inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #0 of 118: Inkwell Cohost (jonl) Sat 11 Sep 21 06:34
Welcome to another Inkwell discussion, this time focusing on THE
COLONEL'S BROTHER, a novel inspired by the work of Jane Austen,

We'll be talking to the author, Stephanie Vale - the pen name of a
longtime WELL member, <vard>. She is a semi-retired attorney and
part-time university instructor in the US Pacific Northwest.  She
has loved Jane Austen for more than 40 years, and has been reading
and enjoying Austenesque fiction since 2008. In about 2017 she
finally became inspired to attempt writing it herself.

THE COLONEL'S BROTHER is her first book. She is currently working on
three others.

Leading the discussion is Paul Belserene. Paul joined the WELL as
<paulbel> in 1990, where he hosts the Canada and Media conferences.
Self-employed most of his life, he's currently working on being self
unemployed. Paul last read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE forty years ago.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #1 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Sat 11 Sep 21 17:17
It's my great privilege to buddy up to Stephanie Vale, the
first-time author whose secret identity is the WELL's own <vard>,
Stephanie Vardavas. 

I get to kick off this interview.  Ms Vale, (do you mind if I call
you <vard>?) Your novel, the Colonel's Brother is rightly considered
a work of fan fiction connected to the works of Jane Austen in
general and Pride and Prejudice in particular.

Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Miss
Austen, and how you came to want to write this book?
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #2 of 118: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Sat 11 Sep 21 21:57

hey Paul,

thanks so much! I'm looking forward to this.

I never read Austen in school and when I was young I have to admit I
considered  her a "romance novelist," who had written in a category of
fiction I scorned.

In my early 20s I was living in Manhattan with two roommates. One of my
roommates worked in publishing and was an Austen fan. One day I saw a boxed
set of Austen's six completed novels on her shelf, and confessed to her that
I felt vaguely guilty about never having read any Austen. She handed them to
me and said here you go, read Pride and Prejudice first.

So I did.

And I was hooked.

What I had never realized – because nobody had ever told me – was how
funny she is.

P&P, in particular, is hilarious. It is a marriage story, but it’s also a
biting satire. The characters are vividly drawn and their personalities and
interrelationships are interesting and engaging.  It’s the perfect gateway
drug into Austen.

Austen’s other books are not all equally humorous, but each in its own way
is strongly satirical. For the daughter of a clergyman, she goes after the
clergy pretty hard across the board. She has little patience for vanity and
self-importance in all their forms, and I think that’s one of the reasons
I love her. But I think that her real genius was in her profound
understanding of human nature.

As to how I got to this point... one thing to remember is: Austen died young
(41). She completed only six novels before her death, and the last two were
published by her brother after she died, before she had declared them
finished. She was a scrupulous editor and reviser of her own work, so it’s
likely that Northanger Abbey and Persuasion would be different if she had
lived another few years. So she’s not like Dickens or Trollope -- her
total output was relatively small. But she created such compelling
characters and communities that if you love them, it can be really
frustrating to think that there will never be any more books, never any more
stories, about those people and places.

That’s almost certainly how Austenesque fiction, AKA Austen variations or
Jane Austen fan fiction, came into being. Wikipedia says that the first work
of JAFF was published in 1913, well over a century ago. I personally
discovered JAFF in about 2008. My introduction to JAFF came from a fantastic
trilogy by Pamela Aidan, which retold the story of Pride and Prejudice with
Darcy as the viewpoint character instead of Elizabeth. These books hit me
like a ton of bricks. They were well researched and well written and gave me
a whole different perspective on P&P. Once I had read those, Amazon started
showing me more titles, and if they had positive reviews, I started to read
them. Some of them were not all that good. But many of them were excellent,
and put the characters I loved into new and challenging situations, and fed
the Austen-craving beast I had become.

I never went totally down the rabbit hole – I still read tons of
nonfiction and some other fiction – but I have read a bunch of this stuff
over the years and mostly enjoyed it, and a few years ago I had an idea for
an Austen variation no one had written yet. I thought, “well, why
shouldn’t I take a whack at it?” and that idea became THE COLONEL’S

Thanks to Facebook, there’s a warm community of JAFF readers and writers,
and a couple of years ago one of my favorite JAFF authors, Victoria Kincaid,
started organizing friendly reader/writer get-togethers. In the age of COVID
those get-togethers have been driven online, and once a month we have a Zoom
where a few writers read from their works in progress, and then we have an
hour of general conversation in breakout rooms. I read from THE COLONEL’S
BROTHER to one of these Zooms a few months ago and everyone reacted so
positively that I decided that perhaps it really was good enough to move
forward with.

So here we are.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #3 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Sun 12 Sep 21 09:22
Here we are, indeed. I had no idea.
I mean, I knew fan fiction existed: that, say "50 Shades of Grey"
began as fan fiction for, I think, the Twilight series. But I didn't
imagine and wouldn't have, that Miss Austen (or, really, any author
of the classic Canon, would have a community of fan fiction, JAFF,
as you say.

I read THE COLONEL's BROTHER because I knew the author. :-)
And I loved it.

If I have the period right, Jane (do you call her "Jane"?) was
writing in what's called the Regency period. It's been decades since
I read her but I still have a sense of the particular language
around social intercourse that she, and I guess others from that
time use.

Reading your book, I have a very clear sense that you're faithful,
by and large, to the social mores of this time, but the language
feels, perhaps, more accessible to a modern reader than my memory of
Jane's. Did you make any conscious decisions about style in
approaching this book?  

One example: I seem to recall that whenever a young woman would
become aware of the amorous or sexual subtext of an interchange,
Jane would use the word "consciousness."  It was almost a way of
describing a blush. As I was reading TCB  (if you can say JAFF, I
can say TCB) I found myself looking for the use of "consciousness"
but I don't think I ever found it.

How do you in particular, and other JAFFers in general, approach the
language of the period? Are anachronisms a problem? 
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #4 of 118: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Sun 12 Sep 21 22:51
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permalink #9 of 118: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Sun 12 Sep 21 23:03

Sorry for all the scribbling. I keep saving my answers as "ASCII," but they
are coming out with garbage characters in Engaged when I post in Picospan,
and with garbage characters in Picospan when I post in Engaged.

I don't get it. It's supposed to be ASCII.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #10 of 118: AKA Stephanie Vale (vard) Sun 12 Sep 21 23:04
OMG yes. Anachronisms are a real pet peeve for me.  When I encounter
them in JAFF they take me right out of the story. They have ruined
several otherwise good novels for me as I was reading them.  In my
own writing process, Google Ngram Viewer has become one of my best
friends. Whenever a turn of phrase or even a word sounds potentially
“off” to my ear, I look it up and find an alternative if necessary.
I can give you one excellent example from TCB. When Henry
Fitzwilliam’s father tells him he needs to find a wife by a certain
date, what is that? Well, you and I would call it a “deadline.” And
my early drafts included that word. But it did not sound right to my
ear, so I looked it up in the Ngram Viewer and sure enough, it is
not a word that would have been in common usage in 1813. It was hard
to come up with a synonym so instead I used the word “ultimatum” and
tweaked the surrounding sentences to make more sense that way. Later
in the book there’s a moment where Charlotte’s husband does
something absurd and she is trying not to laugh. As I originally
wrote that scene, she “stuffed her fist in her mouth to keep from
laughing.” But that sounded way too modern, so I dialed it down to
“covered her mouth” instead.

The book is full of choices of that kind. You may have noticed that
I made a point of adopting British spellings throughout (favourite,
honour, realised instead of realized, etc.)  I avoided contractions.
Things like that. I hired an editor who is very experienced with
JAFF to help me. But I didn’t take all of her advice, because in
some cases I just really wanted to write a scene in a particular
way. Also, she is much more comfortable with the tropes of romance
fiction than I am. Of course TCB is about Darcy and Elizabeth and
their path to happiness together, and I would not have it otherwise,
but I don’t have a lot of patience for the pure romance stuff, and
so I went a lot lighter on it than many JAFF authors do. As for the
concept of consciousness, I’m dabbling with it in one of the books
I’m working on now. But I shouldn’t say more at this point!

As you note, the period Jane wrote in (and I do call her Jane) was
called the Regency period in British history, because King George
III was considered mad and his son George (who later became George
IV) ruled as his regent from 1811 – 1820.  It was a lively era,
including near-constant war with the French, and of course the War
of 1812 with the former colonies in North America. Lots of redcoats
about, including the militia that brought George Wickham to
Hertfordshire. England’s near-constant wars gave Jane the impetus to
create several great characters, including Colonel Fitzwilliam (who
is the Colonel of TCB) and of course Captain Frederick Wentworth and
the excellent Admiral Croft from PERSUASION (Admiral Croft and his
wife have the only egalitarian marriage in all of Austen’s work).

Some JAFF is much less faithful to canonical Regency social mores
than mine. There’s a JAFF author named Abigail Reynolds, who is a
friend and a terrific writer, who has written a number of P&P
variations in which Darcy and Elizabeth get it on before being
married. This is called “anticipating their vows,” and is sometimes
fairly explicit. Abigail has caught a lot of abuse from JAFF fans
over the years because they hate the idea of “ODC” (“Our Dear
Couple”) carrying on in that way without benefit of clergy, but
there are any number of other authors who have taken that concept
and run with it, way past what Abigail has done. There’s a book
called PRIDE/PREJUDICE, by Ann Herendeen (full disclosure: also a
friend, whom I met at a writers’ workshop a few years ago), which is
literally slash fiction in which Darcy and Bingley get it on, as do
Elizabeth and Charlotte. There are some other books that are
basically a hybrid between JAFF and Regency porn. There’s a market
for them, so why not? Let a million flowers bloom.

And I’d just like to add, I’m so pleased that you loved THE
COLONEL’S BROTHER! It’s not nearly as complex and sweeping as the
best JAFF. But for a first effort, I am generally content with it. I
do hope that the range and sweep of my work will improve with time.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #11 of 118: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Sun 12 Sep 21 23:05

I'm really sorry about the garbage characters. Still looking for a better
text editor that will let me save in true ASCII.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #12 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Mon 13 Sep 21 00:10
Vard, don't apologize (see? Me, a Canadian, using American spelling
to put you at ease!) The WELL is rightly called the Colonial
Williamsburg of the 'net. Our system is both ancient and madly
stitched together over the years.  I really appreciate your efforts
to make sure readers here can easily read, and appreciate your

And you're right, I really enjoyed TCB. And perhaps my favorite
part, now that you're talking about JAFF slash and Regency porn, is
how incredibly hot the scene in which Elizabeth intentionally
"compromises" herself with Darcy. I personally (extremely dirty mind
here) experienced this scene as more sexy than a whole lot of
explicit sex scenes, in part because everything was so wonderfully
buttoned up leading to this scene.

Do you want to talk about how you calibrated the sex in this book?

I'm not sure how much we should get into spoilers, but the scene is
set up by the existence of a truly menacing threat by another man to
put Elizabeth in a compromising position so that she'd be forced by
Regency mores to marry her attacker. I don't think Jane Austen every
got so gritty in her plots but surely Regency Britain was not
unfamiliar with such tactics.

To be frank, there is both sex and violence in THE COLONEL'S BROTHER
- not in the offhand modern mode, but, because of the restraint of
the age and of the rest of the book, both the sensuality and the
violence have an outsized impact, to me as a reader and, judging
from Goodreads reviews, among other readers - especially the one
pivotal act of violence. Many people found this troubling. And yet
the character, and his situation, seems to have made this almost

This is really two different but perhaps linked questions: can you
talk a little about your choices regarding the "carnality" in the
story, and also about the violence? 
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #13 of 118: AKA Stephanie Vale (vard) Mon 13 Sep 21 01:13

In this particular story, any sexual activity more overt than the
scene you are referring to would have felt wrong to me. Even that
bit of passion had to be invited by a third party before Elizabeth
would have been OK with it. In this story, she is given an immense
amount of information by and about Darcy in a relatively short
period of time, and although all that information does change her
initial impression of him, the idea of being in love with him,
engaged to marry him, is still very new and weird to her. Plus she's
worried about the threat to her peace and wellbeing represented by
her titled admirer. (Alternate title: THE VISCOUNT'S ATTENTIONS) 

So it just seemed to me that there was a limit to what she would do
under these circumstances, and it was probably first base.

Also: most of the people who read JAFF are adults. Adult women,
largely, but definitely adults. They are people who have experienced
carnality. So to me, there is more power in understatement. Most
adult humans have experienced amazing kisses, often even amazing
first kisses, with their partners. Let them fill in the blanks from
their own experiences and their own imaginations. It is guaranteed
to be more potent than anything I could write. 

(I was a varsity debater at Yale, with a subspecialty in humorous
debate. When I started out I was young and raw and would say almost
anything to try to get a laugh. But I got some great
coaching/mentorship from one of the Yale law students who worked
with the undergraduate debaters. He had in fact been an
undergraduate debater just a year or two earlier himself, and he
taught me the importance of what he called brinksmanship, the art of
understatement, skating right up to the edge of the vulgar thing
without actually saying it. That lesson has stayed with me for 45
years or so now, and it has come in handy literally thousands of
times in my life as I decided how I wanted to present an anecdote or
tell a story. It's not always necessary to get all the way up to the
edge, either; I have figured that out over the years too.)

As to the violence -- this was difficult. I tried to rewrite that
part of the story maybe four different ways. In none of the attempts
was I able to eliminate the violence completely. The various
scenarios involved different kinds of violence, major deception,
faked deaths, etc. but none of them really worked as I dug into
them. I knew there would be readers who would hate it, and I knew
there would be other readers who wouldn't mind, who would see it as
an organic part of the story that was being told. 

I also made a decision not to dwell excessively on the violent event
after it was over. I knew it would have immediate consequences, and
I presented those, but most of the later major consequences occur as
background, outside the boundaries of the story I'm telling. We nod
to those consequences and return to our primary characters. I did
research mourning customs of the Regency to make sure the timeline
for the wedding [SPOILER ALERT! THERE'S A WEDDING] was within normal
parameters, but I didn't show a lot of mourning. It seemed beside
the point.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #14 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Mon 13 Sep 21 08:28
Well, yeah. It's hard to mourn that particular guy, especially the
more we get to know him as the book progresses. And he's the
character that Jane never knew - entirely your invention. His
character and personality - or at least my sense of his character
and personality, evolves quite distinctly over the course of the
book. At first I experience him as charming and gifted (gifted in
the sense of enjoying money and power and being able to employ both)
and I see him primarily as a rival for Darcy - putting an eventual
Pride and Prejudice union of Elizabeth and Darcy at risk.  But as
the book progresses I experience him increasingly as a weak and
ultimately evil (is that too strong a word?) presence in this
peaceful buttoned up world. 

Could you talk a little bit about birthing this particular guy all
on your own?

And while you're at it, could you perhaps talk about a favourite
among the Jane-birthed characters of the novel, and any choices you
made to either stay true to, or embellish/transform, that character?
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #15 of 118: AKA Stephanie Vale (vard) Mon 13 Sep 21 14:51

To be the eldest son of a peer or a wealthy landowner in Regency
England was a real test of character. These young men were more or
less locked into future lives of wealth and near total leisure. They
lived in households where there were dozens of servants who catered
to them from a young age, and if their fathers employed good
stewards to manage their estates (and they remained in their
fathers' good graces) they could count on generous quarterly
allowances, and then when their fathers died all they had to do was
keep the steward on to keep the gravy train going. 

Henry Fitzwilliam failed this test. He was charming and clever, but
he had major character flaws that would have made him a terrible
husband (certainly for Elizabeth) and made him an unreliable friend
to his cousin Darcy. I disclose all of that in ordinary narration
pretty early on in the story. We've already seen Elizabeth fall prey
to a charming rogue in the person of George Wickham, who had nothing
in the way of financial security to offer her. I wanted to introduce
her to someone who was equally bad or potentially worse husband
material, but who had all the respectability and financial substance
Wickham lacked, thus representing a serious challenge to Darcy and
forcing the latter to act decisively if he wanted to pursue

(Darcy, on the other hand, passes the character test with flying
colors. He is perceived as too serious by his friends, but he
accepts the responsibility of the eldest/only son with good grace
and works hard to be a worthy successor to his father as master of

In between them we find Henry's younger brother Richard, who is in
the Army, and their cousin Anne de Bourgh, who is thin and a little
sickly, and who lives with her domineering mother Lady Catherine de
Bourgh at Rosings. Lady C has been harping for years about an
alleged cradle engagement between Anne and Darcy, but neither of
them is interested, and they've been letting her go on about it
because it was easier than confronting her and telling her plainly
that it was not going to happen. That's about to change, of course.

Out of all the characters Jane created, Anne is the character I had
the most fun with here. Jane treats her as a near-cipher. Elizabeth
remarks that she looks sickly and cross, and in all of P&P I don't
think she has even a single word of dialogue! So she starts out as a
blank canvas. *My* Anne is not of robust health, as in canon, but
her years of observing people have made her a brilliant analyst of
human behavior and an especially skilled manager of her mother. She
notices something going on among her male cousins and badgers the
colonel into telling her what's up with Darcy, and then throws
herself passionately into Richard's scheme to get Darcy together
with Elizabeth. She strategizes, gives sound advice, and even
proposes and executes a reconnaissance mission to suss out
Elizabeth's state of mind. And then, in one of my favorite moments
in the story, she saves Elizabeth heroically and cleverly from a
terrible romantic fate. I love this Anne de Bourgh and I think I am
going to write about her this way again. She's fantastic.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #16 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Mon 13 Sep 21 15:43
Yes, she is. I think Anne is my favourite character, as you portray
her, and I want her to have a rich and fulfilling life post-book,
even though I'm afraid Jane has saddled her with the kind of
ill-health that precludes any kind of sex life. (I'd be fine with a
clandestine one not pointed at childbirth)

Surely the book, your book, could not have existed without her
agency. She's the Reggie Jackson of THE COLONEL'S BROTHER ("the
straw that stirs the drink.")

But soft, you say that you're working on three books at present. Are
all three JAFFing books or  is at least one of them one that will be
penned by Ms. Vardavas rather than Miss Vale? 

And might Miss Vale take up Anne's case post P&P?
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #17 of 118: AKA Stephanie Vale (vard) Mon 13 Sep 21 20:08
File "the Reggie Jackson of [any JAFF title]" under "phrases that
have never been spoken or written in human history!"

TCB would absolutely be a different book if it were not for this
version of Anne. If Anne had had her own designs on Darcy, for
example, that could be extremely interesting (and JAFF along those
lines does exist), but it would have been an entirely different
story, and it wasn't the story that was in my head clamoring to get

I am working on three other books, yes. Two of them are JAFF. I'm
just superstitious enough that I'm reluctant to describe any of them
in detail. 

I will say that one of them was inspired by a selection from SERMONS
FOR YOUNG WOMEN by Rev. James Fordyce (notable for being the reading
recommended to the Bennet girls by their cousin Mr. Collins). I read
from that one a couple of months ago at one of the monthly JAFF
reader-writer Zooms and got a lot of positive feedback. It might end
up just being a short story; I'm not sure yet. 

The other one will probably include a younger Anne, but may not
reach into her 20s. The Anne of TCB will have to wait until I get
around to building another story that does her justice.

The JAFF titles will be published with the byline Stephanie Vale.

The one that isn't JAFF is a work of speculative fiction that takes
place in the near future. That one will go out under my real name,
and I think I will try to get professional representation for it.
Assuming I can finish it!

Picking a pen name was surprisingly hard. For the longest time I was
thinking of using the name Charlotte Wren. Then as I got closer to
actually publishing, I started thinking about the logistics of a
fake name and I decided that it would be easier if I chose one as
close as possible to my real name. I solicited advice from one of
the Facebook groups of Austenesque authors, who also recommended
picking something close. So when I sign the paper copies of my
books, if it is someone I know, I inscribe a personal greeting and
sign "Stephanie V," but if I am just writing to a stranger or making
a generic signature, I sign the full name "Stephanie Vale."
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #18 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Mon 13 Sep 21 20:57
Alas, I bought THE COLONEL'S BROTHER on Kindle.

Perhaps I could ask you to inscribe the screen of my Kindle Voyager
with a nice personal comment and "Stephanie V." in permanent

How do you feel about the response to TCB so far? I know you've
gotten some comments from people who were either triggered by or
somehow disdainful of the violent act as a plot device. (disclosure:
I lost a brother to this kind of violence, but did not experience
the event in the book as triggering.) The event DOES kind of wrap up
the plot very quickly. You've said you thought a lot about
alternatives to the choice you ultimately made.  If you had it to do
over again, would you do it differently?

(I'm really asking here not about your choices but about how you're
receiving the response to the book - which includes this event - but
let's talk about the critical/fan response as a whole.

And maybe in two ways.  1) the response from fellow JAFFers and 2)
the response from the public as a whole.

or is almost everyone a JAFFer?  Who's reading your book?
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #19 of 118: AKA Stephanie Vale (vard) Mon 13 Sep 21 22:00
I'm still working on developing that thick skin other JAFF authors
warned me I would need.

My friends who are JAFF authors warned me never to read online
reviews, and I have become better at avoiding them, but I do still
peek at them sometimes. I am pleased that TCB is hovering north of 4
stars on Amazon, now with over 100 ratings. I don't think it's
perfect. But I think the quality of the writing is generally good,
and better than many JAFF novels I have read in the past. The story
is a relatively simple one. I hope that as I get more experience and
develop my skills as a storyteller I will produce more complex
stories in the future. The three books I'm working on are all more
complex than TCB. There's a reason this one got published first!

I was also very gratified to get a note from an experienced JAFF
author maybe a week after the book came out, with a thoughtful and
positive assessment of the story, plus a little advice. That meant a
lot to me.

I think the people reading this book are mostly (A) regular JAFF
readers and (B) people who know me. There are a lot more in group A
than B, of course! Amazon provides detailed data to authors and I
can see that most of my royalties are coming from Kindle Unlimited
readers, and I know that's pretty commonplace for JAFF. The online
reviews also signal that the readers are largely habitual JAFF
readers. They are my audience and as I said somewhere above, I knew
in advance that I had made a risky choice when I introduced the
violent event into my story, and that some of them would hate it. I
was 100% correct about that.

I'd like to take a moment to talk about the cover, if you don't

I love the cover. When I found the original painting the cover art
is based on, I looked at it and just knew that I'd found Henry
Fitzwilliam. I dislike the covers of a lot of JAFF books. Even the
illustrations that are supposed to represent the Regency period look
way too modern to me. I was determined not to go that route and so
glad I found art that I felt great about.

The other day I found another fantastic portrait from the same
period and started wondering if I could figure out a story to go
with it, just to use it as cover art!
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #20 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Mon 13 Sep 21 23:42
I like the expression on the face of Viscount (if that's who he is)
on the cover. He's young, handsome, somewhat innocent looking but
with a devilish/mischievous look to him. This fits well with the way
the Viscount comes across in the first half of the book and can
easily stretch to what we come to know about him by the end.

Let's talk about Elizabeth herself. I can't help but feel that
taking on Jane Austen's main character in P&P must have posed
something of a challenge.

What aspects of Miss Barrett did you focus on? Do you feel that she
has become different in your hands?
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #21 of 118: AKA Stephanie Vale (vard) Tue 14 Sep 21 00:12
>> Miss Barrett<<?????


We are speaking, sir, of Elizabeth *Bennet*.

(I like to think that Senator Michael Bennet, D-CO, is related to
her family in some way.)

As you probably know, Jane wrote about Elizabeth Bennet in a letter
to her sister: "I must confess that I think her as delightful a
creature as ever appeared in print, "I must confess that I think her
as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be
able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know."

(As opposed to, say, Emma Woodhouse, whom she felt very few people
would like.)

Elizabeth is an irresistible character to so many girls who grew up
hanging out with their dads and placing a value on education and
cleverness, and I'm no exception. As much as I like Anne Elliot, or
Elinor Dashwood, or even (yes) Emma Woodhouse, Elizabeth is the one
I'd like to have as my BFF, and not only because that would give me
visiting rights at Pemberley. She is smart, funny, and thoughtful.
She's not perfect -- her vanity fails her when she meets Wickham,
who flatters her after Darcy's rude comment on her appearance -- but
she's fundamentally a very good person, and has the most modern
sensibility of all of Austen's heroines.

So I tried to remain true to her essence while putting her into
situations she had not previously experienced. I don't think I have
taken her too far off the path Jane created her on. I do think she
would have resisted Henry's advances. I certainly think that the
promise of being a viscountess, and then a countess, would not have
appealed to her in and of itself, and that she would have gone to
extensive lengths to keep away from her mother any information
suggesting that she had turned down such an opportunity.

I enjoyed allowing Elizabeth to put Darcy through the wringer with
his series of apologies and explanations, all the while wondering
what the hell was going on. It's possible that Austen's Elizabeth
might have been a little bit slower to forgive, but I'm not sure. I
felt I was 100% consistent with canon in writing her expressions of
devotion to her sister Jane, and her desire for Jane to be happy.
And we know from Austen that Elizabeth often teased Darcy after they
reached their understanding, so I didn't feel too terribly out of
line providing opportunities for her to tease him gently along the
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #22 of 118: Paul Belserene (paulbel) Tue 14 Sep 21 08:45
[Miss Vale, I am covered with rue.  I will hie me to Sorrywatch and
apologize to you, to Ms Vardavas and Miss Bennet. Sorrywatchers may
be assured I will also apologize to anyone else, if, but only if,
they were also offended.]

I last had acquaintance with Miss Bennet 40 years ago, but I did
feel that your Elizabeth was exactly Jane's throughout.  But you did
put her in some brand new situations, and suggested yet another more
challenging one. Do you think she would have refused Henry even if
he had succeeded in putting her into a compromising position?

How about Darcy. I definitely felt I was  much more inside Darcy in
TCB than I had been in P&P. But that might be forgetfulness.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #23 of 118: Administrivia (jonl) Tue 14 Sep 21 09:13
Chiming in for some administrivia items:

1) This discussion is happening on the WELL, a seminal online
community founded in 1985. On the WELL, we have ongoing smart
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4) The public link for this discussion is
-s-Bro-page01.html>. The discussion will last from September 14 - 27; within that time, keep checking back for more.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #24 of 118: Jo Ann Mandinach (needtono) Tue 14 Sep 21 09:54
Thanks to <jonl> and <paulbel> for promoting this discussion and
interviewing the inestimable <vard>. 

Both <karish> and I loved TCB and I was inspired to finish quickly
the other book I was reading hearing <karish> laughing aloud as he
read it.

I'm very much looking forward to <vard>'s next works.  At one point
<vard> said she was thinking of making a librarian or librarians
central to a novel. I'd love to hear more about that.
inkwell.vue.514 : Stephanie Vale - The Colonel's Brother
permalink #25 of 118: Renee Wilmeth (rwilmeth) Tue 14 Sep 21 10:08
Popping in here to say I loved <vard>'s book and was especially
intrigued by how it wasn't a typical Austen sequel. (There are
several series that follow the characters after P&P to everything
from scandals to more marriages to murder mysteries.) 

<vard>, I loved how you pulled one part from the original story and
reimagined how it could have gone differently. Just sort of an
alternate approach within the story.  It was a fun take.


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