A Present for Saint Valentine’s Day: The Most Romantic Letters You’ll Ever Read

When I met my husband, thirty-five years ago, we lived in different countries. I was living in London, while he lived in Spain. At the time, long distance phone calls were very expensive, so they were infrequent. For over two years, except during the holidays, which we spent together, he wrote me a letter almost every day. We probably would never have stayed together, or married, if it hadn’t been for those, literally hundreds, of letters.

A real, full length love letter, not a text message or a printed inscription in a card, is the most romantic gift you can give someone you love. In case you’re looking for inspiration, here are two passionate letters that will warm your hearts 🙂

The most romantic letter in English Literature is Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot in Persuasion:

You pierce my soul

I was irreverent and bold enough to dare to be inspired by Jane Austen and write a similarly passionate love letter in my novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. It was written anonymously, by Michael (did I tell you he’s partly influenced by Captain Wentworth, especially in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall) to the (almost) widowed Jane Eyre (Mrs. Rochester). 

This is the most romantic fictional letter I’ve ever written.

Letter

 

Have you written a fictional romantic letter?

Feel free to copy and paste in the comments or post the link. I’d love to read it 🙂

Characters, New and Used

2 days to book launch

I met Norah Colvin some months ago in the Blogging Universe. She is an enthusiastic teacher, writer, and an informative and supportive blogger. Please look up her thought-provoking blog. We usually bump into each other writing Flash Fiction at Carrot Ranch.

Yesterday, Norah asked me a question, which has triggered this post.

Norah’s question.

It is quite an interesting thing to take characters from a well-known book and place them into a different situation with other characters. You’ve probably shared it elsewhere, but I wonder why you chose to do this rather than introduce totally new characters.

There are three answers to this question: The long answer, for those who want to get to know me better. The intermediate answer, for those who want a concise, non-rambling reply, and the short answer, for those who really busy and have no time for nonsense!

The Long answer is especially for Norah, because I know that when she asks a question, she wants and deserves a proper answer!

Long Answer:

When I started dabbling with writing novels, many years ago, I realized I kept writing about myself and people who were close to me, but I didn’t want to do that, so I stopped writing novels and wrote diaries instead.

More recently, I decided I needed to express my creativity by writing a novel, but I wanted to make sure I wrote about other ‘invented’ people, not myself, or anyone I knew personally. I was teaching Postcolonial Literature at the time to Undergraduates. One of the topics we dealt with was related to 20th century writers ‘writing back’ to ‘colonial’ or 19th century writers. Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, were on the agenda. I became fascinated with the topic. I have written a chapter in an academic book titled: Sexuality and Gender relations in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea (I’ll be writing a post on that soon).Please don’t even think of buying it. It is ridiculously priced. If anyone wants to read my article, just let me know.

Identities on the move cover

There are other posts on this blog related to the madwoman in the attic and postcolonial and feminist literary criticism which you may like to have a look at, if you are interested in the topic. Madwoman in the Attic Part I and Madwoman in the Attic Part II

When I started my three-part sequel to Jane Eyre, my plan was to expose Rochester as a tyrant and revindicate Bertha Mason as his victim. I am sure that Jane Eyre would have become another victim, given a few years, which is what happens in my novel.

I also wanted to make sure that amends would be made, so Bertha’s daughter (my creation) would be reinstated, and Jane would find happiness and lasting love, with another man (my creation). That’s what I set out to do and what I’ve accomplished with The Eyre Hall Trilogy (the final instalment, book 3, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, is well on its way!).

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is meant as a tribute to Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Robert Browning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Thomas de Quincey, C. S. Forrester, Daphne du Maurier, Jean Rhys, George Elliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, and so many more 19th and 20th century authors whose works are firmly lodged in my literary mind.

You pierce my soul

From Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s, Peruasion.

 

Their works and literary personas are interwoven in my novel as characters and events. For example, I have used some of Charlotte Bronte’s characters, reinventing them a generation later.

Most of the characters I have invented are based on characters created by other writers, or they are based on real writers’ lives. In some instances I’ve changed their names. For example, Robert Browning is the inspiration for Mr. Greenwood. Jenny Rosset is based on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem Jenny. The portrayal of the use and abuse of opium is based on de Quincey’s Diary of an Opium Eater. Jane’s first novel is based on Rebecca.

Michael is a complex character who is a mixture of characters. He has part of Hornblower by C. S. Forester, ‘Pip’ in Great Expectations, and Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Charles Dickens appears as a character in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. Dr. Carter has learnt his techniques of criminal investigation from Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson. Annette Mason and her background are based on Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Jane quotes Lord Tennyson. I could go on, but I’ll let you look out for more influences.

Rossetti by William Holm Hunt

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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The first page of his poem, Jenny.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t pick this up. I’ve created an intertextual and diachronic mélange in my mind, which I have translated into a trilogy. I don’t want my readers to analyse my literary influences and background. I want readers to enjoy an exciting and mysterious, Victorian, gothic romance.

Eyre Hall  Trilogy

Finally, I’ll admit it, Norah. I’m an irreverent, daring, and provocative writer who looks to her favourite writers for inspiration. Please don’t be mad at me, I’ve done it because I love all these wonderful writers, and I can’t get them out of my mind or my writing.

***

Intermediate answer.

How many versions are there of Anthony and Cleopatra? Romeo and Juliet? Troilus and Cressida? Shakespeare’s weren’t the first, either. Most writers look to historical, literary and mythological characters for inspiration. I’m not the first, and I’m sure I won’t be the last writer to use ‘real’ or ‘fictional’ characters from other sources.

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” Eugene Delacroix

There’s always more to a great work of art than meets the eye. Rereadings, reinterpretations, and rewritings are enriching and pay tribute to the original works and authors.

I’ve written a post about sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings, and writing back, which deals with this topic in greater depth.

***

Short answer.

Why not?

 

Kandisnky quote

***

So, what do you think about ‘used’ characters, is it OK to reuse them?

Letter J The April A to Z Blogging Challenge #AtoZChallenge

April Author Spotlight 2015

J

Letter ‘J’ is for Regina Jeffers author of Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion

 

Why do I recommend Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion?

I loved every minute I spent reading this novel. The author retells, explains and moves Jane Austen’s Persuasion on to the next stage, in a way the original author never did. Regina Jeffers masterfully uncovers the fears, prejudice, and immaturity which led to Anne and Frederick’s first separation, as we are at last able to look inside the characters’ minds, and understand the misery and turmoil they went through during their first separation and second meeting years later. There is plenty of conversation and telling instead of showing, as the tension builds and their relationship slowly unfolds. All the diverse characters also come to life; Wentworth’s crew and his loving family, are portrayed in stark contrast to Anne’s arrogant and conceited sisters and their families. You needn’t have read Jane Austen’s novel to enjoy reading this wonderfully written historical romance, with a compelling plot, and impeccably drawn characters. A masterpiece.

 CFWP Crop1

What is your novel about, Regina?

Have you ever read a book and thought, “I wonder what happened when the main characters are apart? Did they think of each other? What kept them apart?” That is what the reader discovers in Captain Frederick Wentworths Persuasion. This book takes Jane Austen’s classic “Persuasion” and retells it from Captain Wentworth’s point of view. Wentworth and Anne Elliot were apart for eight years. We know Anne’s tale, but what of the gentleman? How did Wentworth go about forgetting the greatest love of his life? How did his pride get in the way when he encounters Anne again? What happens AFTER the “happily ever after”?

What are you working on now?

It is rare when I am not writing. I carry a notebook with me to doctor’s appointments, book events, etc. Otherwise, the stories claim my restorative sleep, and I am NOT a good person without my sleep. I have 5 stories coming out in 2015. The first is the conclusion to my “Realm” series. “A Touch of Emerald” will bring readers the answer to the missing emerald, as well as showing the Realm members in a new light.

I recently signed a contract with Black Opal Books for my next Regency romance, which will be called “Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep.” It is a sweet Regency. As soon as I finish reworking the ending of “A Touch of Emerald,” then I plan to start a sequel to “Angel,” which I am tentatively calling “The Earl Finds His Comfort.” I hope that happens soon for the idea for this one is bouncing around in my head and driving me a bit batty.

In addition to the Regency titles, I also write Austenesque novels, which is what Luccia is featuring today. As such, last week, I signed a contract with Pegasus Books for “The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin,” a Pride and Prejudice cozy mystery. This is my fourth such mystery, and they are widely popular in the JAFF community. Luccia will be happy to know that Captain Wentworth makes an appearance at the end of this new novel, and there are plans for a sequel to CFWP.

Finally, I am venturing into the Austen variation model, something I have not attempted before. For those who do not understand the “variation” format, the author changes one event in the original Austen story line, which changes everything. Even so, I still like my Austen characters to act as close to the original as possible and attempt to keep Darcy and Elizabeth “real.”

In “Mr. Darcy’s Fault,” Elizabeth has an accident will walking through Rosings Park after receiving Mr Darcy’s letter. She loses the letter Darcy pressed into her hand, and Mr. Wickham finds it. What will Wickham do with the letter to take more revenge on Darcy?

In “Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception,” Darcy does not approach Elizabeth and the Gardiners at Pemberley when he arrives home early to find them touring his home. Later, when Elizabeth calls a second time asking for Darcy’s assistance in locating Wickham and Lydia, Darcy makes the assumption that Elizabeth’s fondness for Mr. Wickham led Elizabeth into a compromised situation. Can Darcy deliver Elizabeth into Mr. Wickham’s hands or is there another solution?

Regina-270x300

Question 3. What would you like readers to know about you?

Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Jane-Austen inspired novels/mysteries, as well as Regency romances. A master teacher, for thirty-nine years, Regina passionately taught thousands of students English in the public schools of West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. Yet, “teacher” does not define her as a person. Ask any of her students or her family, and they will tell you Regina is passionate about so many things: her son, children in need, truth, responsibility, veterans, history, the value of a good education, words, music, dance, the theatre, pro football, classic movies, the BBC, track and field, books, books, and more books. Regina is an Anglophile who is equally at home with those saying, “Let this be so, and doubt not but success will fashion the event in better shape,” as well as with those who say, “kin’t carry a tune in a bucket” or “Jist because ye find them in the oven, don’t make them biscuits.”

How can we find out more or contact you?

My Website  

Blogs “Every Woman Dreams”  

“Austen Authors” 

“English Historical Fiction Authors”

Amazon

Twitter @reginajeffers

Pinterest Regina Jeffers  

Goodreads Regina Jeffers  

Also join Regina on Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

Please take some time to check out some of the other blogs on the A-Z Challenge. There are plenty of interesting and varied topics. 

 

Book Review: Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers.

You Pierce My Soul, Captain Wentworth

Persuasion, Jane Eyre, and Rebecca have been my favourite novels since I first read them as a teenager. I have reread them dozens of times since then, and although there are many others I reread regularly, too many to mention now, none are as dear to my heart and my mind as the former three.

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Title page of the original 1818 edition

I already confessed in an earlier post that My Ideal Fictional Hero is undoubtedly Captain Wentworth. To quote myself:

The most faithful and dashing fictional hero has to be Jane Austen’s Captain Wentworth, in Persuasion, he proposed to Anne Elliot, but he was rejected because her family thought he wasn’t good enough. Wentworth returned to Bath, nine years later, supposedly in search of a wife, but really he was out to impress Anne again, and impress her he did with his letter, because he’s also the greatest writer of love letters in English literature, saying things like, ‘you pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.’ and ‘Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.’ 

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I love rereading, because every time I reread a book is a new experience. I always discover something new between the lines, or feel differently about characters or events. However, the last time I reread Persuasion, a few months ago, I was disappointed. I found the first half of the book had far too much ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’. I also found parts of the dialogue ‘stiff’ with long drawn out ‘speeches’ instead of a more natural interaction between the characters. Finally, what displeased me most was the lack of introspection of the characters, especially the men, and specifically Wentworth.

We all imagine what he’s thinking, but we are never able to glimpse inside his mind, except for a few brief but powerful minutes when we read Frederick’s letter, in which he literally pours out his heart and his mind to Anne. From those brief words, I recreated his inner turmoil, integrity, loyalty, and passion, but alas, Jane Austen gave us very little information.

When I came across Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers, just a few days ago, on twitter, I couldn’t resist reading. I was curious when I read the title and then the blurb: The love affair behind Jane Austen’s classic, Persuasion, rests at the heart of this retelling from Captain Frederick Wentworth’s point of view.

Could the author have captured the essence of my hero and retold the story from his point of view successfully? Could she have clarified what Jane Austen did not fully describe?

The answer is, yes, she did. I loved every minute I spent reading this novel, and I felt very upset when I finished, although it has become one of my personal classics, so I’m sure I’ll be rereading it, too.

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Ms. Jeffers explains many things which Ms Austen didn’t. She uncovers the fears, prejudice, and immaturity which led to Anne and Frederick’s first separation. Anne was only 19, the same age Jane Eyre was when she married Rochester, practically a teenager by contemporary standards. Her father and godmother advised her against the marriage, so she might have been afraid to leave everything and everyone she knew behind, and travel in a war ship with her husband.

Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion starts at sea. Anne and Frederick are married and both living on a frigate during the Napoleonic Wars. When Wentworth is gravely wounded, during his delirious recovery, he recalls his first meeting with Anne, their brief courtship, and her family’s disapproval. He then remembers what happened nine years after Anne turned down his proposal. Wentworth returned to Bath as a wealthy war hero, while Anne’s family’s fortune had diminished, although her father retained his baronetcy and his pompous airs.

At first Frederick feigned indifference towards Anne, and pretended to flirt with Louisa Musgrove. We understand his misery, as he gradually realises it is Anne Elliot whom he still loves.

There is plenty of conversation and telling instead of showing, as the tension builds and their relationship slowly unfolds. The rest of the diverse characters also come to life. Members of Wentworth’s crew, Wentworth’s brother and sister and their loving family, are portrayed in stark contrast to Anne’s arrogant and conceited sisters and their families.

But the best is yet to come. Once Ms. Jeffers has arrived at the final point of Ms Austen’s novel, she moves the story on, and towards the end of the novel, a surprisingly complex political plot unfolds including the intervention of the Prince Regent.

I was devastated when the novel ended. I needed more!

Fortunately, Ms Jeffers has informed me that in her next novel, The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, we will encounter Rear Admiral Wentworth once again. Personally, I can’t wait.

If you loved Persuasion, read it, you will love it. If you haven’t read Persuasion, read it, too, you will discover Anne and Frederick’s love story from a contemporary perspective, and then, if you like, read Persuasion! In any case, if you enjoy reading well-written historical romance, with a good plot, and wonderful characters, you’ll enjoy Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion.

Check it out on Amazon UK

Check it out on Amazon US

Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Today’s Prompt: For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. Today’s twist: If you’re up for a twist, go long — experiment with longform and push yourself to write more than usual.

 

Prized Possessions and Gifts received

I have a problem with the word ‘things’ in our last assignment, you see, I’ve never been very fond of ‘things’, so I don’t have a favourite thing that’s been with me long enough to value.

I don’t like jewellery, and I have no heirlooms. I don’t keep clothes, or objects, once I’ve used them, either. Of course, there are things which are very useful, and that I’d miss, like my smartphone, or my laptop, but I wouldn’t say I’m emotionally attached to these objects.

The only ‘things’ I value are my books, but I hasten to add, I don’t care much for the books themselves, especially now that of many of them are ebooks. It’s what the book has given me that I carry around with me all the time, as a gift.

I’m not sure I’d be the same person if I hadn’t read the books I’ve read. In fact, I have no doubts that they conditioned the way I think and, of course, the way I write, and live.

I’ve read too many books to even try to mention, so I’ll write about the three books I read as a teenager, and continue to reread to this very day. I reread them so often, that I’m sure they are my most-prized possessions.

large-bookshelf.jpgSmall Bookshelf

The first book is Rebecca, the second is Persuasion, and the third is Jane Eyre. The three are ‘Happy Ever After’ novels, in which the lovers have to overcome serious obstacles in order to finally achieve happiness, but what is the lesson I have carried with me as a precious gift since I first read them as a teenager?

The nameless protagonist in Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Anne Elliot, fall in love with an ‘ideal’ hero, but they must overcome significant obstacles, including first wives, and parental opposition, in order to achieve their goals. They all improve their station in life, by marrying men (Max de Winter, Edward Rochester, and Frederick Wentworth, respectively) who are able to offer emotional and financial stability, as well as unreserved love and devotion.

I was born several generations after these women, so naturally, my goals are not theirs. I didn’t have to find an ideal husband to live the life I wanted, so what did they teach me? You may suppose these novels are about marrying the ‘right’ man and living happily ever after. Well, that’s not the gift I received.

I learnt two things from these wonderful women. Firstly, perseverance. Never give up on our dreams, and pursue them with honestly and determination. Secondly, second chances will come our way. There is always an opportunity to start again, or to do what we always wanted to do. It’s never too late, and our dreams can come true if you continue to believe in them, and in ourselves.

These novels are not about finding an ideal husband. They are about not being resigned to follow the ‘easy’ or ‘predesigned’ route we can all drift into, and later complain of what could have been, but never happened, because we gave up. They are about believing in ourselves and working towards our goals.

I’m determined and persevering, and a bit of a dreamer, too, and I’m sure that’s due to this wonderful gift I received forty years ago, as I turned the pages of these inspiring books, and I still carry it with me today.

book-gifts

Would you like to read some of the other entries?

Writing 101, Day Five: The Letter.

Today’s prompt (well, yesterday’s I’m overdue!): You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

The sun stroked my cheeks as I sank lazily on the deck chair at the Bankside Café, facing Richmond Park. I indulged in this small luxury every Friday, before checking in at the library. As I sipped my cappuccino, a grey weightless bubble caught my attention, rolling along the pavement. The torn page, which had been crumpled furiously into a ball, and discarded carelessly onto the floor, stopped by my surprised feet. I unraveled it and read the highlighted words…

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.’ I gasped, trying to shock my lungs back to work, before continuing, ‘I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.’ My heart was now racing uncontrollably, ‘Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.’ I wiped away the tear that burst out of my eye, while I read the rest of the message, ‘Call me’, followed by nine numbers firmly engraved over the typewritten words on the back of the page.

End of the 101 Challenge.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-five/ Why not have a look at the other entries?

 

The letter quoted in this entry is one of the most famous love letters in English literature. It was written by Captain Wentworth to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion, written in August 1816, a year before she died, and published posthumously in 1818.

Persuasion has a simple plot, although there are important subplots. Frederick Wentworth is a brave, handsome and wealthy captain, who has returned from maritime victories in the Napoleonic Wars. He is staying with his sister and brother-in-law, who have leased Kellynch Hall, which was estate owned by the family of Anne Elliot, who had broken their engagement eight years earlier. He publicly declares that he is ready to marry a suitable young lady, creating great expectations among the marriageable women of Bath.

Jane Austen, who died the year before Queen Victoria was born, is one of the best-loved authors of romantic fiction involving the landed gentry of the early 19th century. ‘Persuasion’ refers to the pressures employed by society on women regarding love and marriage, and deals with the conflicts they face between free will, duty and responsibility.

I will be writing a fuller review called ‘Rereading Persuasion’, soon, meanwhile here’s the whole letter, which I hope will encourage you to read this wonderful novel.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never incon¬stant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent crea¬ture! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W-