Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel by Alice McVeigh ~ Guest Post, Quotes, Pop Quiz, & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! It's my pleasure to have Alice McVeigh, author of Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel, on the blog today! She has brought with her a fun guest post and quiz! Plus, she giving away a signed paperback! Details at the bottom of the page. 


Overquoted and underquoted: Jane Austen quotations (with added quiz!)

by Alice McVeigh

It is a truth universally acknowledged… that some lines of Austen are quoted far more often than others.

Yes, the opening of Pride and Prejudice is wittily, slyly, and exquisitely turned. Correct, it surfaces—as it deserves to—in every list of “great novel openings”. But there are lots of tiny flowerings of Jane Austen’s particular genius that deserve more attention than they receive. A few of these just might even give us insights into Austen herself. 

It is my modest intention to explore a handful of these. 

First, a few impertinences from her letters (mostly to her sister Cassandra):

We are to have a tiny party here tonight. I hate tiny parties, they force one into constant exertion.

Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card-table, with six people to look on and talk nonsense to each other.

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.

These excerpts from her letters suggest that Austen could find society a bore—at least her local society of the time. But it could also suggest that she could get simply exasperated at being torn from her gleeful creative escape, upstairs at her desk.  

Imagine, for example, Jane Austen attempting to express the maelstrom of emotions Anne Elliott experiences in that Bath hotel – she was speaking feelingly to Captain Harville while Captain Wentworth – unbeknownst to her – was inscribing that incandescent love letter to her in another part of that same room.  

And then imagine her being summoned to attend, as a duty, some heavy local event, where she would be obliged to endure ‘everyday remarks, dull repetitions, old news and heavy jokes.’ (This quote from Emma, of course.)

But while sympathizing with Austen’s annoyance, I somehow can’t imagine her sulking in a corner of the squire’s house during the occasion. No, I’m sure that—especially if the party really was “tiny—she would have impelled herself to the “constant exertion” she mentioned, if only to prevent herself from utter boredom. She would have injected some hint of spice into the proceedings, I’m convinced, however keen she might have felt to get back to grips with Persuasion’s culminating scene. I’m sure that the other five people (“looking on at the card table while talking nonsense”) would have been very much duller without her.

As for the comment about “not wanting to like people a great deal” – that seems rather more mysterious. It could be anything from a throwaway line to amuse her sister to a genuine hope that no man at some upcoming event might be capable of arousing her admiration—lest she suffer rejection or even pain. It’s hard not to suspect that someone so deep and so feeling must have suffered both at various times.

However, most of the little gems scattered amongst her correspondence reflect both philosophy and that irresistible humour:

“Next week I shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.”

“Expect a most agreeable letter; for not being overburdened with subject (having nothing at all to say) I shall have no check to my Genius from beginning to end.”

“Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor, which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony.”

There is not, in the letters, very much about the writings, but what exists is delightful:

“I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.”

And now for the quiz.

How well do YOU know Jane Austen? 

P&P by heart, the rest not at all? 

Or have you got every phrase of The Watsons at your fingertips? (Kudos!)

Below you will find ten quotes, of which SIX are Jane Austen’s (from the major works) and FOUR are from my brand-new Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel instead. (I borrowed characters from both Emma and P&P for Susan.)

1)  Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast. 

2)  “Her ladyship is not always as discerning as, with her air of command, one might suppose her to be. That situation of Darcy’s – she ought never to have interfered. Had she been content to be still and be silent, nothing would have happened, and Darcy’s infatuation would simply have passed.”

3)  Where youth and diffidence are united, it requires uncommon steadiness of reason to resist the attraction of being called the most charming girl in the world.

4)  Lady Catherine said, ‘In my opinion, every gentlewoman should be able to ride, to embroider, and to play tolerably on the pianoforte. To play too well on the pianoforte, however, might be considered vulgar.’

5)  How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!


6)  ‘I have had such good luck in getting my own children off my hands, that she will think me a very fit person to have the charge of you; and if I don’t get one of you at least well married before I have done with you, it shall not be my fault.”

7)  ‘Your nerves, at least, do not appear to have been shattered,’ said Mr Churchill softly, at her elbow.

8)  “I have nothing to say against him; he is a most interesting young man; and if he had the fortune he ought to have, I should think you could not do better. But as it is, you must not let your fancy run away with you. You have sense, and we all expect you to use it.”

9)  “Love might be delightful, but it is not for us. We cannot afford it. For neither of us is in the least likely to have our wedding settlements become the matter of newspaper announcements, or of earnest disputes between City lawyers. Instead, it is up to us—to our own wits—to avoid our likeliest fate, which is, either to marry someone we dislike, from motives of prudence—or never to marry at all.”

 10)  “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”


1)  A comment of Darcy’s, in P&P

2)  A comment by Lady Catherine’s son-in-law, in Alice McVeigh’s Susan, A Jane Austen Prequel

3)  From Northanger Abbey (regarding Catherine Morland)

4)  From my Susan, A Jane Austen Prequel

5)  From Persuasion, of course—and 1000 T-shirts!

6)  From Sense and Sensibility. Mrs Jennings is delighted to have secured Elinor and Marianne to accompany her to town.

7)  From my Susan, A Jane Austen Prequel

8)  Mrs Gardiner counsels Lizzie Bennet, in P&P

9)  Susan advises her cousin Alicia in my Susan, A Jane Austen Prequel

 10)  From Austen’s immortal Emma. Emma is speaking to her father, Mr Woodhouse.

Happy reading, from your fellow Janeite, 

Alice McVeigh

A Jane Austen Prequel
by Alice McVeigh

“She possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy, and grace. One is apt to expect that an impudent address will naturally attend an impudent mind – but her countenance is absolutely sweet. I am sorry it is so, for what is this but deceit?" (from Lady Susan, by Jane Austen) 

Sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson – pretty but poor, clever but capricious – has just been expelled from a school for young ladies in London. 

At the mansion of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she attracts a raffish young nobleman. But at the first hint of scandal, her guardian dispatches her to her uncle Collins’ rectory in Kent, where her sensible cousin Alicia lives and “where nothing ever happens.” 

Here Susan inspires the local squire to put on a play, with consequences no one could possibly have foreseen. What with the unexpected arrival of Frank Churchill, Alicia’s falling in love and a shocking elopement, rural Kent will surely never seem quite so safe again. 

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This book is a prequel to Jane Austen's Lady Susan, in which a beautiful and manipulative young widow of 35 descends on her sister-in-law to escape the wrath of her lover’s wife, and almost succeeds in marrying the young heir of the household. 

The idea first occurred when I began to wonder what Lady Susan might have been like when she was only sixteen. 

I have set it five years after Pride and Prejudice and have – possibly rashly! – dared to ‘borrow’ several characters from P&P, including Lady Catherine and Mr Collins, plus Frank Churchill from Emma, which I hope is forgivable! 

I was frankly pretty overwhelmed to have received a rating of 10/10 stars for this book in Publisher's Weekly's BookLife Award competition. 

 It has also been VERY kindly "recommended" by the US Review of Books, Indies Today and by all three editorial reviewers for Readers Favorite (all five stars). Susan will be released on June 30th. Grateful thanks to all of you here who have read it as an ARC, in advance of publication. 

Buy: Amazon US  (paid link) • Amazon UK
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

About the Author

Alice McVeigh, a Londoner by way of Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Myanmar, and McLean, VA, has also been published by Orion/Hachette, in contemporary fiction. Having trained as a professional cellist, she spent fifteen years touring the world with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She has been a life member of the UK’s Jane Austen Society since she was 21, and knows most of her works by heart.

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* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Alice is generously giving away a signed paperback of Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel, to one of my lucky readers! This giveaway is open Internationally! Woot! Thank you, Alice!

Enter through the Rafflecopter below!
And be sure to leave a comment below!

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Many thanks to Alice McVeigh for joining us today! I enjoyed the quotes and quiz! Also, for her generous giveaway! 

I hope you enjoyed this post! How did you do on the quiz? Do you have a favorite Austen quote? Let us know! 

Friday, July 23, 2021

John Eyre Blog Tour ~ Spotlight

 Hello, my friends! Today, I'm spotlighting Mimi Mathews' new book, John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow. This book looks incredible! I love a dark gothic tale and this retelling/mash-up sounds like a must-read!

“One of the most moving, suspenseful, innovative and remarkable retellings of a classic in the history of, well, ever... Every page is sheer rapture as [Matthews] moulds popular source material into a spell-binding creation so wholly her own.”— Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration

John Eyre
A Tale of Darkness and Shadow
by Mimi Matthews


Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he's ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John's new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious. 

Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Marriage wasn't on her itinerary, but on meeting the enigmatic Edward Rochester, she's powerless to resist his preternatural charm. In letters and journal entries, she records the story of their rapidly disintegrating life together, and of her gradual realization that Mr. Rochester isn't quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all. 

From a cliff-top fortress on the Black Sea coast to an isolated estate in rural England, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?
Buy: Amazon (paid link) • Barnes & NobleBook DepositoryBookshop
Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both
historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Regency and Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

Connect to Mimi Matthews

Follow the Tour!

Join the virtual book tour of JOHN EYRE: A TALE OF DARKNESS AND SHADOW, Mimi Matthews’ highly acclaimed Bronte-inspired Gothic romance, July 12-25, 2021. Thirty-five popular online influencers specializing in historical fiction, Gothic romance, and paranormal fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpt, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Yorkshire, England. 

July 12 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (review)
July 12 Syrie James (review)
July 13 Bronte Blog (interview)
July 13 Laura's Reviews (review)
July 13 All-of-a-Kind Mom (spotlight)
July 14 Gwendalyn's Books (review)
July 14 Austenesque Reviews (review)
July 15 Bookworm Lisa (review)
July 15 Nurse Bookie (review)
July 16 Savvy Verse and Wit (excerpt) 
July 16 The Lit Bitch (review)
July 17 My Bookish Bliss (review)
July 17 From the TBR Pile (review)
July 18 Rosanne E. Lortz (review)
July 18 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (review)
July 19 The Secret Victorianist (review)
July 19 Christian Chick's Thoughts (review)
July 19 The Gothic Library (review)
July 20 Getting Your Read On (review)
July 20 The Silver Petticoat Review (review)
July 20 Lu Reviews Books (review)
July 21 The Green Mockingbird (review)
July 22 Unabridged Chick (review)
July 22 A Darn Good Read (review)
July 23 Kathleen Flynn (review)
July 23 So Little Time… (spotlight)
July 23 The Calico Critic (review)
July 24 The Bronte Babe (review)
July 24 Probably at the Library (review)
July 24 Impressions in Ink (review)
July 25 From Pemberley to Milton (review)
July 25 Vesper's Place (review)

Many thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose for including me in this book tour!

Congratulations to Mimi Matthews on the release of John Eyre

So, friends, do you want to read this story as much as I do? Let me know in the comments! Thanks!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter ~ Blog Tour ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! Today, Julia Winter is here with an excerpt of her new book Mistress of Netherfield! There's also a giveaway going on as part of the blog tour! Details at the bottom of the page.

Mistress of Pemberley
A Pride and Prejudice Variation
by Julie Winter

About The Book 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that on escaping an unhappy marriage, a young widow will be delighted to remove to the dower house and lease the marital abode to a single man in possession of a good fortune, provided he looks elsewhere to fulfil his want of a wife. 

     Five years after being forced into an unwanted marriage at the age of sixteen, and freed six months later by the death of her abusive husband, Elizabeth Grayson (née Bennet) has finally found a measure of peace. The inheritor of her husband’s estate, Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is now a wealthy young widow, independent and self-reliant. With an eye always on improving her four sisters’ woefully small dowries and providing for her mother, who will be homeless when her father dies, Elizabeth is pleased to lease out Netherfield to the Bingley family, making her home in the dower house in Meryton and vowing that she will never remarry. 

     Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire is rich and well connected, but reserved in company with anybody outside the very few he counts as friends. Towards those friends, he is loyal and steadfast, the staunchest of supporters. So when a young man comes to him with a tale of the clandestine marriage and mysterious death of Darcy’s old schoolfriend, James Grayson, and begs Darcy’s help to investigate the widow’s role, Darcy agrees. Visiting Charles Bingley, the new tenant of Netherfield, Darcy is very soon torn between his loyalty to his dead friend, and his burgeoning attraction to the widow. 

     Throw two unprincipled rogues and an elopement into the confines of Meryton, and how will Darcy’s dilemma over Elizabeth ever be resolved? And is she willing to put aside her misgivings, and trust again? 

 (British English spelling and grammar used throughout).

A note from Julia.

Not everything written in the first draft of a books makes it through subsequent edits. There are a host of reasons for cutting something: it doesn’t add anything to the plot or characterisation, it’s from a self-indulgent author having fun, it slows the pace, or it’s made redundant by plotting changes later. Here’s a cut scene that I decided could be conveyed with much more economy, something of a consideration in a book the size of Mistress!


     With a murmured excuse to Charlotte, Elizabeth rose and went out into the garden, seeking her two youngest sisters. She drew them to one side away from their companions, though both complained at the curtailment of their merriment.

     “I will only take a moment,” Elizabeth said, choosing to soothe rather than inflict the acerbic correction she longed to apply to the two heedless girls. “I wish to speak to you about the regiment coming to town next month.”

     Lydia clasped her hands at her bosom again, and sighed. “Oh. Redcoats.”

     “Yes. Indeed. When they arrive you must remember that you are not to speak to strangers of Netherfield or that I have any connection to it. You must promise that you will remember.”

     “No one cares about that,” said Lydia, while Kitty nodded.

     “No one cares here, where everyone knows about it. But I do not choose to have strangers know so much about me.”

     “La! What difference can it make?”

     “Oh well.” Elizabeth affected a careless indifference. “If you wish me to take every red-coated conquest from you, that is entirely your decision.”

     Kitty stared. “Whatever do you mean?”

     But Lydia narrowed her eyes, and tapped her foot.

     “What I mean is… sisters, have you never considered what sort of man becomes a militia officer?” At their blank expressions, Elizabeth hid a frown and a sigh, while wishing their mother would take a more sensible approach with her younger daughters. With all her daughters. “Well, take Sammy Goulding.”

     “I would much rather not!” Lydia snorted most inelegantly. “Sammy has not two ha’pennies to rub together!”

     “That is my point, Lyddie. Sammy is the Goulding’s third son, and he has no prospect of an inheritance. He is just the sort of man who will join the army or the militia, because there he will have an excellent opportunity to make a living for himself. Such men will always have an eye to marrying a lady who has some property of her own. They cannot afford to do otherwise. If you boast that your sister has such a property… well, I dare say your beaus will think as much of their pocket books as their hearts.”

     “You would never steal them!” Kitty stated. “You are too old!”

     “I am barely one and twenty!” Elizabeth choked down her offence. “No, I think you will find that your elder sister with a property is a fine, attractive proposition for a young officer. They will be as bees around a flower.”

     “You will not steal the officers. You are far too prim and proper.” But Lydia’s eyes were still narrow with suspicion.

     “But you cannot be sure they will not wish to be stolen, can you?” Elizabeth said, softly.

     They stared at each other until Lydia huffed out a breath and nodded. “We will not say anything, will we, Kit?”

     “No, indeed. You have had your turn, Lizzy.”

     “Excellent. Then we are agreed. You will say nothing, and I will be indifferent to the officers.”

     The girls nodded. Kitty was already looking longingly to where the other girls were taking turns on the swing set under the old oak tree on the lawn, and preening and flirting before their audience of similarly-aged young men, including the despised Sammy.

     Elizabeth smiled. “Thank you. Now, go and join your friends.”

     They needed no further encouragement. They ran across the lawn with more haste than decorum to push into the crowd of young ladies exhibiting before the young men, quite the two flightiest moths fluttering around the masculine candles.

     Elizabeth could only hope they had the sense not to be burned.

Buy Links 

Amazon US (paid link) • Amazon UKBooks2Read
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

About the Author

Once Julia was a communications specialist with several UK government departments. These days she's thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. She lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

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* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Between 21 June and 3 July, enter this Rafflecoptor for the chance of a first prize of a copy of Mr Darcy’s Hunsford letter (complete with seal, and tied in red ribbon) and a copy of the eBook, or one of two second prizes of an eCopy of Mistress of Netherfield.

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Many thanks to Julia Winter for visiting with us and sharing a deleted scene from her new book, Mistress of Netherfield!

So, friends, let us know your thoughts! Your comments are always welcome!
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