Title: Jane Austen’s First Love
Author: Syrie James
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Release Date: August 5, 2014
INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS
Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention
Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?
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When did you discover Jane Austen?
I was a bit of a late-bloomer when it comes to Austen. I have heard stories from women who said they first became entranced by Austen when they were eleven or twelve years old, when their Austen-loving mother or aunt or grandmother introduced them to Austen’s books, which they would read or discuss together. What a lovely way to discover Austen! But it didn’t happen that way for me. My parents did, however, encourage me to read from an early age, and I started with all the classics of children’s literature.
I lived in France with my family when I was seven and eight years old, and I remember my father was worried that weren’t enough books in English for me to read. He came back from a business trip to London with a box full of children’s books for me—a veritable treasure trove of reading delight, including such favorites as The Secret Garden, Pippi Longstocking, Winnie the Pooh, and Christopher Robin. I also devoured all the Adventures of Tintin graphic novels (in French.) A few years later, back in California, I became deeply enamored of Charlotte’s Web and all the Anne of Green Gables books, and at age eleven fell in love with Jane Eyre followed by Watership Down, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. I still have all my copies of those beloved books on my shelves.
Reading and writing were my two greatest passions, so I majored in English in college—and it was there, in a British literature course when I was eighteen years old, that I was first introduced to Jane Austen. I have no memory of that class now, but we must have read Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and I must have loved them, because out of all the books I had to purchase in college, those are among the few novels that I kept all these years.
Fast forward about two decades to 1995-96, when a tidal wave of Jane Austen movies came out in quick succession: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY starring and adapted by Emma Thompson, the A&E mini-series PRIDE AND PREJUDICE starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, PERSUASION starring Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, and the Gwyneth Paltrow version of EMMA. It was a quadruple-whammy of Austen awesomeness—and I fell madly in love. I wanted to live in an Austen movie! I could hardly wait to read—or re-read—the novels. I devoured all her books and her juvenilia. When I ran out of Austen works to read, I read her biographies and her letters, fascinated to learn everything I could about the brilliant woman who wove such unforgettable stories.
Favorite literary heroine?
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
Favorite song at the moment?
It’s impossible to choose one favorite! But I’m an old-fashioned girl. I love pop songs from the 50s -70s, I adore all classical music, and I’m so fond of the lyrical ballad “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” that I made it the theme song for my novel Nocturne.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished England’s Mistress: The infamous life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams, and Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay—both wonderful books.
Favorite Jane Austen couple?
A tie between Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy, and Anne Elliot & Captain Wentworth.
Where would you like to visit in the future that you haven’t already?
I am fortunate, because I lived in France for two years when I was a child and had visited 26 countries by the time I was seven years old. Since then I have traveled a great deal and I have seen so much of the USA and the world! Here are a few of the places that are still on my Bucket List: China, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Yellowstone National Park… and I’d love to sail the rivers of Europe with my husband… and I’d like to go back to England, Italy, and France to revisit all my favorite places!
If you had to take 3 things to a desert island, what would they be?
- Plenty of food and water
- My husband, Bill
- A cell phone that never runs out of power and has world-wide signal coverage, so that we can call for help and be rescued!
If you won the lottery, how would you spend your money?
I would create a non-profit foundation to fund medical research to find a cure for cancer, ALS, and other horrific diseases; promote literacy and independent reading; and study other ways in which I could use the money to help the less fortunate.
Facebook or Twitter?
Coke or Pepsi?
Not a fan of soft drinks. I prefer water and fruit juice.
Syrie James, hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings, is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT OF JANE AUSTEN, THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN, THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE, NOCTURNE, DRACULA MY LOVE, FORBIDDEN, and The Harrison Duet: SONGBIRD and PROPOSITIONS. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages.
In addition to her work as a novelist, Syrie is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. An admitted Anglophile, she loves romance and all things 19th century. Syrie welcomes visitors and messages at www.syriejames.com, and invites you follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Connect with the Author: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
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