To celebrate Jane Austen’s 200th anniversary of publishing Mansfield Park, we are having a full week of a special theme “After Austen”. For over 200 hundred years, fans have delighted in Jane Austen books and even added their own special touches to it. To kick off the week, Katie Oliver stopped in for a chat to discuss her books. Let’s start with my review of Prada and Prejudice.
Prada and Prejudice is loosely based on Sense and sensibility. There are familiar themes and even some familiar character and names, but the rest is all Katie Oliver’s wonderful imagination.
The book starts off with Natalie, who is heir to a failing department store and London socialite. Spending more money than she can ever hope to make, her grandfather puts her to work on the sales counter.
After being dumped by her train wreck of a rock star boyfriend, she meets Rhys Gordon. I’d say more like ran into Rhys. Rhys was called in to save the store and as soon as he met Natalie, it was handbags at dawn.
It is love/hate relationship between Rhys and Natalie, with a sexual tensions you can not miss. Rhys has this stoic Scottish thing, that is totally irresistable. He manages to tell Natalie off a few times but in such a charming way, you could almost see a glint in his eye.
It is a glitzy world of “WAGs and Eurotrash” that is so recognizable as real life but so detached from our own life, that it makes the book pure escapism.
Katie Oliver adds so much humour that I found myself laughing out loud . The book really is a light-hearted romp. It is filled with designer labels, stroppy fashion designers and iconic London locations – It made me feel as if I was actually there.
Natalie’s grandfather reminded me of Mr. Grace from “Are you being served?” and whenever I pictured the declining Department store, I always thought of Grace Brothers.
With financial whiz kid Rhys Gordon on the case, and with Natalie’s help they get things off the ground. Things escalate between them and it gets very steamy.
Prada and Prejudice isn’t just a book, it is an adventure. There is intrigue, blackmail, buried secrets, and back stabbing. There are quite a few bombshells along the way and you will be kept in the action right to the very end. You don’t have to be a fan of Austen’s to appreciate this fresh, funny and exhilarating romance.
Also by Katie Oliver:
Holly James is looking for her big break. A young journalist for BritTEEN magazine, she is dying to write about something more meaningful than pop stars and nail varnish. So when she spots a homeless teenager outside the office, she feels compelled to tell her story. But her evil boss Sasha has other ideas…
Holly is sent to interview a city solicitor she has never heard of. But Alex Barrington turns out to be the very opposite of fusty and boring and Holly’s interest struggles to stay strictly professional!
With Sasha sabotaging her every move, and her story about teens on the street leading her into London’s dark underworld, Holly is chasing both love and success at the same time. But happy endings like that only happen in books don’t they…?
NEW RELEASE ON MARCH 3rd 2014:
Gemma Astley has succeeded where so many others have failed. She has somehow managed to tame tearaway rock star Dominic Heath and stop his womanising ways for good. But just as they find happiness, Dominic’s secret aristocratic past becomes public knowledge, and jeopardises everything.
Dominic is actually Rupert Locksley, heir of Mansfield House, a crumbling stately home that needs major financial investment to save it from ruin.
Dominic’s mother pleads for his help, but his father, the Earl, is on the verge of disinheriting him. Meanwhile Dominic’s new status as Mansfield’s long-lost heir attracts the
attention of cut-throat socialite Bibi Matchington-Alcester, who means to make him hers at any cost.
Gemma and Dominic will need to test the strength of their foundations – as well as those of Mansfield House – if either are to remain standing.
Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Katie Oliver.
The Mysterious Death of Jane Austen Episode 1 of 5
- 15 minutes
- First broadcast: Monday 24 February 2014
Twenty-six years have passed since the death of Jane Austen. Armed with a lock of Austen’s hair as perhaps her best clue, Anne Sharp, former governess to the Austen family and Jane’s close friend, has decided at least to tell her story-a story of family intrigues, shocking secrets, forbidden loves, and maybe even murder.
Upon its publication in the UK, Lindsay Ashford’s fictional interpretation of the few facts surrounding Jane Austen’s mysterious death sparked an international debate and uproar. None of the medical theories offers a satisfactory explanation of Jane Austen’s early demise at the age of 41. Could it be that what everyone has assumed was a death by natural causes was actually more sinister? Lindsay Ashford’s vivid novel delves deep into Austen’s world and puts forth a shocking suggestion-was someone out to silence her?
Andrew Davies, who has a phenomenal track record in adaptation, has collaborated with Eileen Horne in recent years, first as writer and producer on a new TV version of Room with a View (2007) and as writer and editor on The Purple Land for Radio 4 (2011).
Written by Lindsay Ashford Adapted by Eileen Horne and Andrew Davies
For many of us, Emma Thompson’s 1995 film is the version we most identify with. There were a lot of great actors such as Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Greg Wise. Emma Thompson later married fellow Greg Wise- Lucky girl!
Each of us has our favourite Darcy, but who is your favourite your favourite Col. Brandon? For me it is David Morrissey from the 2008 television adaptions. I asked Janet Gover author of Flight to Coorah Creek, and was featured last week in two articles and reviews- Who was her Austen hunk? She is a big Alan Rickman fan, so for her it is him every time. I have to admit, he does look very dashing .
There have been many adaptions over the years and each of them have their own merits. I found a television version from 1981 that features Tracey Childs of Howard’s way fame and babe of her day.
Now what we have all be waiting for my exclusive interview with Katie Oliver:
EPBR: Will there be anymore Dating Mr. Darcy books after “Mansfield Lark“?
KO: I’m currently furiously scribbling away on a new story featuring Natalie and Rhys, Gemma and Dominic, and a couple of brand new characters. The book is set in a small village in the Scottish Highlands.
It’s just before Christmas, and a blizzard has brought everyone together at Draemar Castle, the ancestral home of Natalie’s friend Tarquin Campbell. There’s conflict – Gemma is insisting that Dominic set a wedding date, now – and newly-married Natalie wants to have a baby straight away, but Rhys is adamant that they should wait.
Add in a mysterious groundskeeper, a female guest who isn’t quite what she seems, and a family secret, and you have the makings of…well, I can’t reveal the title just yet. But I promise, it’ll be a fabulous read!
EPBR: What else are you working on and how is it different?
KO: I have a couple of other books on the back burner, each featuring an American heroine and a sexy European hero. The first book is set in Baltimore, Maryland, and features an Irish-American family. Shauna has a brand new degree. But jobs are few and far between, and she’s returned home to work in the family’s sports bar, waiting tables until she finds something better.
When Declan Quinn comes in with a rowdy group of Irish rugby players, Shauna’s life is turned completely upside down…
The second book takes place in Manhattan. Lauren is an art director who falls for the sexy Italian barista who owns the coffee shop around the corner. Their chemistry is through the roof. But will Luca’s secret stop their romance in its tracks before it even gets started?
These books are different from my others (Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark), in that they’re set in the USA, not the UK; but they still promise to be fun, romantic, page-turning reads. That will never change!
EPBR: Which is your favourite Jane Austen Book?
KO: Oh, unquestionably Pride and Prejudice. I never tire of the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. My heart aches for Elizabeth, who believes herself cruelly snubbed early on by Mr Darcy; but I feel even more for Darcy himself, who comes across as snobbish and judgmental, despite the fact that he’s a fine and honourable man who gradually grows to love Elizabeth with all his heart.
I love Emma, too – because even though Emma Woodhouse is a terrible snob and an incorrigible busybody, I can’t help but root for her, as she always means well. As most busybodies usually do…
EPBR: Which is your favourite Jane Austen film, and it can also be an after, like Bridget Jones?
KO: Oh, how can I pick anything but Bridget Jones?
Colin Firth as handsome-but-stuffy lawyer Mark Darcy is comedic perfection, and Renee Zellweger as Bridget…well, she’s hilarious and she gets it exactly right. Add Hugh Grant as the office sleaze, Daniel Cleaver, and you’ve got a perfect, funny film. The blue soup…the granny knickers…the Tarts and Vicars party that isn’t, actually…who will ever forget those scenes?
EPBR: Which actor makes your Darcy?
KO: Colin Firth. He’s number one. That white shirt…that pond…that damp, manly chest…LOL!
Coming in at a very close second, however, is Matthew Macfadyen. In fact, I prefer the film with Matthew and Keira Knightley over the BBC miniseries (although it’s very good, too).
Please visit the Facebook site for other Austen themed books and links. Tomorrow we have more treats in store, but for now I will leave you with a Vicar of Dibley Sense and sensibility joke.