Oct 302013


Hi, Linda! Thank you so much for stopping by Austenesque Reviews for a little tête-à-tête! I greatly enjoyed your new novel, The Red Chrysanthemum, and I am so happy to have you visit Austenesque Reviews on your blog tour! How about we begin by talking about what was the inspiration behind your new release, The Red Chrysanthemum?Linda Beutler

My inspiration can only be called a “perfect storm” of aligning factors. The 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice was very influential, and I’m not just talking about Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth! This version has a brilliant screenplay, and the “outdoorsiness” of it—with so much action taking place in gardens or the countryside—struck a chord. The scenes are bright, and other than Rosings, the interior spaces are cheerful. There is nothing dark about this adaptation, just as I find nothing dark about Jane Austen’s novel. I also found myself asking more questions as I reread Pride and Prejudice, and after reading a lot of Austenesque novels, I found the courage to answer my questions for myself. Then I had to work up even more courage to ask Meryton Press to publish it!

So glad you were able to summon your courage on both occasions, Linda!  In your Acknowledgements you mention two Austenesque novels by name – What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds and Confessions of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street. That’s wonderful that you were inspired to write your own novel after reading these works! What types of Austenesque novels do you enjoy reading? What do you love about the Austenesque genre?

The Confessions of Fitzwilliam Darcy What Would Mr. Darcy Do

The more what-ifs of Pride and Prejudice I read, the more I know what I like. I started out, in September 2011, reading Abigail Reynolds and quickly blew through everything she’d written to that point. Then I picked up most of the other major authors. Mary Street’s Confessions… seems to have been a one off. She didn’t write anything else, but I loved the way she seamlessly worked her vision of Darcy into the original novel. The novels I have bought and kept are light-hearted. Generally I prefer the what-ifs to the sequels. Excessive angst does not entertain me, as I am definitely reading to relax and escape into the Regency world. I appreciate novels that are thoroughly researched, and also those giving us both Darcy and Elizabeth’s thoughts. Novels introducing a host of new characters put me off a bit, as I find our dear couple endlessly fascinating. And clever authentic use of the language is always a plus!

Obviously I don’t mind a little physical affection in a story, shall we say, after Elizabeth and Darcy marry. If they anticipate their vows I am usually disappointed, especially if Elizabeth is the moving party. That just doesn’t ring true for me. Having said that, I do like to know they are felicitously married, by any definition.

The Red ChrysanthemumI don’t think I could ever get tired of watching Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love with each other!  Speaking of…I greatly enjoyed how Darcy and Elizabeth communicated with the language of flowers in this novel, and I loved learning about different flowers and their meanings. I bet it was a lot of fun to do research for those scenes and conversations! Did you learn anything interesting or surprising?

When I was a full time floral designer, I was constantly asked about the meanings of flowers. It is amazing how important the concept still is to gardeners and people in the habit of buying flowers. This is not a dead language! When I wrote Garden to Vase (Timber Press, 2007, out of print), I included the meanings of the flowers profiled in the book but was self-limited to those things known to be good cut flowers or foliage, since that was the book’s focus. So, when I decided to pursue a floral conversation between Elizabeth and Darcy, some of the research was already done. The challenge was to follow the changes in nomenclature to make sure of which flowers were being referred to by which old Latin names. What surprised me is how the symbolism of flowers has evolved over time. It was like putting a puzzle together!

Speaking of flowers, let’s talk a little about your love of flowers and horticultural background. Can you share with us a little about your garden at home?  What are some of your favorite flowers? What does your dream garden look like?TanglevineCottage72

Our house is a 1907 cottage in a neighborhood full of little houses of mostly the same era. I wanted a vine covered cottage, and we do call it Tanglevine Cottage. I love clematis…even though I work with them in a public garden, I also grow them at home, along with other flowering vines, like honeysuckles. Roses are a particular passion, the old fragrant varieties especially. Cottage gardens were multi-functional and my garden lives up to that, with a shady “stumpery” of ferns and hosta, two fruit trees, and a little area where I sit and write—my “Pink Flamingo Lounge.” I collect garden stuff, things like watering cans, vintage sprinklers and nozzles, squirrel figures, and I know this is odd, but I have some old shopping carts, ideal for growing peas and sweet peas and beans. The shopping carts are in the vegetable beds. Yeah…we’re long on whimsy around here. When I travel I look for blue glass objects to hang in my souvenir tree. My dream garden? It’s a lot bigger than this one, that’s for sure. It would kill me to maintain the gardens at Pemberley, but G.SikorskiInBloomingRoseat least I’d die happy!

Your garden is beautiful, Linda!  I love it!  I’m sure maintaining your garden is a lot of work! What is next for you in the Austenesque world, Linda? Are there any more plot seedlings ready to bloom? (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Yes, I am nurturing a couple of ideas—they’re getting a lot of “fertilizer”, anyway. I have a completed outline and am a couple of chapters into a new novel tentatively titled “Death Comes to Rosings”. It is not a mystery, more of a farce, so the name may have to change. The story takes up after the ill-starred Hunsford proposal, when Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam return to Rosings before Elizabeth leaves Hunsford, because of a death in the family. Most of the action takes place at Rosings Park and Hunsford. Think of it as Pride and Prejudice meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

How about we end with a game of “flower analogies?” In The Red Chrysanthemum, Darcy, Georgiana, and Elizabeth consult an herbal to determine the meaning of various flowers. Using your handy herbal, Linda, what flower would you use as a symbolic metaphor for these following characters and why:

  • Mr. Darcy: Sweet William is obvious. It means gallantry, and once his affections are engaged, Darcy is nothing if not gallant.
  • Elizabeth Bennet: The timing was wrong for me to include in Darcy’s nosegay to Elizabeth variegated (striped) tulips. They signify beautiful eyes. But they bloom in May, not July…sigh.
  • Jane Bennet: Oh, our dear sweet Jane! Let us assign to her the cape jasmine, which quotes her when she says, “I am too happy.”
  • Kitty Bennet: Poor Kitty, the follower. Let’s enhance her with some white oak for independence and lilac primroses for confidence.
  • Mr. Bennet: Not everyone loves Mr. Bennet, but I do. However, he is not a man above flaws. Let’s be philosophical and give him colchicum, the meadow saffron, which says, “My best days are past.”
  • Lady Catherine: Was ever a flower more perfect for anyone than spiked willow herb (now we call it fireweed) is for her? It is the flower of pretension.
  • Georgiana Darcy: In The Red Chrysanthemum we watch her progress from being anxious and trembling—red columbine—to being a tower of strength for her brother, cedar.
  • Mrs. Gardiner: Everyone’s favorite aunt, fashionable and such pleasing manners! She deserves ox-eye daisies for her patience and red clover for her industry on behalf of Elizabeth and Jane.

 Oh those are all wonderfully appropriate!!  I love that there is “flower of pretension!”  That’s just too funny!  Thank you Linda, for indulging me in this game and for so kindly taking the time to answer my questions!!


Michele and the lovely people at Meryton Press have kindly donated 1 paperback and 1 digital copy  of The Red Chrysanthemum for me to giveaway to 2 lucky winners!  Woot Woot!

The Red Chrysanthemum  The Red Chrysanthemum

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Linda!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Meryton Press!
  • This giveaway ends November 7th!

 Double your chances of winning by leaving a comment on my review (which will post on Friday!)

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  50 Responses to “Interview + Giveaway with Linda Beutler”


    Linda, your flowers are so beautiful! I find the concept of the language of flowers quite interesting. I may just have to contact you when it comes time to me finally having a garden of my own one day. 😉 I cannot wait to get my hands on this book. 🙂
    Great interview, Meredith!


    How interesting! My two favorite things in one place – flowers and Mr. Darcy!

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!


    I can not wait to read your book sounds like the kind of book I like


    I, too, like “what if” novels of P&P, and I look forward to reading yours. The twist of the meaning of flowers will add a new dimension to the story. One forgets that smell was an issue in the Regency period – either a pleasant smell from bathing and lavender or ……. Thank you for the giveway.


      Eva, interestingly, the main reference I used listed the meaning of lavender as deception. It is the only place where it isn’t given the meaning devotion. Perhaps the author had issues with some one wearing lavender? It’s a mystery! Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B


    Wonderful, more Elizabeth and Darcy. And thank you for the mention of the two books ( What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds and Confessions of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street) I have added these two to my to read list


      Mary Street’s book didn’t get great reviews on Amazon, but perhaps people wanted something more, or other, to happen. But I swallowed it hook line and sinker! I could hear Colin Firth reading every word into my ear. Good luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B


    Hi Linda! Good job on the interview!


    A wonderful interview and the photos are extraordinary. Captivating and special.


      Thanks Ellie. I have to admit my DH took the picture of the front of the house, and he photoshopped away the overheard power lines! The clematis is ‘General Sikorski’ with the rose ‘Pink Meidiland’.
      Linda B


    The flowers are extremely beautiful and the interview is very interesting. Love to read this book.


    What a magical post! Thank you, Linda and Meredith! There’s so much I loved about it! The intriguing idea of communicating through the language of flowers, the promise of happiness and compatibility and of a story without excessive, implausible angst – wonderful! And the referencing of 2 of my favourite books was just the icing on the cake 🙂 Thanks for the glimpse into your thoughts, Linda, and thanks for the giveaway!


      Thanks, Joana! Meredith was great, and her questions were fun for me to answer. You are a rare JAFF reader to have found and read Mary Street. I turn to it often if Darcy stops “speaking” to me. Best of luck on the giveaway!
      Linda B


      Thank you for the lovely kind words, ladies! I remember enjoying Mary Street’s novel too – although I don’t have a review of it since I read it pre-blog. Think I might be due for a reread!


    I love your garden. Your use of flowers in your book is very interesting. I too have loved reading Pride and Prejudice variations. Which is your favorite? Mine as of now is Abigail Reynolds Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections. I can’t wait to read yours.


      I really like Reynolds’ Mr. Darcy’s Obsession. Also, I’m following some developing stories at A Happy Assembly that are shaping up to me classics, I think. Hope you enjoy TRC!
      Linda B


    That house!!! Those flowers!!! Do you have a spare room? Can I move in? It’s gorgeous.


      Robyn, our spare room is the unheated, unplumbed garden shed. 8 x 12 feet. Occasionally you’ll have to share with mice until our cat, Coco Chanel, cleans them out. How’s that sound??? It’s the best we can do for you. But thanks!
      Linda B


    Your flowers are absolutely stunning! What a beautiful garden. I know nothing about the language of flowers, so I look forward to learning something when I read your book. Any chance that heather has some hidden, fabulous meaning? Thank you for the interview!


    Linda, what character in your opinion could be rapresented by the dhalia?


      Sorry to be the bearer of what might be bad news, but Dahlia’s represent instability. They get that from being genetically unstable, hence their amazing variety of shapes and colors. Instability makes them beautiful!
      Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B


        Oh, Loren! I didn’t exactly answer your question. If dahlias represent instability, well, that would be Mrs. Bennet! You just never know when she’s going to explode, do you? Sometimes we can predict, but in TRC, there are some situations that actually leave her speechless!
        Linda B


          LOL! Yes, Mrs. Bennet can definitely be described as unstable! I think it is fascinating how some flowers earn their meanings based on their own characteristics!


    I also appreciate Abigail Reynolds’ and Mary Street’s books. The Confessions is one of the first since I discovered the “what-if world” three years ago. Unfortunately, I’m not so good in gardening as my mother is. I hope to learn something with your book. Your garden is very beautiful


    Abigail Reynolds is also my go-to author whenever I want to re read these wonderful “what ifs.” I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on the Austen blogs I follow which mention The Red Chrysanthemum and now I am intrigued, too.


    Fun interview! I enjoyed how you matched the flower’s traits and personality to the characters. I learned to enjoy Austenesque reading through a few authors and Abigail Reynolds was one of them.

    Look forward to reading your story, Linda!


      Thanks, Sophia! Meredith set me out quite a little challenge, and it was great fun. Lady Cat’s was the best, though! And there were too many to choose for Mr. Bennet, so I fudged on that one. He is one of my favorite characters, even though I know some JAFF authors have a strong aversion to him. Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B


        So glad you both enjoyed the game, Sophia! Did a marvelous job! I loved the appropriateness of the flower for Lady C! Glad to hear you like Mr. Bennet, Linda, I don’t like to see him represented as a villain or fool as I sometimes do. 🙂


    Linda, when I look at photos of your beautiful garden I really begin to think that I would like to try growing a small pot of flowers myself:) It must be a wonderful feeling to see your flower grow healthy and happy under your care. Look forward to reading the Red Chrysanthemum!


      Oloore, you might want to start with something easy, like Sedums (pronounced see-dumbs). I just found out an old common name for them from one of my students: welcome-home-husband-be-thee-ever-so-drunk. Perhaps the best common name I’ve ever heard!!! There a lot of kinds and they are very tolerant of being without water, and so easy to make more of them. Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B


    What a gorgeous garden Linda, so many flowers! Your book sounds wonderful, I love that each flower has a meaning & that a bouquet of flowers given could hold a special message 😀 My grandmother gave me some grapehyacinths from her garden once. Though they are already special to me, I’d love to find out if they have another meaning.


      Jo’s Daughter, I grow grape hyacinths, too. Such an easy plant! My mother grew them in the garden where I grew up, where they got tons of sun and were neglected. As a child I loved their form and fragrance. Their traditional meaning is constancy. Given how durable and adaptable the bulbs are, I’m not surprised. I’m trying something new this year, a pink form! This next spring will be their first chance to bloom. Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B


        Oh pink ones, I like the sound of that 🙂 Thank you so much for telling me their meaning Linda!!! I always feel emotional/nostalgic when I see grapehyacinths. Now that I know they represent constancy it’s like an added value for me 😀 Hope your pink bulbs will thrive!


    This book has been on my top to be read list since I read Candy’s review on Goodreads. Sounds fantastic! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity


    This book sounds absolutely delightful! I’ll have to put it on my reading list.


    I agree with Linda about the “what if” novels. They are my favorite as long as the writer stays as true as possible to the JA characters and the era. I look forward to reading “The Red Chrysanthemum.”


      My editor and I went to great lengths researching Regency English usage, spelling, and even punctuation. We may not have gotten everything right, but we sure tried! Some of the original P & P characters aren’t seen much (or at all) because so much of the action of this story takes place in Derbyshire, and a few, like Mrs. Reynolds, are developed more, for that same reason. Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Linda B

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