I first discovered Jane when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, when I read Pride and Prejudice, and I was hooked. I fell in love with her humour, her characters and her world. I quickly went on to read her other novels and I adored her insights, which I often find myself quoting in daily life: “A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer”; “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other” and “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid” are particular favourites of mine. This love of all things Jane led me to writing a series of diaries which look at the novels from the heroes’ points of view, the most famous of which is Mr Darcy’s Diary. This in turn led to my editor asking me if I would write a a novella about Mr Darcy for an anthology of Christmas stories called A Darcy Christmas. As I love both Christmas and Mr Darcy I was happy to oblige! It was important to me that I created the right Regency atmosphere and so I did what I always do: I turned to Jane Austen. Out came a book of her letters, and I read them again with the virtuous feeling that this was not pleasure, this was research. Out, too, came all of her novels, and I read the Christmas passages
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