Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Salon's Summer Break

As is tradition here on Gin Lane, the salon is closing its doors for my summer gadding; I shall return in September, never fear!

I shall be attending a whole host of events during September and October, with tales of kings, wild boys and Miss Jane Austen. Do pop along and say hello if you can - it'd be marvellous to meet you!

The Mad King and the Coronation ChairStamford Georgian Festival, 23rd September 2017 
The madness of George III is legendary. Restrained, gagged, blistered and plied with leeches, the king suffered humiliating and brutal treatment at the hands of those who were charged with his care. In a country wracked by upheaval both at home and abroad, the monarch’s madness left Britain in turmoil whilst, imprisoned at Kew, he ranted and foamed at the mouth. Join Catherine Curzon for the story of a very human sovereign.

The Curious Story of Peter the Wild Boy, Stamford Georgian Festival, 24th September 2017
In 1725, hunters led by King George I captured a feral child in the forests of Germany and took him home as a pet. Catherine Curzon untangles the history of ‘Peter the Wild Boy’, who was brought to England to entertain and amuse the court. Living in palaces, adored by princesses and heralded as a celebrity, Peter was a curiosity to thrill seekers and scholars alike. Yet when the glamour faded, what became of Peter the wild boy?

An Evening with Jane AustenStamford Georgian Festival, 24th September 2017 
Historian and author, Catherine Curzon, introduces a magical evening with Austen’s most memorable characters! With Caroline Langrishe and Adrian Lukis, alongside period musical entertainment from Rosie Lomas and Camilla Pay. 
An Evening with Jane Austen, Kenwood House, 1st October 2017 

An Evening with Jane Austen, Godmersham Park, 29th October 2017 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Playing Cards with Jane Austen

It's my pleasure to let you know of a new Kickstarter project, celebrating Jane Austen!


Jane Austen Playing Cards
Eric Ligon is a graphic designer/typographer and Associate Dean at the University of North Texas in the College of Visual Arts and Design. By night, he is a lover of classic novels, and novel playing cards.

Eric is behind a Kickstarter campaign that celebrates Jane Austen with a custom designed pack of playing cards. 

Jane Austen Playing CardsThese cards are rich in authentic period detail, designed using fashion images and needlework patterns from the early 1800s Ackermann's Repository of the Arts. 

Jane Austen Playing CardsEach suit represents a different book: Spades–Pride and Prejudice; Hearts–Emma; Clubs–Persuasion; and Diamonds–Sense and Sensibility. The royalty in each suit is represented by that novel's main characters. The images for all of the female characters come directly from Ackermann’s whilst each ace bears its book’s title and first edition typography. The needlework patterns became the basis for the line art on the back of the cards and on the tuck case. 

If you’d like to find out more about the extensive rewards on off for supporters of this Kickstarter campaign, as well as more about the project, please visit

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jane Austen and Seduction

It's a pleasure to welcome Meg Kerr for a look at seduction in the works of Jane Austen, and a cheeky quiz all about Austen's seductive scenes!


Devotion, explores the theme of seduction by picking up on the threads left by Pride and Prejudice Hello readers of Madame Gilflurt! My name is Meg Kerr, and I’m thrilled to be here with you. I’d like to thank Catherine for allowing me to contribute this guest post on seduction in Jane Austen’s writings. My new book, Devotion, explores the theme of seduction by picking up on the threads left by Pride and Prejudice through fan-favourite characters including Georgiana Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and others.

How does seduction feature, thematically, in Pride and Prejudice?
When as a reader you’re caught up in the chaste romance between Darcy and Elizabeth, you sometimes lose sight of the fact that two seductions are pivotal in the plot of Pride and Prejudice. 

We know quite a bit about George Wickham’s seduction of Lydia Bennet—or at least all the news that’s fit to print in a Jane Austen novel: she becomes his mistress until the pair are apprehended and forced to marry. 

We only hear about Georgiana Darcy’s brush with Wickham through Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth, so the details are hidden from us. Was more than hand holding involved? We have no reason to think well of Wickham; his relationship with Lydia was certainly a sexual one; and then after news of his flight to London with Lydia becomes public in Meryton, we hear that his “intrigues, all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman's family.” Wickham is a man on permanent booty call, and Georgiana is a lovely, ingenuous and rich young girl….

What about in Jane Austen’s other novels?
George Wickham is not alone. Jane Austen’s novels are full of charming seducers. Austen’s bad boys—and bad girls! Besides Wickham going after everything that moves in Pride and Prejudice, there’s 
  • John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, who ruined Colonel Brandon’s teenaged ward, and who may have had illicit intentions towards Marianne Dashwood—even love-drugged Marianne is not certain of his innocence in that regard
  • Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park, who out of “cold blooded vanity” plans to capture the hearts of the three young ladies at Mansfield, Maria and Julia Bertram and Fanny Price, and is two-thirds successful; and then runs off with Mrs. Rushworth, née Maria Bertram, destroying her life (not his own of course)
  • Lady Susan in Lady Susan (something went on with Mainwaring and we somehow don’t feel positive that Sir James Martin remained untouched before his wedding night)
  • Mrs. Clay/William Elliot in Persuasion (it’s hard to tell who’s taking the lead there!). 

There’s even a parody seducer in Northanger Abbey, John Thorpe, who doesn’t exactly force Catherine Morland into a traveling-chaise and four and drive off with incredible speed, but pretty close. 

Seduction image

How does Devotion explore the theme of seduction?
The charming bad boys and bad girls do their actual seducing off the pages of the novels. I wanted to see what it would be like to catch a bad boy in the act! But not only that—more importantly to me—I wanted to see whether it was possible to redeem a bad boy. Austen tried. 

John Willoughby came close. “That his repentance of misconduct … was sincere, need not be doubted.” And as Austen says that rich old Mrs. Smith would almost certainly have forgiven him for marrying more or less any woman of character, “had he behaved with honour towards Marianne, he might at once have been happy and rich.”  

Henry Crawford came even closer. “Could he have been satisfied with the conquest of one amiable woman's affections, could he have found sufficient exultation in overcoming the reluctance, in working himself into the esteem and tenderness of Fanny Price, there would have been every probability of success and felicity for him.”

But neither reached the goal. Maybe it just is not possible for a bad boy to change?

Devotion is a tale of two seductions—one featuring Georgiana Darcy once more!, and of a charming bad boy, John Amaury, who might be able to change….

Devotion is a tale of two seductions. Who would like to seduce whom in Pride and Prejudice? Test your knowledge with this fun matching quiz and match the “he” to the correct “she”!

Quiz #1 Who does he want to seduce?
Who wants to seduce whom in Pride and Prejudice? Match the eager “He” to “Her”

About Devotion:
In this sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy, now twenty years old and completely lovely, is ripe for marriage. Her brother has carefully selected her future husband, but the arrival of a long-delayed letter, and a secret journey, bring Georgiana into the arms of an utterly wicked and charming young man whose attentions promise her ruin. At the same time, events in Meryton are creating much-needed occupation for Mrs. Bennet and a quandary for Lydia Bennet’s girlhood companion Pen Harrington; and the former Caroline Bingley is given — perhaps — an opportunity to re-make some of her disastrous choices. Meg Kerr, writing effortlessly and wittily in the style of Jane Austen, sweeps the reader back to the year 1816 for a reunion with many beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice and an introduction to some intriguing characters.

About Meg Kerr:

What do you do when you live in the twenty-first century but a piece of your heart lies in the nineteenth? If you are author Meg Kerr you let your head and hand follow your heart. With her love of country life—dogs and horses, long walks in the woods and fields, dining with family and neighbours and dancing with friends, reading and writing and the best conversation—and her familiarity with eighteenth and nineteenth century history and literature, Meg has a natural gift to inhabit, explore and reimagine the world that Jane Austen both dwelt in and created, and to draw readers there with her.