I Skyped from my office. “Happy birthday!” I said. Clearly her house was full of revelers and I struggled to hide my embarrassment. “I’m sorry to interrupt your party.”
“Nonsense, Jane Austen said, “You’ve saved me the trouble of inviting you.”
I fell into the awkward lull.
“Don’t fret, you’re not the only guest to arrive via Skype,” she said. “We just hung up with Mark Twain.”
“But he’s dead.” Her guests looked oddly familiar. “Is that Charlotte Bronte?” I asked.
Jane turned to look. “Yes,” she said.
“Is her face always that red?”
“No, she got too close to the screen; hot where Mark is.”
I took a good look at the crowd, recognizing Dickens and Fitzgerald waltzing to poorly executed piano accompaniment.
“Hush, Mary!” Jane sliced her neck at the pianist.
“Pity, you just missed Michael Crichton and John Updike,” Jane said. “They both got invited to a party for a new guy–Steve Jobs. He lived in the States, did you know him?”
I tried to focus on her words but all I could think was that if Mary Bennett was there, other fictional characters must be mingling as well. I scanned the room, certain I saw the Henrys: Crawford and Tilney. Fanny Price was sneaking sips of Lady Bertram’s champagne. Could that be Emma holding court with the Dashwood women? How odd to recognize these characters, not as they appear in film or in my head, but as they were created by Jane Austen’s prose. And then I saw him: tall and impervious, chatting disdainfully with a dear brunette. He didn’t look anything like Colin Firth.
“What’s the matter with you?” Jane asked me. “Are you having an attack of nerves?”
“No,” I cleared my throat. “I’m simply astonished to be in the same Skype with Mr. Darcy, as he appears to you.” No wet shirt, no rain dripping from his nose, just the haughty, self-important man she’d written. A chic blond touched his elbow, distracting him from the dear brunette who had already turned her back. “I’m glad I know another side of him or I’d be tempted to write him off,” I said.
“Where have I heard that before?” Jane said, deadpan. “Look, I’m glad you called,” she said, “I’ve been wondering about this Paris Wife book that’s getting so much attention. Is it the title? What do you think if I rename Sanditon? How does The English Wife sound?”
Last month is was The Help, now The Paris Wife had engaged her competitive sensibilities.
“Is that Jeff Bezos in the corner?” I asked.
Jane looked. “Yes,” she said.
“Who’s he talking to?”
“That’s God,” she said. “They’re close.”
Jane sighed. “It’s been great chatting but I’ve got to go or I’m not going to get any work done today.”
“What about your guests?” I asked.
“They’re leaving soon, all going over to Pemberley to watch Dancing with the Stars.”
“Goodbye Jane,” I said. “Happy birthday.”
“You, too,” she said absently as the connection ended.
This post was written for Jane Austen’s Birthday Soiree, hosted by Maria Grazia (My Jane Austen Book Club) and Katherine Cox (November’s Autumn). Scroll down for the list of participants and join the party!
Leave a comment on this blog by December 23 to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of My Jane Austen Summer and a package of Lily Berry’s Pink Rose Tea (created by Bingley’s Teas, Ltd.) Contest open worldwide.
- Sharon Lathan
Blog: Sharon Lathan
Giveaway: one copy of Miss Darcy Falls in Love
- Emily Snyder
Blog: O! Beauty Unattempted
Giveaway: one copy of Letters of Love & Deception
- Laurel Ann Nattress
Giveaway: one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
- C. Allyn Pierson
Blog: SemiTrue Stories
Giveaway: one copy of Mr. Darcy Little Sister (open internationally)
- Farida Mestek
- Blog: Regency stories set against the backdrop of Regency England
Giveaway: one copy of I was Jane Austen Best Friend, by Cora Harrison
- Marilyn Brant
Blog: Brant Flakes
Giveaway: A canvas ACCORDING TO JANE tote bag and a pair of A SUMMER IN EUROPE luggage tags
- Prue Batten
Blog: Mesmered’s Blog
Giveaway: one copy of Georgiana Darcy’s Diary: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continued, Anna Elliott
- Erin Blakemore
Blog: The Heroine’s Bookshelf
Giveaway: Pride and Prejudice notecards, by Potter Style
- Blog: vvb32 reads
Giveaway: Jane Austen’s Little Instruction Book (Charming Petites), by Jane Austen, edited by Sophia Bedford-Pierce, illustrated by Mullen & Katz, introduction by Barbara Paulding
- Karen Doornebos
Blog: The Fiction vs. Reality Smackdown
Giveaway: 2 Jane Austen candles and 2 signed copies of Definitely Not Mr. Darcy plus drink coasters and tea!
- Regina Jeffers
Blog: ReginaJeffers’s Blog
Giveaway: one signed copy of Christmas at Pemberley
- Alyssa Goodnight
Blog: Alyssa Goodnight
Giveaway: one Jane Austen Action figure
- Deb Barnum
Blog: Jane Austen in Vermont
Giveaway: 2012 calendars from the Wisconsin JASNA Region
- Laura Hile, Susan Kaye, Pamela Aidan, and Barbara Cornthwaite
Blog: Jane Started It!
Giveaway: one copy of Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour, by Pamela Aidan; one set of Frederick Wentworth, Captain (Books 1 and 2), by Susan Kaye; two copies of Mercy’s Embrace: So Rough a Course (Book 1), by Laura Hile; one copy of George Kinghtley, Gentleman (Books 1 and 2), by Barbara Cornthwaite
- Juliet Archer
Blog: Choc Lit Authors’ Corner
Giveaway: one copy each of Persuade Me and The Importance of Being Emma
- Jane Greensmith
Blog: Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
Giveaway: one copy each of Intimations of Austen, and Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Illustrated)
- Jenny Allworthy
Blog: The Jane Austen Film Club
Giveaway: a copy of Northanger Abbey DVD starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild (The winner will choose region 1 or 2 DVD)
- Sitio Jane Austen
Blog: El Salón de Té de Jane
Giveaway: one copy of the Spanish edition of Sense and Sensibility and one copy of DVD package with adaptations of Jane Austen. (It’s only zone 2, but it’s in Spanish and English ), and one copy of BBC’s Emma with Romola Garai (Blue-ray)
- Kaitlin Saunders
Blog: Kaitlin Saunders
Giveaway: one copy of A Modern Day Persuasion
- Becky Rhodehouse
Blog: One Literature Nut
Giveaway: selection of Austenesque Reads
- Patrice Sarath
Blog: Patrice Sarath
Giveaway: one copy of The Unexpected Miss Bennet
- Adriana Zardini
Site: Jane Austen Brasil
Giveaway: DVD – Sense and Sensibility (1995) – English / Portuguese subtitles
- Jane Odiwe
Blog: Jane Austen Sequels
Giveaway: one mug with one of Jane Odiwe’s illustrations and one copy of Mr. Darcy’s Secret
- Courtney Webb
Blog: Stiletto Storytime
Giveaway: one copy of Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant (Regency Romance)
- Jennifer Becton
Blog: Jennifer W. Becton
Giveaway: one copy of the eBook of the Personages of Pride and Prejudice Collection, which contains Charlotte Collins, “Maria Lucas,” andCaroline Bingley. Open internationally.
- Vera Nazarian
Blog: Urban Girl Takes Vermont
Giveaway: a copy of Vera Nazarian’s gift hardcover edition of her inspirational calendar and diary, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
- Abigail Reynolds
Blog: Pemberley Variations
Giveaway: one signed copy of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing
- Blog: AustenAuthors
Giveaway: one copy of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester
- Katherine Cox
Blog: November’s Autumn
Giveaway: one $10 B&N Gift-card (US only)
- Maria Grazia
Blog: My Jane Austen Book Club
Giveaway: A selection of Austenesque reads