Hi friends! I’m always so happy when authors come and pay a visit to Austenesque Reviews, especially when they are new authors! 🙂 Today I am very happy to have author Andreea Catana as my guest! Her new Pride and Prejudice variation Meant to Be was just released recently, and I love the sound of it because Darcy and Elizabeth meet for the first time at Rosings rather than at Meryton! I can’t wait to see how that changes their story! 😉 Andreea is here to share her first encounter with and impressions of Jane Austen. We hope you enjoy!
I have met Jane Austen and I have written a book. It’s called Meant to Be.
Yes, I have met Jane Austen.
Of course, not in my lifetime, nor in hers, – for such travels are for the moment impossible – but I can confidently say that we have met. I shall try in the course of a few pages to tell you how I have known her and what she has thought me.
I made Jane Austen’s acquaintance when I was ten and she was already famous for more than a hundred years. My mom adored her (and her books) and naturally thought that I might like her as well.
However, my first impression of Jane Austen, which I got from the picture at the end of the book, was that she seemed like a lady who was a little bit too severe, like a scolding aunt that never allows you to play at will or expects you to behave a certain proper way. And since my reading interest had been up to that moment mostly stories about the wild Indian jungles and about inspiring, yet melodramatic Victorian orphans, I was a little bit cautious that I might enjoy the story my mother presented to me. Pride and Prejudice The very title sounded mature for me, with some concepts I did not fully comprehend.
But I opened the book and there it was, the most famous sentence in literary history:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
After that, I read the book in just a couple of days, eager of course to know what would happen to Elizabeth Bennet in the end. It was not the romantic part that got my attention at the time of my first reading, but rather Elizabeth Bennet’s personality. I was fascinated how courageous and clever she was. She always, always knew what to say, whether it was to her mother, or Lady Catherine, or Mr. Darcy. I wanted so much to be like her… that self-confident and witty, and sure of everything. I wanted to be her friend. To be sisters, like she and Jane were. I was so glad that she had “won”, that she was the heroine of the story and not some young man, who traditionally seemed to get all the adventure of life. It was like a dream come true.
After I finished Pride and Prejudice, I looked at Jane Austen’s picture again at the back of the book, and I swear I saw someone different. A much more encouraging Jane Austen and she was, this time, smiling at me, as though saying: “My dear, I never write what other people expect of me.”
I loved Jane Austen ever since and never doubted her again in what the writing is concerned. Always write a story that will inspire others. Write about your values, write about anything that sets your heart on fire.
At the same time, I started wondering what else Elizabeth Bennet could have done in her life. I played being Jane Austen, sometimes my ideas were a little bit out of the Regency era. In a certain sense, Meant to Be was conceived at that time, with all those “What would Elizabeth Bennet do” ideas I was considering at the time. But unfortunately, I never had the confidence to write, not even for fun.
Some things happened in my life which parted me from considering further the idea of writing, but in 1995, I re-discovered Pride and Prejudice, when I happened to see the BBC mini-series featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Do I have to say I was smitten? Not only by Colin Firth’s good looks but by Mr. Darcy’s inner world which appeared before my eyes like never before. Thankfully, the Romanian television broadcast each episode once a week, which gave me plenty of time to revisit the book, thus making the experience much more enjoyable.
And this time, I felt fully the extent of love between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
There have been said so many things about Mr. Darcy along the time, but for me, it meant only one thing. In a world where women had so few rights, there was someone who made them his equal by love. It was magical to know that Jane Austen had written about a man who was capable of changing himself before the very eyes of a lady. I mean, this must be true love! To be this vulnerable and allow the one you love to see you as such. And I also discovered that in spite of the lack of kisses and physical touches, their relationship is quite erotic, but in the way they communicated with each other.
Or how Jane Austen put it much more cleverly than me in a different novel:
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”
Oh, my! When I think of perfection in love, I think of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Whether they met at Netherfield, or at Rosings Park (a possibility I explored in my variation Meant to Be), or in some other part of England (or time for that matter) their love is always too strong not to overcome whatever difficulties they might encounter. My personal experience has thought me that if a thing is meant to happen, it will eventually come to be no matter the circumstances.
When I was writing Meant to Be I intended to explore the idea that a fresh start is not always a smooth easy road ahead. We sometimes assume that taking an alternative road is an easier choice, that somehow will take us faster to where we want to go, but we also forget that each journey is filled with perils and dangers that one must rise above. This is the fun of appreciating what you get at the end of the journey.
I have seen Jane Austen’s official picture many times in this life, and curiously enough there is always something else about Jane Austen. She is never the same woman you expect or you think you know before starting to read. She is a friend, a very trusted friend ready to take you to your best self, either in life or in writing.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Andreea!! I love your thoughts about Elizabeth Bennet – she is awe-inspiring, isn’t she? I wish I had her confidence or ability to know what to say! And I agree with you about feeling Jane Austen is a trusted friend. It is not feeling you get with every author.
Connect with Andreea
Today Andreea generously brings with her ONE copy of Meant to Be (ebook) for me to give away to ONE lucky winner!
To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Andreea below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Andreea!
- This giveaway ends December 13th