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Paperback Details
  • 10/2018
  • 9780998654065 B07JFJ1HSZ
  • 484 pages
  • $16.95
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  • 07/2019
  • B07VCH37LL
  • 484 pages
  • $7.49
Ebook Details
  • 10/2018
  • 978-0998654065 B07JFJ1HSZ
  • 484 pages
  • $4.95
Christina Boyd
Editor (anthology)
Rational Creatures
Christina Boyd, editor (anthology)

 

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —PERSUASION

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, shy maidens, talkative spinsters, and naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hetty Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s commpassion.

RATIONAL CREATURES is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging love stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism. “Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft 

 

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser, Ph.D.

 

MATURE CONTENT RATING as per EDITOR

ALL STORIES CONTAINED HEREIN HAVE A HEAT INDEX RATING OF 1-3.

                (1) None: affection and possible kissing

                (2) Mild: kissing

                (3) Moderate: some sexual references but not explicit

                (4) Mature: some nudity and some provocative sex

                (5) Erotic Romance: explicit, abundance of sex

 

 

Reviews
This impressive anthology introduces the works of 16 gifted Jane Austen–inspired authors, whose short stories reimagine adventures of Austen’s characters and glow with the beloved novelist’s timeless blend of romantic intrigue, witticisms, and biting social commentary on life’s absurdities. The stories, which complement Austen’s humor, irony, and spirited heroines, bring back characters who are both loved (Elizabeth Bennet) and loathed (Penelope Clay). Some tales refer to love and loss, as in the well-crafted “Charlotte’s Comfort” by Joana Starnes, which features Elizabeth Bennet’s practical friend, Charlotte, who is married to the vile Mr. Collins; many others convey the “serious business” of marriage in high society, as Eleanor Tilney notes in “A Nominal Mistress”; and, in Lona Manning’s “The Art of Pleasing,” Penelope Clay is a naughty widow who is adept at the game of love. While these reimagined characters’ domestic situations vary—unmarried, married, widowed, spinster—they are Austen-esque in principle, desiring men who respect their intellect and strong character. Each author’s style matches the elegance of the Regency period; Austen fans will be pleased. (BookLife)
"Bold, brave, brazen, and brilliant"

I have so much fun with Christina [Boyd]’s Anthologies. Her latest collection of our favorite obstinate head strong girls is FABULOUS! I couldn’t get enough! "Rational Creatures" is bold, brave, brazen, and brilliant! I love strong, feisty heroines and I simple adored this book. 

#Blogtour RATIONAL CREATURES Ed. by Christina Boyd (@xtnaboyd) It was hard to be

I have read and reviewed one of the Austen based collections Christina Boyd has edited in the past (Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, check that review here), and when she told me what she was working on, I did not hesitate. I have met many talented writers through her collection and the books she has edited and have to warn any readers that you are likely to end up with a long list of authors added to your favourites if you keep on reading.

I am sure no Austen reader would think that, but some people not so well versed in her work sometimes think that her novels are only about silly girls of the Regency period, normally of good families, flirting and forever plotting to marry a rich and attractive man, with nothing of interest in their heads other than attending parties and fashionable balls, and not a hint of independent thought or opinion. Nothing further from the truth. The title of the collection highlights the status of Jane Austen’s female characters. There are nice women, some cruel ones, vain, prejudiced, stubborn, naïve, impulsive, but they are not the playthings of men. They work hard to prove they are “rational creatures” and they try, within the options open to them at the time, to take charge of their lives and their own destinies.

In the foreword, Devoney Looser writes:

In its pages, the best of today’s Austen-inspired authors use their significant creative powers to explore new angles of love and loss, captivity and emancipation. These stories reimagine both, beloved female characters, like Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet, and loathed ones, such as Persuasion’s Penelope Clay. The results are comical, disturbing, and moving.

I could not have said it better. While when I reviewed Dangerous to Know I said anybody could enjoy the stories but connoisseurs of Austen would likely delight in them, in this case, I think this is a book for Austen fans, and those particularly interested in feminism and in the early supporters of the education of women. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is mentioned in the foreword and also makes its appearance in some of the stories, and it clearly informs the readings the authors make of the characters and the novels they pay homage to. As a matter of fact, the book could also have been called A Vindication of Austen’s Women.

While some of the contributions are short stories in their own right, although centred on one of Austen’s female characters, some are vignettes closely linked to one of her novels, showing the background to some events in the story, or exploring the reasons for the decisions taken by some of the female characters that might have surprised us when we have read the novels, particularly so, perhaps, due to our modern sensibilities. Each story is introduced by a quotation from the novel in question that helps us get into the right frame of mind.

The catalogue of stories and characters is long and inclusive. We have: “Self-Composed” (by Christina Morland) about Elinor Dashwood, “Every Past Affliction” (by Nicole Clarkston) about Marianne Dashwood, “Happiness in Marriage” (by Amy D’Orazio) about Elizabeth Bennet (one of the most famous and well-known heroines in the Austen canon and I think most readers will easily identify with the character and her plight), “Charlotte’s Comfort” (by Joana Starnes) about Charlotte Lucas (I will confess I’d always wondered about Charlotte’s decision to marry the horrendous Mr. Collins. I enjoyed this version of events and it makes perfect sense), “Knightley Discourses” (by Anngela Schroeder) about Emma Woodhouse (it was a pleasure to catch up with Emma again, a happily married Emma, here), “The Simple Things” (by J. Marie Croft) about Hetty Bates (perhaps because I’ve never been married, I am always drawn towards characters who remain single, and I found this episode particularly touching), “In Good Hands” (by Caitlin Williams) about Harriet Smith (it was good to see Harriet get her own voice and not only be Emma’s plaything), “The Meaning of Wife” (by Brooke West) about Fanny Price (I liked this rendering of Fanny Price as she gets enlightened thanks to Wollstonecraft’s Vindication), “What Strange Creatures” (by Jenetta James) about Mary Crawford (which introduces a touch of mystery), “An Unnatural Beginning” (by Elizabeth Adams) about Anne Elliot (another one I found particularly touching), “Where the Sky Touches the Sea” (by Karalynne Mackrory) about Sophia Croft (this is not a character I was very familiar with but I loved her relationship with her husband, her self-sufficiency, and the realistic depiction of grief), “The Art of Pleasing” (by Lona Manning) about Penelope Clay (as a lover of books about cons and conmen, I could not help but enjoy this fun story full of twists and fantastically deceitful characters), “Louisa by the Sea” (by Beau North) about Louisa Musgrove, “The Strength of Their Attachment” (by Sophia Rose) about Catherine Morland, “A Nominal Mistress” (by Karen M. Cox) about Eleanor Tilney (a fun story with its sad moments, and a good example of the type of situations women could find themselves in at the time), and “The Edification of Lady Susan” (by Jessie Lewis) about Lady Susan Vernon (an epistolary story that I thoroughly enjoyed, and another one recommended to people who love deceit and con games).

The writing styles vary between the stories, but there are no actualisations or reinventions. The stories are all set within the Regency period, and the authors observe the mores and customs of the period, seamlessly weaving their vignettes and stories that would be perfectly at eas within the pages of the Austen novels they are inspired by. The characters might push the boundaries of gender and social classes but never by behaving in anachronistic ways, and if anything, reading this book will make us more aware of what life was like for women of different ages and different social situations in that historical period. What we get are close insights into the thoughts and feelings of these women, many of whom were only talked about but never given their own voices in the original novels. It is amazing how well the selection works, as sometimes we can read about the same characters from different perspectives (the protagonist in one of the stories might be a secondary character in another one, and the heroine in one of the stories might be a villain in the next), but they all fit together and help create a multifaceted portrait of these women and of what it meant to be a woman of a certain class in the Regency period.

I have said before that I feel this collection will suit better readers who are familiar with Austen’s universe, but, to be fair, I have enjoyed both, the stories centred on novels I knew quite well, and those based on characters I was not very familiar with, so I would not discourage people who enjoy Regency period novels and have read some Austen, but are not experts, from reading this book. By the time I finished the book, I admired, even more, the genius of Austen and had decided to become better acquainted with all of her novels. Oh, and of course, determined also to keep sharing the collections and books by this talented group of writers.

In summary, I recommend this book to anybody who loves Austen and has always felt curious about her female characters, protagonists and supporting players alike, and wished to have a private conversation with them, or at least be privy to the thoughts they kept under wraps. If you want to know who these women are and to see what it must have been like to try to be a woman and a rational creature with your own ideas in such historical era, I recommend this collection. As a bonus, you’ll discover a selection of great authors, and you’ll feel compelled to go back and read all of Austen’s novels. You’ve got nothing to lose other than a bit (or a lot) of sleep!

(In case you are curious, you can check my reviews for a couple of Karen M. Cox’s novels I Could Write a Book (here) and Son of a Preacher Man (here), and Jenetta James’s The Elizabeth Paper (here) and Lovers’ Knot (here). And I have a few more on my list to read!

#RationalCreatures Review: Jan Feb 2018 / Issue 97 of Jane Austen's Regency Worl

In Jan Feb 2018 / Issue 97 of Jane Austen's Regency World magazine, Jocelin Bury says of Rational Creatures, "The third anthology, from the Quill Ink collective, brings together 16 writers who together celebrate Jane Austen's 'strong women'--and it's a satisfyingly strong collection. Each author has chosen to write about an Austenian female character, before, during or after her appearance in one of the novels, and the resulting anthology is full of surprises and delights. As Devoney Looser writes in her lively introduction: '...the best of today's Austen-inspired authors use their significant creative powers to depict the new angles of love, captivity and emancipation. These stories reimagine both beloved female characters, like Pride & Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet, and loathed ones, such as Persuasion's Penelope Clay. The results are comical, disturbing, and moving.' There's not a dud among these 16 stories: it's a most enjoyable collection. Particularly engaging though, are Knightley Discourses, Anngela Schroeder's peep at Emma Woodhouse's  married life; What Strange Creatures, Jenetta James's surprisingly touching tale of  Mary Crawford; and my favourite, Charlotte's Comfort, Joana Starnes's take on what Charlotte Lucas did next. An imaginative cornucopia of Austen-inspired short stories.

A Discovered Diamond: Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of

A Discovered Diamond: Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen's Fine Ladies

by Various Authors: Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M Cox,  J.Marie Croft, Amy D'Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Caitlin Williams. 

Edited by Christina Boyd

"all [the stories] are the same high standard regarding research and stature of writing – in other words, very well written."

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen's novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.”

This is a collection of stories by sixteen different authors, all with one thing in common – their admiration for Miss Jane Austen’s ‘Rational Creatures’ heroines. The stories are, in their words: “humorous, poignant love stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen's great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.” These are behind-the-scenes alternative view stories, a peep-behind-the curtains, or listening from the room next door type tales, vignettes of what might have made Austen’s ladies tick, their motives and motivations.

I did wonder, on receiving the e-file of this book to review, whether we really needed yet another ‘Austen look-alike’ compilation of stories, but then Jane Austen is popular, and being frank, authors have a living to make and if they can write what sells, well, good luck to them. 

As I read, however, I decided that I was wrong: Austen readers, and probably those not familiar with her work, will enjoy these stories for they are not just about the familiar female figures –  Miss Elizabeth and Miss Jane Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, the Dashwoods, Emma Woodhouse and Fanny Price, but we also have the (outside of Austen circles) not so well-knowns - Mary Crawford, Anne Elliot, Sophia Croft, Penelope Clay, Louisa Musgrove, Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney and Lady Susan Vernon. Not all Austen fans will necessarily agree with the imaginative interpretations of the characters’ views and perspectives of scenes that are set apart from Austen’s own narrative, but even if they do not, these stories should spark a few ‘I wonder?’ ideas.

I recall when Pride and Prejudice was set to come to our TV scenes, the uproar about viewing Mr Darcy (played by Colin Firth) ‘behind the scenes’ – the shots of him in his bath, fencing with his fencing master, walking homeward with that wet shirt … all scenes which, once aired, were very well received because we, the viewers, appreciated this different perspective.

The stories vary from prequels to sequels, to ‘as they happen’ in Austen’s novels. Some are first person narrative, some third, all are different in style, but all are the same high standard regarding research and stature of writing: thoughtful explorations of the characters and their situations – in other words, very well written.

So I have changed my mind. Rational Creatures is a  ‘must’ to read!

© Ellen Hill

 

AUSTENESQUE REVIEWS, 5 Stars for #RationalCReatures

Oct 172018     

📷Women of Sense, Strength, and Substance

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Editor

OVERVIEW:

With two brilliant and beautifully-crafted short-story anthologies – one devoted to Mr. Darcy and one all about Jane Austen’s bad boys – already under her belt, editor Christina Boyd has decided to create a collection that solely spotlights some of Jane Austen’s female characters. And instead of focusing on just one character, like Elizabeth Bennet, or the main heroine of each tale, this collection spotlights sixteen different female characters from various Jane Austen works. Some of the characters featured are well-known and beloved heroines like Anne Elliot and Marianne Dashwood, some are less favored heroines like Fanny Price and Emma Woodhouse, some are popular secondary characters such as Charlotte Lucas and Elinor Tilney, and some are more unexpected choices like Louisa Musgrove, Penelope Clay, and Lady Susan (love that Lady Susan is included!). But what unites all these characters (and their stories in this collection) is that they are women of sense (sometimes lately developed or hidden), strength (although they may doubt it at times) and undeniable substance.

“In Austen’s fictional world, a single woman in possession of good intellect, must be in want of a man who recognizes its value.” – Devoney Looser (Foreword to Rational Creatures)

MY READING EXPERIENCE:

All stories in this anthology take place during the Regency period – either serving as prequels, sequels, or in some instances additional scenes or sequences that occur during the timeline of Jane Austen’s original novels. The stories range from 19 – 42 pages in length and are arranged in accordance with the order of novels published by Jane Austen (starting with Sense and Sensibility and ending with Lady Susan). I read all the stories in order (although readers can read them in any order of their choosing) and if I were to give a star rating for each individual story, it would be mostly 5 stars across the board with just one or two 4.5 star ratings.

MY ASSESSMENT:

The praise I have for this collection is immense. I have read and adored all the previous anthologies from The Quill Ink Collective and this one is BY FAR my favorite! The authors, Christina Boyd, and everyone involved has truly outdone themselves with this exceptionally perceptive and astute anthology. I absolutely adored the “rational creatures” motif, the focus on feminism and seizing your own happiness, and all the wonderfully diverse ways these characters are portrayed. The talented and skilled authors of this collection contributed stories that gave new insights to these characters, new understandings to their natures, and sometimes new chapters to their pasts or futures.

I couldn’t possibly decide which story I loved the most, because I loved each story for a variety of unique and special reasons. I loved the stories that shared a character’s innermost private feelings and thoughts and plausibly displayed their evolution and growth (examples: Anne Elliot, Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Emma Woodhouse, Harriet Smith). In addition, it was thrilling to see some splendidly beautiful courtships (that Miss Austen was a little too brief with!) take place leisurely and ever-so-satisfyingly (examples: Marianne Dashwood, Fanny Price). As well as those courtships we knew took place, but never saw much of on page (examples: Louisa Musgrove, Elinor Tilney). There were some stories that were reflective and fleshed out a character’s past in a surprising new way (examples: Hetty Bates, Sophia Croft) and some that featured these characters bravely taking action, being resourceful, and clever (examples: Mary Crawford, Penelope Clay, Catherine Morland, Lady Susan). Each story is insightful, compelling, and aptly demonstrates – whether practical or romantic, reserved or spirited – all characters featured within are thinking and feeling women worthy of the label “rational.”

CONCLUSION:

Rational Creatures is an outstanding and flawless anthology that pays tribute to the complex and progressive female characters Jane Austen created and creatively exemplifies how through them she was not afraid to challenge the social norm of her time. This stellar collection is sure to entertain, enthrall, and inspire!!! I cannot recommend it enough!

AUSTENPROSE: 5 Stars for #RationalCreatures

Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies, edited by Christina Boyd – A Review

Posted in 5 Star Book Reviews, Austenesque, Jane Austen Inspired Short Fiction Book Reviews by Laurel Ann

Having long been credited as the grandmother of the romance novel, it is an interesting notion to ponder if Jane Austen can also be attributed as an early feminist writer. Did she gently inject progressive thinking into her female characters to bring about the equality of the sexes? While we have been admiring Austen’s style, wit, and enduring love stories, were we missing the subtext that Austen’s strong female characters were also way ahead of their time?

Rational Creatures, a new Austen-inspired short story anthology edited by Christina Boyd posits the possibility. Sixteen Austenesque authors have been challenged with the task to create original stories inspired by Austen’s ladies—both heroines and supporting characters—revealing details, back stories, and asides that could have been part of the narrative.

If you are doubtful of the feminist infusion gentle reader, then let’s take a closer look at the famous quote from her final novel Persuasion, that obviously inspired the title of the anthology.

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.”

In the foreword Prof. Devoney Looser explains how for two hundred years we have turned to Austen to “reflect on the world’s unfairness, and to laugh at its trivial absurdities…to avoid unequal marriages…and seek Austenian combinations of inventiveness, wisdom and entertainment.” I could not agree more. In an era when women were treated like tender plants, Austen bravely portrayed her ladies’ vulnerabilities and strengths. In this collection there is a wide variety of stories from heroines and minor characters who exhibit intelligence, patience, resilience and grace to advance their own causes. Here is a brief description of the stories that await you:

  • “Self Composed,” by Christina Morland – With the death of her father and the passing of the Norland estate to his eldest son, stoic Elinor Dashwood continues sketching her environment and the people in her life as way to cope with the loss of her home, to hold on to memories of happier times, and the affection that she harbors for her sister-in-law’s brother Edward Ferrars. Confined by her sex, social strictures, and reduced finances, she can do little but draw, and wait. (Inspired by Sense and Sensibility)
  • “Every Past Affliction,” by Nicole Clarkston – Marianne Dashwood reflects upon her own sensibilities after a grave fever almost takes her life. Still resistant to Colonel Brandon as a suitor, her sister Elinor and her mother already see him as her intended. Gradually, the loss of her first love and the torment from her unguarded behavior are replaced with a sense of hope and renewal, and a new love. (Inspired by Sense and Sensibility)
  • “Happiness in Marriage,” by Amy D’Orizo – As Elizabeth Bennet and her sister Jane discuss the possibility of her accepting the unfavorable Mr. Collins’ looming offer of marriage – they also debate the merits and shortcomings of the unions of their own parents, their aunts and uncles, and the qualities of the young men of their acquaintance as perfect, or imperfect gentleman. Later when embraced by love, Elizabeth discovers that she must re-evaluate her list of priorities. (Inspired by Pride and Prejudice)
  • “Charlotte’s Comfort,” by Joana Starnes – Being unromantic, Charlotte’s marriage of convenience to Reverend Mr. Collins has more benefits than she expected, though her best friend Elizabeth Bennet can find few. As her life takes unexpected twists, amazingly she always lands on her feet. (Inspired by Pride and Prejudice)
  • “Knightley Discourses,” by Anngela Schroeder – Nine years into her marriage with Mr. Knightley, Emma nee Woodhouse, is bored with her settled life of comfort and ease at Donwell Abbey. Warned by her husband George not to meddle or match make, her curiosity with the Winthrop family, whose return to Highbury after many years of absence, causes her to do exactly what her husband wished she would not. (Inspired by Emma)
  • “The Simple Things,” by J. Marie Croft – The weight of world lies on Miss Hetty Bates’ shoulders. As a middle-aged spinster she has refused an offer of marriage from their landlord. Certain he will evict her and her elderly mother in an act of revenge, she takes action. Reflecting upon her youth and her one lost chance at love, she is grateful for friends and family, and the strength of her own convictions. (Inspired by Emma)
  • “In Good Hands,” by Caitlin Williams – After falling in and out of love three times, Harriet Smith is in London staying with Mr. & Mrs. John Knightley when love #1, Robert Martin, arrives to deliver papers from Mr. George Knightley. Against the former advice of Miss Woodhouse, she learns to trust her first instincts. (Inspired by Emma)
  • “The Meaning of Wife,” by Brooke West – Taken in as an impoverished cousin by her rich Bertram relations, Fanny Price has been raised to be subservient and meek. Amid a household of immoral and dissipated cousins, her one solace and love has been her cousin Edmund. When he finally asks for her hand in marriage, she hesitates unsure that he truly knows her heart after she reads Mrs. Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. (Inspired by Mansfield Park)
  • “What Strange Creatures,” by Jenneta James – While living in London with her uncle, Mary Crawford is visited by a local magistrate, James Hunter, who is investigating the disappearance of a young heiress with connections to her family. Puzzled by this and a string of other missing young ladies, Mary is compelled to do her own sleuthing. Instead, she discovers unsettling news that will change the course of her life. (Inspired by Mansfield Park)
  • “An Unnatural Beginning,” by Elizabeth Adams – Young Anne Elliot meets dashing naval officer Fredrick Wentworth, and after a short courtship accepts his offer of marriage, only to be persuaded by a well-meaning family friend into declining it. Three years later another man calls on her wanting her hand. Can she ever love another? (Inspired by Persuasion)
  • “Where the Sky Touches the Sea,” by KaraLynn Mackrory – Subsequent to dining with the Musgroves, her brother Captain Wentworth, and Anne Elliot, Sophie Croft, wife of a rear admiral of the white, reflects on their fifteen-year marriage and the one year that they spent apart while he was on duty in the North Sea. Left to wait twelve months before his return, her worry for her husband results in the worst year of her life. (Inspired by Persuasion)
  • “The Art of Pleasing,” by Lona Manning – Mrs. Penelope Clay, daughter of Sir Walter Elliot’s solicitor Mr. Shepherd, visits the Elliots at Kellynch Hall to spy on the family for her father and advance his hopes that they will come to reason regarding their financial crisis and retrench. Taken to Bath with the family, Penelope maneuvers the Elliots into household economies by flattery and devotion in hopes of being the next Lady Elliot. When cousin and heir William Elliot arrives in Bath, they are soon locked into a deadly dance of power and deceit. (Inspired by Persuasion)
  • “Louisa by the Sea,” by Beau North – After suffering a head injury from a tragic fall from the Cobb in Lyme Regis, young Louisa Musgrove drifts in and out of consciousness, hears poetry recited to her, and is cared for during her recovery by the Harvilles and Captain Benwick. The carefree girl who leapt from the sea wall for Captain Wentworth’s arms is now inclined toward the other captain who was there to catch her during her recovery. (Inspired by Persuasion)
  • “The Strength of the Attachment,” by Sophia Rose – Following her engagement to Henry Tilney, Catherine Morland unknowingly befalls adventure abroad in Oxford while seeking her missing brother James, whose disturbing lapse in communication with his family requires further investigation. Challenged by many obstacles, Catherine never knew she was born to be the heroine of her of life. (Inspired by Northanger Abbey)
  • “A Nominal Mistress,” by Karen M. Cox – Eleanor Tilney, the dutiful daughter of a tyrannical father, navigates her second Season in hopes of finding a suitable husband to meet her father’s demanding standards, and stir her heart. Life sends her the second son of an earl, who must shortly depart for Barbados to attend family business. Will she follow her heart and elope, or abide by her father’s wishes and marry a titled lord? With the help of an unlikely ally, she may surprise herself with her decision. (Inspired by Northanger Abbey)
  • “The Edification of Lady Susan,” by Jessie Lewis – Miss Susan Beaumont, her family, and closest confidant Miss Alicia Ffordham, correspond with each other engaging in idol talk and spurious gossip, admonishment and flattery, and speculation and scheming, all while maneuvering attachments within their sphere. (Inspired by Lady Susan)

With an anthology of 486 pages it is unfortunately impossible to review every story for the benefit of the reader. I will instead mention a few that I found outstanding. They all have a common thread—they evoked strong emotion; either laughter or tears, and sometimes both. First up is “Knightley Discourses,” (Schroeder) perfectly captured the personalities of Emma and George Knightley while they discussed their day’s events during pillow talk. They say dying is easy, comedy is hard. I laughed so hard I startled my cat. “Where the Sky Touches the Sea,” (Mackrory) was a beautifully written backstory of one of the few happy marriages in Austen’s cannon. Impressive in style and scope of characterization, I will never think of Sophie Croft and Persuasion again without remembering this 2-hankie weeper. “Louisa by the Sea,” (North) visualized Miss Musgrove’s physical recover adeptly and her romance with her new beaux was swoon-worthy too. “The Strength of the Attachment,” (Rose) re-imagined the naïve spirit of a heroine in the making, Catherine Morland, to my delight. #TeamTilney will be happy that he arrives in his gig, albeit a bit late in the story.

All-in-all, Rational Creatures is an “excessively diverting” bespoke short story anthology inspired by Jane Austen’s socially and romantically challenged female characters, who after 200 years continue to reveal to us why being in love is not exclusive of being a rational creature.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies, edited by Christina Boyd
The Quill Ink (2018)
Trade paperback & eBook (486) pages
ISBN: 978-0998654065

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon | Goodreads

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Bestselling Author MimiMatthews Reviews "Rational Creatures" at Goodreads

Rational Creatures is a beautifully written anthology of Austen-inspired stories which gives one a glimpse into the rich interior lives of some of Jane Austen’s most beloved female characters. Here, Fanny Price contemplates the imbalance between the sexes, Harriet Smith martials her courage to face Robert Martin, and Charlotte Collins quotes from Mary Wollstonecraft while taking tea with Elizabeth Bennet. These are thoughtful women—rational women—with a quiet strength. Their stories feel both extraordinarily timely and quintessentially of the period. A perfect collection for lovers of Regency romance as well as for those seeking historically accurate examples of feminine dignity and self-respect. Highly recommended.

DRUNK AUSTEN Review! + Podcast Interview with Christina Boyd

Fall is upon us and I urge you to fall for this collection of Austenesque works (and not off the cobb like Louisa).

‘Rational Creatures‘ is pretty much a powerhouse of editors, writers and big names in the Austenesque world. Edited by Christina Boyd (who we all know from being active all over the Austen community and ‘The Darcy Monologues’) with a foreword by Dr. Devoney Looser (author of ‘The Making of Jane Austen’ and all-around badass Janeite) you’re already set up for good things to come. And the author list is just incredible! You get stories from Joana Starnes, Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James , Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Brooke West and Caitlin Williams

What are the stories about? Well, you can hear some of it in our Drunk Austen podcast with guest, Christina Boyd, or you can read on.

The Book

Each author took on a different female character from Austen’ oeuvre, and what they decided to do with those characters was incredible. From prequels, giving you incredible background on the women before you meet them, to jumping forward in time, giving you conclusions to unfinished storylines, to stories happening concurrent to Austen’s novels, you get a spectacular variety.

Now, I’m kind of a stickler for stories that feel too forced because they take me out of the story. If it doesn’t feel Austen-y, I won’t believe it and I won’t be able to enjoy it. These stories fit. They work. Boyd herself says she went back to reread the books at times to make sure the stories in this collection matched up. There was clear care taken to make this a good experience for readers and it shows.

I will spoil one aspect for you, dear reader. In the foreword it’s set up that Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ will be mentioned, and that should let you know what kind of perspective many of these works will be channeling and embracing. We’re not entering a work that denies feminism, we’re walking straight into a world where women are empowered, or are at least aware of their lack of rights, head held high. I know some Janeites scoff at feminism in Austen, which is why I’m letting you know now what to expect in that realm.

Back to the collection.

I won’t spoil the stories themselves, but I will say there are so many I love and a few that have made certain characters more vivid and endearing in my heart.

  • Charlotte Lucas/Collins gets a voice here, and we can see that she wasn’t just accepting what came along, she was smart enough to run with Lizzy and that sharpness shines through in her story.
  • Emma is a character close to my heart and we are taken back to her story, 10 years after her novel, where she’s settled in to her life as Knightley’s wife, but not everything is perfection. I loved that story, and I’m a harsh critic of Emma-based stories. It gives you an adult Emma, still dealing (like all adults) with the never-ending lessons that come with life. There’s also a comfortable coziness we get that I think fits nicely with what Austen sets up for Emma’s life with Knightley.
  • Harriet Smith and Hetty Bates also get spectacularly clever write-ups, with perfectly placed nods to the novels.
  • Louisa we follow after her fall,  through her recovery process. I once had a concussion and as I was reading the story it felt very real, very accurate and very fulfilling.
  • Elinor and Edward get a lovely bit of bonding that I personally need to believe they actually are attracted to each other by the time we get to ‘Sense and Sensibility.’

These are just a handful of examples from this book. Truly, I loved getting to escape into these stories, which so often felt like the missing pages of Austen’s own novels.

What you should drink with this:

I’d recommend your most delightfully boozy coffee or tea infusion. You want to be awake for this.

Who should read this:

Are you hungry for more Austen, but don’t know where to start in the Jane Austen fanfiction world? This is a PERFECT jumping off point.

If you are already a JAFF fan, this is a wonderful interlude for when you’re tired of scrolling through webpages, or need an ebook to take on a vacation (hint: holiday escape from family).

– Admin B

Gillian Dow of Chawton House says...

:Jane Austen's heroines are reimagined in these pages: obstinte, headstrong  girls, and women of spirit. We discover them anew, bright and sparkling, and above all, Rational Chreatures." --Dr. Gillian Dow, Executive Director at Chawton House,Associate Professor at University of Southampton

RELEASE DAY: Review at Just Jane 1813

Happy launch day, Rational Creatures!

After heading home from the latest JASNA AGM conference, where I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Root, the actress who played Anne Elliot in the 1995 version of Persuasion, I am extremely excited to launch the latest Austenesque anthology from Christina Boyd and her all-star cast of Austenesque authors. It was because of my recent attendance at the ATM, where I listened to nearly ten lectures all dealing with various themes, historical perspectives, and academic insights surrounding Jane Austen’s autumnal novel, Persuasion, that I made the decision to begin reading this anthology with the stories inspired by Persuasion.

 

However, I am sure that most readers will begin at the beginning of this collection of stories, which start at the earliest point of publication from Austen’s canon, with a story told from Elinor Dashwood’s perspective, as she is preparing herself and her family for the emotional and financial challenges of leaving Norland Park. The anthology flows from one set of stories to another, with each set telling the stories of the heroines connected to each story from canon. With sixteen stories in all, there are plenty of opportunities for readers to explore the depths of each character’s backstory, while each of these authors displays her unique abilities for developing stories which add thoughtful insights into the evolution of each heroine’s journey.  

As readers of JAFF love to explore new sides to Jane Austen’s characters, readers of Rational Creatures will be in for a big treat as this collection aims to provide JAFF readers with a collective view of Austen’s heroines that is varied in its tone, nuanced in its execution, and an overall delightful reading experience. I found myself impressed with the creative ways that each author approached the heroine of her choosing. I was also impressed with the way that various authors incorporated Austen’s primary and secondary characters into these stories because it made reading this collection a thoroughly engaging experience as some of our favorite characters, such as Elizabeth Bennet, were featured in more than one story in this collection.    

This collection exemplifies for me why readers adore JAFF! Readers are treated to savor the delights of an engaging Regency-inspired read while also enjoying stories that will appeal to the modern-day woman as she, similar to Austen’s own heroines, is provided the opportunity to examine what it means to be a woman while navigating the choices within her own circumstances. 

The fact that this collection includes such a diverse set of characters also allows readers to delve into a broad range of character-driven situations, which I also found this to be a strength of this collection. We meet women at different stages of their lives and within different stages of their relationships, which helps to add another dimension of complexity to the overall effects of reading this entire collection. We experience the joys, the pains, the struggles, and the very real obstacles that these characters faced, reminding us that Austen didn’t write about cookie-cutter people, and neither have these authors. Just as Austen wrote about complex and varied women who we can easily feel a kinship with, so did the women who crafted these stories. That’s the kind of Austenesque anthology readers long to spend time with and why I believe that Rational Creatures is the must-have read on every JAFF readers list this fall!

News
06/22/2018
"Austen Wrote of Strong Women Ahead of Their Day"

I became aware of Christina Boyd through the Austenesque anthologies penned by The Quill Collective. Christina is the driving force and editor behind the books, which have enjoyed remarkable success, not least due to their strong author lineup, bold premises, and striking covers.

The stories in the Darcy Monologues feature everyone’s favourite male protagonist from Pride and Prejudice. Dangerous to Know shines a spotlight on some of Jane Austen’s “Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues”. Rational Creatures (due in October) switches emphasis to Austen’s female characters.

With the Quill Collective anthologies becoming a cornerstone of the Austenesque writing world, it seemed a good time to ask Christina about her work, the books, and her affection for Jane Austen’s novels…

Q: Let’s go back to before The Darcy Monologues appeared. Why decide to do an anthology of short stories in a field dominated by novels and novellas?

Pride and Prejudice is told in the third-person narrative, limited omniscient, from Elizabeth Bennet’s point-of-view. In my fiction, I have always had a weakness for the rich, powerful, noble, and handsome man who changes his “less desirable” ways for love and a woman worthy of his efforts. I’ve long dreamt of putting together a collection of stories all from my favorite Austen hero’s eyes.

What I REALLY dream about is a TV series based on The Darcy Monologues with each of the short stories an episode or two. Throughout the entire series, the same actors play the same characters—regardless of setting or era.

Q: Later this year, you’ll be bringing out your third anthology. The first two were built around Jane Austen’s male characters, but Rational Creatures puts her female characters front and centre. What’s the thinking behind this?

When asked about doing another anthology, readers frequently suggest another Darcy book or Elizabeth’s stories… But for me, it seemed to make sense, during this time of forwarding feminist sensibilities and given the verve of the present equality movements that the female perspective might be embraced amongst the Austen fandom—possibly beyond our polite borders. After all, Austen wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. The authors I asked to take part in this endeavor, #TheSweetSixteen, all seemed keen to share their feminist bent on an Austen female character.

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently-bred ladies… Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairytale endings. Have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be?

In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says, “But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking of when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth. I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere.

It is our intent that in this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Thus, our title was born. Rational Creatures.

Further, I could think of no one more fitting to write the foreword than Austen scholar, Guggenheim Fellow, and author Devoney Looser. I am thrilled (and not a little star-struck) that she would think enough of the concept and my previous projects to take this on.

Q: In the anthologies, you have numerous authors writing in different settings, historical eras and styles. What challenges does that pose for you as the editor?

The only anthology that had different eras was the first, The Darcy Monologues. The challenge then was to keep Darcy the man we know and expect. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. If the author wrote him in another era, he still had to be recognizable to fans of Pride and Prejudice.

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues has stories set in the Georgian era and all are either a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.

Rational Creatures is in that same concept—parallel stories to canon or prequels leading to canon or even a mini-sequel. As the editor, and in the spirit of the collective while maintaining consistency throughout, the anthologies adhere to US style and punctuation, though some of the authors prefer to use British spellings.

Q: It’s fascinating how Jane Austen’s novels and characters can be reworked in so many diverse ways, each of which finds an audience. Why do you think that is?

Her work is timeless and because many wish she had written more (we are greedy creatures in that), we cannot help but let our imaginations wander and wonder “what if?” Out of those musings, a story is born. I think the Jane Austen fandom has a wide enough umbrella to welcome all types of fans and readers.

And some quickfire questions…

Q: How did your interest in Jane Austen’s novels arise?

Albeit I read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice that my interest in all things Austen was really sparked.

After reading The Six major works again, my thirst for more simply could not be slaked, despite having discovered on-line Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF), purchasing ALL the movie adaptations, and even joining and attending my first Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM)—all within that first year!

Eventually, I became a life member of JASNA, and my addiction continues. I confess, I become totally immersed in my passions—and my friends forever remind me that it’s provident I use that ardor for good!

Q: What’s your favourite Austen novel?

Usually whichever one I re-read last.

Q: What’s your favourite Austen quote (from a book or letter)?

There, I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me. I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it.” (Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park).

Q: What/who are your other literary and artistic inspirations?

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one of my favorite books. I love Philippa Gregory’s first-person POV storytelling-style and how she makes the reader have such empathy for the narrator; then she changes to another’s POV, and boom, the readers’ loyalty switches to that character.

Q: Which Jane Austen character should Henry Cavill play?

(Mark’s note: Christina was lucky enough to once win an Omaze experience to meet him atop the London Eye !)

When I handed Henry a copy of The Darcy Monologues, I explained the entire concept of the anthology and how he is always Darcy when I dreamcast. But I also think he could play any of the rogues well—except John Thorpe. No. Never Thorpe.

Thanks, Christina!

(Learn more about Christina and The Quill Collective at her website.)

08/15/2018
"Feminism in the Hearts of Austen’s Most Beloved Females?" --BOOK RAT, AUSTEN

RATIONAL CREATURES

Feminism in the Hearts of Austen’s Most Beloved Females?

By Christina Boyd, editor, “Quill Collective” anthology series

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of gallant gentlemen and gently-bred ladies. Achieving social, economic, and political equality amongst the sexes isn’t a concept one would imagine in a novel from the 1800’s, especially if the novelist was Jane Austen, whose characters are in pursuit of good matches and whose novels all end in weddings. How could a woman who was poor, never married, and lived with her mother and sister in a cottage on her brother’s estate authentically write about equality? Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairytale endings.

Have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Penelope Clay, Charlotte Lucas, et al.—and how they came to be? In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says, “But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking of when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth. It is not a reach that several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere. Further, I like to speculate that Austen was cleverly revealing her own feminist discourse using “her fine brush” on her “little bit (two inches wide) of ivory.”

When choosing authors for the soon-to-be released anthology Rational Creatures, I wanted strong women, not just strong writers. Like several of my Rational Creatures authors, Brooke West believes, “There is no singular way to be a feminist. Feminism, to me, is about the ability to choose. To choose whether to have children, to marry, to pursue a career, to wear a suit and tie or a frilly pink dress. It’s that choice that is so often taken from women and rigid expectations put in choice’s place. A woman deciding for herself is the simplest—and best—expression of feminism, to my mind.”

West goes on to say about Mansfield Park’s quiet heroine, “Many readers find Fanny weak and boring. I’ll admit—I did, too. At first. But after another read, I found Fanny’s feminist spirit. She won my respect by showing a quiet and enviable strength. She was the victim of everyone’s expectations, but she stood firm in her principles, rejecting Henry’s offer because she knew it would not bring her happiness. Though her ultimate decision to marry Edmund seems predictable—exactly what one would expect of a young woman of her time and exactly the opposite of what one might expect from a tale with a feminist twist—I saw bravery behind her choice. Her choice to marry up when she’d always been told she’s lesser. Her choice to marry at all when it’s perceived she missed her only chance to avoid spinsterhood. Her choice to accept a man who overlooked her.” 

“The reserved inner strength of Fanny appears to be in counterpoint to that other memorable female character of Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford,” says author Jenetta James. “Where Miss Price is muted and seemingly beholden to others, Miss Crawford is outspoken, charismatic, and independent. Mary Crawford gets all the best lines, but there is more to her character than moral bravado. She is after all a discerning and mostly kindly critic who speaks plainly and lives honestly. The candor which Edmund reviles has about it the stamp of the modern, and in depicting it, Austen was considerably ahead of her time.”

Moreover, it seems as unlikely that Austen’s least beloved heroine would forward or embrace any cause besides her own. “With societal conventions thrown aside to make way for a seemingly pampered heroine who, although innately good, appears oblivious to the problems of the world, we have Miss Woodhouse,” says author Anngela Schroeder. “Emma, willing to leg-shackle every other single creature in Highbury to another, refuses to do so for herself. ‘And I am not only, not going to be married, at present, but have very little intention of ever marrying at all.’ And why should she? She has all that is needed by a woman, or a man for that matter. She has fortune, connections, the adoration of her father, and management of his house where she knows that most women are ‘half as much mistress of their husband’s house as [she is] of Hartfield.’” In modern day translation: I don’t need a man or marriage to be happy.

Author Lona Manning says, “Penelope Clay, the artful, designing young widow in Persuasion, tries to wheedle her way into Sir Walter Elliot’s heart. She has the ‘art of pleasing,’ and hopes he’ll overlook her low birth, her crooked tooth, and even her freckles. A ‘good’ woman was supposed to sit back and accept the extremely limited choices which restricted her life.  Mrs. Clay, left with two children, was supposed to live under her father’s roof, and hope for some other offer of marriage to come along. But Penelope Clay does not sit back and accept this dismal fate. She is active; she smiles, talks, and charms her way into the household of the vain baronet. And why not! The opportunity is there, and it’s the rational thing to do!” 

In Pride and Prejudice, “Charlotte Collins née Lucas seems the Queen of Compromise,” says author Joana Starnes, “because what can her marriage to a self-absorbed fool be but a compromise? She seems the archetypal Regency female who sees marriage as her only object in life, however unappealing the partner and however small the chances of happiness.

“Yet should she be censured for her choices or applauded for having the courage to grab any weapon at her disposal and fight the system from within? What can she do with herself if she refuses Mr. Collins other than become a figure of pity to her friends and family, someone taken for granted and expected to keep house or help raise other people’s children for the ‘privilege’ of being tolerated in their home? 

“ ‘Not Charlotte!’ says Starnes. “She seizes the one chance that comes her way. And if that means indulging Lady Catherine with smiles and nods and playing the part of the model wife while she adroitly coaxes her weak-minded husband into doing her bidding, then so be it! Her envisaged reward is financial security and the privileges that come with being the actual head of her household. And there is always the promise of becoming the mistress of Longbourn someday…”

Although the idea of ‘feminism’ was coined long after Austen’s time, the contributing authors to Rational Creatures wrote backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon, remaining true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of her beloved characters. Surely that is why so many adore Elizabeth Bennet best: her moral strength to reject not one but two advantageous proposals, choosing love and respect over wealth and social status. West proclaims the project’s intent best: “I wanted to show Fanny as a part of the beginning [of feminism]—as a young woman who sticks to her morals and does not let anyone else tell her what her happily-ever-after must be. A woman who would think for and choose for herself.” Isn’t that one of the reasons millions have loved Austen’s novels and her rational creatures these last two-hundred years? I daresay, it’s those little bits that will endure another two hundred. “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” —Sense & Sensibility. Indeed.

Rational Creatures, Edited by Christina Boyd. Foreword by Devoney Looser. Contributing authors include: Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams.

Published by The Quill Ink, October 2018

Genres: Fiction, Historical

Pages: 400

Goodreads

ISBN:  9780998654065

 

 

 

 

10/27/2018
#RationalCreatures as Early Feminists

You’ve all met Sophia Rose here as my contributing guest poster; she is always reading and reviewing the most interesting mystery and Jane Austen-themed fiction. She writes as well; Read on and she can tell you all about this new Jane Austen based anthology in which she has a story. 

 

Rational Creatures

by Christina Boyd (Editor ), Joana Starnes, Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Jenetta James, Jessie Lewis, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Anngela Schroeder, Brooke West, Caitlin Williams

Paperback, 450 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2018 
Publisher: The Quill Ink

 

 

 

 

Howdy, Fangs, Wands, and Fairydust blog regular visitors and new guests!

I am thrilled to come to you today with a special post in honor of our upcoming book release of Rational Creatures. Many know me as a regular guest reviewer here at FWaD. Today I’m trading caps from guest reviewer to guest author, to share about my small, but exciting part in making this book happen.

In the early part of this year, it was a privilege to be invited to participate in the latest The Quill Ink anthology project. For Rational Creatures, we were asked to direct our pens to the telling of why several of Jane Austen’s ladies were ahead of their time when it came to feminism.

My particular Rational Creature is the heroine of Northanger Abbey – a young lady emerging on the other end of her first venture away from home with a strong mind and her own ideas about many things. Without artifice or deceit – or a great dowry and family connections, I might add – Catherine gains the attention, attraction, and, eventually, love of Mr. Henry Tilney. I enjoyed giving this fresh, youthful Catherine Morland a follow-up adventure that would challenge her in ways even her imagination couldn’t have conjured up. Catherine has the opportunity to confront the mistaken notion that a young lady could not come to the rescue of a missing brother. In doing so, she is also brought up against a wall between herself and the all-male and upper class establishment of formal higher education.

You might wonder why I chose higher education as the inequality element that my particular Rational Creature would face. A few points factor into that. First of all, I confess that education is my first love and I made a career of it, so of course, my mind went there first. Also, in an effort to stay true to Austen’s spirit throughout my story, I chose a barrier that she herself would have faced from her earliest years. Young Jane would have seen brothers going off to school to study and would have observed firsthand the youth her father tutored in subjects denied her because she was female. The Jane Austen who wrote her stories, novels, and letters proved that her mind was just as capable of learning those subjects as well, if not better. She sprinkled her tales liberally with clever, well-informed women who were worthy and equal to their fictional gentlemen counterparts. Catherine was one of the youngest of Austen’s leading ladies, but I was pleased to give her the opportunity to storm the citadel of higher learning and see what she made of it, while at the same time, making this an interesting talking piece for her to discover if her own hero, Mr. Tilney, saw her as a rational creature.

It was more than an exercise in writing a story with an economy of words or an attempt to channel a beloved author’s style, but a chance to explore women’s history, appreciate what others have accomplished who came before us, and shine a light on one sample of a lady wordsmith’s work that continues to inspire her fellow rational female creatures hundreds of years later to stand beside and not behind, to choose, to persist, and joyfully pursue what she will.
I hope you enjoy Catherine’s further adventures in The Strength of Their Attachment along those of her fellow Rational Creatures.

Thank you, Stephanie, for the opportunity to stop by today. Always a pleasure!--Sophia Rose

09/24/2018
#RationalCreatures Book Trailer

Check out the book trailer! We are so excited for release day October 15 at Amazon.

05/14/2019
#RationalCreatures Coming to Audible

We are over the moon to announce that Harry Frost, our voice actor from  THE DARCY MONOLOGUES, has returned to narrate YULETIDE: A JANE AUSTEN-INSPIRED COLLECTION OF STORIES. Look for it at Audible: November 2019.

And coming this summer, our anthology RATIONAL CREATURES--presently in production with the talented Victoria Riley.

 

11/13/2018
#RationalCreatures Fanny Price: A Protofeminist?

by Brooke West

No one has ever accused Fanny Price of being witty or exciting. She is barely beautiful and is wholly dependent upon wealthier relations for any standing in society or comfort at home. Everything that happens, happens to or around her, never because of her. When I first read Mansfield Park, I was exasperated with Fanny. I puzzled over why Fanny’s story was worth being told.
 

During my first read, Henry owned my heart and I kept thinking that maybe if I just wished hard enough, Fanny would see in him what I saw and finally, finally accept him. Fanny did no such thing and all my wishing was for naught. I ended the book frustrated and disgusted by her acceptance of Edmund. Edmund, who never seemed to listen to Fanny and constantly overlooked her, got the girl? I could only imagine his proposal was akin to Ron Weasley asking Hermione Granger to the ball: “Hey, you’re a girl….” Austen told us Fanny was happy with Edmund, but all I could think was, “What could have compelled Fanny to want that man?”

 

I avoided Mansfield Park for years after the first read—only turning my attention to it long enough to consider making it into a horror story (I may still do this. Stay tuned.). When I finally did re-read it, I was struck dumb by a simple realization: Fanny was right. Henry was an ill fit. I realized I had fallen into the trap of thinking that just because a man wants a woman badly enough, he should have her. Just because he starts being nice to her, even though he’s still terrible to everyone else, he earned her. That it should be sufficient for the woman that the somewhat-handsome and well-off man loves her.
 

I had done Fanny wrong.
 

I had thought Fanny was the antithesis of a feminist. I had thought her acceptance of Edmund was a capitulation to a misogynistic marriage ideal that rewarded women for being dutiful and moral and quiet. Instead, I finally saw her inner strength had allowed her to remain true to her principles. Fanny was no fool. She saw what life with Henry would be and she rejected it. Not out of fear or insecurity, but out of her strong moral sensibilities. She wasn’t, as I’d first thought, being uncharitable and not allowing Henry to make a change for the better. She had the good sense to see that he had not and would not change, even though he seemed to try and managed to accomplish some very good deeds.

 

That every woman should have the freedom to decide how she lives her life is, to me, the foundational tenet of feminism. Fanny—while too early to be termed a “feminist”—lived that ideal. I was stunned by that realization and ashamed at how poorly I’d judged her. Fanny was to be admired and emulated. I could finally see her steely core and the resolve that allowed her to stand up to her family when her nature compelled her to concede to their wishes to make them happy.
 

The Bertrams, her Portsmouth family, Henry, Maria—everyone took advantage of her nature, her desire to please and to not disappoint. Though it pained her to do so, she held fast when it mattered. Fanny had a rational mind, but was not unfeeling.

 

Fanny Price exemplifies what I find to be the pure heart of feminism: the strength, the determination to find what is right for you and to live that truth. The unwillingness to be swayed by opinion or expectation. Fanny may be intensely moral, but her morals have no bearing on her feminism; feminism does not depend upon morality, though a woman’s morality certainly would inform her choices. Mary Crawford is, to my mind, as much a feminist symbol as is Fanny Price. Her morality (or lack of) does not diminish the brilliance of her independent spirit. She lost her love in the pages of Mansfield Park, but no one can doubt she lands on her feet, eventually.
 

Being a feminist doesn’t mean you always win. It means you’re true to yourself and make room for other people’s truths, even if they differ from yours.  You make your own choices and allow others the same freedom. So, Fanny made a choice and stuck with it. She rejected Henry, again and again. I, finally, could respect that.
 

But then she made another choice—to marry Edmund.
 

This, I could not fathom. Taking Fanny as the rational, clear-headed, intelligent, self-possessed woman I now saw her to be, I was at a loss to explain how she overcame every failing I saw in Edmund and chose to marry him.
 

Surely there was a lot that happened off the page that we never saw. Austen herself glossed their courtship. It couldn’t be that Fanny succumbed to a childish infatuation or married him out of obligation. Not after all she’d been through! After some pondering, I found my answer. It’s the only answer that would allow Fanny to take Edmund as a husband: she said yes because she wanted to, because it made sense for her to do so. And that is good enough for me.
 

Fanny Price taught me to be a more honest feminist, and for that I’ll always cherish Mansfield Park.
 

Still, I only tolerate Edmund because Fanny loves him.

About the author: Brooke West is one of sixteen Austen-inspired authors in the anthology Rational Creatures, writing Fanny Price’s story “The Meaning of Wife”. West always loved the strong women of literature and thinks the best leading women have complex inner lives. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the IPPY award winning novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape” in Then Comes Winter. She also authored the short story “Last Letter to Mansfield,” which you can find in Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. Find 

Brooke on Twitter @WordyWest.

 

07/13/2019
#RationalCreatures in AUDIBOOK Coming in JULY

Look for the Rational Creatures audiobook at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes July 2019. In the meantime, check out these sample clips at SoundCloud. 

11/09/2018
#RationalCreatures Now Catalogued at #ChawtonHouse

We were surprised and delighted to learn via twitter from #ChawtonHouse CEO Gillian Dow that our anthology #RationalCreatures was recently catalogued at the Great House. The manor of Jane Austen's brother Edward Austen Knight houses the research library of The Centre for the Study of Early Women's Writing, 1600-1830. We feel at once humbled and so very proud of the work and the authors.

10/20/2018
#RationalCreatures: Sophia Croft & author KaraLynne Mackrory

KaraLynne Mackrory: Thank you, Margie, for inviting me to your blog. It’s a pleasure to connect with your readers to share the launch of Rational Creatures! Today I am here to ponder a question I’ve wondered about for a long time myself;  whether or not Mrs Croft was a feminist.

I struggle with what many people associate with feminism.  I think so many times people erroneously describe feminism as wanting to make females the same as males – rather than distinguishing, celebrating and advocating the inherent unique traits females possess.  A feminist – either male or female – instead wishes to see the world give value to females as much as they do males; through equal rights, equal protection and equal consideration.

In this I would say that Mrs. Croft was a feminist.  She eschewed the established societal norms of her day to travel with her husband, make decisions on equal footing with her husband and to demand others give her equal consideration as a “rational creature.” But in all this she was supported by her feminist husband.  

Admiral Croft valued his wife as a partner, not a possession. From this I conclude further that as one of Jane Austen’s only examples of a happily married couple, she illustrated her belief that their unique relationship ought to be an ideal since it was certainly not the norm.

 

WHERE THE SKY TOUCHES THE SEA

KARALYNNE MACKRORY

Now my lips twitch with a smile despite my near miss, as we are not about an easy jaunt but on our way to dine with our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove. Again, the gig tilts evermore slightly as the wheel wedges itself quite securely deeper into the mud each time that George or I unsuccessfully try our luck with the reins. I give way to laughter when my husband coos words of encouragement to the matched pair. His eyes twinkle at me and, before long, we both give up and lean into each other with amusement.

            With a good-natured sigh, I look at my husband of fifteen years, rear-admiral of the white, and survey our predicament.

            “Well now we have gone and done it, haven’t we, Soph?”

            “Indeed we have, dear,” I report, leaning starboard to better survey the extent of our trouble. “What might our hosts at the Great House think of us now? We were meant to dine there in twenty minutes. The carriage, George, we should have taken the carriage. And we might have persuaded Fred to come with us.”

            “Your brother expressed the desire to ride from Kellynch to Uppercross and I thought, with such a clear evening, a bit of breeze in the gig would be more to our pleasure. Ah, Soph, you know how I like the feel of the wind in my face.”

            I pull my husband to me as I rest my head against the broad strength of his shoulder to let him know I assign him no blame. My cheek presses against the superfine of his jacket, the warmth of him seeping through to me. He is no man of his youth, all wiry muscles and ensnared energy. And yet, he is still my sturdy anchor.

            I ponder about Fred’s wish to ride, remembering my brother’s agitation before we all set off for dinner at Uppercross. Freddy, usually so even-tempered, seemed to bear an unusual amount of restlessness this evening.

            I turn my attention to my husband, gray about the temples and cheeks ruddy from the wind and a lifetime at sea. He is still quite a handsome man, in my opinion. When he looks at me with his blue eyes surrounded by smile lines, I know right away the next words from his mouth: “Well, Sophie, I am sorry to have to say it, but I fear we will probably be more than late to dine at Uppercross.” With a look down at the ground, he heaves a dramatic sigh. “We may even expire here.”

            I fall into laughter but manage to acquit myself reasonably with a solemn expression. “Admiral Croft, it has been a pleasure to be married to you. And were we to indeed find our mortal end along this rural stretch of lane, it shall be a comfort to know that it was at your hands.”

            “Ha! You wound me, woman!” (First we laugh, then we teasingly predict the worst, then we get to work. That is always our way.) My husband hands me the reins and climbs out of the gig, reminding me of the many times I have seen him climb the rigging on his ship. As he nears the muddied band of the wheel, he steps backwards, lands on the soft turf beyond the mud, and winces. My heart lurches. I suspect he may have a bit of the gout.

            “Soph, guide the horses to your right as I try to push this wheel out.”

            His words snap me out of my worried musings and I work the horses to help my husband free our wheel. Together we make a good pair. He never places me in a glass case to be admired as his wife. He values my opinion, is willing to see my ideas through, and comes to me when he wishes for sound counsel. I likely even surprised Sir Walter’s lawyer, Mr. Shepherd, by asking the majority of the questions about Kellynch Hall, and the terms and the taxes, as the admiral is less conversant with business.

            With no little effort, the gig attains more solid ground and my husband climbs back in. The seat bounces when his weight settles next to mine. He turns to me with the look of triumph I have seen many times after overcoming some difficulty. My heart swells with a tide of contentment only a long-tested love can produce. It is love, and well do I know my luck to have it. I love this man with greater feeling than the youthful passionate offerings my heart once made some fifteen years ago when we first wed.

 

 

 

10/11/2018
'Rational Creatures’ and Eleanor Tilney – Guest Post by Karen M. Cox (With G

Eleanor Tilney, as created by Jane Austen, is a bit of a mystery. She has a considerable amount of screen-time in the novel, but in the end, Miss Austen uses Eleanor’s fate as a plot device to hasten a successful conclusion to Northanger Abbey. With a literary wink and a nod, Austen has Eleanor unexpectedly marry well, and she then facilitates a reconciliation between her brother Henry and their father, so the Morlands will give Catherine their blessing.

Thus, Eleanor Tilney might be dismissed as a two-dimensional, paper-doll sort of character—except there is this one line, uttered by Catherine, Northanger Abbey’s unlikely heroine…

“No friend can be better worth keeping than Eleanor.” 

That intrigued me. After everything that Catherine has endured at the hands of General Tilney, she still values Eleanor’s friendship. It isn’t naivete; Catherine’s innocence about the cruelties of the world has been swept aside. There must be something more to Eleanor.

Austen’s descriptions of Miss Tilney indicate she is a class act and has a real, unpretentious elegance. Eleanor’s dialog reveals her to be a young woman with the confidence to speak her opinions in conversations with her brother. She is friendly to Catherine without being artificial. She projects a gracious, unruffled calm, except when her father mortifies her by abruptly turning Catherine from the abbey.

RELATED POST | To Redeem or Not to Redeem a Rake – Guest Post By Christina Boyd

Until that point in the story, Eleanor demonstrates that she has learned to somehow navigate her father’s temper, or at least deal with it. How she came upon those skills interested me, but I also wondered:  Would that inner strength and confidence crumble when the man who wanted to bend her to his will wasn’t her tyrannical father, but instead, a kinder, gentler beloved? Would independent thinking inform the most important decisions of her life? Or would she just be grateful for any escape from Northanger Abbey?

To me, feminism is about choice and the ability to determine the course of one’s own life. If Eleanor Tilney demonstrates a “proto-feminism” it would not do to simply trade a tyrant lord and master for a benevolent one. Miss Tilney would need to show that she was not, “A Nominal Mistress” of her life, but a mistress of her fate in fact. And she would show it with her own brand of quiet strength because she’s Eleanor. That was the story I wanted to tell.

10/02/2018
Anne Elliot is Undoubtedly a Rationa Creature

Today the blog tour for the anthology Rational Creatures stops by. This is the the third anthology brought to you by The Quill Collective, brought together by editor Christina Boyd (see also The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues). Some of my favourite Austenesque authors have contributed short stories to this collection, which focuses on the ladies in Austen's works.

I'm happy to be welcoming author Elizabeth Adams here to chat with me about rational creatures in general, and in particular Persuasion's Anne Elliot, the character in Elizabeth's story. There's a fantastic giveaway accompanying the blog tour too. Let's read the blurb, and then we'll move on to my interview with Elizabeth Adams.


Book Description

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

Book Trailer

 

 

Rational Creatures – Elizabeth Adams Interview

 

* * *

Today I’m happy to be welcoming Elizabeth Adams, author of The Houseguest, On Equal Ground, Unwilling and more, back to the blog. Elizabeth has contributed a story to the anthology Rational Creatures, an anthology focusing on the ladies of Austen’s tales.

 

The phrase “rational creatures” is actually in Persuasion, said by Sophia Croft to her brother Captain Wentworth:

 

"But I hate to hear you talking so like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days."

 

Elizabeth’s story focuses on a character from Persuasion; the heroine, Anne Elliot, who is one of my favourites of all of Austen characters.

 

* * *

 

Ceri:  How would you define what a ‘rational creature’ is? Do you think Austen saw being a ‘rational creature’ as a positive characteristic?

 

EA:     I think a rational creature is someone with a good head on their shoulders. A rational person, just as we would think of it today. A rational woman doesn’t need to be put in bubble wrap and protected from life’s storms and sorrows. She can face the day and the future with clear eyes and logical reasoning.

 

I do think Austen thought of it as a positive trait. The more rational characters in her books are lauded and the silly constantly made to look ridiculous. Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is not rational at all, and she is not held up as a model to emulate, but someone to poke fun at, as is Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion. Austen’s books are filled with people acting irrationally—out of anger, pride, passion, stupidity, or sheer silliness. It inevitably leads to a catastrophe of some sort. The happy endings almost always belong to the rational, people of good character.

 

It seems the logical conclusion that Austen valued rational people and characters for themselves and valued irrational people and characters for little more than entertainment.

 

Ceri:  Anne’s decision to give up her engagement was entirely rational – it was the sensible course of action for both her and Wentworth – but it was a decision she regretted. What do you think are the negatives of behaving rationally?

 

EA:     I think the biggest downside to being rational is that the heart and human emotions are entirely irrational. Your head can tell you all day long that you need to walk away from that friend, family member, partner, etc who is behaving badly and treating you wrongly, but your heart might still miss them. It might be rational to get a steady job with good benefits, but you might long for the creative but badly paid work you did before. The heart doesn’t always listen to the head, as Anne finds out the hard way.

 

Of course, it’s a little crazy for a nineteen-year-old girl from a wealthy family to marry a headstrong, danger-seeking naval officer who cannot currently afford to keep her in the life she is accustomed to. Many people, even today, would see the facts and advise similarly. Or at least advise waiting.

 

But if you take into account the human heart, especially one as steady and unchanging as Anne’s, you might think differently. When you are miserable, lonely, and ignored by your own family, knowing you made the rational choice is cold comfort.

 

Anne says at the end of the book that if a young person were to ask her for advice on a similar situation, she would advise them very differently than she had been advised. Telling, indeed.

 

Ceri:  I feel that modern readers sometimes judge Anne Elliot harshly by applying modern standards to her choice to break off the engagement. How do you view it? Do you think it was faithless of her to draw back, or was it just prudent?

 

EA:     This is where it gets interesting. I personally go around and around about Anne’s decision. I think it was rational at the time, to an extent. She did not know the future, so she couldn’t know that her life would become so terribly dull and unfulfilling and that the pain of losing him would not recede as everyone promised her it would. Nor could she know how bitter and unhappy her decision would make Frederick (an unintended consequence, because she had convinced herself it was to his benefit).

 

She says near the end of the book that she had made the right decision. I wonder if she is convincing herself a little. After all, the decision has already been made, she is now living this life, and all had come right in the end. I think the fact that she regretted it is very telling. We seldom regret making a right decision, though we might regret that it had to be made at all. I think she might be saying that there simply was no other decision to be made at the time.

 

A large part of this is her nature. She is not designed to openly rebel. Imagine Lydia Bennet in that situation—she would have no trouble telling her family to stick it and running off with a sailor. Anne’s sister Elizabeth Elliot would marry whomever she felt was best for her with no regard for anyone else’s feelings or thoughts on the matter. But Anne is dutiful, responsible, and unselfish. She loves her family, whether they deserve it or not, and she is deeply attached to Lady Russell, who though a kind person, has very specific ideas about rank and is horrified at the prospect of a baronet’s daughter marrying a sailor who doesn’t even have a ship yet.

 

Anne’s eyes eventually open to the faults of Lady Russell, and she is able to love her and value her while making her own decisions independent of Lady Russell’s prejudices. But at nineteen, Lady Russell’s word was highly prized. And to a young woman with no family support, no mother, losing the only family she could rely on—her mother figure, would have seemed impossible and out of the question.

 

But back the question of prudence: Lady Russell’s adamant insistence that she was throwing herself away at nineteen struck a chord. Anne is nothing if not intelligent and I think she would have realized, even then, that she was young and inexperienced and that it might be wiser to listen to someone with more knowledge of the world. Even Sir Walter had not put his foot down entirely, though he was clearly against the match, as was her sister Elizabeth. For a girl like Anne was, not long out of school or out in society, with limited family and no mother, it was perfectly reasonable for her to rely on Lady Russell.

 

I think a happy medium would have been to have a private engagement. Don’t announce it, allow them to write to each other as long as they are discreet, and if he or Anne change their minds before Wentworth rises in the ranks and earns his fortune, no harm done.

 

Alas, it was all or nothing, and we know the story from there.

 

She was both faithless and prudent. It was the prudent thing to do to give him up, but it did show a lack of faith in both their feelings and in his ability to be successful and provide for her in future. I see why Wentworth was angry. If she thought it was such a bad idea to marry him, why encourage him? Why fall in love with him? Why not shut it all down at the beginning if she knew it was impossible?

 

The answer can only be that she didn’t think it was impossible. She (wrongly) thought her family would support her and that they could be together, if not immediately, at least eventually.

 

The only other option is that she was simply so caught up in her feelings that she knew it was wrong, but she continued on regardless, swept up and unthinking. But that doesn’t sound like Anne, not for more than a moment. I can’t see her carrying on an entire relationship over several months, and agreeing to an engagement, if she knew she would break his heart in the end. It’s simply not her style.

 

No, she loved him, and she naively thought it would all work out. But it didn’t and she was left holding the bag.

 

Ceri:  In Georgian and Regency times, most women didn’t have much power over their fortune or many of their actions. An unmarried woman would be directed by her father or guardian, and a married one by her husband. The women with the most independence would probably have been rich widows. How do you think Austen might have felt about this power imbalance?

 

EA:     I think she was aggravated by it, though perhaps not as much as we are today. Though maybe more, because it was affecting her life in very tangible ways. Sense and Sensibility is all about unfairness to women, from inheritance laws to societal strictures. Her books are filled with women getting the short end of the stick (sorry Mary Crawford), being displaced for men (stinks for Mrs. Bennet), being treated as baggage or secreted away (poor Jane Fairfax), and sinking further and further into poverty with no respectable ways to lift themselves out of it (I’m looking at you, Miss Bates).

 

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Austen saw these things as injustices and sought to illuminate them in writing. She is so witty and her stories so engrossing that it is easy to overlook the underlying (or overarching) themes of her books. Yes, they are about social commentary and the ridiculousness of the times and class. Yes, they are terribly romantic (in a way). But they are also about finding one’s path in life; about finding a way out of a situation that seems impossible; about knowing your own hopes and desires and not being afraid of them or scared to go after them.

 

She writes her fair share of silly women, but they are overshadowed by heroines of all types. Witty, beautiful, plain, quiet, steady, vivacious, prejudiced and humble.

 

She may not have been able to change the power balance in her world, but she could change it in her books. Her female characters take center stage; they craft new lives for themselves and rise above what appear to be insurmountable challenges.

 

I think she is telling us, in her subtle way, that women are strong enough for whatever comes their way, and perhaps even stronger than the men in their lives. After all, it is the women we see changing and growing, the women who rise above their circumstances, the women who, against all odds, persevere. There are some noblemen in her books (Col. Brandon, Mr. Darcy), but they do not outnumber the strong women, nor do they face as many obstacles.

 

Ceri:  Although the idea of feminism is a more recent concept, do you think that Anne Elliot had any feminist tendencies? What about other characters in Austen’s writing? Do any of them stand out to you as having the potential to be early feminists?

 

EA:     Anne doesn’t begin with feminist tendencies, but she certainly ends with them. She refuses to go with her father to see their noble relations and chooses instead to visit with a sick friend in reduced circumstances. She chooses Capt. Wentworth even though her family still disapproves of him, and now as a grown woman, she can love them and disagree with them at the same time. Coming into your own and realizing your own agency, your power to choose, is a feminist thing to do, though we’ve been doing it so long now it doesn’t seem new to us.

 

I’ve always thought Mary Crawford has the makings of a feminist. Also Elinor Dashwood. She’s too practical not to. Same for Charlotte Lucas. Oddly, I think Miss Bates might be. If she could get a job and live in better circumstances, I think she’d be thrilled. Lydia Bennet might be—I could see her passionate nature being turned towards suffrage if she met with the right person and ideas. Lady Susan is definitely a feminist—the dangerous kind!! Caroline Bingley for sure. Jane and Elizabeth Bennet—after all, Jane could be stubborn when she knew she was right. Fanny Price probably, Marianne Dashwood after she’s had her heart broken, Emma after she turns thirty.

 

I think all of the mothers could potentially be. What is their desperation to see their daughters married well but ambition for success? I could see Mrs. Bennet pushing her daughters to go to medical school if she was modern. Yes, she was boy crazy, but she was also money hungry.

 

Ceri:  Please can you tell us a bit about your story in the anthology?

 

EA:     I thought the parts of Persuasion I was most curious about were the break up between Anne and Capt. Wentworth, their courtship and engagement prior to that, and their lives between breaking up and getting back together.

 

I started three years after the break up, when Anne is being courted by Charles Musgrove. The story is told in that time period with a series of flashbacks to her time with Frederick.

 

We see how they met, what made them like each other and eventually fall in love, the engagement and subsequent breaking of it. That was probably the hardest scene to write. The first draft came quickly, but then I went back and redid it over and over again, trying to get it exactly right. I acted out the motions in my dining room to make sure they made sense. I saved no fewer than 3 alternate versions. I read it out loud.

 

If you’re going to break up one of literature’s favorite couples, you have to do it right.

 

 

I wanted to show the reader why Anne made the choices she did, which of course meant I had to know why she made the choices she did. Seeking out her motives was a long process, but I think it all worked out in the end. We’ll see if the readers agree!


Thank you so much to Elizabeth for the answers she gave to my questions! I hope you all enjoyed reading them as much as I did.

 

04/26/2018
Announcement & Cover Reveal at Austenesque Reviews

Hello friends!  I’m so honored to be taking part in this special announcement today! It is actually a 2-for-1 announcement as we are not just announcing a special project but also revealing its gorgeous cover!! How exciting!!!  After reading and loving the recent anthologies about Jane Austen’s most iconic romantic hero and her bad boys, readers started to ask for more…well, it looks like Christina Boyd, editor of The Quill Collective series, heard you!

Another Anthology Coming from The Quill Ink

I am not a little proud to announce my third anthology in The Quill Collective series. Never heard of it? Aha! Likely because we have only coined the name when I decided to do another Austen-inspired anthology, and well, “series” would best indicate a number of books coming one after the other. You might better recognize the previous in the series as The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues.

When asked about doing another anthology, readers frequently suggest another Darcy book or Elizabeth’s stories… But for me, it seemed to make sense, during this time of forwarding feminist sensibilities and given the verve of the present equality movements that the female perspective might be embraced amongst the Austen fandom—possibly beyond our polite borders. After all, Austen wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day.

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently-bred ladies … Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairytale endings. But have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be? In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says, “But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking of when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth. I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere. It is our intent that in this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Thus, our title was born. Rational Creatures. Coming to you in October 2018. Stay tuned.

Once again, an extraordinary dream team of authors—I will refer to this group from here forward as #TheSweetSixteen—have entrusted their words to me. Previous anthology authors Karen M Cox,, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’ Orazio, Jenetta James, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams are joined by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Jessie Lewis, and Anngela Schroeder. And if that isn’t enough for your “wow factor,” acclaimed author, Jane Austen scholar, and Guggenheim Fellow Devoney Looser is to write the foreword! I know, right? Wow! Just wow. #RationalCreatures indeed.

~ Book Description ~

But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hetty Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

And without further ado….here is the big reveal!!!

 

Ahhh!!! I love it!!  Definitely a contrast from the more masculine covers of the other anthologies!

The woman’s face and expression are just perfect! She has gentle but intelligent eyes!  Very knowing.

I love that the ribbon motif from the two previous covers is continued!!  

Look at all the amazing authors in this collection! And the foreword by Devoney Looser!?! Woot woot!!

Which “rational creature” are you most looking forward to reading about?

What do you think, friends?

 

~~~

But wait! There’s more. Because this anthology is an homage to Jane Austen and her female characters, written by female authors, cover designed by Shari Ryan of MadHat Covers, and edited by me, Christina Boyd of The Quill Ink…it only made sense that our giveaways throughout this venture also highlight women-owned small businesses. And it is our sincere hope that whether you win any of our giveaways or not, you will support these business savvy, creative “rational creatures”:

  1. Northanger Soapworks has specially created a “Rational Creatures” soap: fresh scent with notes of bergamot, apricot, and currant.
  2. Paper & Slate has customized a “Rational Creatures” candle scent of white tea and plumeria.
  3. PNW Vibes has bespoke tanks and tees, perfect for making the point that you too are a “rational creature.”

This sounds so fantastic, Christina!  I love the theme of this anthology so much!!! #GirlPower Jane Austen created such fantastic and intriguing characters, and I cannot wait to see how this spectacular team of authors flesh out their stories!  Especially because you are including more than just the main heroines of each novel!  Must gather my patience because October is a long ways away!!!

~~~

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

In conjunction with this special announcement, The Quill Ink will be giving away 3 amazing prize packages!   

These prize packages include:

     

  1. Rational Creatures anthology; available in September
  2. One “Rational Creatures” custom soap by Northanger Soapworks
  3. One “Rational Creatures” novel candle by Paper & Slate
  4. One “Rational Creature” bespoke tank or tee by PNW Vibes
  5. E-books of The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

~~~

  1. One prize package will be sent to one randomly drawn name. Simply visit and comment at all three blog stops for this announcement: JUST JANE 1813, Austenesque Reviews and From Pemberley to Milton.
  2. Two of the same above packages will be available to two winners via Rafflecopter

 

 

 

To enter: comment on 3 blogs – THIS ONE, From Pemberley to Milton, AND JUST JANE 1813 – and fill out the Rafflecopter form above!

  • This giveaway will end May 10th.
  • This giveaway is open worldwide.

Thank you for supporting another indie project by The Quill Ink. If the stories that have trickled in so far are any indication of the quality of stories for this collection, I am expecting Rational Creatures to exceed even my exacting standards. Am beyond excited for the possibilities. This is sure to be a diverting journey. I hope you will join us. Follow us at Facebook and Goodreads.

Thank you, Christina, for everything – for creating a new brilliant anthology for us to enjoy, for putting together such a lovely reveal, and for sponsoring such wonderful giveaways (I can’t wait to go shopping!) I’m so grateful to help share your announcement today!  Wishing you all the very best with this wonderful project, Christina!!!

01/02/2019
AUSTENESQUE 2018 Favorites & Readers' Choice to #RationalCreatures

 

Thank you, Austenesque--we are proud to be listed amongst so many of our favorites and authors we've worked with and admired for so long!

Favorite Austenesque Short Story Anthology

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

Thank you, Christina! You’ve already gifted the Austenesque genre so much, but this collection truly is a most outstanding treasure!

 

And now time to share the Austenesque Reviews Readers’ Choice Favorites!

Thank you to all who voted, I loved learning your favorite reads of the year!!  It felt like seeing a list of recommendations from dear friends!  I am so appreciative of your input – I know it was extremely hard!!! Hopefully next year it will be easier since I will be switching to 5 write-in votes!

There were 81 different Austenesque books nominated in total for this award!!! Wow – that is such a high number!

And the top 4 that got the most votes and are specially recognized as Austenesque Reviews Readers’ Choice Favorites are…

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston

Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment by Abigail Reynolds

The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams

For complete article see AUSTENESQUE REVIEWS link.

01/01/2019
AUSTENESQUE Reviews Names #RationalCreatures to Favorite List/Readers' Choice

Favorite Austenesque Short Story Anthology

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

 

And the top 4 as Austenesque Reviews Readers’ Choice Favorites are…

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston

Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment by Abigail Reynolds

The Events at Branxbourne by Caitlin Williams

01/02/2019
AUSTENPROSE Names #RATIONALCREATURES to Best Austenesque Fiction 2018

Austenprose names #RationalCreatures to Best Austenesque Fiction list of 2018. 

 

📷Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies, edited by Christina Boyd

Were Jane Austen’s feisty and tempered heroines the first feminist in print? Sixteen popular Austenesque authors broach this query by contributing short stories inspired by Jane Austen’s indomitable female characters. Along the way we meet Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Harriet Smith, Miss Bates and many other minor characters. This new anthology contains a variety of viewpoints exploring backstories, asides, and continuations of Austen’s original creations. 5 Stars

01/01/2019
Austenprose names #RationalCreatures to Best Austenesque Fiction list of 2018.

Austenprose names #RationalCreatures to Best Austenesque Fiction list of 2018. We are honored to be listed with such authors and books.

 

📷Rational Creatures: Stirrings of Feminism in the Hearts of Jane Austen’s Fine Ladies, edited by Christina Boyd

Were Jane Austen’s feisty and tempered heroines the first feminist in print? Sixteen popular Austenesque authors broach this query by contributing short stories inspired by Jane Austen’s indomitable female characters. Along the way we meet Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Harriet Smith, Miss Bates and many other minor characters. This new anthology contains a variety of viewpoints exploring backstories, asides, and continuations of Austen’s original creations. 5 Stars

06/22/2018
“Austen wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day”

I became aware of Christina Boyd through the Austenesque anthologies penned by The Quill Collective. Christina is the driving force and editor behind the books, which have enjoyed remarkable success, not least due to their strong author lineup, bold premises, and striking covers.

The stories in the Darcy Monologues feature everyone’s favourite male protagonist from Pride and Prejudice. Dangerous to Know shines a spotlight on some of Jane Austen’s “Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues”. Rational Creatures (due in October) switches emphasis to Austen’s female characters.

With the Quill Collective anthologies becoming a cornerstone of the Austenesque writing world, it seemed a good time to ask Christina about her work, the books, and her affection for Jane Austen’s novels…

Q: Let’s go back to before The Darcy Monologues appeared. Why decide to do an anthology of short stories in a field dominated by novels and novellas?

Pride and Prejudice is told in the third-person narrative, limited omniscient, from Elizabeth Bennet’s point-of-view. In my fiction, I have always had a weakness for the rich, powerful, noble, and handsome man who changes his “less desirable” ways for love and a woman worthy of his efforts. I’ve long dreamt of putting together a collection of stories all from my favorite Austen hero’s eyes.

What I REALLY dream about is a TV series based on The Darcy Monologues with each of the short stories an episode or two. Throughout the entire series, the same actors play the same characters—regardless of setting or era.

Q: Later this year, you’ll be bringing out your third anthology. The first two were built around Jane Austen’s male characters, but Rational Creatures puts her female characters front and centre. What’s the thinking behind this?

When asked about doing another anthology, readers frequently suggest another Darcy book or Elizabeth’s stories… But for me, it seemed to make sense, during this time of forwarding feminist sensibilities and given the verve of the present equality movements that the female perspective might be embraced amongst the Austen fandom—possibly beyond our polite borders. After all, Austen wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. The authors I asked to take part in this endeavor, #TheSweetSixteen, all seemed keen to share their feminist bent on an Austen female character.

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently-bred ladies… Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairytale endings. Have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be?

In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says, “But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking of when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth. I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere.

It is our intent that in this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Thus, our title was born. Rational Creatures.

Further, I could think of no one more fitting to write the foreword than Austen scholar, Guggenheim Fellow, and author Devoney Looser. I am thrilled (and not a little star-struck) that she would think enough of the concept and my previous projects to take this on.

Q: In the anthologies, you have numerous authors writing in different settings, historical eras and styles. What challenges does that pose for you as the editor?

The only anthology that had different eras was the first, The Darcy Monologues. The challenge then was to keep Darcy the man we know and expect. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. If the author wrote him in another era, he still had to be recognizable to fans of Pride and Prejudice.

Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues has stories set in the Georgian era and all are either a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.

Rational Creatures is in that same concept—parallel stories to canon or prequels leading to canon or even a mini-sequel. As the editor, and in the spirit of the collective while maintaining consistency throughout, the anthologies adhere to US style and punctuation, though some of the authors prefer to use British spellings.

Q: It’s fascinating how Jane Austen’s novels and characters can be reworked in so many diverse ways, each of which finds an audience. Why do you think that is?

Her work is timeless and because many wish she had written more (we are greedy creatures in that), we cannot help but let our imaginations wander and wonder “what if?” Out of those musings, a story is born. I think the Jane Austen fandom has a wide enough umbrella to welcome all types of fans and readers.

And some quickfire questions…

Q: How did your interest in Jane Austen’s novels arise?

Albeit I read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice that my interest in all things Austen was really sparked.

After reading The Six major works again, my thirst for more simply could not be slaked, despite having discovered on-line Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF), purchasing ALL the movie adaptations, and even joining and attending my first Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Annual General Meeting (AGM)—all within that first year!

Eventually, I became a life member of JASNA, and my addiction continues. I confess, I become totally immersed in my passions—and my friends forever remind me that it’s provident I use that ardor for good!

Q: What’s your favourite Austen novel?

Usually whichever one I re-read last.

Q: What’s your favourite Austen quote (from a book or letter)?

There, I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me. I am not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it.” (Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park).

Q: What/who are your other literary and artistic inspirations?

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one of my favorite books. I love Philippa Gregory’s first-person POV storytelling-style and how she makes the reader have such empathy for the narrator; then she changes to another’s POV, and boom, the readers’ loyalty switches to that character.

Q: Which Jane Austen character should Henry Cavill play?

(Mark’s note: Christina was lucky enough to once win an Omaze experience to meet him atop the London Eye !)

When I handed Henry a copy of The Darcy Monologues, I explained the entire concept of the anthology and how he is always Darcy when I dreamcast. But I also think he could play any of the rogues well—except John Thorpe. No. Never Thorpe.

Thanks, Christina!

(Learn more about Christina and The Quill Collective at her website.)

10/16/2018
Charlotte Lucas: True romantic or rational creature?

Following the official launch of Rational Creatures yesterday, we are joined by prominent Austenesque and newest member of Jane Austen Variations, the one and only Joana Starnes. As you know, Joana has been a regular visitor to My Love for Jane Austen with four visits and counting including today's guest post. Check out her short introduction and a brilliant excerpt from her story called Charlotte's Comforts. Then be sure to comment in order to participate in the awesome giveaway below. Welcome back, Joana!

Guest Post

       Rational Creatures — what a great theme for Christina Boyd's latest anthology! The Austen heroine I chose to write about was Charlotte Collins née Lucas, and at a first glance we might wonder, is Charlotte a truly rational creature, or just a coldly practical one? Is marrying a pompous and selfish fool like Mr Collins a rational choice?

       Perhaps not — but what other choices did Charlotte have? She could become a fool's chattel or remain a spinster in her father's house, with no other expectations for the future than to be tolerated in the home of one of her siblings when her father passed away. So, wasn't it a rational choice for her to try to better herself by any means possible? Mr Collins would inherit Longbourn, and until then, he could offer her just what Charlotte told Elizabeth she wanted: not romance, but a comfortable home.

       Eventually, the comfortable home is hers, and Charlotte sets about to manage it, and manage her weak-minded husband as well. So, rather than playing the part of the archetypal Regency female who sees marriage as her only object in life (however unappealing the partner and however small the chances of happiness), Charlotte is a Rational Creature who uses any means at her disposal to fight the system from within and carve a place for herself in a world that left but few places for women.

 

Excerpt

       The world is misaligned. It has not changed in the two decades that have elapsed since Miss Wollstonecraft penned her courageous writings, and who knows if it ever will? Until it does — if it does — the only way women can rise in the world is by marriage, and those of us who cannot boast an independent income, or a large dowry have but our charms to recommend us.

       What is to be done when one has no charms to speak of? What of those who, like me, enter the marriage mart with no dowry, no gift for witty repartee, a figure resembling a freshly-hewn plank, limp, sandy hair, a poor complexion and features as plain as they come? What should those wretched creatures do but grab the first eligible option that comes their way? And if he should be tedious, selfish and weak-headed, at least one might take comfort in the fact that he is neither cruel nor vicious, and that he shows himself eminently manageable by a keener wit and a careful hand.

       'Tis no concern of mine that Elizabeth's new husband is endowed with very different qualities, and thus her domestic joys will be of a vastly different kind. I shall be happy for her. I shall, so help me. And I shall make the most of what I am given. Who can be expected to do any more than that?

10/04/2018
Defending Marianne Dashwood as a Rationa Creature

Welcome to another stop of the blog tour for Rational Creatures, one of the most expected books of the year not only because of its significance when it comes to the defense of feminist principles, but also because editor Christina Boyd was once more able to gather some of the most prominent names in the JAFF literary genre. I’m very happy to receive an author who is new in the The Quill Collective Anthologies but someone whom I’ve known quite well for the past years, Nicole Clarskton.

Nicole Clarkston is one of my favourite authors within the genre for more reasons that I can point out (but you can check some of them in my Author of the Month post) and she decided to create a story about one of the most controversial heroines from Jane Austen’s novels: Marianne Dashwood. This character had everything for me to love her, and quite frankly her sister had everything for me to hate her, but somehow Austen made me love Elinor and dislike Marianne. Why is that? Why is such a passionate character so controversial? I believe it is because of her lack of maturity, but Nicole Clarkston did a great job at explaining the progress of this character, so I if like me you were not a fan of Marianne, you may enjoy reading this guest post, it may change your mind

 

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
 
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

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Marianne Dashwood: the last girl in the world whose name you would accidentally breathe in the same sentence as the word “rational”.

Marianne is introduced to us as exceedingly pretty, lively, engaging, witty, and talented. She is that girl who can hold the room in her thrall with hardly a conscious thought. She is, however, regularly given to excesses of passion—which even her mother encourages—that would eliminate her from the running if we were on the search for someone cool, calm, and collected. That laurel would go to her sister, and Marianne would suffer not a moment’s jealousy in being passed over for such accolades.

Marianne is not without other virtues. She is honest and pure, and her definition of these qualities is exacting. She speaks no guile and expresses every feeling, every thought with heartfelt sincerity. Indeed, this charming trait is perhaps her greatest flaw, for the expression “think before you speak” would smack of artifice to her. Her feelings are passionate, loving, unreserved, and wholly ungoverned. Not only does she permit her emotions free reign over her thoughts and actions, but she encourages them, provoking herself to even greater displays of feeling and relishing every moment of the heights of rapture or the depths of despair.

At this point, you might be asking why anyone would ever have the nerve to declare Marianne Dashwood a “Rational Creature”. I believe the girl we meet at the beginning of the story would even be offended by that appellation, and would immediately quote some poetry to better describe herself. But Marianne undergoes a complete reversal, marrying a stoic man twice her age and bewildering the reader who tries to thumb ahead to read the last pages without first knowing the arc of the story.

She did give her heart away… shocking, I know. In truth, she tore it out of her chest and threw it at an unworthy rascal, who promptly dropped it like a hot potato when the choice was between her and money. What, then, is a girl to do? Not only has she lost that one soul in whom she truly believed she must find all her happiness, she has also been forced to acknowledge the fallacy of her ways in a most humiliating manner. To top it all off, she discovers that her sister—remember the rational one?—has suffered a similar disappointment but has preserved her dignity through it all. That must sting.

Well, it turns out that our girl has a bit of sense bound up in that heart after all. After a life-threatening illness, she emerges a new creature. She is still our headstrong, generous, thoroughly enchanting heroine—the soul of a poet in the body of a bewitching eighteen-year-old girl—but she has learned the value of temperance. Moreover, she resolves to hone her own mind, to discipline her thoughts, and—most astonishing of all—to consider the possibility of life without a man’s ardent devotion. She resolves to be content in who she is, while exerting herself to improve and make amends for past wrongs.

All this transformation is little more than a blip in Jane Austen’s last chapters. Our dear authoress leaves us to wonder, to doubt, and perhaps even roll our eyes. But then, she proves Marianne’s new outlook on life by telling us of her marriage to a man she had once deemed unmarriageable, and then going on to declare her happiness in that circumstance.

“…in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction;—her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.” —Sense and Sensibility

No, she has not changed in essentials. Did you catch that bit about how her husband is even animated and cheerful because of her influence? But the fact that she has devoted herself to loving, and loving wholly, the man who was the most sensible choice, demonstrates that she has learned what her mother thought unnecessary and her sister despaired of ever seeing: she is now governing her feelings by reason. Indeed, she has become a rational creature. --Nicole Clarkston

09/21/2018
Elizabeth Bennet: Rational or Reckless?

Thank you for inviting me to share this post based on my story from Rational Creatures, which is a collection of Austenesque fiction, told from the perspectives of Jane Austen’s heroines. Today I am here to ask your readers about one of my favorite heroines.

Dear readers, what do think? Is Elizabeth Bennet a rational or wreckless creature?

Jane Austen wrote about strong, courageous women in an era when feminine strength took on a different form from how we know it today. Elizabeth Bennet — the woman Jane Austen termed “as delightful a character as ever appeared in print” — was perhaps the quintessential example of Jane’s feminine ideal. And yet, in some circles Elizabeth Bennet’s rationality has been criticized. Many wonder how someone who was portrayed as witty and intelligent could have so unreasonably refused to marry two men who were (from a practical perspective) her best options?

Elizabeth Bennet knew she wasn’t the most beautiful Bennet sister, nor the smartest, nor the sweetest. She was well aware that she could find herself in straitened circumstances when her father died. Reason taught her that her position in life was such that prudence was required. She needed security and the respectability that being a wife could give her. And yet she refused to marry the first eligible man that offered for her. Unreasonable? Selfish? Irrational? Definitely not.

I have always believed Elizabeth’s refusal to marry Mr. Collins was exceedingly rational because in so doing, she didn’t yield to parental pressure or the weight of expectations. Instead, she likely considered her future family, the husband she would honor and the children she would raise. Such a family, with Mr. Collins at the head, could not have been happy, and it was uncommonly wise of her to consider not the present but the future in her decision. Because her reason for refusal was so firmly rooted in rationality, it made it easy for her to refuse Mr. Darcy the first time too.

But of course, the most rational action of all is to know when reason needs to be abandoned, when love comes in and turns it all upside down. She might not have expected to find love but she did and yet still managed to bring it about on her own terms. She was fearless and courageous when she might not have prevailed but rationality proved her victorious in the end.

What do you think? We would love to hear your opinions?

 

Ready for more Rational Creatures? Amy also brought an excerpt from her story to share with us…

HAPPINESS IN MARRIAGE BY AMY D’ORAZIO

“I like Mr. Wickham a great deal,” I said. “Indeed I might say that—in other circumstances—I could fall in love with him. But Jane, it would never do.”

“Why not?”

“Because Mr. Darcy has left him penniless,” I said, immediately impassioned; such was my vexation with that odious gentleman. “Mr. Wickham has already hinted to me that I should not expect anything of him and, indeed, I know it must be true. For a man to throw in his lot with the militia speaks to straitened circumstances. We would all do best to recall that these gentlemen, while pleasing enough at a party, are not likely to afford us lives in any way equal to that which we know in our father’s home.”

“That is true.” Jane began to undo my hair. “I should not like to see you following a soldier about the countryside, in any case. But Lizzy, you do have a heart that is made to love. I can more easily imagine you working as someone’s governess than I can imagine you married to a man you cannot love.”

This was a home truth. I stopped teasing and dropped my eyes to the surface of the table. There was a fine film of the scented dusting powder my sister and I both used on the surface. I dragged my finger through it, writing my name.

“I think I require too much to fall in love,” I said. “I do not think any man possesses the qualities I find worthy of my whole heart.”  

“And what qualities are those?”

After a moment’s thought, I rose and went to retrieve my journal. I was an indifferent journal-keeper at best and most often resorted to using it to remind myself to do things. But there was one page I had written once that I thought might divert my sister now.

“Hear ye, hear ye,” I intoned solemnly. “Lizzy’s List of the Perfect Gentleman!”

Jane laughed and sat down on her bed to listen to me. I cleared my throat in an excessively important way and then began to read.

“Tall, because I am short and I do not wish for short children. Preferably dark-haired. Intelligent and likes to read. Is good to his family and mine. Likes to walk and be out of doors. Enjoys games. Has a good sense of humour—”

“For a moment, it seemed like you described Mr. Darcy,” Jane exclaimed.

“Mr. Darcy! Forgive me—did I say disagreeable when I meant to say pleasant?”

Jane laughed. “No, but the rest of it sounds very much like him.”

“Hardly,” I said with a sniff. “In any case, there are about ten more things on here, everything from how much we would talk every day to—”

“You and Mr. Darcy have surely not wanted for things to argue and discuss.” Apparently she was intent on plaguing me.

I rolled my eyes. “My marrying Mr. Darcy—who by the by, would not even dance with me, as you seem to have forgot—is only slightly less likely than me finding any man who has all of these qualities I have listed. Any intelligent man is also going to be prudent, and no one with any prudence would marry someone as poor as I am. No, I cannot afford love; I ask only for mutual respect, and I daresay I can respect Mr. Collins enough to tolerate his fatuousness and servility. Indeed, these qualities may naturally wane with age anyway.”

“If you say so, but please, Lizzy, I do implore you to consider carefully. Some sacrifices may prove not to be worthy of you.”  

Two days later, as I stood in the vestibule at Netherfield—our carriage having been the absolute last to be ordered from the ball—things seemed very different.

There had been much to distress me that night. Mr. Wickham failed to attend—due to Mr. Darcy. I danced with Mr. Darcy, the only local lady so distinguished, and argued with him. And I was utterly, painfully humiliated by my family. I had never seen them so ill-behaved, and worst among them was Mr. Collins.

Mr. Collins had not been respectful to me or to anyone else there. He had embarrassed me while dancing, proving lacking in even the most basic manners; he had been too familiar with Mr. Darcy against my better advice, and he rattled on when it should have been far, far better to be silent. Even now he stood, offering endless compliments while Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst yawned and ignored him. My cheeks burned anew just beholding him. He had no wit, no discernment, and no regard for those around him. He was a strange mix of humility and arrogance, foisting himself on the unsuspecting to ply them with his peculiar brand of unctuous conversation. I tried, valiantly, through the course of the evening to persuade myself that with time, with experience, with the gentle hand of a wife to guide him, he would improve but even my best efforts failed me completely.

I cannot, I realised. God help me, I simply cannot.

 

Book Description:

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
 
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.
 
In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.
 
Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.
 
“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

 

Meet Amy D’Orazio: AMY D’ORAZIO is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley, and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios.

She firmly believes that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily-ever-afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.

 

It’s Giveaway Time! Rational Creature SUPER Giveaway: The Random Name Picker winner review all blog comments and select one winner from the blog stop comments during the tour for all 21 prizes.

Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks), our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle; #20, a brick in winner’s name to benefit #BuyABrick for Chawton House; and #21, the Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook. What an AMAZING giveaway!

11/08/2018
How Lona Manning Crafted Mrs Clay's Story in #RationalCreatures

"Of Pens and Pages" blog:

I’m taking a quick break from my hiatus for a very special book. The team behind The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentleman Rogues is back with another anthology, this time featuring some of Jane Austen’s most notable female characters! Who run the world? Rational Creatures!

For my stop on the blog tour, I have the pleasure to have Ms. Lona Manning for a guest post and an excerpt from her story The Art of Pleasing! Plus, some goodies are up for grabs!

 

EXCERPT

from The Art of Pleasing by Lona Manning

“Is your husband a naval officer then, Mrs. Clay?” he asked, turning to me.

“My late husband was a chandler.”

Well, Mr. Clay was never “on time” for anything.

“I am sorry to know of your loss, madam.”

“Likewise, I am sure, Mr. Elliot,” said I.

But he turned his head so that Elizabeth could not see his countenance, and he gave me a significant smile as though to say he was not sorry to hear there was no husband in the case! Do not think that I was mistaken in that look, for I have seen that smile and that gleam in the eye many a time before, ever since I turned fifteen and my figure bloomed. I may have freckles and I may have a crooked tooth, but the gentlemen have always taken an interest in me.

Well, that first visit was followed by another one, and another, and within a week he became the favourite guest at Camden Place. It did not displease Sir Walter that Mr. Elliot was not quite so well-looking as himself. That was when I learnt what “underhung” meant, for I was quite startled when Sir Walter first used the term. It referred to Mr. Elliot’s jaw, which was quite long. But Mr. Elliot’s conversation was so good, and he was so thoughtful and generous!

For example, he was taking tea with us and Elizabeth was trying to decide if she should hold a supper party. “But fresh fruit is so…” We all knew she was about to say “expensive at this time of year” but she caught herself in time and said, “…so insipid when it is out of season.”

And the very next day, a man delivered a large hamper of fresh fruit, including a pineapple, with the compliments of Mr. Elliot and a note saying he had found a good fruiterer and we must not deny him “the pleasure of sharing the bounty with the ladies of Camden Place.”

Likewise, I had let him know that Elizabeth was fond of flowers. From then on, handsome bouquets arrived regularly. He was soon on a most intimate footing with us, coming and going at all hours, every day, and attending us to other social gatherings or taking Elizabeth and me for an airing in his carriage.

His attentions to her were all entirely proper—as became a man still wearing mourning for his wife. Of course, Elizabeth believed that Mr. Elliot admired her, and perhaps she was correct. But when she invited Mr. Elliot to dinner and he was seated between us, his hand found its way to my knee under cover of the tablecloth. I pushed it off but was more curious than affronted and told no one. What are you about, Mr. Elliot?

Had we been sitting far apart at a long, large, formal dining table, Mr. Elliot could not have reached me. But we had no such table in Bath. When Elizabeth was thinking of converting one of the two drawing rooms and buying a dining table and a dozen chairs, I told her, “My dear Miss Elliot, I must confess, I so enjoy sitting with you and your father at the little breakfast table. It is much more snug and comfortable! You can seat six persons with ease, and your guests will think it a greater distinction if they are the only guests at your table! And you have only the footboy to help the butler serve, after all.”

This last point decided her, and she gave no large dinner parties.

Guest Post

When Christina Boyd invited me to participate in her third Quill Ink anthology, featuring Jane Austen’s female characters, I asked her if I could write about Penelope Clay from Persuasion.

Sure, Mrs. Clay is depicted as an artful, conniving hypocrite, an upstart, a 19th century gold digger, but if you put yourself in her shoes for a minute, it only made sense for her to take advantage of Elizabeth Elliot’s friendship. Otherwise, her options in life were very limited. So I saw her as acting rationally in her pursuit of the vain Sir Walter.

Naturally the first thing I did after Christina said ‘yes’ was to re-read Persuasion carefully and take note of everything about Mrs. Clay. One passage leapt out at me near the beginning—when Mrs. Clay’s father, who is Sir Walter’s solicitor, says he thinks the news that Kellynch Hall is for rent is bound to leak out: we know how difficult it is to keep the actions and designs of one part of the world from the notice and curiosity of the other; consequence has its tax; I, John Shepherd, might conceal any family-matters that I chose, for nobody would think it worth their while to observe me; but Sir Walter Elliot has eyes upon him which it may be very difficult to elude…

Hmmm, I thought. It’s almost as though something is preying on John Shepherd’s mind. Is there some family matter that he must conceal? And what could it be? And soon thereafter, Mrs. Clay mentions that she is well acquainted with sailors and naval officers. Later in the book, we read about Admiral Croft walking with Anne Elliot along the streets of Bath and pointing out Admiral Brand and his brother: ”Shabby fellows, both of them!”

What if the Admiral and his brother knew Mrs. Clay from her former life?

Putting all of that together gave me the outline of my story.

Persuasion ends, as we all know, with Anne Elliot being reconciled with Frederick Wentworth. But we also know that there are many tantalizing details that happen offstage. What, for example is the “commission” or errand to Union Street that Mr. Elliot undertakes for Mrs. Clay when they are caught in the rain while out shopping? How often does Mrs. Clay meet secretly with Mr. Elliot at the same time he deludes Elizabeth and courts Anne Elliot? And, as a result getting to know Anne Elliot, does Mrs. Clay ever learn anything about what truly matters in life?

My story, “The Art of Pleasing,” tries to answer these questions and tells the Persuasion story through a different pair of eyes.

About Lona Manning

📷

LONA MANNING is the author of the novels A Contrary Wind and A Marriage of Attachment, both based on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a second language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. You can follow Lona at blog where she writes about China and Jane Austen.

08/09/2022
I Wish I Wasn't But I Am..." --A Janeite Conversation

Good evening, Janeites! Finally, finally, we're getting to the first of this year's Janeite Conversations. These are one of my favorite things about Austen in August (and if interaction is anything to judge by, you agree), and while I look forward to them every year, I have to admit — after so long, it's hard to come up with fresh topics for us to discuss! I feel like every year, I'm racking my brain for questions, and thinking I've come up with something fun only to realize, wait... we already discussed that.
Which is why it's kind of surprising that this particular question had never occured to me before this year. It touches on some of my favorite Janeite topics — character's we're like, and characters we hate — and has just the right amount of relatability and discussionability to make it a perfect Convo starter. So, I asked:
 

We've talked in the past about which Austen character we are most like, but we always tend to lean toward the more likable, favorable characters -- and Austen was good at recognizing personality flaws, if nothing else. So this year, I'd like to talk about which unlikable character you think you are most like, and why, as we all can likely see ourselves represented in those characters just as much as the Lizzies and the Elinors...


LAURIE: I know, Misty; you got up this morning and said, how can I torture my fellow Janeites, amiright?

MISTY: I’M SORRY. *totally isn’t sorry*

LAURIE: I mean, I could NEVER be like Mary Musgrove or Lady Catherine DeBourgh or Mr. Collins!! Why of all the impertinent—please do excuse me while I recover on my fainting couch with a fan and a stiff drink…

MISTY: *leaves Laurie to her histrionics* I feel like this is a difficult question, not only because it causes one to reflect and be self-aware (and I mean, how often are people really aware of how the world perceives them?), but also because the things you're reflecting on and being aware of are the not-so-pleasant aspects of what makes you you.

CHRISTINA: I relate more to Mary Crawford than any other Austen character.

MISTY: Even more than the "likeable" ones? Not that I blame you -- I love Mary!

CHRISTINA: I think Mary has a good heart and is well-meaning overall... She is witty, rational, and has astute survival instincts despite her flaws.

MISTY: I think Mary is the most like everyone's beloved Lizzie out of any other character -- Austen or otherwise -- that's out there. It's always amazed me that she garners so much hate, while Lizzie gets nothing but love.


CHRISTINA: “There, I will stake my last like a woman of spirit. No cold prudence for me. I was not born to sit still and do nothing. If I lose the game, it shall not be from not striving for it.”(Mansfield Park, Chapter XXV.)

MISTY: See? Could totally picture Lizzie saying that.

MELANIE: Unfortunately, every time I do a "which Jane Austen heroine are you?" quiz, I always end up being Fanny Price. ALWAYS.

MISTY: *makes sympathetic noises* You poor, poor dear...

MELANIE: I dislike Fanny, like a lot, so it pains me that I'm most like her. And maybe that's why I don't like her, because we're both not as witty as Elizabeth or as beautiful as Jane or as sweet as Anne or as passionate as Marianne or as giving as Elinor... Ugh.

MISTY: THIS! This is exactly what I meant by it being a difficult topic, AND a really fun one, AND what made Austen so amazing. We can see ourselves and our friends and family and frenemies all over these pages, and sometimes it hurts!

ROBIN: Sometimes I identify with the august Lady Catherine de Bourgh. In the late 1970’s, I majored in music – piano proficiency with a minor in organ. I also play several forms of flutes (high school band), but I never learned to play guitar or drums. Very shortsighted on my part, not to have seen the contemporary wave of church music headed my way, but had I ever learned to play guitar or drums, I would have been a true proficient. In addition, I never toot my own horn, as I do not play brass instruments.

MISTY: Which is where you diverge greatly from Lady C., I'd say. She's not shy about a good own-horn tootin'.

ROBIN: As a piano teacher, I often tell my students that they will never play really well unless they practice more.

MISTY: My god, I heard it in her voice!

ROBIN: I generously offer them the use the piano in the choir room during the week, for they will bother no one in that part of the church building during the weekdays.

MISTY: STOP, I'M DYING. All of my inner voice has turned into Dame Judes as Lady C., and I can't breathe!

ROBIN: And why do people keep telling me I don’t smile when I play piano, organ, or string synthesizer? My job is to grace the congregation with my advanced skills, not to channel my inner Liberace. Let the singers smile, for most of them cannot be bothered to read the music.

MISTY: *gasps with laughter*

ROBIN: I do not smile when I am thinking great thoughts. Tell me a joke, act silly, or offer me a chocolate chip cookie, and I shall smile my face off. Give me two cookies, and I will laugh (bark) aloud. Those who walk around wearing a foolish grin for no reason are, in my exalted opinion, rather dimwitted.

MISTY: *cough*Collins*cough*

ROBIN: I distrust such an appearance of goodness when there is nothing provoking such a response.
I never claimed to be a people person, though I can give the masses my wonderful unsolicited advice. Most people could learn from my mistakes, had I ever made any.

MISTY: Ha! Well said, Lady Robin de Bourgh. *winks*
*belatedly remembers that she promised no more winking in last year's Convos*
*winks again for good measure*

ALEXA: I’m a bit confused by the parameters. Can I still Pick Emma?

MISTY: Absolutely! A lot of people consider her to be an unlikeable character (which hurts my heart)!

ALEXA: She’s by far the character I most relate to and not exactly beloved by readers. I have the same tendency to shoot my mouth off and think I know what is best for everyone else.

NANCY: *nods* The heroine I’m most like is Emma, mostly for her unlikeable qualities. I like to arrange other people’s lives to my satisfaction.

MISTY: Which would also likely make both of you (and me) a Lady Catherine, like Robin. I mean, in some ways she’s Emma taken to the most horrible logical conclusion – and independent woman whom no one checks, who likes to play puppetmaster and have everything just so. But I can't help but wonder if part of the reason she's such a larger than life character that everyone remembers and talks about is because a lot of us see ourselves in her? I can’t really fault you the choice, though, because I think that my answer is probably the same. If I'm partly an Emma when we talk about likable characters, I certainly can't deny that I'm an Emma when we talk about the bad bits...

NANCY: I mean. It’s always for the end goal of them being happier, but done according to what I think will make them happy.

MISTY: DON’T THEY KNOW THAT WE KNOW BEST?I

LONA: I have always sympathized with John Knightley, the grumpy husband who just wants to stay home and can’t believe he’s obliged to go out on a cold night to some stupid party.

MISTY: Oooh, me. Me AF.

LEIGH: If someone close to me asked, I would probably be described as a Miss Bates. Excuse me while I hide my head. I'm chatty, repeat the same stories over and over, and thoroughly enjoy hearing myself talk.

MISTY: Oh my god, maybe I’m Miss Bates?! I don’t think I talk nonsense – I don’t have much of a tolerance for nonsense, except in the whimsical sense – but literally every report card from my childhood says some variation of “Misty does well in class, but talks too much”…

RIANA: I don’t think I’m Mrs. Bennet, although I’ve recently come to realize that with my son’s spending habits, he needs to get a very good job, marry someone with a very good job, or marry an heiress. Any of those will do.

MISTY: Ha! Well, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a mother just wants what’s best for her son… *winks. Again.*

RIANA: Perhaps I’ve got a bit of Mrs. Elton in me. I can be a bit of a snob, I know. I like the finer things, and I thrive on live music and live theatre and art galleries, with little interest in “popular” entertainment such as sports. I try to be aware of it, but it’s there. I can’t help it.

MISTY: Which is maybe where we have a leg up on the characters — perhaps the biggest, most frustrating flaw about each of them is that they aren't self-aware.

RIANA: Also, I’m very keen on organizing musical societies! I don’t boast about my relations’ grand estates, however. Maybe because they don’t have any.

MISTY: That does help rein in the impulse.

MARIA: On my less admirable days I see myself as a Mary Bennet—bookish and a little too focused on my ladylike accomplishments and a bit out of sync with the social milieu around me.

MISTY: I'm sure you're not alone in that one. I think, for as little as we see of her, a lot of people feel sympathetic at the least, and quite a bit like her; I think that's why so many people feel defensive of her, and maybe even resentful of the rest of the Bennet sisters?

LAURIE: Okay, so here’s the real truth: One of the things that I love and respect the most about Austen is that she not only gets me to see myself in her flawed yet appealing heroines—I mean, who wouldn’t want to see herself in Lizzy Bennet or Anne Elliot—she also gets me to see myself in the heroines who have the biggest flaws. Take drama queen Marianne Dashwood.


MISTY: Oh god, as much as I am a rational Elinor most of the time, I think we all went through a Marianne stage!

LAURIE: In earlier times I could have given Miss World-Revolves-Around-My-Pain a run for her money. Then there’s Miss Know-it-All-But-Really-Knows-Nothing Emma, the heroine whom Jane Austen said that “no one but [herself] will much like."

MISTY: I think that might mean we know what Jane’s answer to this question would be… #WeAreAllEmma

LAURIE: Emma, I must admit, is the one whom I most resemble. Because I can decide that something is exactly the way I see it, and nothing will change my mind. Until, that is, the illusion blows up in my face. Which illusions always do. And when I’m really brutally honest with myself, I can even catch a glimpse of my reflection in the really awful characters. Because Austen writes them with so much biting comedy that it frees me up to laugh at my own damn self.

MISTY: Very good point. Shitty characters as catharsis. *laughs*

LAURIE: Like, oh dear, did I just fawn over that person I’ve admired since forever so badly that I practically sound like Mr. Collins? Or: Was I just so tired and cranky that I actually could have been channeling Lady Catherine? Or: Did I just complain so much about my pulled muscle that I made Mary Musgrove look like a stoic?

MISTY: God forbid! I know people have tried to defend Mary M. to me in the past, but I just cannot. *makes throttling motion with hands*

LAURIE: The best part is that the second I make those connections, I snap out of being a bossy know-it-all or a soap opera on legs or a whining complainer and laugh at my own ridiculousness.
Thanks, Misty. I feel better already.

MISTY: Ha! Any time. Now see, that wasn't so bad...

So now I turn the question to you: Which less-than-likable Austen character are YOU most like? 
Carry on the Convo with us in the comments! And if there's a question you'd like to see in our Janeite Conversations, let me know (please please please! As I said, the well is running dry -- we've talked about so much!)



This year's Janeite Conversations features the following authors. Please give them some love in the comments, and support them by checking out their books!

Alexa Adams, author of Being Mrs Bennet, et al
Christina Boyd, editor of the upcoming Rational Creatures, et al
Leigh Dreyer, author of The Best Laid Flight Plans
Riana Everly, author of Teaching Eliza, et al
Maria Grace, author of the Jane Austen's Dragons series, et al
Robin Helm, author of A Very Austen Christmas, et al
Nancy Kelley, author of His Good Opinon, et al
Lona Manning, author of A Contrary Wind, et al
Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, et al
Melanie Stanford, author of The Beast of Pemberley from The Darcy Monologues, et al

04/26/2018
Just Jane 1813 Annouces

Another Big Announcement from Christina Boyd of the Quill Ink

April 26, 2018 By justjane1813

Good morning, Just Jane 1813 readers. Today I am back with a BIG announcement for Austenesque readers and this one comes from one of my very favorite Austenesque editors, Christina Boyd! Not only has Ms. Boyd edited several amazing Austenesque books, she’s also the mastermind behind a brilliant series titled, The Quill Collective, which I have had the pleasure of promoting and reviewing this past year.

This series started with one of my all-time favorite JAFF collections, The Darcy Monologues, which inspired me to share my 10 Reasons to Read (or Reread) The Darcy Monologues. 

I also had the pleasure of video chatting with Harry Frost, the lovely narrator of The Darcy Monologues, which is a delicious audiobook version of this collection.

The second book of this series, Jane Austen’s Gentleman Rakes & Rogues, was also a five-star read for me and this week I am hosting a video chat to launch the audiobook of this wonderful anthology.

When Christina described her latest project to me, I was beyond thrilled since I not only love her past work but because I adore Austen’s female characters and I can’t wait to read a collection of stories from their perspectives! However, I want to turn this post over to Christina since she’s really the best person to tell us all about her newest adventure!!

I am not a little proud to announce my third anthology in the Quill Collective series. Never heard of it? Aha! Likely because we have only coined the name when I decided to do another Austen-inspired anthology, and well, “series” would best indicate a number of books coming one after the other. You might better recognize the previous in the series as The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues.

When asked about doing another anthology, readers frequently suggest another Darcy book or Elizabeth’s stories… But for me, it seemed to make sense, during this time of forwarding female sensibilities and given the verve of the present equality movements that the female perspective might be embraced amongst the Austen fandom—possibly beyond our borders. After all, Austen wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day.

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently-bred ladies … Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairytale endings. But have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be? In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says, “But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking of when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth. I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere. It is our intent that in this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Thus, our title was born. Rational Creatures…Coming to you in October 2018. Stay tuned.

The DreamTeam that I refer to as #TheSweetSixteen: Once again, I have been blessed to have an extraordinary group of authors who have entrusted their words to me. Previous anthology authors Karen M Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’ Orazio, Jenetta James, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams are joined by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkson, Jessie Lewis, and Anngela Schroeder. And if that isn’t enough for your “wow factor,” acclaimed author, Jane Austen scholar, and Guggenheim Fellow Devoney Looser is to write the foreword! I know, right? Wow! Just wow. #RationalCreatures indeed.

I am thrilled to share the book blurb here:

But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hetty Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Here’s the darling cover of this newest book:

 

And because I can never resist sharing a full book wrapper, here we go:

 

But wait! There’s more. Because this anthology is an homage to Jane Austen and her female characters, written by female authors, cover designed by Shari Ryan of MadHat Covers, and edited by me, Christina Boyd of The Quill Ink…it only made sense that our giveaways throughout this venture also highlight women-owned small businesses. And it is our sincere hope that whether you win any of our giveaways or not, you will support these creative, business savvy, “rational creatures”:

  • Northanger Soapworks has specially created a “Rational Creatures” soap: fresh scent with notes of bergamot, apricot, and currant. https://northangersoapworks.com/product/rational-creatures
  • Paper & Slate has also customized a candle scent of white tea and plumeria especially for us. etsy.com/shop/paperandslate
  • PNW Vibes has bespoke tanks and tees perfect for making the point that you too are a “rational creature.” https://pnwvibes.com

The Giveaways. Plural. And worldwide. The Quill Ink The Quill Ink will giveaway three (3) prize packages of:

  • One advanced copy of one story from “Rational Creatures” anthology; available in September.
  • One “Rational Creatures” custom soap by Northanger Soapworks.
  • One “Rational Creatures” novel candle by Paper & Slate.
  • One “Rational Creature” bespoke tank or tee by PNW Vibes.
  • E-books of The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

 

 

Giveaway closes May 10 at 11:59 PM, EST. How to enter:

  • One prize package will be sent to one randomly drawn name. Simply visit and comment at all three blog stops for this announcement: Just Jane 1813, Austenesque Reviews, and From Pemberley to Milton.
  • Two of the same above packages will be available to two winners via Rafflecopter

 

 

 

Thank you for supporting another indie project by The Quill Ink. If the stories that have trickled in so far are any indication of the quality of stories for this collection, I am expecting Rational Creatures to exceed even my own expectations. Am beyond excited about the possibilities. This is sure to be a diverting journey. I hope you will join us.

I hope my readers get ready to explore another fabulous Austenesque anthology. Thank you for including Just Jane 1813 in your big announcement!!

10/08/2018
Lady Susan as a RATIONAL CREATURE?

Hello my dear friends!! I’m so very exited to welcome back author Jessie Lewis to Austenesque Reviews today! And I’m especially thrilled about this visit because it is part of the Rational Creatures Blog Tour celebration! (Rational Creatures will be released on October 15th!) Jessie Lewis is here to share about her contribution in this magnificent anthology (by the way, Jessie, we are so thrilled to see you taking part in a Quill Ink Collective anthology!! Writing about one of Jane Austen’s most infamous and selfish female characters, Jessie shares how she tackles Lady Susan Vernon! (I must say, I love that Lady Susan is included in this anthology and I am very eager to see her character fleshed out!)  We hope you enjoy Jessie’s post!

Thank you, Meredith, for having me back here on your wonderful blog to talk about Rational Creatures. The anthology celebrates Austen’s female characters and explores the ways in which they challenged the social mores of their time. One of Austen’s greatest achievements was creating characters who were all unique and yet each still drawn with great depth and complexity. Courage abides with timidity, servility with pride; indeed, all manner of vices and virtues are to be found intermingled Austen’s women.

Among them, Lady Susan is conspicuously and unrepentantly callous, with very little good to mitigate it. She is a widowed woman in possession of a handsome countenance, in desperate want of a good fortune. In her pursuit of it, she displays no regard for others’ feelings, very little shame and about as much maternal instinct as a chamber pot. All in all, not a woman doing much to advance society’s respect for women.

So, when Christina Boyd invited me to write a story for an Austen-inspired feminist anthology, I couldn’t resist the challenge of trying to account for Lady Susan’s journey to becoming the pithy, manipulative coquette we see in the eponymous novel.

There is, of course, a darker side to Lady Susan’s behaviour. Though the original story is amusing, told with Austen’s usual flair for wit, the basic premise of a woman fighting to for her place in the world is one common to all Austen’s works. I wanted to keep it light-hearted, though; both in homage to the original and because celebrating womanhood should not be a miserable exercise! With my tongue firmly set in my cheek, I set about exploring why and how Lady Susan might have come to believe the only way to achieve what she wanted was to manipulate everyone into giving it to her—and The Edification of Lady Susan was the result.

As fans of Austen will know, the original story is epistolary. I chose to follow suit because letters are a such a wonderful way of revealing intent. A character’s duplicity is easily demonstrated when he or she writes several different letters to several different recipients, each with wholly contrary messages. Though dishonesty is obviously unpardonable, I loved working with Lady Susan’s resolve and ingenuity to whip up a hornet’s nest of deceit, all the while celebrating her cleverness in “getting one over” on all the people (men and women) who do to her as she later learns to do to others.

For a bit of fun, I thought I’d share with your readers one of the plans I laid out to help work out the order of the letters in the story. This being a prequel of sorts, the outcome will be no surprise, so it’s not a spoiler—and hopefully it’ll make you smile to see how Lady Susan’s pithiness permeated even the planning stages of the story.

LETTER 1 LADY SUSAN TO ALICIA: Lord Doyle is flirting with me! Also, only been here two days and Claire has already fallen in love with this Frederick Vernon chap.

LETTER 2 LADY SUSAN’S MUM TO LADY SUSAN: Superb that you have the hots for Lord Doyle. Now hurry up and secure him.

LETTER 3 ALICIA TO LADY SUSAN: Ooh! Flirting? How marvellous! Flirt back and write to tell me about it—I’m so bored!

LETTER 4 LADY SUSAN’S SISTER-IN-LAW TO LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER: Come home, it’s boring as sin here and your mother is an ogre. She’s making your sister marry Lord Doyle!

LETTER 5 LADY SUSAN TO ALICIA: Turns out Lord Doyle was just toying with me. My brother thinks I should marry his friend Mr Cohen instead.

LETTER 6 ALICIA TO LADY SUSAN: Don’t marry Mr Cohen either, he’s engaged to Jennifer!

LETTER 7 LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER TO LADY SUSAN: Don’t panic, Cohen isn’t engaged… technically. You should defo marry him, he’s awesome.

LETTER 8 LADY SUSAN’S MUM TO LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER: Butt out Samuel! I need Susan to marry Lord Doyle or we’ll all be ruined!

LETTER 9 LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER TO LADY SUSAN: Mother is using you to settle a debt to Lady Doyle! Luckily you have me to look out for you.

LETTER 10 LADY SUSAN’S MUM TO LADY SUSAN: Susan, how could you think I have anything but your best interests at heart? Marriage to Lord Doyle is the best thing for you. Trust me. <

LETTER 11 LADY SUSAN TO ALICIA: Mother thinks I’m a fool. And now Claire is using me as well. She’s asked me to marry her buffoon of a brother to better her family name.

LETTER 12 JENNIFER TO LADY SUSAN: Please marry Mr Cohen so that I don’t have to. Then I can marry Mr Vernon before Claire gets her claws into him.

LETTER 13 LADY SUSAN TO ALICIA: Seriously, everyone’s on the take! On top of Mother, Claire and Jennifer, have discovered my brother is using me as well!

LETTER 14 ALICIA TO LADY SUSAN: You poor thing! It’s so unfair that everyone is treating you so badly, but what can you do?

LETTER 15 ALICIA TO LADY SUSAN – AGAIN: Well, yes, you could to that. Ingenious! Count me in. I have passed on your letter as requested.

LETTER 16 LADY SUSAN’S MUM TO LADY SUSAN: Splendid idea to bring Claire and her brother back here with you when you come! Glad you’ve finally seen sense re the latter.

Letter 17 JENNIFER TO LADY SUSAN: You’re right, Mr Vernon is a cad! Of course I’ll come to Great Mandeley to forget about him and make up with Claire, good idea!

Letter 18 LADY SUSAN’S MUM TO LADY DOYLE:It’s all going to plan. Susan has your son eating out of her hand. She’s definitely a chip off the old block. Give it a week and they’ll be engaged.

LETTER 19 LADY SUSAN’S SISTER-IN-LAW TO LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER: Lord Doyle is here and I’m fairly sure that he’s in love with Susan.

LETTER 20 LADY SUSAN TO ALICIA: Lord Doyle has proposed to me. Idiot. It’s ok though, I’ve convinced him Jennifer is better for him. Thanks for the letter. Please pass on the enclosed reply.

LETTER 21 LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER TO LADY SUSAN: I told you not to marry Doyle! I’ve sent for Cohen, he’s on his way. Do as you are told you ungrateful wench!

LETTER 22 ALICIA TO LADY SUSAN: Sounds a mess, but I have faith in your plan. Shouldn’t be difficult—Claire and Cohen are both simpletons. I’ve met Mr V and your letters have definitely done the trick.

LETTER 23 LADY SUSAN’S MUM TO LADY DOYLE: Not quite what I had planned, but it’s all worked out for the best. Your son AND your daughter are both engaged to be married and you are saved. Happened under my roof so…we good now?

LETTER 24 LADY CLAIRE TO LADY DOYLE: I’m engaged! Forget Mr Vernon, I love Mr Cohen, and he’s four times as rich!

LETTER 25 LADY SUSAN’S BROTHER TO MR COHEN: So, yeah, I dunno what’s happened but Susan tells me that you’re with Claire now. Happened under my roof, so…we good now?

LETTER 26 LADY SUSAN TO ALICIA: Whaddayaknow? I’m engaged to Mr Vernon.

I love it!!  So brilliant that you chose to convey this story through letters and I love the comedy of all the schemes and cross-purposes!! Sounds like Lady Susan has a manipulative mother as well! Also, the emojis are so perfect!

And…for those of us that are eager to see a little bit more of this story, Jessie Lewis has kindly shared this excerpt for us to enjoy!

Excerpt for "THE EDIFICATION OF LADY SUSAN"

by JESSIE LEWIS

Letter 5, LADY SUSAN BEAUMONT TO MISS ALICIA FFORDHAM

Kirkbank

Your jealousy is unfounded, Alicia. I hold court over nobody. Lord Doyle is not in love with me. My brother has written, warning me that his friend’s reputation about Town is that of an incorrigible rake. I was never of any value to him, other than a means to indulge his own sense of importance. Worse still, his attentions have convinced the world that I wish to marry him! Why it should be assumed that a young woman’s greatest aspiration should be marriage I shall never understand. Of course, one day I shall marry, else I should have to live with Samuel and his mouse of a wife for the remainder of my days—few though they would then be, for that is the best method of which I can conceive of robbing a woman of her will to live. I have no wish to shackle myself to the first single man across whom I stumble, however, and certainly not one whose credibility has been exposed as wanting.

Neither my mother nor his can suspect Lord Doyle of such dissipation as my brother describes, else they would never have encouraged the match. Yet Samuel has ever had the measure of his set and I would be a fool not to heed his warning. I am furious at my own credulity! To think I had convinced myself capable of influencing him! Nevertheless, one ought always to search for the profit in any situation; thus, I shall say this of the matter: if he is a rake, all the better for me, for it will relieve me of any guilt I might otherwise have felt in working on him.

Be not alarmed by this declaration. The explanation is simple. I see no reason why I should not make him love me, given that so many people deem me capable of it. It is no worse than his toying with me. Indeed, it would be fine retribution for his duplicity were I to make him love me in earnest, only to abandon him for the next man. And as fortune would have it, just such recourse has recently become a possibility. In his letter, Samuel made mention of another of his friends, Mr. Cohen. “If marriage is your design, Sister,” wrote he, “might I suggest another option?” It was not my design, of course; yet what an opportunity to punish Lord Doyle and, at the same time, test the efficacy of my newly learned charms! Samuel has promised to bring Mr. Cohen to Great Mandeley when I return next month. I insist that you do whatever it is you must to hasten your recovery that you might join me there to set all the challenges you please.

Yours &c.,

S. BEAUMONT

 

Oh well done! Her plan to make Lord Doyle fall in love with her and then abandon him reminds me a little of Henry Crawford…now there is a crossover I’d like to see!  Thank you so much for sharing and for being our lovely guest, Jessie!

10/25/2018
LOUISA MUSGROVE? Rational Creature?

 

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

 

 

Q&A with Beau North

 

 

Q: Though feminism wasn’t coined for several more decades after Jane Austen, do you think she was a feminist?

 

A: I do. Jane Austen did something that was—at the time—rather revolutionary in that she wrote about the lives of women. When I say ‘lives’ I mean their inner lives, their hopes and dreams and fears, their foibles. And she wasn’t afraid to point out how life in a patriarchal society affected women at the time. Her sly portrayals of Caroline Bingley, Lucy Steele, Isabella Thorpe, and Penelope Clay provide a picture of the marriage-minded lady of the time, who sought (perhaps somewhat underhandedly) to put themselves in the best possible situation, usually at the expense of the women in their circle. They scheme, they whisper, they pull our heroines into intrigue. But were they wrong? Or are they objects that the level-headed Eliza Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, and Anne Elliot might feel sympathy for? She did something few (if any) authors had done at that point, gave us female characters that ordinary women could identify with.

 

Q: Her love stories are what drive new readers to her but it’s her witty discourse on society she knew, the details of family and community that retains them for years. Do you think she was laying clues to her beliefs within her novels?

 

A: I would think so. It’s almost impossible for a writer not to bleed themselves into their work, even when they try not to. I think she was a woman that accepted her situation as best she could, facing the challenges of her situation with humor and wit...but always with an edge to it. Her disdain for certain aspects of society comes through in her characters, whether from the nobility like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, or the simple Clergy like Mr. Collins or his handsomer counterpart, Mr. Elton. You can see the values she embraced, the standards she expected in others. The often-maligned Fanny Price is a prime example. She rejects Henry Crawford not because of her love of Edmund, but because she has too much self respect to marry a rakish man who will quickly tire of her. Fanny loses her home, her position, and clings to her convictions.

 

Q: As a writer, how important is music to you while you write or develop ideas?

 

A: The music usually comes after-the-fact. I usually get an idea and start with some notes, as I get started plotting the playlist begins to take shape. It’s kind of symbiotic, the playlist and the writing. They sort of feed each other.

 

Q: Your story features Louisa Musgrove from Persuasion. In Austen’s canon she isn’t an obvious choice as the most rational creature by acting rashly and even foolishly: jumping off the sea wall and incurring a head injury. Tell us why you consider her a strong character and what compelled you to write her parallel tale.

A: I think that’s exactly WHY I chose Louisa. Who doesn’t look back to their teenage years and cringe at things we’ve said and done? Ever flip through your high school yearbook and say “what was I thinking?” I have a soft spot for Louisa, and I think she’s a strong counterpoint to Anne, because Anne has been tempered by life, but she’s also has the perspective of experience. Anne has come to truly know herself, whereas Louisa is still trying to figure out who she is, where her place in the world might be. She’s a young woman who think she knows

 

everything about herself, and is quickly proven wrong. It’s a hard lesson (quite literally) and I wanted to give her the chance to say “Okay, I get it, I still have a lot to learn.”

Q: Why did you select the Oceans by Seafret for your playlist song?

A: In Persuasion, we know that Louisa and Captain Benwick become close while Louisa is recovering from her injury. We know that Benwick himself is a passionate soul with a heart full of poetry, made poignant by loss. I chose this song because it beautifully describes that impossible, heady longing of young love, especially when the obstructions seem so insurmountable.

 

Thanks so much for hosting me! Here is the link to our playlist for the anthology: https://open.spotify.com/user/dimuzioc/playlist/6lKbcmr6UQLtvUcqyC37VX

04/26/2018
Pays Homage to Jane Austen's Female Characters

 

But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hetty Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

 

04/26/2018
Pays Homage to Jane Austen's Female Characters

But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hetty Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

 

05/07/2018
Rational Creatures Announces Artisan Affiliates

Proud to have such creative, smart business women from Northanger Soapworks, PNW Vibes, and Paper & Slate Candles as ambassadors for our  "Rational Creatures" anthology project. Love to support amd cross-promote small business!

11/06/2018
Rational Creatures Author J. Marie Croft Featuring Emma’s Hetty Bates

Christina Boyd has done it again, assembling a fabulous team of authors for another Austen-inspired short story anthology. Rational Creatures pays homage to the ladies in Jane Austen’s works. I’m about a quarter of the way through the collection, and I’m loving it so far.

Today, J. Marie Croft is here to discuss Emma‘s Hetty Bates and share an excerpt from her story, “The Simple Things.” I hope you enjoy it, and please stay tuned for a HUGE giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

 

An impatient reader might skim over quotes spoken by Miss Hetty Bates, the talkative spinster-aunt in Emma. Her chatter is, after all, entirely inconsequential. Or is it? Read between those lines of hers, and you’ll discover a highly observant character. Hetty—when not prattling on—is watching and listening. 

Unpretentious, Hetty loves life’s simple pleasures. But she isn’t simple…nor is her situation in The Simple Things. In a precarious financial situation, she is sensible, prudent, and in control of her own destiny…with a little help from her friends. Although having no superior intellect or schooling, Hetty shows care and a vision for the future. She’s passionate about education for young women in general and her niece in particular. If it can be helped, Hetty won’t have a loved one remain, like her, in poverty and ignorance. If educated, Jane Fairfax could become, at least, a governess and live a more socially acceptable life than that of her spinster aunt. 

Hetty enjoys relative independence, though; and she has the power of choice. She can stand up for herself. She can refuse to become anyone’s doormat, and she can remain single. Why, she asks, would any rational person, male or female, bind themselves to another without mutual respect or affection? 

One of the few privileges women had in the Georgian era was the right to decline a marriage proposal. Back then, even a famous female author exercised that right; and she survived being single. (Alas, we wish she had survived longer!) 

Similar to Jane Austen’s rational choice, Hetty’s decisions came from strength. Both women made hard choices. They made sacrifices. Woman like that were, and are, strong. Women protect the people and the things we love. As do the opposite sex. After all, women and men are equal.

****

EXCERPT from "The Simple Things"

At the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cole, Weaver-Smythe strode across the room in time to assist Hetty into her chair at the card table. Flipping coat-tails, he took the seat opposite hers. “I enjoyed your father’s sermon yesterday about overcoming evil with good. But was there really a thief at the vicarage last month? If so, did Mr. Bates really hit him over the head with your family Bible?” 

Hetty lowered her eyes. “No.” 

“Nevertheless, your father is quite the entertaining fellow, for a reverend.” 

“Oh, he can be entertaining, indeed. And, at times, irreverent. Quite irreverent! Father often complains to Old John Adby about our limited income, about being poor. He merely gets teased in return. ‘I know you are naught but a poor preacher, Bates. I hear you every Sunday!’” Hetty smiled as Weaver-Smythe guffawed. Growing sombre, she shook her head. “Mr. Adby has been my father’s clerk for as long as I can remember, but—bless him!—the dear man developed rheumatic gout in his joints. ’Tis sad—so sad!—to witness him, or anyone, in pain.” 

“You have a compassionate soul, Miss Bates.” Weaver-Smythe reached across the table, gently pressing her hand for the briefest of moments. 

Hetty blushed at his touch. “Thank you. Unfortunately, Father’s wit has put him in trouble with his bishop more than once.” At Weaver-Smythe’s expectant expression, Hetty told him to prepare for something dreadful. “I was mortified at the time.” 

“Better and better.” Rubbing palms together, he sat forward, smiling in anticipation. 

“Have you met farmer Mitchell yet? No? Well, he is a local man nearing his fifth decade. No, wait. Upon my honour, I do believe he recently turned one-and-fifty. Or two-and-fifty. No matter. Last April he took to the altar Miss Ward, the butcher’s daughter, who was but fifteen years of age at the time. ‘Mr. Mitchell,’ cried my father in a voice so loud the entire congregation heard, ‘you will find the font at the opposite end of the church.’ Poor Mr. Mitchell looked around in confusion. ‘Beggin’ yer pardon, Mr. Bates, but what do I want with the font?’ In his droll manner, Father said, ‘Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Mitchell. I thought you had brought the child to be christened.’” 

Hetty’s face had grown redder while relating the story, but she chuckled along with Weaver-Smythe. “It may be amusing now, sir. Yes, quite amusing. The entire congregation laughed, but I was mortified. Mortified! Mother hissed at me for slouching down in the pew. I wanted nothing more than the ground to open and swallow me whole. I have never, ever, been so mortified.” Palms to cheeks, she closed her eyes. “Now I am embarrassed all over again.” 

Weaver-Smythe reached across the table, intimately resting, far longer than before, his hand upon one of hers. 

That particular hand went unwashed until Hetty arose the next morning. 

After a fortnight in each other’s company amidst Highbury society, Hetty believed herself in love with Philip Weaver-Smythe. Whether he harboured any special regard for her was less certain. But to have the attention of a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit, and brilliancy was something, indeed. 

Save George Knightley, who was always kind, no other eligible man had ever paid Hetty the slightest attention. Weaver-Smythe walked and talked with her. He understood her. He told her she was not at all dull and should not be ashamed of preferring basic comforts and that he, too, delighted in life’s simple pleasures. 

“Who needs more than modest belongings? Why, a second-hand carriage is as functional as a new one.” He smiled the special smile that made Hetty weak at the knees. “Did I ever mention, Miss Bates, that I am a vendor of such conveyances?” 

“Innumerable times, sir.” 

“Are you implying I talk too much?” 

“No. I talk too much.” 

“Utter nonsense! If anyone says you talk too much, you must simply talk them out of it. Now, as a special surprise, I have sent for my bespoke curricle. It should arrive within the week, newly refurbished to such an extent that it is even better than new. Wait until you see the improvements I ordered. If you agree, I shall drive you any place you wish to go. Even to Box Hill, if we can get a party together.” 

Others noticed their peculiar friendship. But Hetty was, after all, nearly a spinster at four-and-twenty. She had no dowry. There could be nothing more than amity between them, no sincere affection, no expectation on either side. Friends and neighbours thought so kindly of Hetty, they simply smiled and turned blind eyes and deaf ears, allowing her a summer of mild flirtation. 

“My dear girl,” said Mr. Bates, holding her hand, “do not set your cap at him. While he obviously fancies you as a friend, he does not seem the sort to know how justly to appreciate your value. Do you truly suppose he has serious designs on you?” 

Of course not”— for I am an undistinguished, penniless, bespectacled spinster with grey strands in my hair. 

Hope, however, bloomed within Hetty’s heart when Weaver-Smythe invited her and Jane for a drive in his curricle. With the three Buckleys following in their own carriage, they arrived at Bramblehill Park, an abandoned estate in Berkshire. The six of them strolled around the overgrown grounds, inspecting the place, peeking through the manor’s grimy, broken windows, and admiring the views. With a great deal of work, the adults all agreed, the place could be an excellent location to settle and raise a family. 

Weaver-Smythe had winked, then, at Hetty.

****

About the Author

J. MARIE CROFT is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories in the anthologies Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, The Darcy Monologues, and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.

 

09/18/2018
RATIONAL CREATURES BLOG TOUR: LAUNCH POST BY CHRISTINA MORLAND & SUPER GIVEAWAY

Thank you, Maria Grazia, for launching the tour of our book, Rational Creatures, at My Jane Austen Book Club. It’s a pleasure to be here with your readers and for me to have the opportunity to share my post about Miss Elinor Dashwood, one of Austen’s earliest heroines.

Born into a society that viewed women as incapable of governing their passions, Elinor Dashwood exercises a most radical form of power: self-control. She faces the death of her father, the loss of her family home, and the uncertainties of a new social circle with wit and stoicism, qualities that most other people—of any gender—would have been hard pressed to display under even the best of circumstances. And when her hopes for love are dashed by the machinations of others, Elinor bears her disappointment in silence.

If penned by another author, the character of Elinor Dashwood would likely have come across as meek and submissive. Not so with Jane Austen. In her worthy hands, Elinor’s silence is utterly subversive. By keeping her own council, Elinor not only spares the feelings of those she loves best—the other women in her life—but also comes to learn the art of self-reliance. In this regard, Elinor is stronger than perhaps almost every other character in the novel, even (perhaps especially) the men. Trapped by mothers and unwanted finances, ruled by greed and lust, haunted by the ghosts of their past, the men of Sense and Sensibility are emotional wrecks. Even Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne—worthy as those dear women are—regularly submit to emotional excess. 

Elinor alone practices true self-control—but hers is not the dispassionate restraint of a saint or martyr. She is a flesh-and-blood woman who loves with all her heart and wants what so many women of her time wanted: a family of her own. It is precisely because Elinor possesses such great capacity for love that her self-control is so remarkable. Critics of Sense and Sensibility have noted that this early Austen novel takes on a moralistic tone by creating such a stark contrast between Elinor and Marianne’s approaches to life and love.[1] Yet it is just as notable that the central struggle of the novel is not between virtue and vice, but between sense and sensibility. The trial that Elinor and Marianne both must undergo is to find a balance between head and heart.

It is in this balance that Elinor finds her greatest strength. She uses her self-control, not to cut all feeling out of her life, or to strike it alone in the world, but instead to live and love within a flawed community, acknowledging the limits placed on her while never once abandoning her extradorindary sense of self. --Christina Morland

Author bio: Christina Morland spent the first two decades of her life with no knowledge whatsoever of Pride and Prejudice—or any Jane Austen novel, for that matter. She somehow overcame this childhood adversity to become a devoted fan of Austen's works. When not writing, Morland tries to keep up with her incredibly active seven-year-old and maddeningly brilliant husband. She lives in a place not unlike Hogwarts (minus Harry, Dumbledore, magic, and Scotland), and likes to think of herself as an excellent walker. Morland is the author of two Jane Austen fanfiction novels: A Remedy Against Sin and This Disconcerting Happiness.

 

Book Description:

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

Stories by  Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

Rational Creature SUPER Giveaway: The Random Name Picker winner review all blog comments and select one winner from these blog stop comments during the tour for all 21 prizes: Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks), our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle; #20, a brick in winner’s name to benefit #BuyABrick for Chawton House; and #21, the Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook

08/16/2022
RATIONAL CREATURES Giveaway at the Book Rat #AustenInAugust

GIVEAWAY: Rational Creatures Winner's Choice Prize Pack!

Yesterday, Christina Boyd, editor of the upcoming anthology Rational Creatures, stopped by to share her — and her authors' mdash; thoughts on the feminist underpinnings of Jane Austen. Today, she's offering YOU a chance to win a prize pack including Rational Creatures!

 


****GIVEAWAY****
To celebrate the upcoming release of Rational Creatures, Christina has offered up special prize pack for one lucky winner,
including winner's choice of artisan soap by Northanger Soapworks plus three ebooks: The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know, and Rational Creatures.

The full prize pack, with soap, is US ONLY! International entrants can still win the full selection of books, but will not receive the soap. (INTL shipping on products like this is not only super 'spensive, but also sometimes not allowed! Sorry, intl folks, we love you! And there are plenty more giveaways for you in AIA!)
Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.
Anyone caught trying to “game” the system will have their entries invalidated, and will be barred from future giveaways. Void where prohibited.
PLEASE do not leave sensitive information, home addresses, or email addresses in the comments. These comments will be deleted and entries invalidated.
All Austen in August giveaways are open until September 7th at 11:59 Eastern.

Good luck!
 

10/23/2018
Rational Creatures with Caitlin Williams

The Rational Creatures Blog Tour stops by More Agreeably Engaged today and the spotlight is on the talented author, Caitlin Williams. It is such an honor to have Caitlin visit and tell us about her short story., but before we get to Caitlin's post and excerpt, here is a bit more about this anthology filled with stories by some fabulous authors!

 

Book Description

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

 

 

Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser

*****

CAITLIN WILLIAMS is an award-winning author of Ardently, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, When We Are Married, and The Events at Branxbourne, that all spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.

 

*****

 

It is my pleasure to welcome Caitlin Williams, whose short story features Harriet Smith from Emma

 

*****

Thank you, Janet, for hosting me at your lovely blog. I had the pleasure to write a story in Rational Creatures, that is based on Harriet Smith, a character that I find most intriguing. I can’t wait to read the comments from your readers!

The Rise and Fall, and levelling out of Harriet Smith, is a story
within a story in Emma. When I was asked to pen a tale in this anthology, I had
to consider her within the context of Austen’s 19th Century England. Her Illegitimacy, though not an uncommon
circumstance at the time, would have been a strangulating force for any girl
hoping to marry well. While our dear author, and her creation Emma Woodhouse,
play with Harriet, her fate, if we are to be realistic, is never in doubt.

Snobbery still exists today and will never go away, but the actual
social boundaries, the invisible walls which stood tall in Austen’s day, have
crumbled away to almost nothing. For us, it can be hard to imagine the
difficulties Harriet would have faced. We live in a world where Megan Markle, a
divorced, American actress has married into the Royal Family. Welcomed
wholeheartedly, the new Duchess of Sussex is adored by the British public. In
2018, diversity was celebrated at the wedding of the year, and she and her
prince were woven together in a beautiful blend of modernity and tradition

Yet, if we go back only fifty years, we see a stark contrast in
the story of Princess Margaret. The Queen’s sister was faced with an almost
impossible choice when she fell in love with a divorced man, an employee even!
Rather than following her heart, which would have meant giving up her titles,
privileges and income, and living in exile from her family—Margaret forsook
Group Captain Peter Townsend. She remained Her Royal Highness Princess
Margaret, but many suggest it was a decision she bitterly regretted for the
rest of her stormy, turbulent life.

And, in the 1930’s, King Edward VIII had to abdicate his throne in
order to marry the woman he loved, another divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

So how difficult was life for Harriet Smith in the early 1800’s?
She would have lived by a set of incredibly rigid, unwritten rules.

Mr Knightley, older and more worldly-wise than Emma, is full of
caution in the novel. He warns Emma against matchmaking between Harriet and Mr
Elton. He knows the ambitious Mr Elton will never consider Harriet, and that
his tenant, Robert Martin, would make a far more suitable husband. Emma is too
carried away by her own fancies and convinced of her dubious talents to pay him
any heed. She gives not enough thought to social mores and prejudice, and
encourages Harriet to fall in love with the parson. Mr Knightley tells her it
is cruel, and he is right, because it is doomed.

In the hands of a lesser author this might have been a ‘rags to
riches’ tale, with Harriet Smith being the heroine; a sweet girl with a kind
heart who overcomes her humble beginnings to marry the rich landowner.
 Jane Austen, however, was cleverer than most, and perhaps also cynical
and sly, and what she gives us is a more believable tale, with a troubling
moral that is definitely not correct.

Having lived humbly and quietly, often in a kind of genteel
poverty, Jane Austen was mostly dependent on the charity of her relations, but
she was also connected, on her mother’s side, to high society. This gave her
the opportunity to see the world from all angles. Her novels are not simple
romances, or light comedies, they are important historical documents which give
us an invaluable understanding into Georgian country life.

So, in this very practical novel—written by the most rational
creature of them all—the undeserving, meddling Emma, ends up with the
swoon-worthy Mr Knightley, while Harriet seemingly has to settle for Robert
Martin.

What Austen understood is that life is a series of compromises,
and that we fight constantly between our heads and hearts, between practicality
and desire. How often do we have to wash the dishes when we’d rather run among
the daisies? Nevertheless, I like to believe that Harriet did find happiness;
that her farmer became her prince, and her farmhouse was her palace.

Harriet was probably not very rational at all, even though she met
with a rational end. But because I’m more of a Harriet than a Jane, in my
story, her ending is a loving one too.

*****

RATIONAL CREATURES excerpt

IN GOOD HANDS

CAITLIN WILLIAMS

The reason for Robert Martin’s presence in the Knightley’s hall was made clear later when they were taking afternoon tea. Mr. Knightley, who had just arrived home, explained his brother had sent Mr. Martin to Town to deliver some papers. Mr. Martin had called at the house first but, upon being told Mr. Knightley was at his chambers, had gone there instead.

“Robert Martin is a level-headed, clever young man who deserves a great deal more than he has got,” Mr. Knightley said. “I think the young girl he sets his cap at will be very fortunate indeed.”

“Well, he has gained George’s good opinion,” Mrs. Knightley added. “He places a good deal of trust in him.” She poured her husband’s coffee. “Should we ask him to join us for dinner, do you think, before he returns to Highbury?”

“Oh, I am sure there is no need for that!” Harriet exclaimed before she could stop herself. “He would not expect to receive such notice from you.”

“No need for it, certainly,” Mr. Knightley replied, “but I did enjoy talking to him. Would you not like to see him, Harriet? He might give you news of all your friends in Highbury.” 

Mr. Knightley’s sardonic tone gave Harriet little clue as to whether he was serious or attempting to tease her. Was there a mischievous glint in his eyes, or had they just been caught by the late afternoon sun that streamed in through the windows? Its rays were bouncing off the crystal bowl that held the sugar lumps. 

Harriet put the biscuit she had been eating back on her plate, fearing she would not be able to swallow it. Her mouth had become dry, her appetite gone. 

She was suddenly lost in remembrances of the bright days she had enjoyed at the Martin’s farm. They were long summer days, yet they had flown quickly by, made shorter by wonderful company and a good deal of laughter. She thought of the time when they had spoken of books. Robert Martin had not mocked her for her taste in romantic novels. Instead, he had smiled shyly at her and told her that his land took up much of his time but that he would like to be better read. 

“It is not for me to say whether he should come or not. I should not decide it,” Harriet said quietly, realising she had left too long a pause, caused a gap in the conversation. “You must do what pleases you, Mr. Knightley.”

“But do you object to him, Miss Smith?” Mr. Knightley asked, leaning forward. 

“No,” she said. “I have not the least objection to Mr. Martin.” 

The problem was that he might have objections to her! But she did not say that, or that every one of his scruples were well justified. 

“Well, we had best ready ourselves for Astley’s, if we are to arrive in good time.” Mrs. Knightley got to her feet. 

Her hosts had kindly arranged some entertainment for Harriet, now that she was recovered. They were to go to the famous amphitheatre on Westminster Bridge Road to see the circus, the two eldest Knightley children accompanying them. 

It was the sort of outing that might have given Harriet great cause for excitement a year ago, but all pleasures were dull to her now. Flowers did not smell so sweet, colours were not so bright, and music not so uplifting.

Her encounter with Robert Martin that afternoon had further distressed her. She had run away from him, like a child. She ought to have been more civil and tried to express, in some small way, her regrets. Not because she wanted to bring on a renewal of his addresses—she did not deserve his attentions— but because she was truly sorry for any pain she had given him.

Besides, she had resolved to live a life of goodness and simplicity. She would not think of romance.

“Yes, let us go out” said Mr. Knightley, standing up beside his wife, “and consider Robert Martin no more. I shall not feel compelled to have him for dinner if Harriet does not like the idea. We shall send him back to Highbury hungry and never see him again.” 

But an hour or so later, they did see him again.

04/26/2018
RATIONAL CREATURES--Another Anthology from The Quill Ink

Good Morning dear readers,

I am happy to bring to you some very exciting news when it comes to the JAFF community. In fact, what I am announcing today is something every Jane Austen enthusiast will be thrilled to know: Christina Boyd from The Quill Ink has once more gathered some of the best writers in the genre to honour Jane Austen and her feminist legacy. Each author will contribute with a unique story told from the point of view of an Austen female character that for some reason has shown the strength of character this anthology wishes to celebrate, but I will let Christina explain this project to you 🙂

I hope you get as excited as I am with these news, and I wish you all the luck for the fantastic giveaways Christina has brought for you 🙂

Christina Boyd

I am not a little proud to announce my third anthology in The Quill Collective series. Never heard of it? Aha! Likely because we have only coined the name when I decided to do another Austen-inspired anthology, and well, “series” would best indicate a number of books coming one after the other. You might better recognize the previous in the series as The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues.

When asked about doing another anthology, readers frequently suggest another Darcy book or Elizabeth’s stories… But for me, it seemed to make sense, during this time of forwarding feminist sensibilities and given the verve of the present equality movements that the female perspective might be embraced amongst the Austen fandom—possibly beyond our polite borders. After all, Austen wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day.

Jane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently-bred ladies … Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairytale endings. But have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be? In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says, “But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking of when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth. I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere. It is our intent that in this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Thus, our title was born. Rational Creatures. Coming to you in October 2018. Stay tuned.

Once again, an extraordinary dream team of authors—I will refer to this group from here forward as #TheSweetSixteen—have entrusted their words to me. Previous anthology authors Karen M Cox,, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’ Orazio, Jenetta James, KaraLynne Mackrory, Lona Manning, Christina Morland, Beau North, Sophia Rose, Joana Starnes, Brooke West, and Caitlin Williams are joined by Elizabeth Adams, Nicole Clarkston, Jessie Lewis, and Anngela Schroeder. And if that isn’t enough for your “wow factor,” acclaimed author, Jane Austen scholar, and Guggenheim Fellow Devoney Looser is to write the foreword! I know, right? Wow! Just wow. #RationalCreatures indeed.

.

But wait! There’s more. Because this anthology is an homage to Jane Austen and her female characters, written by female authors, cover designed by Shari Ryan of MadHat Covers, and edited by me, Christina Boyd of The Quill Ink…it only made sense that our giveaways throughout this venture also highlight women-owned small businesses. And it is our sincere hope that whether you win any of our giveaways or not, you will support these business savvy, creative “rational creatures”:

  • Northanger Soapworks has specially created a “Rational Creatures” soap: fresh scent with notes of bergamot, apricot, and currant.
  • Paper & Slate has customized a “Rational Creatures” candle scent of white tea and plumeria.
  • PNW Vibes has bespoke tanks and tees, perfect for making the point that you too are a “rational creature.”

The Giveaways. Plural. And worldwide. The Quill Ink will giveaway three (3) prize packages of:

  1. An advanced copy of one story from Rational Creatures anthology; available in September
  2. One “Rational Creatures” custom soap by Northanger Soapworks
  3. One “Rational Creatures” novel candle by Paper & Slate
  4. One “Rational Creature” bespoke tank or tee by PNW Vibes
  5. E-books of The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

Giveaway closes May 10 at 11:59 PM, EST. How to enter:

  1. One prize package will be sent to one randomly drawn name. Simply visit and comment at all three blog stops for this announcement: JUST JANE 1813, Austenesque Reviews and From Pemberley to Milton.
  2. Two of the same above packages will be available to two winners via Rafflecopter

 

 

 

Thank you for supporting another indie project by The Quill Ink. If the stories that have trickled in so far are any indication of the quality of stories for this collection, I am expecting Rational Creatures to exceed even my exacting standards. Am beyond excited for the possibilities. This is sure to be a diverting journey. I hope you will join us. Follow us at Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TheDarcyMonologues

And Goodreads.https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39909769-volume-three-from-the-quill-collective

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“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion

Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.

In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hetty Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.

“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft

10/25/2018
Rational Creatures: Mary Crawford

 

Over the summer, I featured a post from Christina Boyd, editor of the Jane Austen-based anthology, Rational Creatures (for Austen in August, of course). Today, I'm hosting one of the authors from the anthology, Jenetta James (a name you've seen around here before), as well as giving you a chance to win a major prize pack with many, many prizes being offered up on the blog tour! So make sure to click through to hear Jenetta's thoughts on one of my favorite notoriously disliked (but personally, loved!) characters, read an excerpt, and enter to win!
Enjoy and good luck!



Mary Crawford deserves more praise than she gets.

Quick witted, fast talking, harp playing, the antagonist of Mansfield Park cuts a swathe through the
narrative. She is a disrupter, throwing the status quo into flux. Mary is an urban figure in a rural
story, a wealthy woman in a tale of poor relations. She is irreverent, and plainly so, in the face of
the hero and heroine’s godliness. An orphan, she is cut adrift by family circumstance, slightly
without a place. And so, she floats about, belonging no-where. Like many ladies in Jane Austen’s
novels, she seeks a husband. But she does not do so blindly.

So what’s not to love? Well, some may say that she lacks moral probity, that she is all surface and
no substance. When rules are broken, Mary regrets the exposure of wrongdoing rather than
malady itself.
I get that, but I love her still.
She has so much spark and promises stories out of keeping with her age. My story is a tiny
vignette of romance, a hint at a wider narrative and it I hope it tempts the reader, even the sceptical
one, to embrace Miss Mary Crawford.

excerpt:


 

WHAT STRANGE CREATURES

JENETTA JAMES


 

Mary sat beside her brother in the carriage as it rolled through the streets. This was the pitch dark of the early morning, the moment before the dawn. He had appeared, as Henry was wont to do, the day previously. With no notice and in a noisy hail of good wishes. Mary was happy to see him, the admiral thrilled. He was in Town for two nights only, a short ration, before departing for a house party in Wiltshire. The siblings had left Gussie Faraday’s house in gales of laughter, and now Mary leaned back, pushing her body into the thin leather seat, stretching out her legs, her arms. Henry, who never showed fatigue in public, yawned. Then, he turned to her with his brow creased.

“Oh Mary. I should not have played that last hand.”

“How much did you lose?”

“It is probably best that I do not say. Better for you not to know, dear.”

He leaned over and kissed her hairline, his breath sour with Madeira but his smile like that of a puppy on a long walk.

“Just don’t tell old Nelson.”

“I shall not tell him, if you stop calling him that. It does not suit him. Too heroic.”

“Now, now.” He took her hand and squeezed it. “Do not dwell on that. Life, darling sister, is all about seizing opportunities where they lie. And making them where they do not.”

“Says the gentleman who has just lost his allowance at the faro table.”

“Yes, well. One cannot expect to be always in the pink.” He grinned, winningly. If all else was lost, Henry would always have that: a way with people, a spark of merriment, a sense of levity. And one day, all else may well be lost.

“I noticed that you had a lot of attention, sister dear. Old Peter Armitage and that cousin of Maxwell’s. Remind me of his name?”

“William. He looks better than he talks.”

Henry stretched his legs out, too. He let out a quiet bubble of laughter.

“Fortune?”

“Sadly not. I believe he may be interested in mine. And I cannot consent to be a man’s banker.”

“You might, Mary. If you were getting value in return. A title, an estate. And if you want to get away from Ne— our uncle, then that is the surest way, is it not? Marry one of these young bloods that linger about you.”

Mary sighed. These young men were rather like dogs, padding about, hoping for preferment. They were entertaining in their way, but they had their limits.

“The problem, which you yourself know full well, is finding the right person. Many are agreeable in company, possessed of standing, handsome, even. Some are wealthy, some are clever. But uniting with another for life is no small business. I am anxious not to throw myself away on the wrong bet. For I should never escape.”

She eyed him; she could have said more but held back.

“Do you suggest that I should do so? I do not deny, Mary, that I have had my share of romances. But

I have never had a wife to desert or neglect. I hope that I never shall. You mean, I suppose, to suggest that wives have the poorer bargain.”

“Of course they have the poorer bargain! In their lives, wives cannot make free as husbands do. If a husband is displeased with his wife, well, there are solutions, possibilities…. For a wife, she can find neither escape nor compensation.”

He flung his head back. “Indeed. You want too much. You cannot see into the future, dear. Seize the day; seize your own advantages. Otherwise, what is the point in all of these evenings gadding about, all this fashion?”

He gestured to her evening gown, blush pink and terribly becoming, if she said so herself.

“Interminable hours playing the harp, singing.”

Mary turned her hands over and regarded her fingers, quite sore from the strings. She had played long that evening but, in truth, she loved it. The soft melodious hum, the comfortable shape of the frame against her body. Singing she could well manage without. Being asked to entertain with her own voice always gave her alarm. It seemed excessively giving, leaving her throat dry and her chest constrained. There was always the fear of missing the note, going flat, and looking a fool.

“Verity is a lovely singer. I miss her voice, Henry.”

“Oh, Mary. Not again.”

“Are you sure you have heard nothing? Did Gussie say anything to you? How can she just be gone, like a puff of smoke?”

“I do not know, darling. But please stop asking me about it. If I knew, I would tell you. It has nothing to do with me. Now stop talking about the wretched business. It is too solemn for a night such as this one.”

Mary looked out of the window, a marble of enquiry rolling about her mind. The sky had begun to lighten, the night crack up, disintegrate.

“Actually, it is morning. And, we are home.”

They juddered to a halt in Hill Street and abandoned the carriage for the house. Her uncle’s hat was not on the hall table. For a moment, Mary felt troubled. She squinted and wondered.

“Thank you, Hoskins,” she said as the butler took her cloak, somewhat sleepily. “Has our uncle returned?”

“Not yet, miss.” --Jenetta James 

About the author: JENETTA JAMES is a lawyer, writer, mother, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in
Cambridge and read history at Oxford where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford
History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full time as a barrister.
Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad, as well as her native England.
Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading,
laughing, and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, The Elizabeth
Papers, and Lover’s Knot.

 

 

08/05/2019
When a Janeite is the Narrator: Rational Creatures at Austen in August

You can catch Christina Boyd, Austenesque Editor Extraordinaire, in this year's Janeite Convos, but today she's stopped by to have a chat with the narrator of the audiobook version of the feminist-Austen short story collection, Rational Creatures — as well as give three of you a chance to win something!
And keep an eye out, because later in AIA, you'll be hearing some of my thoughts on Rational CreaturesJane Austen’s novels evoke romantic imaginings of fastidious gentlemen and gently bred ladies ... Yet through her veiled wit, honest social commentary, and cleverly constructed prose in a style ahead of her day, Austen’s heroines manage to thwart strict mores—and even the debauchery of Regency England—to reach their fairy tale endings. But have you never wondered about her other colorful characters like Mary Crawford, Hetty Bates, Elinor Tilney, Louisa Musgrove, et al.—and how they came to be? In Persuasion, Mrs. Croft says,

“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.”

Those words have always struck me as terribly modern and I have wondered what Mrs. Croft might have been thinking when she said those very words to her brother Captain Frederick Wentworth.

I believe several of Jane Austen’s characters might have had feminist sensibilities, even if they yielded to the expectations of their sphere. It was the intent in our anthology, Rational Creatures, to remain true to the ladies we recognize in Austen’s great works—whilst stirring feminism in the hearts of some of these beloved characters. Publishers Weekly said of this collection of backstories or parallel tales off-stage of canon:

“Austen’s characters glow with the beloved novelist’s timeless blend of romantic intrigue, witticisms, and biting social commentary of life’s absurdities.”

When auditioning a voice actor for our audiobook, we knew the narrator had to have the ability to assume the roles of sixteen different Austen leading ladies as well as the countless supporting characters for each story…without being over-the-topic or making any a caricature of what we have seen in film. We auditioned over eighteen narrators and finally the Rational Creatures team agreed Victoria Riley, a British voiceover artist and audiobook narrator, was our choice. How delighted we were to learn Victoria is also an Austen fan and is quite knowledgeable of our source material! Originally trained as a theater actor, Victoria Riley gradually moved into voice work and is now happiest behind the mic. She loves classic literature and travelling the world. If she isn't recording, she says she’s probably lying in a hammock in some far-flung place, reading book after book after book. Sounds like our kind of people! –Christina
 

The Interview with Victoria Riley, Voice Actor

AIA: When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
Victoria Riley: Well, I've always said that I'd be happy to just sit in a cupboard all day reading books. I didn't know that I could actually do that and get paid for it. Dreams do come true, folks.

AIA: How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
Victoria Riley: I'm actually a classically trained actress and was originally interested in theatre. When I started out, audiobooks weren't really a big thing and it didn't occur to me as a career. I gradually veered into voiceover and my first audiobook was through my VO agent. I then set up my own studio at home and audiobooks are just one of the things I work on.

AIA: What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
Victoria Riley: I LOVE Jane Austen. I love her female characters with their fire and intelligence. To have such strong minds but be so restricted with their options in life. For marriage to be your only way forward when you have so much to offer the world. It makes me feel claustrophobic just thinking about it.

From a working perspective, this is also my first collection of short stories. Short stories are a real art form. You have to draw the reader (or listener!) into the tale very quickly and make them care about the characters without the luxury of a whole novel in which to do it. I really enjoyed each one being a separate little project, so I had a sense of closure and achievement after each one.

AIA: How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
Victoria Riley: Well, a lot of the characters are very well-known anyway, which helps. I didn't feel as though I was creating them from scratch. Most of them just jump off the page too. There are simple things like class to consider. Also character traits, like arrogance, pomposity, shyness or humility, which affect voice and delivery. I love a character that you can really embody. When it's so obvious how they should sound that you don't even really have to think about it.

AIA: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
Victoria Riley: We've all done silly things. Giving an Oscar-worthy performance, then realising you haven't pressed record. Stuffing a cushion up your jumper to stop tummy rumbles reaching the mic. Gradually getting more naked as you stifle in the booth in summer. We've all done it.

Those anecdotes! Too funny. Thank you, Victoria, for sharing a little about yourself and this new audiobook. We wish you much success and look forward to listening to these sixteen stories. (I understand it is about eighteen hours of audiobook! WOW!) Here is a SoundCloud link to the sample clips for Rational Creatures.

  📷

Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.
  Stories by Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Brooke West * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser * Narrated by Victoria Riley 
Giveaway Time!
Christina Boyd of The Quill Ink Blog will give away a FREE Audible code to download #RationalCreatures audiobook to TWO lucky winners who comment on this blog post.
Also, the Quill Ink will give away a $15 Amazon gift card to one random winner who takes the
   Which RationalCreature are you? QUIZ (skip over the email sign up—it is not necessary for the results) THEN tell us in the comments which “rational creature” you are.
Giveaway open until September 5th, 2019. Open internationally. Good luck!

 

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 10/2018
  • 9780998654065 B07JFJ1HSZ
  • 484 pages
  • $16.95
Audio Details
  • 07/2019
  • B07VCH37LL
  • 484 pages
  • $7.49
Ebook Details
  • 10/2018
  • 978-0998654065 B07JFJ1HSZ
  • 484 pages
  • $4.95

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