Dec 102018
 

Happy Monday, everyone! I am so excited to welcome back author, Sophie Turner to Austenesque Reviews today. You may recall that Sophie is in the midst of an extensive sequel series for Pride and Prejudice titled Constant Love.  So far this series has focused primarily on Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and Georgiana and her new husband, and just last month, Sophie released the third installment – A Season Lost! We hope you enjoy Sophie Turner’s post as she shares more about the Georgette Heyer influences in her writing!

I’ve written a lot about how I wanted to merge the worlds of Jane Austen and Patrick O’Brian in writing my Constant Love series, but another influence I haven’t written as much about is Georgette Heyer. In many ways, Heyer’s world is justas disparate as Austen’s and O’Brian’s, even though they’re all set within the Georgian/Regency eras. Although Heyer sometimes set her romances within the countryside, I think her most memorable novels are the ones that bring us within the rarefied air of the London drawing rooms, ballrooms, and gentlemen’s clubs of the Regency ton.

It’s a world of rakes, corinthians, rogues, dandies, and the charming young (or almost old enough to be on the shelf) ladies who fall in love with them. Jane Austen gives us characters who belong within that Heyerish world – Fitzwilliam Darcy, certainly, would have fit among that cast – but we see them almost exclusively in the countryside, or occasionally at a watering-place. No Austen heroine participates fully in the season: Sense and Sensibility I believe spends the most time there, but it is to advance the plots of romances begun in the country, and Emma is probably the only female lead with sufficient fortune to have been a part of the ton, yet she is the most firmly stuck in her home village.

Yet I knew as I was working on my series that just as Darcy moved within that set, his wife would now be expected to do so as well. I also felt that neither of them was likely to be particularly enthusiastic about it; as an introvert Darcy would have some close friends he enjoyed seeing, but the full whirl of the social season is exhausting for him. His wife, meanwhile, would not like the falsities and gossip that formed such a society. When I think about the London ton, I envision it as a “Mean Girls” sort of high school situation, full of backstabbing and people trying to claw their way to the top.

Georgette Heyer’s female leads often innocently make their way into this world, which makes them endearing both to us as readers, and to the (very often jaded and bored) men who fall in love with them. Heyer also does something that Austen did not need to: she recreates that Regency world in very rich detail, most notably in descriptions of location and fashion, and in her slang. Her characters speak quite differently than anyone in Austen’s novels, and I have to think Austen, who of course actually listened to real people speak at that time, was the more accurate one. But then again, she was not necessarily listening to young Regency bucks speaking to each other in private. We do know of slang words from the time, so someone was using these words to someone else, although I’ve also read that Heyer invented some of her own slang so she’d have a little telltale if another writer used those words.

Dialogue aside, I do enjoy spending a few hours in Heyer’s Regency world, and that was something I wanted to infuse into my own work, that chance to escape into another place for the length of a book. I needed to strike a balance, however, because I wanted the novels to have a tone that could follow after Pride and Prejudice.

Consider this, from Pride and Prejudice: “She had dressed with more than usual care, and prepared in the highest spirits for the conquest of all that remained unsubdued of his heart, trusting that it was not more than might be won in the course of the evening.”

Compared with this, from The Grand Sophy: “By the time Sophy had changed her travelling-dress for an evening-gown of pale green crape, festooned at the bottom with rich silk trimming, and confined at the waist with a cord and tassels, Cecilia had completed her own toilet, and was waiting to escort her downstairs to the drawing-room. Sophy was trying to clasp a necklace of pearls round her throat while the gaunt maid, adjuring her not to be so fidgety, was equally determined to button up the cuffs of her long, full sleeves. Cecilia, tastefully but not strikingly attired in sprigged muslin, with a blue sash, supposed enviously that Sophy had had her gown made in Paris. She was quite right: all of Sophy’s dresses came from Paris.”

Leave out Northanger Abbey and I think there might be more description of dresses in that passage than the other five of Austen’s novels! Even Northanger Abbey does not go into that level of detail:

“Yes, I know exactly what you wills ay: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my spriggedmuslin robe with blue trimmings—plain black shoes—appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense.”

So perhaps the level of detail I was looking for in my series might best be described as Henry Tilneyesque!

A good portion of A Constant Love took place in town, and both foul air and foul society wore on Elizabeth, in particular. A Change of Legacies was set largely at Pemberley, and A Season Lost has the characters far more geographically disparate. So disparate that while I was waiting for some of them to get back to where they needed to be, I wanted an additional plot line for the Darcys, and decided it was time for Elizabeth to return to town and have a somewhat different experience there. She is befriended by Countess Esterházy, one of the famous patronesses of Almack’s, and while that seems like it should have nothing but upside, it’s not quite that simple.

I thought I’d leave you all with an excerpt from the book showing a little of that world, and the description of Elizabeth’s dress:

Despite her new jewels, Elizabeth could not feel particularly enthusiastic about the ball that evening. Sarah, however, not privy to what troubled her employer, had enthusiasm to spare, and she had readied what seemed her favourite of the new ball gowns, as well as jewellery, slippers, and hair ornaments. The dress was yellow silk, heavily trimmed about the bosom and cut in tight just below it, flaring out to a much wider skirt than Elizabeth was used to, also heavily trimmed. Sarah gasped when Elizabeth opened the box from Hadley’s, and immediately agreed the new diamonds should be used in place of the set that had formed her plans. She suggested keeping things simple for Elizabeth’s hair, with such a dress and jewellery, and Elizabeth agreed readily; she could hardly be brought to care about such a thing on such a night, but moreover she realised Sarah was now plying her trade to the extent that it was art, and an artist ought to be allowed her vision.

Sarah’s vision, when finally it descended the stairs to the entrance-hall, was an intricate but non-voluminous coiffure, accented with a pearl hair comb and three little feathers, an acknowledgement of the larger ones many ladies would no doubt be wearing, but of a delicate refinement Elizabeth liked so well she did not care if it was not found to be fashionable, for it had become her own preference as soon as she had seen it.

It had an effect on her husband, at least, for his visage upon seeing her seemed to indicate that she had – at least temporarily – put his worries out of his mind in favour of admiration for his wife, and he said,“You, my love, look positively stunning.”

“It is all your jewellery and Kelly’s handiwork. I am fortunate her family are our tenants, now, so she has very strong ties to our family, otherwise I fear someone will try to steal her from me.”

He smiled. “They may try, but let us hope they do not succeed. I suppose you are going to ask me to increase her wages again, and I would believe them well-earned at five guineas a year more. The hair is particularly inspired. It shows off your eyes remarkably, particularly with the diamonds – I am pleased to see I was right about them, although neither the diamonds nor your maid could achieve this effect without such a foundation to build upon.”

Elizabeth smiled, blushing a little under the heat of such an admiring gaze. “You are looking very handsome as well, although rather old-fashioned. I cannot recall the last time I have seen you in knee breeches in the evening.”

“I feel rather old-fashioned, but rules are rules.”

“Trousers are against the rules?”

“They are, as is arriving after eleven, so we had best be going.”

Elizabeth suffered a moment’s panic that something in her attire might be against these sacred rules of Almack’s, which she had never paid any attention to, then settled herself with the thought that surely Sarah would have researched them in advance. And upon their arrival, Elizabeth was greeted with great warmth by Countess Esterházy, who immediately said, “Oh, look at you – beautiful, simply beautiful. The hair and the necklace, I adore.” The countess, of more voluptuous proportions than Elizabeth, and very much able to put them to good display, was equally deserving of compliments on that evening, and Elizabeth candidly gave them.

How beautiful Lizzy must look…I love the descriptive detail that helps us picture her ensemble and coiffure in this scene! However, I do wonder at her spirits…what troubles her? Is it something to do with Mr. Darcy or someone or something else? I can’t wait to find out!!!

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GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Today Sophie offers 1 copy (Kindle or Paperback) of 1 of the 3 books in the Constant Love series (winner’s choice!) – A Constant LoveA Change of Legacies, and A Season Lost for me to give away to 1 lucky winner!!

   

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

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Sophie!
  • This giveaway ends December 17th!
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  52 Responses to “Guest Post + Giveaway with Author Sophie Turner!!”

  1.  

    Loved the description of Elizabeth’s dress and hair! I can imagine how lovely she looked. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of one of the books!

    •  

      Thank you, Pam! It’s fun to envision her all dressed up and ready to wow the ton as Mrs. Darcy, isn’t it? Good luck in the giveaway!

  2.  

    I think I would like to go along to Almacks but I need a dress!!! Loved Elizabeth’s. Thanks for the excerpt and more details about your books. Jen Red

    •  

      Me too! I have Regency dresses like the one in the photo but I don’t think any of them are up to snuff for Almack’s. 😉 Thanks for your comment, Jen, and good luck in the giveaway!

  3.  

    Thanks for this wonderful feature and giveaway. The excerpt was captivating.

  4.  

    I can just picture Elizabeth looking stunning as Darcy says. I hope nobody makes her feel uncomfortable there as they deserve to enjoy themselves. Thank you for sharing this wonderful excerpt.

    •  

      Thank you for your comment, Glynis! Glad the description gave you that mental picture…as to whether anyone makes her uncomfortable…you’ll just have to read to find out. 😉 Good luck in the giveaway!

  5.  

    What a delightful comparison. I have this on my wish-list. I love it when Darcy sees Lizzy just before they leave for an engagement. His response always makes her blush… and me as well. Blessings on this launch. Thanks to Meredith for hosting [say hello to your Mr. Bingley] and thanks to Sophie Turner for the generous giveaway.

  6.  

    Really enjoyed reading this excerpt. Thank you for the giveaway. Happy Holidays!

  7.  

    What a cute series! I haven’t read the books yet but it is now on my list. And I loved the Mean Girls reference. I can totally picture that in the ballrooms and drawing rooms of the those in the ton!

  8.  

    Sophie, I have been a devoted reader of this series when it was posted on FF.net; I’ve read the first two at least four times each.

    I have a question: Is A Season Lost much different from the third book in the series that you published on FF.net? And what about A Constant Love and A Change of Legacies? Are they very different from the FF.net versions? I think I’ll need to save my pennies to purchase them all anyway. 😀

    Thank you for this lovely excerpt, Sophie!! I am so glad that you have published this series–it’s delightful!!

    Warmly,
    Susanne (aka Cassandra Lowery on FF.net)

    •  

      Hi Susanne, it’s great to see you here and I am so glad to hear how much you love the series! 🙂 Off the top of my head I would say that each book is probably 60-70% of what is posted on ff.net. Once it’s posted I consider all of the feedback and usually wind up filling in gaps (in the case of this one I had a known plot hole when I posted online), rearranging some things, then doing line editing to just smooth everything out and proofreading to check for typos. Which is why I think I finished posting this in April and it’s now November that I’m finally getting it released!

      Thanks for your comment and good luck in the giveaway!

  9.  

    Enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway!

  10.  

    I’m afraid I could never fit in with this set of characters. I love my jeans and pants too much to give them up! I don’t even like to dress up and I never wear much jewelry, just a couple of rings o my fingers! Thank you for the chance to win!

    •  

      Denise, I pretty much live in jeans so I agree, I’d have a hard time fitting in with this set. Although I do enjoy dressing up every once and awhile. I think I might enjoy it more if I got to go to Regency Almack’s, too, haha. Thanks for your comment and good luck in the giveaway!

  11.  

    Looking forward to reading this. I have just read my first Georgette Heyer book but it was not a romance but a mystery

    •  

      So glad to hear you’re looking forward to it, Vesper! I haven’t read any of her mysteries but I think I might work my way over to them once I’m through all of the Regency novels. Good luck in the giveaway!

  12.  

    Very nice excerpt and I look forward to reading more. Thanks for the giveaway! –Leslie

  13.  

    Thank you so much for having me back to visit, Meredith! It’s lovely to be back!

  14.  

    Just fabulous. Looking forward to reading more.

  15.  

    I love Georgette Heyer’s books. Glad to see she was an influence in your writing.

    •  

      So do I — I just love that escape into her world for a couple of hours. Thank you for your comment, Denise, and good luck in the giveaway!

  16.  

    Thank you for the excerpt. Beautiful description of Elizabeth and Darcy’s reaction. I have enjoyed the first two books and looking forward to this new one. Thank you for the giveaway.

    •  

      Thank you, so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed the first two books, and I hope the third will be equally so. 🙂 Good luck in the giveaway!

  17.  

    I enjoyed reading your excerpt. As others stated I appreciated the more detailed descriptive elements of dress and grooming. I loved learning more about you tho also. I love Georgette Heyer’s novels. I love the dialogue. She had such wit and sparkle and fun. I preferred the romance to mysteries or historical. So nice of you to have a giveaway. I haven’t read any of the series yet.

    •  

      Thank you, Suzan, glad to hear you enjoyed it! I definitely agree with you about Georgette Heyer having “wit and sparkle and fun” — what a great way to describe her work. Good luck in the giveaway!

  18.  

    Thanks for the generous giveaway (and thanks for making it international!). I haven’t read this series yet, but I absolutely adored ‘Mistress’, it’s one of my all-time favorites.

    •  

      Thank you, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Mistress! They are definitely very different works, although they do have character development in common. That’s been one of my big focuses. Good luck in the giveaway!

  19.  

    I am so delighted by Sarah’s progression in these books. She might be my favorite of your new characters. Make Elizabeth a fashion icon!!

    •  

      Aww, thanks, Julia, I definitely have a soft spot for Sarah, too. And I’ve got long-term plans for her. 😉 Good luck in the giveaway!

  20.  

    I absolutely love that cover! Very much looking forward to reading this!!

    •  

      Thank you, so glad to hear you love the cover! And that you’re looking forward to reading it. 🙂 Good luck in the giveaway!

  21.  

    Oh I do love these books. Sophie is one of the amazing writers that fed my JAFF facination in the early days, I have succumbed to that addiction quite willingly. I adore P&P variations best!!!

    •  

      I’m so glad to hear I helped fuel your JAFF fascination early on, Deanna! And that you love the series…I hope you’ll enjoy the latest installment as well. Good luck in the giveaway!

  22.  

    With your description it is so easy to picture how Lizzy is dressed and her hair. Thank you for the generous give away.

    •  

      You’re welcome, Debbie! And glad to hear you liked the description — I’m always trying to achieve a balance so that some of it is left to your imagination to conjure. 🙂 Good luck in the giveaway!

  23.  

    Loved Elizabeth’s choice of ensemble. Though, I thought she might be worried if she wil be accepted or criticized at the gathering, she wears what she prefers or feels comfortable. THough I noticed she had soem adjustments that are comparable to the ton.

    I am also thinking she fears more that her hubby will be greatly ostracized for either the choice of wife or the choices of his wife…

    Thank you for the excerpt and for the chance to win

    •  

      Thanks, glad to hear you liked her ensemble! Those themes are definitely things I go into in the first book…things have evolved a bit by this book which was why I thought it was good for Elizabeth to revisit London society. Good luck in the giveaway!

  24.  

    Sophie your books sound lovely!! I haven’t read any yet but would like to very much! Perhaps I can start with the first one if I’m lucky.

  25.  

    I love these types of stories. Elizabeth is always so forceful in front of people, but we get glimpses into her insecurity and she must have had some when she married.

    •  

      I definitely agree, Beth — she presents this bold front to the world but still has a vulnerability that comes out in private, and exploring the Darcys’ married lives over many years has given me a chance to delve in to it. Thanks for your comment and good luck in the giveaway!

  26.  

    I really enjoyed reading about your influences on your writing from Patrick O’Brien and Georgette Heyer (love both authors.) I haven’t read the first two in this series yet. But now it’s really been on my radar of late with the promo I’ve seen on the new book. And this one got my attention because of the time period, the year following the volcanic eruption in 1815, which I believe plays a part in the plot?? I think this is fascinating. I enjoyed the excerpt too. I think you described her ensemble beautifully without the scene being taken over completely by description more likely to have come out of a lady’s journal. And I completely agree with others here who have stated they love these scenes with Darcy witnessing Elizabeth coming down the stairs dressed for a special occasion. Can’t get enough of that! Ever.

    I just finished Mistress this week and oh my gosh, I loved it. Going to be one of my favorite rereads, for sure. Thank you for the chance at the giveaway. Thank you Meredith, as always.

    •  

      Thanks for your comment, Michelle, and I think this series would be a great match for you if you love both Heyer and O’Brian! And yes the eruption of Mount Tambora and the global climate disruption that followed are a key piece of this novel…and as an O’Brian fan I think you’ll enjoy how one of the characters was in a position to hear about the volcano. 😉

      I’m also so glad to hear you liked Mistress! Although the series and that book are different in tone (and also in adult content) they share my love for the characters and desire to further develop them.

      Good luck in the giveaway!

  27.  

    That was a brilliant excerpt to illustrate your point, Sophie. Sorry for coming late to the party. Hope you finish writing all the books in the series asap as I would love to read them one after another.

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