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Guest Review: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

West Virginia:  Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A brilliant novel that captures the dusty, dark, and beautiful world of small-time horse racing, where trainers, jockeys, grooms and grifters vie for what little luck is offered at a run-down West Virginia track.

lordmisruleReviewed by Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews!:

This won the National Book Award. How fun is that? I was looking forward to reading this because not only did it win that award, but it is about horse-riding. My dad and his siblings grew up with animals. My dad’s dad grew up on a farm. My daughter loves horses and has rode a horse a few times. I grew up with horses at my church. So, I was especially excited to read a novel about horses.

However, it was not quite what I expected. Although I am not sure what I expected. Black beauty perhaps? Black beauty this was not. This was gritty and dirty (pun not intended). There was drug use (both illegal and legal) that surprised me. There was also gambling (although there was a track, so I can’t be surprised there), and characters that you typically would not want as your neighbors, but may not know; if they were. Although the story was intense and new to me, I am not sure I care for this type of story. I may not have been the right reader for this book, but I am glad I read it and gave it a shot.

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Guest Review: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

North Dakota: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

— Reviewed by Teri at Sportochick’s Musings

Synopsis:

The first of Louise Erdrich’s polysymphonic novels set in North Dakota — a fictional landscape that, in Erdrich’s hands, has become iconic — Love Medicine is the story of three generations of Ojibwe families. Set against the tumultuous politics of the reservation, the lives of the Kashpaws and the Lamartines are a testament to the endurance of a people and the sorrows of history.

love-medicine4 Star Review:

Wow is all I can say because I was not expecting this to be such a good read. Having chosen to read this because I am part Cherokee and into anything that is about Native Americans, I found it filled with tradition and expansive descriptions.

In the beginning there was a point where I got confused with all the people in this book. Thankfully the author did a supreme job of keeping the reader clear in each storyline as the book wove through generations of these families lives with a family tree included in the book.

As in all families there are twists and turns to the stories and the crossing of family lines creating great drama in each short story. What is obvious to this reader is the great care the writer takes in explaining with compassion and non-judgement the cause and effects of each characters actions through three generations. I never felt like judging their lives or criticizing their life decisions.

Reading this was powerful and filled me with many emotions and at the end of the book I can’t explain why but I want to cry and as I prepare this review I still feel like crying.

I give it 4 STARS and recommend you give it a read.

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Guest Review: A Death in the Family by James Agee

Tennessee — A Death in the Family by James Agee

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Published in 1957, two years after its author’s death at the age of forty-five, A Death in the Family remains a near-perfect work of art, an autobiographical novel that contains one of the most evocative depictions of loss and grief ever written. As Jay Follet hurries back to his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is killed in a car accident– a tragedy that destroys not only a life but also the domestic happiness and contentment of a young family. A novel of great courage, lyric force, and powerful emotion, A Death in the Family is a masterpiece of American literature.

deathfamilyReview by Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews!:

This autobiography was hard to put down. It was well-written, gripping, and so sad. Even though this was a tragic story, it was so compelling, loving, and very relatable to others. However, because this is a very sad and depressing book, it is important (I think) to take breaks and read this at a pace because this book is very emotional and full of anguish, it is easy to internalize the words inwards. The writing was sovereign and somber.

Yes, this is a good read, however, it is a depressing read.

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Guest Review: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

New Mexico: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a proud stranger in his native land.

He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust. Home from a foreign war, he was a man being torn apart, a man descending into hell.

house-dawnReview by Elisha of Rainy Day Reviews!:

This was a new kind of read for me. It was different. I’m still sort of reeling from the book. This book felt very political for me. Which I wasn’t expecting with in turn left a bitter taste in my mouth because then it felt that the author had an agenda that he wasn’t willing to divulge to his readers. I wanted to enjoy the book, but it seemed mundane and wordy to me. I hope to read this again soon, and hopefully get a better feel, a deeper sense of what the author was trying to convey. I did find it well written (minus the wordy-ness) and poetic, and even though this can be read in one sitting, I would recommend reading this more than once to better understand the contents, the quotes, the characters, and their relationships.

I do recommend this book.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

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Guest Review: Spartina by John Casey

This week takes us to Rhode Island with Spartina by John Casey.

— review by 125Pages

Entertainment Weekly says, “Dick Pierce works in Narragansett Bay, but his true passion is is the unfinished boat in his backyard. The tale may be standard, but Casey’s lyrical descriptions of the Rhode Island sea are anything but.”

“If Rhode Island were a country, it would be part of the Third World. The largest employer is the military. Tourism is the major moneymaker, although most Rhode Islanders benefit from it only in service positions. The bulk of choice real estate is in the form of second homes or resorts run by absentee corporations. “There is a seafaring tradition, and there is—still—a fishing fleet. By comparison to the high-tech factory ships of Russia, East or West Germany, Japan, or the tuna clippers of our own West Coast, the boats and methods are quaint. But it is still possible—barely possible—to wrest a living from the sea.”

spartinaSpartina is one of those books that should be a total winner. Poetic writing, vivid descriptions, a real world to sink into.

A blue heron wading in the marsh on her stilts, apparently out for a stroll—suddenly freezing. An imperceptible tilt of her head—her long neck cocking without moving. No, nothing this time. Wade, pose. Abruptly, a new picture—a fish bisected by her bisected beak. Widening ripples, but the heron, the pool, the marsh, the sky serene. The clouds slid across the light, the fish into the dark.

Unfortunately, the main character Dick Pierce was just an ass. He was at first a crusty older man and I was fine with that. He had very much of a him versus the world attitude and believed that anyone from money was to be looked down at. He ran some cons and did a few shady deals, but he did it to support his wife and children. Nothing wrong with that, he was doing his best to survive. Then the story took an turn and I lost all respect for good ol’ Dick. He began to match his name and started a torrid affair with a woman in the neighborhood. First, I hate when adultery is used as a plot point. I have no patience with it and hate reading about it. Second, he had absolutely no remorse about his actions. He did not care if he was going to hurt the woman he promised to cherish or his children. Other stuff happened that was interesting, but I could not move past my hatred of Dick to enjoy the story. In the end he sadly did not get the comeuppance he should have and Dick continued to be just that as he sailed off into the sunset.

three-stars

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Guest Review: Rabbit, Run by John Updike

rabbitrunRabbit, Run by John Updike
Reviewer ~ Teri at Sportochick’s Musings

-Synopsis-

Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard- heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

-REVIEW-

Throughout the book I kept hoping that Rabbit would find himself and become a man, husband, and father but he just kept getting more confused. It was apparent that this man couldn’t make up his mind about anything and that he would drift forever lost. Also what was abundantly clear was that he had no conscience. He just couldn’t figure out what was right and what was wrong nor would he take responsibly for his part in any of the events that lead to his babies death, his wives destructive life, his son’s feeling of loss or his mistresses pregnancy.

Reverend Eccles was the one of two redeeming characters in this book. He tried really hard to help Rabbit but in reality Rabbit starts to lead him astray no matter how hard he continually tries to help. Ruth, his mistress, well she was someone to be admired. She understood who Rabbit was, stood firm and strong about them ending their relationship with her taking care of the baby they would still have.

The book ended just as I thought. Rabbit is so confused. STILL! Bye bye.

I give this 1 star. I just disliked the main character, Rabbit, too much to find any value in this book.

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Guest Review: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
– reviewed by HC at The Irresponsible Reader

housekeepingbIt’s time for my home state here in this little series we’re doing: Idaho, featuring the book Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Set in the fictional town of Fingerbone, in the Northern part of the state, about 50-60 miles from the Canadian border (not information from the book, that’s just me trying to orient those of you looking at a map).

Lucille, and her older sister Ruth, are raised in the same house their mother grew up in. We’re told straight away that following their mother’s death they lived with their grandmother, then her two sisters, and finally their mother’s younger sister. The circumstances surrounding these transitions are revealed gradually — none of the adults in their lives were cut out for parenting (Grandmother was at one point, and probably would’ve sufficed if she hadn’t died).

This is not a plot-driven book, and it’s hard to talk about what plot there is without telling you everything — so I’ll be vague. Ruth tells us about her grandfather’s death; them coming to live in his old house; life with grandmother, great-aunts, and aunt; and then things really start happening as she and Lucille enter adolescence and I’m not going to ruin anything by finishing this sentence properly. On page 27, I wrote “this text is so beautiful, I don’t care what happens, I’m going to love this book.” Thankfully, I was right — because once things happened, I really didn’t like it — but I loved reading the book. There are other characters in the book, but they’re of so little importance, I’m not going to say anything beyond acknowledging their existence. The focus is on the girls, their family and the really old house in which they all reside.

Thematically, this book is about loneliness, family ties, waiting for someone/something. I’m not sure there’s much difference in Ruth’s mind between loneliness and waiting (nor am I that sure that there’s much difference in my mind between them as I write this). For young girls to have this much upheaval in their parental figure(s), loneliness and loss are going to loom large in their psycho-social development — and they’re not going to respond the same way to things. You add some pretty perceptive thoughts about loneliness to Robinson’s prose and you’ve got yourself a winner of a book.

So what do we learn about Idaho here? Nothing. Fingerbone could be any small city/large town in the U.S. There is nothing distinctive Idaho about this book. Well, almost nothing. There’s a lot of mentioning of local place names (mostly cities, incidentally, that most non-Idahoans are going to mispronounce) — enough so that we all know that Fingerbone is just Sandpoint’s nom de plume, but that’s as “Idaho” as we get here. Take out the local names and this could be in any state that has lakes, forests and railroads — which pretty much covers all 50, right? I don’t know why Robinson didn’t just use the actual town’s name — but, whatever. The fact that Entertainment Weekly thinks this novel “best defines” Idaho probably says more about the dearth of books set here than anything else.

Lyrical, haunting, insightful, beautiful — this is prose that’ll stick with you. I didn’t like the ending, but it worked and was earned, so I can get over it. Don’t worry about the story, focus on the telling of it and you’ll likely agree, this is stunning stuff.

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Writing Space of Pamela Lynne

family-portraits-cover-ebook-largeWelcome to today’s guest post and giveaway with Pamela Lynne.  Her latest Jane Austen inspired novel, Family Portraits, hit shelves earlier this month, and it is garnering some great reviews.

About the Book:

In Dearest Friends, Pamela Lynne drew complex and interesting characters who joined Darcy and Elizabeth on their road to happily ever after. But, what happened after ‘the end’? Did Lydia survive her time at Rosings? Did Jane find fulfillment as Mrs. Bingley? Did Mary and Sebastian adhere to duty or allow their hearts to lead them? Follow the Fitzwilliams, Bennets, Gardiners and Darcys through portraits of their lives at two, five and ten years after the Darcys’ marriage. Their canvas is studded with heartbreaking loss, new beginnings and, through it all, the indelible bond of family.

Without further ado, please welcome Pamela as she shares her writing space with us.

Hello everybody! I am so happy to be here at Savvy Verse and Wit for the very first time! Thank you, Serena, for hosting me. This is the last stop on my Family Portraits blog tour and Serena has asked me to share my writing space with you all.

I admit, I panicked a little at first when Serena made this request. My desk is a drop down style that can be closed to hide the mess inside, and it is always messy inside! All week I told myself I would straighten it up a bit and take pictures. Procrastination coupled with waking up with a nasty head cold determined that you will see me in all my disorganized glory instead.

closeddeskOne day, I will have a lovely space of my own that opens up into a beautiful garden (that someone else tends), but until then, I share my writing space with my husband, three kids, two cats, and one overly attentive dog. My husband gave me this desk for Christmas the year we moved into this house. The gesture actually meant a lot to me. I had just finished Dearest Friends two months prior and was still not sure this writing thing would stick. He wasn’t sure either, but said the desk was there just in case.

peacockThankfully, it did stick and I have managed to write two more books while sitting here, or at the library, in my bed, at the kitchen table, or at Panera Bread. When I am up late at night this is where I sit with my mug of green tea as the characters in my head have their way with me. The décor on top changes from time to time. Right now you see most of our Vanity and Pride Press releases along with my A Moment Forever (Savvy Verse & Wit review) hope chest and my IPPY bronze medal. In the next week or so the peacock will likely be replaced with a scarecrow or a Halloween tree, but the books will remain. Along with Cat’s and my books, I have my favorite copy of Austen’s complete novels, a well-worn paperback of Jane Eyre and two books I sometimes use for reference and inspiration while writing my Austen inspired work. Those will change as my needs change and are not always stacked so neatly.

dewshineInside, we see not only my writing necessities, but those of the family as well. I have two pencil boxes full of pens, pencils, scissors, and sharpeners and a pottery crock containing the same things. They are never moved, but how many times a night do I hear, “I can’t find a pencil.”? Several. I also have some items that make me smile. The Dew Shine is another gift from my husband. I have a non-Austenesque plot bunny set in Tennessee during prohibition. You can probably guess moonshine is involved. My dear man saw this in the store and remembered me telling him about the idea. I now have proof that he does listen to my ramblings! Hanging up beside it is a note card with a picture of my favorite Darcy drawn by the fabulous Janet Taylor, sent to me by the equally fabulous J. Dawn King. Next to him is another favorite, the Darcy featured in Cat’s Denial of Conscience. (Savvy Verse & Wit review) We had a blast sharing Darcy on his bike with readers all over the world. I keep him there as a reminder of how much fun this JAFF world can be.

pencildrawingOn the other side of Iceman is a picture drawn by my daughter. I have several handmade items my kids have given me either in celebration of a release, or as encouragement. This one has a special place of honor as it was the very first one of its kind, presented to me after I told her about the friends I have made in the online Austen community.

Finally, we have my two most important pieces for writing—my laptop and my “scratch paper.” So far, I have written three books on three different laptops. Dearest Friends was written on one that was truly on its last legs. It did not survive long past the last paragraph. I purchased a pretty purple Dell that housed Sketching Character lynnecomputerthrough publication, but not long after, it succumbed to a cup of hot coffee. I really hope I break the streak and get at least one more book completed on this one before I somehow destroy it as well. I won the notebook, which is a novel journal of Emma, at another wonderful blog, Austenesque Reviews. It goes wherever I go, and for the past year I have been jotting down ideas and bits of dialogue that will make it into my next novel.

So, that’s a look into the most photographable part of my creative space. In truth, I can write pretty much anywhere I can find a quiet space, as long as the Muse is cooperating. Thank you all for reading, and thank you, again, Serena, for having me! Happy reading, everybody!

Thanks, Pamela, for sharing your space with us!  It’s always fun to see a creative person’s writing space.

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY:

Up for Grabs: 1 copy of any Pamela Lynne e-bookSketching Character, Dearest Friends, or Family Portraits.

Leave a comment here about your own reading or writing space, and leave a way for me to contact you if you win.

Deadline is Oct. 5, 2016, 11:59 PM EST

GOOD LUCK!

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!! The winner is Priscilla T.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Death at the Paris Exposition by Frances McNamara

Death at the Paris Exposition Banner

Frances McNamara

on Tour September 19-28 with

Death at the Paris Exposition

Death at the Paris Exposition

(historical mystery)

Release date: September 1, 2016
at Allium Press of Chicago

ISBN: 978-0-9967558-3-2
ebook: 978-0-9967558-4-9
276 pages

Website
Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot’s journey once again takes her to a world’s fair—the Paris Exposition of 1900. Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer is named the only female U. S. commissioner to the Exposition and enlists Emily’s services as her secretary. Their visit to the House of Worth for the fitting of a couture gown is interrupted by the theft of Mrs. Palmer’s famous pearl necklace. Before that crime can be solved, several young women meet untimely deaths and a member of the Palmer’s inner circle is accused of the crimes. As Emily races to clear the family name she encounters jealous society ladies, American heiresses seeking titled European husbands, and more luscious gowns and priceless jewels. Along the way, she takes refuge from the tumult at the country estate of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. In between her work and sleuthing, she is able to share the Art Nouveau delights of the Exposition, and the enduring pleasures of the City of Light, with her husband and their children.

Here’s an Excerpt from Prologue and Chapter 1:

death-at-the-paris-exposition-excerpt

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frances McNamara

Frances McNamara grew up in Boston,
where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years.  She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and recently retired from the University of Chicago. She now divides her time between Boston and Cape Cod.  She is the author of five other titles in the Emily Cabot Mysteries series, which is set in the 1890s and takes place primarily in Chicago: Death at the Fair, Death at Hull House, Death at Pullman, Death at Woods Hole, and Death at Chinatown.

Visit her website
Follow her on Facebook
Sign up to receive her newsletter

Follow Allium Press of Chicago on Twitter | on Facebook

Buy the book: on Amazon

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You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to US residents:
1 winner will receive a copy of this book

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CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS, INTERVIEW,
GUEST-POST AND AN EXCERPT

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Guest Review: Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell (Audible and eBook)
– reviewed by Teri at Sportochick’s Musings

Synopsis:

Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier.

After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo’s childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices.

onceuponriverReview:

I am not sure where to start with this review. I had a very hard time listening to Margo make bad decision after bad decision in this story line. I understand her upbringing and that she didn’t have choices like most 16-year-olds do. Margo had a mother who didn’t function well in life and a father who had checked out of life because of her mother leaving and the loss of his job. She only had two people who showed her the love she deserved. One whose husband raped her and a man who honestly loved her, treated her like a queen but she lost him because of what she did in front of him with one of her rapists.

The author did a phenomenal job in the area of describing the scenery and setting up the story. What I had a hard time with is the roughness of the characters. Not that they weren’t well written they were. For me it was about something I dislike reading about or witnessing. I don’t want to read about the raping of a minor, being raped, murdering and taking revenge by death of those that do it to you. Though I understand why one would want to do it. For me it wasn’t realistic that she would get away with so much and never get caught.

For many people they will enjoy this book, for me I did not. It did cause me to think about what and how I would of reacted in the same situations. Also it made me wonder why is it that some people can overcome what she went through and others keep repeating the cycle of dysfunction.

For the overall impact I give this 2-1/2 STARS

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Guest Post & Giveaway: How Austen Seduced Hemingway by Collins Hemingway

Vol 2 Final 07-08-16If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I love Jane Austen, particularly Pride & Prejudice, and that I sometimes read variations and re-tellings of her work, or novels that have Jane Austen as a character.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen: Vol. 2 looks at how Austen would have fared had she married and had a family.

About the Novel:

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy by Collins Hemingway respectfully reimagines the beloved English author’s life and resolves the biggest mystery around the actual historical records about her life during the Regency era in England: What really happened during the “missing years” of her twenties? Why did her sister destroy all of her letters and records of her life then? Why have rumors of a tragic lost love persisted for two hundred years? www.austenmarriage.com

Please welcome, Collins Hemingway, the author of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, to the blog today as he talks about how Austen seduced him.

Since embarking on my Jane Austen journey, I’ve been asked many a time why a present-day man, who spent most of his career involved with computers, marketing, and aviation, would explore the “what ifs” of the life of a literary woman from two hundred years ago.

The answer goes back primarily to Dr. Duncan Eaves, my graduate school instructor and an expert in Eighteenth Century literature. He and another wonderful instructor at my school, Dr. Ben Kimpel, wrote the definitive biography of Samuel Richardson, usually considered the first English novelist, and Dr. Eaves edited an edition of Richardson’s novel Pamela.

Dr. Eaves could recite Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Graveyard” as mournfully as the tolling of a bell, or playfully rattle off long stretches of Pope’s satiric heroic couplets. He could convince his students, by good humor alone, to finish Richardson’s agonizingly dull Pamela or Clarissa.

Jane Austen herself found Richardson gratifying, according to her brother Henry, who was careful to add, however, that “her taste secured her from the errors of his prolix style and tedious narrative.”

Dr. Eaves eschewed the usual Jane Austen reads, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, for Emma, which he considered much the superior work.

At this same time, in a class on modern poetry, I read a poem—by Anne Sexton or Maxine Kumin, I believe—that described what life would have been like for Romeo and Juliet had they not “escaped” with a romantic death: squalling babies, money hassles, arguments over daily life.

I had married young, had a child, and was struggling financially. I knew, even at the age of 21, that courtship and marriage were radically different things.

The situation led to animated exchanges with Dr. Eaves about Austen. My view was that she was a brilliant but superficial writer simply because courtship did not lend itself to investigation of the deepest feelings of the heart or the substance of life. Her books, I told Dr. Eaves, ended where they should have begun: with marriage.

Dr. Eaves told me to come back and read Austen every ten years or so. As I gained experience, he said, I would see more of life woven into the fabric of her work and less of the comedy of manners. Over time, his prediction came true. Austen pushed the bounds of convention, and likely her own sense of propriety, by addressing substantive issues obliquely—premarital sex and the slave trade, to mention two.

Even the delightful Emma, with its breezily misguided protagonist, manages to provide “perfect happiness” for a scandalous situation, that of Harriet’s illegitimacy. Interestingly enough, her being a “natural” daughter turns out not to be nearly as important as whether her father was a gentleman, as Emma supposes, or a tradesman, as turns out to be the case.

Novels of the day often addressed the question of a lady’s virtue but never seriously addressed other matters of consequence, before or after the wedding. Austen’s secondary characters are the ones involved in dubious—thus consequential—activities, and she often leaves open the question of future happiness for them. The main characters, meanwhile, skip off gaily into the future.

I felt that there had to be a way to capture Austen’s spirit and insight while also bringing the more serious issues of Austen’s day out of the background and into the light. I wanted to see how an intelligent woman of the early 1800s would respond if personally tested by those issues.

For many, many years, while mastering computer products during the day, I continued to study the history of the Regency period and to read Austen and what biographers had to say about her. All of the matters above percolated in my head.

My wife and I visited southern England several times, from the coast of Kent to Land’s End. On one of these trips, in 2006, we took the train down to Bath, where we spent several days seeing the sights and visiting some of Austen’s haunts. I picked up more books and bios.

Bath was not Austen’s favorite locale, but I was affected by being where she had walked and shopped and visited with her family—and had many of her own characters interacting. At the end of the weekend, I was struck by a thought as sharp as Emma’s arrow: Write my story.

I understood immediately. Write the story of Jane Austen living to the fullest the personal life that most women then experienced. Write the story of the public life she would have undertaken if she had had the opportunity to engage in the exciting, chaotic maelstrom that was the Regency period. Write as she would have, freed from the restrictions and conventions that stifled women authors then.

On the train back to London, I pulled out my journal and began to jot down notes under a title that wrote itself: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.

A decade later, I’m returning to Bath to launch the second volume of the trilogy that, I hope, does justice to the voice that struck me: the voice of Jane Austen.

Thank you for stopping by.

Please leave a comment below with an anecdote or piece of advice about marriage or finding love?

Deadline to enter for U.S./Canada residents is Sept. 16, 2016, 11:59 PM EST. Good Luck!

***GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED***

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jill Esbaum, Author of If A T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party!

T Rex coverIn honor of the publication of If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, Jill Esbaum is here offering tips on what to do should a T. Rex crash your party.

Read aloud tips for parents from Jill Esbaum, author of If A T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party!

  1. Put lots of expression into your reading. Try to pre-read books you’ll share with kids, so you’ll know which parts need more oomph.
  2. Use different voices for different characters. This really adds to the fun of silly books.
  3. If a story is on the quiet side or particularly moving, take care to read it slowly, lingering over lyrical phrases and beautiful images.
  4. Stop and discuss what’s happening from time to time, asking open-ended questions – especially if your kiddos are very young and might not understand what the main character is up to. Exercise little imaginations by asking something like, “What do you think will happen next?”
  5. Keep the TV off while you’re reading. When you treat reading time like the best part of your day, little listeners learn two things: a. that they are important and you love spending time with them, and b. that reading is important. A book should always be a treat!

Download the fun T.rex Party Kit!

To Enter to Win 1 copy (U.S. Residents only) — 1 entry per task:
1. Leave a comment about your last birthday part for a kid
2. Follow the blog’s Facebook page and leave a comment.
3. Share this giveaway on Twitter, and let me know you did.

Deadline is Sept. 9, 2016, at 11:59 PM EST.

****GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED****