Good Afternoon everyone,
Welcome to another stop of the blog tour for Rational Creatures, one of the most expected books of the year not only because of its significance when it comes to the defense of feminist principles, but also because editor Christina Boyd was once more able to gather some of the most prominent names in the JAFF literary genre. I’m very happy to receive an author who is new in the The Quill Collective Anthologies but someone whom I’ve known quite well for the past years, Nicole Clarskton.
Nicole Clarkston is one of my favourite authors within the genre for more reasons that I can point out (but you can check some of them in my Author of the Month post) and she decided to create a story about one of the most controversial heroines from Jane Austen’s novels: Marianne Dashwood. This character had everything for me to love her, and quite frankly her sister had everything for me to hate her, but somehow Austen made me love Elinor and dislike Marianne. Why is that? Why is such a passionate character so controversial? I believe it is because of her lack of maturity, but Nicole Clarkston did a great job at explaining the progress of this character, so I if like me you were not a fan of Marianne, you may enjoy reading this guest post, it may change your mind 😉
“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.
In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.
Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.
“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft
Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser
Marianne Dashwood: the last girl in the world whose name you would accidentally breathe in the same sentence as the word “rational”.
Marianne is introduced to us as exceedingly pretty, lively, engaging, witty, and talented. She is that girl who can hold the room in her thrall with hardly a conscious thought. She is, however, regularly given to excesses of passion—which even her mother encourages—that would eliminate her from the running if we were on the search for someone cool, calm, and collected. That laurel would go to her sister, and Marianne would suffer not a moment’s jealousy in being passed over for such accolades.
Marianne is not without other virtues. She is honest and pure, and her definition of these qualities is exacting. She speaks no guile and expresses every feeling, every thought with heartfelt sincerity. Indeed, this charming trait is perhaps her greatest flaw, for the expression “think before you speak” would smack of artifice to her. Her feelings are passionate, loving, unreserved, and wholly ungoverned. Not only does she permit her emotions free reign over her thoughts and actions, but she encourages them, provoking herself to even greater displays of feeling and relishing every moment of the heights of rapture or the depths of despair.
At this point, you might be asking why anyone would ever have the nerve to declare Marianne Dashwood a “Rational Creature”. I believe the girl we meet at the beginning of the story would even be offended by that appellation, and would immediately quote some poetry to better describe herself. But Marianne undergoes a complete reversal, marrying a stoic man twice her age and bewildering the reader who tries to thumb ahead to read the last pages without first knowing the arc of the story.
She did give her heart away… shocking, I know. In truth, she tore it out of her chest and threw it at an unworthy rascal, who promptly dropped it like a hot potato when the choice was between her and money. What, then, is a girl to do? Not only has she lost that one soul in whom she truly believed she must find all her happiness, she has also been forced to acknowledge the fallacy of her ways in a most humiliating manner. To top it all off, she discovers that her sister—remember the rational one?—has suffered a similar disappointment but has preserved her dignity through it all. That must sting.
Well, it turns out that our girl has a bit of sense bound up in that heart after all. After a life-threatening illness, she emerges a new creature. She is still our headstrong, generous, thoroughly enchanting heroine—the soul of a poet in the body of a bewitching eighteen-year-old girl—but she has learned the value of temperance. Moreover, she resolves to hone her own mind, to discipline her thoughts, and—most astonishing of all—to consider the possibility of life without a man’s ardent devotion. She resolves to be content in who she is, while exerting herself to improve and make amends for past wrongs.
All this transformation is little more than a blip in Jane Austen’s last chapters. Our dear authoress leaves us to wonder, to doubt, and perhaps even roll our eyes. But then, she proves Marianne’s new outlook on life by telling us of her marriage to a man she had once deemed unmarriageable, and then going on to declare her happiness in that circumstance.
“…in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction;—her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.” —Sense and Sensibility
No, she has not changed in essentials. Did you catch that bit about how her husband is even animated and cheerful because of her influence? But the fact that she has devoted herself to loving, and loving wholly, the man who was the most sensible choice, demonstrates that she has learned what her mother thought unnecessary and her sister despaired of ever seeing: she is now governing her feelings by reason. Indeed, she has become a Rational Creature.
Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her
You can find our more about Nicole Clarkston in the following social media:
Please follow the blog tour to have a chance to get to know all the authors and learn more about these stories 🙂
September 18 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post
September 20 / Long and Short Reviews / Guest Post
September 25 / Books & Wine are Lovely Playlist
September 27 / Fangs, Wands and Fairydust / Guest Post
October 2 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post
October 4 / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post
October 9 / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post
October 11 / Silver Petticoat / Guest Post
October 15 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review
October 16 / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post
October 18 / Rosie’s Review Team / Book Review
October 23 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post
October 25 / The Book Rat / Guest Post
October 30 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review
November 1 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Guest Post
November 6 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review
November 8 / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review
November 13 / Let Us Talk of Many Things / Guest Post
The Quill Collective is offering a huge giveaway to one very lucky winner! It is offering 21 prizes, so comment on the blog posts to enter and at the end of the tour you may be the randomly picked winner who will win all 21 prizes!
The prizes are:
- Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks),
- our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle;
- A brick in winner’s name to benefit
- BuyABrick for Chawton House; and
- The Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook.