What I’m not sure you know, is that Claudine and I became such great friends due to a mutual acquaintance, author Joana Starnes.
Our mutual love for Joana’s books and the long talks we both had with her brought us closer together, and while we were in NYC we often wondered what it would be like to have Joana with us and have a share in our conversations, so despite having an ocean separating the 3 of us, we decided to do just that! We asked Joana to take part in this adventure and she asked us a series of questions about our time together, JAFF, regency and of course Jane Austen.
Me and Claudine replied to all of Joana’s questions and today we are sharing our answers with you. If you are interested in seeing my perspective of our time together visit JustJane1813, but I think the most interesting perspective is Claudine’s and you can find it right here at From Pemberley to Milton.
Enjoy her answers, and ask her anything! I’m sure she’ll love to talk more about our time together.
How long have you known each other before meeting face to face? Where did you first ‘meet’? Did you already know you’ll hit it off by the time you met in real-life?
I have known Rita since last fall when I started my own blog. We actually met online through our mutual admiration of each other’s reviews and blog posts. I had been talking with you, Mrs. Starnes, about Rita’s blog and you made me aware that she also admired my blog. The rest, as we say, is history! We’ve been talking ever since online and through the app, WhatsApp, so by the time we had met each other In New York City, I had a really strong suspicion that we would hit it off really well.
Where did you go? What did you see? Any pics you’d like to share?
We had so much fun in New York City! We started with a really great afternoon tea at the King’s Carriage House. Rita had told me that she had never been to an English tea before, so I wanted to surprise her and take her to a place that I heard was really great for a nice afternoon tea. After that we were able to go down near Washington Square Park to see an adaptation of Sense and Sensibility by the Bedlam Theater. It’s in adaptation of Austen’s first publication that I had seen earlier this past spring and I just knew that Rita would love to see the show. After the show we made our way through some places in New York City that Rita wanted to see, including Time Square and we traveled to the top floor of the Marriott Hotel. On the following day she wanted to see a lot of the midtown New York sites, such as the New York Public Library, Bryant Park, the top of Rockefeller Center, and Grand Central Station. It was just so much fun because we were able to do a lot of things that we both were interested in doing and Rita’s enthusiasm made me really feel like a tourist in New York City. I kept joking that instead of the accidental tourist, which Rita is too young to know about, LOL, I was the reluctant tourist. But truly, it was a really special experience to share with her!
How soon into the conversation did you get to mention Jane Austen and JAFF? How much of that endless list of goodies did you get to cover?
I think we started talking about JAFF pretty soon into our visit. We talked a lot about the books that we’ve read and the books that we would recommend for one another. We also described what we both prefer to read in a JAFF story and we discovered that we have some really different tastes. We both prefer when are characters are true to canon and Rita seems to enjoy stories that follow canon more closely than I do. A lot of authors and a lot of stories we shared are ones we both happen to love; however we had quite a few that we disagreed upon and it was really fun trying to convince each other why the other should reconsider and reread certain stories. The saddest part is I don’t even think we really even touched nearly upon everything we wanted to talk about in JAFF. I know that we could easily spend several more days together and still be talking about all of the great stories, ideas, and experiences we’ve had through reading JAFF that we still didn’t get to share with each other.
Did you get the chance to chat about anything other than Jane Austen and JAFF?
Actually, yes! We spoke about a lot of things besides Jane Austen and JAFF stories. We talked a lot about our own countries and I learned a tremendous amount about Portugal, and I was able to obviously share a lot about America and New York, in particular, with Rita. We described the similarities and the differences between our two countries, which I found fascinating. We spoke a lot about our families and friends, as well as our careers. It was interesting just to find out that although we have a lot in common, we are both in different places in our own lives. Rita is still newly married, compared to me and while she plans to have children, I am in the midst of raising four children right now. Even though we’re in different places in our lives, I love that because we are so connected to the JAFF community and we may not have even met if we lived in the same town because of our different life stages; but because of our love for Jane Austen, we are able to really connect as people through this shared passion.
Did you discover common favourites among Jane Austen’s novels? Would you like to share your top three?
We both love Pride and Prejudice the most, and we both really enjoy Sense and Sensibility. I love Emma as my third favorite choice, and Rita really loves Persuasion. As I’ve told readers before, and I’ve covered myself with some protection as I say this, LOL, Persuasion is not one of my favorite Jane Austen stories. I do have to give it another chance to see if I would admire this story more after several years later. I was surprised to learn that Rita really dislikes Emma, who I have always loved, but not shocked, because whenever I meet another Janeite and we compare our lists, I see different combinations all the time, except for Pride and Prejudice typically being other readers’ favorite Austen story.
What drew you to reading Austen?
I was been drawn to Austen prior to having my first child. I read Pride and Prejudice as a 29 year old mother-to-be, thank you Anna Quindlen, and then I went on to read all of her work. The thing that really drew me to Austen were her characters. I will never forget Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy for the rest of my life. I feel very much the same way about Marianne Dashwood and John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon and Elinor and Edward Ferrars, as well as for Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley. I just simply adore them! I don’t think that you can love Austen and just not be enamored with her characters. So for me, it starts at her characters and then moves into what Austen attempts to teach us about the world through her characters.
What drew you to reading JAFF in the first place? What keeps you attracted to the genre?
I didn’t know that JAFF existed and Rita has been reading JAFF quite a bit longer than I have. Initially, what happened was that I discovered JAFF by accident on Pinterest, and once I read my first JAFF story, Unequal Affections, I just never turned back. I think that the idea of living in Darcy and Elizabeth’s world is just mesmerizing for me. I love the history, I love the romance, I love the characters and I just simply adore what so many talented authors have been able to do in writing JAFF stories; so even though I’m coming later to the game pretty much after everyone else in the JAFF community, I hope to be able to spread my love and my passion of the JAFF community and discover the same quality of wonderful stories as I have in the past two years.
Are you glad / not so glad that most JAFF is based on Pride and Prejudice? Do you think that’s all Mr Darcy’s fault?
I do prefer most of the JAFF I read to be based on Pride and Prejudice. I certainly admire authors who break out of the Elizabeth and Darcy mold, however, after two years, I still want to read about them every single day. I just simply adore them and I adore them for several reasons. I don’t think I can say it’s Mr. Darcy’s fault. I think for me I have a passion and an attraction for Elizabeth Bennet that is just as strong and maybe even stronger. I have been posting a chapter a week this year on Just Jane 1813, with the intention of living and reading and talking about Pride and Prejudice with other readers (who I must thank here for their time, commitment and brilliant feedback each week!) for the commitment of a whole year. The name of the series is called “We Still Need Her’ and it comes from a great quote from Rosamund Pike about Pride and Prejudice. It’s really based on the premise that as women, we are still striving to find great female role models; we are still looking for a vision about what it means to be a woman in the modern world. So whether you’re living in 1813 or 2016, I think many women are still thinking about and deciding what womanhood means for them and what the possibilities are for their own lives. That’s why I think we love Elizabeth Bennet; she’s not afraid to be who she is, and she’s not unable to revise her opinions and ideas when faced with better information. I joke around in my head, but it’s true; when I read a JAFF story, I think I can only be as happy as Elizabeth Bennett is in each story while I am reading. So to answer your question, for me, it’s about both Darcy and Elizabeth, but probably a little bit more about Elizabeth.
What do you like most about the Regency period? If anyone offered you a seat on the time machine (and promised hand on heart you’d be comfortably well off on the other side, not scullery maids) would you go? How long for? What would you miss apart from friends, family, showers and modern medicine?
Regarding the Regency era, I have always been someone who has loved history and learning about other cultures, particularly European History. My father was a history teacher for over 30 years and I always had a great fascination with European History. I loved learning about royalty, I loved learning about how the different countries lived side-by-side with each other and yet, are so different from each other. Of course, I enjoy learning about the food and the clothes and the dancing, as well as other social engagements in each culture. I especially love learning about the people who were the movers and shakers during each era, so what appeals to me about the Regency era, appeals to me about every era I am interested in learning about.
If you could ask Jane Austen anything at all, what would that be?
If I could ask Jane Austen anything I would ask her to first write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, LOL. I would also like to know more about her life, including whether or not she ever regretted her decision not to get married and have her own children. I’d also love to know what she thinks of our Austenesque fan culture today and who was really her real-life inspiration for Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Hmm, that was more than one question…
Would you tell us more about your plans for your blog?
In the next week or so, I will be launching a new look for my blog, which I’m really excited about and I hope my Just Jane 1813 readers will love it too! I’m actually a little (ok, maybe very) nervous about the response from my readers because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I’m hoping to have a blog that has a simpler homepage and that has a little bit more of an Austen look and feel to the blog. I have some really great book reviews coming up in the next few weeks, and I am just really curious to see how the new blog design evolves. I am also trying to decide which blog events to repeat again, now that my blog is turning a year-old in October.
Will you meet again soon?
Given the fact that we live with an ocean in between us, we have no fixed engagements to meet anytime soon, but I did tell Rita that my goal is to get over to the UK very soon. Hopefully, she can meet me there, or I can get over to Portugal too, and that we can meet with Joana Starnes and some of our other friends in England, so that I can enjoy Jane Austen’s England with people I hold very dear to me. I think Austen would be so amazed at how many people she has connected through her stories; she never could have imagined her influence on our lives, and I like to think that possibility exists for each of us!
Thank you Joana, for taking the time to interview both of us. You have played a vital role in connecting us with each other and it was so much fun to have you play a role in the making of these interviews! Your talents and hard work have brought both of us many pleasurable hours of reading and swooning, and your friendship makes you simply unforgettable to us.
Thank you, Rita, for inviting me to your blog to spend time with your readers and for being such a great JAFF friend! I feel blessed to have met someone like you, who shares such a special connection with me and who has such a generous soul!
***It’s Giveaway time***
You can tell from Claudine’s comments that we walked a lot through New York City and visited lots of places. That means, of course, that we also entered a lot of shops!
We could not resist to buy several Jane Austen related items and would like to share some of them with our readers!
We would like to giveaway 3 different items to 3 different winners:
1 – Pride and Prejudice adhesive page flags
2 – Mr. Darcy Funko POP from Pride &Prejudice and Zombies
3 – Elizabeth Bennet Funko POP from Pride & Prejudice and Zombies
Let us know what you thought about our adventure, ask us anything you would like, and basically have your share in our conversation. When we are talking about Jane Austen, the more the merrier. Don’t forget to comment on both of our posts, we will randomly select the winner among readers who have posted their comments on this post and on Claudine’s post as well.
The giveaway is international and ends on the 20th of August. The winners will be announced in both blogs, JustJane1813 and From Pemberley to Milton on the 22nd of August.
Good luck everyone!