Thursday, November 7, 2019

Blog Tour Excerpt: The Bride of Northanger by Diana Birchall

The Bride of Northanger: A Jane Austen Variation
by Diana Birchall

Genre: Austenesque, Historical Fiction, Gothic Mystery
September 19, 2019
White Soup Press
ebook, paperback; 230 pages

A happier heroine than Catherine Morland does not exist in England, for she is about to marry her beloved, the handsome, witty Henry Tilney. The night before the wedding, Henry reluctantly tells Catherine and her horrified parents a secret he has dreaded to share - that there is a terrible curse on his family and their home, Northanger Abbey. Henry is a clergyman, educated and rational, and after her year’s engagement Catherine is no longer the silly young girl who delighted in reading “horrid novels”; she has improved in both reading and rationality. This sensible young couple cannot believe curses are real...until a murder at the Abbey triggers events as horrid and Gothic as Jane Austen ever parodied - events that shake the young Tilneys’ certainties, but never their love for each other...

Praise for The Bride of Northanger:

“Diana Birchall once again proves herself the worthiest of Austenesque fiction writers, with keen powers of observation, discernment, judgment, fire, genius, and wit on every page.” — Devoney Looser, author of The Making of Jane Austen

“No one captures Jane Austen's vibrant style, sense of humor, intelligence, and voice better than Diana Birchall. I flew through this charming novel, which makes a delightfully spooky and most welcome sequel to Northanger Abbey.” — Syrie James, author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

“One of the most enjoyable returns to Austen to be found. Not to be missed.” — Susan Franzblau, author and film director

Excerpt from The Bride of Northanger:

Curiosity she still had, however, about the family she had married into, especially now that she knew that it did have a secret history, and a mysterious curse. The family legends did not alarm her – much, but she felt she would like to know more about them, whatever they were. Henry and Eleanor had made light of them, yet there was the way Henry, the night before their wedding, admitted that however spurious were the tales, it was an undoubted fact that the oldest son’s wife in every generation, had actually met with a terrible fate. This sounded straight out of a horrid novel, and despite being cured of reading such works, how curious, how ironic it was that she should find herself in a situation that almost seemed like living in one.

Catherine hastily reminded herself, for the dozenth time, that she need have no fears, in trying to find out the meaning of the family curse, for she was not the wife of an eldest son. Even if she were, she reminded herself for the dozenth time, there was no reason for fear, for curses and legends were imaginary, the stuff of superstition. It must be only a chain of coincidental circumstances after all that had killed all the first wives of the family. Any one who read history knew that the most dreadful things, murders and burnings, accidents and torture, had happened with appalling frequency back in the olden days; and the more ancient, the worse they were. It was the events of an uncivilized, ignorant past age, that were reflected and stirred up for sensation in the kind of fiction known as horrid. Any modern, rational, educated person knew that.

Turning from the desk, Catherine wondered where the General would have kept papers dealing with his ancient family history, for certainly such papers there were, and they must be somewhere. The desk was plainly for his daily concerns; family papers must be safely stored somewhere else.

There was a heavy ornate chest in the alcove under a window, with some curios and glassware on top; exactly the sort of chest where old papers might be kept safe and dry. She had a reflexive dislike for old chests now, ever since the mortifying moment on her first visit to Northanger, when a promisingly forbidding manuscript concealed in such a chest proved to be nothing but a gentleman’s laundry list. Still, she would not let any former foolishness stop her from the type of sensible explorations that she intended to make now.

It was the work of only a few moments to remove the glassware and figurines, which were rather ugly, she thought – one was a nasty little metal satyr, another a grinning monkey’s face carved in old wood. For a man of taste, she did not know why the General would keep such things, but perhaps they were family heirlooms.

The chest was locked, with a large old-fashioned clasp, but Catherine had seen a key-ring inside the desk, and when she retrieved it she instantly noticed a key that looked just the sort of age and shape to fit into the lock of the chest. And fit it did. Delighted with her own perseverance and deductive powers, Catherine had no trouble in opening the lock, and then lifting the top of the chest, which took some strength. Holding her breath, she looked within.

She saw, lying on the floor of the chest, an old inlaid marquetry box that looked as if it might contain jewelry, or something precious; and equally exciting, beside it was a thick and ancient pile of manuscript writings.  She wavered a moment at which to investigate first, but she had trafficked so often in old manuscripts in her late reading, that she did not hesitate. The manuscript pile was unwieldy, the size of an old Bible, full of papers that crumbled in the most delicious ancient way, and she lifted it out with some little difficulty and carried it to the desk. Setting her lamp there, she seated herself in the General’s capacious chair, and began to read.

About the Author:

Diana Birchall worked for many years at Warner Bros studios as a story analyst, reading novels to see if they would make movies. Reading manuscripts went side by side with a restorative and sanity-preserving life in Jane Austen studies and resulted in her writing Austenesque fiction both as homage and attempted investigation of the secrets of Jane Austen's style. She is the author of In Defense of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Elton in America, Mrs. Darcy's Dilemma, and the new The Bride of Northanger. She has written hundreds of Austenesque short stories and plays, as well as a biography of her novelist grandmother, and has lectured on her books and staged play readings at places as diverse as Hollywood, Brooklyn, Montreal, Chawton House Library, Alaska, and Yale. Visit Diana at her Austen Variations author page, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

The Bride of Northanger is on a blog tour!

The Doyenne of Austenesque fiction, Diana Birchall, tours the blogosphere October 28 through November 15 to share her latest release, The Bride of Northanger. Thirty popular bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed continuation of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey


  1. The variations of Jane Austen's stories are so myriad that I am having trouble keeping up. This sounds like another good one.

  2. "Holding her breath, she looked within." I love these allusions to JAne Austen's original novel. Except this time Catherine gets a second chance to discover what is in the chest.

    Thanks for hosting this excerpt Jenny. I loved this book and I hope other do too.


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