Archive for October, 2019


Inquiring readers: Author Diana Birchall has written her latest addition to the Austenesque fiction canon. This post is a review of Catherine Tilney’s (née Morland’s) continuing adventures in Northanger Abbey. No matter how hard Henry Tilney’s young bride tries to retain her calm, she somehow becomes entangled in yet another Gothic adventure.

As the novel opens, Henry Tilney and Catherine happily anticipate their wedding, but before the ceremony, Henry must share important information with his intended – that for generations the Tilney family has suffered a dreadful family curse which results in the wife of the eldest son meeting with an untimely end. Catherine quickly dismisses the idea, since Henry is the second son.

The happy couple are married surrounded by family and friends, absent General Tilney, who is still angered that his son wed an ordinary chit with only £3,000 to her name. Nevertheless, the young couple settle into connubial bliss in Woodston Parsonage, the lovely cottage Catherine fell in love with the moment Henry showed it to her. Even better, it is situated 20 miles or so from Northanger Abbey. Life is good for the young Tilneys until the couple visit General Tilney. During her visit at NA, Catherine sees a lady in grey at night wandering the halls. She fights fear in favor of logic, but then receives an ominous missive:

Bride of Northanger, beware the Maledict, that falleth upon you. Depart the Abbey in fear and haste, and nevermore return.”

And, so, the plot thickens, with Ms. Birchall bending, twisting, and turning it upside down until we readers becomes dizzy from guessing where the tale will end. Along the way, we are treated to an assortment of some of Austen’s finest characters. Birchall connects their stories to Austen’s by adhering to their psychological states, and personal quirks and behaviors in the original novel.

While paying homage to Austen, Birchall writes in her own light and lovely style. She characterizes John Thorpe as deliciously sleezy and slimy. His sister, Isabella, is still a slutty, scheming vixen. General Tilney is mean and avaricious and unpleasant all around. Captain Tilney feels no shame for his boorish behavior or lack of empathy for anyone. Eleanor Tilney is saccharinely sweet and nondescript. I found her viscount husband, Charles, much more interesting. As a budding Gilbert White, he studies butterflies with the same zest as Captain Tilney collects whores. We even meet the Allens in Bath, along with Catherine’s sister, Sarah, who lives with them.

To this mix, Birchall adds a dash of curses, and tales of mad monks and maledictions, and the mysterious lady in grey. The Bride of Northanger reminded me in many ways of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This Austen variation is a perfect gift for a budding young Janeite (or yourself). After purchasing it, I recommend curling up on a sofa near a crackling fire for a few hours of blissful reading.

About Diana Birchall:

Diana Birchall worked for many years as a story analyst for Warner Bros Studios, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading popular manuscripts went side by side with a lifetime of Jane Austen scholarship, and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and as close study of the secret of Jane Austen’s style. She is the author of The Bride of Northanger, published by White Soup Press, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma and Mrs. Elton in America, both published by Sourcebooks, as well as In Defense of Mrs. Elton, published by JASNA, and hundreds of short stories.   Her plays have been performed in many cities, with “You Are Passionate, Jane,” a two person play about Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte being featured at Chawton House Library.

Find out more about Diana by following her on Facebook and Twitter @Dianabirchall

The Bride of Northanger Blog Tour Banner Fina


Jane Austen’s World is part of the #Janeite Blog Tour of The Bride of Northanger, a Jane Austen Variation by Diana Birchall.

Learn more about the tour and follow the participating blogs.

The doyenne of Austenesque fiction, Diana Birchall, tours the blogosphere October 28 through November 15, 2019, to share her latest release, The Bride of Northanger. Thirty popular bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction are featuring guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed continuation of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey.

The Bride of Northanger: A Jane Austen Variation, by Diana Birchall
White Soup Press (2019)
Trade paperback & eBook (230) pages
ISBN: ISBN: 978-0981654300


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for including me in this tour.

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What fun! What excitement! What a full schedule and whirlwind of activities. I can no longer keep up, but have no fear, gentle readers, I’ll add activities and photos over the next few days as I find the time.

After the break-out sessions yesterday, I attended the JASNA Life Members reception, meeting new friends and visiting old acquaintances. I’ll add two photos right now.


I am in LOVE with Devony Looser’s tights, which she purchased on Etsy from a person who spells Austen’s last name with an “i.” Tsk. Tsk. Diana Birchall and I, as usual, had a lovely time. I look like a bag lady!


Last night the divine Diana and I spent a lovely evening strolling through Williamsburg at twilight.

We finished the evening polishing The Trellis’s famous “Death by Chocolate” dessert – which consists of 8 different kinds of rich chocolate. We also ate (inhaled) low country cuisine consisting of fresh Chesapeake Bay seafood and slow baked grits and fried cornbread. The meal is typically southern, sumptuous, and well-known by those of us who live/lived in the region.

At a lunchtime book signing on Day 3 I met this lovely couple, Christopher Dada and Catherine Thomas. It turns out that Catherine is a subscriber to this blog, so, of course, I instantly loved her dearly. She created her own beautiful Regency curls and donned the gloves just for this picture.


I purchased the most wonderful and twee self-published book from a sweet author, Juliet Fazan, who wrote the book and illustrated it at the tender age of 18. Her drawings are adorable and I can’t wait to read all 42 pages. In fact, I purchased another $80 worth of books, even though I ran out of bookshelf space 6 months ago.

One word about today’s workshop sessions so far: I LOVED and ADORED Janine Bacchus’s plenary talk about “The Lost Copies of Northanger Abbey,” and Juliette Wells discussion, “Publishing Northanger Abbey: A History in Documents.” In another post I’ll discuss my ratings for good workshops and some in need of improvement (in my humble opinion.)

During a quiet time at lunch recess, I found these ladies reading their new purchases. Jane would have approved.

tranquil moment.jpg

There’s more to relate, but I’ve run out of time. Please return to this post later to view additional added photos.





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After a fun-filled evening with friends old and new, I stumbled on a 21st century carriage from the visitor center to the conference hotel with these lovely ladies. (The costumes have improved by leaps and bounds over the years and many seem so authentic, accessories and all!)

In the lobby I espied Deb Barnum (r) and author Hazel Jones (l) in close conversation.

Rachel Jones-Deb Barnum

Then talked extensively with Margaret Sullivan, a favorite blog editrix and author. (Photo to come soon, Tony!)

Regina Roberts-Lynn

These two lovely ladies from California (Regina Roberts and her mum, Lynn) allowed me to join them as I awaited the plenary session. Lynn and I gabbed like two lost friends, as we are both involved with adult literacy, libraries, and Jane Austen!!

L to R: Lynn, Vic (Day 2), Sandra Mettler, Vic, Diana Birchall, and Victoria Henshaw (Night 1)

Just before the plenary session, I saw “Chocolate Girl” walk beside me and just had to take her pix. I included a photo of Jean-Etienne Liotard’s painting (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) just in case you have never seen it

I then saw the flag of Maryland, my new home state, and took this grand photo of JASNA MD society members (along with Lynn from California).

Maryland JASNA Chapter

Aren’t they lovely? A close up reveals what chapter member, Joyce Loney is holding – a Jane Austen action doll! I used to have three, but two broke apart at the waist and JA without legs is a gruesome thing to see.Joyce Loney

Stay tuned, all, and revisit this post (and Day 1’s, which is regularly updated). The day is young yet, and I might see more friends and meet soon-to-be friends.


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After a late start from Baltimore and a nice roadside nap, I arrived in Williamsburg, VA in mid-afternoon. I registered, then made a beeline for the Emporium and promptly spent most of my cash on STUFF. I’ll be bankrupt after three more days of temptation!!


The first person I saw was RACHEL DODGE!! We’ve been corresponding for over a year, and she’s been contributing the most wonderful articles to my blog. Here she is, behind a wonderful display of her book and the lovely gifts that accompany it.

Rachel Dodge, author of Praying With Jane Austen, at the 2019 JASNA AGM in Williamsburg

I then met Aileen overseeing the Burnley and Trowbridge booth, at which an assortment of sewing items, fabrics, and patterns to create authentic-looking regency costumes are for sale.

Aileen was so helpful. When I asked her how long she took to create the ringlets surrounding her face, she said “5 minutes.” Smiling, she showed me the ringlet hair extensions. (See image.) I asked how uncomfortable the busks felt. She pulled one out and said “pretty comfortable.”

The hats at this conference are gorgeous. Just take a look at this sampling from Lydia Fast and I dare you to tell me that you don’t find the finish work exquisite:

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