To Redeem or Not to Redeem Jane Austen’s Rake & Gentlemen Rogues
by Christina Boyd
I am proud to say that I have a very good eye at an Adultress, —Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 12 May 1801
Jane Austen certainly knew not only how to recognize an adulteress, she also had a remarkable talent for writing about one too; her books are filled with rakes, rattles, and rogues who made sport of toying with ladies’ hearts.
The Elizabethan period witnessed the emergence of the English rogue in fiction, when rogues were considered different from the outlaws of the Medieval Period. Unlike the outlaw, the rogue was not part of any criminal underworld, but instead, symbolized a figure that remained a part of normal society, while simultaneously believing that there was no issue with breaking the law. Perhaps we might acquit ourselves of harboring any affections for her bad boys after all.
Jane Austen even encountered gentlemen rogues in publishing. I was astounded to learn that she self-published three of four books during her lifetime. She received her first contract with a publisher for Susan, much later posthumously published as Northanger Abbey. However, that publisher did nothing with the book but allow dust to collect, and when she applied to have the rights revert to her, she was told that she must return the original ten-pound payment. At that time, she did not undertake the loss. How remarkable that two hundred years after her death, her likeness would appear on the ten-pound note!
“Mr. Murray’s letter is come. He is a rogue, of course, but a civil one. He offers £450 but wants to have the copyright of ‘Mansfield Park’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’ included. It will end in my publishing for myself, I daresay. He sends more praise, however, than I expected.” —Letter from Jane Austen to her sister, Cassandra, during her negotiations to have Murray publish Emma. —From the Forward in “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues’ by Claudine di Muzio, JASNA-NY Metro, Regional Coordinator
While she obviously did not condone the shocking behaviors that many of her contemporaries engaged in, she did know that there were at least two sides to each story. Evidenced through her body of work, she created three-dimensional characters, comprised of good and bad, strength and weakness, bravery and cowardice, and all shades in between. Though she does not fully sketch these characters, she understands all too well: How can there be light without the dark?
When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow. —Ursula K. Le Guin
This left me wondering… How did those secondary, even tertiary, characters become the men Jane Austen created? After publishing The Darcy Monologues in May 2017, an anthology of Pride and Prejudice short stories all told from Mr. Darcy’s point-of-view, rumblings began about another anthology. After a collection of stories told from Austen’s most iconic romantic hero, I was curious about her anti-heroes and assembled another gifted group of authors, giving voice to these scandalous men. Perhaps all of Austen’s bad boys are capable of redeeming themselves, and yet, they don’t. Perhaps that was her point: What makes a man a hero or the villain of the story are the choices he makes. Different choices, he becomes a different man—and maybe part of a different story.
In the spirit of Jane Austen, not all of the eleven rakes and gentlemen rogues could be redeemed in this anthology—if we were to stay true to her characterizations. Like Meredith Esparza at Austenesque Reviews says, “They can’t be like Jane Bennet and make them all good,” so I like to take a pinch from Austen herself, “…from knowing him better, his disposition was better understood.” In Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, tales are shared, secrets are revealed, and hearts are toyed with across Georgian England. I am proud and maybe a little prejudiced to have been a part of this deliciously singular collection of stories aimed to grant Austen’s other men an opportunity to unveil their side of the story as told by a reliable narrator, the rakes and rogues themselves!
André Refig is a London-based actor, singer (high baritone) and voiceover artist.
Truly bilingual, he is equally at home working in French as in English.
He is also a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, violin, accordion and guitar.
His work has taken him across the UK and Europe and has included a wide variety of different genres, from Shakespeare to new writing, Opera to modern Musicals and voice work to screen work.
ABOUT DANGEROUS TO KNOW: JANES AUSTEN’S RAKES & GENTLEMEN ROGUES
“One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” —Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there’s more than one side to their stories.
It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms … a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: “He is a cad—a brute—all wrong!” But is that not how tender hearts are broken…by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen’s anti-heroes.
Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories—a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.
What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily…but heaven help us if we marry one.
AUDIOBOOK PUBLISHING DATE: April 27, 2018
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 14 hours and 4 minutes
AMAZON, AUDIBLE, iTUNES https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Dangerous-to-Know-Jane-Austens-Rakes-Gentlemen-Rogues-Audiobook/B07CMFBVBN
PLAYLIST on Spotify
ABOUT THE NARRATOR, AUTHORS and the EDITOR:
ANDRE REFIG ANDRE REFIG is an actor, singer, and voiceover artist. Previous audiobooks include Let Me Tell You About Asperger Syndrome and Victorian Verse. Stage credits encompass musicals (Wilson Mizner in Sondheim’s Road Show, Mr. Sheinkopf in Fame, Shakespeare (Rosencrantz in Hamlet, Sebastian in Twelfth Night, children’s theatre (The Little Prince, Lily and Bear, Zeraffa Giraffa, the Old-Green Grasshopper in James and the Giant Peach, new writing (The Commercial Traveller, Macbyrd, Heresy) and operetta (covering and playing roles in several Gilbert & Sullivan shows).
CHRISTINA BOYD wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner, The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a commercial ceramicist. A life member of Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England was made possible by actor Henry Cavill when she won the Omaze experience to meet him in the spring of 2017 on the London Eye. True story. You can Google it.
KAREN M COX is an award-wining author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book, as well as an e-book novella companion to 1932, The Journey Home. She also contributed short stories for the anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and The Darcy Monologues. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.
J. MARIE CROFT is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories: “Spyglasses and Sunburns” in the Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology and “From the Ashes” in The Darcy Monologues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.
is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios. She firmly believes that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily-ever-afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.
JENETTA JAMES is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers, Lover’s Knot, as well as a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues.
LONA MANNING s the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.
CHRISTINA MORLAND spent the first two decades of her life with no knowledge whatsoever of Pride and Prejudice—or any Jane Austen novel, for that matter. She somehow overcame this childhood adversity to become a devoted fan of Austen’s works. When not writing, Morland tries to keep up with her incredibly active seven-year-old and maddeningly brilliant husband. She lives in a place not unlike Hogwarts (minus Harry, Dumbledore, magic, and Scotland), and likes to think of herself as an excellent walker. Morland is the author of two Jane Austen fanfiction novels: A Remedy Against Sin and This Disconcerting Happiness.
BEAU NORTH is the author of three books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau hails from the kudzu-strangled wilderness of South Carolina but now hangs her hat in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen On-Screen.
KATIE OLIVER is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon bestseller Prada and Prejudice, as well as the Dating Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and Jane Austen Factor series. She resides in South Florida with her husband (where she goes to the beach far less often than she’d like) and is working on a new series. Katie began writing as a child and has a box crammed with half-finished stories to prove it. After raising two sons, she decided to get serious and get published. She is convinced that there is no greater pleasure than reading a Jane Austen novel.
SOPHIA ROSE a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and Then Comes Winter anthologies, short stories based on Jane Austen’s works. Sophia’s love for writing began as a teen writing humorous stories submitted for Creative Writing class and high school writing club. Writing was set aside for many years while Sophia enjoyed a rewarding career working with children and families. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity for a return to writing stories that continue to lean toward the lighter side of life and always end with a happily-ever-after.
JOANA STARNES lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is one of the contributors to The Darcy Monologues anthology, and the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward—The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion and Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. You can connect with Joana through her website www.joanastarnes.co.uk and on Facebook via her timeline and her author page, All Roads Lead to Pemberley.
BROOKE WEST has always loved the bad boys of literature and thinks the best leading men have the darkest pasts. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape,” which appears in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Find Brooke on Twitter @WordyWest.
Two lucky commentators will have the opportunity to win an Audible code through either Audible US or Audible UK. First name drawn will choose between a code for The Darcy Monologues or Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rake and Gentlemen Rogues and second winner will be offered the other. The giveaway will close one week from the blog posting date. Reminder: winners must have access to Audible US or UK to use the codes. Good luck, listeners!