Book Spotlight + Jane Austen Giveaway! | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Book Spotlight + Jane Austen Giveaway!

December 04, 2014

Book Spotlight + Jane Austen Giveaway!


Author Syrie James was inspired to write Jane Austen's First Love by references in several of Jane Austen's letters to Edward Taylor, heir to Bifrons Park in Kent (pictured above!).  You will feel like you are on holiday with Austen as the book looks back to real events and people Jane encountered while visiting the countryside with her sister Cassandra.

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 to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby estate of Bifrons--a fascinating, highly accomplished young man who is truly worthy of Jane's 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. 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.




Win One of Five Fabulous Jane Austen-inspired Prize Packages


To celebrate the holidays and the release of Jane Austen's First Love, Syrie is giving away five prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on this post.

Increase your chances of winning by visiting multiple stops along the Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour! Syrie's unique guest posts will be featured on a variety of subjects, along with fun interviews, spotlights, excerpts, and reviews of the novel. Contest closes at 11:59pm PT, December 21, 2014. Five lucky winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments on the tour, and announced on Syrie’s website on December 22, 2014. The giveaway contest is open to everyone, including international residents.
Good luck to all!

Continue reading for a peek inside the new novel!




A peek inside the new novel!
Excerpt from Chapter the Seventh, Jane Austen’s First Love By Syrie James
Fanny, Elizabeth and Sophia Bridges are sisters that Jane Austen meets in Kent.  Jane stays at their estate on holiday. Her brother Edward is engaged to Elizabeth.  The eldest sister, Fanny, hastily becomes engaged when she learns her younger sister is to be married before her! 
Jane Austen, age fifteen, has arrived at Goodnestone Park in Kent, home of the Bridges family, for a month of festivities in honor of two engagements: that of her brother Edward Austen to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, and Elizabeth’s older sister Fanny to Mr. Lewis Cage. That morning, Jane met a charming young man, Edward Taylor, who is growing more fascinating every moment...

 The house was alive with the laughter of children as the family gathered for dinner. The moment we entered the drawing-room, my brother Edward moved to Elizabeth’s side, and the two fell into the quiet, affectionate tête-à-tête peculiar to lovers. Fanny and Sophia were apprehended by their mother, whose opinions she sought with regard to changes in the menu for the al-fresco party to be held a few days hence.

My heart leapt when Edward Taylor’s dark eyes caught mine, and beat even faster when, after exchanging a few words with his cousin, the two crossed the room to where Cassandra, Marianne, and I stood together.

“How have you fared since your arrival, ladies?”

“I hope you enjoyed a lovely afternoon?” added Mr. Payler, with a shy glance at Cassandra.

“We did, thank you,” answered she.

“My only regret is that I never had the opportunity to thank you both again for your assistance this morning,” replied I. “Had you not appeared so fortuitously and been so obliging, our unfortunate incident on the road might have had a more disastrous result.”

Edward Taylor's dark eyes catch Jane's from across the room.
“I am truly sorry for the inconvenience and distress this morning’s events must have caused you,” replied Edward sincerely; continuing, with a twinkle in his eyes, “however I must admit, for my part, I cannot consider it to be an unfortunate incident.”

"No?"

“No; for it provided me a chance to—” He paused, as if rethinking what he was about to say. “—a chance to do something very rare, which is essential to my happiness.”

“Pray tell, what is that, Mr. Taylor?”

“It allowed me the opportunity to prove useful.”

I smiled. “To prove useful is, indeed, something to which I daily aspire; but it so often eludes me."

“Well then, you understand how I feel. The circumstance also provided another benefit, Miss Jane. It concluded with an invitation to dinner at Goodnestone, which is always a delightful prospect."

Our conversation was interrupted by the announcement that dinner was served, and we all progressed into the very sizeable dining-room, which Sophia explained was the room they used for dancing, when the furniture was removed. I was astonished by how elegantly the long table was draped and set, and the quantity of plate on view, considering that it was only a family dinner.

The moment we entered the drawing-room, my brother Edward moved to Elizabeth’s side, and the two fell into the quiet, affectionate tête-à-tête peculiar to lovers. 
A great many footmen assisted us as the family took their seats by rote, leaving open seats only on the side of the table opposite Mr. Taylor, which (to my disappointment) prevented any meaningful continuation of a discussion I had only just begun to enjoy.

Sir Brook made a toast of welcome to his visitors, noting his delight that we had come all the way from Hampshire to celebrate his daughters’ engagements. To my brother Edward he added, “It is no secret how pleased Lady Bridges and I are by our Elizabeth’s choice of husband; and as for Fanny’s intended, Mr. Lewis Cage—he too is a most amiable man, and we look forward to his joining us for what I believe will be a remarkable month.”

As the soup was served, I said to Sophia beside me, “What is Mr. Cage like? Do you know him well?"

“Not really,” answered she quietly. “Their betrothal was very sudden, and just a fortnight after Elizabeth and Edward announced their engagement. We have only met a few times. I know that he is very fond of books.”

Has Fanny ever read a book?
Marianne added in a low voice, “I dare say Fanny has never read but one book in her entire life—and I cannot be certain she even finished it.”

“She and Mr. Cage must have found other interests in common,” said I, smiling, “other than reading."

Sophia did not immediately reply, and Marianne said with gravity, “Of course you are right, Jane.”

As the dinner continued, light conversation was heard from the top of the table, and congenial laughter from the children at the bottom. I made a point of complimenting all the dishes that I tried, which seemed to please Lady Bridges when she overheard it. At one point, I found Edward Taylor looking at me, and our glances converged in a brief but mutual smile.

After the desserts were consumed, we left the men and withdrew to the drawing-room, where Charles and Brook Edward engaged in a game of chess, the younger boys played on the floor, and Lady Bridges held court on a sofa, with Fanny and Sophia on either side, Elizabeth and Marianne seated beside them, and Louisa and Harriot at their feet, in a tableau which looked to be a family habit of long standing. Cassandra and I procured two unoccupied chairs close by, and I said to Lady Bridges:

“I believe you mentioned in your letter, ma’am, that both your daughters’ weddings will take place at the end of the year?”

“Yes.” Lady Bridges’ smile reflected her genuine enthusiasm with regard to the subject matter. “It was Mr. Knight’s wish at the first, that Edward and Elizabeth not be married immediately, as they are both so young, and Sir Brook and I could not agree more. We think to have a double wedding in December.”

Hair powder remained fashionable in
England longer than in France,
even with taxes and fines! 

Dear Reader:

What intrigues you about this excerpt from Jane Austen's First Love? Can you guess what shocking thing does Edward Taylor persuade Jane to do that very evening? Read the book to find out!

Bonus questions: Did you also visit the Jane Austen’s First Love blog tour stop at The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide?
Do you think Jane Austen ever powdered her hair? If so, why and when?


Remember to leave a comment here to enter the giveaway!
Images:
Perhaps Jan van der Vaardt, 1647–1721. Bifrons Park, Kent. 1695-1705, oil on canvas. Yale Center for British Art.
Reynolds, Joshua, The Ladies Waldegrave. 1780, oil on canvas. The Scottish National Galleries.
Thomson, Hugh, Jane happened to look round. Engraving, 19th century. Private Collection. Bridgeman Ed.
Circle of Henri-Pierre Danloux, Portrait de jeune homme en buste. c1753-1809, oil on canvas. Christies.
Hoppner, John, R.A. (1758-1810), Portrait of Charlotte Walsingham, Lady Fitzgerald. Oil on canvas. Christies, 2005.
You may also like:
Did you watch Death Comes to Pemberley? [poll]
Jane Austen: A Woman's Wit
A Downton Abbey Experience: Lady Mary's Necklace or Lessons from the Butler
Downton Abbey Inspired Fashion and Style for Everyday
The Gardener of Versailles


48 comments

  1. What a joy to read more about the story of young Jane & her first love :)

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  2. It has been most interesting and intriguing to follow along this blog tour and read the excerpts, this book sounds fabulous.

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    1. Thank you, Jean! It was one of the great joys of my life to discover Edward Taylor and to write about his love story with Jane. I hope you enjoy the novel!

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  3. so charming, quite a dreamy set of circumstances to sink into

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  4. I have enjoyed the conversations between Jane and Edward. I would love to see what a double wedding would be like.

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    1. There's a double wedding at the end of the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. A truly lovely moment!

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  5. First view of the other giveaway bags! Such a fun idea and I can't wait to read the novel.

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  6. Amazing what we ladies do for beauty! Syrie, thank you for writing about Jane's First Love.

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  7. I love getting these little peeks into what Jane Austen may have thought, felt and experienced during her formative years. Thanks for showing us that excerpt!

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  8. Thank you so much for hosting me here today on Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century! What a wonderful place to celebrate and discuss the young Jane Austen, who was born in 1775, and grew up in the last quarter of the 18th Century.

    Readers, if you enjoyed this excerpt, I dearly hope it has enticed you to check out my novel, JANE AUSTEN'S FIRST LOVE. I'm so excited by the many dozens of ★★★★★ reviews it has received.

    I hope you'll agree with My Jane Austen Book Club, who says "This book can't be missing on your Austenesque shelf, and would be a very special gift to readers you want to initiate into Jane Austen's world." :)

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  9. Can't wait to read this book!!!

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  10. Interesting inspiration

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  11. Thank you for considering me for the giveaway.

    Sounds like a great read!

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  12. this book sounds like a great read! wonderful giveaway!

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  13. Oh, I simply must buy this book! (And an extra copy for my sister who would otherwise "borrow" my copy and I'd never see it again! *grin*) Thank you very much for telling us about it!

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  14. My sister and I were very competitive growing up, so I could relate to the description of sibling rivalry among the Bridges sisters!

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  15. Thanks for the giveaway :)
    celeste_257@hotmail.com

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  16. I've always loved Jane Austen and view her as one of many great women role models. I am excited to read about her first great love. :) Thank you!

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  17. My daughter and I love Jane Austen! I love the fashion of the era, and she just loves everything in general. I am sure she will love this book! Thank you for this giveaway contest! Hope I win for her. :)

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    1. Hi Darlene! How wonderful that you and your daughter both love Jane Austen--she can add so much light to your life!

      If you think your daughter would love Jane Austen's First Love, I hope you'll consider gifting her a copy for the holidays! (It's not part of the prize packages being give away in this contest, although several of my other books are, along with lots of Austenesque goodies.)

      Have a fabulous holiday season, and happy reading!

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  18. If we keep meeting like this Syrie people are going to start talking. :~) nrslalee00@yahoo.com

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  19. I have just discovered the blog tour this mornind and I have been reading all posts related to Jane Austen's first love one after the other ! =) Thank you !

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  20. I love the fact that you feel as if you are on holiday with Jane while reading the book.

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    1. What a wonderful sentiment Kimberly. Many thanks!

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  21. It's sad Jane and Edward's relationship did not materialize, wonder what happened!

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  22. What intrigues me most is wondering why feeling useful would elude Edward on a regular basis. I wonder if Edward gets Jane to go outside with him without a chaperone. I did stop at the Dutchess of Devonshire's Gossip Guide and found Jane did powder her hair once for a ball as all the other young ladies were doing so. Her mother allowed it that once.

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    1. The powdering of the hair differentiated children from adults. skamper25 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  23. Eager to read this book absoutely love Jane.

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    1. Thanks Mariana! It's easy to adore Jane Austen, isn't it? I'm a lifelong fan. It was a wonderful experience to research and write Jane Austen's First Love, and I hope you enjoy it!

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  24. so loving the pictures in your post. can feel like I am in that period.

    dlsmilad at yahoo dot com

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  25. Sounds like a book to put on my reading list

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    1. Hi Caroline! Thank you for commenting. I am so glad you enjoyed this excerpt from Jane Austen's First Love and that you love the novel. Happy holidays!

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  26. Beautiful paintings put faces to Jane's characters, that are written about! Somehow those girls seem so old though.
    denannduvall(at)gmail(dot)com

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  27. I just discovered your blog tour, what a good idea :)

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  28. I just discovered your blog and I love it (Marie Antoinette's: good title's choice)
    And this contest is amazing!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Celia. I hope you love Jane Austen's First Love!

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  29. I would love to read this book and I would love to win!
    dez3b@yahoo.com

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  30. I really enjoy to read your blog and will be waiting for your next update.I appreciate all the work you put into this site, helping out others with your fun and creative works.
    Best pharmacy in Astoria

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  31. Thanks for giveway. The book is very interesting. I love Jane Austen

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    1. I'm so happy you stopped by on the Jane Austen's First Love Holiday Blog Tour. Thanks for commenting! From your name, it sounds like you're as romantic-minded as I am. I hope you love the story of Jane's romance with Edward Taylor, the extraordinary young man who first stole her heart! Please visit me at www.syriejames.com to learn about my other other books--all nine are for the woman who loves romance. :)

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  32. My winter reading list gets longer and longer! Please include my name in your giveaway.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Ellen. I hope you put Jane Austen's First Love on your holiday wish list, or treated yourself to a copy! :) Please visit me at www.syriejames.com and/or stop by https://www.facebook.com/syriejames and give me a shout--I'd love to hear what you're reading! Happy holidays!

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  33. This book looks like something for my list! I'll be treating myself to it. :)

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