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With the Help of Jane Austen…

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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.

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