Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What We Can Learn From Jane Austen by Melanie Dickerson

My thanks to Tina for inviting me to write about Jane Austen. I’m excited to be here, discussing what we as writers can learn from my favorite now-deceased author.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or doing mission work in Patagonia for the last six or seven years, you’ve noticed that Jane Austen is all the rage these days. Books about Jane Austen, movie and miniseries adaptations of her books, books about her characters interacting with modern characters, and fan fiction---books featuring her characters in ways Jane never intended---have abounded. Have you heard about the fan-fic book featuring Mr. Darcy as vampire? Or a zombie-slayer? So weird it’s almost funny.

I stumbled upon my first Jane Austen book, Emma, when I was probably fifteen or sixteen and immediately had to read the rest of her books. I will never forget the first time I read Pride and Prejudice. From then on it was my favorite novel. But Jane Austen wasn’t exactly a household name at the time. Sure, she was respected as a great novelist of her day, but she never enjoyed the popularity she does now.

So why ARE Jane Austen’s stories and characters so popular? They aren’t exactly written in the same style as modern best-sellers. For instance, modern writers are encouraged to begin with action, tension, blow something up, murder someone. Show don’t tell. We’re also told that the first line should be a “hook,” something that will grab the reader’s interest right away. But Jane’s books don’t really begin that way. The first line of Emma reads, “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence.”

Not exactly a “hook” by today’s standards.

No, Jane Austen takes the time to tell you about her characters, to properly introduce them, including their foibles and faults. This is a definite no-no for modern writers. We aren’t supposed to TELL, we’re supposed to SHOW through action and dialogue, and avoid “author intrusion” at all cost.

I won’t try to analyze Jane Austen’s books and why they’re so good. There are lots of other people more qualified to do that than I am. I do know that the romance industry has preyed on the popularity of Regencies by publishing tons of them. There’s a certain set of rules that apply to that society, and definite consequences for breaking those rules—remember the probable consequences to Lizzie and Jane when their sister, Lydia, ran off with Wickham? I think part of the reason I love Regencies is because they show the strictures of that society. The cool, deliberate decorum heightens the romance when you see the passion of characters in love.

Two of my favorite authors write Christian Regencies, Ruth Axtell Morren and Linore Rose Burkard.

Harvest House author Linore Rose Burkard, in her Regencies, seems to mimic Jane’s style by breaking some of the same rules. Besides not beginning her books with an exciting hook, Jane Austen broke other rules of writing, such as “Never use omniscient point of view,” and “No switching point-of-view characters within a scene.” Mrs. Burkard’s Regency romance, Before the Season Ends, was actually plucked out of the ranks of self-publishing by Harvest House senior editor Nick Harrison. They have already published the sequel, with a third book to release soon. Her Darcy-esque hero, Mr. Mornay, has captured many a

reader’s fancy, if the 91 reviews on are any indication.

Will this sort of rule-breaking, a la Jane Austen, be a future trend? Who knows, but I think the important thing is that writers write with passion and in their own style, carefully hashing out their stories with extreme attention to fashioning memorable characters—like Jane did.

I had always assumed that the first publisher to read Jane Austen’s work must have recognized her genius immediately. But I found out differently when I read Nancy Moser's fictional but well-researched book about Jane Austen’s life, Just Jane.

Did you know that Jane Austen met with much rejection? That she waited many years before finally seeing her work in print? And even then she didn’t meet with much financial success. She became discouraged, even seemed to experience writers block for a period, but she persevered. She kept writing book after book even when she had no certainty they would ever be published. Perhaps this is the most important lesson we as writers can learn from Jane Austen, and the one I can identify with most!

More About Melanie

When she’s not lost in Austen, Melanie Dickerson lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. Though she loves reading Regencies, she writes historical romances set in medieval Europe and 1880’s Alabama and Tennessee.

Like Tina Russo and many others, Melanie has joined the Everything Austen Challenge. If you’d like to become one of Melanie’s Austen Buddies, comment on her blog, Melanie Writes.


  1. Melanie,

    Thanks for the insights into all things Jane Austin.

    Am I the only one who remains untouched by this? I read her ages ago and haven't made a return visit since.

    I'm curious to know if you could give a few details on what you think makes her characters memorable? That is always the question for me. How to make them memorable--in a good way :)

    On Monday, fellow writer Shirley Jump, a previous Seekerville guest, introduced me to those mall pretzel sticks dipped in almond.

    I'm having them for breakfast this morning, still warm from the oven. There's plenty for everyone.

  2. Ooh. Mall pretzels. Are you talkin Auntie Anne's?

    I admit I can see why someone would find JA's writing difficult to love. I picked up Northanger Abbey last year and was so befuddled by all the characters I gave up. Borrowed the audio book and loved it. Then borrowed the movie.

    I think her draw for readers is her clever dialogue delivered by characters who are busting with emotions (and quirks) under impossible social constraints.

    Melanie, and Tina, how are you doing on your challenge?

    I'm wondering if any other author has ever produced such a legacy as this--after such limited reward during her life. Knowing the Prince Regent liked her books didn't exactly make up for her paltry income.

  3. Mel,
    What a great post to get to read this morning - Jane Austen. I don't know about you, but the phrase "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a fortune must me in want of a wife." Is a hook for me? And I think it goes back to Debra's comment about Jane's clever dialogue.

    I think her strength in character development was in her observation of human behavior and spelling out 'real life' so well in fiction...while adding her biting wit. It's fantastic.

    Now she does keep with some popular methods of creating a question or change in the very beginning. In P & P, some rich fella has moved in next door and that's BIG news for a family with 5 single women.

    In Persuasion, we find out that Anne's unrequited love of eight(??) years before is coming back to town.

    In Northanger Abbey, Katherine's headed to town - and for a country girl that's a big change.

    So even if she develops characters for a while, the reader is in the middle of a change within those characters lives, even if it isn't immediate action.

    Those are my thoughts - am I way off? Which is possible. I haven't had breakfast yet, but the cinnamon rolls are ready and the bacon is on the way :-)

  4. Hi, Cathy!

    I just finished re-reading Emma and the characters are the very thing that really struck me, reading this again after at least 20 years. Her characters are so vivid. They each have a very pronounced quirk or characteristic, and she takes the time to show them interacting with the other characters, with lots of "showing" dialogue.

    For instance, we have Mr. Woodhouse, whose primary concern in life is his own--and everybody else's--good health. He expresses his concern to a character about their walking when the ground is wet, and he himself refuses to go out unless he knows there's a fire he can sit by as soon as he gets there. In fact, he turns down invitations so much that people begin to make special provisions for him, or they don't invite him at all. He expresses to everyone the excellence of his apothecary, Mr. Perry, and believes they should send for him whenever they have the least indication of any kind of illness. He can't bear to think of his daughter ever getting married. That might be detrimental to her health in some way or other, and would certainly take her away from him, and that would be a sad business for them both.

    And since Emma loves her father and wants him to be happy, she decides she will never marry.

    I see Mr. Woodhouse sitting by the fire, fussy and nervous. I feel like I know him personally by the time I finish half the book. And there are several other, very memorable characters in Emma. They each have a particular way of talking, and you wouldn't have to have dialogue tags to know who is speaking. You have the low-born, rude, conceited Mrs. Elton, the flirtatious, high-strung Frank Churchill, the cool and reserved Jane Fairfax, the poor old spinster who never stops her nervous chatter, Miss Bates, and the falling-in-and-out-of-love Harriet Smith. You have these delightfully funny characters constantly interacting with each other and with the hero and heroine. There is nothing to equal it in modern literature, IMHO. And I'm not even sure you could get away with all that time and attention devoted to characterization these days.

  5. Hi, Debra!

    Actually, Northanger Abbey is probably my least favorite of JA's books. It's written in a different style. I believe she was trying to write a satire of the popular gothic romances of her day. I haven't read that one in over 20 years, either!

    For the challenge, I decided to read Jane Austen's 6 books, but I've only finished one, Emma, so far. I thought it would be easy to read 6 books in 6 months, but JA's books need to be read slowly. There's so much wit and wisdom to them. I also have to read all the new releases of my favorite authors, like Mary, :-) so it may be kind of hard. But it will be fun to try!

  6. Pepper! You are so right!

    Emma is probably the exception, really. Jane Austen's other books do have a hook, a problem that seems insurmountable at the beginning of the story. She creates instant sympathy for the heroine, and has us rooting for her. Her books are true romances, because we are immediately anxious for the hero and heroine to get together, but wondering how in the world it's going to happen.

    And you're right about the biting wit. She's the queen of sparkling dialogue.

  7. Okay who left the pot empty? You know the rules.

    Good morning, Melanie.
    Great post, since I am Jane's most recent fan.

    Cathy Shouse, where have you been?

  8. After reading a recent post by Camy and an article by Randy Ingermanson I am really more aware of the subtext in the dialogue in Austen books. None so much as P & P. That book is nothing but subtext and so well done.

  9. Good morning, Melanie. Your post makes me want to read Jane Austin again! I'm eager to see how she shows character, especially through dialogue.

    Thanks for the coffee, Debra, and the cinnamon rolls and bacon, Pepper!


  10. What a fun post, Melanie! As a die-hard JA fan myself, I love to see this ever burgeoning appreciation for her work. I detest some of it--such as the vampire intrusions. It seems so unfair (she's not here to stop it) and unworthy of her.

    Thank you for the awesome honor of being one of your favorite writers!! I'm truly impressed and humbled. I do hope readers will understand, however, that I (like you) read Jane eons ago and the last thing on my mind when I write is to "mimic" her. My idea is to recreate the England of her day, but I cannot lay claim to intentionally breaking any writing rules, as you have so generously attributed to me.

    If I do "break the rules," it is both my blessing and my curse, so to speak. It is a blessing because readers love my books and my style allows me to tell the stories I see in my head as though a movie were unfolding before my eyes. It is unfortunate that some would consider this "rule breaking," rather than good storytelling!

    How fortunate for us that JA, Dickens and other marvelous writers from the past did not cramp their style by having to cater to modern ideas of writing. Wouldn't you agree?

    Thanks again for the fun post.


  11. Hi, Tina! I am so honored to be a guest blogger in Seekerville, but I was scared to death when you asked me to post about Jane Austen. But so far so good. Nobody's told me (yet) that this is the most boring post they've ever read in Seekerville.

    Sorry I didn't bring breakfast. We had leftover birthday cake and milk for breakfast, since yesterday was my daughter's birthday. :-) There's still some left, so I'll offer it, plus I'll whip up some cranberry scones and Devonshire cream in honor of Jane Austen this morning. Enjoy!

    Tina, my favorite JA book is Pride and Prejudice, too! Such a great story. I'm going to enjoy re-reading it.

  12. Thanks, Janet! I'm excited that you're inspired to read JA again! Her characters are so vivid and real. I really can't do justice to all the reasons why.

  13. *sigh* As you know Melanie I am here because of you. I hate to admit this to all you Jane fans but I have not read one of her books. Nope not even P and P. Small school no lit class. Sorry ladies. I know I am near to a freak. But I think I am going to have to break down and read one of these Jane books you all rave about. I wonder if I will be like Cathy S and remain untouched by Jane or like you Melanie and fall in love. Well I'm off to take my son to mow grass.

  14. Oh my, Linore Rose Burkard stopped by. Welcome to Seekerville. We are honored and delighted.

    BTW if you click on her book it will take you straight to Amazon where you can order it. I have. And Ruth's. And Just Jane. Stocking up for winter :)

  15. Thanks for stopping by, Linore! You already know what a big fan of yours I am! Your books are a romp!

    Yes, I'm glad Jane Austen, Dickens, and many others didn't have to worry about "rules." Or did they? Something to ponder. But as you say, they certainly have a wonderful style, "uncramped" by anything that I can perceive. They didn't get criticized for using omniscient POV, which modern writers are expected to avoid like the plague. Like we're supposed to avoid cliches! I guess I'm just a rebel. :-)

  16. It's okay, Debbie Lynne. I love you anyway! LOL

    But you should at least read one and give it a try. P & P is my favorite, but Sense & Sensibility is almost as good, and so is Persuasion.

  17. Melanie,
    Boring? No way, this isn't boring. How can you possibly put 'boring' and Jane Austen in the same sentence :-)

    Btw, P &P is my favorite, with Emma next (but I think that's mostly due to Jeremy Northam) and Sense & Sensibility.

    Anyone read the finished Sanditon? It seemed very different to me - not bad, just not as good as the others. Of course, someone had to complete the incomplete manuscript for JA.

    If you guys like regency novels at all, Linore's are great. And Debbie, if you need a kind of transition book to get into 'regency' feel, I suggest you start with Linore's books and move into Austen from there.

    I'm in the middle of reading Just Jane right now and it's very well done. Nancy Moser has an excellent way of weaving those intricate historical facts into her fiction in a believable way.

  18. Tina, I'm so excited you're going to read Linore's book and Ruth Axtell Morren's! Morren, in my opinion, is the best unsung Christian writer today. Her books take my breath away! Actually, A Bride of Honor is the second in a series. The first is The Making of a Gentleman, which is also wonderful, but you can read A Bride of Honor first. It stands alone. Another recent release of hers that was fabulous was A Man Most Worthy. Mmmmmmm, good. All Regencies.

  19. MELANIE!!!! How fun to see you here, and what a great post!

    Now at the risk of damaging our friendship, I'm hiding behind DebbieLynne when I say that I have never read Jane Austin ... or maybe I did in school but don't remember because it was so long ago. I don't know if it redeems me or not, but I have seen Pride and Prejudice at least 15 times (the Keira Knighly version 14 times, the Colin Firth version once) and love it, of course. I have also read Linore's Before the Season Ends and really enjoyed it as well.

    Guess that means I need to put Jane on my list, doesn't it?

    Are you still talking to me ...? :)


  20. Thanks, Pepper! I knew I couldn't bore the true Janeites! LOL

    I'll have to read Sanditon some day.

    Just Jane by Nancy Moser is fabulous. It encouraged me so much as a writer, and it was just plain good. One of my favorite books.

  21. Hi, JULIE! LOL I still love you!

    Julie, you really should read Jane Austen once in your life. I promise you'll love her or your money back! I can't imagine you not loving her books.

    The first time I read Pride and Prejudice I had never seen the movie and didn't khow the story, and I was glued to that book, in a fever to know what was going to happen next. I remember jumping out of my chair and pacing as I read! It was the best story EVER! So many surprising twists, and Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth were soooooo perfect for each other. Too bad one can't read a book for the first time more than once!

  22. Melanie! Greetings from your former neighbor in Alabama. Great post. I don't enjoy a lot of regencies, but I did like Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Hope you're doing well. Will I see you in Denver? (Need any cases of water?) : )

  23. Hey, Jill! (Have to say Hey, not Hi, for a former fellow Alabamian!) Long time no see!

    Yes, I'll be in Denver! You know, I might be able to have a case shipped to the hotel. Hmmm, I'll have to look into that! LOL

  24. Okay, guys. We have water in Denver. We even have Chik Fil-a. So you can still get sweet tea.

    It's going to be okay. I promise

  25. Tina, I used to drink tons and tons of water. I don't so much anymore, but I took a case of water to Jill before the 2006 conference in Dallas, because she was driving, and she brought it to Dallas for me. Wasn't that sweet of her? LOL I don't think I would have survived without it! I can't have caffeine--it affects me in lots of bad ways--and the water in hotel shops is astronomical.

    Hey, what's with altitude sickness, Tina? Just a myth? Or is it REAL??? And how can we protect ourselves?

  26. I didn't become an Austen fan until a few years ago, myself, after the movie "Sense and Sensibility." I read her books in college but they didn't do much for me. Suddenly, they've come alive for me and I love the feeling of sinking down into the period and the characters.

    And Nancy Moser's book about Jane Austen herself made it that much more personal. Loved it!

  27. I have only enjoyed Austen on the big screen so far. I know, I know, I am missing out on the real Jane Austen--in print. I'll put her on my TBR list, now. thanks, Melanie, for a good guilt trip! LOL
    Seriously, this was a fun article and so glad to see some Christian writers making good on a great tradition with regency books.

    : )

  28. Terrific post! I'm participating in the Everything Austen Challenge too! It's the perfect excuse for an Austen addict like me to read/watch/discuss as much Austen as possible! You mentioned a book about Darcy as a vampire, well I just got that one in the mail yesterday and so far it's actually good! But I'm into pretty much any kind of twist on Jane Austen (ie. I loved the movie Lost in Austen). Thanks again for this great post!

  29. I remember when a friend of mine discovered Jane Austen as an adult (unlike a lot of us, like Melanie, who discovered her as an adolescent). My friend said, you can't read Jane Austen's books as romances or you'll be very frustrated. This is because, although her books are primarily romances, there's very little interaction between hero & heroine. The primary enjoyment of Austen's novels for me lies in her WIT. She is so gently ironic in drawing the secondary characters. I think this is why her books are still popular. Her language might be a lot more formal than we are used to today, or wordier, but the humor and insight are so relevant!
    My favorite books of hers are Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice.

  30. You're really close to a grocery store at the Marriott.

    Just drink lots of water--in fact nothing but water is a good idea the first two days and avoid soda and caffeinated beverages. Some people are tired and some are dizzy. But as long as you aren't running a marathon you probably will be fine. Bring your sunglasses too, BTW, our UV index is much higher than yours in Alabama.

  31. Ruth, I so agree. Persuasion and P & P run neck and neck for me as favorites. I can't choose. It is the wit and humor and subtext that do it for me.

  32. P.S. I didn't mean to leave an Anonymous comment previously.
    Ruth Axtell Morren

  33. Great post, Melanie! The more I write, the more I discover how much of an impact Jane had on me. I love all of her books, and P & P is definitely fantastic, love it - but I have to say I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey. Maybe because it did stand out as different than the rest. Mansfield Park is a fav of mine, too. Although, honestly how do you pick a favorite out of so many jewels?

    I've been trying to keep up w/the 6 things Jane in 6 months as well. I just finished The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James and LOVED it. I couldn't put it down, it was so well done. All Janeites should read it. I love the idea that Jane had a secret Mr. Darcy of her own, even if they couldn't be together.

  34. OH MY, It's THAT Ruth!!

    Welcome to Seekerville. What an honor.

    Gosh I nearly dropped my coffee cup.

    (Think Jane Austen might stop by next??)

  35. Good Morning, Melanie! I'm an Austen fan, too -- first read her in junior high (a long time before anyone ever heard of Colin Firth!). Thanks for giving the heads-up on Ruth Axtell Morren and Linore Rose Burkard. I'll definitely try them!

    I used to love to read Regencies--the gentle comedy of manners--but in recent years so many have just poked a story into the time period so publishers can deem it "A Regency," but they totally lack the social restrictions of the time, tongue-in-cheek humor, and witty repartee that made them so enjoyable.

  36. I love Jane Austin too!

    By the way, does anyone need a roommate for the ACFW conference in Denver? I would love to split the cost with someone and I think it would more fun than staying alone.

    Let me know.
    Janelle Ashley

  37. Melanie,

    Great post! You're always so supportive of Seekerville and it's great to finally get to hear from you.

    I hope you'll guestblog for us more often.


  38. Melanie, as I read your post your obsession...ummm, I mean passion for Jane Austen was infectious. Much like H1N1. But in a very good way.


    We go on family vacation in a couple days. My books of reading pleasure are Camy Tang's DEADLY INTENT and Jane Austen's EMMA.

  39. Hi, Melanie.
    Welcome to the sled dog side of Seekerville. We put you to work. :)

    Great post.

  40. Tina,
    If JA did stop by, I wonder what she'd say ;-)
    "It's a truth universally acknowledged that women who aspire to write will receive rejection before publication" ? ;-)

  41. i've read one jane. But I'll go read more now. I know I'm coming late to the party.

  42. i've read one jane. But I'll go read more now. I know I'm coming late to the party.

  43. Melanie, I think you hit on something -- rules of society.

    Jane used them well in her writing.

    However, we don't have many of those today. We dress casually for the most important occassion. It's no shame for a young man or young woman to walk up to someone of the opposite sex and introduce themselves.

    Young people are sleeping together and single teen moms raising babies. Affairs and same sex relationships are viewed as the norm.

    How can we write if there is NO scandal? ;) The biggest taboo we have now is what. . .smoking? ha!

    Now writers deal with the weightier subjects like incest, alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse.

    I can see why Regency Romances remain popular.

  44. Wow! I went to the gym for a little exercise and come back to some great comments! What fun.

    Hi, Robin! Yay, I'm glad you jumped on the bandwagon! I love all my Austen Buddies!

    Kathleen L, thanks for letting me inspire you to read Jane Austen! :-) It IS great to have some Christian writers writing Regencies.

    And I'm so honored Ruth Axtell Morren stopped by--and Linore, too. I am so impressed by Ruth's books that I have to write her and tell her every time I read one. I'll try not to stalk her at the conference! LOL

  45. Someone once said,

    To flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed in turn, is but a state of half enjoyment.

    Oh, wait it was me. I thank you for your kind comments and look forward to the opportunity to read all of your novels in due time.

  46. Yay, Renee! Another Austen Buddy! So the vampire Darcy is good? I'll take your word for it!

    Hi, April! So fun to see you here! I saw that you're guesting in Seekerville later in the week. How cool. And Northanger Abbey is good, very gothic-y and different from her other books.

    Thanks, Tina for the tips! I'll drink all the water I can get, and not run any marathons, so that is a load off my mind. ;-)

  47. Hi, Glynna! So glad to know you're an Austen fan! And isn't Colin Firth a great Mr. Darcy? I love him. He has that pride and yet he plays the last half of the movie with such vulnerability. That's my favorite movie version of P & P. However, nobody really equals the Darcy I have in my head from the first time I read it as a teenager.

    Hi, Janelle! I hope I see you at the conference! Have you checked the ACFW Forum? There was at least one person on there who was still looking for a roommate.

  48. JANE!!!!!!! I'm so honored you stopped by! Tina must have told you we were discussing your excellent books today. Thank you for honoring us with your presence. And I do want to apologize for the strange and often perjurious representations of your characters by modern writers. I hope you are able to take it as something of a compliment, even while unable to actually approve of them.

  49. Hi, Melanie:

    Jane Austen was the first author I had to read in high school that I actually liked. I immediately read her other major books one after the other.

    Has anyone read “Lady Susan” -- her epistolary novel? It is said to be her most perfect ‘Regency’ work. I have it but I never got around to reading it. I just cannot get excited about the ‘letter’ format. Any opinions on this?

    I don’t see Jane Austen as breaking any writing rules. Writing is ultimately about the ‘reading experience’ produced in the reader’s mind. Times change and what is good in one area might fail in another. People had time to read then but did not have TV or movies. Description was very important for the armchair traveler. Books were often rented as we rent movies and sometimes read out loud to a small group.

    A good reading experience for Jane Austen’s fans would be quite different from what today’s fans expect. An author needs to write for her time and hopefully say something of timeless importance so as to span generations and ages. Sometimes, as with Jane Austen, that actually happens.


  50. Aw, thanks, Cheryl. That's sweet of you to say. I'm so thrilled to be here. I'm a huge fan of the Seekers.

    I'm glad I could infect you, Gina! And I'm not familiar with H1N1. What's that?

    And thanks, Mary, for interrupting your vacation to comment! It means a lot to me. *sniff, sniff*

    And Pepper, hey, that's a pretty good adaptation of Jane Austen's first line in P&P. ;-) Jane was here. Maybe she'll come back and comment on it.

  51. Melanie,
    I think you must have a new favorite moment in your life - Jane Austen stopped by AND she is computer saavy. Who knew!

  52. Melanie, I enjoyed your post. I'm another who hasn't actually read Jane's books, although I've seen several versions of her stories adapted on screen. My daughter chides me often, saying watching the movies doesn't count.

    Although I read a few books by Georgette Heyer when I was much younger, I wasn't a big fan of Regency until I discovered Linore's books. She's managed to convert me. So, I've added "Read Jane" to my To-do List.

  53. Rachel, it is so true! Anything goes, now, so it's fun to read stories in which there were strict rules for society, and breaking them, or even just being thought to have broken one, could have severe consequences. You make some very good points.

    Thanks for coming by and for your comment!

  54. Oh my, lunchtime already and all these nice people have stopped in...

    Well, we've got a fine Brit spread for ye' (which I'm chokin' a bit on, me bein' an Irish lass an' all)
    but in honor of her greatness, I've prepared a fine platter of cold beef and pork and chicken with wedges of cheese, plump and flat bread,(in case Mr. Collins happens by, he has dyspepsia, don't you know), dilled green beans fresh from the backyard garden, sliced beets, pickled pears and a soft cheese specially aged. Tea is served on the center cart with accompaniments while there is a tray of cookies from Sister's house down the road. No frosting, of course, this just being lunch.

    Oh my, Melanie, what a lovely post and you travel in some fine company, my little name-dropping pet. Look at you bringin' your friends Ruth and Linore to the party.

    Girls!!!! Thank you THIS much for stopping by Seekerville today! Oh, my, I'm so delighted we have the good plates out and the second best glassware!

    And Hil!!!!! Hil!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HIL!!!!!!!!!!! Come quick with more tea!!!!!!!


    Melanie you outdid yourself, my little Grasshopper. And lived to tell about it!

    Thanks for a great post in Seekerville, girlfriend.

    (Look at that I haven't scolded you or anyone today!!!!



  55. Thanks for your comment, Vince!

    You know, I'd forgotten about Lady Susan. I haven't read that. I need to.

    That's a good point about Jane not breaking the rules of her day. Things have definitely changed, the rules have changed, since Jane was writing. Maybe she did stick to the rules of her time. I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment on that, but I do know that Omniscient POV was not the terrible thing it's thought to be today.

  56. Oh, my goodness! So many comments about Jane! I must confess, I read way more Georgette Heyer than I did Jane Austen, but I LOVE the remake of Pride and Prejudice. Whoever put it together grabbed the best of the intense scenes in the book and linked them together into a faster pace for us modern-style lovers of action.

    Melanie, I SO love the fact that many famous authors weren't acknowledged as such right off that bat. It's so encouraging to us wanna-be's to persevere and not let discouragement reign, isn't it? And I'm really happy Jane's dancing in the spotlight now. For one thing, regency gives us back passion WITH modesty! I'll have to check into the modern regency books you mentioned.

    Thanks, Tina, for inviting a friend to post! What a great way to enlarge our cyber-family treasury! :)

  57. Hi, Keli! Linore's books are great Regencies. I've heard Georgette Heyer's books are wonderful, but I haven't read one yet. I need to put her on my To Be Read List! Thanks for stopping by!

    Yes, Pepper, I'm still in awe of Jane Austen's visit. Truly amazing. ;-)

  58. Oh, Ruthy, knowing you enjoyed my post makes me take a deep breath of relief and satisfaction. Thanks for the huge spread, too! We can always count on you for an appropriate menu. Sounds like the fare at Mr. Knightley's strawberry-picking garden party.

  59. Hello, A. A.! Another Georgette Heyer fan. Note to self: Must pick up a Heyer book from the library.

    It makes me want to persevere when I think about how grateful I am that Jane never stopped writing, even with all the discouragement and lack of success.

  60. I'm on chapter 8 of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange and it's pretty good. It reminds me of Jane Eyre a bit though, I guess because it's a bit gothic in nature (plus there's a scene with a hired fortune teller). So far there's no blood or violence. I'm anxious to see what happens in Lizzie and Darcy's relationship. I'll be sure to review it on my blog to let you know how I feel about the book when I'm finished reading it (probably later tonight)! Thanks again for this great post!

  61. Hi Melanie, Thanks for your insights on Jane Austen. I'm afraid I'm with Cathy and not really a fan, but I do love to read about authors and their journey.

    Its always a pleasure reading your comments here at Seekerville so enjoy reading more from your post.

    Thanks again.

  62. Nice post, Melanie. I have a similar response when people ask me why I write books set in the Regency era. I love your line about the "cool, deliberate decorum" of Regency hero/ines. I admit I became a fan of the BBC adaptations before the novels themselves. I so admire screenwriter Andrew Davies' way with both Austen and Dickens.

  63. Melanie, your deep breath of relief only goes to show that torture does indeed have its place in modern society.

    I spared you humiliations galore and subsequent torture by approving your gentle genius.

    You pay me deep respect.

    A win/win.


    Gotta go get tea ready. ee gads, look at the time!

    HIl!!!!!!! HIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ready the parlor for Tea!!!!!!!

  64. Dear me. This is indeed quite peculiar. Not fond of Jane Austen indeed.

    Have you spent an idle hour perusing my manuscript pages? Or do you speak from presumption?

  65. Excellent Jane Austen commentary! It makes me feel better to know Miss Jane had to wait awhile to be published as well. I am off to find "Just Jane" now. Looks like a great book!

  66. Hey, Melanie, I'm excited to be here Friday. I hope I can do as well as you have. I don't talk Jane, but maybe it will still inspire a little conversation. :)

    I have to say, Jane gets credited with great regency romance (which is true), but I think she also helped originate Chick-lit. Her sassy characters, quick wit and focus on life and the real world were truly unique. Jane is certainly one of a kind, I imagine her writing has been at the root of several common genres today.

  67. Melanie,
    Love your post and JA! Sub-text? YES!!! Who mentioned that? Was it Tina?

    Sub-text makes dialogue rich. That's what I yearn for -- dialogue in the 5,000 calorie range.

  68. Renee, I'll be interested to read your review of Darcy the Vampyre. Let me know when it's up.

    Sandra, darling, I forgive you for not being a fan. I just hope you didn't hurt Jane's feelings. ;-)

    Julie Klassen! As I live and breathe. :-) Thanks for stopping by! I agree with you about Andrew Davies. He's splendiferous. Loved his Sense and Sensibility, too.

  69. Jane, I hope you won't take our dear Sandra's comments too much to heart. She's a very good soul, generally.

    Yes, Ruthy, your gruff demeanor comes in handy for you very often I'm sure.

    Yes, Jodie, even the incomparable Miss Jane Austen had to suffer rejections. Odd, but true.

  70. That's a good point, April! I do believe one could make the case for Jane Austen's novels being the origin of Chick Lit. She introduces more than one possible hero, in most of her novels, such as Emma, and then we have to figure out, with the heroine, which is the right one for her. Plus, the sassy dialogue reminds one of a good Chick Lit.

    Debby! You Southern Belle! Thanks for commenting! Chocolate-cake dialogue--my favorite!!!

  71. April,
    Your comment made me feel even better about writing Chick-Lit - if I can be Austenish in any kind of way, I'm all for it. And here I was thinking I had to don a broad-rimmed hat and day dress with matching spencer to be like JA...what a relief. (Though that sounds fun too)

    Melanie, your post has called such a hub of excitement. What fun! Top REgency Writers even stopped in - Linore, Ruth,...Jane - wow!

  72. Hey Pepper,

    I agree, I'm working on a chick lit series at the moment, and it's surprising how many Jane-ish moments come to mind when mulling over plot lines. I may never be Jane's equal, but it's a great thing to aspire to. It makes me feel better about writing in a genre that often gets a literary smack-down. I have nothing against chick-lit, it's just not the genre I was initially inspired to write. Things have changed and having Jane as my little writer on the shoulder has been a great help.

  73. And don't forget award-winning Christian Regency author Julie Klassen, Pepper! I'm impressed too.

  74. Hey Melanie, great post. I've never been captivated by all things Austen. However, this public renewal has given me a chance to re-visit and re-look.

    I enjoyed the TV mini-series 'Lost in Austen' several months ago. And Sense and Sensibility will be on TV again in a couple days and I'll try to get control of the remote from hubby at that time. But I'll just say 'meh' if I miss it.

    What I do love, though, is to see so many people enthused about romance. Now that's something exciting. :)

  75. Hi Melanie! I posted my review for Mr Darcy Vampyre here!

  76. Melanie, thank you so much for posting today!! I'm late in arriving but am thrilled to join in. I love Austen! Loved the books. Loved the movies. So add me to the list of fans! :)

  77. Mel, thanks for being with us today and keeping the fun going as we share about the immortal Ms. Austen.

  78. Hi, Anita! Thanks for coming by. Yes, romance is something to get enthused about. I think so anyway, since it's all I ever want to write.

    Renee, I'll have to check out your review. Did you finish the book already?

    Thanks, Missy! I was so happy to be here!

    Thanks, Tina, for inviting me. I had a great time.

  79. Julie,
    How can you have seen P&P 14 times and not have read the book???? (After reading it, you will prefer the Colin Firth version by far--its adaptation is so much truer to the book as is the casting--all those wonderful secondary characters like Mr. Collins & his patroness!
    Second only to Jane Austen is Georgette Heyer. I rediscovered her as an adult and her dialogue is so good, period details, etc.
    Hope to meet a lot of you at ACFW

  80. Oh, Ruth, you're right. Mr. Collins is so perfect in that longer, Colin Firth version of P&P. I agree that it's the better adaptation. Slower and longer, but richer and more complete. And we all know that Julie doesn't mind long stories. :-)

  81. Lovely post, Melanie (and, Hi, Tina!! :), I love all things Austen as well. Your comments on the way she persevered with her writing are so very true. I've been inspired for a long time by the passion and faith she had for her stories!

  82. Thanks for commenting, Marilyn! Glad you enjoyed the article. Jane Austen is a great inspiration, isn't she?