Enjoy this week’s quiz – an unfamiliar quiz topic for you.
Enjoy this week’s quiz – an unfamiliar quiz topic for you.
Last year I turned thirty. I was unmarried and worse had no prospect of marriage looming in the near future. I was not picky nor did I ever think that I was better than any of the men I had met. I just wanted a special man, my own Mr. Right.
From the moment I had read, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I knew what that Mr. Right would be like. Also with that moment, I had set myself up for a decade of disappointments. The boys I met at school, did not have ‘that quiet elegance’, the teenagers I met at University, treated me as an ‘equal and not as an object to worship. And the men that I came across in my working career, simply never turned up say “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
And so I led the life of a single woman, happy with my romance books, busy with my job and enjoying my time with my family and friends. That was until, one by one, they each got married and made it their prime occupation to find me a husband.
They each, knew of a man who was just right for me. And everyone made the same comparison, “He is just like your Mr Darcy” They were never anything like ‘my’ Mr Darcy.
For over five years I gave in to their pleas and met the men they introduced me to, but ultimately, I had enough. Enough of the eagerness in their voices, of the anticipation in their looks and of the sheer disappointment in their words, as they said “Oh well, back to the drawing board.”
The only person, who never got flustered, was my brother. And it was he that came up with the brilliant plan to dupe the matchmakers in my life. He booked me onto a tour aptly called ‘Twenty days in Jane Austen’s footsteps’. And on my return I was to create this fictitious long-distance relationship that was to stretch over the next five years and give me the much needed breathing space.
My trip to England was amazing. I got to see the little table Jane Austen sat at as she created her wonderful stories. I touched the doorway she had once walked through and I looked at the sky from exactly the place she would have stood at. I read the letters she had written and I looked at the volumes of her books that now graced the bookshelf.
And for the first time I saw the reality behind each of those wonderfully woven stories. The power of a woman to be able to create a perfect man in her imagination, and of her inability to find such a man in her own life! Yes she knew love, but marriage and motherhood remained at bay.
During the last days of the trip, I pondered on my own life. Would I have been happy with any of the men I had been introduced to in the past? Was I foolish to believe that somewhere, there was someone just for me or was I stupidly embracing a life of loneliness and pain?
I got my answer when we attended a series of plays in London. As I sat and watched an actor perform the role of Mr Darcy, another of Captain Wentworth and a third of Mr Knightley, the truth finally hit me. Jane Austen’s men were embodiments of decency and chivalry. They were honest, caring and just. They were protective and strong, yet each came with the usual human failings of jealousy, anger, pride and arrogance. But what set them truly apart was that they loved their heroines beyond anything and everything.
I realised then that I did not want Mr Darcy or Captain Wentworth. I wanted someone to come into my life and make me the reason for his existence. And I was determined not to settle for less. And until that man waltzed into my life, my brother’s little game sounded ideal.
At the end of the tour, I stayed with his girlfriend’s family in London. Her younger sister was to be my partner in crime. We became good friends almost form the time we were introduced but it was the quite man in the background that gave me a sense of the Deja vu.
The original plan did not involve the existence of a real love interest. I was to write the letters and she was to email them back to me but somewhere along the translation of this plan, things changed. She suggested that we use her cousin as the model for the photographs and to make things realistic, he would send the letter. It was also agreed that he would call me once a week, because that was what fiancés do.
And so we spent the next week making our fantasy real. We toured the city and took photographs. We researched the best love letters and copied lines from there and we spoke honestly about our personal dilemmas. I learnt from him that men too face the same social pressures.
Did we fall madly in love? Absolutely not but he and I did became very good friends. As I bid him goodbye I even felt that maybe I was leaving behind someone who given the chance could have meant more.
Back at home, I established my fictitious romance. I told everyone of this wonderful man that I had met and showed everyone the photographs. To make it even more authentic, I wore a diamond ring on my engagement finger. All asked the one question, “When is the wedding?” I gave them the same reply “We will decide the date after his visit at the end of this year.”
I had bought myself a year of peace or so I had thought. In the months that followed, a new game began. He would ring and I would take the call outside pretending to need privacy. I would carelessly leave his email open ensuring that everyone was aware of it. I constantly dropped photos from my handbag. I even brought bridal magazines and went through this whole charade of trying to pick the perfect wedding outfit. It actually was quite a lot of fun and I looked forward to his emails noting that as time went our carefully drafted letters were being replaced with his personally written ones. I could not complain, because his letters were far better than the ones we had drafted together.
Everything was running to perfection, until one day, I stopped receiving his phone calls. His emails ceased as well and mine did not get a reply.
It took me a month of silence before I realised that I was missing more than a friend. I asked my brother if he had any idea of what had happened. His only reply was “Don’t worry sis, we will find someone else to write the letters.”
“Well you better, Valentine’s Day is next week. I need my ‘fiancé’ to send me roses otherwise no one will believe he exists anymore” I replied in anger but in my heart I knew what was really wrong.
The day before Valentine’s Day, and with no replacement found, I went and ordered a dozen long stem red roses and a huge box of chocolates and addressed it to myself.
When the doorbell rang on the morning of the 14th of February, I knew my order had arrived. Calmly I opened the door but instead of my twelve long stems, the man held a massive bouquet of a hundred beautiful blooms and instead of the local florist, there stood my fiancé.
And how could I say no to what he asked next, when he began with the words “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire …………”
First published in Indian Link. See the original HERE
How excited I was when I opened this package, coming all the way from Bath into my Governors Bay mailbox, down-under. I had applied to review this book, and was so grateful to have been picked even though I live in New-Zealand.
Second source of joy: the cover. This bright pink is vibrant and the raised lettering and silhouette make holding the book a lovely and surprisingly tactile experience.
I read the first pages while on an inflatable device my very own Darcy bought for me so I can read in the lake swimming pool. (Believe it or not but my Darcy actually fell in the lake pool with a white shirt when he set it up for me so I can start my reading. I saw it as a sign.)
So, I started reading, and didn’t stop, for three hours in a row. It was like diving back into the worlds of my favourite writers of when I was a teenager: Jane Austen of course, but also Charlotte Brontë and Dame Daphne du Maurier.
I really appreciated reading what Doctor Gabrielle Malcolm had to say, she who had not only seemingly read these authors with great pleasure too, but also has a very impressive academic knowledge that she is sharing as she would with a friend – from one fan to another.
Never pompous, always so well documented and accurate (as far as I can tell), the author loves what you love, but you are also learning so much from her! And she does it in a fun and engaging way, always.
I was so interested for instance to learn how the Brontë sisters responded to Jane’s work, or just about Jane’s childhood, and where the influences to build Darcy’s character can be found. Finding out secret links between people and characters that you love is quite exhilarating!
Keeping on reading, I then discovered many books and authors I had never heard of. I’m French, and Pimpernel, for instance, is not a well known hero in France, as you can imagine.
I really appreciated the study of Darcy’s dressing habits, and all I’ve learnt about English fashion, customs, literature and history.
The chapter on the film adaptations is very pleasurable to read, and full of details and insight that made me want to watch them again, which we did, with even greater pleasure.
I was absolutely astonished about all the fan fiction Dr. Gabrielle Malcolm is mentioning. I confess I had no idea that there were prequels, sequels and adaptations that had been created by fans all around the world of pretty much all the Jane Austen novels. The author also shares with us the response of the community of “Janeites” to these attempts.
The one thing that I found a bit surprising, it is that the author gives away a lot of plot twists and endings and many pages are dedicated to summarising stories of books. And I’m not sure why because: either the reader has already read this book, and doesn’t need a summary, or he hasn’t read it yet, and then he wouldn’t want the twists to be spoiled.
So I confess I skipped bits and pieces here and there when I didn’t want to know the end of a story that I might enjoy reading some time. It is not a big problem though as the book is well structured and it is easy to know where to resume reading.
Overall I definitely recommend the reading of this book to anyone who loves Jane Austen’s world. Doctor Gabrielle Malcolm manages to reconcile being knowledgeable, reliable, engaging and fun. And that makes for a very special and enjoyable read.
Sanditon is the last novel that Jane Austen ever worked on, though not one that she finished. Have you read it? Do you know it? Time to test your knowledge with our Sanditon special quiz!
Every year hundreds of thousands of fans come together to The Jane Austen Centre in Bath to celebrate the talent and artistry of Jane Austen, but for those who work at the Centre there can sometimes be occasion to stop and marvel at the incredible works of devotion created by our visitors. An exceptional instance of this came to us this summer in the story of Julie Mountford.
Julie’s husband Keith wrote to us in a heartwarming email this year to describe the predicament of his late wife’s own Austen-inspired ‘amateur’ masterpiece: a Georgian dolls house. As part of her passion and love of all things Georgian, Regency and Jane Austen, Julie crafted this 1.6m tall house over a period of five years. It contains eighteen rooms (five of which are large hallways typical of the Georgian era) and each room has been lovingly filled with tiny furniture of the same period. Keith described how ‘everyone who has ever seen the house has been gobsmacked by its beauty and by Julie’s attention to detail’ and we found ourselves similarly enchanted.
Sadly Julie passed away in March 2015 after having lived with cancer for five years. Keith described how Julie had been a mental health social worker by profession and was also an extremely talented and creative person, writing period novels in her spare time as well as sewing beautiful historical-attired cloth dolls as gifts; one of these has even found a home in our Exhibition at the Jane Austen Centre, a place that Julie loved and visited many times in her visits to Bath.
Keith generously offered for this magnificent work to be displayed at the Centre so that it might ‘inform, educate and entertain’ as is our mission statement and was also Julie’s passion. Recently, online pharmacies are becoming more and more popular due to the many advantages they have over purchasing a medication over-the-counter. Although there are many ways to buy erectionpills-uk.com/buy-viagra/ online, it makes it harder to find an honest and responsible seller. Unfortunately, we were unable to give a home to her beautiful Jane Austen Dolls house but we hope that in sharing this story we can echo Keith’s wish that it serves as an example of ‘what an ordinary person with a passion can design and create as part of their love of all things Austen’.
Please visit www.juliemountford.org to learn more about the Julie Montford Dawson Foundation.