May 24, 2016

Takeover: Katherine Reay On Her Austen & Brontë Influence + Giveaway

Omnibus Collection
Thomas Mercer
May 3, 2016

Dear Mr. Knightley
Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Lizzy & Jane
Elizabeth left her family s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.

The Brontë Plot
When a rare-books dealer goes to England, she discovers more than just the famous writing haunts she discovers how to love and be loved in today's modern world.

I read The Brontë Plot and I absolutely loved it! I was even thrilled when I found out that Katherine Reay's books are all inspired by Austen and Brontë. So I have to ask Ms. Reay why, after all this time, among many other great authors and stories, why still return to Brontë and Austen? And from a writer's perspective, why are readers still fascinated with the characters they created and why they continue to be the archetypes for moderns heroes?

It’s a good question, Braine, as I feel our fascination with Austen is, in some ways perplexing – and yet I must admit, I find it perfectly understandable. One might wonder why a woman who wrote only six complete novels, lived demurely and died young, would captivate us so – until we acknowledge that she wrote some of the most brilliant English literature of all time. Whether you enjoy her stories or not, Austen’s use of language, syntax and her narrative arcs, not to mention her razor sharp depictions of human nature, continue to enthrall and inform readers, writers and scholars today. Her brilliance, to a degree, answers the question…

And yet there’s more… On a sheer enjoyment level, Austen always provides a wonderful “moment.” Her writings carry some of the same truths we find in our childhood fairy tale favorites. In each novel we find reversals of fortune, “happily ever after” endings, consequences for wrong actions and, for us, a captivating “once upon a time” locale. Historians tell us that living in Regency England would be problematic, but we don’t really believe them.

This correlation couldn’t be made during Austen’s lifetime, but I’m positing about why we love her now. She didn’t write her stories as “Once Upon a Time" narratives, but rather as accurate, and often satirical reflections, on her society – its hypocrisies, limitations and realities. It’s the two hundred year lapse that makes Regency England romantic, her characters’ financial and social limitations fade away, Mr. Darcy is free to stroll around in wet linen – and gives us one of our most popular forms of escape.

Your question nestles the Brontë novels into this same bucket and, I think, rightly so – bolstering the importance of these 150 to 200 years. The Brontë sisters forged new ground, ushering in the “modern novel” with its increased emotion and introspection, and were considered a dramatic departure from Austen. Charlotte, for one, probably liked it that way. She found Austen less than appealing: She (Austen) ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him with nothing profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her: she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood…

But for us… Austen and the Brontës sit side-by-side on a literary, and cinematic, spectrum as they both deliver that same swoony sigh and the promise that all will end well. We get transported into their fairy tale world through elaborate sets, gorgeous costumes, and carefully reigned passion. We leave assured that Darcy will marry Elizabeth; Jane will return, in all her strength and independence, to Rochester; and Henry Crawford and the Reed sisters will never enjoy a truly happy day… Ever after. 

Katherine Reay has lived all across the country and Europe and has just moved with her family to Chicago. She is a writer, wife, mom, runner, and, most randomly, a tae kwon do black belt. Her debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, is a contemporary story with a dash of Jane Austen and other nineteenth century writers thrown in for the fun of it. Her subsequent novels, Lizzy & Jane and The Bronte Plot, feature stories of hope, reconciliation, family, some seriously good food and travel. A Portrait of Emily Price will be released in November of this year.

Follow Katherine
Website | Facebook | @katherine_reay | Goodreads | Pinterest

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  1. Wonderful guest post, I really enjoyed it!

  2. I haven't read Bronte, but heard a lot about the books so I should try one day but it's true that Austen is more well knows here though so it's fun! thanks for the post

  3. Enjoyed the guest post. I like learning more about why an author writes what they write. :-)

    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. I love Austen and the Brontes...but I love Austen's wit and satire more. :) I enjoy Austen's observations on her society and women's roles and limitations within it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :D

  5. I'm already an adorer of both these ladies' work- the light and witty Austen and the dark, broody Bronte stories. And Dear Mr. Knightley was a favorite so I need to try Katherine's other books.

  6. I remember reading some Austen books back in high school but haven't picked any up since.

  7. I do think I agree especially that all the sisters know how to write a swoony HEA. :)

  8. In behalf of Ms. Reay, thanks for stopping by everyone!

  9. Sounds like a fun series as I like both authors.


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