The Other Side of the Channel and a Chance to Win

As part of our Spring New Release Extravaganza, we’re happy to highlight The Soldier’s Secrets by our own Naomi Rawlings.

While Jane Austen was writing her first novel in the 1790s, events across the English Channel were taking shape to form one of the most crucial aspects of the Regency era–a longer than twenty-year war with France. To write about the Regency, which was literally from 1811-1820, but has, for literary purposes, been extended from an event that didn’t even happen in England–1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution, until the end of the reign of George IV, formerly known as Prinny, the Prince Regent.

Naomi Rawlings The Soldier's SecretEvery one of our Regency England characters was influenced by what was going on in France. At first, the aristocracy grew leery of too much excess in their lifestyle. Though  they were still lavish in food and drink and parties, they began to dress more simply in the classical Greek-influenced styles…brought over from France. They began to enact reforms to make life easier for the poor and laboring classes. Why? Because they feared a revolution taking place in England as happened in France with aristocrats and royals getting their heads lopped of.

Therefore, including a book set in France in this era fits into our Regency world.

Book Description

Brigitte Dubois will do anything to keep her family safe. When she is blackmailed by her father-in-law, his quest for revenge leaves her no choice. To protect her children, she must spy on the man who may have killed her husband. But Jean Paul Belanger is nothing like she expected. The dark, imposing farmer offers food to all who need it, and insists on helping Brigitte and her children.

Everything Jean Paul did was in the name of liberty. Even so, he can never forgive himself for his actions during France’s revolution. Now a proud auburn-haired woman has come to his home seeking work and has found her way into his reclusive heart. But when she uncovers the truth, his past could drive them apart.

Naomi RawlingsThe first time I had the privilege of reading Naomi’s writing, I new I had found a new writer outside the box. She was  not only writing in Revolutionary France, a time period everyone said no one could sell, but writing with a sensitivity, artistry, and edge we don’t expect in a category romance, we rarely receive in mainstream books in the Christian market.

And yet, despite the alien setting in a time period about which few people have much knowledge, we can all relate to Brigitte and Jean-Luc. She is a woman of honor who will sacrifice everything she must to protect her children. He will do whatever he must to protect his secrets. Their struggles and anguish, yearnings and triumphs fairly leap off the page under Naomi’s skillful words.

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The Publishing of Pride and Prejudice and a Chance to Win

The below article contains information and excerpts pulled from Kathryn Kane’s article on the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice from her blog, The Regency Redingote.

Wendnesday, Laurie Alice shared about Jane’s long and laborious road to publishing and her subsequent career. Today we look at the publishing of Pride and Prejudice.

Original title page of Pride and PrejudiceOriginally titled First Impressions, the story of Elizabeth, Darcy, and their families and friends was originally written as a collection of letters. This epistolary style of novel was familiar to Jane as she had already written one as a teenager and one of her favorite authors wrote in that style as well. Obviously, she adjusted the format as well as the title prior to publication.

Pride and Prejudice was Austen’s second novel and it was instantly popular. The first print run of 1500 copies sold out even before the first run of Sense and Sensibility, which was half the size. Demand was so high that in October of 1813, her publisher, Thomas Egerton, released a second print run of Pride and Prejudice. A third printing was done shortly after her death.

Despite the popularity of the novel, Jane made only £110. Far less than the more than £450 her publisher made. Due to the slow sales of Sense and Sensibility at the time, she sold the rights to Pride and Prejudice for a lump sum.

Even though Pride and Prejudice was well loved by the public, Jane felt a little differently. Shortly after Pride and Prejudice was published, Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra:

Upon the whole … I am well satisfied enough. The work is rather too light, and bright, and sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not, of solemn specious nonsense, about something unconnected with the story:   an essay on writing, a critique on Walter Scott, or the history of Buonaparté, or anything that would form a contrast and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and general epigrammatism of the general style.

It may very well be the fact that it was ” … light, and bright, and sparkling … ” which made it so popular.

In 1813, England was involved in wars on two fronts, for both the Peninsular War and the War of 1812 were ongoing. People were weary of war and the privations which it brought. Pride and Prejudice gave them an amusing respite in the peaceful and traditional English countryside, which many valued highly as the epitome of the English way of life. A countryside and way of life which many realized was already under threat from the relentless progress of the Industrial Revolution.

Jane’s fictional village of Meryton was populated by a host of amusing characters involved in the activities of everyday life and her witty tale included a pair of love stories that ended happily ever after.

To read more about the writing and publication of Pride and Prejudice, see Kathryn Kane’s original article 

notecardsThis week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen notecards. For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

Jane Austen’s Road to Publishing and A Chance to Win

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

When one mentions Jane Austen, the majority of people think Pride and Prejudice and the movies, not necessarily the book, who’s bicentennial of it’s publication we are celebrating this month. Miss Austen, however, wrote several other works, including an epistolary novel in the 1790s. Like the majority of authors nowadays, Austen faced rejection and publishers who did not fulfill their promises.

One of Austen’s biographers, Claire Tomalin, writes of Lady Susan, “in letters, it is as neatly plotted as a play, and as cynical in tone as any of the most outrageous of the Restoration dramatists who may have provided some of her inspiration … It stands alone in Austen’s work as a study of an adult woman whose intelligence and force of character are greater than those of anyone she encounters.” This is impressive when one considers she was less than twenty years old.

In 1811, Sense and Sensibility was published, though she probably began it much earlier. We don’t know if the original story known as Elinor and Marianne, which she read to her family in the 1790s, survived in this novel.

Still in the 1790s, Austen attempted a third novel, which was a satire of the popular Gothic novel. That manuscript, which we know as Northanger Abbey, ended up the first one for which she received any money.

One of Austen's early works, The History of England. Photo by wikimedia commons
One of Austen’s early works, The History of England. Photo by wikimedia commons

Her father attempted to get her published, but that manuscript, First Impressions, later published as Pride and Prejudice, was rejected. But in 1803, a London publisher paid Austen ten pounds for the copyright on Northanger Abbey. It was not published until Austen bought back the copyright more than ten years later.

After the family moved to Bath, she may have suffered from a depression that kept her from writing, or she may have revised her already created works. We aren’t certain. We do know she worked on The Watsons, but never finished it after her father died. Her own situation as an unmarried woman without independent means, closely reflected the ladies in the story.

Finally, in 1811, Sense and Sensibility was published and well-received, nearly twenty years after we believe she began work on her first novel. Pride  and Prejudice was published in 1813, which we are celebrating this month as it is her most famous work today.

Mansfield Park was her best selling novel and published in 1814. Reviewers ignored it, but the public did not.

Although the books were published anonymously, and I’ve always been told that no one knew who wrote the books, I scarcely think this is true, at least for those able to worm information from perhaps the publisher, as the Prince Regent’s librarian  invited her to visit and she was given the suggestion that she dedicate Emma to him in 1815. She didn’t like him, but she couldn’t refuse. This was her last book published during her lifetime.

After her death, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published as a set in 1817. Sanditon was published, though unfinished, in 1825. Her books remained out of print until a set of her works were published in 1833. They have been in print ever since.

notecardsThis week we’re giving away a lovely set of Jane Austen notecards. For a chance to win, please leave a comment on any of the posts this week. winner will be drawn Monday, August 12. Winner must have a mailing address within the United States.

An Anniversary, a Regency Story, and a Scavenger Hunt Prize Package

Regency Reflections turns one this month and we couldn’t be more excited.

Since we’re a blog for readers of Inspirational Regencies, we thought we’d give you something to, well, read!

The serial story A Suitable Match starts Wednesday.

What is a serial story you ask? It’s one continuous story with sections contributed by our bloggers. You won’t want to miss any of it, but in case you want to know when your favorite author is coming up, here’s the schedule:

MatchCoverFebruary 6 ~ Laurie Alice Eakes
February 8 ~ Vanessa Riley
February 11 ~ Susan Karsten
February 13 ~ Mary Moore
February 15 ~ Kristi Ann Hunter
February 18 ~ Kristy L. Cambron
February 20 ~ Naomi Rawlings
February 22 ~ Ruth Axtell
February 25 ~ Laurie Alice Eakes with the conclusion that YOU choose!

More About A Suitable Match

Cressida Blackstone has three months to do something she thought she’d never do – get married. Three years earlier, her merchant father lost his money, forcing her to abandon her plans of marrying an aristocrat in need of an heiress. Now her aunt has changed everything, leaving her vast fortune to Cressida but only if she marries within six months.

Only three months remain until her deadline and Cressida has decided to travel to London and land herself a husband, but her past waylays her on the road.

Ross Ainsworth expected Cressida’s aunt’s wealth to come to him – he was her grandson after all. Now he’s offered himself as an escort to take Cressida to London. But does he actually want her to arrive?

Cressida left Tristram, Viscount Chard when she no longer had the funds to refill his coffers. Breaking off their impending marriage was the only way to free him to find another heiress. But is he thankful or desirous of revenge?

Lord Twiford never approved of Cressida’s relationship with Chard. But was it because he didn’t like Cressida or because he liked her too much?

Now Cressida must decide who wants her heart and who wants her money.

And you get to help her, because…

You, the Readers are choosing the end!

GuyChoiceRead the story, get to know Cressida and her bevy of potential suitors. You’ll have to discern who Cressida loves – and who loves her in return.

Vote for your favorite beau in the Suitable Match Poll. The winning man will be revealed in the story conclusion on February 25.

Once you’ve picked a favorite, why not encourage everyone to vote for him? You can get badges for your website or blog encouraging people to pick your man. See the badges and more on the Suitable Match Extras page

Win an amazing prize package… if you can find it.

One lucky reader is going to win the Suitable Match Prize Pack containing eight items from the story. How do you win? You find them!

Each day, one item from the prize pack will be hidden in the story. Find it, mention it in the comments, and you will be entered in the drawing for the prize. Find all eight items and you’ll earn eight entries.

The contest will close at 5:00PM EST on February 26, 2013.

Suitable Match Prize Package Contents

PrizeCollageSo what are you looking for? The following items, in no particular order, are found within the story. Sometimes, they’re pretty creatively thrown in.

~ Pearl hair pins
~ Leather Bible
~ Embroidered Bookmark
~ A Silk Hand Fan
~ Painting of the English Countryside (Print)
~ Pearl Drop Necklace
~ Filigree Locket
~ Earl Grey Tea

Get Ready, Get Set, Read!

Settle in with your tea and get ready to read. A Suitable Match starts this Wednesday.