Happy Birthday, Jane Austen


Destination: England

Lady Vernon and Her Daughter: A Novel of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan

Book: Lady Vernon and her Daughter, by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Today we will be lured to England, with the reminder that today is the birthday of Miss Jane Austen.

What would Jane think? say? do? has much occupied the minds of a mother and daughter, who, when not searching for the perfect husband (comely, wealthy, and amusing) for the latter, have been enlarging upon a short piece of fiction left unfinished by Miss Austen.

They base the faux Jane Austen novel, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter: A Novel of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan , on a short and rather unsatisfactory novel by Austen called Lady Susan.

Jane Rubino has written a series of mysteries set in New Jersey and also fleshed out a Sherlock Holmes collection of tales merely mentioned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in Knight Errant. So I began by asking if her idea of riffing on Jane Austen came from her experience with duplicating Conan Doyle’s style.

Authors Jane Rubino and Her Daughter, Caitlen
Authors Jane Rubino and Her Daughter, Caitlen

Jane: No. It really came out of the mystery series set in New Jesey. Austen is  the last name of my detective—a rabid Austen fanatic—and she has a daughter named Jane Austen.

I was going to write historical fiction using the characters in the story (Lady Susan).  I invited Cait and we talked about it together and started to write a few chapters. But then we thought we wouldn’t do justice to it to do it as history. We then started writing in the style of Austen. It started more as a historical mystery. (They originally focused on the suspicious death of Susan’s husband, but eventually downplayed that.)

ATL:  When did you start reading her novels?

Caitlen: Actually, a little too young to appreciate it. I really got into it in college. I took an intensive Austen seminar. (But) I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was 10 or 11. You don’t appreciate the nuance at that age, but I was reading way above my level.

ATL: Do the characters resemble your mother- daughter relationship in any way?

Caitlen: I think they do in that we get along, and I was shy when I was younger.

Jane: Every mother does have the anxiety about finding the right husband to live up to their standards. In the original she (Lady Susan Vernon) is not very maternal (very cool). We adapted the story and brought it more into Jane Austen’s genre. The focus is on the need to marry well.

ATL: The original is totally composed of letters. Your novel contains letters, but is a standard novel. Did you use the letters ‘as is’ from Lady Susan in Lady Vernon and Her Daughter?

Jane:  We used some letters as is. We used some where we changed the writer. For instance I remember we changed from Lady Susan to Eliza.

Caitlen: We switched from letters sometimes.  When we couldn’t use them as letters, we changed the lines to dialogue or exposition.

ATL: What  literature might have ever  inspired you to travel?

Jane: To be frank, I do not have a passport. I have traveled to the Caribbean and to Canada and across the country—it is a beautiful country. I love South Florida, the Carolinas, and coastal Georgia. When I saw (the movie) “Enchanted in April,” it made me want to see (Italy) in person, but I was almost afraid to go because it wouldn’t be as beautiful (as it was in the movie).

Caitlen: I read Austen or Bronte and I think I would love to go to England. I like to read food and wine books. Bacchus and Me: Wine country in Oregon.

We parted company at this point and I retired to the library to read Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, (which was sent to me by the publisher for review). I can highly recommend it to the lover of Austen and to the traveler to England. The writing is worthy of Jane Austen, with sly humor on every page and as many quotable lines as Miss Austen herself might have penned.

You can see a wonderful book trailer for Lady Vernon and her Daughter at You Tube.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

15 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Jane Austen

  1. I read this book and just loved every word – it was so JANE. I dont know about needing to see a place to write about it – I dont think theres much in England that could give you a flavor of the 18th cent – and Jane Austen did live a very narrow life herself but theres something very universal about her books – so great to hear that they got along in the writing of the book – it did seem very “seamless”.

  2. It was interesting reading about this new book, based sort of on the Jane Austin books. I’ve never been a Jane fan. I’m not sure why. I just can’t get into the whole thing. But I love that a mother could write with her daughter and the two could end up staying on good terms.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..Alisa’s Top Dating Tips =-.

    1. Alisa: I told them that on purpose I did not ask them if they got along during writing the book, because I figured that is what everybody would ask. They said, though, that they always get along fine and there were no problems.

      Everybody who mentioned the passport comment: I don’t think that writing this novel required seeing England. Granted, if they had been there, they might have found a few descriptions of landscape, but it is not essential. My choice is to see as much of the world as possible. Jane’s choice is different.

      Almost Slow Food: Jane and Caitlin definitely channeled Jane for this book, and I’m sure it will do the trick for you.

      Ready Mom: “Boca” sounds like great fun.

  3. As a Jane Austen fan, I’m looking forward to picking up this book. On a much, much lighter note, I once read, I believe the title was Jane Austen in Boca–very much so chick lit, which I usually shy away from. But it was a funny, modernized retelling of Pride and Prejudice in a Florida retirement community.
    .-= ReadyMom´s last blog ..Simple Goodies Teachers Love =-.

  4. Great interview, Vera! But I do think that every place must be visited in person in order to gain a true perspective and flavor. I was kind of surprised to read that the author does not have a passport – however, the authors must have wonderful imaginations to be able to write w/out seeing places in person.

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