This is a post of that came to be through some truly wonderful coincidences! Last year, a very generous Just Jane 1813 reader, who wishes to remain nameless, sent me a beautiful hardcover copy of this book to giveaway during my first “The Twelve Days of Jane” blog event. Needless to say, I was touched by her actions and delighted to discover one of my favorite JAFF authors in the process; Stephanie Barron.
Stephanie has written the highly acclaimed JAFF series titled, Being A Jane Austen Mystery, which currently includes thirteen titles. Even Oprah has taken notice of Stephanie’s talents and named her mystery series one of the “9 Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read.” That’s quite an endorsement!
Last year, I had the pleasure to review this story and learned for myself why so many readers love Stephanie’s series. These stories place us in the center of mysteries that are sure to pique our curiosities and immerse us within settings that make us feel as though we’ve been transported back in time, along with Jane Austen and her closest friends and family members. Her renditions of Jane and her supporting characters resonate with an authenticity that feels truly in sync with everything that I know about Jane Austen!
The audiobook narration by Kate Reading of this story, which can be added at a discounted price with the purchase of this ebook, is one of the best JAFF narrations I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy because I felt that Kate captured Jane’s character in a way that allowed me to feel like I was literally in the presence of Jane Austen herself! I also loved how The Vyne was used as the main setting for this story, as there is quite a bit of research surrounding Jane’s visits to this estate and the portrait of her that may have been done here during her later years.
Therefore, when I learned that Stephanie’s holiday story from this series was going on sale today for one day only at the unbelievably low price of $2.99, which is 70% off of the regular price set by the publisher, I thought it would be great to pay forward the generous gift that one of my readers offered us last year and offer a different kind of giveaway post for this story to my readers; a twelve-hour giveaway opportunity that will grow as readers comment more and more on this post over this twelve-hour period.
For every 25 reader comments on Just Jane 1813 on this post only today until 6:00 pm, ET, I will offer an ebook to giveaway of this book to my readers. So if we wind up with 100 reader comments, I’ll give away four ebooks of this story, and so on and so forth, to correspond with the number of reader comments by 6:00 pm. That’s twelve hours of comments for “Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas.”
So let’s have a lot of fun with this and comment away on this post AND share it on your social media so we can get lots of comments and lots of ebooks to giveaway!
Now, I invite the lovely Stephanie Barron to share a little holiday and birthday cheer, Jane Austen style.
Jane Austen was born on the sixteenth of December, 1775, nine days before Christmas and about half a year, give or take, before the American Declaration of Independence that would ignite a war, drawing the sons of her Hampshire neighbors far across the Atlantic in an ineffectual attempt to put down a colonial rebellion. She was born two hundred and forty-one years ago. And that fact always gives me pause, because her voice is so much a part of this moment. She was born into a world lit only by fire, as one historian has so aptly put it–born well before radio waves or the digital photographic techniques that would bring her stories to audiences the world over, in living, shifting, images as unimaginable to her as wizardry is to Muggles. She was born into an age when Death was a constant presence, a twin to every hopeful life. She was born into a nation at war, from her first breath until almost her last, forty-one years later. She was born a woman, which even she must have acknowledged in her time was a serious handicap.
And yet, her words endure. Her intelligence walks among us. Her perception of human yearning and purpose still inspires. She is a Familiar in our twenty-first century world.
I think of that first Christmas: Jane, an infant swaddled in a parsonage that was probably constantly cold; her mother lying in bed right up to Christmas day while she nursed her seventh child; Jane, probably dreaming inchoate dreams in a cradle by the side of the bed. The parsonage attic was overrun with boys, not her brothers, whose job was to be crammed by the Reverend George Austen, formerly a Fellow of Oxford and far more valuable as an instructor of Latin and Greek than as the vicar of Steventon.
I sent Jane back to that parsonage in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, along with her widowed mother and her sister, Cassandra, because I have always been intrigued by her snarky relationship with brother James, who succeeded to his father’s Steventon living and took over the family home. James’s wife, Mary Lloyd—sister to Martha Lloyd, whom all the Austen women loved—seems to have been something of a Mary Musgrove as drawn in Persuasion: lamentably self-absorbed, stunting in her conversation, constantly fancying herself ill. James comes down through the letters as Jane’s most pedantic and least favorite brother. In other words, Steventon was the usual fraught family household in which to spend Christmas.
Is it any surprise that Jane seems so modern?
But to us, her Christmas would have been anything but. Jane was born into late-Georgian England, and the Christmas traditions we Americans have inherited, adopted, and associate with England are entirely Victorian—a period that commenced well after Jane’s death. She would have experienced the Twelve Days of Christmas, a period extending from Christmas Day itself to the Eve of the Epiphany: January Fifth, or Twelfth Night, as it was known. During this period the Saturnalia reigned: a time when social class was inverted, servants ruled over masters, children over parents, and genders exchanged dress codes. The Georgian Christmas tradition descended from the Roman tradition of celebrating the Winter Solstice—by engaging in an orgy of inversion.
The peak event was the Twelfth Night Ball, usually held on the evening of January fifth, when guests appeared in masquerade. The festivities were opened by a King’s Court presided over by children cast in the chief roles—Fanny Austen Knight recounts her participation in this at Godmersham in her letters throughout her childhood. Twelfth Night Cake was a vital treat. And the adults would dance away the evening, wearing dominoes and masks—attempting to play the characters assigned them as they entered the house, often by Character Cards mass-produced by printers and sold in every bookseller’s shop, which dictated their manners and speech.
Jane is known to have played the role of Miss Candour, which required her to speak the unblemished (and thus, rude, frank and outrageous) truth to everyone she met.
It was a role perfectly designed for her.
I hope you’ll take a moment to glance at Jane’s holiday—in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas—and find new meaning in your own holiday traditions.
Thank you Stephanie, for your heartfelt recollections of Jane’s life and what her enduring legacy still means to so many people today! It’s a pleasure to have you here today not only spreading holiday cheer, but also sharing such fond insights about our beloved authoress.
Don’t forget to comment today on this post by 6:00 pm, ET, to enter the giveaway(s) for this ebook. The winner(s) will be announced today on this blog at 6:30 pm.