Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Madness of Mr.Darcy - Alexa Adams

I am delighted to welcome Alexa Adams to My kids led me back to P&P. I would like to thank Alexa for answering questions about her new book 'The Madness of Mr Darcy'. Alexa was kind enough to indulge me and answered a few questions regarding Austen and JAFF.

Alexa has very kindly offered 2 digital copies of her newest novel 'The Madness of Mr Darcy', which two lucky bloggers will receive! I will be reviewing 'The Madness of Mr Darcy' on the 3rd Nov and announcing the winners of this giveaway!


When did you first fall in love with Austen?

I found a copy of Northanger Abbey in a train station bookstore when I was eleven. I chose it based on the cover. I didn’t understand much of what I read, but it was enough to keep bringing me back to Austen until I had read all her works. I did not become truly obsessed until my adulthood, sometime during the transition from college to the “realworld.”

Am I safe in assuming P&P is your favourite? If yes why?

Actually, Persuasion is my favorite. Anne Elliot has to be the most actualized heroine ever created. She’s so real I can have lengthy conversations with her in my head and often do. Of course I adore Pride & Prejudice too, as I do all of Austen’s works. My favorite part of P & P is the secondary characters. I particularly love Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins. It’s a lot of fun to write scenes for both. Lady Catherine is long dead in The Madness of Mr. Darcy, but I revive her in the guise of Anne.  She needed her share of the conversation.

I never have anyone to play my Austen games with, why do you think it is so hard to find Janeites on your door step?

I don’t know! I am constantly preaching Austen to everyone who will listen, but very few people seem receptive. In my “real life” I’m that crazy Jane Austen lady. Online I know so many wonderful people who are just as obsessed (or more!) with Austen, and I frankly know not what I would do without you all.   

How do you write such lovely prose, when you were not born in Jane’s era?

Thank you for the compliment! My writing had always sounded pretty old fashioned. I was criticized by college professors for not adopting a more modern, concise style. That wordy, 19th century style of prose comes kind of naturally to me, undoubtedly shaped by my reading tastes. Makes my daily conversation confusing to the layman at times.

What did you want to invoke within the reader?

Empathy. I am always trying to take characters who people dislike or behave badly and present them in a way that makes them more relatable. My most recent story, Becoming Mrs. Norris (which is currently being posted daily on my blog) is the perfect example. People who do terrible things are almost always suffering themselves in some way, and I like to make that apparent.

Which of all your novels is your favourite?

I tend to like whatever I wrote most recently the best, but I think Second Glances has a rather exalted place in my heart. It was the first time I created (and fell in love with ) my own characters, and there is something pretty special about that. The hero, Sir James Stratton, is definitely my favorite character I have written.

Favourite JAFF and why?

The first JAFF I ever read - the Sanditon completion by “Another Lady.” It’s seamlessly done. The hero, Sydney Parker, is fabulous. It is the closest thing I’ve ever found to a seventh Austen novel, and I reread it regularly.

If they were to do a P&P continuation, what previous couple would you like to see?

I enjoy continuations that focus on secondary characters, particularly Mary, Kitty, and Lydia. Georgiana is so often the center of sequels that I get a bit bored with her. She’s also a bit too sweet and privileged, while the flaws of the other Bennet girls make them more interesting. I also love spending time with Austen’s rogues, and as long as he hasn’t become diabolical (as he sometimes is portrayed), Mr. Wickham and his silly wife can be so much fun. I really like writing for Wickham, too.

What do you think Jane would make of JAFF?

I think her feelings would be complex, as are those of her fans. Primarily, I like to believe she would be flattered, but I also think she would feel overwhelmed, often embarrassed, and occasionally angry.

If you could be any Austen character who would it be and why?

Catherine Morland. I think she has the best chance for sustained happiness, as she has more of a disposition to be content then the other heroines. She beats out her closest competitors for strictly practical reasons. A Mrs. Tilney would be perfectly comfortable economically but unburdened by the pressures of great wealth and estate that a Mrs. Darcy would confront, and she wouldn’t have to worry about a husband going off to war, like a Mrs. Wentworth.

In the book you mention you have an interest in asylums in the Victorian era, how did this come about and what interests you about it?

There is a lot of mental illness in my family, so it is a topic in which I’ve always been interested. Both my grandmother and father have spent time in asylums. From a very young age my taste in books and film reflect the fascination. I became rather obsessed with Bertha Mason of Jane Eyre at a very young age (my mother showed me the old BBC adaptation from the 70s when I six). She looked so wild and abandoned that thoughts of her kept me awake at night. Another image of madness that sticks with me from early childhood is that of a writhing naked man in a restraining cage in the film Amadeus. As I got a bit older, books like I Never Promised You A Rose Garden and The Bell Jar were huge influences (the latter is actually the only book I know my grandmother has read - kind of creepy, isn’t it?). In college I wrote a thesis about images of madwomen in the Victorian era. One of the books I used for the paper was Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, a story of a woman falsely institutionalized by her ruthless husband. That’s when I began to think about the evolution of the legal status of the mentally ill, which shifted my attention from literary depictions of lunatics to what life would have been like in a 19th century asylum. I never dreamed of throwing Mr. Darcy into one until a moment of inspiration just about two years ago, but in so many ways I've been preparing to write this book my entire life.

Were you apprehensive of people’s reaction to such a topic?

I was apprehensive but not so much about the topic as the angst that necessarily accompanied it. My previous novels were very happy affairs, and I feared my fans would be appalled by the  degree of suffering the characters endure, but so far the reaction has been very positive. Everyone seems to agree that while the beginning of the book is painful, the ending makes up for it. That’s a huge relief! Readers of JAFF have such a personal relationship with the characters, and it can be tricky to judge what crosses the line into the unacceptable. I just try to stay within the bounds of what I am comfortable with and hope that the majority feel similarly.

Mr Darcy’s late night reading had me in tears, did you find it as emotional to write as I experienced  reading it?

Yes. This book was very hard to write at times. The worst part for me was actually writing about what happens to Lydia at the very beginning of the story. Next was depicting Darcy’s internal turmoil. The letters were actually a little easier for me. I feel like Elizabeth’s strength, so apparent in the letters, bolstered both Darcy and myself. If she could do what she did then anything is possible. It’s the moment in the book when I was certain everything would eventually be OK.

Thank you Alexa, such wonderful answers, especially your answer to "If you could be any Austen character who would you be and why?" I really enjoyed reading 'The Madness of Mr Darcy' and look forward to reading more from you in the future!

For a chance to win a copy of 'The Madness of Mr Darcy', please answer the following question "If you could be any Austen character who would you be and why?"

Winners to be announced on the 3rd Nov 14. Good Luck everyone! Thank you again Alexa Adams.

Follow Alexa over at her blog Tales of Less Pride & Prejudice 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Darcylicious Award Winners!

These Awards have really been fun! The Darcylicious Awards Pt1 & The Darcylicious Awards Pt2. Thank you to everyone who participated, it was great seeing who your favourites were.

Two Mrs Bennets jointly won, satisfying blogger Angela's desire to see them merged :).   Two Pemberleys also won! All three Aunt and Uncle Gardiners tied, therefore I made an executive decision to cast the deciding vote:)

I cannot believe I totally forgot to do an Elizabeth Award! However, as she is in the happiest couple Award, we will go with the Elizabeth that won. - Jennifer Ehle!!!

The results have produced a complete 1995 cast!!! 

1. The Savile Row - Award  Winner!

2. Silliest Girl in the County - Award Winner!

3. Sarcastic Humour - Award Winner!

4. Distinction of Rank  - Award Winner!

5. Conceited, Pompous, Narrow Minded - Award Winner!

6.Sneering Civility - Award Winner!

7. Matchmaker - Award Winners!

8. Meryton Rake - Award Winner!

9. Mother of the Year - Award Winners B&C!

10. The Easily Led - Award Winner!

11. Most Accomplished - Award Winner!

12. The Jovial - Award Winner!

13.The Dearest Sister - Award Winner!

14. Happiest Couple - Award Winners!

15. Home Sweet Home - Award Winners B&C!

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Hello everyone! Here is part two of The Darcylicious Awards.
The previous post The Darcylicious Awards PT.1 has generated a lot of interest and it has been fun creating it. There seems to be some confusion surrounding, The Savile Row Award. This award is for best tailor but I have a sneaky feeling no one is looking at their clothes (apart from of course Ceri who mentioned great boots on Firth although her favourite Darcy is Gregory!). However I believe some bias does exist  :) To address this I have created another award to include some other Darcy's and this award does not pertain to anything but DARCY, hopefully this will eliminate any bias!! :)

I love Darcy Award!!
(As you can see no bias here!)
 Mother of the year Award!
A                                                                  B                                                                 C
The Easily Led Award!
A                                                                B                                                                    C
Most Accomplished Award!
A                                                                       B                                                                   C
The Jovial Award!
A                                                                      B                                                                     C
The Dearest Sister Award!
A                                                                      B                                                                      C
Happiest Couple Award!
A                                                                          B                                                                    C
Home Sweet Home Award!
A                                                                     B                                                                  C

Thank you for taking part everyone, it has been lovely seeing who you prefer!!!

The Award winners will be announced  on Sunday evening (26th Oct)

Please leave your votes in the Comments below, reply on Twitter or comment on MDER's

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Upon my word! You give your opinion very decidedly!! Well that is what I am banking on!
Lets have some fun! Please help me decide who should win. I have spilt these awards into two parts with the second part on the 22nd Oct. Votes can be left in the comments below, on Twitter or MDER'S!

The Savile Row Award!
A                                                                  B                                                               C
Silliest Girl in the County Award!
A                                                              B                                                                 C
Sarcastic Humour Award!
A                                                                       B                                                             C            
Distinction of Rank Award!
A                                                                B                                                           C
Conceited, Pompous, Narrow minded Award!
A                                                                B                                                               C 
Sneering Civility Award!
                                  A                                                               B                                                               C                                                         
Matchmaker Award!
A                                                      B                                              C
Meryton Rake Award!
A                                                                 B                                                            C

Have fun!!! Join me for part two on 22nd October.

Please leave your votes in the Comments below, reply on Twitter or comment on MDER's

As always I delight in hearing your thoughts!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Compass North By Stephanie Joyce Cole

As per my usual modus operandi, I did not read the blurb as I do despise anything that may spoil the story. I suppose then, you will think my review a bit ironic as I will be revealing some of what this story is about.
Meredith’s marriage has recently come to an abrupt end, the how and why are withheld as the author uses a piecemeal approach to tell the story. We first meet Meredith on a travel tour in Alaska. Her fellow travellers are retired couples who take Meredith under their wing, until tragedy strikes leaving Meredith in a confused and bewildered state. As a result, shock induced decisions lead Meredith to a remote town that is in stark contrast to the life she has left behind.

"She rested her fingers ever so lightly on the keys. 
There was probably an obituary. She shivered, and her hands retreated into her lap. The idea of looking up her own obituary was terrifying, bad luck somehow, as if it would mean that she was really dead. 
There might have been a story about the accident in the paper back home. Probably just a mention that a local woman had died. 
Her hands stayed in her lap. Her palms were sweating, and she rubbed them against the legs of her jeans. She could look up the law firm website to see what Michael’s profile said now. Would it say he was still married? " - Stephanie Cole 

Presumed dead Meredith arrives in this little town with only a rucksack to her name, too risky to use her credit cards, she needs time to consider the ramifications of her actions. With the assistance of two travel companions Meredith ends up with loggings at Rita’s home, an elderly lady with a hard exterior but tender heart. With Rita not being a big talker and Meredith not keen on revealing her past their living arrangement works well and the two form a strong but silent bond. Before long Meredith is living a new life with an unknown identity.

Forging new friends and attracting a love interest in the form of a rugged and strong fisherman, Meredith is opening a new chapter in her life but her guilt riddled conscious is becoming a hindrance. With her past threatening to expose her, Meredith risks losing her past and her present if she does not face the reality and consequences of her disastrous marriage.

" What did she have to offer him? How could she explain to him why this pain cut so deeply in her, how the soft inside of her was already so bruised that his walking away had torn her open? How could she make him understand when everything that made her this way was a secret?
He was real. She was a fake. Her muddled thoughts roared in her head.
She brushed her hand lightly down his arm and turned to walk toward the cabin, leaving him looking out over the water. She ached inside, she was empty, and she had nothing else to say." - Stephanie Cole

The author describes the harsh yet beautiful environment of Alaska in such vivid descriptions you cannot help but feel you are there. However at times I felt the description slowed down the pace of the story, with many that I felt were unnecessary. A few of Meredith’s decisions were hard to fathom and left me slightly frustrated. However as the story progressed and more of her past was revealed my empathy for Meredith’s actions rose and I even shed a tear or two imagining myself in such a situation. I would have liked a more concrete ending to this book but the author left my imagination with enough information to fashion my own. J

Overall I liked the thought provoking premise of this book, which invoked feelings we can all relate to in some scenario or another. Despite a wealth of in-depth details that showed how ties and bonds were formed, the author’s style allowed you to understand the depth and meaning of each of Meredith’s new experiences and connections. The cold Alaskan weather was clearly imprinted in my mind and I was all too eager for Meredith to get in doors. The harsh environs were a double edged metaphor for Meredith’s polar and tumultuous feelings, which were in sharp contrast to the numbness she often felt. Yet the beautiful landscapes bespoke hope and a simple humanist need for survival which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Stephanie Joyce Cole

Author Bio:
Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for decades in Alaska.  She and her husband recently relocated to Seattle, where they reside with a predatory but lovable Manx cat (no tail!) named Bruno. Stephanie has a law degree from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Since 1986, she has been associated with Alaska Quarterly Review (AQR), an award-winning literary magazine housed at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.  She is currently a Senior Affiliate Editor for AQR.  When she's not writing, she's hiking, creating ceramics, practicing yoga, traveling, volunteering and discovering new ways to have fun--and oh yes, reading, reading, reading. 

( I was given a copy of Compass North in return for my honest review)

As always feel free to  your thoughts!

Monday, 6 October 2014

I am in full pouting mode, Emma does not have a patch on me right now! I am sure I should be scolded for such behaviour, but my reading time has suffered considerably and I shall tolerate it no further !! 

The flu, starting back at University and arranging the flights, accommodation and guest list for my wedding has taken its toll. 

The fact that my reading has gone out of the window is not lost on me, it is my retreat from the stresses of life and any lack of reading that follows in the same vein as of recent, is not to be born!!!! Hence October is operation “I need to read” as Confueius once said “no matter how busy you may think you are you must find time for reading or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance” I think that is all I need to say on the matter. J

I did get some reading done as you will note by my review of Pride and Persistence, which I might add had me grinning from ear to ear.

I am going to use this month to catch up on my reading and reviews but have a few treats in the meantime. On the 28th October I will be interviewing the lovely Alexa Adams, who will be giving away 2 copies of her new book The Madness of Mr Darcy, which I am currently reading!
Also look out for my review of Compass North on the 12th which was my September invite to the ball.

I have also put together a little Pride and Prejudice voting fun called 'The Darcylicious Awards', which I will post on the 19th October. I will be taking votes here, on Twitter and over at Mr Darcy’s extensive readers and will announce the results at the end of the month.

Lastly on the 27th October The Boots to Backpack Blog tour begins, it runs until the 7th Nov and as soon as I have more details I will add them to my blog. 

Boots and Backpacks by K C Kahler

Book Blurb:
William Darcy counts down the last few months to his 30th birthday with dread. Orphaned as a child, his parents’ will includes a bizarre clause: Darcy must get married by his 30th birthday in order to inherit the family fortune. To make matters worse, the press knows about this deadline, as do the hordes of women chasing him in the hopes of becoming Mrs. Darcy. His family legacy hangs in the balance, but Darcy has little faith in the fairer sex. Will he find a woman he wants to marry, and quickly?
Elizabeth Bennet is determined to pursue her education and career without letting a man get in the way. When her traveling companion drops out, her planned hike on the Appalachian Trial is jeopardized. She meets the spoiled, snobby William Darcy just when he is desperate to escape the spotlight. No one will suspect that the Prince of Manhattan has gone backpacking! Darcy and Elizabeth form a tenuous partnership and begin a 300-mile journey that will transform them both.
In classic romantic comedy tradition, Boots & Backpacks follows our reluctant partners as they build trust, friendship, and even more. Six weeks together on America’s most famous hiking trail may turn out to be just what these two need!

I hope you have had a great September of reading and continue to do so into month of  October!

As always feel free to leave a comment.