Today, we are delighted to welcome Meredith Esparza from the popular blog, Austenesque Reviews,
Meredith is an avid reader and reviewer who enjoys sharing her thoughts by blogging about and reviewing the books she has read.
Today, she is here to share with us how she first discovered Jane Austen and how having Jane in her life has shaped and changed it!
Over to you, Meredith!
First I’d like to start by saying thank you Cass and Ada for so kindly inviting me to be a part of their lovely new series! Ladies, I’m honored to visit your blog and I’m so very excited to celebrate the release of your new book!
I love thinking back to when I first encountered Jane Austen, because for me it was such a pivotal moment that changed my life. I found Jane Austen by way of the 1940’s Pride and Prejudice film. During my sophomore year of high school I was big into classic romantic films (i.e. Roman Holiday, Three Coins in a Fountain, The Philadelphia Story) and was working my way through the DVD selection at my local library. The cover of the 1940’s Pride and Prejudice film caught my eye. It looked wonderfully romantic and from an elegant time period so I decided to add it to my pile.
I instantly loved it! I know many despise this adaptation for its inaccuracies, costumes, and actors, but I will forever hold it special and dear for introducing me to this world I now happily inhabit. I watched that film probably close to 30 times that first year. I read all of Jane Austen books, watched any movie I could get my hands on. By junior year of high school I was a full-blown Janeite, avid reader, and Jane Austen heroine in training!
If I never heard of Jane Austen or never read any of her works, I think my life would be quite different. I found Jane Austen when I was 15 and credit her for shaping me into the person I’ve become. I was a terribly quiet and shy person in high school (I still am around new people) and felt like I didn’t belong with the people of my age group. When I discovered Jane Austen I felt like I found my niche, I found the mindset and world that I could relate to, understand, and be “perfectly and incandescently happy” in. If I didn’t discover Jane Austen, I don’t know how well I would have matured or how I would have dealt with my shyness and feelings of not fitting in.
In addition, if I didn’t encounter Jane Austen, there is a good chance that there would be no Mr. Bingley in my life (my sweet, affectionate, and amiable husband has always been more Bingley than Darcy!) In my childhood I saw a lot of couples fight and divorce, and not too many that were happy. I thought married people looked perpetually unhappy and I used to vow to myself that I would not marry and become unhappy like them. But after seeing Jane Austen’s heroines find “marriages of true minds” and “perfect happiness,” I started to warm to the idea and hope that such happy unions can exist in real life. When I was 20 I met this warm, easy-going, fun-loving, and persistent music major and fate sealed the deal. This Jane Austen heroine was going to have her very own lovely hero and happy ending. 🙂
Since discovering Jane Austen in 2002, I’ve become a voracious reader. More so than I ever was as a child. After learning who my new favorite author was, a family friend recommended I try some Jane Austen sequels! I spent months looking for them in bookstores to no avail, but luckily I was able to track them down on Amazon! Some of the first ones I read were A Visit to Highbury by Joan Austen-Leigh, The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler, and Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken. Back then Jane Austen inspired books were few and hard to find (not like now!). Many of the ones I found were already out-of-print and were purchased as used copies from third-party sellers.
But that didn’t stop me! I was determined to read anything and everything I could find! I noticed that for a lot of these books there weren’t many reviews on Amazon. And if there were reviews a lot of them were vehemently berating the author for daring to write about Jane Austen’s characters or in her style. Since I didn’t agree with such opinions, I decided to start writing my own reviews for all the books I was reading and enjoying.
In the summer of 2009 I noticed more and more Austenesque books were being published and met author Mary Simonsen through some Amazon chat boards as she was gearing up to publish Searching for Pemberley with Sourcebooks. Mary and I exchanged several emails over the summer and it was she who suggested I start sharing my reviews on my own blog. 🙂 Mr. Bingley encouraged me in this endeavor and on September 22, 2009 Austenesque Reviews was born. Almost 7 years and 400+ reviews later, I am so very happy that I daily get to read, share, and discuss Jane Austen and books with lovely Janeite friends and authors all over the world! It’s amazing how Jane Austen continues to bring so many people together!
Thanks again to Cass and Ada for allowing me this opportunity to share my story with you! 🙂
Meredith Esparza is a piano teacher, business owner, avid reader, and blogger. She lives off the coast of North Carolina happily married to her very own Mr. Bingley. Her blog, Austenesque Reviews, is devoted to the reading and reviewing of numerous Jane Austen sequels, fan-fiction, and para-literature. Visit Meredith at her blog Austenesque Reviews, follow her on Twitter as @Austenesque, and on Facebook as Austenesque Reviews.
Meredith, thank you so much for visiting Tabby Cow and for such a delightful post! It’s been lovely to learn all about how you discovered Jane Austen and about the impact she has made on your life!
Once again, we’re offering one lucky commenter the chance to win a free copy of our upcoming new release, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (find the blurb here), along with the following (all of which have a connection to the plot in one way or another!):
- 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 throughout our series of guest posts.
* eBooks will be sent out once the release date is reached (7th July), but we already have some copies of the paperback, so it can be sent out ahead of the official release date!
How to Enter
It’s simple! Just leave a comment below about anything in Meredith’s post above, or simply share how your life would be affected if Jane Austen had never published her novels.
All those who comment will be entered into a draw to select the prize winner, which will be announced the following week. So far, we’ve had 3 winners, and 2 of them won on their second attempt, so don’t give up if you don’t win first time around!