And now, Lady Vee has the pleasure of introducing you to...
by Syrie James
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By Syrie James
Greetings! I am delighted to be here today as part of the Pemberley Ball blog party. I love dancing at a Regency ball (as did Jane Austen), which is why a ball is prominently featured in my novel, Jane Austen’s First Love. As Jane says to her sister Cassandra in the novel:
“Dancing is such a glorious activity! It exercises both the body and the mind, all while moving with spirit and elegance to lively music.” Holding out my arm as if to an imaginary partner, I curtseyed, then practised my dancing across the field, making several turns.
Cassandra smiled. “You are an excellent dancer, Jane—so much more elegant and animated than I could ever be.”
“You are too modest. I love nothing more than watching you dance, dearest; except, perhaps, dancing myself.”
Jane Austen’s First Love is about Jane’s romance at age fifteen with Edward Taylor, who she met while visiting her brother and his fiancé’s relations in Kent during the summer of 1791. Although Jane is not yet “out,” her mother allows her to attend all the family parties and celebrations, and Jane is in seventh heaven—especially as she gets to know Edward Taylor, a fascinating, wealthy, well-read, well-traveled, extremely accomplished young man, who is heir to a neighboring estate.
Even more exciting for us, Edward Taylor was a real person who Jane Austen mentioned several times in her letters and truly adored. While researching my novel, I uncovered a trove of new information about Edward Taylor, and had the great fun of bringing both him and a young Jane to life in my novel, and to showcase their budding romance. Jane Austen’s First Love is a memoir, as Jane looks back on that glorious summer:
At that point of my life when this history occurs, I had attained my fifteenth year. I was young, I know it; but does age matter? Did Juliet, not fourteen, love her Romeo any less? What of Pyramus and Thisbe’s burning passion? Ought we to discount their raw and overpowering feelings, simply because of their youthful age? I think not. When he was near, at times my heart did not beat to its regular rhythm; in so many ways, I thought he was my perfect match.
At age fifteen, Jane is whip-smart and well-read, having been educated side-by-side with her brothers and the other boys at the home school run by her father. She has already written many lively and comical stories, short plays, and a novella, and hungers to write more. She is vivacious, filled with excitement about the future, and very ready to fall in love:
“Oh, Cassandra! Every night I dream of meeting a worthy young man who incites all my passions—a gentlemanlike, pleasant young man who is intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and accomplished, who shares my enthusiasm for literature and music and nature, with whom I can converse on any topic at length with spirit and debate—if he be good-looking, all the better—”
“Where are you to find this paragon of virtue?” asked Cassandra.
“I have no idea—but I have conjured him in my imagination. He must exist.”
Jane, who has been fond of dancing from an early age, looks forward to the ball at Goodnestone Park, home of the Bridges family, where the engagements of two Bridges daughters are being celebrated. She is thrilled when Edward Taylor asks her to dance:
I happily took Edward Taylor’s arm, we moved into line, the music started up, and the set began. From the very first moment—the graceful manner in which he danced and held his arms, and the commanding way his eyes held contact with mine through every step and rotation—it became clear that he was a far more skilful and experienced partner than anyone else with whom I had engaged that evening.
The ball is somewhat different from anything we’ve seen in Jane Austen’s novels and films, because this is not the Regency era; it is 1791, the Georgian era, and men and women alike still powder their hair for festive occasions. When Jane learns that everyone will be powdering their hair, she begs her mother to let her wear her hair in the same fashion—but the experience does not turn out quite as she expected, and proves to be a learning experience for Jane—as does that entire summer in Kent.
I loved writing from the point of view of Jane Austen as a teenager. I hope you enjoy Jane Austen’s First Love, which was truly a labor of love to compose!
Guest post created by Syrie James, author of Jane Austen's First Love
© 2014. All rights reserved.
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by Syrie James
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Are you ready to WIN great prizes? Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour is giving away the Grand Prize shown above ($180 value) as well as four more prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books.
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any of the stops on the Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour. Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops on the tour. Contest closes at 11:59 pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on this page on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents.
FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF PRIZE PACKAGES, CLICK HERE.
Good luck to all, and enjoy the tour!
played by Vincent Kartheiser
Pride and Prejudice (2013)
Guthrie Theater's production, Minneapolis
Mr. Darcy wants to know…
Upon looking at other works written by Syrie James here, which book(s) captures your interest?
* image source: regency lady silhouette Caroline Wiggett - inspiration for Fanny Price in Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
* guest post and images courtesy of blog tour