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All Things Austen: A Contemporary Christian Twist

20 Mar

Debra White Smith, a christian romance author, has written a contemporary series adaptation of Jane Austen’s Novels.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, you’ll love the engaging characters, contemporary situations, issues of faith, and the intricacies of love in Debra White Smith’s updated retelling of Austen’s endearing stories.

First Impressions —  When Eddi Boswick is cast as Elizabeth, the female lead in a local production of Pride and Prejudice, she hesitates. Dave, the handsome young rancher cast as Darcy, seems arrogant and unpredictable. Accepting the challenge of playing opposite him, Eddi soon realizes that he is difficult to work with on and off the set.

But when a tornado springs our of nowhere, Dave protects Eddi…much to her chagrin. And he is shocked to discover an attraction for the feisty lawyer he can’t deny. Sparks fly wehn Eddi misinterprets his interest and discovers the truth he’s trying to hide.

Will Eddi’s passionate faith, fierce independence, and quick wit keep Dave from discovering the secret to love…and the key to her heart?

Reason and Romance — Sense and sensibility collide when love comes calling for sisters Elaina and Anna Woods….

Ruled by reason, Elaina remains calm in every situation–even when she meets Ted Farris. Although attracted by his charming personality, she refuses to be swept away by love. Accused of never listening to her heart, Elaina finally gives in to her feelings. As her relationship with Ted develops into something magical, they seem destined to be together–except for one tiny detail. Will Lorna Starr keep them apart?

Anna longs for the day she’ll meet her prince. When she’s rescued by the handsome Willis Kenney, has her dream turned into reality? Inseparable from the start, neither of them worries about the past. Anna, refusing to listen to her sister’s cautious voice of reason, let’s her romantic heart run wild. Caught in an emotional whirlwind, she and Willis revel in the hope of two passionate hearts. Will their impulsive love endure despite the mistakes of yesterday?

Romance and reason merge in this captivating story about the joys and follies of infatuation and how faith in God reveals true love.

Central Park —  Wrenched from her family, young Francine is terrified by her new life with her Aunt Mariette and Uncle Tom Barrimore in New York City….
But their foster son, Ethan, comes to Francine’s rescue. As the years pass, the bond between the two deepens…and they spend many hours enjoying the serenity of Central Park. When Ethan goes to Paris for a missions trip, Francine realizes affection has transformed into love. She dreams of the day Ethan will arrive home and share her love.

But when Ethan returns, he brings two newcomers–the beautiful and wealthy Carrie Casper, who has obviously captured his heart, and her flirtatious brother, Hugh, who flashes his inviting smile at Francine and her two cousins. As the Caspers cast their spell over the Barrimores, Francine alone senses the danger behind their facade of respectability.

As the days go by, Francine is forced to face the truth: Ethan’s heart belongs to the lovely Carrie. When the playful Hugh turns his charms toward Francine, she wonders if he’s finally left his playboy days behind. Pressured by her uncle to accept Hugh’s advances, Francine is torn between remaining true to a love that will never be or settling for a marriage of convenience.

Northpointe Chalet — Texas native Kathy Moore loves her new home in Northpointe, Colorado. The 22-year-old’s bookstore is thriving. And her social life is picking up. New friends Liza and her brother, Ron, an unrepentant heartbreaker, are constant visitors. It’s her personal life that needs a dramatic twist—like the ones in the thrillers she devours….

Then one dark and stormy night, a kind stranger takes refuge in Kathy’s store. When she learns he’s Ben Tilman, one of the residents of the mysterious chalet overlooking Northpointe, Kathy is smitten. But Ben’s reserved behavior suggests she’s too young and flamboyant to be relationship material for him, an established pastor. Suddenly, like in one of her suspense novels, an old man corners Kathy with warnings about the murderous Tilman patriarch–warnings she must investigate. Will Kathy’s growing suspicions and topsy-urvy investigation put an end to her deepening relationship with the man of Northpointe Chalet?

Amanda — Amanda Priebe is smart, funny, and generous—a great friend to have until the matchmaking bug bites. Deciding that her secretary, Haley, needs a beau, Amanda dreams up the perfect match—Pastor Mason Eldridge. Never mind that Haley is seeing Roger, a respectable dairy farmer. And it doesn’t really matter that Mason might be attracted to someone else….

When it comes to her own heart, Amanda can’t seem to make up her mind what she wants to do. The handsome and debonair Franklyn West is available so is the ever-present Nate Knighton.

In this tangled web of best-laid plans, who will end up with whom? Will Haley find true love? Will Amanda realize what her heart’s known all along?

A lively tale of plans gone awry, affection in unexpected places, and the ultimate power of faith and love.

Possibilities — “A yardman?” Landon’s thin eyebrows arched. “You want to marry a yardman?” Her blue eyes couldn’t have been wider…or more disdainful….
Practical, down-to-earth Allie is the daughter of Willis Elton, a wealthy, respected gentleman farmer. Although allowed to attend college and obtain a masster’s degree in horticulture, she is expected to marry well and take her place in society. But Allie has a problem. She’s in love with the handsome Frederick Wently–the yardman.

Yielding to family pressure, she withdraws from the relationship. But as the years pass, her heart refuses to surrender. When Frederick turns up on the arm of a close family friend, Allie struggles with jealousy and heartbreak. What can she do to get him back? And should she even try?

From Focus on Fiction:

Debra White Smith is the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books, including Romancing Your Husband101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage, and the popular Seven Sisters fiction series. In addition to her writing, Debra is also the founder of Real Life Ministries, and a popular speaker at conferences and events across the nation.  Debra holds a B.A. and M.A. in English and is pursuing a second Master’s Degree through Trinity Seminary.  She currently makes her home in East Texas, with her husband of 21 years, two children, and a herd of cats.

All Things Austen: Bollywood Style

14 Mar

There have been many sequels and movies made of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. But  I think one of the most fun is the movie Bride and Prejudice — a Bollywood version filled with dancing, singing and the occasional elephant.  Set in India, England and the United States, this film is fun to watch.  Last year, the women’s group at my church featured the movie for an International Dinner And A Movie Night.  So call up the girl friends, grab the snacks and settle in for a laughter filled girls night.  Not to be missed is Maya/Mary’s snake dance performance. And if you think Mr. Collins is ridiculous, get ready for Mr. Kohli!  (Bride And Prejudice is rated PG 13 for some sexual references,)

A Bollywood update of Jane Austen’s classic tale, in which Mrs. Bakshi is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. When the rich single gentlemen Balraj and Darcy come to visit, the Bakshis have high hopes, though circumstance and boorish opinions threaten to get in the way of romance.





All Things Austen: Jane Austen Ruined My Life

7 Mar

Though not a sequel to her famous books, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is a novel based on scholarship surrounding Austen’s works.  The premise is that there is a secret society that has maintained the private letters of Jane Austen thought to have been destroyed by her sister Cassandra.  Emma, a professor of English Literature specializing in Austen, is lured to England by the promise of viewing and perhaps publishing the letters.  With her marriage and career at an end, she seizes the opportunity to put her life back to rights.  I really enjoyed Emma’s travels to the places dear to Jane Austen’s heart, as well as her journey towards healing.

Emma Grant has always done everything just the way her minister father said she should — a respectable marriage, a teaching job, and plans for the requisite two children. Life was prodigiously good, as her favorite author might say, until the day Emma finds her husband with another woman. Suddenly, all her romantic notions a la Austen are exposed for the foolish dreams they are.

Denied tenure in the wake of the scandal, Emma packs what few worldly possessions she has left and heads to England to find the missing letters of Jane Austen. A reclusive widow claims to have the author’s correspondence, but she allows Emma to see the letters only if she promises never to tell anyone about them. Emma reluctantly agrees and sets off across Austen’s England — from Steventon to Bath to Lyme Regis — to complete a series of tasks that bring her closer and closer to the secret Jane Austen hoped to bury. And the reappearance of Emma’s old friend Adam doesn’t make her quest any easier.

As Emma uncovers the legendary author’s innermost thoughts, she begins to understand the reasons for her idol’s secrecy and Austen’s own struggles as a woman of faith. Laced with excerpts from the missing letters, Jane Austen Ruined My Life is the story of a woman betrayed who discovers the true meaning of loyalty.

Other Austenesque novels by Beth Patillo:

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart.  Claire Prescott is a sensible woman who believes in facts and figures, not fairy tales. But when she agrees to present a paper to a summer symposium at Oxford on her ailing sister’s behalf, Claire finds herself thrown into an adventure with a gaggle of Jane Austen-loving women all on the lookout for their Mr. Darcy. Claire isn’t looking for Mr. Anyone. She’s been dating Neil, a nice — if a bit negligent — sports fanatic. But when a tall, dark and dashing stranger crosses her path, will the staid Claire suddenly discover her inner romantic heroine? Her chance meeting with a mysterious woman who claims to have an early version of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice — in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy — leads to an astounding discovery about the venerated author’s own struggle to find the right hero for Lizzie Bennett. Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s journey to finding her own romantic lead. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is the story of a woman who finds that love isn’t logical and that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected of places.

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All.  Ellen and Mimi Dodge have never been close, but their mother’s dying wish sends them on a walking tour of Hampshire, England, that follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen. Their mother also left them something else: a diary that belonged to Jane’s sister Cassandra. These pages shed light on the secrets that nearly tore the Austen sisters apart and inspired one of the greatest love stories of all time. They also bring Jane to life in a way that no one has ever seen before: through the eyes of her sister. As the Dodge sisters embark on their walking tour, they too are drawn together in ways they never expected. They also discover that Cassandra’s diary holds secrets, and someone doesn’t want Ellen and Mimi to discover the truth. As they stumble on their way toward love, the women learn how Jane and Cassandra Austen inspired the original Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and come to realize that despite their very different personalities, they are a vital part of each other’s happy endings.   (Not yet released).

From the authors website:

Beth PatilloI am a born and bred Texan, but I haven’t lived in Texas since my college days at Trinity University in San Antonio. Oh, San Antonio, how I love your delicious Mexican food and rich culture.

Where was I? Oh, yes. After college, I moved to Nashville where I earned a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University and met my wonderful husband. Our careers took us to Jackson, Tennessee, and then to Kansas City, Missouri, where my son was born. I started my first novel while in KC but didn’t sell a book until after we moved back to Nashville and had a second child, my darling daughter.

Now, I wear a lot of hats — mom, wife, writer, daughter, friend — just like so many other women. I’m lucky that I love being all of these things. The challenge is keeping up with all the demands!

I’ve had the opportunity to write historical romance, chick lit, mystery, and women’s fiction. All my books do have two things in common — heroines and humor! I love a strong female character and lots of laughter.

2 Birds/1 Stone — All Things Austen/Series Spotlight

27 Feb

This week I decided to combine All Things Austen and Series Spotlight by featuring Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries.

Series Inspiration (from the author’s website):

Pregnancy, I firmly believe, is a hallucinatory state.

When I was five months gone with my first son, I began to neglect my dog. I had repeated car accidents. I left the groceries standing by the side of the curb, while I drove away toward home; and I even managed to hear voices.

One of them was Jane Austen’s.

I had been rereading Austen’s oeuvre, as I do nearly every winter. Her prose is peculiarly suited to the winter months: to sharp frost twitching the nose, reddened fingers, a sofa or chair pulled up to a good fire, a glass of sherry at hand. I love to read Austen when it rains – particularly if the book is Persuasion, her last and most autumnal novel. The damp seems to seep directly from Kellynch and the shingle of Lyme, from the foxed pages of an old volume, to pool around one’s feet as the chapters slip by.

This particular winter – February, 1994 – I had read Austen to such an extent that her syntax and oddities of speech had infiltrated my own. The third-person narrative voice of Austen’s novels is passive in its construction; and the dialogue always operates on about four different levels, replete with meaning. It is utterly at variance with the operative mode of our day – the sound-bite – which in its didactic simplicity, communicates nothing. I reveled in Austen’s speech. I adopted it as my own.

I was, I am convinced, channeling Jane.

I sat down to write what she told me.

And what emerged was Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, a fictional edition of Austen’s long-lost journal, recently unearthed in the cellar of a Georgian manor on the outskirts of Baltimore.

(I am fortunate enough to possess a beloved friend by the name of Philip Carroll, whose Georgian ancestor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, built just such a manor. It is the perfect sort of place for an American cousin to deposit, and forget, Jane’s private diaries.)

I had studied Napoleonic France during my undergraduate years at Princeton; I now undertook to master its corollary, Regency England. I knew Austen’s books, Austen’s characters – but very little about Austen’s life.

I turned to the primary source on Jane: her collected correspondence; and to the excellent secondary sources on her life that fill the bookshelves of most libraries in the world. In the letters, however, I discovered the best character of all: Jane herself.

Jane AustenWhen Austen wrote to an intimate – most frequently her sister, Cassandra – she was Jane Unbound: caustic, funny, judgmental, dismissive. She possessed and dominated everyone she knew by subjecting them to her wit – and she delighted in the past time. This was a Jane remarkably equipped to investigate murder, a Jane who understood the power of motivation and the essence of the human heart. She delighted in the absurd, punctured the ridiculous, and demurred for no man. She was heroine to die for. [This watercolor of Jane was done by Cassandra in about 1810, when Jane was 35; this is the only known representation of Jane’s features. Credit: The World of Jane Austen by Nigel Nicolson.]

I wrote Scargrave Manor well before any of the films of Austen’s work –Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, or Mansfield Park – appeared on the screen. But the book’s publication in the spring of 1996 appeared perfectly timed to capitalize upon the rediscovery of Austen’s fiction. For this apparent prescience and monetary aim, I was at times castigated; and at others, ignored. With each subsequent novel – there are presently eight, with a ninth currently in the works – Jane’s audience, however, has grown.

I think that she would have been delighted. Novel-writing, in Austen’s day, was regarded as a frivolity, for the simple reason that it depicted life as it was actually lived – and because its primary readers were women. Mystery novels fill a similar gap in the twenty-first century: in stories of detection, we study conflict and its resolution; we reimpose order on a chaotic world. Had she lived, Jane would be writing detective novels today. How much better, then, to star in them?

My Impressions:

Barron’s series now features 10 books, with the newest being Jane And The Madness of Lord Byron. I still have 5 books to go; 3 are on my TBR shelves. Barron’s mysteries are evocative of the time and life of Jane Austen. The fictional Jane is very believable — especially in her relations with family and the problem of her spinsterhood. Through the course of her travels, Jane encounters people and places that could easily have been the inspiration of the real Jane’s novels.  And if you love the romance that Austen described in her books, you won’t be disappointed in fictional Jane’s romantic encounters.  While the books will satisfy an Austen junky, the mysteries will keep you reading into the night.  Check out The Jane Austen Mysteries — you’ll love them.

About The Author (also from her website):

Stephanie Barron was born Francine Stephanie Barron in Binghamton, NY in 1963, the last of six girls. Her father was a retired general in the Air Force, her mother a beautiful woman who loved to dance. The family spent their summers on Cape Cod, where two of the Barron girls now live with their families; Francine’s passion for Nantucket and the New England shoreline dates from her earliest memories. She grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, a two hundred year-old Catholic school for girls that shares a wall with Georgetown University. Her father died of a heart attack during her freshman year.
In 1981, she started college at Princeton – one of the most formative experiences of her life. There she fenced for the club varsity team and learned to write news stories for The Daily Princetonian – a hobby that led to two part-time jobs as a journalist for The Miami Herald and The San Jose Mercury News. Francine majored in European History, studying Napoleonic France, and won an Arthur W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities in her senior year. But the course she remembers most vividly from her time at Princeton is “The Literature of Fact,” taught by John McPhee, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and staff writer for The New Yorker. John influenced Francine’s writing more than even she knows and certainly more than she is able to say. If there were an altar erected to the man in Colorado, she’d place offerings there daily. He’s her personal god of craft.

Francine spent three years at Stanford pursuing a doctorate in history; she failed to write her dissertation (on the Brazilian Bar Association under authoritarianism; can you blame her?) and left with a Masters. She applied to the CIA, spent a year temping in Northern Virginia while the FBI asked inconvenient questions of everyone she had ever known, passed a polygraph test on her twenty-sixth birthday, and was immediately thrown into the Career Trainee program: Boot Camp for the Agency’s Best and Brightest. Four years as an intelligence analyst at the CIA were profoundly fulfilling, the highlights being Francine’s work on the Counterterrorism Center’s investigation into the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and sleeping on a horsehair mattress in a Spectre-era casino in the middle of Bratislava. Another peak moment was her chance to debrief ex-President George Bush in Houston in 1993. But what she remembers most about the place are the extraordinary intelligence and dedication of most of the staff – many of them women – many of whom cannot be named.

She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Fifteen books have followed, along with sundry children, dogs, and houses. When she’s not writing, she likes to ski, garden, needlepoint, and buy art. Her phone number is definitely unlisted.

You can also find out more info at Barron’s blog.  Click here.

All Things Austen: Old Friends and New Fancies

20 Feb

Old Friends and New Fancies was the first Jane Austen sequel written.  Combining characters, many of them minor characters, from the major novels written by Austen and set in locations described by the books, Sybil Brinton succeeded in tying up romantic loose ends.  Some of the characters have matured, but others are still up to old tricks. If you dislike Emma Woodhouse, you will probably not be surprised at her development as Mrs. Knightley. According to, not much is known about Ms. Brinton, other than she is thought to have resided in England and written Old Friends in her thirties.

While not my favorite of the sequels, Old Friends is a must-read for all Austen fans.  How can you not read the very first sequel ever.  And no matter which book is your favorite, you’ll find characters you like.


From Amazon:

Originally published in 1914, this charming and original sequel to the novels of Jane Austen intertwines the lives of the most beloved characters from all six Austen novels with new characters of the author’s devising. Inventive matchmaking leads numerous pairs of lovers through the inevitable (and entertaining) difficulties they must encounter before they are united in the end.


Old Friends and New Fancies is a gratifying read for any Jane Austen enthusiast.

All Things Austen: Just Jane

16 Feb

Not a lot is known about Jane Austen’s life and loves.  Her sister Cassandra made sure of that by fulfilling her sister’s wishes in destroying most of Jane’s correspondence.   What is left is an incomplete look into who Jane Austen was and what shaped the novels that so many love.  Nancy Moser has taken the small amount of information and written a biographical novel of Jane’s life — Just Jane. I have not found a book by Nancy Moser that I didn’t like, so when she chose Jane Austen as her subject, I knew it would be book-love.  So if you want a great what-if about a much beloved author choose Just Jane.


Pride and PrejudiceSense and SensibilityEmma…these titles conjure up a romantic world of rolling English countrysides, elegant balls, noble gentlemen, and headstrong gentlemens daughters. But how much do we know about the woman who immortalized those times and names like Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett? Growing up in a clergymans home gave Jane Austen opportunities to watch human nature at its best…and worst.



Nancy Moser is the author of three inspirational humor books and eighteen novels, including Mozart’s Sister, Just Jane, and Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner. She is an inspirational speaker, giving seminars around the country. She has earned a degree in architecture; run a business with her husband; traveled extensively in Europe; and has performed in various theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She and her husband have three grown children and make their home in the Midwest.

All Things Austen: Mrs. Elton in America

8 Feb

I love Jane Austen — all things Jane — her books, the movies, the knock-off sequels, and modern day adaptations.    While I draw the line at zombies, I don’t mind a little vampire and think the Bollywood version of P&P is a hoot!  (If you haven’t seen Bride and Prejudice, you need to run right out and rent it!)  So with so much Austen in the marketplace and in my home, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the better examples of this phenomenon.

For my first All Things Austen post, I have chosen one of the best sequels written (IMHO) — Mrs. Elton in America. While I found little to recommend Mrs. E. within the pages of Emma, dear Augusta redeems herself in her adventures in the American wild west.  She faces adversity and Indian raids with aplomb.  Unfortunately Mr. Elton is still a weenie, but this is his wife’s book after all.  And don’t you just love the cover.  I can just see Mrs. Elton commandeering the horses in the corral.  The three stories in the collection are great. Check them out today.

Diana Birchall writes:

In Defense of Mrs. Elton had an interesting evolution. It began as an internet serial told on the Janeites online literary list. The group was discussing this obnoxious character from Jane Austen’s Emma, and I undertook to defend her. My defense took the form of a serial story, told in eleven parts over the period of about a month, and the response from the geographically far-flung, but intellectually close-knit Janeites community was startling. I received responses, actual fan letters, while I was still writing, and had the amusement of seeing more scholarly inclined readers analyzing what I was writing while I was still writing it. One person wrote that watching “Mrs. Elton” unfold electronically must be like the way it was when people in America met ships from England at the dock and shouted, “Did Little Nell die?” Yet the early serial writers never knew the instant response that is now possible on line, and which was so thrilling for me. The story’s popularity led to its publication and distribution by The Jane Austen Society in America in Canada, Australia and England, in an edition wittily illustrated by Juliet McMaster. A play based on The Courtship of Mrs. Elton has been performed by Jane Austen groups. All three “Mrs. Elton” stories are collected in the volume, Mrs. Elton in America.

Diana Birchall grew up in New York City, and was educated at Hunter College Elementary School, the High School of Music and Art, and C.C.N.Y, where she studied history and English literature. She has worked in the film industry for many years and is the “book person” story analyst at Warner Bros. Studios, reading novels to see if they would make movies. A lifelong student of Jane Austen, whom she calls her writing teacher, Diana is the author of Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, a charming and best-selling sequel to Jane Aust en’s Pride and Prejudice. Originally published by Egerton House Press in England, it is now available in a new reprint edition from Sourcebooks. Diana’s comedy pastiche In Defense of Mrs. Elton, based on characters from Jane Austen’sEmma, was published by the Jane Austen Society in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. It forms part of the “compleat” Mrs. Elton Trilogy, which is collected in the volume Mrs. Elton in America, published by Sourcebooks.

Diana has also written a scholarly biography of her grandmother, Onoto Watanna, the first Asian American novelist (University of Illinois Press, 2001), which was nominated for an MLA Independent Scholar Award and favorably reviewed in Library Journal, ANQ, Choice, Toronto Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, and Macleans Magazine. 

Her story, “Jane Austen’s Cat,” is featured in a forthcoming anthology of Austen-inspired stories by top “Austenesque” authors, to be published by Random House in Spring, 2011.

She has lectured about her books across the country and in Canada and England, has been the subject of a Master’s Tea at Yale University, has addressed the Writers in Oxford Group at Oxford University, and has been keynote speaker at a Romantic Novelists Association conference and a Western History conference at the University of Calgary. Other lectures have been at Columbia University, N.Y.U., the Simone de Beauvoir Institute for Women’s Studies in Montreal, the Association for Asian American Studies, Ethnic Studies Association, Western Literature Association, Vancouver Asian American Festival, American Literature Association, the Silver Lake Film Festival, Beyond Baroque, and many others. Her play, The Courtship of Mrs. Elton, has had readings/​performances in a dozen cities, notably at the JASNA Vancouver AGM and at JASNA-New York, with the actress Kathleen Chalfant as the Narrator. Diana lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and son.