Sanditon (A Fragment of a Novel) by Jane Austen

As a huge fan of Sanditon Season 1, which originally aired on British ITV and eventually making it to PBS Masterpiece in 2019, I was thrilled to see that the cliffhanger of Season 1 would be rectified by Seasons 2 and 3.

Most viewers know, that Theo James who played Sidney Parker (also termed as the “last Austen hero”) decided not to return to the role. Whatever the conversations were behind the scenes, it was decided not to recast. As many fans bemoaned this occurrence, the producers and writers gave fans two more seasons with two more love interests for Charlotte, the heroine. How will they continue Jane Austen’s “fragment of a novel” is yet to be seen, but I have high hopes.

In anticipation of the Season 2 to be aired on March 20, 2022, I purchased Sanditon as written by Jane Austen to compare the original. Jane only finished twelve chapters in this small ninety-nine page paperback I ordered. Upon reading her last words, I was sadden by the reality of her death and how cheated her fans have been never to have known any future novels she might have written.

I also ordered Lucy Worley’s book, Jane Austen at Home. It’s a fabulous read if you want to know more about Jane’s life, her family, inspiration for her books, and where she lived. It also includes many insights into her many short-lived opportunities for matrimony with various men that did not lead to proposals, except for one which she woke up the next morning and broke. Tom Lefroy wasn’t her only love, as Hollywood would have you believe. She even encountered a man while visiting an English coastal town, much like Sanditon, who she formed affections for and he her. Unfortunately, it turned into nothing as they parted ways, and she later read he had married another. I wonder, however, had she married and born children, would she have had the time to write all the classics we now hold dear?

What did I think of Sanditon by Jane Austen? Much of it is what I term “chatty” conversation between characters, as they are introduced into the story line. It’s basically foundational with little idea of the plot, which was picked up by Andrew Davies the screenwriter who continued the unfinished novel, making it into a miniseries. As most know, it ended on a dastardly cliffhanger with Charlotte Heyword and her almost intended Sidney Parker never marrying as he sacrificed his happiness to save his brother from his incompetence. When ITV decided not to renew, the fans raised hell and launched a successful campaign to save the show. BritBoxUK and Masterpiece PBS picked it up. They have finished filming Season 2 and are currently filming Season 3. Just yesterday, they released the first promo pictures, one of which is above, that excited fans worldwide into a frenzy.

To read more, follow the link to Masterpiece and feast your eyes on what is to come. Frankly, I believe Jane Austen is leaping for joy in heaven, and not rolling over in her grave as some naysayers have insinuated. It’s a joyful, respectful, and professional tribute to her enduring stories and the book she was unable to completed.

Stephen Fry on the Enduring Appeal of Georgette Heyer (Press This! The Guardian)

As the Folio Society publishes a new edition of Venetia, the actor and broadcaster reflects on what makes an excellent Regency romance. From the absolutely appalling cover art that has defaced her books since she was first published, you would think Georgette Heyer the most gooey, ghastly, cutesy, sentimental and trashy author who ever dared put pen to paper.

Source: Stephen Fry on the enduring appeal of Georgette Heyer

Who Are the Frequent Best Sellers in Historical Romance?

Every day I look at the best seller list for Historical Romance on Amazon – the hopeful rank for authors. That doesn’t negate the fact that Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks have their own best seller list. Most of them contain the same books and don’t vary too much in who’s-who and what’s-what when it comes to reading. The only difference there, is that any book on Amazon’s best seller list that is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited will not be for sale on other retailer platforms.

If you study the list long enough, there are frequent publishers and authors that dominate the list on Amazon. Here’s a few of them to consider.

  • Dragonblade Publishing – This niche publishing house does nothing but historical romance and its sub-genres (time travel, historical fiction with romantic elements, historical mysteries, all with a HEA). Every month they dominate the best-selling charts, with a few authors that are consistently noted. Their covers are stunning (I know because I use one of their cover artists), and their bold advertising is showcased on author book pages. They currently have forty-seven authors on their website. As of today, seventeen of their books are in the top 100-best selling on Amazon. Some of the authors consistently on the best selling list, just to name a few are:
  • The Historical Romance Standards – There are plenty of authors who make the best selling list every once in a while, but some of the usual ones up on the Amazon list are the following. These authors currently have books ranking at the top. Julia Quinn has taken over the best selling list since the release of Bridgerton, and her books are still hoarding the top-ten for the series. Right now she as twelve books in the top 100. Showing up on the list too are Sarah MacLean and Lisa Kleypas with a few of their own novels.
  • Independent Authors – Anybody can write a book these days, and the best selling historical romance list is also full of independent authors who come and go regularly after new releases or special advertising. It’s a given fact that if anyone gets a BookBub advertisement approved (and subsequently pays and arm and a leg for one day), you’re assured of making the top 100 list. I’ve been there myself. Once up, the book will usually stay for a week or two, and then drop off when more advertised books vie for spots.

  • Small Press & Oldies but Goodies– Small publishing companies make up an occasional best seller list, and don’t forget Harlequin (since 1949) and Mills & Boon UK (1908), who have been around since before some of you were born.

  • Never-Ending Best Sellers – There are a few authors who enjoy life on the best seller list as if they’ve been granted the spot perpetually — that includes Diana Gabaldon and Amy Harmon. Diana has repeatedly said that Outlander (with its 36,567 reviews) is not historical romance. It crosses over to the list with its time-travel historical fiction with romantic elements, and is bound to stay on the best seller list while Outlander is on Starz and readers still want to fantasize. Amy Harmon’s What the Wind Knows has been on the best seller list since it’s release in March of 2019. Again, it’s historical fiction, time-traveling, story with romantic elements. Apparently, the wind isn’t strong enough to blow it off the list either with 13,056 reviews.

The Best Sellers in Historical Romance on Amazon is a fluid list that changes by the hour, literally. It’s updated hourly by Amazon based on sales and books at the bottom come and go, while others crawl their way to the top. Well-read authors and those with spot-on advertising make the best of the list, which is alive in itself. Once you make it up there, sales appear to feed upon themselves when readers see you’re in the top one-hundred. I have had my own glory days on the list too, basked in the top numbers, and then watched my books fall off into oblivion. It’s a jungle of competition, new releases, and author favorites.

The Psychology of Romance Novels or Period Dramas

There are plenty of articles on the Internet from psychology resources that state romance novels are bad for women. Some say these books give women unrealistic expectations when it comes to romance and can damage real-life relationships. Perhaps the psychologists think it’s mental porn for women, somewhat like the damage visual porn inflicts on the male species. There’s also another camp that says romance movies are bad for you as well. (Let’s all stick our heads in the sand so no fantasy touches our lives.) Here are a few for your reading enjoyment:

You Won’t Believe How Romance Novels Affect the Psychology of Women (“Leading psychologists are of the opinion that romantic novels can have a huge impact on the psychology of women; sometimes, making it unhealthy for relationships.”)

The Allure of Romance – Why do romance novels sell so well? (Psychology Today says, “And that reason could be that romance novels give women something they need, and do it in a way that the world around us cannot.”)

Are Romance Movies Bad for You? (“Researchers are beginning to ask whether the make-believe world projected in “rom-coms” might actually be preventing true love in real life.”)

In today’s world, there are many other avenues of fantasy that readers take besides romance novels. Readers whisk themselves away in sci-fi planetary adventures or magical make-believe realms with dragons. Are these psychologically damaging as well because it’s not reality? I dare say in this day and age, humans need to escape reality occasionally either in books or film. As we deal with climate change, pandemics, wars, racial strife, and the other ailments of the world, it makes sense to take our minds elsewhere. If we don’t take a step outside reality for a few minutes, we’d all end up in more psychologist’s chairs doing therapy.

Many women read historical romance – both married and unmarried. In fantasy they read their duke-centric historical romance, daydreaming about calling the hero “Your Grace” and being swept off their feet in the Regency era. When the bookmark is placed or the eReader turned off, they lift their eyes to see their husband in a tee-shirt and blue jeans and sigh. The question is does it affect their marriage or does the affection they hold in the world of reality remain? I’m laughing as I write this because, in all honesty, I think most women accept the reality of life but enjoy the soothing thoughts of something a bit different between the words of a romance novel.

On the other hand, there are plenty of unmarried women in no relationship whatsoever. Do historical romance books raise their expectations too high when looking for a man, or does it actually fill a need in their lives to fantasize about what it would be like to be loved. I dare say it fills a void.

In the end, anything we do can lead to unhealthy addictions, but psychologists declaring with certainty that romance novels or romance films are bad for our mental health is a bit of an overstatement. Mentally healthy women can grip reality and “not allow their real life’s happiness to hang in the balance over a fictional character.” ( I found this beautiful quote from someone in Facebook’s Sanditon group, attempting to bring calm to the masses who have lost their senses over Theo James not returning.)

Romantic stories have been around for centuries. Did anyone complain to Shakespeare that his story of Romeo and Juliet was contributing to the high number of suicides by star-crossed lovers? Were Jane Austen’s novels deemed unhealthy for women for the past two hundred years?

Chime in. Why do you read historical romance or enjoy period dramas in film or television? Escape? Relaxation? Daydreaming? Pure enjoyment? What deep psychological need does it fulfill in your life? As Jane Austen once said, “The person, be it a gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Sources for eBooks

Those of you who like the ability to read digital material rather than smelling the scent of the printed page, source your eBooks from a variety of sources. Authors and publishers make those eBooks available to readers on multiple platforms.

This week I have stumbled upon articles about libraries and how the demand for eBooks soared during the pandemic. The increase in demand has created challenges with libraries to continue to obtain the digital rights to those novels. READ HERE (Why 2021 Is Setting Up to Be a Pivotal Year for Digital Content in Libraries).

Authors and publishers distribute eBooks on a variety of platforms. As an independent author, my distributor Draft2Digital distributes my content to libraries through services such as Bibliotheca and Baker & Taylor. However, eBooks are also distributed to digital storefronts such as:

  • Amazon
  • Apple Books
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Scribd
  • Tolino
  • OverDrive
  • BorrowBox
  • Hoopla
  • Vivlio
  • Others

Downloading those books depends on your digital readers like Kindle, Nook, and other generic electronic devices for PC’s, Mac, and phones.

Naturally, most people think that Amazon is the place where authors have their greatest success, which is probably true for some. However, anything you read as part of Kindle Unlimited on Amazon, you won’t find anywhere else such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, or libraries because of the exclusivity provisions placed upon authors. You can find the paper versions at retailers but not the eBook version. That it itself is a huge loss of content to readers who don’t look to Amazon for everything from eBooks to groceries.

I will admit I have two Kindles, but I find reading makes my eyes blurry. I thoroughly enjoy holding a printed book in my hand and smelling something tangible. Of course, the cost of digital readers eventually pays for itself when individuals can read books for free or 99 cents rather than paying $12.99 for a print copy of your next aristocratic love story.

Naturally, I’m slightly curious as to where you source your eBooks. Do you depend on library content or are you sourcing from retailers? If you’re a book sniffer, chime in too. We all have our addictions.

Jane Austen Died On July 18, 1817. Here are 70 Facts About the Iconic British Author (Press This! CBC Books)

The British novelist died at the age of 41 on July 18, 1817.  Celebrated for her sharp wit, descriptions of domestic life and subtle criticism of England’s economic and class structure, Austen’s works continue to be dissected and analyzed in classrooms and beyond.

Source: 70 facts you might not know about iconic British novelist Jane Austen | CBC Books

Elizabeth Gaskell: The Victorian Author Feeling the Bridgerton Effect (Press This! BBC News)

 

It is 170 years since Elizabeth Gaskell first published her most popular work Cranford but thanks to more recent period dramas, the author’s novels are seeing a surge of interest from new, young fans.” I call it the Bridgerton effect,” says Sally Jastrzebski-Lloyd, the manager of the museum at the author’s former Manchester home, which is currently hosting an exhibition on her novel.

Source: Elizabeth Gaskell: The Victorian author feeling the Bridgerton effect – BBC News

Wonderful news about a resurgence of interest in Elizabeth Gaskell. I am a fan of her works, some of which you may have seen in TV adaptations and not realized who authored those stories.  Classics such as:

  • North and South
  • Wives and Daughters
  • Cranford

I had the wonderful opportunity during one of my four trips to Manchester, UK to visit the home where she lived and penned many of her stories.  I pulled the same doorknob and Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens.  If you would like to see pictures of the interior of the home and read about my visit, visit this link.

A Room-by-Room Tour of Jane Austen’s Final Home (Press This! Cyprus Mail)

Lovers of ‘Pride and Prejudice’… rejoice! In this video, we step into the author’s world, taking a virtual trip to the Jane Austen House and Museum, located in Chawton, Hampshire. The cultural landmark offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the latter part of Austen’s life, which is when she called…

Source: A room-by-room tour of Jane Austen’s final home | Cyprus Mail

Peacock Announces Regency-Style Dating Competition Show

What a hoot! Would you dump the Bachelor/Bachelorette on ABC to watch a Regency-Style Dating show? Sounds like fun for historical romance readers. It will be interesting to see how the men look in cravats and if they speak Regency love lines.  Let’s hope the costumes make the grade.

If the phrase, “I love you most ardently” doesn’t set your panties ablaze, then find a different show.  Knowing all this, I have decided to throw away my marriage and pursue my newfound dream of being a contestant in Peacock’s new dating series Pride & Prejudice: An Experiment in Romance. The show appears to be a Bachelorette adjacent dating series with the special twist of transporting participants back in time to a romanticized version of Jane Austen’s novels. Well, the Cliffnotes, at least.

Source: Peacock Announces Regency-Style Dating Competition Show

Additional Sources:  Pride & Prejudice Inspired Reality Dating Show Ordered at Peacock

Fifty Shades of Chaste! Dakota Johnson Jane Austen’s Persuasion (Press This! Daily Mail Online)

Fifty shades of chaste! Sorry, after chuckling, I had to share.

It’s a long way from the sex scenes that made her name in Fifty Shades Of Grey. Dakota Johnson has traded bondage gear for a period outfit in Bath for the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Source: Fifty shades of chaste! Dakota Johnson films an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion | Daily Mail Online

“Coming Out” During the Early Victorian Era – About Debutantes” (Press This! Kate Tattersall)

Extensive article on the subject and great read.

During the Regency and into the Victorian era, the London social season was particularly busy from April to the end of June, but events were held throughout the winter, starting when Parliament returned in late January and included military reviews, dinner parties, and charity events, and went on to the end of July. Débutante (French for female beginner) balls were a highlight, hosted at the grand houses of the aristocracy. Lord Byron referred to these galas as marriage marts, because it was the best venue for young ladies to encounter possible suitors.

Source: “Coming Out” During the Early Victorian Era; about debutantes | Kate Tattersall Adventures

Tea at Cranford: Charlotte Bronte and the Great Victorian Tea Fraud (Press This! Elizabeth Gaskell’s House)

I have had the great pleasure of visiting this fine home in Manchester during one of my many trips hunting for my ancestors. If you need a bit of a reminder, Elizabeth Gaskell wrote North & South, Wives & Daughters, Cranford, and other works, many of which have been made into major television series.

During my visit to her home, I pulled the same doorbell as Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, standing in the same places. If you would like to see pictures of this fine Georgian residence, please visit my website here for information.

Below is an excerpt from their blog, which always has informative information.  If you like to research the past or love any of the stories Elizabeth penned, you should visit often.  It’s a wonderful place for authors and readers.

Tea plays an integral role in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Cranford. Grown in India, a British colony, and imported by the East India Company, tea became a national beverage which could be found in practically every household. But tea was more than just an infusion of dried leaves it was he beverage that was consistently turned to when spirits were in need of reviving. It is a word that prefixes so many others to indicate its numerous uses and association. Just Read more>>

Source: Tea at Cranford: Charlotte Bronte and the Great Victorian Tea Fraud – elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk

Julia Quinn On ‘Bridgerton (Press This! Bustle)

I don’t remember how they came about. I figured out recently that I would have started writing The Duke and I in 1998. So this book now, if it were a person, it could drink legally. I honestly don’t remember how the Bridgerton family was born… But while I can’t remember how I came up with the Bridgerton family, I can tell you how I came up with Lady Whistledown. You probably know this since you’re a writer, the term “info dump.”

Source: Julia Quinn On ‘Bridgerton,’ That Controversial Sex Scene, & What’s Next

Protect Your Library the Medieval Way, With Horrifying Book Curses (Press This! GetPocket.com)

Worth the chuckle!  “They did not hesitate to use the worst punishments they knew—excommunication from the church and horrible, painful death. Steal a book, and you might be cleft by a demon sword, forced to sacrifice your hands, have your eyes gouged out, or end in the ‘fires of hell and brimstone.'”

They did not hesitate to use the worst punishments they knew—excommunication from the church and horrible, painful death. Steal a book, and you might be cleft by a demon sword, forced to sacrifice your hands, have your eyes gouged out, or end in the “fires of hell and brimstone.”

Source: Protect Your Library the Medieval Way, With Horrifying Book Curses

What Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Teaches Readers (Press This! GetPocket.com)

Before she was a writer, Jane Austen was a reader. A reader, moreover, within a family of readers, who would gather in her father’s rectory to read aloud from the work of authors such as Samuel Johnson, Frances Burney, and William Cowper—as well as, eventually, Jane’s own works-in-progress. Northanger Abbey illustrates the dangers of undiscerning reading—of mistaking fanciful tales of mere entertainment for those that offer truthful insights into real human experience.

Source: What Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Teaches Readers

How to Read the Bridgerton Books in Order (Press This! Radio Times)

Can’t wait for season 2 to come out? Here’s our guide to how Lady Whistledown would want you to read the Julia Quinn novels. Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series begins with The Duke and I, published in 2000, and ends with On the Way to the Wedding, published in 2006 about Gregory Bridgerton – although there’s an epilogue, The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After, focussing on Violet Bridgerton.

Source: How to read the Bridgerton books in order – Radio Times

A Romance Writer on the Bridgerton Books (Press This! The Spinoff)

Oh my gosh. I’m laughing hysterically at this chart. That tells it all.  Great article!  Don’t miss out.  Worth the read for sure.

AJ Lancaster celebrates dukes, the new and improved Eloise, and the death of the Halfway Hymen.In real life my values (left wing, feminist) almost diametrically oppose everything dukes represent. In fiction, though? I love them – and I’m not alone.Regency romance is perennially one of the most popular subgenres.

Source: A romance writer on the Bridgerton books – and why the show is even better | The Spinoff

Sanditon Renewed for Seasons 2 and 3 (Press This! PBS)

For those who may have been left brokenhearted after the end of the continuation of Jane Austen’s story, Sanditon, as done by ITV/Masterpiece, after much hell raised by the Sanditon Sisterhood on how the series ended, BritBox/PBS is continuing the series with two more seasons. Eventually, it will be in book form like season one. Stay tuned for 2022’s continuation.

The acclaimed seaside drama based starring Rose Williams as Charlotte will officially return to MASTERPIECE on PBS for two new seasons! #SanditonPBS

Source: Sanditon Renewed for Seasons 2 and 3 | Masterpiece | Official Site | PBS

Bridgerton’ Season 4: Plot, Cast & Everything To Know (Press This! Bustle)

Neverending Bridgerton news! If you haven’t heard the latest, reports are already on the Internet about Season 4. If you’ve missed the others, here’s the scoop on Seasons 2 and 3 as well.  They are currently filming Season 2, scheduled for release late this year on Netflix.  Follow the article to read more.

Season 2 will focus on Anthony, the eldest Bridgerton sibling, as he looks for a viscountess. Because this tracks with the trajectory of Julia Quinn’s novels, on which the show is based, we can safely guess that future seasons will each correspond to a different book. Season 3 will be Benedict’s story, and Season 4 will match up with Quinn’s Romancing Mister Bridgerton, which is all about Colin and Penelope.

Source: ‘Bridgerton’ Season 4: Plot, Cast & Everything To Know

RWA 2021 Vivian Finalists

The RITAs are no more. If you’re not familiar with the award it was formerly bestowed for excellence in published romance novels and novellas but was retired in 2020 after the Romance Writers of America meltdown. If you missed all the articles about the controversy at the RWA, you can search for prior posts. You can check out the past winners and hall of fame for those who won multiple RITAs at this LINK.

Now it’s the Vivian Award from the Romance Writers of America. “The Vivian recognizes excellence in romance writing and showcases author talent and creativity. We celebrate the power of the romance genre with its central message of hope–because happily ever afters are for everyone.” Vivian Stephens was the founder of Romance Writers of America.

Below are those books nominated for the historical romance category. Winners will be announced July 31, 2021.

Historical Romance – Long (80,000 Words or Longer)

The Clothier’s Daughter by Bronwyn Parry

His Secret Mistress by Cathy Maxwell

Once a Spy by Mary Jo Putney

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

Historical Romance – Mid (50,000 to 80,000 Words)

For This Knight Only by Barbara Bettis

The Footman and I by Valerie Bowman

A Song of Secrets by Robyn Chalmers

A Study in Passion by Louisa Cornell

There is also a Historical Romance Short Category for books 20,000 to 50,000 in length, but there were no finalists.

Here are list of the 2021 Rules here FYI.