Meredith is another of my Janeite mates in the blogosphere. She is American, lives in the US and I would have never met her if I hadn't starte blogging. Apart from some little differences, we discovered we share a lot. So you are invited to meet her. Read this inteview, visit her blog Austenesque Reviews, leave your comment and you'll have a chance to win Meredith's giveaway of one of her favourite Austen - based fiction books: JANE FAIRFAX by Joan Aiken.
Welcome on FLY HIGH Meredith and thanks for being my guest today. Could you please start intr,oducing yourself to our readers?
I am originally from Long Island, New York. I moved to Wilmington, NC to go to college and I have been living here ever since. I am a part time music teacher at a private school and I give private piano and flute lessons after school. I am newly married, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary last September. I love teaching, reading, playing the piano, gardening, crocheting, photography, going to the beach, and blogging!
2. Wow, Meredith, I guess we share lots of things. Let’s see, I also got married in September (but just some years earlier than you) , then I love teaching (English), I’m fond of music (I used to sing in a choir and studied opera singing), I like (listening to people) playing the piano, I’m keen on going to the beach (but live in the mountains) and , I’m definitely addicted to blogging! Jokes apart, tell about your love for music. Favourite genres, composers?
Wow, we do have a lot in common, Maria Grazia! My favorite genre of music to listen to and play is Classical. I sort of take after Marianne Dashwood in a way because I like to play pieces that I can pour my emotions into, and I tend to be drawn to music that are dark, passionate, and moody. My favorite composer is Ludwig van Beethoven, hands down! I love his tempestuous works as well as his soft and pensive ones. After Beethoven, I love to play or listen to music by Frederic Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninov. I'm also a big Beatles fan and I have grown very fond of jazz since that is what my husband likes.
And what about teaching? I think teaching music must be extremely gratifying. At least you can teach to pupils who want to learn privately, that’s my dream. Instead, my daily nightmare is to be in front of class groups of students who dream of being somewhere else and are not so interested in what I say. What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
Teaching music is extremely gratifying, Maria Grazia. I teach kindergarten through eighth grade at my school and it is such a pleasure to see all the students grow, mature,and develop a love of music. Plus it is the cutest thing in the world to have them sing for you! The best aspect of my job is working with children, I simply love children! I love to play and act silly with them and I hope I inspire them to have fun and enjoy music while they are in my class. The worst aspect of my job is all the busy work teachers have to do and all the boring faculty meetings we have to go to.
Don’t mention it. That’s the worst aspect of our job indeed. As to travelling, I dream of going on an Austenesque tour in England, I mean, I’d love to visit all the sites linked to JA’s novels, her life and even to the adaptations. Have you ever been to England? Have you ever visited Austenesque places or would you like to? Which towns/places?
Going on an Austenesque tour sounds fantastic! I have never been to England, nor have I been anywhere outside the United States. My husband and I hope to rectify that real soon! England is definitely one of the first places I want to visit. I would love to see Chawton Cottage and Bronte Parsonage. Have you ever been to England, Maria Grazia?
I have, several times , but always to London and places nearby (Windsor or Hampton court for instance) . You love blogging , I guess. What are your favourite Austen dedicated sites? The ones you regularly visit to get updated?
My favorite Austen dedicated sites are actually two very special and wonderful blogs. Austenblog and Austenprose. The ladies who run these blogs are extremely talented and dedicated. I visit their blogs practically every day! Other than that, I love to hop around and visit various book blogs that often feature Austenesque novels. I love to read other people's reviews of Austenesque novels whether it be one I have already read or not.
I love reading your AUSTENSQUE REVIEWS. Your in - depth analysis of Austen and Austen based fiction is stimulating for a Janeite like me. When and how did your love for everything Austen start?
Have you got any favourite Austen based fiction book/s? One or more that you would recommend here?
I have many favorites and I love to rave about them, but I'll try to keep it short! I'm big fan of hero retellings such as: Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen Trilogy and Susan Kaye's Frederick Wentworth, Captain Series, and my new favorites are Charity Envieth Not by Barbara Cornthwaite and Captain Wentworth's Persuasion by Regina Jeffers. In addition, I enjoy reading anything that combines Jane Austen and mystery, my favorites being Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely and the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series by Carrie Bebris. Last but not least, some of my favorite authors are Abigail Reynolds, Monica Fairview, Jane Odiwe, Syrie James, and Kara Louise.
What do you think of Austen adaptations? Have you got any favourite ones?
I do have some favorites, but I'm afraid I am partial to them partly because they are the first ones I ever watched. My first Pride and Prejudice adaption was the 1940's one with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. I know it is the least accurate, the costumes are all wrong, and the actors' ages are not suitable, but I can't help but enjoy everyone's performance in it regardless. The second Austen adaption I saw and fell in love with was Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. I love this adaption because of Jeremy Northam's excellent portrayal of Mr. Knightley and because it is such a stunning spectacle; I love all the costumes, scenery, and the music. Now as I watch more and more Austen adaptions I find something to like and appreciate in each one. I also love to watch Austen-Inspired movies like Bride and Prejudice and Lost in Austen too.
Who would you choose among Austen heroines as your best friend? Why?
I would have to choose Elizabeth Bennet. I tend to be a little quiet and shy like Anne Elliot and I feel that if I had someone brave and bold like Elizabeth as a friend she would help draw me out, make me laugh at myself, and stick up for me. Can you imagine how different Anne Elliot's life would have been if she had Elizabeth Bennet as a sister instead of Elizabeth Elliot?
Who would you marry if you were one of Austen heroines among her heroes?
What a challenging question! I would love to say Darcy or Knightley, but I'm no Elizabeth or Emma so I know they wouldn't be right for me. Also, since I am already happily married I'm having a difficult time thinking about marrying someone else! My husband seems to be a blend of Henry Tilney and Mr. Knightley. He has Mr. Tilney's playfulness and humor and he has Mr. Knightley's good judgment and high moral character. He is the perfect man for me, that's for sure!
Lucky woman! Now, a question I‘ve wanted to ask you for some time. In January you won a brand new copy of BBC North and South (2004) in one of the giveaways on FLY HIGH! (offered by M. GRAY in “My Blogger Buddies”). Have you seen it? And if you have, have you found any similarity between Margaret /Thornton relationship and the love story in P&P? More similarities or more differences? And , finally, did you like it?
Yes! I have watched it and I feel so fortunate to have won it through M. Gray's wonderful giveaway! It is such a beautiful and captivating adaption! Having not read Ms. Gaskell's novel yet, I didn't know what to expect, but I enjoyed it immensely! (Especially with Richard Armitage as the brooding and romantic hero!) I noticed that North and South is similar to Pride and Prejudice in that both couples start out not liking each other. In addition, the themes of pride and prejudice are highlighted in both as well (although the genders seemed a little reversed in N&S). One big difference is in the mood I felt in each adaption P&P is light and bright where N&S seemed a little more dark and somber.
Have you got any question/s you want to ask to commenters for your giveaway?
I would like to giveaway a new copy of Jane Fairfax by Joan Aiken. Jane Fairfax was the very first Austen-Inspired novel I ever read about seven years ago and it still remains one of my favorites today! It is a fantastic retelling of Emma through the eyes of Jane Fairfax and it very successfully depicts Jane Fairfax as a second heroine of Emma.
To enter the giveaway maybe readers can share what was the first Austen-Inspired novel they ever read and share if they liked it or not?
Thank you so much, Maria, for asking me to be a part of your Blogger Buddy Interviews! This is my very first interview and I am so very honored to be one of your interviewees. I'm so very happy that we “met” through the Internet and our blogs, I only wished we lived closer together!
It would be lovely, indeed, to meet and chat somewhere over a cup of coffee or tea, Meredith. And I would love to listen to you playing Beethoven at the piano. Keep up the good work with your Austenesque Reviews and best wishes for everything you do. Thank you!
Leave your comments then. Don't forget to say what your first Austen-Inspired book was , if you liked it and to add your e-mail address. The giveaway is open worldwide and winner will be announced on May 10th. Good luck! And have a great Sunday!