Posts Tagged ‘jane austen’

Must Love Austen: Julia Quinn talks about inspiration, Austen & Sir Richard Kenworthy

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy is, in many ways, my salute to Jane Austen. The very first line reads:

To quote that book his sister had read two dozen times, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

But of course, I’m not Jane Austen, and my hero most definitely is not Mr. Darcy. Hence the next two lines of the book:

Sir Richard Kenworthy was not in possession of a fortune, but he was single. As for the wife… Well, that was complicated.

Thus the tone was set, and before I knew it, my heroine was having a lively discussion about Pride and Prejudice with her sister. (Much to the confusion of their mother, who did not realise that Lizzy, Darcy and Mr. Collins were fictional characters.)

Jane Austen’s books endure in a way that few would have predicted at the time of their publication. I believe it’s because she was writing about smart women in a time that did not celebrate smart women. She was writing about love and happy endings in a time that viewed marriage – in her social class, at least – as more of a business contract than a bond of love. I’d like to think that my books honour Austen by adhering to these ideals. I don’t write stupid heroines (nor stupid heroes), and everyone gets a happily-ever-after.

In 2007 I was asked to write the Afterword for the new Signet Classics edition of Mansfield Park. It is still one of the highlights of my career, and I’d love to share a bit of it with you.

I am an author of historical romances, which means that I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of my computer, dreaming of witty men, wittier women, and ways to torture them both before allowing a happily-ever-after. I know the difference between a duke and an earl (and the proper way to address each, both in person and in writing), and I regularly find myself researching such strange and random bits of knowledge as the journey length from Liverpool to Dublin in 1819, the location of Boucher’s Portrait of Marie-Louise O’Murphy during the same year, and the earliest known usage of the phrase “Little Bo Peep.” (At least twelve hours, Germany, and Shakespeare, as far as I can tell.)

Like most authors writing in my time period, I worship at the altar of Jane Austen, and while I do not credit her with the birth of the modern romance novel (what she did and what I do are far too dissimilar for that), she must be acknowledged as the genre’s most vital and influential ancestor.

Three cheers for Miss Austen!

 

Julia Quinn started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. She is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe colleges and lives with her family in Colorado.

 

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure – Part 2!

Read on for Part 2 of what happened once Erin Knightley alighted on English soil . . .

With my mother as my traveling companion and nine glorious days set aside for the experience, I anxiously awaited the trip for what it was: a dream come true. And was it ever! First things first: shortly after arriving, I met my editor, Anna, and publicist, Clara, at Fortnum and Mason for my very first tea. Oh, the decadence! Smartly attired waiters, gentle piano music in the background, personal pots of fragrant teas, and a delectable selection of finger foods. This was where I encountered that oft-mentioned treat of the Regency novels: clotted cream. My characters had eaten it, yes, but I had no idea what it actually looked like, let alone what it tasted like!

Astonished that I had never tried it, Anna and Clara watched with interest as I topped a scone. I was thinking it might be closer to whip cream, but quickly discovered it was more of a pot of buttery clouds than sweetened fluff. So rich, so creamy, so perfectly delicious – I could easily see why the lords and ladies of the ton would indulge!

Emboldened by the success, I eagerly went about experiencing even more. A tour of the Tower of London? Check! Hyde Park? Check! A spot of tea and a bun at The Pump Room in Bath? Check! We explored Sydney gardens, which was such a big part of The Earl I Adore, and we toured the Assembly Rooms, which was prominent in all three of the Prelude to a Kiss Series. We stayed in a Georgian townhome with its original 1790 kitchen (and kindly ignored the slightly burnt toast). We ogled Chatsworth and ooo’d and ahh’d our way through Blenheim Palace and Stourhead. I soaked in every detail of the fabrics, furniture, and furnishings of those glorious old homes, and paid more attention than was probably proper to the detailed and often naughty ceiling murals and statues.

It was all so very magical and wonderful (minus that one time I almost got us hit by a bus five minutes after picking up the rental car, which we’ll just pretend never happened).

 

Check back tomorrow for the final part of Erin’s trip! Does she eat the black pudding? Have we scarred her for life?!

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure!

Blightly was honoured recently with a visit from one of our favourite authors, Erin Knightley! Her warm and clever Regency romance The Baron Next Door had only just come out in paperback and we were getting reading for the upcoming sequel The Earl I Adore!

Over the next three days Erin will be telling the story of her trip to England where she visited the inspirations for her books! Keep reading below for Part 1 of Erin Knightley‘s English Adventures!

 

 

 

 

I sat there, staring at the plate before me, trying to figure out how I had gotten into this. The eggs, rasher of bacon, and toast were normal enough—delicious even—but beside them was a round, black, hockey puck slab of food, the likes of which I had never laid eyes on.

“Go on,” the innkeeper said, nodding encouragingly. “You’ll love it, I promise!” His charming enthusiasm was endearing, despite the eyebrow-raising breakfast he had just set in front of me.

Right. When in Rome, etc., etc. I took a deep breath, cut the tiniest morsel you have ever seen from the black disk, and crossed my fingers that my constitution was as good as my characters’ in the Regency world in which I write. 

I, Erin Knightley, romance author, world traveler, and thoroughly modern girl, was about to try black pudding.

So, dear reader, you may be wondering how I came about finding myself in this position, some 4,000 miles away from my cozy little house on a lake in North Carolina and the obligatory bowl of cereal with which I usually break my fast.

It had all started with an email. “Congrats!” it had said, the exclamation point effusive coming from my wonderful agent. “Piatkus has purchased the UK rights to both The Baron Next Door and The Earl I Adore!” It went on to explain that in a few short months, my Regency-set novels would be on the shelves of the country I had adored since the moment I picked up WHITNEY, MY LOVE back in the ‘90s.

And thus began my giddy, gleeful planning of a trip to England to coincide with the debut of The Baron Next Door. Not only could I meet my new publisher, sign books, and stay at the quaintest of quaint bed and breakfasts across the country, but this was my chance to really research the places I wrote about. Oh, to wander the venerated halls of manor houses, to visit the streets Jane Austen had tread, and traverse the ‘rolling countryside’ so often described in Regency-set novels (guilty!). I wanted to sample the traditional English fare, take tea with a side of scones, and discover what, exactly, clotted cream was.

Check back tomorrow for more of Erin’s story!

The Baron Next Door is out now in ebook and paperback!