Tag Archives: Emma

More to Love

Excerpt from my new WIP

Elizabeth sat alone, smiling as she watched the couples dancing gracefully around the floor. Occasionally, she nibbled at the cooky she held, taking comfort in the richness of the sweet almond confection. As she was a great favourite of Longbourn’s cook, Mrs. Bailey, who had learned the recipes for several types of cookies while a young woman in America, Elizabeth was never without several of the tasty morsels in her reticule. Mrs. Bailey kept her well-supplied.

Toni Collette in 1996 version of Emma

The lady is pleasantly plump, not hugely overweight. I’m seeing this body size as my Elizabeth in More to Love.

Knowing her mother would disapprove of her eating while she waited for an invitation to dance, Elizabeth practiced her usual ruse. She hid the jumble in her embroidered handkerchief, careful to let no one see it. In any case, she was rarely asked to dance, cooky or not, as there were always more ladies than gentlemen at Meryton’s Assemblies. This night had been no exception. She had danced only one set.

Her sister Jane’s amiable partner for an earlier dance, Mr. Bingley, stood fairly close to Elizabeth, chatting with a handsome, austere man. Mr. Bingley’s voice carried over the music and gaiety, impossible to ignore.

“Darcy! Why are you standing here with your arms folded when there are so many uncommonly pretty girls lacking dance partners? You should not keep yourself apart from the company in such a stupid manner when lovely young women are seated and gentlemen are scarce. ’Tis rudeness itself. I must have you dance.”

“I certainly shall not,” answered the gentleman, drawing himself up to his full, intimidating height, looking down his nose at his friend. “You have been dancing with the only handsome girl in the room, and your sisters are engaged at present.”

Bingley’s voice softened. “She is an angel, is she not? The most beautiful creature I ever beheld.” He sighed. “However, there are plenty of suitable young ladies who are available.”

Elizabeth smiled upon hearing his praise of her sister. His pleasant manner and good sense caused him to rise several notches in her estimation.

The young man continued, “Look! There is her sister, and she has a very pretty face, too. I daresay she is most agreeable. You must ask her to dance. Allow me to ask my partner to introduce you.”

She felt the weight of the gentleman’s disapproving stare and glanced away.

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me. Return to Miss Bennet and bask in her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with unshed tears as she crushed the cooky hidden in her handkerchief. While she had never been obsessed with her looks in the way her younger sisters were, she always took pride in her appearance. Her father had often complimented her beautiful skin and her lustrous, thick hair, while her mother made sure her bonnets and dresses were stylish.

Even so, she grudgingly acknowledged to herself that she had been avoiding mirrors for at least two years now, and lately, her gowns had become uncomfortably snug.

True or not, his comments wounded her deeply. Though she was well-known for her intelligence and quick wit, she yearned to be told she was altogether lovely. She had many friends, but she feared that being bright and cheerful with a pretty face described a governess or a lady’s companion, and she did not aspire to those vocations.

Secretly, Elizabeth wished to be the wife of a gentleman who adored her, as well as a mother to children she would love, regardless of their outward features. She prided herself on valuing the characters of her friends and relatives rather than their physical attributes.

Too be judged so harshly by a person she had never met was disconcerting. Her view of the world and her place in it was shaken.

In the moment the haughty gentleman had declared her to be “too much,” she had become, to herself, “not enough.” Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not tempting enough.

Mr. Bingley, sweet man, would not agree with his friend. “How can you say that, Darcy? She has a perfect complexion, beautiful eyes, and dainty hands which are lovely. Her entire face is alight when she smiles, and I have also observed how graceful she is when she walks. Surely you have noticed that.”

Thomas Beaudoin

Thomas Beaudoin is my model for Darcy. My husband cannot object. He always wants to watch Hallmark movies, and Mr. Beaudoin starred in a new one – Love on the Slopes. I’d love to have his face on a cover.

Darcy snorted. “I have. Who could miss it? She approaches the refreshment table every half hour, and she is sorely mistaken if she thinks her handkerchief hides what she is constantly eating. Bingley, I am not in humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men, especially when that slighting is so obviously justified in this case by the lady’s lack of discipline.”

His companion rather testily replied, “I would not be as fastidious as you for a kingdom. You are determined to be disagreeable, so I will leave you to it. Furthermore, I shall dare your disapproval and ask her myself.”

Elizabeth hardly ever allowed herself to dislike people she had never met, but she was willing to make an exception for tall, dark, brooding Mr. Darcy.  Upon further reflection, she was somewhat surprised to realize she truly despised him, despite his unusual beauty and aristocratic profile, which was most unusual for her. She had never met the gentleman, yet she could hardly stand the sight of him. Odd, for she was generally accepting of everyone.

Seeing Mr. Bingley approaching her, she stuffed the handkerchief into her reticule and placed it under her chair. Her determined attempt at a pleasant countenance was successful.

A moment later, Mr. Bingley appeared before her, bowed, and extended his hand with a smile and a request.

Elizabeth stood and placed her hand in his, determined not to disgrace herself. She held her head high and fixed a smile upon her face, allowing her brilliant, green eyes to sparkle with mischief as he escorted her past Mr. Darcy onto the dance floor.

As she and Mr. Bingley moved through the steps, she glimpsed Mr. Darcy watching them several times, an inscrutable expression on his striking face.

Assuming that he looked at her only to find fault, her active mind formed a scheme, and she could hardly wait to set it in motion.


What do you think? Have you ever been judged harshly concerning your physical appearance? I have, so I have years of material to access in this story. My sister Gayle gave me this idea, and she will have much to contribute.

You can read future posts at Beyond Austen, where you can read works in progress by some of your favorite Austenesque authors. Leave a comment for the authors. Sometimes our readers influence our stories.

Thomas Beaudoin curly hair

The actress in the picture is Toni Collette who played the part of Harriet Smith in the 1996 version of Emma.

And just in case you didn’t notice my Darcy model earlier in the post, here he is again, Mr. Thomas Beaudoin.


A Very Austen Christmas

Book Launch Tomorrow!

A Very Austen Christmas - 3DIn early June, Laura and I broached the idea of an anthology to include all the authors of Jane Started It, along with our lovely friend, JAFF author Wendi Sotis. Susan Kaye, Pamela Aiden, and Gayle Mills originally intended to be a part of the project, but real life threw several hitches in their plans. Laura Hile, Barbara Cornthwaite, Wendi Sotis, and I kept the dream alive.

Tomorrow, that dream will be realized with the book launch of A Very Austen Christmas, hosted by Claudine Pepe at JustJane1813.  We are very much looking forward to reading Claudine’s review (our first one!), as well as chatting with our readers.

The kindle version is already available for pre-order (to be delivered tomorrow) on Amazon, and the print copy is live, though they are not yet linked together.

Does this sound tempting, lovely readers?

Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world.

Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.

Her Christmas Gift by Robin Helm
Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.

The Christmas Matchmaker by Laura Hile
It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?

No Better Gift by Wendi Sotis
On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?

Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey by Barbara Cornthwaite
When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …

A Very Austen Christmas - jpeg

The stories are arranged according to length. Mine is really a novella of 30K words, and Laura’s is 24K words. We have decided that we can’t write short stories (insert laugh). Wendi’s is 17K words and Barbara’s is 7K words. Curl up in your PJs with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy the writing of four friends with quite different styles and story lines.

We hope that Sue, Pamela, and Gayle will be able to join us in our next anthology. (Yes, I just said next anthology!)

Snowed In

booksWhatever shall we do?

What can we do when we’re stuck at home in a winter storm (other than housecleaning – ugh!)? Read, of course!

I’ve told you about books I love that you probably wouldn’t guess I’d like. I’ve written about my childhood reads. Now – ta da! – here are some of my favorite teen reads:

A Tale of Two Cities

Les Miserables

The Count of Monte Cristo

Pride and Prejudice (right?)



Northanger Abbey

Adam Bede

Silas Marner

Fahrenheit 451

Animal Farm

Jane Eyre


All of Victoria Holt’s books

booksI’ll grant you that Dickens is an acquired taste, and Les Miserables, Adam Bede, and Silas Marner are downers, but it takes all sorts of vegetables to make a good stew.

Victoria Holt is not deep or hard to understand. Those books are clean, Gothic romance. So many governesses falling in love with the Lords of the Manor! Just the thing to stimulate a teen girl’s imagination without delving into dirt. Both my daughters read each of them.

All of these titles, with the exception of the Holt books, have been made into films, and Les Miserables is a Broadway hit. The musical scores for “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera” are brilliant and memorable.

So, if you don’t want to take down the Christmas tree yet, read one of these books or watch the movie adaptations.

Happy reading!

Southern Fried Austen

A Dyin’ Duck Fit

Darcy got up to leave the restaurant with Lizzy, but Caroline was too speedy for him. She’d grabbed Emma by the arm and was on her way back before he could get Harriet’s attention to make their order take-out, so he and Lizzy were stuck. He was fast enough to move to the other side of the table and sit by Lizzy so’s he wouldn’t be stuck by Caroline. He knew well enough she’d grab a seat by him quicker than he could ask, “Who’s your Momma?” She was fit to be tied when she flounced up to the table, draggin’ Emma behind her, and saw him movin’ to sit by Lizzy.

Caroline: I swanee, Darcy! Why’d you switch places? You think I have cooties?

Lizzy: Caroline, your face is plum red and you’re breakin’ a sweat. Everybody’s lookin’ at us, so sit down, lower your voice, and stop havin’ a dyin’ duck fit.

dyin' duck fit

Caroline: (stamps her foot) You don’t tell me what to do, Lizzy Bennet. Everybody knows you’re too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash. I don’t know why Darcy’s settlin’ for hamburger when he could have steak.

Darcy: That’s about enough, Caroline. Do your business, or get off the pot. I’m ready to eat and get back on the road.

Emma: Please, Caroline. Sit down by me. The waitress is comin’.

Caroline: Switch places with me. I don’t want to sit across from Lizzy and have to look at her while I eat. It’ll put me off my food.

Lizzy: Caroline, if your brains were dynamite, you couldn’t blow your nose. Nothin’ ever put you off your food in your whole life. You ate a double cheeseburger in the ambulance after you broke your leg in a car wreck. I don’t think I look as bad as a compound fracture.

Caroline: Get out of my face, girl, or I’ll jerk you bald. You got beat with the ugly stick, and seein’ your face’ll make me lose my appetite. I’d rather stare directly at the sun with binoculars than look at you.

Lizzy: Well, you got whupped with the whole forest, and I can stand to look at you. Now, you’ve said your piece. Time to make nice. Nobody wants to hear us squabble. We can eat lunch together next week and trade insults just for kicks.

Caroline: Pig ‘n Vittles on Wednesday?

Lizzy: Regular as an old lady on fiber pills. I’ll tell Jane to meet us.

Harriet: What’ll you have ladies? Emma Woodhouse, as I live and breathe! Is that you? I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays.

Emma: Well I be John Brown! Is that you Harriet? Where’ve you been, girl?

Harriet: I’ve been married ever since high school. I live here with my husband and two kids.

Emma: Who’d you marry?

Harriet: My marriage license says Harriet Martin. You figure it out.

Emma: Robert Martin? Oh, Harriet. He was never good enough for you.

Harriet: No, Em. He was never good enough for you. He’s plenty for me. Now, what do you ladies want to eat?

Caroline: I’ll have whatever he’s havin’.

When life hands you lemons

Lizzy: (laughing) You sure about that, Sugar Booger?

Caroline: I’ll bite. What’d you order, Darcy?

Darcy: Roast chicken with a side salad and light Mediterrean dressing. Unsweet iced tea.

Caroline: Aw, heck no! I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south bound polecat. What’re you havin’ Lizzy?

Darcy: She’s havin’ a heart attack on a plate.

Caroline: Let me guess. Fried chicken, batter-dipped and double breaded? Sweet tea?

Lizzy: You know me well.

Caroline: Yep. All our lives. Well, then, let’s add on a baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon.

Lizzy: Dag nabbit. I knew I forgot somethin’. Put bacon on mine, too, Harriet.

Harriet: Sure thing, Darlin’. Emma, what’ll you have?


Emma: A heapin’ helpin’ of humble pie with two extra-large side orders of I’m an idiot and I’m sorry. Sometimes I’m about as sharp as a cue ball. Congratulations on your marriage, Harriet. I can see you’re happy. You have pictures of your kids?

Harriet: It’s all good, Honey. I’ll show you a couple I posted on Instagram before you leave.

Emma: You’re on Instagram? We’ll have to follow each other. I’ve missed you.

Harriet: Bless your sweet heart, Emma. I’ve missed you, too. My boss is lookin’, so I’ve got to stop jawin’ and take your order.

Emma: It all sounds good to me. How about I have chicken like Caroline’s and a salad like Darcy’s except with Ranch dressing? I can’t stand unsweet tea, though. Stick your finger in mine and make it sweet.

Harriet: You’re too sweet already, Em. I’ll go give your order to the cook. I’ll tell him to get right on it so your food comes out at the same time as theirs. Be right back, Sugar.

Darcy: There’s so much sweetness floating around here I’m about to go into a sugar coma.

Lizzy: You’d rather talk about the weather? It’s so dry the trees are bribin’ the dogs.

Darcy: That’s more like it. Stick to manly topics like the weather or sports.

Lizzy: Or one of the World Wars. I declare, the History Channel was invented just so men could watch the World Wars all the time.

Caroline: If you like baseball, the Knights are playin’ Saturday night. We could all go together.

Darcy: Not this Saturday. We already have plans.

Caroline: Doin’ what? Who with?

Darcy: I’m taking Lizzy flying, and then we might shop for a hog or ride the trails around her house.

Caroline: Jump back! You fly planes?

Darcy: I do. We’re going up in mine. Thought we might ride down to the beach for lunch.

Caroline: Sounds like fun. I’m in.

Darcy: Sorry, Caroline. It’s a two-seater, and both seats are taken.

Emma: Maybe you can go hog-shoppin’ with them, Caroline. There’s a pig farm on some of the land your daddy leases out to tenants. You know lots about porkers.

Lizzy: He meant a motorcycle, Emma, not an actual hog.

Caroline: You getting’ a Harley, Darcy? Charlie wants one, too. Maybe we could all meet up at the Harley place.

Lizzy: Give it up, Caroline. It’s a date, not a group outing.

Caroline: A date? With you? You have more chins than a Chinese phone book!

Darcy: Caroline, if beauty was measured in trash, Lizzy’d be a landfill. Don’t talk about my girl.

Caroline: Your girl? Well, aren’t you the poster child for birth control! Come on, Em. Let’s eat with Jane and Charlie. Lydia and Kitty are sittin’ with two guys they met at the race.

Emma: But, Caroline! I like talking to Lizzy and Darcy. I don’t usually get to spend time with them, and I’m always with you.

Caroline: The meter’s tickin’ here, Emma. Move!

Emma: Bye, y’all. Tell Harriet where we are.

Lizzy: Sure will, Sweetie.

caroline defcon 1

Darcy: Well, she went out like she came in.

Lizzy: Emma?

Darcy: Caroline. What’s a dyin’ duck fit anyway?

Lizzy: Well, there’s a fit, then there’s a hissy fit, then there’s a duck fit, then there’s a DEFCON 1 dyin’ duck fit.

Darcy: That’s Caroline. She has “dyin’ duck fit” tattooed on her forehead.

Lizzy: I thought it was “666.” I really think they went too deep with the tattoo needles and did brain damage. So, I’m a landfill, huh? Very smooth, Will. You really know how to turn a girl’s head with the sweet talk.

Darcy: You make me happier than a woodpecker in a lumber yard.

Lizzy: Smooth talkin’ devil.

Darcy: When I’m with you, I’m happy as a dog with two tails.

Lizzy: (laughing) Did you find a Southern Sayings app for your phone? You’re adorable when you talk Southern.

Y'all ain't right

Darcy: You said to talk Southern to you. I aim to please.

Lizzy: Your aim’s real good, too. I might have to keep you.

Darcy: That’s what I’m aimin’ for. Your shoulder fits right into my armpit when we’re standing up and I put my arm around you. We were meant to be.


Lizzy: It’s a sign from heaven, all right. I always look for shoulder-armpit compatibility in my relationships. Lucky I’m so short.

Darcy: Darlin’, you’re not short. You’re fun-sized.

Lizzy: Y’all ain’t right.

Honorable Men – Husbands

My Mr. Knightley

My Mr. Knightley

My husband is an honorable man. He is faithful, hardworking, honest, funny, talented, intelligent, handsome, kind, humble, compassionate, and lovable. He’s known throughout the community as a dependable, pleasant person who will readily help those in need. He’s also read the Austen novels, and he watches all the film variations with me, quoting fluently. He’s handy, too. If he can’t fix it, throw it away. He has always been a wonderful husband and a superb father to our daughters.

However, he does have one fault; he’s not a good gift giver. For Christmas, he gave me an alternator for my car and had it serviced. Not exactly a ten on the romance meter. (Rest easy, ladies. I bought my own Christmas presents from him and put them under the tree. He also bought me a few more presents when he saw that I was less than thrilled. I received a portable battery charger for my phone. (Now that’s romantic, right?) In short, I married Mr. Knightley, not Mr. Darcy.

The Mr. Knightleys

The Mr. Knightleys

Mr. Knightley is a great favorite of mine, obviously. He does what is right; he does his duty. He’s down-to-earth and sensible. In short, it’s possible that after 38 years of marriage, he could give Emma an alternator for Valentine’s Day and wonder why she isn’t thrilled. It’s also probable that after he realizes she’s disappointed, he would choose another gift, just like my Mr. Knightley did (and he might make the same mistake again in going for practicality over romance).

That’s fine with me. I’d rather have an honorable Mr. Knightley than a romantic Frank Churchill any day.

Good news for bacon lovers!

Perhaps Austen was onto something when she had Emma Woodhouse send Mrs. and Miss Bates a hindquarter of pork. One of my favorite lines belongs to Miss Bates as she exclaims to Emma, “What a happy porker it must have come from!” She then shrieks at her hearing-impaired mama, “PORK, Mother!”

This is Australian National Bacon Week, and it occurs to me that Ponce de Leon could have saved himself a great deal of time and expense spent searching for the Fountain of Youth. The secret to long life probably lolled happily in a mud hole on a nearby farm. (Hence the old saying, “Happy as a pig in slop.”)



According to the Huffington Post, a 105-year-old Texas woman says the secret to her longevity is bacon. She became a widow at age 38, reared 7 children alone, and worked as everything from a cotton picker to a hay baler. I’m not surprised that she didn’t credit her long life to getting plenty of sleep.

“I love bacon. I eat it everyday,” Pearl Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC when asked her secret to living so long. “I don’t feel as old as I am. That’s all I can say.”

I admire this woman, a great-great-grandmother who still enjoys country dancing, waltzing, and two-stepping, and who kept mowing her own lawn until the age of 100.

When Oscar Mayer heard about Pearl’s love of cured pork, they sent one of its Wienermobiles to her home with a special bacon delivery. She rode “shot-bun” in the Wienermobile through her hometown.

I’m stopping short of advocating that our readers follow Mrs. Cantrell’s example. Most doctors would advise people to avoid the high-fat meat. Even so, I’m also not a person who thinks people should give up foods that they absolutely love. Perhaps moderation is the key?

Mr. Knightley and Winner #2

Mark Strong/Mr. Knightley

As many of you guessed, the actor who inspired wails in the tiniest actresses in Emma was Mark Strong/Mr. Knightly.  Perhaps that experience is why he has since played villains!

Several of you expressed dissatisfaction with Mssr. Strong as Emma’s Mr. Knightly, but I confess I like him the best and perhaps for the same reasons some have called him “stern,” though I never saw it. Well, actually, yes I have, and his characterization (or his director’s) rang true to me…much more so than Jeremy Northam’s version. When Strong’s Knightly says, “Badly done, Emma, badly done!” the weight of his censure is heavy, indeed. On the other hand, but in likewise seriousness, we have his portrayal of concern for Harriet’s shunning at the ball. Here is a man who feels his duties deeply and performs them from a tender heart. I just thought Mark Strong did that beautifully and conveyed throughout his patient love for Emma and desire for her real ‘improvement” in ways unplumbed by subsequent actors. I don’t know how he feels about his work in Emma, but I think it a highlight of his career. I can’t say that I’ve seen him in anything since that even came close! IMHO of course!

Naturally, these opinions beg the question of what Austen was meaning to portray in the person of Mr. Knightly. Peter Leithart, a Fellow of Theology and Literature at New Saint Andrews College, has named Emma, as “Perhaps the most Christian novel Austen wrote:

Emma is concerned with the relations of charity and truth: it is about “speaking the truth in love,” or  more precisely, about truth-speaking as the path to love. Everyone around Emma flatters her, admires her, and generally regards her as a perfect specimen of womanhood. Only Mr. Knightly sees her as the flawed young women she really is, and only he tells her so, often in very blunt terms. Mr. Knightly is the right man for Emma precisely because he speaks truth.”  Later in his essay he states: “Knightly is the guide (to community through charity and by speaking truth) here, the savior who delivers Emma from her own folly and at the same time ensures the survival of the community of neighbors in Highbury”

Sound like Mark Strong’s Knightly? To those of you who would like to read Leithart’s essays on the rest of Austen’s novels, please get yourself a copy of Miniatures & Morals. You are in for a treat! After all, his first chapter is entitled “Real Men Read Austen.”

View at Austen Emporium

So…drum roll…the winner of a copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It! , signed by moi, is in the mail to Stephanie Carrico. Thank you to all who entered and keep up with my thoughts here at Jane Started It! or at Traipsing After Jane


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