The Course of True Love

Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.
–A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, Scene 1

 

Recently, thanks to the delightful  “2017 Austen Men in Film”  Calendar, I have gotten into the BBC One series Poldark.

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If you haven’t binge-watched this series, I suggest you drop everything and do so at once. Seriously. Go watch!

Poldark is a love story, but it’s different than most love stories you see on TV. The usual pattern for love stories is boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again. This one is different because it’s boy gets girl, and then girl and boy have to figure out how to make this work. The real romance starts after the wedding.

Ross Poldark is the hero of the series, but he’s far from perfect. He’s stubborn. He can be terribly insensitive. At one time he says, “My idiocy has been spectacular,” and nobody watching would deny it. He has his good points (looking gorgeous without a shirt on is a real plus), but he might not be your first choice for a permanent life partner.

His wife, Demelza, is also far from perfect.

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She can be rash and impetuous, sometimes interfering in other people’s lives without their knowledge or consent. She’s stubborn and she has a fearsome temper. Though she too has multiple good points (gotta love that backhand!) I’m not sure I would ever trust her with a secret that absolutely had to be kept.

And yet somehow we viewers find ourselves cheering for this unlikely couple. We accept that this imperfect, flawed pair are better when they are together than when they are apart. Ross shows Demelza that her actions can have unintended consequences. Demelza makes Ross confront and overcome the worst parts of his character. Together they face unimaginable joys, challenges, and heartbreaks, and although they clash fiercely at times their feelings for each other are never in doubt.

This is where love gets real. It’s not in the boxes of candy or teddy bears on Valentine’s Day, nor is it the elegant dinners or other grand gestures. It’s the moments when we and our significant others recognize and accept each other wholeheartedly, warts and all.

Ross tells Demelza at one point that if an idealized, untouchable, perfect love is taken down to the level of an imperfect, human, real  love, it is not the real love that suffers. That is a love that we can all appreciate, on Valentine’s Day or any other day.

If you’ve watched any part of Poldark, I’d love to hear from you!

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Book Review: Attempting Elizabeth

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It’s hard to know what to say about this book without giving away too much of the plot line.

Meet Kelsey Edmundson, the born romantic heroine and main character who tends to get into her stories–and I do mean into them. Think Pride and Prejudice meets “Groundhog’s Day.” Pretty soon the trick becomes not getting into them, but how to get out of them. After all, you can’t go up to a fictional character in a fictional novel and tell them they’re not real, can you? What would happen if you did?

After mastering the ins and outs of getting in and out of her favorite novel, Kelsey has the freedom to actually start tampering with the plot line itself! From there the story just gets funnier and funnier.

Meanwhile, life in the normal universe goes on, with Kelsey encountering various characters with suspicious counterparts in the novel she keeps losing herself in. From there the story takes an unexpected turn . . . . and that’s as far as I’m willing to go. No spoilers here!

This story made me laugh out loud several times, and the ending was sweetness itself. Original and refreshing, you’ll want to read it more than once. I got it as a giveaway on Amazon, but I would gladly have paid for it. Try it, I bet you’ll like it!

 

New 5-Star Review for Duty Demands!

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a similar concept as Mr. Bennett’s Dutiful Daughter, but slightly different level of emotional impact. I read them both back to back and even though both were excellent works, I enjoyed the course of the events and evolution of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship much more in this book. I have read all of Elaine Owen books and this one is by far the best. I can’t wait for her next P&P variation work!”

Thank you to my wonderful reviewer!

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Drawing Conclusions

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the winter meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America for Eastern Pennsylvania. I only became aware of JASNA earlier this year and this was my first opportunity to participate in one of their meetings. It was an afternoon not to be missed!

The event was an opportunity to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday by painting her portrait under the helpful tutoring of the patient teachers at Pinot’s Palette. Of course, fine food and drink were also included!

The portrait we were all supposed to be copying looked like this:

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Now, I am not an artist. I have no artistic talent whatsoever. I am, in fact, pretty much the exact opposite of an artist, whatever that opposite may be. Do you understand what I’m saying? I can’t even draw a convincing stick figure.

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This was supposed to be a man. No, really.

Nevertheless, I decided to tackle this challenge with the perseverance of Anne Elliott, the humor of Elizabeth Bennet, and the wishful self-delusions of Lady Catherine. (“I should have been a great proficient, if I had ever learned!”)

We painted the background first, a fairly easy procedure where we mixed red, white, and some other color and then painted from the upper top right down towards the opposite corner, blending as we went. That was the word of the day: “blend.” Blend this, blend that! Blend, my friend, blend! My canvas was quickly covered in shades of red and pink and it seemed like painting might be easier than I thought.

Then they announced it was time to outline Jane’s head.

Groans rose all around. Several women called for more glasses of wine, or what they affectionately called liquid courage. Not me. There’s not enough wine in the world to make me feel good about my ability to draw anything convincingly. Nevertheless, I drew the outline of Jane’s head. With some help from my neighbors on either side, it didn’t look too hideous. Kind of like Frankenstein with a toothache, but without the bolts in his forehead.

Next we outlined her eyes, then drew in her mouth and chin and tried to create a faint blush on her cheeks. Blend! Blend!!!!

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Blending did not work well for me. Or for Jane.

Next came her hair and cap, and there poor Jane really suffered at my hands. The hair color was pretty good, thanks to the help offered by the woman on my right (Margaret C. Sullivan, whom I later discovered is a talented JAFF writer). The placement of the curls, etc., however, simply eluded me.

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Finally we added on Jane’s cap and a book in her arms, and the portrait was done!

The room was filled with other Austen fans just like me, and all of us could laugh at our artistic shortcomings. While some people in the room showed definite talent, at least one woman was heard to comment, “Well, at least the trash is going out tomorrow!”

Here is my final result. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about my talent (or lack thereof).

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I’ve titled this, “Jane Austen Returns From The Dentist”

This is unquestionably the best piece of artwork I’ve ever created 🙂 and it is now hanging in a place of pride and distinction in my home office. But I’m going back to writing where I belong!

Merry Christmas, and may your new year be filled with unexpected discoveries! See you then!

 

Perseverance

per·se·ver·ance
ˌpərsəˈvirəns/
continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition :  the action or condition or an instance of persevering :  steadfastness  (Merrian-Webster)
In karate: being determined to win (succeed) no matter what.
As announced here last month, I decided this fall to try again to earn my third degree black belt in songham taekwondo after trying and not passing once in 2015. Last night, perseverance paid off!

 

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(L – R) My husband, me, and our instructor after testing last night. You can’t see from this angle but my belt now matches my husband’s!
After sixteen months of further training, multiple unexpected complications, several heartfelt discussions with my instructor, and 28lbs lost, I received my new belt last night!
Many thanks to my husband, who combines Darcy’s persistence with Bingley’s good nature, for helping me not to ever give up. I love you!
Whatever your dream is, don’t be afraid to persevere!

Book Review – Rest & Restlessness

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Honestly, everyone, I don’t know why this book hasn’t received more attention.

Is it because it’s based on Mansfield Park, one of Austen’s lesser-appreciated works? Is it because it’s based on Mary Crawford, a special kind of anti-hero even for Austen? Or maybe it’s because of author C.M. Mitchell’s style of writing, which mimics Austen’s in its complexity and structure. It’s probably all three of those reasons, but if you are like the 99.99% of the JAFF world that has not read this book, you are missing a real treat.

The story is told in first person and takes us from Mary Crawford’s life before the start of Mansfield Park, right up through meeting Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram. It cuts off and begins the story again just at the part where the infamous house party begins in the original novel.

For make no mistake–this is a re-telling of Mansfield Park, not from the point of view of Fanny or Edmund or any of the other typical characters. Instead, it’s told through the eyes of Mary herself. Mary, the woman who (spoiler alert!) nearly steals Edmund from Fanny even though she despises his chosen profession. Mary, whose motivations throughout Mansfield Park are difficult to discern. Mary, who in the end seems to countenance and excuse the married Maria Rushworth’s affair with Henry Crawford, rendering her forever unsuitable in Edmund’s eyes. That Mary.

In using this point of view, Mitchell takes a huge risk, hoping that by seeing the events of the novel from Mary’s perspective, we will come to have sympathy and appreciation for her. And she succeeds, largely because of the witty conversation Mary brings to her interactions with nearly everyone around her.

Mary is never more brilliant than when speaking to her particular friend Heathcliff. In this passage she is beginning to tell him about the circumstances of removing to the home of her half-sister, Mrs. Grant. Notice that this passage also describes and illustrates her relationship with Heathcliff himself:

Heathcliff: “So, I am a friend who is missing part of this story.”

“What part are you missing, my dear friend?” I chuckled, playing on his use of words.

“The story behind your sister.”

“I never told you? Truly?”

“You forget Mary that our friendship is a sporadic one . . . . Off and on like a day of fishing our conversations are; you indulge it long, and then can go long without undergoing it once more.”

“Did you just compare us to fish?”

“No, but our conversation to fishing.”

“Oh, very good, I was under the wrong impression for a moment.”

Later in the novel:

Mary: “On a matter of the utmost importance, will you ever ask me to dance?”

“Oh, you did not have a request yet?”

“No, for I have been standing beside you, blind fool, therefore every man expects you to have asked me,” I laughed.

Under Mitchell’s hand, Mary Crawford sounds like a slightly bolder version of Elizabeth Bennet herself, and is every bit as likeable. We omniscient readers know what will happen further along in the story, and there is a reluctant sense of knowing that our friendship with Mary will only go so far.

But that is for the next book in the series, which I will begin devouring immediately now that I am done with this first volume. The occasional editing errors with spelling and punctuation do not detract from the power of the story itself. Enjoy it, dear readers; you will not be disappointed! I look forward to getting to know Mary even better.

 

 

 

 

Announcing a Giveaway!

Duty Demands was released just a week ago and hit #1 best seller status yesterday! See what some of the reviews have said so far:

“Wow! My favorite Elaine Owen book to date! I read a short segment of the book before it came out and could not wait to read the entire book. It is full of suspense, twists and turns of action, thought, and most importantly in feelings.”

“Elaine Owen has done it again with another great read! This author has a gift for keeping the original characters as they were and then adding completely plausible twists to their activities, thoughts, behaviors….and dare I say, to marital behaviors as well. This book travels into new territory for this mismatched couple, but keeps everything appropriate. The angst is palpable at times. Love the storm and star themes. Do not miss this incredible story! Keep writing, Elaine!”

“Highly Recommend this Wonderful Novel by a Fantastically Gifted Author!”

As part of the launch of Duty Demands, I am hosting an Amazon Giveaway. Simply follow the link below to tweet about Duty Demands, and have a chance of winning your own copy for free! If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s easy to set one up, and one copy has already been awarded! Don’t miss your chance for a free copy today!

Click here for Giveaway!

 

 

Cover Reveal!

I am delighted to announce the upcoming release of my newest novel, Duty Demands, on November 15th, 2016.

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When Elizabeth’s father dies unexpectedly, she is surprised to find that the proud, arrogant Mr. Darcy wants to marry her- and even more surprised when her uncle tells her why. But after they are married she begins to see a different side of her husband.

Darcy thinks that Elizabeth has married him for love, but slowly begins to realize that all is not as it appears in their marriage. Will he still love her when the truth is revealed?

Will our two favorite characters overcome their misunderstandings and achieve a marriage based on more than duty and obligation?

Duty Demands will be available on Amazon.com.

 

Dream A Little Dream

Jane Austen’s heroines had dreams, didn’t they? Elizabeth Bennet, of course, dreamed of marrying for affection. Fanny Price and Elinor Dashwood dreamed of being accepted by the men they loved. Anne Elliot had a dream, eight years before her story started, but she had been persuaded to give up on it. Catherine Morland had lots of dreams- more like fantasies, really. And Emma- well, I’m not sure what her dream would have been. Perhaps making the perfect match for Harriet? At any rate, what is a heroine (or hero) to do without a dream?

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Dreamers, all of them

 

All of this leads to sharing my dream: for almost two years now, I have been dreaming of becoming a third degree black belt in taekwondo.

My taekwondo journey started in 2008, when my husband and I joined a local karate school and began diligently taking lessons. At the time, my dream was much less ambitious: I wanted to be more physically fit, have fun, and make friends. I had no desire to ever earn even a first degree black belt, let alone second or third.

But the bug bit, and it bit hard. Loving the physical challenge, within six weeks of signing up I had decided to go for my first degree. That was as far as my dream went at the time–to just get my first degree black belt and then move on to another pursuit.

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Shortly after earning first degree

However, along the way I began to realize how much there was to learn after reaching that first major milestone, and I decided to go further. In 2010 I was able to wear the black belt for the first time, and then in 2012 I made my next goal. By that point, there was no question that I would also try for third degree.

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Yes, that’s me, demonstrating a sword form at tournament!

In August 2015 I tested for third degree and did not make it. At first that did not greatly upset me. Disappointments are a part of the taekwondo way of life, and I didn’t achieve second degree black belt the first time either. But then other obstacles came in my way. Injuries, interruptions in training and other things combined to make me think it would never happen.

However, I have decided to take up this goal again, and if all goes well, on December 16th, 2016, I will be testing once again. Please wish me well, and spare a kind thought for everyone out there who dreams a dream!

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