“Diana Birchall once again proves herself the worthiest of Austenesque fiction writers, with keen powers of observation, discernment, judgment, fire, genius, and wit on every page.” — Devoney Looser, author of The Making of Jane Austen
“No one captures Jane Austen's vibrant style, sense of humor, intelligence, and voice better than Diana Birchall. I flew through this charming novel, which makes a delightfully spooky and most welcome sequel to Northanger Abbey.” — Syrie James, author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen
“One of the most enjoyable returns to Austen to be found. Not to be missed.” — Susan Franzblau, author and film director
Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall, a beloved author in the Austenesque fiction world. Although I haven't had a chance to read the book yet due to my studies, I'm thrilled to be able to offer an excerpt from the novel and participate in the tour. Below you'll find the excerpt, along with information about Diana, as well as links to the other blog tour stops. Thanks for stopping by The Calico Critic, and I hope you enjoy the passage Diana has shared with us!
Excerpt from The Bride of Northanger
Chapter 11, pages 93 - 96
With the first gleamings of crepuscular pink light starting to show in the long windows, she went to gaze out at the beautiful dawn scene, hoping to find some serenity. To her shock, she was immediately shaken to discern a face out in the garden, gazing back at her!
She almost shrieked, but clapped her hands over her mouth, and steadying herself, took another look.
It was a woman, none other than the same Grey Lady she had seen before. She was standing some twenty feet from the house, in the semi-darkness, and Catherine could not distinguish much about her, only that she was clothed in diaphanous grey, and was as pale as the moon, with skin that was white, but wrinkled. As she watched, the wraith lifted her arm to gesture, and mouthed a single word. What was it? It seemed to be “Oh!” or perhaps – “Go!”
Catherine could not tell, but she could look no more. She felt rather than saw the Grey Lady gliding away across the still-dark lawn, as she pulled the curtains closed.
As she did so, her hands felt something resting on the sill, a piece of cloth. She pulled it inside and saw that she was holding a small square piece of tapestry, or crewel-work, about eighteen inches square. The pattern, tightly stitched in delicate wools, was so intricate that it looked as if it might have taken years to work; and it was something like a sampler, with flowers and fruits on the outside edges, and a central pattern of an imposing house that looked very much - yes it did – like Northanger Abbey.
The sampler effect was owing to a series of words which, in motto-like fashion, circled the lozenge that enclosed the picture of the Abbey. The letters were tiny, interspersed with pairs of white birds that looked like doves, and at first Catherine was unpleasantly reminded of the small words in the message on General Tilney’s gift of wedding china. Would this prove to be another malediction?
Nervously, she tried to read the message, but the size made it hard to decipher. She had to hold her candle between herself and the tapestry, and pore over it to make it out. At length she succeeded, and on reading the first words, she gave a great start:
“O new Bride of Northanger!” it read.
She looked around apprehensively. That was certainly meant for no one but herself; there could be no doubt now that it was a message for her. Indeed, the Grey Lady must have left it. Shivering, she read on.
“Fear not, my dear daughter, for I lay only blessings upon you and your marriage. I wish you both an unbroken peaceful and fruitful life, this side of Heaven. As a mother who has suffered untold torments, I stand as the Guardian of Northanger Abbey against the wicked and the cruel, and hope that my love will enfold and protect you for ever, unto eternal life.”
“Well!” exclaimed Catherine. “What can this mean? Is it from the Grey Lady? She must be real enough, however, for this is no work of imagination. Not only is it tangible, it is as sturdy and well-stitched a piece of needlework as I have ever seen, upon my word. Only, that poor lady’s fingers! And her eyes! To embroider so many, many tiny letters! That, to me, would be the torture.”
She read the precisely stitched message again carefully.
“No, I do not know, I cannot conceive what on earth to make of it. I will ask Henry, when he comes.”
About the Author
Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen's style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale.
Connect with Diana
October 28 My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
October 28 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
October 28 vvb32 Reads (Spotlight)
October 29 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide of Life (Guest Blog)
October 29 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
October 30 Drunk Austen (Interview)
October 30 Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)
October 31 Jane Austen’s World (Review)
November 01 So Little Time… (Interview)
November 01 Laura's Reviews (Review)
November 04 English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)
November 04 Confessions of a Book Addict (Spotlight)
November 05 More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
November 05 Vesper’s Place (Review)
November 06 Jane Austen in Vermont (Interview)
November 06 Diary of an Eccentric (Interview)
November 07 All Things Austen (Spotlight)
November 07 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
November 07 Let Them Read Books (Excerpt)
November 08 Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
November 08 vvb32 Reads (Review)
November 11 My Jane Austen Book Club (Review)
November 11 Reading the Past (Spotlight)
November 12 Jane Austen’s World (Interview)
November 12 The Calico Critic (Excerpt)
November 13 The Book Rat (Review)
November 13 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
November 14 Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust (Review)
November 14 The Fiction Addiction (Review)
November 15 My Love for Jane Austen (Spotlight)
November 15 Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books (Review)
Start Reading Your Copy Today!