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Guest Post: My Craziest Austen-Related Adventure by Victoria Connelly

Has anyone else noticed that Sourcebooks has some of the best Austen-related fiction on the market?  I have.  Victoria Connelly’s work, however, is new to me, and since she writes Darcy-related fiction, I figured it was time to give her novel a try.

Today, I’ve got a treat for you as Victoria regales us with her craziest Austen-related adventure and includes a photo for us to share.  Without further ado, let me turn it over to her.

My Craziest Austen-Related Adventure

When I started writing my Austen addicts trilogy, I soon discovered the wonderful website of ‘Pride and Prejudice Tours’. Run by the amazing Helen Porter, these bespoke holidays take you to the locations used in the film adaptations of Austen’s novels. As a fan of the films, this sounded like a dream come true especially as many of the houses used are privately owned and impossible to find.

I quickly got in touch and started a long conversation with Helen – telling her about my books and swapping stories about our favourite locations and we soon discovered we had a dream in common – of owning a Georgian manor house deep in the heart of the English countryside.

One of the most perfect houses I have ever seen is the house that was used as Barton Cottage in Emma Thompson’s 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. I love the scene where Elinor and Marianne Dashwood arrive at the cottage and both stare at it in wide-eyed horror because they have just left the grand stately home of Norland Park, and Barton Cottage must look like a shack in comparison. This scene always makes me laugh because, to me, Barton Cottage in this film is my idea of perfection and the thought of actually staying there seemed too good to be true.

Without further delay, I booked myself a weekend there with ‘Pride and Prejudice Tours’!

The coach picked me up from Bath where I joined the tour group. They were a lovely bunch mainly from America and Canada, and they were all women bar one solitary man. Leaving Bath, the coach headed south through Somerset and on in to Devon where the roads became so narrow that we almost got stuck at one point!

I’ll never forget my first glimpse of the cottage. Tucked away on a private estate of rolling hills ending in the sea, the three-story stone house rose up from a sloping garden, looking out over a secluded estuary. It was May and cow parsley filled the garden in a lacy froth. There were bluebells in the field beside the cottage and red campion in the wood – all of which appeared in the little bunch of flowers which Willoughby gives to Marianne in the film.

I got up early on my first morning there and walked down the little lane which Willoughby, Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon all the ride along in the film. Of course, it was impossible not to think about handsome heroes on horseback whilst staying at the cottage but, alas, none had made an appearance whilst I was there.

What made the weekend really special for me was meeting the other Austen fans. I think I can safely say that Jane Austen fans are amongst the nicest people in the world and I loved talking to them about their favourite scenes from the books, their favourite heroes and heroines and what it is that makes Jane Austen so special. They all helped to inspire my writing and, although I hated the thought of leaving Barton Cottage, I was excited about getting back home to write my trilogy.

I knew I wanted to use Barton Cottage as a setting for one of my Jane Austen novels and I’m delighted to say that it has a starring role in the third book in the trilogy, Mr Darcy Forever. So, if you can’t visit the house yourself, you can read about my heroine’s adventures there!

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing your adventure with us. Stay tuned for my review of A Weekend with Mr. Darcy tomorrow.

  • I can highly recommend the P and P Tours – do take a look at their website. They are just perfect for the Austen fan! They really take good care of you and you get to see so many of the locations.

  • I would love to take a Pride & Prejudice Tour. It sounds like great fun!

  • For some reason, I’m not in the Sourcebooks loop of reviewers, but I DO notice that they have wonderful Austen derivatives!

    I would LOVE to take my youngest daughter on the Pride and Prejudice tour .. she would love it probably even more than I would!

    Great post!

  • Oh my gosh, those tours sound like so much fun!!

    • I want to plan a trip and take one of these tours. I think it would be great fun!