Everyone welcome avid Austenesque reader, Heather! Heather has been a long-time friend and participant on this blog these past years. 🙂 Like Elizabeth Bennet, Heather has some decided opinions, and I always enjoy hearing what she has to say about the books she reads!
You: Tell us about yourself
My name is Heather M. I live in upstate NY, in a suburb of Albany. I’d love to find another JA fan nearby. So far, no luck; thank goodness for the internet. I have my own Mr. Darcy, although, I think I’m more Darcy-like than he is: reserved, serious and I don’t talk much around strangers. My husband is more like Mr. Knightley: ‘A sensible man … and had a cheerful manner.’ I have B.A. degrees in international economics and European history, and a masters in archives and record management. I’m not currently using any of them I once was a librarian, now I’m a stay at home mom to a little boy who is almost 4.
When and how did you discover the Austenesque/JAFF genre? Indirectly, it is my husband’s fault. (Isn’t that a great thing to say?!) He’s a closet romantic and wanted to see the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie. I was not about to see a movie based on a book without reading the book! So I checked it out from the library. And I fell in love. (the movie ended up disappointing me, but that’s a subject best left for another time).
I read Austen’s other novels, then every related literary criticism and essay I could find, I joined JASNA, and I own multiple copies of my Austen’s novels just for their unique introductions and annotations. What else is there for the fan of an author who has been dead for nearly 200 years? Desperation for more drove me to JAFF. I used to be a purist, a Janeite who thought the original 6 novels were trivialized by fanfiction. Needless to say I have seen the error of my ways.
- What was the first Austenesque novel you ever read? Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy trilogy.
- What did you think of it? It was a gateway drug. I’ve since read ones that I’ve enjoyed more, but it was the beginning of my addictive downward spiral
- About how many Austenesque novels do you read a month? About one a month/ every 6 weeks
- Around what percentage of your total reads a year are Austenesque novels? I’m a Goodreads user, so if we divide total books read by the total number of books on the Jane Austen related shelf that comes out to about just under 10%. But that includes books I’ve read over the course of my life, not just since I started to read Austenesque novels in 2008. I expect the percentage will get higher over time. If we counted the fanfic I read on the internet (not published) that number would skew higher. If we’re more generous and include regency historical fiction then it’s higher still.
- Where/how do you obtain the Austenesque books your read? I don’t buy a lot of books. I’m an advocate for libraries and since I don’t read many books more than once (other than a few special faves that I like to revisit) I tend to borrow them rather than buy. My local library will sometimes buy the ones that I ask them to; when they don’t, I buy the e-book. As much as I like to hold the book in my hand, the portability, low price and nearly unlimited storage make me appreciate eBooks. I used to have a Nook and now I have an iPad so my nook and kindle app libraries are almost exclusively filled with JAFF. Also, blog giveaways feed my addiction very nicely.
- What is your favorite time of day to read? I usually read in the evening after my kid goes to bed while my husband watches TV or plays video games.
- What is your favorite place to read? How can you narrow it down to one place? My favorite place to read is any place where I have my book.
- What do you like to listen to when you read if anything? I prefer silence, but there’s often television or video game sounds in the background.
- What do you like to drink or eat when you read if anything? I’m a tea drinker. I’m not sure that I’ll remember how to read a book if there’s not a cup of tea on the table next to me.
- Do you read more than one book at a time ever? When I used to have free time (read: before child) I had books in several rooms and would simply read whatever book was there. 1 or 2 in the bedroom, 1 in the office, 2 or 3 in the family room 1 or 2 in the kitchen. Now I only have 1 or 2 at a time.
- Do you ever read the ending of a book first? Hahahaha yes! I am the worst. I always need to look at the end to see how Darcy and Elizabeth get together. I can’t handle the angst. It’s like a choose your own adventure where I skip around and read the end and skim parts and go back and forth until I finally sit down and read it beginning to end. It’s harder to do that with e-books, though. Those I’m usually forced to read from the beginning.
- Do you ever reread? On occasion I do, but as I said, I borrow more than I buy. Sometimes I go back and read just the parts that I like. Having so many as e-books makes it easy: with a few taps of my finger I can bring up a favorite passage, usually a part where our favorite couple is finally reconciled.
Collectively around how many Austenesque works do you own? More than I need, less than I want. I just gave away about 75% of my print Austenesque books. We were cleaning house and I donated a very, very large box full of JAFF to the library book sale. The only print ones I have now are ones I won in a giveaway where the author inscribed a message to me. So my huge shelf is now down to 6 books. I have 13 nook books, 16 kindle books. So that’s 35.
So depending on how broad your definition of Austenesque is, I have either 35 or 54. Wow, I’ve never counted them all before. I think my Goodreads Jane Austen shelf must be missing a few books ….
- Where do you store your Austenesque collection? On my iPad 😉
- What format are most of your Austenesque books in – paperback, ebook, or audiobook?Most are ebook
- How many Austenesque books are currently in your TBR at this moment? Does Artemisia count? If so, then add that to my total number of Austenesque books, too. If that doesn’t count, then The Highbury Murders, The Subsequent Proposal, A Father’s Sins and Haunting Mr. Darcy. I don’t own any of them except The Subsequent Proposal, and my library won’t buy the others, so I’ll have to bite the bullet and buy them . . . unless anyone out there has the e-book and knows if it’s lendable 😉
- Pride and Prejudice Variation: Mr. Darcy and the Secret to Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton. First Austenesque book I ever bought, so it has a special place in my heart.
- Pride and Prejudice Sequel: I can’t think of one, sequels aren’t my favorite. I like what-if variations better
- Pride and Prejudice Modern Adaptation: Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton
- Minor Character Story: My Dear Sophy by Kimberley Truesdale
- Non-Pride and Prejudice Sequel: Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe
- Non-Pride and Prejudice Modern Adaptation: The Three Wiessmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine (S&S)
- Reference/Nonfiction Work: Jane Austen: the World of Her Novels by Deirdre Le Faye and any original novel annotated by David Shapard.
- Original Character: Sarah from Longbourn Jo Baker (although the book overall didn’t make Elizabeth Bennet lovely enough for my liking)
- Austenesque Genre:P&P what-if variations are my absolute favorite, although I do admit a soft spot for Carrie Bebris’s mysteries. Regencies interest me a lot more than moderns do.
Your Desert Island 5: (You are about to be stranded on a desert island for unspecified amount of time you must select what you will bring)
- Five Austenesque/Jane Austen Movies
- Pride and Prejudice 1995
- Pride and Prejudice 1995 (no that’s not a typo; I really do want 2 copies of Colin Firth jumping in that lake and that Byronic, shy Darcy from P&P 2005 can stay off my island).
- Emma 2009
- Persuasion 2007
- Five Austenesque Books
- The Journey by Jan Hahn
- Mr. Darcy and the Secret to Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton
- Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps, Volume 1 by Robert Rodi
- Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps, Volume 2 by Robert Rodi
- A Dance with Jane Austen by Susannah Fullerton
Would You Rather?:
- Have Lady Catherine or Mrs. Norris as a mother? Yikes. Um, I’d prefer Lady Catherine. She’s arrogant, rude, and controlling, but her officiousness and compulsive desire to feel important by offering unwanted advice I could almost hope stems from affection to those she wants to be of use to. Mrs. Norris is a monster. She only wants to appear to do what is right; she is a selfish, cruel and abusive miser.
- Live in Bath or live in London? Bath is a scene of dissipation and vice (according to Jane). I’ll take London any day of the week.
- Be besties with Eleanor Tilney or Georgiana Darcy? I want Eleanor Tilney to be my best friend. Georgiana is nice, but so shy and eager to be guided by someone that we’d have an unequal relationship. I think once out from under her father’s thumb, Eleanor would really shine. She’s a loving sister and a generous friend.
- Dance every set at a ball or go horseback riding through the countryside with friends? Dance every set at a ball … assuming of course that I had several weeks of lessons beforehand and would not make a fool of myself.
- Marry Edmund Bertram or Edward Ferrars? Ugh. I choose option 3: become a chatty village spinster like Miss Bates. The potential for romance would be about the same. I guess if I had to pick I’d Edmund, only because I can imagine him being charmed by Mary Crawford and I don’t know what Edward saw in Lucy Ferrars.
- Attend a strawberry-picking party at Donwell Abbey or attend the theatre with the Gardiners? Hmm, considering I’d smack both Mrs Elton and Emma if I had to sit in the hot sun with them, I’d definitely choose the theatre with the Gardiners. They’re a fun, sensible couple and we’d have a good time.
- Go shopping with Lydia Bennet or have tea with Mrs. Elton? Shopping with Lydia, hands down. She’d want to buy horribly ugly bonnets and I’d tell her they’re hideous and she’d buy them anyway. Maybe we could tear them to pieces together. She could be fun in small, small doses. Mrs. Elton just shows money doesn’t buy class, or in her case, neither good manners nor common sense.
- Discover and read the finished manuscript (by Jane Austen) of The Watsons or Sanditon? The Watsons. She abandoned it rather than finish it, maybe because her father had died or she hadn’t had Susan (Northanger Abbey) published yet, or because its painful realism was too much for her to write at the time. I’d love to know that she returned to it and was able to complete it after all.
You Right Now:
- What Austenesque novel(s) are you currently reading at the moment? Just Jane by Nancy Moser
- What Austenesque novels are on your wish-list? Everything on my to-read list that I can’t borrow from the library.
- What Austenesque novel do you wish someone would write? Eleanor Tilney’s love story. Her happy ending is sort of a deus ex machine thrown into the end of Northanger Abbey. I want to know how lovely Eleanor managed to meet that worthy man who ended up inheriting a title and making it possible for both Eleanor and Henry to have their happy ever afters.
- What do you love most about Austenesque novels? Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book; I adored the dialogue between Darcy and Elizabeth, I loved Austen’s humor, her clever wit, and the romantic ending for two flawed characters who become better people and then find true happiness together. I’m not ready to let them go when the novel is over, so I love reading Austenesque novels because they let me keep Austen’s characters around a little while longer. I like to see how circumstances can be changed but in the end they still get the same happy ever after that they deserve.
- Where can we find you? Goodreads
- BOOK LENDING: Are any of you Austenesque readers eBook users like me? We can share books, too! Once upon a time, I was a librarian, so borrowing books and sharing books is something I hold very dear.
In the images below you will find the ebooks I have available to lend. Find me on Goodreads and email me so I we can swap email addresses and I can lend you a book. Maybe you have one that I haven’t read yet, too.
Not an ebook user? I have something for you, too. For everyone, really.
GIVEAWAY TIME!!! I have a copy of Jo Baker’s Longbourn to giveaway … but there’s a catch … Whoever wins the book can’t keep it. It’s not meant to stay on your shelf. After you’re done reading it, it’s up to you to pass it on to someone else. We’re going to be on the honor system, but after you’ve read Longbourn once or twice, what I’d like you to do is to give it to another with the stipulation that they give it to someone else when they’re done.
It can be the person in the cubicle next to you, your friend who’s looking for a new book to read, or come back here and see who else entered and ask one of them if they’d like to read it next. Anyone who you think will enjoy it AND pass it on to someone else.
Let’s see if we can get a few more readers to enjoy Austenesque novels as much as we do! I’ll ship it anywhere in the U.S. Leave a comment if you’re interested and tell me who you would love to get hooked into reading JAFF.
What a lovely idea, Heather!!! Helping more people find this amazing genre is something I’d love to support! Greatly enjoyed your thoughtful and entertaining answers to all my questions!! Thank you for taking the time to participate in this feature and share your love and admiration of Austenesque literature with us!!
To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Heather below!
- This giveaway is open to US Residents!! Thank you, Heather!
- This giveaway ends August 15th!
Want to see some more Ardent Austenesqe Admirers? CLICK HERE!