I'm very pleased to be part of the JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP BLOG TOUR. Amateur sleuth Jane Austen returns in Jane and the Waterloo Map, the thirteenth novel in Stephanie Barron’s delightful Regency-era mystery series. Award winning author Stephanie Barron tours the blogosphere February 2 through February 22, 2016 to share her latest release, Jane and the Waterloo Map (Being a Jane Austen Mystery). Twenty book bloggers specializing in Austenesque fiction, Mystery, and Regency history will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts and book reviews from this highly anticipated novel in the acclaimed Being a Jane Austen Mystery series. There's also a fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of Barron’s book and other Jane Austen-themed items. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for the complete Blog Tour Schedule and Grand Giveaway Contest.
Jane and the Waterloo Map is the new novel in the bestselling Being a Jane Austen Mystery series by Stephanie Barron. Inspired by the life of the famous English author, Jane Austen returns as a clever, yet genteel, sleuth in this delightful thirteenth installment of the bestselling Regency-era mystery series.
Stephanie Barron was born in Binghampton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads. Her new novel is Jane and the Waterloo Map, the latest in the Jane Austen Mystery series.
Jane Austen, Detective Novelist
Back in 1999, I gave at talk at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting that compared the structure of Emma to a detective novel.
For more than a decade, I was ignorant of the fact that the late, great British detective novelist, P. D. James, had already delivered a similar lecture to the UK Jane Austen Society in 1998. Entitled “Emma Considered as a Detective Story,” it noted that while Austen’s fourth novel can be viewed as a light-hearted romance about a self-absorbed young woman, Emma Woodhouse is unwittingly engaged in investigating and exposing a social crime at the heart of the book. Eligible and charming Frank Churchill, who should be flirting with Emma herself, has contracted a secret engagement with impoverished Jane Fairfax instead, against the expressed wishes of his adoptive parents. By suppressing the truth, and forcing Miss Fairfax to do the same, Frank descends into a series of impostures that deceive and betray the friends and family nearest to his heart. He wounds his beloved Jane to the point of self-martyrdom. Emma, the reader’s guide through these social labyrinths, is the original unreliable detective—she misinterprets the motives, actions, and desires of everyone about her with a destructive confidence that nearly ruins all their lives. The village of Highbury is turned on its head. Only when Frank’s “crime” is revealed and justice accorded to Jane Fairfax, is order restored in Emma Woodhouse’s small Eden.
Austen’s construction of the story is both subtle and ferociously clever. The perceptive reader finds clues that generally reveal themselves only upon a second journey through the book. (The anonymous delivery of a pianoforte to Miss Fairfax’s lodgings is a web of misdirection and misinterpretation.) Evidence is analyzed and false conclusions drawn. Witnesses offer testimonies that conflict and obscure the truth. Red herrings abound. And Emma, who blithely embarked on this elaborate investigation in the novel’s first pages, realizes almost too late that the most deceived and benighted person in Highbury is herself. Austen seems to be warning us that the greatest mystery we can penetrate—a word she often used--is the motivation of the human heart, which can destroy or construct as much happiness as it chooses.
One suspects that Dame P. D. continued to mull the parallels between Austen and murder fiction for years before she gave way to temptation and wrote her pastiche on both, Death Comes to Pemberley. She was an enthusiastic Janeite, and no doubt catalogued the deceptive characters in each of the novels—Willoughby and Wickham come to mind, but so too do Mr. Elliot, Henry Crawford, and Isabella Thorpe. Austen heroines are natural detectives, challenged continually to investigate appearances and divine the hidden truth, or risk the commission of errors that may lead to lifelong misery. This portrayal of the concealment and revelation of human motivation—the essence of passionate intrigue as well as crime—was Austen’s great talent. What Jane called penetration—perceptivity and empathic understanding—are critical to both writers and detectives. It is the crux of her endurance as an author: we return to her books because they persist in revealing us to ourselves.
But Jane’s penetration is also the reason I decided, two decades ago, to steal her life and voice for the main character in a series of detective novels.
I took up with Jane in 1802, when she was at a personal crossroad: she had just turned twenty-six; she had accepted and then hastily rejected an offer of marriage from a man she did not love. She chose personal truth over comfort, risk and possible want over economic security—and had she done otherwise, we would never have known her name. She would have become Mrs. Harris Bigg-Wither instead of Jane Austen, the mistress of a fine drawing room and park at Manydown House, but not of Fitzwilliam Darcy or Emma Woodhouse.
Over the years I have followed Jane around England, from Bath to Southampton, Chawton to Canterbury. We have grown old in each other’s company; one of us has raised two children. Thirteen novels later, we have reached the autumn of 1815 in Jane and the Waterloo Map.
Jane was staying with her brother Henry at his house in Hans Place, London, that November, partly because Henry was ailing and he was her favorite brother. He’d lost his wife a few years earlier, and now, as Jane celebrated her fortieth birthday, they were two middle-aged siblings supporting each other through the wretched autumn of 1815. Wellington had narrowly won the Battle of Waterloo six months before, at enormous human cost to both the Allied and the French forces, but as a result of Napoleon’s fall and the end of hostilities on the Continent and in America, tens of thousands of military men returned to England looking for jobs. The economy tanked. Henry Austen was a banker and a militia payroll agent. Runs on all three branches of his bank ruined him by the turn of the year, and he was declared a bankrupt.
Although she was concerned about Henry’s health and that of his bank, Jane was really in London for entirely personal reasons. She was proofing the typeset pages of Emma, which would be published by John Murray in late December or early January 1816.
Murray was taking a chance on Emma. He was accustomed to putting out books by sweeping British male authors—Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott being two horses in his stable. Jane’s previous book, Mansfield Park, hadn’t equaled her early success with Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. And in a poor economy, people were less likely to spend their pence on books. From Jane’s letters during October and November 1815 we know Murray tried to take advantage of her—offering to buy Emma’s copyright only if she sold him the rights to her first and third books as well. She refused, retaining the rights to Emma, financing the book’s publication at her own expense, and according Murray a ten percent commission for his trouble. Unusual enough as a lady novelist, she had decided to invest in herself and become a woman of business as well.
Waterloo Map finds Jane visiting Carlton House, home of the Prince Regent, a man she despises. The Court Physician, Matthew Baillie, has been called in to treat Henry Austen, and has boasted of meeting his sister Jane. The Prince Regent is an admirer of Miss Austen’s novels, and orders his chaplain, James Stanier Clarke, to invite her to tour the palace. Apprehending that in this case an invitation is an order, Jane obliges Clarke, who shows her through Carlton House’s principal rooms. But as she enters the library, she practically stumbles over the body of a Hero of Waterloo.... Only I know, at this point in Jane’s story, that she has a bare eighteen months to live. Her fears for brother Henry ought better to have been kept for herself. I have no idea how many more adventures she and I will share before pain and illness close her eyes in 1817, but I relish the ones we have known thus far. She has taught me so much about penetration, that Jane—with her subtle and ferocious heart.
Grand Giveaway Contest:
Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes
In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour that started on February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016.
Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016.
Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!
JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
February 02 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 03 Laura's Reviews (Excerpt)
February 04 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
February 05 The Calico Critic (Review)
February 06 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)
February 07 Reflections of a Book Addict (Spotlight)
February 08 Mimi Matthews Blog (Guest Blog)
February 09 Jane Austen’s World (Interview)
February 10 Just Jane 1813 (Review)
February 11 Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)
February 12 History of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Guest Blog)
February 13 My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
February 14 Living Read Girl (Review)
February 14 Austenprose (Review)
February 15 Mystery Fanfare (Guest Blog)
February 16 Laura's Reviews (Review)
February 17 Jane Austen in Vermont (Excerpt)
February 18 From Pemberley to Milton (Interview)
February 19 More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
February 20 Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
February 21 A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life (Guest Blog)
February 22 Diary of an Eccentric (Review)