1001 English Nights: Part the third

1001 English Nights is a group vignette involving Henry Tilney, minister, man of many bot mots and opinions on ladies’ dress, and his young wife, the former Catherine Morland, heroine of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbery. This special production was composed for September, 2012 ‘s Austenesque Extravaganza.  For the complete schedule go to Austenesque Extravaganza.

Part I of 1001 English Nights, by Amy Smith, may be found at: All Roads Lead to Austen

Part II of 1001 English Nights, by Lory L, may be found at :  Meryton press.

And now………..Part III of 1001 English Nights!

When Henry returned from the parish duties which had drawn him from home, he found Catherine sitting by the window in the sitting-room, fanning herself with a packet of paper. When he greeted her he was surprised to see her blush vividly and stammer a greeting as she ran to him and flung her arms around his neck.

“My dear wife! Why are you so agitated? Has something happened?”

“N-no, indeed not! But you were not here when I awoke and I missed you!” She blushed again, embarrassed by the lack of poise that her mother would gently deplore. Before she could speak the footman came in and announced dinner. She pulled herself up into a dignified stance appropriate for a married woman and added, “Shall we dine, Mr. Tilney?”

Henry gravely answered her, “Indeed, my dear, I am famished.”

Catherine took his arm a little nervously and they went to the dining parlour.

During the meal Catherine kept up a flow of chatter about plans for their house, gossip that the housemaid had shared with her, her plans for some alterations to a ball gown which she was not satisfied with, and comments about the delicious dinner the footman was serving them. When they had finished and the covers were removed, Catherine asked Henry, “Would you like to have your port in here, or would you prefer to join me in the parlour?”

“I will join you my dear…as you know my port has much more flavor when I have you to talk to.” He smiled at his wife and she blushed.

By the time they had settled down in front of the fireplace and she had a glass of port for Henry and a cup of tea for herself, Catherine had recovered some of the aplomb that she had worked so hard to gain since her marriage.

“So what did you do with your day, my dear?” was Henry’s first question after the footman had closed the door behind him.

“Oh, talked to Cook and gave instructions to Betsy about dusting the parlour. Nothing very exciting. Oh, that stain on your shirt from when Balthazar knocked your wine over did not come out. I do not know what to do about it.” She glared over at the Newfoundland, who had opened his eyes at the sound of his name, then quickly added, in a low voice, “Oh…and I worked on my story”

Henry turned his eyes from the offending Balthazar and lifted a brow at his wife, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Really? You must read it to me.”

Oddly, Catherine blushed once again and stammered, “Y-you must read it yourself. I-I would rather you read it yourself.”

Henry smiled wider and said, “Oh, really? Why do you not bring now and I will read it while we have our tea.” He put his empty wine glass aside and poured himself a cup of tea.

Catherine gulped nervously, but nodded and picked up the pages she had been fanning herself with. “Here they are.” She handed them to him a little reluctantly.

With another quirk of his left brow, he took the sheets and settled himself to read.

When he finished he looked up at his wife, two spots of pink in both his cheeks and his eyes a little…unfocussed. “My goodness…this is quite…a vivid portrayal.” He took a deep breath and looked at Catherine again, this time examining her expression intently. Her face was blanched and she could not look him steadily in the eye. Henry took in her expression and her posture, then patted the settee next to him. “Come sit next to me, my dear.”

Catherine did so, and burst out before he could continue, “I’m sorry! I know that this is not a proper thing for a wife…especially a minister’s wife…to write! It just happened and when I was done I was so…flustered that I could not change it right away.” She twisted her handkerchief around and around until the lace edge was on the verge of tearing free.

She opened her mouth to speak again, but Henry gently placed a finger over her lips.

“You are correct that it would not do to have anyone else read your writing, but I must admit that I found it very…stimulating. Perhaps we should keep any further pages locked in your trunk where the maids cannot find them.”

“You…you do not mind that I wrote them?” Catherine frowned, not quite understanding the expression on his face.

“No I don’t mind, my love. I just do not want to share the tales that my Scheherezade spins.” He drew her onto his lap, his fingers tangled in her hair.

“W-who is Scheherezade?” Catherine was having difficulty remembering what they were talking about with Henry’s gaze burning into her eyes.

“I’ll tell you later,” he whispered before his lips met hers.

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Dearest Jane:
I just wanted to send my best wishes on your 236th birthday! Now, I know that after the first 200 years of life birthdays no longer seem so important, but as one of your best friends I wanted to send you a little token of my love and friendship. I first heard this played by Miss Mary Bennet at the Netherfield ball (I believe I told you about THAT fiasco!), but, in spite of Miss Bennet’s lack of talent, I thought the song itself had potential. I bought it for myself and so enjoyed it that I wanted to share the work with you. It is by Handel…I know, I know, a little old fashioned and stuffy, but you must admit that he CAN compose! And it was SO funny to see his face when he found out that his former patron, the Elector of Hanover, was to become the King of England when GF had been lurking about London for years and delaying his return to Hanover. What a hoot! Well, my dearest friend, I hope you enjoy the music…and keep Mary Bennet away from the pianoforte! 🙂
C. Allyn Pierson

To find out what else Jane got for her birthday, just visit the surprise party put on by Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Bookclub, and and Katherine Cox at November’s Autumn and maybe you will win a present too! I am giving away a copy of Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister and the giveaway is open worldwide!

Jane’s other friends who are at the party:

  1. Sharon Lathan  Blog: Sharon Lathan      Giveaway : Miss Darcy Falls in Love
  2. Emily Snyder    Blog: O! Beauty Unattempted     Giveaway: Letters of Love & Deception
  3. Laurel Ann Nattress     Blog:  Austenprose  Giveaway: signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
  4. Cindy Jones     Blog: First Draft    Giveaway:  a signed copy of “My Jane Austen Summer” and a package of Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea by Bingley’s, Ltd.
  5. Farida Mestek     Blog:  Regency stories set against the backdrop of Regency England     Giveaway: I was Jane Austen Best Friend by Cora Harrison
  6. Marilyn Brant    Blog:    Brant Flakes     Giveaway : A canvas ACCORDING TO JANE tote bag and a pair of A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tags.
  7. Prue Batten    Blog: Mesmered’s Blog     Giveaway : Anna Elliot’s  “Georgiana Darcy” (Kindle book)
  8. Erin Blakemore   Blog:   The Heroine’s Bookshelf       Giveaway :  a set of Potter-Style Pride and Prejudice notecards  
  9.  Blog: vvb32 read      Giveaway: Jane Austen’s Little Instruction Book (Charming Petites) By Jane Austen,  Edited by Sophia Bedford-Pierce, Illustrated by Mullen & Katz,  Introduction by  Barbara Paulding
  10. Karen Doornebos     Blog: The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown    Giveaway: 2 Jane Austen Candles and 2 signed DNMD books plus drink coasters and tea!
  11. Regina Jeffers  ReginaJeffers’s Blog    Giveaway:  An autographed copy of “Christmas at Pemberley “
  12. Alyssa Goodnight    Blog: Alyssa Goodnight   Giveaway: Jane Austen Action figure
  13. Deb     Blog: Jane Austen in  Vermont     Giveaway:  JASNA 2012 calendars from the Wisconsin JASNA Region
  14. Laura Hile,  Susan Kaye, Pamela Aidan, and Barbara Cornthwaite
    Blog: Jane Started It!      Giveaway: One copy of Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour by Pamela Aidan, One set of Frederick Wentworth, Captain (Books 1 and 2) by Susan Kaye,   Two copies of Mercy’s Embrace: So Rough a Course (Book 1) by Laura Hile,   George Kinghtley, Gentleman (Books 1 and 2) by Barbara Cornthwaite.
  15. Juliet Archer     Blog: Choc Lit Authors’ Corner     Giveaway:  a copy of “Persuade Me”  and one of “The Importance of Being Emma”
  16. 18. Jane Greensmith     Blog: Reading, Writing, Working , Playing     Giveaway: a copy of  “Intimations of Austen”, and Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Illustrated)
  17. Jenny Allworthy     Blog : The Jane Austen Film Club       Giveaway:  a copy of Northanger Abbey DVD starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild (The winner will choose region 1 or 2 DVD)
  18. Sitio Jane Austen     Blog: El Salón de Té de Jane      Giveaway:  – Spanish edition of Sense and Sensibility for the 200th Anniversary + A DVD package with adaptations of Jane Austen
    (It’s only zone 2, but it’s in Spanish and English ) +  blu-ray of the BBC’s Emma with Romola Garai
  19. Kaitlin Saunders     Blog : Kaitlin Saunders      Giveaway: “A Modern Day Persuasion”
  20. Becky Rhodehouse     Blog: One Literature Nut     Giveaway: selection of Austenesque Reads
  21. Patrice Sarath   Blog: Patrice Sarath      Giveaway: A copy of The Unexpected Miss Bennet
  22. Adriana Zardini     Site: Jane Austen Brasil     Giveaway: DVD – Sense and Sensibility (1995) – English / Portuguese subtitles
  23. Jane Odiwe     Blog: Jane Austen Sequels      Giveaway:  a mug with one of  Jane Odiwe’s illustrations and a copy of her “Mr Darcy’s Secret”
  24. Courtney Webb     Stiletto Storytime     Giveaway: Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant (Regency Romance)
  25. Jennifer Becton     Blog: Jennifer W. Becton     Giveaway: An ebook of the Personages of Pride and Prejudice Collection, which contains all of my Austenesque works: Charlotte Collins, “Maria Lucas,” and Caroline Bingley. The giveaway will be open internationally.
  26. Vera Nazarian     Blog: Urban Girl Takes Vermont      Giveaway: a copy of Vera Nazarian’s gift hardcover edition of her inspirational calendar and diary, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
  27. Abigail Reynolds     Blog: Pemberley Variations      Giveaway:   a signed copy of “Mr. Darcy’s Undoing”
  28. Blog: AustenAuthors     Giveaway:  Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester
  29. Katherine Cox     November’s Autumn     Giveaway :$10 B&N Gift-card (US only)
  30. Maria Grazia     My Jane Austen Book Club     Giveaway : A selection of Austenesque reads

Upcoming event: Jane Austen’s birthday!

Don’t miss Jane Austen’s birthday Friday, December 16, 2011. Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Bookclub and Katherine Cox of November’s Autumn have planned a surprise party for our dear friend Jane! Many Austen bloggers will be sending Jane gifts at their sites, so stop in and see her presents and comment- you might win a present too! Each site will have a complete list of participants for your reading enjoyment.


Austen Fans gather in Fort Worth!

The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) is holding its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in at the Worthington hotel in Fort Worth, Texas from October 13-16. The AGM has guest speakers, breakout sessions, and a grand finale with a Regency Ball. In addition, on Sunday, October 16, there will be an author booksigning event from 8 am to 10:30am open only to the attendees of the meeting. Many authors, both fiction and nonfiction, will be attending the AGM and there are booksigning events outside of the AGM venue, as well.

On Friday, October 14, Laurel Ann Nattress, Carrie Bebris, and Janet Mullany will have a booksigning at Barnes and Noble at Sundance Square. The event begins at 6:30 and runs until 8pm.

On Sunday, October 16, seven Austen Authors writers will have a booksigning at the same Barnes and Noble, beginning at 1pm and ending…whenever they run out of fans! Authors present will be C. Allyn Pierson, Sharon Lathan, Abigail Reynolds, Cindy Jones, Karen Doornebos, Mary Simonsen and Susan Mason-Milks.
Both of these Barnes and Noble events are open to the public and are an opportunity to meet your favorite authors and maybe find some new favorites!

Austen Authors first anniversary bash

Austen Authors, that grab bag of Austen fans whose writing is inspired by Jane Austen’s classic works, will be celebrating our first anniversary for six days, September 5 through 10!  It all began when veteran writers Sharon Lathan and Abigail Reynolds began tossing around the idea of a group blog when they met at writers conferences.  After a couple of years they decided to make their dream a reality, and Austen Authors was born!  Today there are 25 members of Austen Authors who each bring their own views and experiences to the blog.

So, join us in our celebration! Virtual champagne will be provided to all celebrants, as well as virtual dark chocolate from Belgium with 85 % cocoa, and melted to the perfect temperature for dipping fresh strawberries.   Well…perhaps that is a bit of exaggeration, but the party is not! Click the Anniversary badge to the left and find out how you can join the fun!


Why Jane Austen?

Welcome visitors to Austenesque Extravaganza Touring Thursday!

I began my journey as an Austenesque writer in 2006 when my eldest child left for college. No more swim meets, no more tennis tournaments, no more musicals, no more plays, no more Debate tournaments…well, you get the idea! I still had one child at home but he is severely autistic and was not in all the extracurricular activities that my eldest was, and he also went to bed very early (still does…). I had been leery about buying Austen sequels and retellings because I did not know which ones to choose- there were so many! I finally decided to buy Pamela Aiden’s Fitzwilliam Darcy Trilogy and promptly sank into the joy of learning more about my favorite Austen hero.

After reading this now classic work a couple of times I realized that I had my own ideas about where the story would go after the end of Pride and Prejudice and they had been release by reading Ms. Aiden’s book. I took my laptop into my elder son’s now unused bedroom and started writing. I didn’t tell anyone that I was doing this- I did not want to talk about it until I was sure that I would be able to hang on writing until the end of the story. My husband is a fanatical tennis player and plays almost every day, and I work part-time, so I would only write when he was at work or tennis and I would stop when I heard the garage door open. Yes, it is rather like the behavior of an addict hiding her needles!

I finally neared the end of the manuscript and had discussed publishing options with my friend Lauren Small (author of Choke Creek) and decided that self-publishing was my best option. I looked at the self-publishing houses and picked iUniverse because it is a subsidiary of Barnes and Noble so I thought that it would probably not go into bankruptcy while I was working with them. At this point I was going to commit to paying some significant money for publication, so I thought I should tell my husband.

We have a regular “date” on Tuesday evenings, so after we finished eating dinner I cleared my throat and said, “There is something I need to tell you.” His eyebrows rose at this (I don’t even want to know what his first thoughts might have been at this statement!). I told him that I had written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and was going to publish it. For about 30 seconds he stared at me with his mouth slightly agape, then he said, “You know, you just might be able to sell that.” He has had more reminders than he would ever choose to have about the popularity of Jane Austen, so the topic was not a surprise to him, but I was pleased to see that I had succeeded in taking him aback- not an easy thing to do with an eye surgeon who has seen pretty much everything.

I went on to publish with iUniverse, buying the editing services that I thought I needed with this first attempt. I titled it And This Our Life: Chronicles of the Darcy Family from one of my favorite Shakespeare quotations and had a photographer friend take the cover photo. The cover model is the daughter of my minister, who I saw in church one day (when I should have been listening to the sermon…) with her hair up, and I realized that she was the epitome of Georgiana Darcy in my mind. I called her to see if she would model for the cover and, at the end of the call, said, “Don’t worry about the clothes.” Fortunately, she knows me well enough to trust that I was not wanting nude or porn pictures…I sewed a Regency gown and the photographer and I did her hair and accessories and took about 300 pictures with a black background. We picked one with her looking down and holding a fan I brought back from a trip to China and iUniverse used it for the cover. Apparently they liked the black background because they kept it and I loved the look, however, I later noticed that just about every new book I saw had a black cover…oh, well.

Several months later I was contacted by an agent who was looking for Jane Austen-related titles and I signed with him and sold the book to Sourcebooks. They wanted a rewrite to change the point-of-view to Georgiana’s and I liked the idea, so spent 3 weeks completely rewriting the book, recycling some scenes and creating new ones for the rest, while I waited for them to decide if they wanted to buy it. They took the rewrite without significant further changes, and Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister was born.

The future? Well, I have several more Austen related stories I would like to tell, as well as some other historical fiction and a modern suspense series. I confess that I still love the Regency Era as it is unique and not well known, in spite of the amazing things that happened during that short period in history. So many books and so little time…

Inheritance Law and Emma

Inheritance law has a much smaller role in Jane Austen’s Emma than in her earlier works.  Emma Woodhouse and her sister Isabella are the only children of Mr. Woodhouse, whose estate, Hartfield, is not entailed or otherwise legally encumbered.  Upon Mr. Woodhouse’s death there will be plenty of money to keep the two sisters from want.  No, the laws of inheritance come into the story only through the sub-plot involving Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax.

Frank Churchill is Mr. Weston’s son, but after his mother died Mr. Weston gave him up to his wife’s family as they had no children of their own and it would have been difficult for a single man to raise an infant.  The Churchills therefore raised Frank as their heir, and he would eventually inherit the great estate of Enscombe.  Unfortunately for Frank, his adopted father and mother considered Mr. Weston to be a step too low for him to associate with and she ruled the men of her family with an iron will and frequent seizures of ill health.  Frank’s mother had been a Churchill and married beneath her and there had been a breach in the family because of this, which was only healed when his mother died of a lingering disease three years after her marriage.  His adoptive parents made it very clear that he must not marry against their wishes or he would be disinherited, something easily done since he was not legally their son; it was only a matter of changing a will.  This situation causes Frank to hide his engagement with Jane Fairfax, a beautiful an talented, but poor woman, and the constant dancing to his adoptive mother’s tune makes him a bit spoiled and not careful of other peoples’ feelings.

You might wonder why more people did not adopt sons if their estates were entailed and, as with the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice, the wife and the unmarried daughters would lose their home and income when the head of the family died.  The reason is that there was a very strong feeling at the time that purity of blood was important, and it was thus very rare to adopt children in the manner that we know it.  The adoption of a lower class child would be expected to yield a son who is clumsy, crude and lacking in elegance, no matter how young he was when adopted.  This adopted son would then pass on his lower class traits to his children and the family’s blood would no longer be ‘pure.’

Adoption of a nephew or other close relative could be considered if his parents were both of good blood, but it would not be possible for an estate owner to run off to an orphanage to adopt a random son.  These adoptions were informal, not legal, situations and the benefits of inheritance would only accrue to the adoptive son if his ‘father’s’ estate was not entailed.  The courts would not look with a friendly eye on an attempt to adopt a male heir, which was clearly performed to cheat the presumptive heir out of his due.  Only a son ‘of his body’ could overcome the rights of the heir presumptive.

Because of Frank Churchill’s close relationship with his uncle and the fact that his real father, Mr. Weston, was at least marginally a gentleman, Frank might be considered of good enough blood to become his uncle’s heir.  He was not adopted in the sense that we know it, but changed his name to Churchill when he turned twenty-one as an overt acknowledgement that he was his uncle’s heir.  So, he was raised from a young age as the heir of Enscombe and changed his name to Churchill, but he was not legally ‘adopted’ as we know it.

Changing your name because of the requirements of someone’s legacy was not uncommon.  For example,  Lord Byron, whose full name was George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron, received a legacy which required him to change his last name to Noel, the surname of the grantor of the legacy.  He did this and was then legally called George Gordon Byron Noel, but his title was still Lord Byron and that is what he would have been called, so most people were likely unaware that his name had been changed.  Actually, this might have been a good dodge if you were trying to get away from creditors, as Byron always was, but his acute awareness of the importance of that  title would make it very difficult for him to give it up and become a nobody!

Inheritance and Persuasion

In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot is in dire financial straits because of his poor money management and refusal to stay within his means.  Sir Walter’s late wife was of a more practical bent than he, and she kept them within their means, but since her death years ago he has spent freely to keep up the elegance he feels he owes to his venerable name and estate.  This in itself is ironic since as a baronet he is only a member of the gentry, albeit at the top of the heap, yet he has an ego more suitable to a Duke.

Two of Sir Walter’s daughters back him in these views, although, to be fair, they are probably not aware of the depth of his indebtedness.  Sir Walter is very well known as someone who plays the ostrich when something unpleasant arises (usually sticking his head in the Baronetage instead of in the sand).  Most of his estate, Kellynch, is entailed, but he could sell off a small section which was not entailed; he refuses to do so.  His pride causes him to insist on passing it intact to his heir (his cousin William Elliot) in the same state as he inherited it. This pride is certainly to William’s benefit, but is not so beneficial for his daughters.

As inis the case of Mr. Collins in P&P, William Elliot is the heir presumptive and, although he scorned his future baronetcy in his youth for the lure of a wealthy marriage, he now wants the social status that the title will give him. If Sir Walter should be taken in and marries Mrs. Clay, or any other woman young enough to bear children, it is possible that he would have a son, who will take William Elliot’s place as heir.  This possibility drives the major sub-plot, that of William Elliot’s efforts to prevent Sir Walter from marrying Mrs. Clay.  When he falls for Anne he believes that marrying her might also divert Sir Walter’s attention from Mrs. Clay; he and Anne could marry and live at Kellynch and Sir Walter’s debts would be paid by William, most likely with the provision that he will not remarry.

Unfortunately for William, Anne does not care enough for the empty social status which her father thinks is so important to marry a man she has reservations about, although becoming the mistress of Kellynch does tempt her.  Little, quiet Anne has a will of iron when she has a second chance with Captain Wentworth and William cannot hope to overcome the power of her first love.  The inheritance of Kellynch and the baronetcy is the shining jewel that controls the action of all of the main characters, except Anne.  She sees clearly that a bankrupt estate is nothing to feel pride about, but she also does not want her father to marry Mrs. Clay because it will degrade him to be married to a solicitor’s daughter.

The free and easy relationships among the navy clearly contrast with the empty formality and pride of the Elliot family. Time has brought Anne down, with the salvation of the Elliot estate depending upon Admiral Croft’s wealth (gained in the war), while bringing Wentworth up by giving him a fortune (also gained in the war), and they can now meet as equals who know what they want.

Inheritance and the plot of Mansfield Park

The text of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park does not say that the estate is entailed, but it probably is. It is certainly clear that Tom, the eldest son, will inherit the baronetcy from his father, and generally the land goes with the title. Most of the discussion of Tom’s inheritance occurs because his wild, careless behavior distresses his father, Sir Thomas Bertram, and he rather wishes that he could cut him out of the inheritance and give it into his son Edmund’s keeping since he can’t seem to control Tom. Sir Thomas is very upset because Tom is cheating his brother of his portion because he keeps incurring debts which Sir Thomas feels obligated to pay, and which he cannot afford.

Part of the tension of the story occurs because it is clear to everyone (and especially Mary Crawford) that Edmund would be a much better heir, but Mansfield Park concentrates much more on the importance of the relationships between the characters and how failures of upbringing by the responsible adults spoil the characters of the young people and cause a great deal of heartache and embarrassment to the family. These failures include the Price family, with their weak and whining mother, and the Bertrams with Sir Thomas’s stern but superficial attention to the behavior of his children, which is undone by the indiscriminate doting of their aunt, Mrs. Norris. The Crawfords, in spite of their personal charms, have serious moral weaknesses as a result of being brought up by their uncle, an irreligious woman hater. Fanny Price, the most quiet and insignificant heroine of Austen’s works, has not been spoiled by doting or the mind-twisting of a misogynist, and turns out to be a woman of great moral character and strength and provides a stark contrast with the selfishness of the Bertrams and the Crawfords.

Although Fanny has moral values that are very similar to Sir Thomas, she sees through the social façades of her cousins and the Crawfords as he does not and must suffer a great deal in her refusal of Henry Crawford. Even her cousin Edmund, whom she loves and who has ever been her best friend, thinks that Crawford would be an ideal husband for Fanny, he himself being blind to the deep flaws of both the Crawfords. When the eldest son, Tom, becomes seriously ill and is abandoned by his friends the Bertrams and Crawfords respond in ways that reveal their true characters. During his long recovery Tom turns around and becomes better suited to inherit the title and Sir Thomas, by the actions of his children, realizes the flaws in their characters. Thus, the plot revolves around the characters and their flaws rather than having problems forced upon them by the vagaries of inheritance.