Happy Friday Bookworms!
You’ll recall that last week I was raving about Longbourn by Jo Baker (review). It’s essentially Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective, and it’s pretty great. A couple of months ago, I was hunting down digital books on my library’s website (as I am wont to do) and I saw that we were having an author event. With JO BAKER. In my town! I live in the middle of Illinois, y’all. We’re halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, which seriously limits our chances of being a book tour stop. I mean, who’s going to come to Peoria when CHICAGO and ST. LOUIS exist? Actually, my erroneous assumption that nobody cool ever came through Peoria kept me from monitoring these things. No more, I tell you. High five to the Peoria Public Library!
I was SUPER excited, as I’ve never been to an author event before. I was also rather nervous, because I loved the book and, well, I’m not very good at playing it cool. At all. I vacillate wildly between tongue tied silence and giddy over-enthusiasm in such situations. Neither is a particularly attractive reaction, believe you me. Giddy enthusiasm won the night, as I wasn’t a few feet in the door before asking a costumed member of the Jane Austen Society of Chicago to pose for a photo with me.
I managed to talk a friend into joining me at the event, and we were easily among the youngest attendees, which surprised the heck out of me. I guess I’m too used to my internet bookish peer group and expected a room full of 20 and 30 somethings, as opposed to the bus load of senior citizens from a local assisted living facility. (Not that I don’t adore any of my readers who are out of their 30s. I mean, certainly I wouldn’t have known, you all look so YOUNG, you gorgeous bookworms, you!) It was kind of funny though, when Jo Baker took the stage, I heard several people around me muttering “that can’t be her, she’s too young!”
I’m not sure how old Ms. Baker is, but she is quite adorable. An Austen fan to the core, Ms. Baker always loved the world of Georgian balls and social events, but felt a disconnect. She understood that if she’d been born in that time period, she’d have been far more likely to have been washing the Bennets’ underthings than dancing and cavorting at a ball. I struggle with this ALL THE TIME when reading historical fiction! Much of what I read focuses on the wealthy or the ultra wealthy or friggin royalty. I’m with Lorde, here, y’all, I’ll never be royal. Extra fun tidbit? While researching the book, Ms. Baker tested out some old school cleaning method. Turns out cold tea is excellent for cleaning wood floors. The more you know.
Immediately after the talk, I got in line to have two books signed. One was the galley I received (thanks Kelly!) and one I bought at the event so I could get a present for YOU! When I got up to the table, I stammered out some ridiculousness about being a book blogger, handing Jo Baker a Words for Worms bookmark, and asked if she’d pose for a photo. Even though she claimed that she typically looks like “a gargoyle” in photos, she gamely posed. I think she found me amusing. At least I hope she did…
All in all, I had THE MOST FUN! Austen enthusiasts in full costume? Authors who don’t call security on me? Brilliant! Ah, but you’ve heard already that I didn’t forget about you. Someone out there is going to WIN an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Longbourn!!! The only rule is that you have to live in the continental US to win, because shipping costs. Yikes. You want to win and have a US address for me to mail your winnings to? Enter here!
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