Saturday, October 29, 2011


Jane Austen for President! That was the subject of an email I received in my inbox and naturally I was intrigued. After finding out more about Gone Reading and Founder and CEO Brad Wirz, I am pleased to inform you, my dear readers, about this amazing philanthropic organization.

I consider Janeites to be some of the most literary individuals on the planet and we cannot imagine a world without books. Well, neither can Gone Reading, which was founded on the simple idea of bringing “the magic effect of reading to places where it doesn’t exist.” It is Gone Reading’s belief that when people have access to reading materials that their life can change for the better. Wouldn’t our dear Jane approve? After all it was her witty pen which declared that “after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Gone Reading has pledged to donate 100% of their company profits to fund new reading libraries and other literacy projects in the developing world. Fantastic! By purchasing gifts for you or your bibliophile friends you can help bring the joy of reading to others.

This brings me to the novel idea of Jane Austen for President. As election season approaches for the 2012 season we can campaign for our favorite literary leader who understands human nature with wit, prose and a keen intellect and help a great cause.

Pick up your Jane Austen for President coffee mugs for the office and a water bottle for when you walk your dog.

Don’t forget to pick up a Jane Austen for President 2012 t-shirt so your pooch can be the envy of all the other dogs at the bark park.

You should probably pick up a book bag too as it’s sure to spread the word about our dear Jane.

There are plenty of Jane Austen gifts in the Gone Reading online store as well as other great products for you. Remember 100% of the profits go to fund new reading libraries and other literary projects.

I also hope you will join me in the Jane Austen for President 2012 campaign. Oh, did I mention Mr. Wirz reads Austen too?

Visit The Gone Reading Online Store.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress: A Review


Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Paperback: 464 pages. Also avaliable as an e-book.

ISBN: 979-0-345-52496-6

Source: Supplied by the editor

Laurel Ann Nattress (of should be proud of her achievement as represented in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It (JAMMDI) anthology. The short stories complied here are a reminder to us of the enduring heart of Austen which acts as old friends to us. We all come to Austen for various reasons, but just like a cold winter’s night curled up on the couch under a blanket, with a cup of hot cider, we find a familiar comfort that only Austen can give.

I am going to do this book review a little differently as this is an anthology and not a full length novel. I am going to talk about a few of my favorite stories and some of my not so favorite stories.


Jane Austen’s Nightmare by Syrie James: A clever story which asks the question, what would happen if Jane Austen met her literary creations? Not all her creations are happy with their portrayals either. Syrie draws on factual accounts of how Austen’s works were received when they first published which adds a sense of realism to the story, in addition to being cleverly funny. This story just proves why Syrie James is one of my favorite authors.

When Only a Darcy Will Do by Beth Pattillo: The plot: an American girl studying in London, England who is trying to make ends-meat by giving Jane Austen tours and finding the Mr. Darcy she didn’t realize was there. This is an enchanting tale with an unexpected ending.

What Would Austen Do? by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway: Having a male lead, not a female lead, was a fresh change which I can support. This story was laugh-out-loud funny and well written. A high school boy is accused of doing something improper (like drugs) by school administrators because he has good manners and dresses differently from all the other kids. GASP! This was a charming tale and was cleverly done.

The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey: The winner of the JAMMDI contest and a well deserved winner at that. She writes a modern twist on Persuasion, which is wonderfully executed and exhibites the same tense emotion of the original work which inspired it. I just have one question: Did our hero pass his medical boards or not?


The Chase by Carrie Bebris: This story stood out because it is not inspired by an Austen work and is not about Austen herself. This story is about her brother Francis William Austen and it focuses on a particular battle in his Navel career which helped elevate him to post-captain. I really enjoyed this story as it was off the beaten path. It was almost out of place in the anthology, but not quite. This is a gem hidden within.


A Night at Northanger by Lauren Willig

Jane and the Gentleman Rogue: Being a fragment of a Jane Austen mystery by Stephanie Barron

Jane Austen, Yeah,Yeah,Yeah!  By Janet Mullany

Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverley


Note: The opinions expressed below are merely that, opinions, and are in no way a reflection on the talent of the author’s themselves. For we know these authors are talented and that we cannot dispute.

Faux Jane by F.J. Meier: The ability of the author (a husband and wife team) is not in dispute, but I did not like this story at all. I couldn’t warm to the characters, the dialogue was difficult to follow and I felt this story was poorly executed.

Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane by Adriana Trigiani: This wasn’t a bad story, but a minor quibble of mine keeps me from embracing it wholeheartedly. This is a letter from Jane Austen to her soon to be married niece Anna. A Regency piece that had me up until the mention of tweets, emails and text messaging which caused me to discredit the story. Like I said it is a minor quibble, but a quibble none the less.

Me and Mr. Darcy, Again by Alexandra Potter: I really wanted to like this story, but I just couldn’t. Emily, our heroine, has hopped across the pond on an impromptu vacation after a fight with her boyfriend Spike. She can also see Mr. Darcy and this is where my problems arose. I’m not against fictional characters being given a life of their own in a story, but in this story it just didn’t feel right. It felt forced in order to drive the plot. My response to this story was merely tepid.

With a few notable exceptions, I enjoyed every story in this anthology. The stories that appear are a tribute to what Jane Austen has given us and are a stunning example of how she continues to inspire us.

Final Recommendation: For admirers of Austen, you will enjoy this anthology of Austen inspired shorts.

Editor Bio:
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present she delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October with Jane Austen: The New Releases Edition

Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion
By: Janet Mullany

It is 1810, and the Damned are out of favor—banished from polite society. Jane Austen’s old undead friends have become new neighbors, raising hell in her tranquil village just in time to interrupt Jane’s work on what will be her masterpiece. Suddenly Jane’s niece is flirting dangerously with vampires, and a formerly respectable spinster friend has discovered the forbidden joys of intimate congress with the Damned (and is borrowing Jane’s precious silk stockings for her assignations). Writing is simply impossible now, with murderous creatures prowling the village’s once-peaceful lanes. And with the return of her vampire characteristics, a civil war looming between factions of the Damned, and a former lover who intends to spend eternity blaming her for his broken heart, Jane is facing a very busy year indeed.

Mr. Darcy's Bite
By Mary Lydon Simonsen
Mr. Darcy has a secret...

Darcy is acting rather oddly. After months of courting Elizabeth Bennet, no offer of marriage is forthcoming and Elizabeth is first impatient, then increasingly frightened. For there is no denying that the full moon seems to be affecting his behavior, and Elizabeth's love is going to be tested in ways she never dreamed...

Darcy has more than family pride to protect: others of his kind are being hunted all over England and a member of Darcy's pack is facing a crisis in Scotland. It will take all of Elizabeth's faith, courage, and ingenuity to overcome her prejudice and join Darcy in a Regency world she never knew existed.

Caroline Bingley
By Jennifer Becton

When Charles Bingley and Mr. Darcy made proposals of marriage to the Bennet sisters at the end of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley was both distressed by her brother's choice of bride and humiliated by Mr. Darcy's rejection of her. And she made her objections known.

Now banished from her brother's household, Caroline must return to her mother's home in the north of England until she can make amends with both Bennet sisters. Desperate though Caroline may be to return to polite company, she absolutely refuses to apologize to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and instead, she seeks an alternative route back into society in the form of Mr. William Charlton, heir to a barony.

Through her connections with Mr. Charlton's sister Lavinia, Caroline begins to infiltrate the household in the hopes of securing the gentleman and his title for herself. However, she must also contend with her vexing emotions regarding Mr. Patrick Rushton, a once-wealthy landowner, and the meddlesome opinions of Mrs. Rosemary Pickersgill, the companion sent by her brother.

When all that Caroline has ever dreamed of attaining--an ancient family name, a title, and a home of her own--is finally within her reach, will she grasp for it even if it means disregarding the workings of her own heart? Or will she cast off the trappings of society and give herself to true love?

Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Stories by: Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley

“My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy’s heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world.

Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile
By Jane Austen and Lev Raphael
Get ready for Pride and Prejudice with brisket. Lizzy Bennet's an Anglo-Jew with a Jewish mother, some Jewish attitude, and lots to say about Mr. Darcy, who has some serious attitude problems of his own when it comes to “Hebrews.” When these two proud people meet, is it still love at first...slight? Will prejudice keep them from bridging the gap between Jew and Gentile? Austen's classic novel gains new layers of comedy and drama in this subtle, ingenious mash-up. There are no monsters here. Raphael doesn't do violence do Austen's text, but lovingly and meticulously reinvents the book and helps readers see it and Regency England through a brand new prism.

Mr. Darcy's Undoing
By Abigail Reynolds

A passionate new Pride and Prejudice variation explores the unthinkable-Elizabeth accepts the proposal of a childhood friend before she meets Darcy again. When their paths cross, the devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he'll go to win the woman he loves. How can a man who prides himself on his honor ask the woman he loves to do something scandalous? And how can Elizabeth accept a loveless marriage when Mr. Darcy holds the key to her heart? As they confront family opposition and the ill-will of scandal-mongers, will Elizabeth prove to be Mr. Darcy's undoing?