Thursday, 21 July 2011

Meeting Meg

Meg Kerr is the author of Experience, a continuation of Pride and Prejudice.  After reviewing her book for my blog and for the Jane Austen Society of North America Calgary website, I asked her a few questions about her work.
Samantha Adkins:  How did you come to know Jane Austen and her work? 
Meg Kerr:  I was one of those kids who always had her nose in a book. I was about twelve when I first read Pride and Prejudice, and as a teenager I re-read it every year. That of course led to the rest of Jane Austen’s novels (Persuasion is my next favourite, followed by Emma) and then to other 19th century novelists. Their stories are still easy for us to identify with in the 21st century, even if the details now seem exotic (candlelight, coaches-and-four), and their prose has rarely been equaled by later novelists—and NEVER equaled if we’re speaking of Austen!
SA:  Why did you decide to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice?
MK:  Just as every reader does, I wanted to know what happened after Pride and Prejudice ended. And I wanted to have a visit with all the characters simply because I like them and wanted to see more of them! They really turn into friends after a couple of readings. Who wouldn’t want to live at Pemberley? And although we might not want to stay at Rosings or Hunsford Parsonage for a month, we’d even like to drop in on Lady Catherine and Mr. and Mrs. Collins for an evening.
P&P takes place in a world all its own, almost untouched by contemporary events in England. I love history, and I wondered what would be the result if the real world leaked a little into the story; so some of the things that happen in Experience are based on current events. (Little things like the Napoleonic Wars….)  But others are based more on the personalities of the characters—what they would do if they found themselves in new situations. I’m one of those people who firmly believe that Elizabeth and Darcy lived happily ever after, so I’ll say right now that they don’t drag each other around by the hair,  divorce or die in Experience.           
SA:  What do you enjoy about the writing process?
MK:  Thinking up stories is fun. And I love playing with words—maybe that’s something I picked up from early exposure to Jane Austen.
SA:  What part of Canada do you live in?   
MK:  I live in Toronto, although as a little girl I lived on my family’s farm north of Port Hope, Ontario. That branch of my family emigrated from Ireland between 1820 and 1830 (they would have been fairly close contemporaries of Susannah Moodie and Catherine Parr Traill, who also settled in the general area). I mention this because I put a Canadian connection—a historically natural one--into Experience.
SA:  Do you plan to write other novels related to Jane Austen?
MK:  I’m working on a sequel to Experience that tells Georgiana’s story. (Of course several other characters’ stories are in it as well.) Poor Georgiana is a cipher in Pride and Prejudice. Not even any speaking lines! I was sure something interesting would happen to her, and better than her little adventure with Wickham at Ramsgate.
SA:  Where can we find out more about your work?
MK:  I am taking part in this summer’s Austenesque Extravaganza I should say that someone from Pride and Prejudice is taking part. For a little treat, have a look at Meredith Esparza’s blog on Austenesque Reviews on August 13.
The website for Experience is at

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Experience by Meg Kerr

            Experience is a gratifying continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It begins with the final chapter of P&P and continues directly after Darcy and Elizabeth’s honeymoon.  The reader is treated to an intelligent and entertaining story of “what happens next” to all of the Bennet sisters, Caroline Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam and a host of other characters.
            Kerr does a fine job of maintaining Austen’s characters, intentions and style.  She shows an obvious respect for Austen’s sensibilities and writes with a good deal of wit.  She also writes amusing dialogue and weaves many Austen quotations into her novel.
            Readers who are interested in knowing more about the regency world will be pleased with the attention to detail and the inclusion of historical events.  Kerr cleverly includes the birth of the S.P.C.A., the Luddite Rebellion, British politics, the birth of the railway and many other occurrences into the plot.  Her own love of horses is evident throughout the book. 
            There are several new characters in this novel who compliment Austen’s characters.  I especially enjoyed Adam Kendall.  I was tickled with the future Kerr imagined for Elizabeth and Darcy and their sisters.  Anyone looking for a bodice-ripper will not find one in Kerr’s work, but will instead be treated to an admirable homage to Jane Austen and her work.