Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Gentleman's Impertinent Daughter by Rose Fairbanks + Giveaway!!

*Claps hands* Oh! I am just so excited to announce today's guest author! She is a talented woman who has a passion for Darcy and all things Pride and Prejudice. She loves research, and reading. I have had the fortune of becoming friends with this wonderful woman! Please allow me to introduce to you the lovely Rose Fairbanks and her debut novel, The Gentleman's Impertinent Daughter

Hey Jakki and her faithful readers!

It’s so great to be here! Hold on a minute...I need another glass of sweet tea. Why? Because I only average about 5-6 hours of sleep a night. Why? Because I’m horribly, ridiculously obsessed with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

I mean Pride and Prejudice.

No, it’s the five million plot bunnies and research holes I go down.

Improving my mind by reading. Yes, reading. Long before I was a writer, I was a reader, and I would stay up all hours of the night to read “just one more” chapter. That usually ended up meaning finishing the entire book and being up until 2 am...or later. I still do that some nights, but now I also stay up late to work on my own stories, or encourage a friend.

Hang on...gotta feed a kid. Aaannnd, now I need to sweep and mop.

Ok, then. I think I can give you my undivided attention. Possibly.

Actually, I’m probably up late because I can’t start until it’s late.

Well, it’s now three hours after when I first started this post and I can finally return to you.

So anyway, I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve been a Pride and Prejudice fan since I was seventeen. Apparently I lived under a rock because I did not know about fan fiction until about a year and a half ago. Don’t ask me why, but somehow a little over a year ago I got the crazy idea to post my stories on the forums I found. I could even compare to the amazing writers I’ve read! But then something really crazy happened; people liked me!

Actually, I can’t take the credit at all because most of the time I feel like the character just possesses my body and writes the words. Really, I might put that up as a disclaimer in my next story.

Maybe, for this post though, I can gather my wits enough to combine my love for Darcy, P&P, research, plot bunnies, and reading to entertain and shock you.

I think Darcy was a feminist.

It started out as a snarky joke with a friend. Darcy’s sex life is intensely debated. It’s rather incredible, I had never thought about it at all until I started reading JAFF. And then it was in pretty much the first conversation in the very first fanfic book I read. It was between Darcy and Elizabeth on their wedding night. Now it seems I can only go a few days without hearing another opinion on the matter.

Well, I said to my friend: “I just think even in the Regency era there could be intelligent, well-read men that could have respect for women and realized the hypocrisy of men getting to do whatever with whoever while society told women they needed to wait for marriage. I know! I’ll write Darcy as a feminist in my next story!”

I really didn’t think anything was going to come of it, but I started to do some research, just to see if I could pull it off. In the story I’m currently writing, there was a book Darcy had left in the library at Rosings, and Elizabeth found it at some point and was reading it. I just left the title blank, so I thought of maybe using the Declaration of Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. Then I stumbled across the Blue Stockings Society and Hester Chapone, in particular.

If you’ve read enough JAFF, you’ve surely come across someone insulting someone (usually Elizabeth) and calling her a bluestocking. In fact, even my annotated version brings it up during the accomplishments debate at Netherfield.

The Blue Stockings Society fell out of fashion at the end of the nineteenth century, most of the hostesses were aging quite a bit, but during their height, they were very educated women but still witty and clever. They were not boring intellectuals. Their salons did have a different order than others of the era: they did not focus on cards, drinking and flirtation. What they did promote was discussion on art and literature and promoting female writers.

One member and writer was Hester Chapone. She wrote a series of letters, turned conduct book, called Letters on the Improvement of the Mind. Even a simple Wikipedia search will tell you this:
Chapone's work, in particular, appealed to Wollstonecraft at this time and influenced her composition of Thoughts because it argued "for a sustained programme of study for women" and was based on the idea that Christianity should be "the chief instructor of our rational faculties".[7] Moreover, it emphasized that women should be considered rational beings and not left to wallow in sensualism.[8] When Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792, she drew on both Chapone and Macaulay's works.[9] Another admirer, and also a personal friend, was the novelist and diarist Frances Burney.
Burney, we know, influenced Austen. This is a far cry from the sort of education other conduct book writers, like Dr. Fordyce, suggested for women. Wollstonecraft would go even further and say that men and women should be held to the same moral plane and can receive the same education.

So, let us consider these ideas of early feminism with Darcy and other characters we see in Pride and Prejudice.

I’m sure we all know the part in P&P when Darcy says this:
"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

And of course, the continuing conversation:
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any."
"Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?"
"I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united."

I would say that Elizabeth is not putting her sex down here. She is arguing that any woman capable of mastering so much would surely have enough rational thought to know it was unnecessary and to instead focus on a few things she enjoys. Georgiana Darcy is very music. At Pemberley she had some intelligible watercolors, and Miss Bingley mentions Georgiana has plans for a painted table. But there is nothing about her knowing languages, dancing or drawing and we know from the visit to Pemberley she is too shy to have great skill at her address etc. Yet, she is to come out any time now, her education must be complete. Darcy has allowed her to study the things which appealed to her.

The next evening, Darcy and Elizabeth have an intense debate about character, and Caroline cannot keep up. The following evening, the card table is not brought out again, because Darcy does not wish it, and Caroline insists on reading- the second volume of Darcy’s work- and asks him all about it. When that does not work, she complains about a ball and would rather have “rational conversation.” She is attempting to garner Darcy’s attention, but I believe he sees through her, as she entirely misapplies the idea of rational conversation. Soon, she reverts to sensuality “in the desperation of her feelings.” That is sensibility and not rational at all!

While Darcy acknowledges he finds Elizabeth attractive, he also shows Caroline again he knows what she is about...if only Caroline ever understood his tactics!

Darcy’s next conversation is about failures in a character. The feminists would argue that husbands and wives that are true companions can teach one another greater character. They both must be virtuous and upstanding. Darcy quickly realizes Elizabeth is mentally his real equal and knows the danger of paying her too much attention. This time he doesn’t even mention her bad connections.

Darcy’s proposal, which to Elizabeth sounded thoroughly insulting, might have been a real expression of his value of her. Elizabeth does not have rank, money, connections or even accomplishments. She can only bring herself to the marriage, and that is what Darcy wants more than anything else the world can offer him.

In a way, he is the one who appears to be acting on all sensibility. He tried to rationally think about it over and over again, the reasons why he should not marry Elizabeth, but the answer is: he loves her and no one else. Surely someone else in London could be kind and clever...but they’re not her. No matter how much you try to explain love, you just can’t.

After her refusal, he accepted her words...and eventually her reproofs. Consider Mr. Collins who could not fathom any lady rejecting him or able to make a sensible argument as to why.

At the second proposal, Darcy is finally able to show Elizabeth how much he values and respects her. He believes her understanding superior to his own.

"We will not quarrel for the greater share of blame annexed to that evening," said Elizabeth. "The conduct of neither, if strictly examined, will be irreproachable; but since then, we have both, I hope, improved in civility."
"I cannot be so easily reconciled to myself. The recollection of what I then said, of my conduct, my manners, my expressions during the whole of it, is now, and has been many months, inexpressibly painful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I shall never forget: 'had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.' Those were your words. You know not, you can scarcely conceive, how they have tortured me;—though it was some time, I confess, before I was reasonable enough to allow their justice."

Elizabeth, who did not have as great an education as many of her sex, he credits as being superior to himself in understanding. This cannot be a new idea to him, that women can be as equally rational as men. No, no, it was there all along. What disgusts Darcy about many he sees is their behaviour, which is learned. Mrs. Bennet and all of the Bennet girls had just as much ability to learn proper decorum as Elizabeth, but they made a personal choice not to. We see that clearly illustrated with the men: Darcy and Wickham had the same education and chose different paths. Darcy does not view all women as innocent nor does he see them all as insipid. He treats them as equals and will judge them on their merits and character. By definitions of his era, although the word had not yet been coined, Darcy was a feminist.

And now, gentle readers, I believe I have satisfied my quota for the evening. It is after midnight, and I have indeed stayed up improving my mind once again. Thanks for reading my, hopefully not-too-shocking, opinion on Darcy as a feminist, and I do hope you will check out The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter.

Thanks again, Jakki, for hosting me!

It was truly my pleasure, Rose! I was excited to get my hands on a copy of The Gentleman's Impertinent Daughter, now I am even more eager to. You have quite piqued my curiosity to see how you portray Mr. F. Darcy! 


Book Blurb:
When Fitzwilliam Darcy visits Hyde Park with his sister, he expects nothing more than a quiet walk on a fine day.  Instead, he meets a young woman who challenges his ideas and pulls his sister out of her melancholy.  He soon realizes Elizabeth Bennet is the only woman in the world with whom he could spend the rest of his life.

Elizabeth, clever and self-assured, refuses to change for the sake of gaining a husband, a prospect she finds impossible regardless. With wit and independence rather than fortune, she is entirely convinced no sensible man would have her, and she cannot respect a fool. Can Darcy prove to be this impossible man? Or is a figure from his past an insurmountable obstacle to a future with The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter?


Rose Fairbanks is kindly giving away one (1) paperback copy (USA ONLY) of The Gentleman's Impertinent Daughter to one lucky commenter! To enter, simply leave a comment with your email address or Twitter handle!
You may tweet the giveaway daily for extra entries! 
Giveaway ends August 7, 2014!!
Best of luck!! =)


About the author:
Rose Fairbanks fell in love with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy 11 years ago.  Coincidentally, or perhaps not, she also met her real life Mr. Darcy 11 years ago.  They had their series of missteps, just like Elizabeth and Darcy, but are now teaching the admiring multitude what happiness in marriage really looks like and have been blessed with two children, a 3 year old son and a one year old daughter. 
Previously rereading her favorite Austen novels several times a year, Rose discovered Jane Austen Fan Fiction due to pregnancy-induced insomnia. Several months later she began writing. The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter is her first published work.

Rose has a degree in history and hopes to one day finish her PhD in Modern Europe and will focus on the Regency Era in Great Britain.  For now, she gets to satiate her love of research, Pride and Prejudice, reading and writing....and the only thing she has to sacrifice is sleep! She proudly admits to her Darcy obsession, addictions to reading, chocolate and sweet tea, is always in the mood for a good debate and dearly loves to laugh.

Connect with Rose Fairbanks
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Charity's Heart by Sofia Diana Gabel

From the Publisher:
1888, London Charity Llewellyn, 19, looks forward to her wedding, but upon learning that her intended groom is Mathias Baptiste, the immoral son of a wealthy banker, she runs away from home to avoid the betrothal. Angry at her attempt, her father appoints a handsome and mysterious man, Alexander Sutton, as her constant chaperone. Furious, Charity plots an escape with help from her friend Lillian, although that leads to involvement in an unsolved 20-year old murder and a shallow burial of human bones. As she tries to unravel the secrets of the old murder, she meets a frightening man who could be Jack the Ripper. But that’s not her only obstacle. As she and Alexander grow closer, she learns a dark secret he’s been keeping and when Mathias finds them together, he’s overcome with rage and will stop at nothing to get her back, not even murder.

What is a nineteen year old young lady to do in the late 1800’s when her father is arranging a marriage that she does not want? Runaway, of course!
Meet Charity Llewellyn who was raised in the finest circles of London’s ton and never wanted for anything. Well almost nothing, except love and approval from her parents. Due to her aversion of her parents’ plan to wed her one Mr. Mathias Baptiste, she takes the chance to escape from her jeweled prison and sets out to see the real London and start a new life of her own free will.  However her plan is lacking a plan, she gets trapped by a less the sober sailor on the wrong side of the docks, but a strange gentleman comes to her rescue and Charity runs back to the safety of her home. Upon her returned home, her father is more than a little displeased. To Charity’s vexation, he hires a “chaperon” to escort her at all times and to her surprise it happens to be the same gentleman that recused her the previous night, Mr. Alexander Sutton. Startled with her father’s choice of “chaperon”, she tries in vain to dissuade her father’s latest attempts to rein her in, however, undaunted, Charity is still determined to escape her impending marriage, parents and most of all Mr. Sutton.
As Charity plans her next escape, she goes to the shops, her mother set up for her, to pick up her new dress and shoes for the upcoming garden party she will be attending all the while trying to get away from Mr. Sutton, but this man is hard to get away from. She is able to persuade her parents to allow her stay at her best friend’s home for the night as their home is closer to the garden party venue. With the help of her friend, Lillian Hollingberry, they collaborate a plan of action to have Charity’s make her escape during the garden party.
What could possibly go wrong with their well thought out plan? Everything! Charity stumbles upon an unsolved murder from twenty years ago that surprisingly has a lot to do with Mr. Sutton’s past. Charity’s own life is being threatened from not only her intended, Mr. Baptiste, but also a well-loved servant in the Hollinberry home. Now she must save Sutton from imprisonment and also her own life and those of her loved ones all the while not understanding her own true feelings towards Sutton. Can this man she claims to dislike really be the one man she cannot live without?  And what is truly going on with her father’s new shady business partner who happens to lurks around White Chapel where a series of murders are happening?
Although the beginning had a slow start, Charity’s story was riveting and intriguing to make me want to know what happens next. The touching scenes between Sutton and Charity are at times hilarious and at other times heartwarming. Ms. Gabel tells the story of self-discovery and following one’s own heart to find true happiness no matter what society dictates.

*Review written by Leatherbound Reviews contributor Liz Castillo
*Review copy provided by publicist 

While Leatherbound Reviews was offered a copy of Charity's Heart for review, the book is currently out of print. I just wanted to let readers know why they cannot find a buy link accompanying this post.