With the Help of Jane Austen…
Enjoy this tidbit from when Eloisa was writing The Taming of the Duke.
The book I’m writing at the moment (as yet, untitled) circles around the production of a play — and yes, for those enthusiasts out there, Miss Gillian Pythian-Adams is the producer. The obvious progenitor of this kind of novel is Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, in which a houseparty tries to put on a production of Love’s Vow. They are halted at the last moment by the arrival back home of a rather dour father figure who tosses everyone out of the party. You’ll be happy to know that my characters are rather more successful; I generally dispense with Puritan-esque father figures early on as they dampen the plot.
At any rate, I wanted to add a small acknowledgement of Miss Austen’s brilliant book, so at one point Lady Griselda and Rafe have an argument about the propriety of putting on a play, especially one to be directed by Gillian Pythian-Adams.
“If Miss Pythian-Adams has accepted your invitation,” Griselda said, keeping a firm grasp on her toast, “we shall need to arrange a house party in order to cover over the oddness of it all.”
“It’s all a matter of semantics,” Rafe said. “Theatrical parties are all the rage. An old friend of mine from school, Yates, is quite obsessed with them and wrote me a remarkably tedious letter about some performance of Love’s Vow.”
And there we are: Yates (who appears in Sense and Sensibility as a prime mover of the play) turns out to be one of Rafe’s school friends. And Rafe would definitely have found Yates to be a remarkably tedious person, old friend or not.
Originally published August 2005.