Monica is a longtime admirer of Jane
Austen and likes to write down her fantasies about living in the Regency
period. Her first novel was AN IMPROPER
SUITOR, a humorous Regency romance. Since then, she has written two
traditional Jane Austen sequels: THE
OTHER MR. DARCY and THE DARCY COUSINS
(both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress's anthology JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT (Ballantine). STEAMPUNK DARCY is a post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek
Jane Austen spin-off. Her new series, THE DARCY NOVELS, are traditional Pride and Prejudice ‘what-if’ variations.
The first, MR. DARCY’S PLEDGE, reached number one in Kindle Classics Romance.
MR. DARCY’S CHALLENGE is the second in the series.
Monica is part of the blog Austen
Variations along with a baker’s dozen of authors who also write Jane
Austen adaptations and was a member of the team writing the popular Reader’s
Choice serial THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring the charismatic Theo Darcy.
Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame
is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager,
when it was faded and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH
& SOUTH in her blood. After that, Monica lived in the USA for many years,
where she taught literature to captive victims (not necessarily captivated).
She now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area and loves visiting
historical properties when it isn’t raining.
As you enjoy the pictures (below), you can also listen to a song that will sound very familiar, performed by English folk singer Jackie Oates at Gloucester Cathedral.
Isn't her voice enchanting? It shows what you can do with a simple melody. I wonder if Jane Austen used to wander around as a child in the Surrey lavender fields and hum this melody to herself?
Now that both vision and hearing have been stimulated, let's move on to the olfactory buds that are clamoring for attention.
Here's a recipe for Lavender Shortbread Biscuits (Cookies) that someone recommended to me. I've loved shortbread biscuits since I learned how to make them at school. My favorite part of making shortbread was the magical moment when the dough finally turned into breadcrumbs. It gave me a sense of remarkable achievement. I thought of myself as an artist, a creator, transforming clay into something else. Never mind that the "breadcrumbs" themselves weren't much to look at!
I like the fact that the recipe calls for both mint and lavender. I love both, which makes the recipe especially appealing.
Let me know if you try them before I do.
LAVENDER SHORTBREAD BISCUITS (COOKIES) from Maryeileen
350g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
4 tablespoons sifted icing sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
325g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, caster sugar and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, mint and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornflour and salt; mix into the butter and sugar mixture until well blended. Divide dough into two balls, wrap in clingfilm and flatten to about 2.5cm thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1hour.
Preheat the oven to 170 C / Gas mark 3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 6mm in thickness. Cut into shapes with scone or biscuit cutters. Biscuit stamps will work well on these too. Place on baking trays.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until biscuits begin to brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking trays then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Click on the image below to go to the website of Mayfield farms and read the fascinating story of how the field was revived.
Are you fond of lavender, as Jane Austen's friend Martha Lloyd was? What do you use it for?