Posts tagged with: Jane Austen

The Darcy Factor

Hi Bandits and Bandita Buddies! Today I thought I’d talk about one of my fave historical heroes. He might be over 200 years old, but we all still sigh over Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s immortal Pride and Prejudice.

Last year, I was fascinated (and amused) when a 12-foot statue of Darcy, including nipples under his wet shirt, in his Colin Firth incarnation was placed in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, bang in the middle of London:

p and pNot bad publicity for an old guy. They don’t even do that for the latest pop star! You wonder how many current romantic heroes will pack the same punch in 2215.

As someone who writes romance (and hopefully compelling heroes) for a living, I find the world’s crush on Darcy fascinating. I wonder what he’s got that places him so high in the feminine pantheon of wonderful blokes.

I think part of it is the eternal attraction of the cool boy. Darcy’s richer than anyone else in the story, except maybe the fearsome Lady Catherine de Bourgh. And it would be a brave person who had a crush on her!

Darcy’s handsome. He has a sophisticated sense of humour. He’s impressively clever. Among the many things I love about his exchanges with Elizabeth is that those two are clearly the smartest people in the room. Even while they’re fighting fate, it’s obvious that they’re made for each other.

p and p 4Another part of his attraction is that he’s so articulate. There’s something about that historical language when it’s used to persuade and seduce that turns me to mush. How about his first, disastrous proposal to Lizzie that starts out with, “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”? Wow!

Another heroic aspect of Darcy is that he’s willing to put himself on the line for the sake of the woman he loves. And without any expectation of reward. When he rescues Lydia from the disaster she’s got herself into with the vile Wickham, you know how it chafes at his pride to deal with his enemy. Yet, for Elizabeth’s sake, he does. Not only that, he succeeds – there’s a lot to be said for a competent hero!

We also admire that he sees beyond rank and fortune to Lizzie’s true value. We all love a Cinderella story, and Prince Charming in this particular one comes with the magnificent Pemberley as his palace.

Darcy’s generous enough to see the error of his ways by the end. We adore a self-aware hero who admits to the heroine where he went wrong. And there’s the delicious enjoyment of watching the journey as he struggles with painful change before he reaches his happy ending.

p and p 2So all round when people start talking literary heroes, I do a time slip and go back to the Regency when men wore coats, neck cloths, breeches and boots, and spoke in perfect sentences. Long Live Mr. Darcy! 201 and still going strong!

So what about you? Are you a Darcy girl? Who’s your favourite book hero, historical or contemporary? Do you think the old guys have something going for them that the current crop of whippersnappers don’t? Do you think any of today’s heroes have what it takes to last 200 years as worthy subjects of a literary crush?

Fast Five Favorite Heroes

We love our heroes here in the Lair, don’t we? 🙂 So I’m going to share with you some of my favorites.

download (1)1. Gabriel  MacBain. Okay, if you know me then you know SAVING GRACE by Julie Garwood is my all time favorite Romance Novel. There is so much to love about this book, but one of the best parts is the hero, Gabriel. The heroine is a widow. Her former husband beat her, often on the advice of his Bishop. She doesn’t want to marry again, but for her safety sake, she must. Her step brother, an Englishman brings her to Scotland to the fiercest, most honorable man he knows. Johanna is still fearful, especially after she meets the large brawny Scot. Then she hears his name. Gabriel, the same name as the patron saint for protection of women and children. And it simply gets better from there!


2. Hawkeye. I have to tell you this is one of those instances when I loved the movie more than the book. LAST OF THE MOHICANS by James Fenimore Cooper is a classic novel of the American Frontier during the French and Indian Wars. The language is old and the telling very old. But when you see Daniel Day Lewis play Hawkeye. Oh My! And when he takes Clara’s face in his hands and tells her “Stay alive. I will find you!” Oh. Yeah!!

97803129924223. Vane Kattalakis. The very first wolf shape-shifter hero I ever fell head over heels for. Why? Because he loves Bridie McTierney, a plus-size woman with a heart of gold. 🙂 He loves her, he woos her. She’s his mate for life. Vane is the leader of his clan and he protects what’s his, especially Bridie! Yummo! Trust me when I tell you Sherrilyn Kenyon’s NIGHT PLAY is one of my favorite books and Vane is one of my favorite heroes! I’ve loved the were-hunter books because of him. 


4. Mr. Darcy, of Jane Austin’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Of course. Is there a romance reader who hasn’t fallen for him? I loved him in the book. I loved him in the movie. I loved him in a car. I loved him in a bar…okay, so I’m channeling a little Dr. Seuss here, but let’s face it. I love Mr. Darcy ANYWHERE! My favorite video incarnation is Colin Firth, but I’d take Matthew MacFadyn’s version, too! 

428995. Wrath. The Blind Vampire King from JR Ward’s DARK LOVER and THE KING. Yes, a hero worthy of not just one book, but two! While all the heroes of the Black Dagger Brotherhood are pretty drool worthy, Wrath has held my attention throughout the series. Because of his heroine Beth, he does the one thing he never thought he would, ascends to the throne that is his birthright. Because of her, he fights to keep it. Even when his eyesight leaves him completely, because of her faith in him. Sigh.

 Okay, so these are my five favorite literary heroes. Who are yours? Do you lean more contemporary or historical? Got any vamps or shape-shifters on your list? A movie you watch anytime it’s on, just because HE is the hero?

The Duke Hangs Ten!

letter 3Let’s play a game – and, yes, there are prizes!

But first, some background.

A week or so ago, I found what I thought was a hilarious typo in the manuscript I’m working on (WHAT A DUKE DARES – Cam’s story).

Jonas Merrick’s butler announced my very cool duke hero, Camden Rothermere, as the DUDE of Sedgemoor.

Well, that had me rolling around the floor laughing. Hard to picture Cam with a surfboard and his toes full of sand. I wondered whether the Dude of Sedgemoor would have the family crest embroidered on his boardshorts. And whether he put a wave machine in the lake on his estate. Yes, hours of fun resulted (please don’t judge me, life has been pretty quiet lately – I’m on deadline!).

So I suddenly started to think of other obscure literary characters who were ALMOST (just one letter away, actually!) like their more famous counterparts.

letter 2You all know the start of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Well, there’s a little known sequel that starts like this:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a HAT.

Yes, that’s right, this one stars that sparkling heroine Elizabeth BONNET! You’ll love meeting Mr. and Mrs. Bonnet and Jane, Lizzie, Mary, Kitty and Lydia Bonnet as they scandalize the milliners of Regency London! They don’t give a straw for scandal. Although they do rather like a velvet ribbon or two! And those silk roses are just darling!

Or perhaps you’ve read the sequel to LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase with its sexy if a little smelly hero Lord Dank?

And J.D. Robb can’t keep up with the demand for stories about Eve and DOARKE. Yes, Roarke has a clumsy, socially inept cousin from Tipperary who will steal your heart.

letter 4And don’t forget that Victorian masterpiece that predated 50 SHADES OF GREY. Oh, the doings in Thornfield’s dungeons in CANE EYRE! Cane is a governess with a difference, oh, my! Mr. Rochester hasn’t been the same since he employed our heroine to bring some order to his household!

 So here’s the game (you’ve probably worked it out) – change one letter in the name of a fictional character to turn them into something different. I’m looking forward to a few laughs and the DUDE has laid on a few cold beers to keep us going.

BanditBootyTwo commenters have the chance to win a book (international) from my backlist. Not DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES, sadly, because of geographical restrictions – but everything else is up for grabs! You can find a list of my publications here:

So make me laugh and you might win a book! Good luck!

Foanna at Gold Coast Libraries 31st Jan/1st Feb

Gold Coast LibrariesIf you live on the Gold Coast, don’t miss the Absolutely Austen! Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice event from Tuesday, 29th January to Saturday, 2nd February.

I’m taking part in two FREE events:

Author Encounter with Anna Campbell

When: Thursday 31st January
Where: Southport Branch Library, Corner Garden and Lawson Streets, Southport 4215
Time: 6pm – 7.30pm
Bookings: Please phone (07) 5581 7220

Excessively diverted – why the Regency era is perfect for romance

Romance author Anna Campbell joins a panel of readers to discuss the appeal of the Regency era and the influence of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE on contemporary romance.

When: Friday 1st February
Where: Robina Branch Library, 196 Robina Town Centre Drive, Robina 4226
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm
Bookings: Please phone (07) 5581 1600

For more details, check out Gold Coast Libraries’ website here:

The Evolution of Emily and Jane

by Jo Robertson

Imagine you were born into a society, a time and place, in which your ideas were best kept to yourself, your wit best left unexpressed, your desires best unexplored.

Imagine that you had ambition beyond the usual scope of women in your time and social class.

Imagine that characters and settings burgeoned inside your mind like legendary epics.

Two such women were Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen

Emily Dickinson was a woman so born out of her time that her poetry resonates with a modernism which fascinates and stymies analysts even today. She was a very private woman and poet whose prolific body of work didn’t come to light until after her death (see Amhearst, her home, at right).
Scholars have a hard time classifying her as to a literary period. She wrote most of her poems during the Victorian era but they are nothing representative of the literature of the day. One of her poems aptly expresses this:

They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still” –

Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –

–Emily Dickinson, 1862

I love the idea expressed in this poem — the idea that the mind inside her head was vivid and active, maybe even crazy, even though outwardly she’d been “shut up” or “closeted.” As you can see, Emily’s lines and grammar, her punctuation and syntax defy convention, but the core of her message resonates with modern readers.

Many of her poems deal with the subjects of death and immortality. Although somewhat of a recluse, she was a prolific letter writer. Much of what we know about her personal life and feelings comes from her varied correspondence. And even though she died in 1886, we classify her with the Twentieth Century poets.

Jane Austen is more familiar to readers and writers of romance and no less astonishing a writer. Although she was as prolific a letter writer as Emily, most of Jane’s correspondence is no longer extant and personal, private confirmation of her life is scarce.

Less a recluse than Emily, Jane’s social and family life was broader, and she moved about in society to a more comfortable degree (see Chawtoc, where she spent her last eight years, below).

Much has been made of Jane’s only affair of the heart when she was twenty-one – to Thomas Lefroy, but no real evidence exists that there was more than a youthful attachment on his part, and both likely realized that their economic and social standings prevented anything further.

Nonetheless, Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra in 1796:

“At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea.”

Many scholars believe their relationship inspired her Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

These were arguably two of the most influential and significant writers of their centuries and yet . . .

· neither ever married
· neither ever voted or held public office
· neither had children
· neither became as famous in her lifetime as after her death
· neither was accorded the respect and accolades that her brilliance should have dictated during her life
· both are seriously studied in literature classes throughout the world
· both had undeniably rich inner lives
· both died relatively young (Emily at age 56, Jane at age 42, nearly a century earlier)

Below are two quotes from Becoming Jane, a recent film about Jane Austen’s life:

“Wit is the most treacherous talent of them all.”

“A profound mind is best kept a profound secret.”

So here is my question to you: If you could live in any other time period or place, what would you choose? Or, by contrast, do you feel that the time and place in which you were born was perfect for you? Why?

Or — Have you ever felt “out of joint” as Shakespeare says? Perhaps you didn’t fit in or belong either in your group at work, church, or school, maybe even in your neighborhood? What helped you overcome that? Or did the experience continue to be a painful one?

Anna Campbell Celebrates All Things Jane!

December 16th is the birthday of one of the greatest writers in English and a woman who is in many ways the mother of every romance novel since. Yes, I’m talking about the wonderful Jane Austen who wrote the sparkling Pride and Prejudice and the heart-wrenching Persuasion (my particular favorite among her books). I’d love to have a day of celebration in her honor. I’ll even let people who like Emma and Mansfield Park have their turn, in the interest of fairness!

Jane was born in Steventon in Hampshire in 1775 and died in Winchester in 1817. The words ‘uneventful life’ might have been invented to describe her life. And yet she wrote books that still touch millions of people today, and she reaches millions more through TV and film adaptations of her work. Other people, other WOMEN, were writing when Jane was and yet hers is the voice that has emerged to speak to posterity. I’ve got a few theories of why this is but I’d love to hear your thoughts on why this poor, plain woman, who in terms of her own society was unfulfilled because she never married and had children, is still a superstar 190 years after her death. In fact, probably more a superstar today than ever.
Why do you think the books still move us? Why do we still think they’re sexy? And undoubtedly we do. I remember the swooning sighs when I watched the wet shirt scene from the BBC adaptation with a couple of girlfriends. And a similar reaction to Matthew McFadyen striding through the mists in his long coat to claim his Lizzie in the recent film adaptation. Just in case you’ve forgotten either of those adaptations, I’m attaching a photo or two. Purely for research purposes, you understand. Yeah, right!

A really poignant memory from my 2004 trip to Britain is when I visited Jane’s grave in Winchester Cathedral, not far from Steventon where she was born. The grave marker was set up by her brother and it extols her Christian virtues of charity and kindness and meekness and sweetness. You know the ones I’m talking about! There’s not a word mentioning Jane’s writing. This could be the grave of any respectable, obscure, country spinster.

There’s such an irony in this (although there’s now a brass plaque above the gravestone and a stained glass window above that extolling Jane’s literary achievement). But perhaps that, in its way, is fitting. Irony is the essence of Jane’s style – and I think one of the secrets of her longevity in readers’ hearts. That probing, perceptive, unflinching gaze upon human frailty exposes characters for what they are. But she’s not cruel either – there’s heart with the honesty.

Jane wrote five books and a handful of scraps before she died far too young. Another irony is the legion of sequels to her stories and books about her life and times that have emerged since. One of the most recent is The Lost Memoirs Of Jane Austen by Syrie James which has been receiving excellent reviews (it isn’t officially released for another couple of days). Courtesy of Avon A, I’d love to give one lucky commenter an advanced reader copy of this book. I’ll throw in a few signed coverflats as well, including one for my current release Untouched.

And to keep the Bandita Christmas recipes exchange going, here’s a receipt for ratafia, a drink served at Regency receptions. My advice if you’re intending to make this (and it actually sounds pretty poisonous!) is buy some headache pills with the rest of the ingredients. Those Regency bucks and diamonds of the first water must have had pretty hard heads!

An 1828 recipe for Ratafia:

Into one quart of brandy, pour half a pint of cherry juice, half a pint of currant juice, half a pint of raspberry juice, add a few cloves, some white pepper in grains, two grains of green coriander, and two sticks of cinnamon. Then pound the stones of cherries, and put them in, wood and all. Add 25 or 30 apricot kernels. Cork your demijohn and let it infuse for one month in the shade, shaking it five or six times. After the liquid has infused, strain it through a flannel bag, then through a filtering paper, then bottle and cork it.

So let’s talk about the great Jane! Why do we love her? Why does she still speak to readers in 2007? If she was alive now, what would she be writing? Would she be shocked at what romance novels have become? Or delighted? Which book is your favorite and why? Do you – shock horror! – dislike Jane’s writing? There are no sacred cows here at the Banditas. Or none that we haven’t rustled from the next rancho, anyway. I’ll admit here and now I don’t particularly like Dickens and I loathe Thomas Hardy so I suppose it’s conceivable someone mightn’t like Jane Austen. What’s your favorite film or TV adaptation? And most important of all – who is the most gorgeous Mr. Darcy? The ARC goes to my favorite comment! And Banditas are eligible!

Pride and Prejudice by Anna Campbell (hmm, I wish that book was by me but Jane A got there first!)

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…

Yes, the dreaded moment has arrived when I’m giving my first author talk. Eeek! It’s tonight at Guildford Library in western Sydney if any of you are passing. I’ve coached my friends to watch and see if I look like I’m drying up and if I am, to ask me a series of well orchestrated questions. Stalin’s political rallies are nothing on how staged this talk is going to be!

I’m hoping one of the saving graces of the talk (and of the talker who isn’t exactly used to gigs on a podium!) will be that I feel very strongly about the topic of my speech. It’s Pride and Prejudice. No, not the immortal JA novel. Not even the slightly less immortal but extremely decorative BBC series or the movie (yum, Mr. Darcy is like chocolate in whatever guise!). I’m talking about the fact that I’m proud of writing and reading romance and yet I strike such prejudice out in the general community about my choices.

Why is this so? I’m a reasonably smart woman and my romance writing and reading pals range from smart right up to the scarily brilliant. So it seems patently obvious to me that romance isn’t just read by desperate spinsters who are too silly to know any better. It also seems obvious that romance is a genre where you can really explore the development of a relationship and be brave enough to offer the punters a happy ending. That’s a long way from the soft porn for frustrated women tag that gets tossed around so often. Yeah, there are sex scenes but that’s part of exploring the relationship in all its facets, surely!

Does romance cop flak because it’s fiction mostly written by women for women? Is it like the old if it’s a man in a kitchen, he’s a chef, if it’s a woman, she’s a cook. Is it because in this cynical day and age, romance challenges the prevailing artistic ethos that all human effort comes to dust in the end? I mean, romance writers promote the value of love and hope and endurance through adversity leading to triumph. Not fashionable but definitely empowering.

What are your thoughts on the prejudice against romance? Have you ever struck a snarky comment because you read/write romance? Do you have a fail-safe response?

OH, AND PLEASE ENTER THE FIRST ROMANCE BANDITS CONTEST MENTIONED IN THE COLUMN JUST BELOW THIS ONE! I wish I could, I want the chocs!! I guess I’ll just have to go and drool over Mr. Darcy again instead.