Berkley, Penguin and available here or at your favorite bookstore. Her first novel, DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY, has been published in three countries and was granted a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly. Karen lived and worked in London for a short time, but is now happy just being a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and living in the Chicagoland area with her husband, two teenagers and various pets—including a bird. Speaking of birds, follow her on Twitter and Facebook! She hopes to see you there, on her website www.karendoornebos.com and her group blog Austen Authors.
JOIN THE BLOG TOUR:
12/2: The Penguin Blog
12/5 Chick Lit Plus – Review
12/6 Austen Authors
12/9 Fresh Fiction
12/10 Writings & Ramblings
12/12 Risky Regencies Q&A
12/13 Books by Banister
12/17 Literally Jen
12/18 Savvy Verse & Wit – Review
12/19 Kritters Ramblings
12/20 Booking with Manic– Review
12/26 My 5 Monkeys – Review
12/27 All Grown Up – Review
12/30 Silver’s Reviews
1/2 Dew on the Kudzu
Thank you Karen for joining us today to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday and sharing your trip to Chawton with everyone! We wish you the very best with your new book!
Everyone, please comment by Wednesday December 18th at 11:59 pm to be entered into the drawing for one of two copies of Undressing Mr. Darcy: tell us how you are celebrating Jane Austen’s 238th Birthday today! Winners will be announced on the morning of December 19th. [US entries only, sorry to say]