Sunday, 2 November 2014

Regency Michaelmas Ball

I just received the official photographs from the Regency costume ball which I organized here in Edmonton, at our beautiful and historic Hotel Macdonald. As promised, here is the full recap.
125 folks of every walk of life dressed up in Regency period costume and danced Regency dances, and ate Regency food, in 2014, in Alberta's capital city.
Can you believe that this is Edmonton?

I had been very clear that, although period costume was required, I would be very flexible on what would be accepted as a costume. I also posted video tutorials on how to fudge a costume out of thrift store finds and the like. I really was not prepared for how seriously people would take the dressing up! I mean, people put serious work into their outfits. Here are some examples.

I believe all of these were actually made by the people wearing them. I was absolutely gobsmacked. People also ordered custom-made costumes, and some rented their outfits from Theatre Garage, who were very supportive and helpful, particularly with a last-minute gloves crisis.
This woman came all the way from Victoria, BC just for the ball. It was her birthday, and she had planned to stop in Edmonton on her way home from a conference in Ontario. The conference was cancelled, but she decided to come anyway. I mean, it was her birthday after all!
I hired a photographer to take these wonderful pictures (Danny Jones Photography), and he took a portrait of every guest as they approached the sign-in table. At the table, every lady got a dance card with her name written on it in calligraphy by my talented father, Bruce Rout, who volunteered for this job.

I am sorry I did not get a picture of the reverse side of the cards, with the names so beautifully rendered.
Each guest also received a pouch of replica antique coins for use at the card tables, where guests could learn obscure Regency card games, and then play them with replica antique playing cards. The coins could be redeemed at intermission and at the end of the night for draw prize tickets.
Of all the successes of the night, I was proud of none so much as I was of the dancing. I mean, we seriously danced Regency dances. The Mozart Society, which provided the musicians for the evening, also arranged the music for 3 English Contra Dances popular in the early 19th Century: Zephyrs and Flora; Haymakers; and, Indian Queen. (Special thanks to Nicole Letersy and Crystal Yoner for making the frock coats for the gentlemen players).

There were 3 dance lessons on the Sunday evenings leading up to the ball, and most of the guests attended to learn the dances, so that at the ball itself, we could actually dance, and it would really be a ball rather than a dance lesson. We danced the set of three dances twice, with an intermission in between, and by the end of the night, we asked the dance caller to stop calling and just let us go. And go we did! I have been to numerous similar events in England, and I have never seen the likes of this before. It was unbelievably thrilling. Just look at how happy we are!

I confess that I completely underestimated the joy of dancing together, and the sense of community that emerged from it. Although I didn't necessarily even learn the names of all the people who came to the lessons, I did come to recognize their faces, and felt like they were familiar, and friendly, and it enhanced the enjoyment of the event itself beyond measure.
Another surprising aspect of the event was the gentlemen. Firstly, it was impressive how many of them were there. I believe most of them were tagging along with their wives and girlfriends, and more than one a little reluctant I would say. But once it came to the point, they had just as much fun as their female counterparts, and all felt themselves remarkably handsome in their waist coats and tails. You could see their demeanour completely change once they got into their costumes. They all instantly became Mr. Darcy in their minds, and they looked terrific. I mean, I know this fashion will never come back, but do you think maybe we could just bring on the cravats? They are so flattering on every gentleman!

Oh yeah, and this happened:

Obviously, she said yes! The amazing musicians played "Here comes the Bride" off the cuff as they entered the room following the proposal so, that was pretty magical. How memorable can you get, right?
Adara Hair Salon pitched in by opening up outside business hours just to give some of us wonderful Regency updos. And there were several excellent door prizes, including: tickets for 2 to Free Will Shakespeare Festival 2015; a copy of Follies Past and a hardcover copy of Pride and Prejudice; a shawl, cravat, reticule and fan from Fashions under Seige; and, a beautiful gold-plated necklace reproducing "Dearest" in Jane Austen's handwriting from Snake and Fawn (by the way, they can make a custom pendant with any word Jane Austen ever wrote, or in fact any of a  number of writers, including Oscar Wilde, JRR Tolkein and many others).

The photos in this post are only a small selection. Visit the Facebook event page to see them all. If sharing, please credit Danny Jones Photography.
It was an amazing night, all to be repeated again on February 27, 2016. Tickets at

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"Kerr has pulled off a winner" - Hope Chest Reviews book blog


Author Melanie Kerr has expanded here on some of the characters mentioned in Pride and Prejudice, providing fresh and believable insights to them. Her story basically centers upon three women - conniving fortune hunter Caroline Bingsley, principled, sweet, Clare Langford, devoted friend to Georgiana, and painfully shy young Georgiana herself, written in the same style as Pride and Prejudice.


Author Melanie Kerr has pulled off a winner in Follies Past: A Prequel to Pride and Prejudice. She has not only caught the flavor of the time and period of Pride and Prejudice, she has written it in the same style, as a wonderful story that just flows, tying together a number of characters from Pride and Prejudice with the depth of their stories so we might enter the main novel armed with fresh understanding of some of the characters we meet.
Author Kerr has made the characters into real people, with all the quirks and fallacies one might meet anywhere. Like the real world, no one is perfect, yet all have endearing qualities to some they encounter. These interwoven human characteristics make Kerr's characters so believable this reader felt almost like the story could have been a long letter from home.
Follies Past has it all - a rake preying on trusting women, a fortune hunter, and a wonderful, totally unexpected conclusion. One of the unexpected things I picked up from the story was the fact that one should never believe first impressions are all there is to know about a person; one should take time to actually know the person before forming opinions. This prelude to Pride and Prejudice is both a masterpiece and a fast read difficult to put down."
Delores Goodrick Beggs.

Jane Austen's family probably called her Jenny

When Mrs. Austen sent a letter announcing that they had had a girl, she added, "and we shall call her Jenny." From this, I conclude, that is probably what her family called her, at least some of the time. Perhaps not. Perhaps they thought of her as a Jenny when she was little but it didn't stick. Nicknames are like that in my experience. You can't always say what they are going to be. Still, I like to think of Jane Austen being called Jenny in an endearing way by her mum, and maybe others in her family. It brings her to life in my mind anyway.

We don't usually think of Jenny as a nickname for Jane. Most people think of Jenny as a nickname for Jennifer, but that is a recent invention, as people didn't used to be called Jennifer, generally speaking. I also know that Jenny was used as a nickname for Jane because my great-great-grandmother was called Jane, and she went by Jenny.

Anna Maxwell Martin and Anne Hathaway as Cassandra and Jane Austen.
Think of me what you will; I love this movie.
Although people in public used to call each other "Miss such-and-such," and not just their first name, or Christian name as it was then called, younger, unmarried sisters still heard their names used a lot in public. Only the oldest unmarried sister (in this case Cassandra Austen) would always have been called Miss Austen. Jane Austen would have been called Miss Jane Austen, or simply Miss Jane by closer acquaintances, unless her older sister wasn't there, in which case she could be safely called Miss Austen without any confusion. The Bennett sisters were Miss Bennett, Miss Elizabeth Bennett, Miss Catherine Bennett, etc. The Dashwood sisters were Miss Dashwood, Miss Marianne Dashwood and Miss Margaret Dashwood.

I don't think Jane Austen would ever have been called Miss Jenny, at least not in public. The mix of formality and familiarity does not seem right to me, but if you have differing information, please put it in the comments. I could be wrong. Elizabeth Bennett is sometimes called Miss Eliza, but never Miss Lizzy, except by her mother.

Speaking of nicknames, the word "nickname" has an unexpected origin. It actually began as a bit of a mistake, as so many words do. Originally it was "ein ickename" meaning "an other-name" but the "n" got stuck to the beginnig, so we started saying essentially "a nickname" instead of "an ickname."

We begin to see this same process happening with the insertion of words into phrases using "another." You might hear people say, "that's a whole nother thing," and the like. I decry this, but what can you do? Perhaps someone centuries ago was decrying the nickname.

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

IndieBRAG and quality control: the future of self-publishing

The trouble with self-publishing is that there is no quality control. At its heart, this is the reason nobody (or almost nobody) will take independent authors seriously. My book, for example, is self-published, and it is actually a good book, but you kind of have to take my word for it. With traditionally published books, the publishing house has thought the book readable and good enough to put its own money behind it in the belief that people will like it enough and buy enough copies to make their investment worthwhile. And they do know about books and publishing. It is kind of what they do. You can at least trust that, although you may not like the book itself, it will meet certain objective standards. Not so with self-published books.

Anyone can print any garbage, and nobody can stop them. And people always think their own writing is good. There is no filter. This is part of what makes self-publishing so great. Sometimes, you know you've got a good project, and either you don't want to give it away to some vampire publisher, or you just can't get the attention of traditional publishers for some reason.  So instead, you can just do whatever you want. It is like the Wild West. You don't have to convince some stuffy, conservative publisher to back your book just to see it in print. You can put all your own entrepreneurial gusto into pushing your art and doing it your own way. I love this.

However, because nobody knows you from Adam, and there are SO MANY truly terrible self-published books out there, and nobody has time to sort the wheat from the chaff, nobody will pay you any mind as a self-pub no matter how good your book is: not booksellers, not distributors, and in many cases not even our beloved book bloggers. 

There are a few exceptions to this, but as an author you seriously have to work for them. You have no assumptions in your favor. Even assisted self-publishing services that claim to have a good reputation for making your book good don't mean much to anyone and never really will because of greedconomics (a term I just made up right now). They don't risk their own money on you. You pay them.

So basically you are down to reviews and awards as the only ways to objectively demonstrate that your book is ACTUALLY good. Both of these are flawed, or perhaps I should say of limited assistance to the indie author. Reviews and ratings are completely subjective (see my earlier post). And even good ones can't always be trusted because you can actually BUY good ratings and reviews. Plus, you actually have to get people to go to the third-party ratings site and look you up, and read the reviews, and make up their minds as to which ones are legitimate and reasonable and make a decision about what to think. Most people in the book world don't have time to do that for every self-published title that gets shoved in front of them by an eager author claiming their own genius.

As for awards, they only get given to one title in an entire category. You either win or you don't. Most readers want to read more than one book in a year, and not every book that readers will enjoy will win an award. Also, there are not book awards for every kind of book. Take my book for example. It is Jane Austen fan fiction. There is not a specific book award for that. Sure, there are romance awards, and historical fiction awards, but my book is more niche than what they are looking for. It's not an exact fit.

And you have to find all the book awards, which is a huge job unto itself, and you might miss some because you are an indie author and you are doing this all yourself and you are kind of drowning. 

Also, and more importantly, most book awards do not accept submissions from self-published authors, so an indie author's options are limited in that respect. And then, if you are kind of an ignorant first-timer like me, you may not realize that pretty well all book awards only consider unpublished manuscripts, so when you go trying to submit your already published book to the few awards you might have qualified for, you realize you are done for.

Well then, it seems a hopeless business, or so you might think. Or, like me, you might attend a book fair and get to thinking...

...what the self-publishing world really needs is someone to take the guess work out for everyone else. It needs a centralized, independent screening process, a quality-control certification board, if you will. If one reliable organization could review self-published books and just give them a pass or fail, it would save everyone so much work. And if folks could trust the benchmark of that organization, if it was actually consistent and reliable, it would be glory days for everyone. Authors could just show their seal of approval, and get treated like a "proper" published author. 

Bookstores could safely stock local, independent books with confidence and without spending their whole lives researching individual titles. Same goes for distributors. Even publishers and agents would know which self-published books would be worth considering. It would be an instant filter for all those players. They would just have to ask the indie author whether or not they had that seal of approval and that would end the matter. No more having to convince people of your book's merit. No more having to sort through reviews and claims to verify whether a book is worth the investment. It would, in a word, be brilliant.

So, who is going to start this quality control certification process? I thought of trying my hand at it myself, and was embarking on putting such a thing together when, Ha-ha! I discovered someone already had!

An international network of readers calling themselves IndieBRAG (Independent Book Readers Appreciation Group) offers this precise service. They are independent and quickly building a reputation for identifying excellence in self-publishing with their Medallion. And, yes, they gave one to Follies Past (thank-you, thank-you). But I assure you, this does not prejudice me in my opinion. I was quite shocked when I discovered them because I was in the process of creating the exact same thing. I was actually kind of relieved because they were doing such a good job of it, so I could leave it to them and move on to other things.

They have a 2-step vetting process by which they apply their standards, and the books are read by multiple readers before a determination is made. Books are judged on plot, writing style, characters, copy editing, dialogue and design. There is no limit to the number of Medallions they award, but they average about a 10% approval rate. Now, that is not to say that 10% of all self-published books meet their standards, only those whose authors know about this service and have the wits to appreciate its value and importance and the wherewithal to actually submit their work.

So far as I am aware, they are the only organization taking on this task, and from what I know about them, they are doing all the things I would wish them to do, making it much easier to relinquish my plan of doing it myself. I believe that this kind of quality control is the missing link that is essential to the future of self-publishing. If you are part of the book world, as it were, and you would like to see good self-published books get the attention they deserve, I encourage you to ask those indie authors who approach you about their book whether or not they have a Medallion from IndieBRAG.

And if you are an indie author, I highly recommend submitting your book to IndieBRAG. It only costs $20, which is less than the submission fees for many book awards.

Please feel free to share any or all of this post. I waive all rights to its content in hope that it might help spread the word about this game-changer.

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice.
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Monday, 1 September 2014

Warning: Follies Past was not actually written by Jane Austen. Also, it is not a Margaret Atwood book.

I recently read a post on book blog Reading-in-Bed which spoke of author's rights to express their views, and in particular to respond to reviews of their work. This inspired me to share my own views about book reviews generally, or actually I should say book ratings. Hopefully it will spark a debate and ultimately a scandal on social media, in turn making me into a household name. Wouldn't that be nice.

Let me begin by thanking anyone who has ever written a review of my book, however brief or critical. There is no greater gift to an indie author than to leave a review of their book, on your own blog, on Goodreads, on Amazon, anywhere, and I assure you, I feel the gift of every review posted of my book. My comments, I hope, do not detract from my gratitude.

The trouble with open-source book ratings that I have observed is that everyone has a different approach to rating. There are no objective standards. I think, and I could be wrong, that the purpose of a book review is to aid potential readers in deciding whether it is worth the investment of both the purchase price and the time and emotion required to read it.

Everyone reacts differently to books, and if you follow a particular reviewer whose tastes you generally share, you know you can rely on their reaction, and trust their judgment. This is why book blogs are great, because you get to know the blogger, their tastes and preferences, and you know how your own opinions compare with theirs, and this is helpful in deciding whether a book is worth reading. Also, many book bloggers list their criteria and rating scheme for books they review, so you can look that up and get an idea of what they mean by their rating. But this requires some work and is focused on the reviewer rather than the book.

As a reader, if I look up a book on Goodreads and/or Amazon, I just look at the star rating. Provided it has enough reviews that the rating seems a fair reflection of public opinion, I probably won't read it unless it has 4 stars or more. There are so many books out there, that I only want to read really good ones. 3 stars to me just doesn't seem like a really good book, regardless of the genre or subject matter.

I don't have a personal relationship with all the dozens if not hundreds of people who might rate a certain book, and I am not going to research each one to see whether their tastes accord with my own so I can assess what their particular rating means. I want to be able to rely on reviewers to give a rating that fits the book, to consider the potential reader above the reviewer's own personal tastes when rating a book on a public forum. I also don't like to read reviews before reading a book, because I find it colours my reading experience. I do enjoy reading reviews after I have read the  book, because I often find others are able to articulate what it was that I either loved or didn't love about it. But this means that I take the average rating at face value without looking to the reviews for the reasons behind the rating.

Therefore, I say, ratings should be based on how well the book fulfills its promise to the reader. That is my thesis statement.

When reviewers give a rating that does not actually reflect the quality of the book, I call this a false rating. One false rating, and likely the most common, happens when someone rates a book in a genre they don't enjoy. I, for one, do not enjoy horror. If I rate a horror book in accordance with how much I enjoyed it, I will give it a false rating of zero, most likely. I have to rate it in accordance with the kind of book it purports to be. This is sort of like authorial intent. What matters is what the reader expects and wants from that kind of book. I wouldn't rate a horror book because I have no idea what readers enjoy about that genre. I could leave a review, and that might offer some insight, but a rating would be wrong, for me.

Imagine, for example, that you go to a restaurant and order the duck, either because of the recommendation of the waitress, or because it is the special, or for whatever reason. The duck has n ice crispy skin, the meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth and the sauce is delicious. You then write a review on Yelp giving it 3 stars because you don't really care for duck that much and you kind of wish you had ordered the lamb. Would you have given it a better rating if the duck had tasted of lamb? I should hope not! Duck is supposed to taste of duck. Don't defame the restaurant because you happen to prefer the lamb that you didn't order.

No let us take a literary example: my own book. Some reviewers have said that my book was exactly like Jane Austen, but they didn't really like Jane Austen, so they gave it 3 stars. The obvious flaw in this approach is that people looking up the rating on my book DO like Jane Austen. My book purports to appeal to lovers of Jane Austen, for all the reasons they loved the originals, so ratings ought to reflect the extent to which it achieves that end. If a reviewer doesn't share that sensibility, or thinks all books should be like Margaret Atwood's books, then they should not be rating my book, in my opinion. I don't mean to be snarky, but I didn't write a Margaret Atwood book. I never promised that. I promised a book that satisfies the Jane Austen craving. (Nobody has actually compared me to Margaret Atwood, by the way. I just made that up for illustrative purposes. And many Jane Austen fans have left very appropriate and much-cherished 5-star ratings, as well as a few lower ratings that were supported by appropriate criticism. I speak here only of the misguided rating.)

This raises the question* of what to do if you are a book blogger with followers and a reputation and you are reviewing a book outside of your usual genre. You want to give a review that your own readers can rely on as consistent with your usual tastes, but the book is not in your usual taste, even though it is good for what it is. I will not go so far as to tell the revered book blogger what to do, but I think it worth considering the difference between ratings on a blog and public ratings on an open-source review site like Goodreads or Amazon.

I did get one rating of 2 stars from someone who said they thought my book was well-written, consistent with Jane Austen's style and characters and plot and era, etc. but she just couldn't get into it because it wasn't actually written by Jane Austen. That is the ultimate false rating. By that logic, all fan fiction should get 2 stars or below. Readers can all see that it isn't written by Jane Austen. They don't need a 2-star review to warn them that it isn't.

Was that too opinionated?

(*It doesn't beg the question. See my earlier, highly pedantic post.)

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice.

Read Chapter 1    Watch the Trailers     Order the Paperback     Download the eBook

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Non-Review of Promise and Promiscuity by Penny Ashton

(Disclaimer: I don't write reviews of literary works. I write non-reviews. That means, I tell you what the piece is like, what its appeal is and who would like it and who wouldn't. I find this more helpful than traditional reviews.)

How can I not be prejudiced in favour of this show? She's kiwi, she's indie, and she's doing a bloody one-woman Jane Austen musical. Am not I categorically obliged to support this?

When I learned that the score had been arranged and recorded specifically for the production, all potential for criticism went out the carriage window with my bonnet.

We decided to go to the show in costume, out of solidarity and a love of attention, and I gave her a copy of my book, which I hope she will read and thoroughly enjoy and pronounce publicly across the internet as a wondrous triumph.

But how was the show? you all ask. Well, it is something like the stage equivalent of a cross between Lost in Austen and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, but with musical numbers and a good dash of Fringey, modern references and speculation about what may or may not have changed in 200 years.

I was a bit concerned by the title that it might be a lot more Fringey, in a rompy, raunchy sort of way, maybe the sexy, cabaret what-really-happened-at-Pemberly version of Pride and Prejudice, but fortunately it was not. Other than a few insinuations involving balls, it wasn't really scandalous at all.

Miss Ashton was excellent, questionable accents notwithstanding. She plays all the characters, each distinct and easily recognizable through physical and vocal cues. The story is her own, but draws very heavily on the plots of the novels, and a good portion of the dialogue is composed of Austen's own writing. There are characters similar to Austen's, like a Mrs. Bennet and a Lady Catherine and a Mr. Darcy, sort of, though they go by different names.

Promise and Promiscuity is a bit of Regency mash-up fun, neither completely farcical nor to be taken too seriously.  It is not a musical of Pride and Prejudice. It is not an adaptation of any particular work. And it is not a wacky, how-weird-can-you-be desecration. So if you are looking for either of those things, you will not find it here. Instead, you will find an impressive performance of a pleasant and amusing show. It is on at the Edmonton Fringe until August 24.

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice.

Read Chapter 1    Watch the Trailers     Order the Paperback     Download the eBook  

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Bennet Sisters review Follies Past

"Follies Past does what many Pride and Prejudice spinoffs cannot do well. It fills in the blanks, while being original, and stays true to the characters in the novel.

This was sent to me for free in Kindle format by the publishers for the purpose of review, and I was happy to receive it. Released in October 2013, Follies Past by Melanie Kerr ISBN-13: 9780992131012 has seen some pretty good reviews online, and I’m happy to now add a pretty positive review to that stable.

Firstly, I have to share my excitement at the cover, above. When I was sharing emails with the publicist about the book, I expressed my happiness that author Kerr and the team behind her hadn’t decided to go down the typical romantic cover path. Having read the book, I now think this is even more of a wise decision – it has some of the techniques of a typical romance, but this isn’t your straightforward Regency era love story and doesn’t fall back on too many of the irritating plot devices that us Regency-readers are way too familiar with.

While the novel does bring in new characters, such as Clare, Lord Ashwell and Lady Sofia, it does so without it seeming contrived. It peers behind the cover of other characters, such as Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana, and explains to us just why they are the way they are in Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately, it does leave us wondering why Jane Austen ignored them in her original novel – which explains how close it goes to providing a believable early alternative.

This is Kerr’s first book, and her background studying linguistics, English and theatre at the University of British Columbia and law at the University of Alberta has no doubt helped her with this debut into novel writing (as has her Jane Austen Society of North America attendance).

We start this Pride and Prejudice prequel about a year before Jane Austen’s version of events begins, and this matches up perfectly with the ages and events to take place as per the information given by Jane Austen, such as Georgiana’s age. I have seen far too many a prequel ignore the clues we are given by Austen as to the circumstances prior to the novel, and Kerr does not fall into this trap.

It was a nice touch to see Caroline Bingley and George Wickham almost paired together (and to actually feel a lot of sympathy for Caroline throughout the book). It’s an intriguing extra connection and it explains to me one of the inconsistences, if you can call it that, of the novel itself. By that I mean that the quote below always struck me as odd. Surely, she’d want Elizabeth to show as much interest in Wickham as possible, so that she could keep Darcy to herself?

Let me recommend you, however, as a friend, not to give implicit confidence to all his assertions: for as to Mr. Darcy’s using him ill, it is perfectly false; for, on the contrary, he has been always remarkably kind to him, though George Wickham has treated Mr. Darcy in a most infamous manner. I do not know the particulars, but I know very well that Mr. Darcy is not in the least to blame, that he cannot bear to hear George Wickham mentioned, and that though my brother thought he could not well avoid including him in his invitation to the officers, he was excessively glad to find that he had taken himself out of the way. His coming into the country at all is a most insolent thing, indeed, and I wonder how he could presume to do it. I pity you, Miss Eliza, for this discovery of your favourite’s guilt; but really considering his descent, one could not expect much better.

In light of some sort of romance between Wickham and Caroline it makes sense that she would be sensitive to any other match from him, even if it goes against her aims for Mr Darcy. They are actually also well-suited to each other, so this makes boundless amounts of sense

At first I was concerned that Clare would bore me as one of the new major characters. She’s very righteous and perfect, reminding me a little of Fanny Price, with her one flaw seeming to be a penchant for “racy” (if you can call them that) romance novels, that she does everything possible to steer clear of anyway. It’s nice to see her become a little more fearless in the face of Georgiana and Wickham’s elopement and become the true heroine of the novel – shaking off her class and background. There’s also the suggestion at the end of the novel, that reminds me of the close of Emma and the way we’re told Knightley and herself balance each other out, that she will be a little less strict with herself going forward.

Pride and Prejudice lovers will already know the name Mrs Younge as the woman who conspires to allow the “almost elopement” of Georgiana and Wickham. I absolutely loved the unpacking of her character, and the strength of her control over Wickham. Presenting the underclass, but with a smart woman who easily gets what she wants, it’s a quick reminder of the sordid side of Regency society. It’s interesting to see how far name-dropping, a good recommendation and the knowledge of others’ fallibilities can get unworthy characters in the book – and, of course, in real life sadly.

There are a number of similarities between the Clare/Lord Ashwell romance and the Elizabeth/Darcy storyline, not in the least the misunderstandings, another Collins-like character, and the gentleman’s generosity in doing something towards their love interest that comes under the guise of being from someone else. One minor criticism I do have (and spoiler alert) is that if Darcy saw the happiness of the relationship between lower-class Clare and upperclass Ashwell, and eventually dealt with it… surely he’d be more inclined to be more flexible to this type of a relationship – such as with Jane and Bingley – by the time Pride and Prejudice appears a year later?

I loved the concept of these unwritten characters that drove the storyline to where it is when Pride and Prejudice opens, and Kerr really does this flawlessly. I did feel the loss of Lizzy in the storyline keenly – which she has written a great character with Clare, and has done well, I always miss my favourite character in prequels that omit her.

While I don’t consider it something Jane Austen would have written – there’s a bit of restraint missing in even our most upright characters (I doubt Jane would ever have had Clare knocking on Wickham’s door, nor would have written in so much detail about death bed discussions) – I found it thoroughly enjoyable, and exactly what I wanted to read. Kerr has done an excellent job, and I think Pride and Prejudice lovers will adore this."
(Click link above for original post, followed by author interview)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

costumes for rent for the ball

These are some of the gowns I have made for other Regency events, mostly the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. I am renting them out to help people who have nothing to wear for the ball and don't want to commit to having a whole costume custom-made (which is an option; please contact me for details). I am charging $25 per gown. They come with accessories. Not all of them are shown here, but this gives you some idea of what I have available.
I have some petticoats and stays as well for some of them, and some capes. I may charge extra for those. Please contact me or comment below if you are interested in renting one. I have ones that will fit sizes 2-14. I also have the grey gown seen in this trailer, which is not in any of the pictures:

Others, including those below, can also be seen in this trailer: