Thursday, May 01, 2014

Jane Austen and Donna Fletcher Crow

Please welcome my Wednesday guest on Thursday—Donna Crow, whose new release is A Jane Austen Encounter, an Elizabeth and Richard Mystery. Donna is the the author of 43 books, mostly novels of British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have four adult children and 13 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.
To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to:  You can follow her on Facebook at:


Every story has a back story. Perhaps, though, A Jane Austen Encounter has its roots deeper in my subconscious than most. To get to the bottom we have to go back more years than I care to count to my sophomore year in high school when my English teacher, little Mr. Hodgsen— who looked like Charlie Chaplin— knew me better than I knew myself and insisted that I delve into the English classics—while everyone else in my class was allowed to choose their own reading. I’ve never looked back. Nor have I ever quit saying thank you to Mr. Hodgsen because my love for Jane Austen has grown and flowered for more than half a century.

Long before the current craze for Jane Austen spin-offs in movies, television and books and the popularity of “I heart Darcy” book bags, I was curled up in a comfy chair with a book (not an ereader) walking across a green English field with Elizabeth Bennett, traipsing the streets of Bath with Anne Elliot, or attending a strawberrying party with Emma Woodhouse.

 When visiting Bath— first as a side trip to various other projects— I always tried to see it through Jane’s eyes. And then, when researching A Jane Austen Encounter I had the fun of tracing all of Jane’s steps, as well as those of Catherine Moreland and Anne Elliott, through the consciousness of my literary sleuths Elizabeth and Richard.

That trip, following the Jane Austen Trail with my fictional literature professors, took me from Bath to the charming Chawton cottage where Jane’s writing flowered and the nearby Steventon church where her father was rector and her own faith established. I stood by her grave in Winchester Cathedral and had a wonderful personal tour of the lovely country estate of Godmersham, home of Jane’s brother Edward Knight. That trip was the fulfillment of a lifetime dream for me— as it was for Elizabeth and Richard. And I didn’t have to cope with any dead bodies.
Godmersham to the left; Chawton Cottage above

Then, as a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, last autumn my husband and I attended the JASNA annual general meeting in Minneapolis. The lectures, classes and teas were all wonderful, but few things in my life have been as much fun as the Regency Ball. Stan and I took an English Country Dancing class to be primed for the intricate steps and I costumed in full Regency dress, including an ostrich feather in my hair. It was truly as if the characters had stepped out of all my favorite books. And I was dancing with my own Mr. Darcy.
Donna and her Mr. Darcy to the right; tea with Colin Firth, left.

 There couldn’t have been a more perfect place to launch A Jane Austen Encounter, but I remembered to warn readers, “Beware: Evil lurks even in the genteel world of Jane Austen.”

 “Playful mystery featuring an engaging pair of amateur sleuths.”
                                    Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine






Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Judy, what a delight to be an ingredient in your Stew! Jane always fixed her family's breakfast and was in charge of the tea--Twinings only--but there's no record of her fixing stew.
Thank you for this opportunity to meet your readers.

judyalter said...

Delighted to have you, Donna, with your wonderful pictures and fascinating backstory. I'm going to have to look into A Jane Austen Encounter.

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

I hope you enjoy reading it, Judy! In June I'll be off to London to research the next on--Jane Austen in London.

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

I do hope you enjoy it, Judy! In June I'll be off to London to research the next one--Jane Austen in London.