An ad hoc tête-à-tête between Lady A~ and her fashionable friends that will embrace all things engaging and vexing in each of her Bath Novels. She will arrange her politic and impolitic tatter (musings) on these to both please and provoke. Indeed, it is here that such a lady might employ the sharpest nib of her most ‘political’ pen! Note to Ladeites: Lady A~ shall never ‘tweet’‚ she shall only ‘tat’!
T-A-T‚ THE THIRD
Dearest Fellow Formidables‚
My first child’s ‘coming out’ was pertinently timed to coincide with the year celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jane’s Sense and Sensibility‚ and now my second child sees her launch date just in advance of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s passing in 1817‚ and after her 241st birthday. Such is the pertness of pertinence! But what of this coincidence? As we look upon the joys of Jane and all she has delighted us with since the landmark of her death‚ what would be a ‘pertinent’ tribute to such A~ prodigy?
As I embarked on the venture of this second Bath Novel‚ I was greatly attracted to the story of Jane. So much has been made of it: the facts have been woven into biopics, or fiction has been applied to the facts in both novels and film. In all of these depictions and renderings‚ Jane has been through all the versions of herself and has even gone on to an extended life and married! All very bewitching‚ but looking at her short but eventful life and its history‚ it troubled me somehow to turn Jane into an undisguised character in her own story. Dare I say sacrilegious?
The conundrum then‚ was to create a story out of all of the stories collected around her‚ both from her unmatched creations and the things she drew creativity from‚ as if Jane had taken up the pen to write an indulgence for herself‚ for her friends—& for her enemies. Certainly it isn’t enough to turn Jane into the ‘Miss Austen’ of her own story; there will—there must always be a feeling of dissatisfaction in tampering with her memory‚ and‚ if she were given the task‚ no doubt disguise would have been her primary weapon—alongside her pen. Indeed‚ how many have not conjectured that Jane wrote herself and her connections into the characters of her six celebrated novels?
The result of such debate and the temptation of weaving Jane’s life and work into a story that solved this conundrum‚ and to most fittingly coincide with the bicentenary of this beloved prodigy’s passing very soon became‚ The Amiable Cassandra. In it Miss Jane Austen was transformed into Miss Cassandra Ashton-Dennis so that literary license could literally breathe new life into the ‘old’ and create the possible out of the impossible in true suspension of disbelief. In the bewitching character of ‘Cassandra’‚ Jane could figuratively deliver a story more fulfilling about her encounters in love‚ her hopes of the marriage state‚ her inspired imaginings and every high and low event that would influence all three. That Jane Austen’s life was an eventful one cannot be doubted‚ and that it might have been something more‚ if it were not for her premature passing‚ cannot but be desired.
To such satisfying end then‚ do I invite all Janeites to open their minds and consider the possibilities of such a plot. Moreover‚ do I invite them to pass through TBNLA’s portal of infinite possibility and directly experience it for themselves in the enchantments of The Amiable Cassandra.
Indeed‚ enter the very Regency mirror-microcosm of this ‘alternate Jane universe’ as if ‘All the world’s a stage’ and all the Austens and their connections are ‘players’ in it. I wager Miss Jane Austen herself should not have been shy of any stage of such a remarkable journey...
Believe me‚ fond friends‚ yours most affectionately‚ in disguise‚
Lady A~’s Pocket-book‚ 27th October‚ 2016
I should have been well pleased‚ if after so long a time of my pen lying fallow‚ I should have rid myself of my severest critics Sophia & Selina. As it is‚ I think they will not be able to make head or tail of my second novel creation. And which is it exactly‚ if I were to have the duo of wretches better informed? Where does Miss Cassandra Ashton-Dennis begin and where does Miss Jane Austen end? Is it fiction or fact? Or is The Amiable Cassandra a work which permits the one to look into the world of the other and simply reflect on it? Something perhaps like Mary Crawford’s view of a shrubbery alongside the Doge’s impression of a palace‚ perhaps? And‚ it is no wonder then‚ that S & S will find my heroine‚ the pertly perspicacious Cassandra‚ very comfortable in a shrubbery‚ while not finding anything remarkable in it that at all.
Such will be lot of my heroine and that of her family‚ friends & enemies. A gifted writer living quite commodiously in the Regency‚ exercising her gift about the throng passing through and by her country cottage‚ whilst ambling in and out of doors in a neighborhood quite full of spies—and surprises. Such are the facts of this fiction for the likes of S & S. That they should then imagine a hero who represents the likes of Lefroy and the best of the Austen Bucks. A gentleman who has a fine white mount and sets young girls’ and ladies’ hearts alight alike. Indeed Mr. John Lascelles is a ‘dazzling’ comet who has been especially penned as a most equitable equal to Miss Jane’s reflection in fiction.
But what of this story of love? S & S will not know what to make of it because unlike so many narratives that have gone before‚ it draws on fact but transpires entirely in fiction. The possibilities for such an attachment‚ with such license‚ are infinitely interesting because they are as if representations of Miss Jane’s very lively imagination. Indeed‚ in her hands what would she made of such a story? The possibilities are truly infinite...
With such meditations in mind I invite those ‘severest critics’ to step into my mirror-world: to find two lovers in a world of industry and intrigue‚ where the willful independence of one challenges the onerous obligation of the other‚ so that their story of passion becomes one of perseverance and pain. An unerring love governed by material expectation and‚ at length‚ one that is challenged by an unseen foe that becomes my lovers’ most formidable adversary yet...
Dare I invite S & S to such a perplexing place? Dare I open the door to full their empty heads with the stuff of Miss Jane’s dreams? Nay‚ how could I resist? Pass this way creatures of caprice‚ Miss Cassandra Ashton-Dennis and all of her very conspiring & colorful connections await you...
Note to myself: Proffer confounded S & S A~ key!