As an ex-English teacher I’m always interested in the enduring power of classic writers and when I discovered that Laura Briggs was influenced by Jane Austen in her novel Boyfriend in the Book, I just had to invite her onto Linda’s Book Bag to tell me a bit more. Laura’s Boyfriend in the Book is published in e-book and is available for purchase on your local Amazon site.
With Poldark returning to British television this evening, readers might also like Laura’s novella A Wedding in Cornwall which is available here.
Boyfriend in the Book
Can Jodi find true love with help from the likes of Lizzie Bennet and Jane Eyre? Her friends think she can and push her to use a relationship guide that claims women can find their perfect match by channeling the wisdom of famous storybook heroines. Jodi thinks it sounds crazy—no way is she acting like some character in a book to find a man! Besides, she already has a crush on Levi, the cute and friendly deliveryman for the hotel where she works. But when Levi suddenly grows distant and Jodi’s chances with him seem to fizzle before her eyes, she wonders if her friends might have a point after all. Disheartened and lonely, she decides to give the so-called relationship guide a whirl, with unexpected consequences.
Before you can say ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Jodi is up to her neck in handsome, brooding men that seem too much like fictional heroes to be true. Her attempts to think like the greatest heroines in romance lead her to meet everything from a modern Mr. Rochester to an angsty Heathcliff, and even a Darcy-esque novelist. But when a former crush re-enters her life in the form of a modern day Romeo, Jodi wonders if there might be something to this ‘inner heroine’ thing after all. Now, if she could just stop thinking about Levi, then maybe her happy-ever-after will fall into place…or is something still missing from Jodi’s storybook romance?
Boyfriend by the Book is a perfect feel good read for curling up with on a rainy day or a summer afternoon, with lots of laughs and surprises to keep the reader turning pages!
A Wedding in Cornwall
It’s the career move of a lifetime, and Julianne can’t believe it’s hers: a position as an event planner at a country house in Cornwall, England, beginning with the wedding of a celebrity! If her old firm’s senior planner back in the States hadn’t fallen suddenly sick with the chicken pox, Julianne would never have found herself chosen for a life in one of England’s most beautiful coastal counties, surrounded by rugged shores, quaint cottages, elegant gardens and a house to die for.
But life in Cornwall isn’t exactly as Julianne imagined it. Her first bride-to-be is a resentful, petted snob, the groom is immature and bored, and the Cornish staff of Cliffs House has a difficult time believing that an event planner from a mid-level position can handle a wedding this big. And then there’s a personal matter — the handsome, sometimes charming, sometimes standoffish gardener Matthew Rose. He and Julianne have a strangely complicated relationship somewhere between friendship and attraction. But with a secret in his past, and a scheming bridesmaid plotting to have Matthew all to herself, will Julianne find a way to untangle her feelings and the problems of planning a perfect Cornish wedding?
The Inspiration of Jane Austen
A Guest Post by Laura Briggs
First of all, thank you to Linda for inviting me to share with all of her lovely readers on the topic of Jane Austen’s work and why it still inspires us today.
It’s true that Jane Austen’s stories seem to pop up everywhere, from BBC adaptations, to modern retellings on The Hallmark Channel, and Hollywood blockbusters that have Lizzie and Darcy battling a zombie invasion in Regency England (that one I still can’t get used to!).
Austen is certainly a source of inspiration for the romance novel industry as well. Retellings, continuations, and variations on her work are published monthly it seems. But what is it exactly that keeps us fascinated with the world that Jane Austen created over two hundred years ago? Why do romance authors and readers go back to its various themes again and again? I can only guess, of course, but a few reasons come to mind immediately.
The Appeal of the Underdog: This may not be true of all of Austen’s heroines—such as Emma Woodhouse, for instance—but it applies to the majority, I would say. Lizzie Bennet is repeatedly snubbed by members of the upper class in Pride and Prejudice, while Eleanor and Marianne are suddenly impoverished in Sense and Sensibility, and poor Fanny Price is overlooked and undervalued by her snobbish relatives in Mansfield Park. Class distinction is an issue no matter what era you’re from, and the strength Austen’s heroines display in the face of such prejudice makes it easy to root for them and hope their happiness wins out against the odds.
The Tortured Hero: There seems to be a fascination in the romance novel world with angst-ridden heroes, from the vampire in Twilight to that guy in Fifty Shades of Grey. Mr. Darcy is a little like a forerunner to these modern favorites. His stoic appearance is just a front for the emotional turmoil he feels over Lizzie’s rejection of his love, and readers have gobbled up various retellings that spin the story from Mr. Darcy’s wounded perspective.
The Love/Hate dynamic: This is still a favorite scenario for romance readers today, and Lizzie and Darcy have it in spades. I mean, how much worse could their first meeting be? Darcy insults Lizzie’s appearance and comes off as a snob to most of her neighbors and Lizzie, well…she doesn’t exactly make it easy for him to make amends later on. They seem to bring out the worst in each other, which is exactly what makes it so satisfying to see their relationship evolve into one of admiration and respect.
Of course, there are many more reasons that Jane Austen’s work has a timeless appeal. I’m sure that all of you who are reading this now may have different reasons for enjoying her novels time and again. Maybe it’s the old fashioned world of Regency era ladies and gentlemen that draws you, or the witty, insightful narrative on romantic relationships. Whatever the reason—and there are probably too many to count—it seems apparent that Jane Austen’s stories and characters are here to stay.
About Laura Briggs
Laura Briggs’ first stories were written in crayon about a rooster named Henry—but she was pretty young at the time, so it’s understandable. She eventually graduated to writing more complex plotlines and characters and writing her stories on a laptop. She tends to write stories with a romance edge, including several wedding-themed novels and a few Jane Austen-inspired works. As a reader, she has a soft spot for mysteries, as well as novels by Anne Tyler and Amy Tan. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new recipes and tries to landscape her yard (a never-ending project).