Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jane Odiwe of Project Darcy

I am pleased to welcome back to The Calico Critic one of my favorite authors, Jane Odiwe.  In September of last year, Jane offered a lovely guest post with a generous giveaway, and she has returned once again to offer us the same.   Last February I enjoyed her novel Searching for Captain Wentworth, and I'm eagerly looking forward to her next work, Project Darcy. This latest title is another "time slip" story, a genre I find very enjoyable.  Last year's volume had many winks to Jane Austen's Persuasion, and it seems with Project Darcy, we will find more of an emphasis on the beloved Pride and Prejudice.  Here is a taste of what we can expect from Jane's latest.  Then her thoughts and giveaway offer follow:

It is high summer when Ellie Bentley joins an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home. She’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past and is not easily disturbed by her encounters with ‘Mr Darcy’s ghost’ at the house where she’s staying.

When Ellie travels into the past she discovers exactly what happened whilst Jane danced her way through the snowy winter of 1796 with her dashing Irish friend. As Steventon Rectory and all its characters come to life, Ellie discovers the true love story lost in
Pride and Prejudice – a tale which has its own consequences for her future destiny, changing her life beyond imagination.

*          *          *

Thank you so much, Laura, for hosting me on your blog today! I’m so thrilled to be here to tell you about my new book, Project Darcy. I’ve wanted to write this book for a long time - I love weaving several stories together, and in this book there is one set in modern day with my heroine Ellie and her four friends, and another in the past with Jane Austen falling in love and writing the book that was to become Pride and Prejudice.

Years ago, I painted a little picture of how I imagined Jane and her father would look when she was about five years old. I thought about this painting when I was writing a little scene when Ellie goes back into the past and becomes Jane Austen, and tied it in with what seem to be Jane’s own recollections that she wrote about in Northanger Abbey. Although she is writing about Catherine Morland when she says her heroine was ‘noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house’, I have a feeling she was referring to a memory of doing that herself. If you’ve ever been to Steventon to see the site where the rectory stood, the back of the garden has a pronounced slope! Here’s how I imagine Jane and her beloved brother Henry playing at the back of the rectory. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt from Project Darcy.

*          *          *

The moment she stepped through the hedges and trees that screened the fields, Ellie knew something was different – her world was changed in more ways than she could ever have imagined. Like the little girl in Alice in Wonderland, she’d grown smaller and everything around her had doubled in size. Trees were so tall she could not see the top of them and the grass that tickled her bare legs nearly came up to her knees. Ellie looked back towards the way she had come but she knew it was fruitless. There was only one way to go, and that was to follow the sound that beckoned her. It was as if she saw everything through mist, layers of white vapour that rose to reveal a reality that became sharper with every passing minute. She was no longer Ellie Bentley; that she knew. She was a child, perhaps no more than five years old, and her thoughts intruded until Ellie had none left of her own. Her world was larger, more defined, sounds and smells were fresher, brighter and vivid. More than that, she felt different. Ellie saw life through the eyes of someone else, and when she heard the boy’s voice calling her name she knew him to be her brother.

‘Come on, Jane, let us go again!’

Henry pulled me up the slope to the top of the field where the elm trees stood like sentinels and whispered over our heads in their hushing, leaf language. The day was hot like the one I’d left behind, and my legs struggled to keep up with him in the heat. He sensed that my small legs were tiring and he turned to wait, looking at me with a grin. Light flickered in his hazel eyes, those that I knew grown-ups said were so like mine, but his were almost golden on this day, like Baltic amber. The grass up at the top of the terrace was so long; it prickled the back of my legs. Beads of dew, like fairy necklaces strung along green blades, felt cold under my feet. When we reached the top, he showed me how to lie down in line with the trees, my toes pointing one way and my arms stretched over my head.

‘Jane, wait until I count to three,’ I heard him say.

Lying in the sweetly fragrant meadow, I felt so excited I started to giggle, and my body fidgeted in response. And before he’d managed to shout out the number three, I’d started going, rolling down the hill, and gathering momentum until the world was spinning. There was a blur of blue sky; then green fields, and then over I went again like a flyer on Nanny Littleworth’s spinning wheel. I could see Henry overtake me, going faster than ever. He got to the bottom before me but I came to a standstill at last, my heart beating with pure pleasure as I lay in the grass chuckling and laughing. There were grass stains on my dress and daisies in my hair, which Henry picked out, one by one.

Sitting up, I could see a house that I knew was my home and I had a sudden longing to see my father.

‘Are you not coming up again, little Jenny?’ Henry asked, calling me by the pet name my family used when they wanted to appeal to my better nature. He had his hands in the pockets of his breeches. His shirt was crumpled and stained like my gown. Brown curls flopped over his eyes, which looked into mine so tenderly that I almost changed my mind. I ran to hug him, stood on my tiptoes and planted a kiss on his cheek. Henry was my protector, and my beloved playmate. I longed to be just like him but my mother scolded me when I behaved too much like a tomboy. I knew I should not run or jump or shout, as my brothers did, but nothing she said would deter me, so when Henry begged me to play with him I did not usually need to be asked twice. But, as much as I wanted to be with him, home was calling.

I shook my head and muttered, ‘I’m going to see Papa.’

*          *          *

I have vivid memories of rolling down the slope in the park at the back of my childhood home with my brother and sister, which was a thing we all loved to do. We were recovering from German Measles, and the grass made our rashes flare up again, all very prickly and itchy - but we were all so glad to be outside again. Most of my childhood seemed to be spent outdoors playing, or indoors drawing and writing, which were my favourite hobbies - I’d love to know what pastimes you enjoyed as a child!

Connect with Jane Odiwe

Jane Odiwe - Austen Effusions: http://www.austeneffusions.com

Jane Odiwe is the author of five Austen-inspired novels, Project Darcy,Searching for Captain Wentworth,Mr Darcy's Secret,Willoughby's Return, and Lydia Bennet's Story , and is a contributor to Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, with a short story, Waiting. Jane is a member of the Jane Austen Society; she holds an arts degree, and initially started her working life teaching Art and History. When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting and trying to capture the spirit of Jane Austen’s world. Her illustrations have been published in a picture book, Effusions Of Fancy, and are featured in a biographical film of Jane Austen’s life in Sony’s DVD edition of The Jane Austen Book Club.


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  1. I love this look at young Jane Austen - with her father, sliding down the slope with her brother, just being a young girl who does not need to be concerned about marriage or money. I had no slope in my yard, but I lived near to the beach and enjoyed walking in the sand.

  2. Rolling down a hill sounds fun even at this age. We didn't have hills at my home, but we did have huge eucalyptus trees which I loved to climb and hang upside down off the branches to swing like a monkey or sit in the vee of the two biggest branches and read my book hidden amongst the branches and high above everyone.

    Loved the excerpt and the walk down memory lane.

  3. My first comment disappeared, so I hope it doesn't pop up twice!

    I loved reading about Jane and her brother, Henry, rolling down the hill at the back of the rectory. That story has always charmed me but to read it first-hand as it happens is just adorable. I really enjoyed how you portrayed Jane's closeness to her brother and even more so her father. I adore the sketch of Mr Austen and a very young Jane and am delighted that I have a copy of it here!

    No need to enter me in the draw as I have Project Darcy already in paperback and ebook format and I am really enjoying the read! Highly recommended!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Cassandra! I didn't see your other comment, so re-writing it wasn't a waste of time or anything. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you, Laura and Jane, for another delightful excerpt of 'Project Darcy'. The premise is so delightful and fresh, Jane! Along with many of us, I absolutely adore the idea of time travel, but to have the amazing chance to travel back and have Jane's thoughts, Jane's life is something that I guess most of us would give an awful lot for! Thanks again for great post and a wonderful story!

  5. My favourite was playing with dolls, but I loved playing every game that kids do

  6. I read every chance I got. I rode horses too, and competed in equestrian competitions into my teens. I am an only child, so time spent with books and pets was plentiful!

    Thanks for the great post and giveaway!

  7. As a child, I enjoyed a lot of make-believe games, such as pretending I was a teacher or a mommy or creating stories with my Barbies or horse figurines.

  8. I have always loved to read, even as a little girl. I also loved playing with my dolls!!

  9. June, thank you-the beach and the sea has always had a special draw for me-you were lucky to grow up by the sea!
    Cassandra, thank you so much for your very kind words!
    Joana, I'm thrilled you enjoyed it!
    Patricia-I loved my dolls too!
    I didn't ride, Tiffany-I loved ballet, and was frightened I might fall and break something if I went horse riding!
    Susan, I loved make-believe-especially dressing up!
    Kelli, the magic of reading is a lifelong treasure!
    Thank you all for leaving such great comments!

  10. Thanks for the giveaway! The thing my brother and me loved to do most as children was in winter when we could build a snow fortress in our backyard! They were sometimes amazing if we had a lot of snow!

  11. Lena, that sounds such fun-I loved snowman building as a child, but we didn't get quite that much snow to build a fortress-how wonderful!

  12. When I was a child I loved to play with my dolls as many other little girls! I had a lot of fun with my sister and then, when my little brother arrived we used to play also with cars and various monsters to play all together :)

  13. Reading was my favorite and it still is! Especially historical fiction.

  14. my favorite pastimes as a child were playing with my dolls, coloring, reading............

  15. As a child, I always played basketball in my driveway against an invisible team. Basically, I always won!

  16. Maria, we had a baby brother too-still, we enjoyed doing all the boy stuff as well, and certainly when my own boys came along, it was fun to play with cars etc!

    Terry-historical fiction is my favourite too!

    cyn209, ditto, ditto, as well as rolling down green slopes : )

    Meghan, I love those games where you can be the winner-I didn't play basketball, but my children loved it!

  17. Thank you so much for this amazing book giveaway!!

    My favorite pastime as a kid was being read a bedtime story by my mother~ it was the highlight of the day for me :) My imagination would run wild with all kinds of tales, both fantasy and 'real life'.

  18. I have always enjoyed reading and always will! As a kid my favorite pastime was reading! Thanks!!

  19. Miss Lucinda Fountain - I loved my bedtime story too-there's nothing like being read to from a favourite book!

    layla hernandez - it's such a gift, the pleasure of reading, and one that never goes away!

  20. Thank you so much for the giveaway ^^

  21. When I was a child I enjoyed reading short stories, brodery and knitting with crochet.

  22. BookLover-I loved all those things too-thank you for stopping by!



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