As you can tell from the book’s blurb, something happens in the story which threatens Jane Austen’s very existence and, as a result, her rich literary legacy. We thought it would be interesting to ask this question – of you, our readers, our guests and ourselves:
How would your life be different or affected if something had prevented Jane Austen from ever publishing her novels?
We’re delighted to welcome, as our first ever guest attempting to answer the question, the charming Miss Rita Watts from All Things Jane Austen!
Over to you, Rita!
Dear Tabby Cow readers
My name is Rita Watts, and I have a page on Facebook called All Things Jane Austen which has, at this moment, more than 21,000 followers. Crazy, right?
No, you are actually wrong. This is just one thing that can happen when people enter the world of Jane Austen. She has the power. She is the ultimate superhero. Why? She travels across time and space and just gets bigger and bigger. There is no limit to the things she can make happen to you even though she no longer lives amongst us with an earthly body. It is because of her that I met a person who is now one of my best friends ever and one of the authors of this blog – Cass Grafton.
She asked me to tell you about my page on Facebook, but I think it is better if you just go there and snoop around whenever you feel like it here. There are albums for all tastes and inclinations. It has been a wonderful ride since I started it in 2012. However, my love for Jane is way older than that.
I first read Pride & Prejudice when I was around 12 and thought it was the best story ever. Skip many years, a college degree, a foreign husband, several different jobs, many different Austen adaptations and a new obsession emerges: Facebook.
It became quite important to me. I am a Brazilian girl living in the USA, very far from my family, because of my American husband. You will find me quite happy but also quite lonely. It’s 2011 and Facebook is finally a hit in Brazil, and I am able to connect to my old friends and family. From there, to connecting to other Jane Austen fans was just serendipity.
Not only have I found Janeites in Brazil, but everywhere in the world, including close to me – within driving distance! It is the miracle that is JASNA – The Jane Austen Society of North America. There are chapters everywhere, where they love Jane Austen so much they dress up in Regency clothing, to sip tea and read her books over and over, among many other wonderful events.
This is how Jane took over my life. I couldn’t have enough. She saved me from sure depression and a life lacking a bigger purpose – writing and sharing my love for all things Jane. I always dreamed about being a writer, but only after getting immersed in her world could I foresee a real possibility to become an author one day.
So when Cass and Ada asked me to imagine my life without Jane, I just stopped in my tracks. A world without Jane Austen’s books? Unthinkable! Preposterous! What were they thinking? How dare they even imagine such a thing.
Well, apparently they really did, and now it is a book I cannot wait to read – just because, how would that be? What a nightmare! I must find out what they are up to! Meanwhile, I must imagine a world without Austen.
There are so many horrible possibilities, I can make a list:
It would be like turning off the power in the middle of a movie
Like watching the colors fade from your favorite painting
Going back to watching motion pictures without sound
Forgetting the words and notes of your favorite song
Gentle readers. I do have a life. I do have a family that I love dearly, but Jane is my beacon. I love her characters (mostly Mr. Darcy, of course – I’m only human) but to me she is the best character of all. A woman of little means defying the status quo of women of her time to the point of having the Regent of her nation asking for a nod in one of her works. Quite astonishing.
The world is not done with her yet. Day after day people discover things that happened because of her and keep happening, despite anyone’s will. Some people would like to have her framed in time but she keeps coming back through her fan fiction authors, spreading her wings to unimaginable lengths and taking us with her.
Girls, what have you done? I must have this book to make sure it is kept safe and no one, I mean, NO ONE can make this come true, or I shall run M.A.D. (My Austen Disappeared).
Full of trepidation
Thank you so much for being our first ever guest, Rita, and for such a great read!
We’re offering one lucky reader of this Blog the chance to win the following:
A copy of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (eBook or paperback, open worldwide)*
A laminated bookmark showing the topaz crosses given to Jane and her sister, Cassandra, by their brother, Charles
A map of Bath in the time of Jane Austen (specifically, from 1803, a significant date in the story)
A set of Jane Austen bookplates
A charming necklace with a quote from one of Jane Austen’s Bath novels
There will be further chances to win the same bundle of prizes each week (on a Wednesday) when each new guest posts their response to the same question.
* Books will be sent out once the release date is reached (early July)
How to Enter
Just leave a comment below, sharing with us how your life would be impacted if those wonderful novels had never been published, those much-loved characters never existed, and Jane Austen had remained completely unknown to the world. All those who comment will be entered into a draw to select the prize winner, which will be announced the following week.