What the Austen? Podcast

Episode 65: The Trouble With Mrs Montgomery Hurst & #JaneAustenJuly with Katie Lumsden from Books and Things

July 07, 2024 Izzy Meakin Episode 65
Episode 65: The Trouble With Mrs Montgomery Hurst & #JaneAustenJuly with Katie Lumsden from Books and Things
What the Austen? Podcast
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What the Austen? Podcast
Episode 65: The Trouble With Mrs Montgomery Hurst & #JaneAustenJuly with Katie Lumsden from Books and Things
Jul 07, 2024 Episode 65
Izzy Meakin

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The Trouble with Mrs. Montgomery Hurst out 18 July!

Katie brings to life her new novel, The Trouble with Mrs. Montgomery Hurst, set in a small Victorian town driven by the gossip and secrets of its inhabitants. We explore how classic literature influenced her narrative and how the early Victorian period and the impact of industrialisation provide a vivid backdrop to the story of this small town.

Katie passionately discusses the importance of authentic representation, both of the era’s history and LGBTQA+ narratives like the forbidden love story of Amelia and Clara, and the pressures on women in this era and today to fit a mold, as seen in characters like Falcia.

She also shares how her initial passion for the Brontës’ Jane Eyre evolved into a deep appreciation for nuanced storytelling, leading her to Dickens, Austen, and Gaskell. From her academic pursuits to her fascinating tenure at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, we explore how her love of writing has blossomed from her love of reading and the origins of Jane Austen July which Katie started with fellow bookish content creators a few years back.

The Trouble with Mrs. Montgomery Hurst out 18 July!

The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Is a Hit in Hollywood Paperback – 18 May 2017 by Paula Byrne (Author)

Hook Norton Brewery: https://www.hooky.co.uk/

Challenge Jane Austen July, hosted by @katiejlumsden, @misa1404, and @spinsterslibrary. Goodreads group

Where can you find Katie?
Instagram: @katiejlumsden #janeaustenjuly 
Youtube: @katiejlumsden | Books and Things
Penguin Katie Lumsden, other books: The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Where can you find your host (Izzy)?
Website: www.whattheausten.com
Podcast Instagram: @whattheausten
Personal Instagram: @izzy_meakin
Youtube: What the Austen? Podcast

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

The Trouble with Mrs. Montgomery Hurst out 18 July!

Katie brings to life her new novel, The Trouble with Mrs. Montgomery Hurst, set in a small Victorian town driven by the gossip and secrets of its inhabitants. We explore how classic literature influenced her narrative and how the early Victorian period and the impact of industrialisation provide a vivid backdrop to the story of this small town.

Katie passionately discusses the importance of authentic representation, both of the era’s history and LGBTQA+ narratives like the forbidden love story of Amelia and Clara, and the pressures on women in this era and today to fit a mold, as seen in characters like Falcia.

She also shares how her initial passion for the Brontës’ Jane Eyre evolved into a deep appreciation for nuanced storytelling, leading her to Dickens, Austen, and Gaskell. From her academic pursuits to her fascinating tenure at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, we explore how her love of writing has blossomed from her love of reading and the origins of Jane Austen July which Katie started with fellow bookish content creators a few years back.

The Trouble with Mrs. Montgomery Hurst out 18 July!

The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She Is a Hit in Hollywood Paperback – 18 May 2017 by Paula Byrne (Author)

Hook Norton Brewery: https://www.hooky.co.uk/

Challenge Jane Austen July, hosted by @katiejlumsden, @misa1404, and @spinsterslibrary. Goodreads group

Where can you find Katie?
Instagram: @katiejlumsden #janeaustenjuly 
Youtube: @katiejlumsden | Books and Things
Penguin Katie Lumsden, other books: The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

Buzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

PURE pet food
50% off your box! Love this food for Hoggy it's easy to store and has all the nutrients he needs!

Plum
Invest and save easily with plum!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Where can you find your host (Izzy)?
Website: www.whattheausten.com
Podcast Instagram: @whattheausten
Personal Instagram: @izzy_meakin
Youtube: What the Austen? Podcast

Speaker 1:

Hi, j-nights, and welcome back to the what the Austen podcast. Today I'm joined by author and booktuber Katie Lumsden. Katie has a new book coming out on the 18th of July called the Trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hurst. I've already had the pleasure of reading this book. It was very good, so I thought we'd have Katie on to discuss it. So welcome, katie. Hi, very nice to be here. Yeah, it's such a pleasure to have you on. So the question that I start with all my guests is what got you into Jane Austen originally?

Speaker 2:

So the first Jane Austen book I read was Pride and Prejudice, when I think I must have been 13, maybe just 14. So I got into sort of classics and especially 19th century literature when I was about 13 years old, actually initially through the Brontes and through Jane Eyre. When I was 13, there was a fantastic adaptation of Jane Eyre with Rue Filson and Toby Stephenson and I watched the first episode and just loved it. So my mum, who also likes books and likes reading a lot, gave me Jane Eyre to read and I read it before the second episode and after that I had loved Jane Eyre so much that I was really hungry for more classics and more 19th century literature. So my mum just recommended me lots of books and I read some Dickens, I read some Elizabeth Gaskell and I read Prime Prejudice by Jane Austen, and after that I just kept going.

Speaker 2:

I think I read Sense and Sensibility next and then I must have I don't remember the order I read the rest of them in, but I'd read all of Jane Austen's novels by the time I was sort of 16, 17. And just yeah, really have loved Jane Austen ever since. But I think as a teenager I really liked Jane Austen but I sort of loved Well, I still probably love Charles Dickens more than Jane Austen. I used to say Charles Dickens is my favourite and Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell are my sort of second favourite authors. But I think as a teenager I always thought, you know, dickens is sort of gritty and more deep than Jane Austen. That was what I thought. And then later on in life, as I started to reread Jane Austen more and see all the subtlety and complexity and depth of what she does, I started to appreciate Jane Austen more than I think I had when I was younger.

Speaker 1:

yeah, I feel like she's one of those authors that you really do benefit from rereading. I mean, I reread on multiple occasions all the time but even now, like I still take new stuff from rereading her text like she's just got so many layers in all of her work.

Speaker 2:

It's like amazing and I think also because her novels are so different and I think the way that they're often adapted to screen makes them feel more similar. So, for example, I think especially because I read Pride and Prejudice first and I watched a lot of adaptations of Jane Austen books as a teenager, I thought you know, jane Austen's books are all love stories. That's what they're about. So when I first read Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, which are less love stories, I don't think I love them as much. But then I studied Mansfield Park at university and saw all the complexity and depth within it and the fact that actually it's not really about the love story. There's a lot of other very important things going on in Mansfield Park that are more important than um Fanny's love for Edmund and that made me like that book so much more.

Speaker 2:

And now it's probably my second favorite Jane Austen after Pride and Prejudice and then even just the last few years, sense and Sensibility always used to be my least favourite Jane Austen and then a few years ago I read a book called the Genius of Jane Austen by Paula Byrne, which talked a lot about Jane Austen's love of theatre and how Sense and Sensibility was influenced by theatre and novels from the Georgian period and how, in a way, sense and Sensibility is sort of as much a parody and pastiche of sentimental novels as Northanger Abbey is of gothic novels and she also talks about, you know, the importance of siblings in Sense Sensibility and that just really like revolutionized the way I think about that book.

Speaker 2:

And now I love Sense Sensibility so much I've reread it a lot in the last few years and kind of come to have had this new love of it, I guess. So I feel like my you know, my love of Jane Austen is always like changing and being enriched, which is kind of fun no, I love that and I've just written that the book name down there, because that sounds awesome.

Speaker 1:

The genius of Jane Austen is that what it's called. Yeah, it's well worth a read. It sounds very good. I do like the sound of that and I've been the same with Sense Sensibility, like when I was growing up. It wasn't one of my favorites at all, I didn't enjoy it that much. But the more I analyze that one, the more I'm like, wow, there's so much to unpack here and, like you said, like the romantic storyline kind of takes a back seat and that's in the park as well.

Speaker 2:

My gosh, I could unpack that one forever yeah, I think the more I learn about Jane Austen's life and Jane Austen as a person as well, the more I've kind of found her very interesting as a figure, as a historical figure as well, as someone who wrote books that I really like, and so that has kind of added to my love of Jane Austen, I think, as well.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it would be so good to chat about because you were saying to me prior to recording that you actually worked at the Jane Austen Centre as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I used to work at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath and I was doing a master's in creative writing at Bath Spa University, and then I was looking for a part-time job while I was studying and I saw that they had jobs for costumed character guides at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. So I managed to get this job and I spent every Saturday and Sunday for nearly a year dressing up in a Regency gown and with a name badge that said Kitty Bennett, telling people about Jane Austen and talking to people about Jane Austen, and it was such a fun experience, both because I just, you know, my job was to stand around and talk to people about Jane Austen, and but also because all of the other girls, um, all of the other guides who worked there, they were also massive Jane Austen fans. That's why they were working there too, and a lot of us were students, um, and so I would also just have nice chats with a lot of people about Jane Austen, um, and I learned so much about Jane Austen's life and I also learned, you know, I'd read all of her sort of main six novels by that point, but I hadn't read Lady Susan, I hadn't read Sanditon or the Watsons, I hadn't read Jane Austen's letters, but I read all of them that year and I also re-read all of Jane Austen's books multiple times. So basically because when you work in a museum like that sometimes it's really busy, sometimes it's really quiet.

Speaker 2:

So we had a rule that you were allowed to sit and down and read in the exhibition space if it was quiet but you had to be reading a Jane Austen book. So if someone came around the corner you would look like you were reading Jane Austen and so I would just sit there and read Jane Austen and especially kind of first hour of the day, last hour of the day. It was often and I often did weekends, but I sometimes covered other people's shifts and if you were there on a Tuesday it would often be a bit quiet, especially in sort of January. So I just sit there and sort of get through Jane Austen book after Jane Austen book and that was lovely.

Speaker 1:

Oh my goodness, that sounds amazing. It was great fun. Sounds like such a dream come true. For sure I don't live close enough to bath to work there, but, um, I feel like I would thoroughly enjoy spending my weekends doing that as well.

Speaker 1:

It sounds great. That's great, um. It's funny that you mentioned lazy lady Susan, actually, because when I first um was sent your book, based off the title, I thought it might be similar to that. Like I thought it was heavily going to focus on like Mrs Montgomery Hurst, and I thought it was heavily going to focus on like Mrs Montgomery Hurst, and I thought it was maybe going to be like a story about um, someone who was like a very strong presence, like somebody like Lady Susan, or like, if we think about um trying to think of like some other examples, or like when I think about like um Demoria, like my cousin Rachel, like somebody who was like quite a dominant figure in the book and that's what I was expecting.

Speaker 1:

So I was really actually quite pleasantly surprised about the storyline, the fact that, um, there isn't really, although we follow kind of amelia um a lot of the time, there isn't really a central character.

Speaker 2:

We follow the town as a whole, right, which I really enjoyed yeah, and I really enjoyed writing that because I do love a small town story and I think I read a lot of 19th century literature. Um, and a lot of 19th century literature, especially kind of later on in the 19th century, in the victorian period, are these kind of big cast novels with a lot of characters, a lot of plot lines. You're following lots of different people and you get a sense of community through those people and also how their storylines interact and how these people's individual stories have interact and how these people's individual stories have an impact on other people's stories. And that's kind of what I wanted for me to create in this book, I guess.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely, you 100% feel that, and it was nice to get to know each of the characters. I feel like sometimes, when you start books like this, I kind of get a bit worried. I'm like how, how am I going to follow all of these different people?

Speaker 1:

yeah then you do get into it because people are so intertwined and you're like oh, this is how their story links to theirs and how is that going to impact this next person, which I think is really lovely to see. Um, it would be good to know what characters influence your characters, what books influence your plot, because, um, I know I have my theories or just like things that came to mind when I was reading, but it'd be good to know about what was kind of influencing your plot and if you want to say a little bit about what the book's about, without giving too many spoilers away.

Speaker 2:

Yes, of course. So the Trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hurst is set at the very beginning of the Victorian period, so it's 1841. Queen Victoria's only been on the throne for a few years and it's about this small town called belford, in this fictional county called wickenshire, and this is a very sort of tight community where there is a lot of gossip, especially amongst the kind of middle classes and upper classes. And at the beginning of the book, um, one of the kind of local bachelors, um young gentleman of fortune, mr hurst, announces that he is getting married. But he is not getting married to the person everyone expects him to marry. They're all expecting him to marry kind of one of the daughters of one of his neighbors, but he's actually marrying um a widow with three children who no one has ever heard of. And this kind of creates this not exactly scandal, but it's kind of surprise and outcry.

Speaker 2:

And what I wanted to do in the book is kind of look at how gossip and kind of other people's um behavior affects everyone. So we begin with this marriage and then we look at how that affects all of the other people around them and we never see anything from mr hearst's perspective or mrs hearst's perspective. So my kind of initial premise for the book was I wanted to write the story of this couple through gossip, through the gossip of everyone else. But then obviously, in writing about everyone else and their gossip, I also got their stories too, and so we have a lot of different plot threads and you're always seeing mr and mrs hurst in the background, and they're also focusing on a lot of other characters, a lot of other people who are living in this town.

Speaker 2:

There have definitely been a lot of books that have influenced it a lot. Um, I think there's a big jane austen influence there, but there's also a very big elizabeth Gaskell influence and also a really big Anthony Trollope influence. Um, those two are two of my other favorite, absolute favorite authors, um, and I think there are definitely a few books. In particular, when I think about the Jane Austen influence, like there definitely is sort of Pride and Prejudice influence and Emma influence, um, and I think maybe emma more than anything, I think, because emma is a novel that I really love and it's really a small town novel and like it's set in this small place. You know emma's never left um, and the way that impacts her and her behavior, um, and also her kind of character art over the course of emma is something I find really interesting.

Speaker 2:

Um, and in the trouble with mrs montgomery hearst there's a lot about this kind of small, claustrophobic town and one of the main characters, amelia, who has never really left the town very much and kind of has bigger dreams for herself.

Speaker 2:

So actually I feel like it's quite interesting to think about Emma as a book as an influence on the Trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hurst for me because there are two very, very different young female characters who are very important in the trouble with mr montgomery hearst felicia elton and amelia ashburn. And felicia elton definitely like seems more like emma on the surface, like she is that polished, polite um, you know, complete ruler of society, you know the most beautiful, handsome, clever person in the neighborhood. So everyone thinks, um, but actually Amelia has more kind of um, emma moments of being ruder to people than she really should be and that kind of thing. So I think Emma was definitely very influential um, on the Troubles front rehearse and probably Pride and Prejudice too, in terms of the who, who can and can't afford to make decisions about who they marry um and why.

Speaker 1:

I guess yeah, um, I think I felt a lot of like um Elizabeth Bennet in Amelia as well, just like some, like the way that she is in society, like she is quite bold and outspoken. And something that kind of stood out to me is I feel like like I feel like Amelia and Clara's story in a way kind of mirrors what Elizabeth and Charlotte's could have been. Yeah, had they been sisters.

Speaker 2:

Love interests, yes yeah, and I think that I don't know how conscious that was at the beginning, but that definitely I was aware of that as I was writing it later on. Um, and then she actually my um publicist at my publishers said to me oh is Amelia kind of based on Jane Austen? Because actually she we know, like it says quite early on in the novel, that Amelia writes books, um, and kind of has these authorial ambitions and she's also kind of very witty and slightly too rude about her neighbours in a way that if you read Jane Austen's letters she absolutely was, and which I had never made that conscious decision, like I'd never thought that to myself that Amelia was based on Jane Austen in any way. But I feel like whether that was subconscious or just I don't know, but maybe there is a bit of that, a bit of Jane Austen as a character in Amelia too.

Speaker 1:

Um, yes, I can see that. I absolutely can see that the fact that she keeps her writing secret as well like she has to do it kind of on her own. And, yes, the way that she is in society, like she is so outspoken and witty and bold and um kind of she's, she's not afraid to go on her own path either, which I think was something very much that Jane Austen embodied, you know she was very true to herself, and Amelia is very much like that as well and she's also very funny but a bit mean, which when you read Jane Austen's letters, like she is a bit mean quite often.

Speaker 2:

Um yeah, so I definitely didn't do that on purpose, but um yeah, I think that probably is there a bit.

Speaker 2:

Um yeah, and, like I said, I think Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Trollope were really influential in this book too, especially Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, which is very much a like gossip focused book and a small town book, and I think you know this, the Trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hearst is set in 1841. It's set in the early Victorian period, not in the BBC period, partly because it has kind of a lot of Victorian and earlier influences, but also because I wanted to kind of capture a moment in time where things are changing a lot. So there's a lot about class in the book and also kind of how class power dynamics are shifting. So some of the older characters in the book, I think a character like Mrs Elton, she still thinks it's the Regency period and she still thinks that her like long bloodline is the thing that makes her important, but actually money matters more. And there's a lot about kind of how industry is changing class, um, and social position which I kind of wanted to explore too yes, I love this.

Speaker 1:

No, I think this is super important. I agree, I think, mrs L, yes, she's very much stuck in like that Regency era mentality that it actually is status and it's class. And she kind of gives me Sir Walter Elliot vibes as well, the fact when he's always like name dropping people and he's like, oh well, my relatives are X, y and Z, but it's true, the people that seem to hold the most power realistically in this society tend to be the people who are kind of more new money. So, like Amelia's father, right, he owns a brewery, like it'd be interesting to talk about how that links in, because, yeah, like talking about the industrial revolution, like how things like mills and breweries and all of that kind of thing, it's like new money and trade was actually, you know the way that people were thriving.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that was kind of becoming more important, increasing over the Victorian period. So in 184141 it's kind of this not exactly a turning point, like these things have been going on for a while, but it's.

Speaker 1:

It's a time where power dynamics are starting to shift and I kind of wanted to explore that and have fun with that, I guess yeah, definitely did that take a lot of research, like about like the brewery and everything like what that setup would look like back then, because obviously it's quite different to now yeah, lots and lots um.

Speaker 2:

So I I tend to do a lot of my research by reading primary sources, um, kind of from the time diaries and accounts, um, and also like instruction manuals, like, actually, a lot of people in the mid 19th century wrote advice for other people who were brewing. In the same way that now if you're trying to do something you would look it up online or look up a youtube video, whatever you know, people wrote um advice books saying here's how you should be doing brewing, here's the process, here's what you should do, especially because brewing was one of those things where it was quite industrialized, but also there was still a lot of small, small breweries or people who were doing sort of amateur brewing, I guess. Um. So I read quite a lot of um advice books about brewing, but I really couldn't get my head around the process because it's really complicated, obviously. Um, and then I ended up I was looking for places I could go to visit and museums that would be useful, and I found um, there's a place called Hook Norton Brewery which was built in the 1890s.

Speaker 2:

They built a little, you know, a good half century after this book is set, but it it still functions as a Victorian brewery so all the equipment is still, you know, from the late 19th, very early 20th century and, using traditional processes, um hasn't been mechanized like all old equipment, um and um.

Speaker 2:

That was hugely useful. So I went to that brewery and I did, like you can do, a tour of the brewery, which is really really interesting. And because you know, I've been reading books from the 1840s, 1830s, 1850s, um about the process and I could see that a lot of the process was still the same. But looking at the actual machinery, um, and even just like you know where the pipes were in the room and that kind of stuff like that was really really helpful for making me understand the process. And so kind of combining those older accounts with that museum was really helpful for me. Oh well, it's still a functioning brewery but they do tours and have a museum element and that was hugely helpful for me to kind of get those brewery scenes right, because I really wanted to. It's an important part of the novel and it's an important part of several characters like working life and working days, yeah, so I had a lot of fun doing that research yeah, that sounds amazing.

Speaker 1:

I thought you were going to say to me like I did all this research. Now I'm like an amateur brewer myself, like I think wouldn't that be fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't even like beer, but we're the only person who's ever been on brewery tour who doesn't like beer. It was very interesting that's so funny.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you're there for such a different reason. That's amazing yeah but yeah, that's so true, like actually when I think about the pipes and like the importance they played, like to the plot as well.

Speaker 1:

So I do get that that you needed to actually physically see it to be able to like visualize it and write it out because that, just, I feel like with books like this, where you are setting it even though it's fiction, you are setting it like in a time that did what by the time that did happen. That was such a weird way to put that um in like it because it's historical. You know, you do have to, to some extent, look at the factual side of things as well, don't you?

Speaker 1:

and just kind of. Not everything doesn't have to be completely accurate, because in the end of the day, it is your world that you're creating, but there are certain things that it's like it's actually nice to keep them close to you know, because a lot of people.

Speaker 2:

Actually, they gain interest in history by reading some fictional books based in historical people and I and I love history and I love 19th century history especially. At uni I did sort of English literature and history half and half, which was great, and I really love 19th century history and I find it really interesting. So I kind of for me it's quite important to write something that is historically accurate in that it would be historically possible not necessarily historically likely be historically possible, not necessarily historically likely, but historically possible, um, and I read a lot of 19th century literature, um as well, which I love. So I guess when I write historical fiction set at that point, I don't want it to be something that would have been written at that time, because then you could just go and read a book from the 19th century, but I want it to be something that's like could have been written but couldn't have been published at that time. If that makes sense, I guess that would be like like what I'd be aiming for.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh, I love that. That's amazing. Yeah, that's fab. Um, I would also love to chat about um, amelia and Clara's story in particular and their kind of forbidden love. Um, I thought this was really interesting. It gave me um. I did a podcast episode, I think maybe last year, the year before um. In a lot of the episode it was, what did we cover? I think it was the hidden sex scenes of pride and prejudice. It was like a. It was like a book that we discussed and I'm I discussed that with um a guest, annie. She came on and we were discussing, kind of it was all about like sex and sexuality within the Regency era and one of the stories that we talked about was the ladies of Langollen and when I was reading your book it really reminded me of that you know about.

Speaker 2:

Amelia and.

Speaker 1:

Clara and how they have this love story, but it's very much in the shadows, they can't be open and public about it and they have to capture these kind of intimate secret moments in. I mean, it was nice for me because I was also reading this in pride month, so it was a good reflection on the fact that actually it's not always been possible to be to openly love who you want to love, and so, yeah, I just love to talk about this storyline and, um, what it was like writing it and, yeah, your influences yeah, um, I guess, as I said, I, when I'm writing historical fiction set in the 19th century, I want it to be something that feels completely 19th century and it feels like the story would have taken place then, but also not something I don't.

Speaker 2:

I don't ever want to write a book that could have been published in the 19th century, because then why would you read my book? You could read a book from the 19th century that would give you a more like historically accurate portrayal of the 19th century. So, and that's the same, when I read historical fiction, you know, I'm always looking for something I can get in historical fiction written now, set in the 19th century, that I can't get from reading a book that was written in the 19th century. And that could be a lot of things that could just be a writing style that's different or a different way of telling a story, but often it's um stories of people whose stories didn't get told at the time or who couldn't tell their stories um, really openly. Um, and I've always been very interested in kind of social and cultural history and the history of sort of families and um personal relationships, um, and so I've kind of always been interested in queer history through that and I think also someone who reads a lot of 19th century literature there there are a lot of like hints or undertones in a lot of 19th century books, um, where you feel things are being implied or where there's possible interpretations and where you do feel like even if either writers were purposefully writing things, um, but it's always an undertone All writers didn't even know they were writing about these kind of relationships, but they were writing about two people and maybe they had known two people who had a similar dynamic, but they wouldn't even necessarily have understood it. But I can think of lots of books from the 19th century where I feel that and there's a wonderful late 19th century writer called amy dillwyn um who I really, really love, and if you read her books and especially her novel jill, like I think it would be very hard to read jill as a novel and not come to the conclusion that jill is gay or at least in some way queer um, and so I've kind of always been interested in queer history in the 19th century, um, and that was something I wanted to incorporate into the book.

Speaker 2:

And also the trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hurst's book. It's all about forbidden love in lots of different ways. So nearly every storyline is about some kind of love story with some kind of difficulty, some kind of reason why, you see, people can't be together in lots and lots of different ways, and sometimes that is class, and sometimes it's gender, and sometimes it's so many other things or so many other different kinds of social stigma. So I guess, in that sense, I just wanted to look at lots of different kinds of relationships through all of these different characters and lots of different ways in which society is restricting all of these people from having the lives they want to lead. I think one of the kind of big influences on Amelia and Clara's story was I read An Anne Lister's diaries, or large chunks of Anne Lister's diaries, which are absolutely fascinating, um, and I really recommend anyone to read Anne Lister's diaries because they are like just fantastic, amazing, fascinating reading for anyone who has any remote interest in history.

Speaker 2:

Um, so, anne Lister for anyone listening who doesn't know um, anne Lister lived in the late 18th and early 19th century, I think she died in 1841, actually, or 1840. And she was from the upper classes, later in life became a landowner and she left all these diaries behind her, a lot of which were written in code and many, many years later these diaries were decoded and they realised that a lot of the sections in code were Anne Lister writing about her romantic and sexual relationships with women, and her diaries are fascinating for lots of reasons and they're amazing in terms of class as well. Anne Lister was such a snob, but one of the reasons why they're really interesting is because she just talks very frankly about her romantic and sexual relationships with women. But reading Anne Lister's diaries was fascinating and so useful for me in terms of writing Amelia and Clara's relationship in the way that I do. Um, yeah, and I really recommend Annalisa's Diaries. They're fantastic and really, really worth a read.

Speaker 1:

No, I love that. Yeah, and also that was that also came up in the episode that I did with Annie as well. Like she said, that's fantastic um piece of like source material if you want to um look into queer history. So, yeah, I definitely also really recommend that as well. Um, I think that probably leads quite nicely on to talking about the impact of gossip and the way that that kind of polices people in this book as well, because I actually think I mean, I find this topic fascinating because I don't.

Speaker 1:

I think this is something that we can still see nowadays as well. Like gossip, the thoughts of other people in society particularly if you are from a small town, which I am like, I think gossip really does police. Yeah, I feel like you can police yourself with it, you police other people and, unfortunately, I think what's the most um, crazy thing about the all of it is how much better everyone's life would be if they'd just been open about everything. I actually don't think a lot of the people in the book would have such an issue with everything going on if everyone was just open. But it's the fact that everybody keeps their secrets, which then means that they can use those secrets as tools, or the fear of being exposed polices them as a person and they feel like they can't be authentic in society.

Speaker 2:

So, um, yeah, I just love to talk about, like the impact of like gossip in in this book in particular yeah, I think that's something I thought would be quite fun to write about and quite interesting to write about, especially because I think in this small community, gossip feels a lot, but also, yeah, there's so much that is unsaid and there's so much that no one feels they can say, and everyone is kind of working to maintain a certain position within society or to live by the rules, even when most of them don't really like the rules, but they feel that they have to. They feel that this is the pressure and this is the kind of life that they have to live. And that's something that I think you see in a lot of 19th century literature, that I think you see in a lot of 19th century literature. That's something I've always found really fascinating in a lot of 19th century literature that kind of social pressure and how that social pressure influences people's actions to such a huge degree and really influences their life choices. And so I kind of wanted to write about this. Yeah, really sort of restrictive, repressive society, but also, like, hopefully the book is quite funny and light in some places. Like, hopefully the book is quite funny and light in some places and the gossip is entertaining and can be really funny and fun, but also it's so damaging on all of these people, um, and I hope that's clear in the book and I kind of wanted to, yeah, write about the way that gossip is damaging.

Speaker 2:

I think you know, like I said, cranford by elizabeth gaskell is a really massive influence for me in a book I love. I also love Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell a lot, which is another book by Gossip, and it plays an important role, um, and, yeah, I you can see the role of Gossip in a lot of Anthony Trollope books as well and I kind of wanted to, yeah, just look at how Gossip would damage all of these people and this community. And also, if you don't want to live by the rules, how on earth can you do that when everyone is watching you all the time? And how can you find a way to try and live not by the rules? You know a lot of these characters are trying to break the rules, but they can only do so so far within the society they live in.

Speaker 2:

Um, and I thought that was a kind of nice thing to explore, I think, especially because, as someone who loves 19th century literature, one of the things I really love about 19th century literature is that it is, like, in its way, quite radical, like a lot of 19th century authors were really pushing against their time, but only to a certain amount, because there was only so far they could go. Um, and that kind of tension between trying to push the rules but not being able to do so very far um was something. I guess that, yeah, that's something I find really fascinating.

Speaker 1:

I love that, yeah, and I think it is. It's good. I think it's good to see both sides of gossip. I was, I was reading a book recently it's called um on our best behavior the price um women paid to be good, and it was talking about how actually gossip for women can actually be a really positive thing in the sense that it actually can be a protective mechanism. So you know, if I say something about this person, I can protect the women who are close to me by sharing information.

Speaker 1:

However, I think something really interesting about your book is you show how that does work.

Speaker 1:

If you have really close friends, like you can see that with like Amelia and Clara, for instance, they're really close and they can share that information. With like Amelia and Clara, for instance, they're really close and they can share that information. But, however, the impact, the dramatic impact that can have on a woman if she's kind of ostracized by her peers and I think we see that a lot with like Felicia like her storyline really stood out to me just because I found it quite tragic in the sense that obviously she is kind of more on the outskirts, she's being bred like to be this perfect woman who is going to be chosen, and I just think it's quite sad that her story is actually quite a difficult one, in that she really struggles with the fact that she doesn't have any female friends and she struggles with the fact that actually, even though she's being kind of bred for this marriage market, that's not been an easy process for her either, and I guess it's because she kind of lacks that authenticity that some of the other characters have.

Speaker 2:

But at the same time it's it's like society's kind of created her and she's like strapped then, in that yeah, I I really loved writing about Felicia and I feel like she was she's like my, yeah, one of my favorite characters in the book and I really enjoyed writing.

Speaker 2:

And I feel like what I hope is when favorite characters in the book and I really enjoy writing and I feel like what I hope is when you start reading the book you feel like you're always on the media side, but as the book goes on, I feel like hopefully Felicia comes more into her own or you understand her more, because in many ways you know thinking about this book in comparison to Jane Austen, like Felicia is one of the the villains of a Jane Austen novel.

Speaker 2:

She is a Caroline Bingley or a um Augusta Elton or Lucy Steele. Like she is um, yeah, she is an antagonist in some ways and she's kind of beautiful and perfect and a bit vacuous, but actually she's really she's not happy and she's miserable and she's been brought up to lead a life that she is going to live but it's not going to really bring her anything and actually like the tight social structure that um existed in the 19th century. You know, it's just as um repressive on a caroline bingley as it is on elizabeth bennett like it's bad for everyone, um, and so I kind of wanted to, yeah, look at that and look at those kind of characters who often are kind of the antagonists or the sort of dislikable characters in 19th century novels, and say, okay, but maybe it's also quite sad to be her. Yeah, I had a lot of fun writing her.

Speaker 1:

I love that. No, I think that's so important. It's almost like you get that other side of the story, because it's easy sometimes to condemn those kind of characters people like Lucy Steele or Caroline Bingley or everything because of their actions, but, like you said, at the same time they're dealing with the same pressures. You know the same pressures to marry, to support their families. You know it's not an easy life and, um, if you've not got female friends to go through that with, how lonely like that must be such a lonely existence as well, like I couldn't even imagine, like how, like I couldn't imagine my life without my female friends.

Speaker 1:

So I do think it's quite tragic and, um, yeah, I, I think it is that. That's that one that I was one of the storylines that really stood out to me.

Speaker 1:

I think it's interesting as well that you also show the dynamics of like male friendships as well, like how that can be, like if you clash with, like the wrong person, how some female friendships can be really toxic, and particularly if, like one of the characters themselves is, um you know, acting in a way that really goes against another character's values and then also how you can kind of find friends in more unexpected places, um, just because they share similar values to you like.

Speaker 1:

It's not always about class it's not always about status like. Sometimes it is about like, actually what? What are your values and you know what, what's important to you and how you care for other people?

Speaker 2:

yeah yeah, and that's something I had a lot of fun writing about. You know, there are a lot of very important like romantic relationships in the book, but there's also a lot of important friendships or kind of, yeah, toxic friendships that need to be broken and that kind of thing. And I had a lot of fun like exploring those dynamics, um, and also how you know, this is this very small community, but it's also like, actually everyone is a bit isolated, like a lot of people don't have very many friends or they have a lot of social insecurity. You know they all can go to balls and dinner parties with each other, but that doesn't mean they're actually really close friends. Um, and, yeah, what that would mean for you in a society that is kind of less open in general, how much harder it is to form friendships and to be open with people are there any characters that you really struggled with or storylines that you were just like, oh, I just really struggling with this one.

Speaker 1:

Um, there were probably a few.

Speaker 2:

I think it has a lot of characters the book and it had in previous drafts it had more. I think it has a lot of characters the book and it had in previous drafts it had more. Like I've cut a lot of characters from the very original, so there are a lot of characters and that can be a bit harder to juggle. I think especially my personal the Secrets of Hartwood Hall is like first person perspective. There's like seven characters, like it's a very small cast, whereas the Trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hearst is a third person lost in perspectives. So many characters, so that was a very different like thing to juggle. Um, and there were a few characters who I sort of struggled with.

Speaker 2:

I think one of the things I found difficult is there are a few characters who are misjudged by other people and especially because we do spend quite a lot of time with amelia and amelia is quite judgmental and there's a few people she isn't judging correctly, so trying to find a way to communicate them as a person to the reader separately from how other characters were perceiving them, that was that was a bit tough, um, I guess. Um, yeah, and there were definitely some storylines that have been. This is a book I have been working on for a long time and I've kind of written and rewritten lots of different times, um, and there are definitely some characters who have kind of come more to the fore at different points or who have kind of yeah, done edits focused on to kind of bring them out more oh, I love that.

Speaker 1:

What a, what a create, what a, what a journey. That's. That's mad. I never even thought about that. I mean, I'm not a writer myself, not yet anyway. But yeah, like that, that notion of like pulling some characters like closer to the front of the text, like when they weren't- initially that's so fascinating and I guess sometimes maybe things just flow in a way that you never expected either.

Speaker 1:

Um, I think there was definitely, like moments where um, like, like, like I said to you, even when I picked up the text I thought it was going to be about the house, like I thought the whole text would be about them and how they impacted society.

Speaker 1:

But it's so fascinating to see how they are kind of these background characters for a lot of the book and although, um, you know, we were kind of built into a climax which involves them, it still, um was really interesting to me how you filtered it so that we only ever really heard about them through other people, and I can see why that was tricky with some other characters as well, because there were some characters, like um Frederick, who I really liked, but for a lot of the time I didn't really know him, so I was like liking him but not really sure why I liked him, because, um, a lot of other characters judged him in like a totally different way than I saw him, and so I think you're right, like I think it's sometimes and isn't that the beauty with books like Emma as well as you see characters through her eyes and I think, um, that creates a different reading experience too, and it doesn't.

Speaker 1:

It takes you specifically looking at the characters through your own values, your own reflections, that you then take a different approach. But I think it's quite easy to get sucked into amelia's thinking and then you thought you're like actually yeah a little bit mean.

Speaker 1:

She's been a bit mean right now.

Speaker 2:

That's not how I feel about this person yeah, and I think, especially with the minor characters, yeah, like like sir frederick, who I love, and yeah, it was a bit harder to do, and there's also there's two kind of um older women in the neighborhood who, um, amelia thinks are very silly, and actually I didn't mention this earlier, we were talking about jane austen influences, but I do feel like they're both a bit influenced by miss bates but I just gave miss bates a friend but like, yeah, and I think I want, I want to all the minor characters to come across as their own individual people who are having their own individual stories.

Speaker 2:

But you know, not every character is very aware of that, and then when you have a kind of, yeah, bigger cast novel, it can be quite hard to handle that. Um, but that's one of the things I love about jane austen and a lot of other 19th century authors is they have a lot of characters and these big cast novels and you get glimpses of these characters that give you an insight into more about them, even if you don't see them as much on the page. You know, I feel like, yeah, I feel like every Jane Austen character like I could write an essay on, like, even if they really appear, even if they're not that important.

Speaker 1:

Um yeah, friend, that is me with this podcast. Like, honestly, I do character studies all the time we do deep dives on the characters. As my listeners know, we love it yeah, we're here for it. I could do it on every single character. I just think it's fascinating. Yeah, um, and I could redo it as well because, like as you age, like as time passes, the more that you read, the more that you experience, the different thoughts you have on on characters as well like I remember when I was younger, I really couldn't um.

Speaker 1:

I really struggled with choices like Charlotte Lucas choice, for instance um and there's definitely characters in here that I know in the past they would have been like oh, I really struggle with that, that choice. But when you get older you start to think actually, you know, sometimes there is something to be said for. You know, dating, marrying for lifestyle as well, you know, I mean you can't just sometimes just marry for love, which I mean like nowadays we can do marry for whatever reason, but especially back then, like that wasn't necessarily always an option for people. You know, sometimes you did have to marry for lifestyle, especially as a woman, because, like, how many options do you have? Like you don't really have many options, and so I just feel like I think context is important sometimes, but then I also think it's good not to, you know, condemn people for their choices. Everybody has their own path, right yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'd also love to chat because we're in July now um, I'd also love to chat about Jane Austen July, which, um you started with a friend right. I'd love to talk about how that started and what plans you have this year for that yeah.

Speaker 2:

So, um, I have a YouTube channel called Books and Things, um, where I read and review books, um, and talk about bookish things, and I've been doing that for nine years now, um, and I think six or seven years ago, um, me and another friend who I know through booktube, um, we were talking about how much we love jane austen and then it might be fun to do some kind of jane austen reading event. So we started something called jane austen july, um, so me and my friend marissa had channels called basically bookish. We started that together co-hosting it, um, and then we were joined by a new host a few years ago, um, claudia from spencer's library, and so the three of us um now host every year a month-long readathon reading challenge all about jane austen july every. All about jane austen every july, um, and we've got a few different challenges and the idea is to read some jane austen but also to read some things kind of surrounding jane austen. So, um, we challenge everyone to read one of Jane Austen's main six novels, something by her that isn't one of her main six novels, so Juvenalia, unfinished Works, lady Susan, her Letters. We also challenge everyone to read a bit of nonfiction about Jane Austen or her time, to read a book that either is come to read, a book that's either a retelling of a Jane Austen book or a historical fiction work set in Jane Austen's time, um, and to read a book by a contemporary of Jane Austen, so someone writing and publishing at the time when Jane Austen was alive. And then we also have a couple of watching challenges um, so we tell everyone to read, so we tell everyone to watch, um, a kind of direct screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book, and also a kind of screen retelling, um, or reimagining of a Jane Austen book. And yeah, we've been doing this for years now. It's really fun, um, and I I love doing Jane Austen July for a lot of reasons, partly because I do feel like it really has enriched my love of Jane Austen.

Speaker 2:

Reading, rereading Jane Austen every year and also reading so many books surrounding Jane Austen um, books about her life, books about her work, um, retellings of Jane Austen, books like that's really enriched my love of Jane Austen, which has been really lovely. And also chatting about Jane Austen with other people online making videos about Jane Austen um, it's just been great fun. Like, for the last few years, every year I've done an in-depth character study on one of her um, kind of minor characters or um, yeah, not, not a character who's a protagonist and that's been massively fun. Um, like, I think my video about Mr Collins is like one of my most watched videos on my YouTube channel. Um, which is literally me talking about Mr Collins for 40 minutes. Um, and I just have a ton of fun doing Jane Austen July. It's really, really fun.

Speaker 1:

I love that. No, and literally like I mean, I actually have never actually done Jane Austen July. I think sometimes I just live under a rock on it. So this is not, this is just me like living in another world half the time. But my followers always say to me they're like are you doing Jane Austen July?

Speaker 1:

so I love that it's such a massive community thing that people are really engaged with, and I'm definitely obviously doing it this year. I've got you here, I'm doing this with you and, um, I have plans to do my book club as well. So, yeah, I'm really excited for it. I think it's great like having this challenge and hopefully it brings more people into Jane Austen as well. You know like it's fabulous. I mean seven years worth of it. How many, how many people have you brought into Jane Austen? I think this is.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and Jane Austen is. You know, I think Jane Austen is really accessible, like I think sometimes people are a bit scared of reading classics or they feel like they won't enjoy them. But you know, I think some books from the past are trickier than others, but Jane Austen is not, is not, it's not tricky I don't find. I feel like her language is relatively easy, her chapters are quite short, her novels are not too long and it's just great fun to get into Jane Austen. And I also feel like what I've enjoyed about doing Jane Austen July is because we talk about, you know, retellings of Jane Austen and film adaptation of Jane Austen. So it's all about having fun with Jane Austen rather than like necessarily analysing Jane Austen in a deep, complicated way, because I think sometimes people are afraid of reading older books because they feel like they have to analyse them, they feel like they have to read them, like they were reading them at university or school. But actually you can just read Jane Austen for fun, because Jane Austen is great fun and you don't have to worry about understanding all the context or every single word necessarily all the time.

Speaker 2:

Jane Austen is just really fun to read as great stories that are really funny, really entertaining, um, really heartwarming and satisfying, um, and sometimes it's fun to analyze everything down to tiny little moments, but you don't always have to do that, um, and so I think, hopefully, what we've enjoyed doing with Jane Austen July is kind of talking about Jane Austen in lots of different ways, um, and you know, I've done, like I said, in-depth 40-minute character studies on Mr Collins, but I've also put up videos in Jane Austen July's talking about like all the random like Jane Austen merch. I have, you know, so much jewelry and clothing and like random Jane Austen related notebooks and bags and that kind of stuff, which is also fun. Um, you know, there's this massive like universe surrounding Jane Austen because there are so many Jane Austen fans out there and that's a really like fun thing to engage with as well yeah, definitely.

Speaker 1:

I think, um, something that I talk about a lot on the podcast is that it doesn't really matter how you come into Jane Austen. Like there is, there is a whole universe now, whether that's a film, a book, a Jane Austen jigsaw. Like genuinely there is so much in, like I just think, especially nowadays, like we're all really working to make it such a welcoming and a warm community that I don't think it matters how you came into it, we're just happy for you to be here so like you said, it doesn't matter if you're not analyzing things in detail.

Speaker 1:

It sometimes it's well. However, it is if it's just the 2005 pride and prejudice that got you into it. We're here for it. We love it exactly. Yeah, do you want to let people know, um, when the book is coming out, um, where they're going to be able to purchase it, um and any other details about this, and also where they can find you on YouTube and Instagram? All of the good stuff yes, of course.

Speaker 2:

So, um, the Trouble with Mrs Montgomery Hearst is coming out on the 18th of July, which I realize is actually the anniversary of jane austen's death, which feels kind of um solemn. There we go um, but yeah, it's coming out on the 18th of july, um in the uk, um, and it should be, you know, available on waterstones or bookshoporg, um, amazon, etc. Um, and yeah, it'll be very exciting for it to come out. Um, yeah, and you can find me um on youtube, um, my channel is called books and things, and also on um instagram and x? Um with the handle katie j lundsten, and you can find me on youtube with katie j lundsten as well.

Speaker 1:

Um, yeah, and if you search jane austen july, you'll probably find me too yeah, absolutely, um, and I will tag everything below, as always, um, but that is everything from us today and I will see you in another episode.

Exploring Jane Austen's Influence and Works
The Trouble With Gossip in Belford
Literary Influences and Victorian Research
Exploring Historical Fiction and Forbidden Love
Exploring Queer History and Gossip
Exploring Gossip and Social Restrictions
Character Development in 19th Century Novels
Jane Austen July Reading Event
Promoting Literature and Social Media