New Guest Post & Giveaway: Hazel Mills

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Now that all the excitement of the release of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is behind us, we are happy to resume our series of guest posts and giveaways today! Please welcome Hazel Mills to our Blog!

Hazel is a founding member of the Cambridge Group of the Jane Austen Society, and a dedicated book collector (including finding different copies of Pride & Prejudice, her current tally being 246!)

Over to you, Hazel!

I must first say think you for inviting me to be part of this series amongst such august Austen people celebrating this exciting new venture and book. I feel highly honoured!

My Austen journey began many years ago, in the late 1960s, thanks to Thomas Hardy. I was brought up in the beautiful county of Dorset and as such was required to read, in my first years at school, the celebrated local author, Mr Hardy. The books we were forced to read were The Trumpet Major and Jude the Obscure, the latter being an incredibly depressing book for any twelve year old girl to read with children being murdered. However, the next class reader was…Pride and Prejudice! Suddenly death and destruction was replaced with sparkling wit and Mr Darcy. I was hooked. Pride and Prejudice became the first class reader I completed before it was necessary and I soon followed up reading Jane Austen’s other books as quickly as I could.

Hazel pp coverThe books, Pride and Prejudice particularly, continued to give me pleasure throughout my school life and my set of Penguins followed me to college when I left home to learn to be a science teacher. My relationship with Mr Darcy was very strong, (even though Captain Wentworth and Colonel Brandon were making claims on my heart too) and I found that I went back to the book many times when I felt in need of a bit of comfort. At that time I did not realise that, as much as I loved Jane Austen and her works, that she would in fact change my life and what I would do with it!

Living in Cambridge certainly had its benefits; there were often days dedicated to different writers. I was so glad that I chose to attend a literary day dedicated to Jane Austen at Newnham College. I picked up a flyer asking if there were any people interested in starting a Cambridge Jane Austen Society. Did I need asking twice? Of course not! Then I saw the date, my husband’s birthday! To say I have an understanding husband is an understatement!

Hazel Keith 2Duly, on the 11th November 1997 I became a founding member of The Jane Austen Cambridge Group for which I am the social secretary and editor of the newsletter, so a great deal of my time is taken up thinking of all things Austen for the group. Thanks to them I began giving illustrated talks, some of which have become very popular, particularly a talk on travel in Jane Austen’s time which I have been lucky enough to give in many places including Dunfermline, Exeter, London, York, Bath and even, most satisfyingly, Chawton Cottage.

I am also thrilled to have worked for the Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom as a regional speaker giving Society talks on Jane Austen and her works to groups, societies and schools who contact the society for talks in the eastern region of the UK. One week I could be helping a group of schoolgirls understand what it was like to be a woman in the early nineteenth century and the next telling a Rotary Club group about Jane Austen’s life!

Dinner Table at QueensThe Cambridge group meets five times a year for a variety of events. We have talks by a range of speakers, discussions, a Strawberry Tea every July when the sun always shines, and a wonderful Birthday Reception and Lunch in December at Queens’ College, Cambridge in rooms which were built in the mid fifteenth century so would have been known to Harry Austen, cousin to Jane’s father and rector of Steventon before her father George; Sackville Austen, son of her Godmother Jane Chadwick Austen and Old Uncle Francis; Samuel Egerton Brydges, brother of Jane’s particular friend Anne Lefroy and John Papillon, rector of Chawton in Jane’s time, as all were Queens’ men.

Anyone interested in more information on the Cambridge Group can find it here.

One of the most momentous moments of my life was a group visit to Kings College Library where I was able to hold the manuscript of Sanditon in my own hands, without gloves! A very precious experience indeed!

Hazel KeithI was asked how my life would be different if something had prevented Jane Austen from publishing any novels. The short answer would be, I would be a lot richer financially! I mentioned my set of Penguins that followed me everywhere earlier. The Pride and Prejudice had become so tatty that, in about 1984, my lovely husband replaced it with a beautiful copy from Purnell. It was so lovely that I almost didn’t want to read it. About the same time I found a very old biography of Jane and bought that too.

Peacock editionThat was the slippery slope. I then began buying other copies of Pride and Prejudice and biographies. Then came the purchase of the other novels and literacy criticism, swiftly followed by historical books, books Jane may have known, influences on her writing, the Juvenilia etc. At the last count I have about 246 copies of Pride and Prejudice including the much desired Peacock Edition and 14 audio books, and about 2,500 books in my collection altogether. My Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Walter Scott collections and modern novels were all relegated to the attic as my collection grew. However they are now all boxed for our move where I will have a library!

Without doubt, a life without Austen would not be as full as my life is now. I cannot imagine a world without my books but as importantly, it is the wonderful people I have found in the online Austen world that have now become ‘real’ friends whom I meet regularly, maybe in Regency Costume, maybe not. Previously my love of Austen was shared with those people in my Cambridge group. Now I can share my passion with fellow lovers of Austen from all around the world!

Thank you ladies, for allowing me to share my Jane Austen story with you all.

Hazel, 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! Thank you also for supporting us last week by coming along with your husband to the launch party for our book in the beautiful city of Bath!

The Giveaway!

PrintOnce again, we’re offering one lucky commenter the chance to win a copy of our new release, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (find the blurb here), along with the following:

  • A ‘Peacock’ tote bag
  • A Jane Austen silhouette pin
  • A miniature version of both Persuasion and Sense  & Sensibility, from the Jane Austen House Museum
  • A build your own Chawton Cottage

How to Enter

It’s simple! Just leave a comment below about anything in Hazel’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.

It’s Release Day for Our Book!

Please excuse us for our excitement, but we’ve been so looking forward to today (which is extra special, as it’s also Ada’s birthday)!

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The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is now available through all the usual outlets. You can find links to them here!

We hope you enjoy reading the story as much as we enjoyed writing it.

If you decide to give it a try, we would love to hear your thoughts (during or after!) you read, so please share them with us!

Today, Ada and I are still thousands of miles apart with a 9-hour time difference between us, but as of next week, we will be together in the beautiful city of Bath (of course!) to celebrate together, and we’ll share news of our adventures, including our book launch party being held at No 4 Sydney Place, here on Tabby Cow!

 

More Giveaways, Interviews and an Excerpt!

Although there’s no guest blog post this week on Tabby Cow, we’re out visiting  some of our friends on their blogs!

JaneOdiwe copy 4Over at Jane Odiwe’s blog, Jane Odiwe Austen Sequels, there’s a new chance to win a copy of the book, plus NEW giveaway goodies of a Marvel Comics edition of Northanger Abbey, a china thimble with Northanger Abbey quote: ‘Oh, who could ever be tired of Bath?’, a Jane Austen silhouette pin and a pendant and chain with a Northanger Abbey quote re friendship.

PLUS, there’s an excerpt from The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, where our heroine, Rose, finally meets the mysterious lady staying in the holiday apartment above her own home in 4 Sydney Place!

The giveaway ends on Friday this week, so there’s still time to enter by simply leaving a comment! Simples!

~o0o~

Today, we’re also being interviewed over at Janet Taylor’s blog, More Agreeably Engaged, plus there’s another selection of NEW goodies being given away with a copy of the book, including the screenplay of the 1995 Persuasion, a Jane Austen silhouette pin, a miniature copy of Persuasion from the Jane Austen House Museum and, last but not least, another pendant and chain with a quote from that letter from Captain Wentworth!

Remember, all giveaways are open INTERNATIONALLY! We’ve had winners on Tabby Cow so far from Poland, the USA, Wales and Germany! It would be fun to send a giveaway even further afield!

Good luck to anyone who enters, and we’ll be back tomorrow as we celebrate the official release day of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (even though the paperback has been out there for a few weeks ahead of when it should have been!)

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New Giveaway Winners Announced!

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We’re delighted to announce the winners of last week’s giveaway prize bundles and books are:

Kathrin and TeaGuide!

Congratulations to you both (we will contact you via email) and thank you to everyone who left comments on Jackie’s post about Jane Austen’s influence on her life and the amazing Jane Austen Festival in Bath!

IMG_8506There will be more chances to win prizes later in July, but we’re taking a break from guest posts for a couple of weeks as the book is released this coming Thursday, and we have a few things to share about it in the next two weeks!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment over the past five weeks. We loved having our guests visit us here at TabbyCow, and we look forward to more soon!

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Guest Post and Double Giveaway! An Interview with Jackie Herring

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We are delighted this week to welcome Jackie Herring, Director of the Jane Austen Festival held every September in the beautiful city of Bath!

With Bath and the annual Festival being the main setting for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, we are doubly excited to have Jackie as our special guest!

As with all our guests, we were keen to know how and when Jackie first discovered Jane Austen, to hear more about the Festival and its organisation and to find out what the impact might be on Jackie if Jane Austen had never published her novels.

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When and how did you first discover Jane Austen and her works?

I was introduced to Austen by my best friend when I was about 16. She handed me a copy of Pride & Prejudice and said “you will like this it is better than Jilly Cooper”. We had been working our way through Jilly Cooper’s girl novels. My friend was right!

Which is your favourite novel and why?

It probably is Pride & Prejudice but I love them all for different reasons.

P&P because of the wonderful characters and the language. How I would have loved to say what Lizzy does to Lady Catherine de Bourgh (chapter 56 is my favourite) plus it is the only book that I have ever felt really sad about finishing because I would never again be able to read it for the first time!

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Parade Gardens after the Promenade

How did you become involved with the Jane Austen Festival?

I started doing walking tours for the Jane Austen Centre in 1999, then worked in the Centre as Shop Manager and Guide. In 2001, when David Baldock created the first Festival, I helped behind the scenes and as a steward until 2008 when I took over as Festival Director.

What is your favourite part of your role as Festival Director? And the most challenging?

Very difficult question, because I love it all and particularly anything that is a challenge. I really get a kick out of when all the bits of a plan come together and the Festival starts.

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Gathering on the lawn opposite The Royal Crescent

There are some very stressful times, usually in the planning stages. The most challenging event is the Promenade, where I have to deal with so many different agencies, including the Council for permission for us to cross the roads, use the park and disrupt the city on a busy Saturday!

Can you share anything with us about how the Festival is organised, such as how many people are on your team, how many venues are used or anything else you think might be of interest to readers?

My team throughout the year is very small, it consists of me and Rachel, my assistant. Then, at Festival time, we have lots of lovely volunteer stewards who give up their time to help. They are wonderful, and some keep coming back, for which I am really grateful.

Most of the organising of the Festival is done by email, but we do have visits to the venues to check their suitability. I like to try and use different places – this year we are using the Abbey Hotel, the Assembly Rooms, St Matthews Church at Widcombe and Bath Function Rooms. The Mission Theatre is the main venue for most events as it is easier to have a base besides I get a good deal on the hire price for having it for more than one day. All in all this year there are 17 different venues!

Do you have any funny stories about past festivals – either during the preparation or the Festival itself?

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Crispin Bonham-Carter signs copies of Pride & Prejudice in Bath Central Library after reading the final chapter aloud

There are lots of amusing things but the one I can mention and which I know she will not mind me talking about was when:

A lovely lady called Joyce (who used to come to the Festival every year and who sadly lost her husband recently) at her first Festival came to an event at The Mission Theatre in a gorgeous Regency outfit. Unfortunately the look was spoilt by a modern plastic hair roller in the very front of her fringe which she had forgotten to remove and which her husband, who had dropped her off, had failed to tell her about! She did take it out of her hair very quickly when we pointed it out to her!

When do tickets for this year’s Festival go on general sale and where can they be purchased?

Tickets go on general sale on Wednesday, 6th July 2016 at 10.30am from Bath Box Office or via our website,  Jane Austen Festival Bath, which has direct links for each event on sale.

Finally, what would you be doing if Jane Austen had never published her novels?

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Drinks Reception at Roman Baths prior to masked ball in The Pump Room (and Jackie’s gorgeous pelisse!)

Since talking to you about your book, I have thought about what I would have lost without Austen in my life. I have so many friends through working at the Jane Austen Centre and Jane Austen Festival and long term friendships that I simply would not have had otherwise.

Before my son was born, I worked for a firm of Solicitors as a Systems Administrator and then afterwards I took up part-time work at the Bath Chronicle, setting the adverts. I left that job to go to the Jane Austen Centre, but I also worked part-time on the open top buses. That was great fun and kept me on my toes, having to remember lots of information and also adjust what and how much I said to the traffic conditions and speed of the bus!

The short answer is, I would probably still be on the top of a bus and doing walking tours but would have needed something more, so perhaps I would have also gone into the Tourist Information Centre or Ticket Office, something like that.

~o0o~

That was fascinating, Jackie; thank you for sharing it with us! We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule, especially as the Programme of Events for this year’s Festival has just been announced!

The Giveaways!

This week, we’re offering two lucky commenters the chance to win giveaway prizes!

Giveaway One

  • 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
  • NEW addition! A Jane Austen silhouette pin badge!

Giveaway Two

  • A copy of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (eBook or paperback, open worldwide)
  • A build-your-own Chawton Cottage!
  • A dress-your-own Regency doll
  • A miniature book of Pride & Prejudice
  • A charming necklace with a quote from Jane Austen
  • A Jane Austen silhouette pin badge

There will be further chances to win bundles of prizes next month when we continue our series of guest posts on 20th July with a visit from Hazel Mills. Hazel is one of the founding members of the Jane Austen Society Cambridge Group and a regional speaker for the Jane Austen Society UK.

How to Enter

It’s simple! Just leave a comment below about anything in Jackie’s interview 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 winners, which will be announced the following week.

Week 4 Giveaway Winner Announced!

IMG_8506We’re delighted to announce the winner of last week’s giveaway prize bundle and book is:

Kim P!!

Congratulations to Kim (we will contact you via email) and thank you to everyone who left comments on Meredith’s lovely post about Jane Austen’s influence on her life!

PrintThere’s double the chance to win from tomorrow, when we are visited by Jackie Herring, Director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath!

This week, there will be two prize bundles on offer!

Guest Post and Giveaway 4: Meredith Esparza

IMG_0555Today, 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.

Pqdg2MEW_80.movieposterI 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.

CollegeIn 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.

IMG_3443But 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! 🙂

~o0o~

damask_wallpaper_seamless_background_pinkMeredith 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.

~o0o~

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!

The Giveaway!

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!