Final Guest Post and Giveaway: Sophie Andrews

SA black dress

It’s the final week in our series of guest posts (for now, at least!), and today we’re welcoming Sophie Andrews, also known for her popular Blog, Laughing with Lizzie. 

As it’s the final one, we’re making sure we finish with a bang, so the giveaway is a double one (more at the end of the post)!

Sophie was given three questions to consider, much as our other guests were, and here are her responses!

How and when did Jane Austen enter your life?

Jane Austen has been very important in my life, for many different reasons. I was just 9 when I saw the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, but I was a little too young to fully understand the language, so it didn’t really make an impression on me. (I remember very vividly the evening I watched it with my mother, and how she had to keep pausing it to explain what had just been said whenever I looked particularly confused – they often speak very quickly in that film too!)

I watched that film a few more times, and as I grew up I began to fall completely in love with it! But I still wasn’t hooked on Jane Austen, it was just Pride and Prejudice – or actually, to be more accurate, I was just hooked on Mr. Darcy!

SA bookHowever, back in 2011 I was going to be studying Pride and Prejudice for my English exams, and so that summer I had to read it – you have to understand that at the time I really wasn’t a reader. However, given I enjoyed the film, I was looking forward to it. When I was on my summer holidays (in the, rather appropriate even if Lizzy didn’t get there in the end, Lake District!) I read it in a week. I just couldn’t put it down! It seemed strange to my family to see me engrossed in a book, as I guess I used to be like Emma Woodhouse in regards to books and reading!

Pride and Prejudice was amazing from start to finish; I was entranced by the humour and social commentary, and I enjoyed reading the scenes I knew well from the film. I knew Jane Austen was brilliantly funny, but you really don’t get to appreciate her wit first hand unless you read the books. Something seems to get lost in translation when it is adapted into a film; the true Austen humour must be experienced straight from the authoress herself.

SA notebookFrom that moment I was caught up in the elegance and eloquence of Miss Austen’s world and words! I re-read Pride and Prejudice straight away, and I really enjoyed studying it at school, becoming the class expert, and earning myself the nickname “Mrs Darcy” – hence the blog persona! I also got Sophie Jane “Austen” Andrews, as Jane actually is my middle name!

SA notebook interiorAs you can see from these photos, my poor homework diary was completely vandalised that year – I had very dedicated friends too, as the “I ❤ Mr Darcy very much” was scrawled on EVERY page. (They even went so far as to go backwards and write it on the old pages from previous weeks as well!)

Following this, I read Sense and Sensibility, then Emma, followed by Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield Park. There was no stopping me! Having devoured the 6 main stories, I devoted myself to studying all aspects of the Jane Austen phenomenon, from the film and television adaptations, to the fan fiction, commentaries, critiques, information books and biographies, as well as the worldwide online Jane Austen community. There was no going back now – I had become a true and proud Janeite.

Tell us about Laughing with Lizzie 

Carrying on from the above, fast forward a year or so, and after a lot of ‘persuasion’ (if you’ll excuse the pun!) from a friend, along with the offer that she would set it all up and design the layout for me (I am such a technophobe!) I eventually started my blog, “Laughing With Lizzie“.

It was my space to rant and rave about my passion for Jane Austen. It was also my escape; I was having a hard time at school and some family health issues at the time, and so I really threw myself whole heartedly into the world of Jane, enjoying my escape into her world through her books and, subsequently, my blog. Slowly, slowly my blog became more well known, and then about 2 years ago I started my Facebook page. From there, I have no idea how, but so many amazing things have happened for me, and I have participated in so many wonderful events. I have to pinch myself every day, as it is all beyond my wildest dreams!

I have now been blogging for just over 4 years, and I still love to rant and rave about Jane – I don’t think I will ever run out of things to say about her! Since my blog becoming more well known, I have enjoyed being asked to participate in blog tours and having various authors visit with excerpts or guest posts, and I have enjoyed the various interviews I have hosted there too.

SA Zombies
My friends and me having fun at the Vyne recently being Zombie fighters, as we all enjoyed the recent film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Also, since beginning to participate more in the annual festivals and events throughout the year, I have loved sharing my Austen adventures in posts on my blog.

Beginning my Facebook page has been a wonderful way to meet many more Janeites and has been a fun way to share smaller and often silly Jane Austen related things which don’t really necessitate a blog post, so I am very pleased to have gone down that route. (I am currently attempting to get to grips with Twitter as well, but I am still learning the ropes at the moment!)

What I love about my blog and Facebook page is seeing the vast numbers of people, and in so many different countries, that the Jane Austen fandom reaches. I find my blog statistics fascinating; about a year ago my country count reached over 100 different countries, and I have just hit 10,000 followers (or ‘likes’) on Facebook, which just astounds me. It really makes me feel happy to know that through sharing my thoughts and adventures with so many wonderful people and Janeites across the globe, in some small way, I am helping to bring us all together as a ‘family’ with a common interest and passion!

A winter picnic at Basildon park. Another fun adventure, if a little cold!
A winter picnic at Basildon park. Another fun adventure, if a little cold!

Through my various Internet mediums I just love to spread the wit and wisdom of Jane Austen to every corner of the world, and the fact that people seem to enjoy what I share, and like following all my adventures is just a bonus!

How would your life be different if something had prevented Jane Austen from publishing any novels?

SA mirrorOh don’t even say such a thing! Jane Austen really was a saviour for me, so it just doesn’t bear thinking about! She has been such a huge influence in my life, even in this short time since I really got absorbed by the Jane Austen fandom. She has really helped me to find myself as well.

How would it be different… Well, where to begin! Probably most significantly, would be, well, you know how I mentioned earlier that I never used to be a reader? Well, the truth is that I had never read another ‘proper’ book before Pride and Prejudice! Jane Austen brought me to reading, and so without her, I highly doubt if I would be a reader today!

My most recent ball at the Guild Hall in Bath, in my new ball gown!!
My most recent ball at the Guild Hall in Bath, in my new ball gown!!

My love of all things Austen has opened up so many exciting opportunities for me; I have dabbled in the world of audiobook narration, I have been asked to and have had a go at editing or reviewing new Austen-related publications, I play the piano and naturally love to play Regency era piano pieces and music from the screen adaptations which has led me to being asked to perform music recitals for various Jane Austen societies across England, and I attend many annual events, festivals and (which are my favourites!) balls across England throughout the year in full regency costume – I even organised my own regency house party!

I have also been given the opportunity to become an ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, a charity founded by Caroline Knight, Jane Austen’s 5th great niece, which has been a wonderful chance to give something back and feels like a way to thank Jane Austen, and in a way which is going to do some real good for others who are less fortunate.

I could go on and on and on, but I don’t want to bore your readers! In summary, I really don’t want to think about my life without Jane. I can’t even try to imagine it anyway! As well as being the perfect escape when I first read Pride and Prejudice, she is also a perfect escape for me now, for, as many of you are aware, I suffer with some health conditions and have been battling them for the past few years, so yet again, Jane Austen is there for me to escape to, and to give me a welcome and much needed change from hospital appointments!

SA ParasolRight, I shall end my rambling there. Thank you, Cass and Ada, for inviting me to your blog and congratulations on the new book! I remember sitting with you both at Basildon Park over a year ago and hearing you talk about this book – I look forward to finally reading it! And so, all that remains to be said is…

My dear Miss Austen, I thank you. Most ardently.

Links:
Blog: Laughing with Lizzie

Facebook: Laughing with Lizzie page

Twitter: @LaughingWithLiz

YouTube: Laughing with Lizzie YouTube Channel

JALF Charity: Jane Austen Literacy Foundation

The Giveaway!

Cass & Ada on the Royal Crescent!
Cass & Ada on the Royal Crescent!

As this is our final guest post for this series, we’re offering two lucky commenters the chance to win (one from the US and one from Europe/Rest of the World)!

Up for grabs is a copy (paperback or eBook) of our new release, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen* (find the blurb here), along with the following:

For US entries:

  • A ‘Peacock’ cover tote bag
  • Darcy & Elizabeth paper dolls
  • Blue beaded replica Jane Austen bracelet (from the Jane Austen House Museum)
  • A Pride & Prejudice colouring book (hope you can supply your own pens!)
  • A laminated bookmark

For Europe/Rest of the World entries:

  • A silver Jane Austen silhouette charm (made exclusively for the Jane Austen Centre Gift Shop in Bath)
  • A set of Jane Austen bookplates
  • A set of Bennet sister badges
  • A laminated bookmark
  • A Mr Darcy miniature canvas and easel (how cute is this?!)
  • A build-your-own Chawton Cottage

How to Enter

It’s simple! Just leave a comment below about anything in Sophie’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 the draw to select the prize winners, which will be announced the following week.

IMPORTANT! Please let us know in your comment which of the two draw categories you fall into: US or Rest of the World! Many thanks!

Good luck!

112 thoughts on “Final Guest Post and Giveaway: Sophie Andrews

  1. Good questions and answers, ladies. Sophie, even though I was already familiar with parts of your story, I liked reading how your love of all things Austen started and developed into what it is now. You have had some exciting events in your life due to this love of Austen and that is so wonderful. In addition, we have become ‘online’ friends because of Jane. The same is true for Cassandra and now Ada. I’m glad to know all of you!

    Thank you for the lovely post and for the awesome giveaway. Wishing you much success with your new book, Cass and Ada.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lovely to see you here, Janet! I’ve loved the friendships I’ve made online through a shared love of Jane Austen, and I can’t imagine my life without her… well, perhaps we recently did for the book, but you know what I mean! 😉

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      1. Thank you very much for popping by Janet! I am glad you enjoyed learning something new about my story with Jane as well! I am glad to have been able to meet you online as well – I look forward to the day we properly meet!

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  2. It’s so heartwarming to me to experience the joy someone so young (comparatively speaking) (I’m 110, some days) has found in our Jane. To remember so vividly seeing the film at age nine, and being so curious to understand it, that really strikes me. The flame was lit. And, of course, by Darcy. Why NOT?!?! I thoroughly understand the medicine of Jane, Sophie, and am glad you have her to help you through. I pray your medical struggles will resolve, and that you go on Laughing with Lizzie right along with all of us Janeites. I love that, btw, Laughing with Lizzie. Cass and Ada, thanks, again, for the chance to win such an exciting package. I would freak out with happiness were I to win!! Karylee

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lovely to see you here, Karylee! I forgot to add a note in the How to Enter about saying which of the 2 draws you fall into: US or Rest of the World. Can you let me know here? Many thanks!

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      1. Thank YOU, Cass, for such a rich reading experience here on your site. And for your lovely give-aways. I live in California, US.

        Blessedly, for my spirit, I have been to Jane’s house at Chawton, and to the Cathedral. Both remembered viscerally.

        Your trip sounds and looks AMAZING. Bon Voyage. Karylee

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you very much for coming by! And thank you for your words. I am glad I have found Jane from such a young age as well, rather than not finding such joy till much later. Thank you for your kind words about my health as well! And thank you for laughing with lizzie! #keeplaughing Good luck with the giveaway!

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    1. SO true, Sandy. And to find one that you ‘need’ to read again and again… well! That’s me and P&P.

      I love your comment. Karylee

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was fifteen when I read my first Austen novel as I was looking for a new book to read. Suddenly, an urge to read a classic came to me and there, I started to read Pride and Prejudice. At first, it was quite hard for me to read as its style is different from the modern novels I’ve read. The time I finished the book- I felt like I was glowing and I became hungry for more Jane Austen! I watched movies and other stuff related to Jane Austen and read her other novels too! I really do agree with Sophie that Jane Austen has influenced me so much that I can’t even imagine myself had someone/something prevented her from publishing her books. Plus, it’s been really fun getting to know more Janeites with all the fun, rants, and imagination. Thanks so much for this giveaway and God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good luck in the giveaway! I forgot to ask people to say which draw they fit into, US or Rest of the World! Can you let me know here in the Comments? Many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi thatlittlegirl!

      I’ve tried to email you but no response. You were a winner on last week’s guest post! Can you contact me so we can sort out getting your prizes to you?

      Many thanks

      Cass

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved Sophie’s answers to the questions. I’ve enjoyed Sophie’s blog, facebook page and she is another Janite I never would’ve met if Jane Austen had not written her books. Thank you for the generous give away. I’m in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had been smart enough when I was a kid to choose Jane Austen as a thesis – just imagine how much more fun researching would have been!

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      1. Thank you so much! What a lovely thing to say – I saw your comment on facebook too! I am glad you enjoyed my post! Good luck with the giveaway!

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  5. Loved reading about your history with JA, Sophie! She has brought such pleasure to so many people through her wit and wisdom, and I’ve no doubt she will continue to do so for a very long time.

    Thanks for the lovely giveaway (US for me)!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love hearing how you fell in love with Austen! ( or rather Mr. Darcy!) I first saw 1995 adaptation as well and fell in love! I have since found my Mr Darcy-though he’s more like Bingley than Darcy-and my passion for all things JA has only grown!

    US entry here!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for coming by! I am glad you enjoyed reading my story! I really hope to find my Darcy/Bingley too! Well done on finding yours! Good luck in the draw!

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  7. What a lovely interview! I’m sure many of us can relate to your difficulty in appreciating JA as a child — when I first read P&P at a young age I thought it quite silly and stilted. Re-reading when old enough to appreciate it has made an enormous difference in my life too … “meeting” so many wonderful people in the JAFF community. Yes, what would we do without Jane?

    Re Twitter: I approach writing tweets like writing haiku: it’s a challenge to write something cogent or clever within the framework of 140 characters, but it pleasantly forces you to abandon the extraneous. (I originally took well to twitter because I love to read and write haiku.) A friend of mine was also struggling with Twitter and I offered her the haiku analogy. Being an artist, she got it immediately and last I heard she had several thousand followers! So good luck to you, Sophie!

    Greying skies above
    a blue-black Earth, in despair
    let their teardrops fall.

    Best wishes to all of you from here in the States. JanisB

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You certainly ended this series of posts with a bang, Cass and Ada. Well done!!!

    I waited until the ripe old age of 55 before reading any of Jane Austen’s books. What I missed!!! I was quite surprised to find a whole new world of Austen lovers/addicts on the Internet. One of the first blogs I found was Janet Taylor’s. The next was Sophie’s. It has been a delight for me to become true friends with both women.

    I find it intriguing how often immersing ourselves in Jane’s Regency world helps us get past some pretty horrid health struggles. We do what we can when we can, do we not? Sophie, it makes me proud to see you jump into Austen related activities on the days when you are able, for I know what your other days are like.

    Thank you for the glimpse into your youth, Sophie. The school notebooks are wonderful memories you will cherish. The pictures of you are lovely. Best of wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the lovely response, Joy. It’s the friendships I’ve made which resonate most deeply in all of this!

      I think you’re US based, but could you just confirm for the draw, please? Many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What a lovely comment Joy! Thank you! I am so glad I met you through Jane, and I am glad my blog was your second find! how fun! Jane really does help so many people in so many different ways, but through difficult times with health seems to be a common one! I am glad you liked my stories of youth too! Thank you again!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful description of your journey to Jane. I can’t believe I never had to read Austen in high school or college. So happy I found her on my own! And I’m in U.S.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Greeting from the Pacific Northwest where I am enjoying an enviable sunny, non-humid summer!

    With no Jane Austen, I would never have met any of my online “ax murderers” or become a top reviewer or editor. My little world would be less.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent! I am certain Jane Austen would be delighted to hear your news!!

      Congrats on the non-humid summer, too. It’s unusually so here in Switzerland!

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    1. Ooo, great point. Do you know, it shouldn’t – but sometimes it scares me to wonder what sort of woman I would be if I had not read the books I had. Thanks for commenting!

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  11. Always great to see another woman with a passion and appreciation for Austen’s brilliant humor. When teaching Austen, I find that each year I have to explain more of it to my students because today’s young people don’t seem to readily pick up on anything that is not absolutely overt. Irony often escapes them completely. Austen is the best author for teaching this. U.S. Giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always used to stay behind after lessons chatting to my English teacher – the one who taught me P&P was the only one who had any belief in my that I could do English! I can understand the students of today missing things…. it is a shame! She is the queen of irony! Thanks for coming by to read!

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  12. I have a very fond memory of my mother resting on the bench outside the tourist stop of Jane Austen’s home. I had not yet read any of her books but the way my mother spoke of her, almost reverently, made me curious to read Jane’s books!
    I can’t wait to read your book, Ada and Cass!
    Jean Johnson

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a beautiful memory, Jean! I have goosebumps just reading what you’ve written! Good luck in the draw – are you US or Rest of the World?

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    2. That really is a lovely memory. Is this my Jean Johnson by the way? As in related to Jen? 😉 WELCOME either way and thank you so much for the support!

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  13. I too remember studying Jane Austen into the night for exams. But it was the only exam I looked forward to! I am from the US New York. That you for the giveaway. Cindy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, Cindy, and good luck! It was an exam set book for me too and I can’t remember ever since enjoying studying something with so much pleasure!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. In seventh grade, my teacher gave me a copy of P & P from the windowsill classroom library. It determined my reading path going forward. I can’t imagine where I would be if she were not published. She has given me such pleasure and comfort over the past 50 years. I am invited each year to join a senior AP class as they read the novel. Because I am so passionate, students question why and work hard to understand. It is such a gift to me!

    Best wishes on the publication of your book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Susan, that sounds like heaven to me! It must be so heart-warming to be able to share your passion and see new people discover the beauty of Jane Austen’s stories!

      Please could you let us know which draw you want to be entered into?

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    2. We always hope the younger generation finds her, but a good percentage of us were young when we found Jane – so I bet the same will be true always. I just find the timelessness of her writing has sustained young hearts and will continue to!

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      1. Thank you very much! I am glad you enjoy following my adventures through my blog! Thank you for commenting on this post too!

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    1. I was going to say it won’t be too long before we all ask how lives would be different if Sophie hadn’t found Jane Austen, but it’s probably already true for a good # of people! The internet can give people a wonderful platform to affect and inspire people!

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  15. I knew Sophie did all these things and I envy so many parts of it!! It is so interesting and so amazing that I would love to have more time to enjoy the Regency weeks or evenings and have a lovely gown. 🙂

    Thank you for the interview and the giveaway (Europe for me).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you! One day, I am sure, you will get to the events and have a pretty gown! Thank you for coming by to read my post 🙂

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  16. Sophie, having had the pleasure of listening to you, both playing and singing, and getting to know you just a little bit, the above blog is just charming and so heartfelt. I myself have been a life-long lover of Jane Austen and read everything she wrote in about six months when I was just 12 or 13 years old (remember I’m an old lady this was a long time ago!). I am also distantly related to Jane and am very proud of that fact, but to hear that she has inspired you and given you courage to live such a worthy life is nothing short of miraculous. Jane would be proud of you, as I am, if I might venture to say that in all humility. What a charming girl you are! I am certain you will go on and on to do even more good work for Jane around the world. 10,000 likes is nothing, my dear, just you wait!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for coming by and leaving such a lovely comment! it was wonderful to perform for you twice and have a nice chance to talk to you as well! Thank you for such wonderful words of praise and support – I don’t deserve it! x

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  17. Don’t you just hate it when cyberspace swallows your carefully crafted, witty and eloquent comment on a blog post? So, instead of trying to recreate it (it’s far too late tonight to try!), I just want to say thanks for such an interesting interview Sophie, Cass and Ada.

    Although I’m drooling on my iPad at the goodies in the Europe/Rest of the World giveaway, please don’t put my name in the hat as I had the good fortune to win on Janet Taylor’s blog. Good luck to everyone!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Probably not WordPress Cass, as it’s happened even more with comments on Blogger blogs. Or, of course, it could simply be a case of operator error!

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  18. As so many have already stated, my life wihout Jane Austen would be a lot lonelier. Loving her books has brought me into contact with so many wonderful people all over the world. I just found the Laughing WIth Lizzie blog through some Facebook posts. I can’t wait to dig in and read all that I’ve been missing. I’m from the U.S.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As many troubles techonology has caused, it has also brought on worlds of wonder. Like the ease in connecting people! Thanks for stopping in! Good luck!

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  19. I wish I had found her earlier in my life. I’m s teacher now and started researching English history and there I went on a tangent of all things British. Today I am a stranded American wanting to go to England. I even did my DNA to see how British I might be and 46% made me happy … Jane is my go to reading for peace and tranquility. When I just want to forget everything there is Darcy and Elisabeth to help me along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 46% seems a brilliant score to me! That’s half British for definite!

      I hope you get your trip to England before too long, Jessica. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Jane’s impact on your life and good luck in the draw (I’m assuming it’s the US entry for you!)

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  20. Dear Mrs. Darcy,
    It was a pleasure to read your interview and get to know more about you:) I often visit your blog and enjoy your reviews (here I would like to insert my many thanks for your review of P&P&Zombies film! Before reading your review I was like: P&P&Zombies? What an abomination! But after your recommendation I went to see the film and loved it!). It is great that your love and dedication to Jane Austen have brought you so many wonderful activities and opportunities. So may the future bring you more of them as well as more beautiful ball gowns and more balls, of course, and maybe carriages, but then again who needs carriages in our times? May then the future bring you your own, true, one and only Mr. Darcy and all the best!
    Kind regards,
    Oloore (one of your grateful blog readers from the rest of the world)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oloore, I’m sure Mrs Darcy will really appreciate your kind words!

      Good luck in the draw and thank you for supporting several of our guest posts this series!

      Like

    2. Dear Oloore,
      What a wonderful comment! Thank you so much for coming by to read my interview and for taking the time to leave such a message! I really appreciate it, and I am so glad to know you enjoy reading my blog and following my facebook page. (I am over the moon to hear that about PPZ – I am glad I could convert someone with my review! It is brilliant, isn’t it!)
      I must also say thank you to your good self, for you are always so supportive of me, and I can always reply on your comments on my blog posts and things! I realy appreciate it!
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Darcy

      Liked by 1 person

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