Welcome Desiree Holt, lovely lady and fabulous author to victoriablisse.co.uk today. She’s brought her Clandestine Classic Northanger Abbey with her!
One of my majors in college was English and between high school and college I read many of what are today known as “the classics.” Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Tom Jones, The Mayor of Casterbridge and many others found their way onto my bookshelves. My assignments, of course, were to read them, for structure and proper use of the English language. To determine how they’d laid a foundation for the books of today. And to study the language and mannerisms of the various periods.
It’s hard to enjoy a book when you’re reading it for an assignment and trying to write a paper about it that you hope will score you an A. So during summer vacation I would take my favorites and read them just for pleasure. (I should tell you I’ve been an addictive reader since I was five years old and got my first Golden Book (do they still publish them?).
One of the things I loved and still love about these books was the seductive flow of the language and the picture she painted of the life of landed gentry in England. Austen gave us a rich view of life at that time interspersed with her own opinions. Interjecting the “spicy” scenes was a lot more than just putting a marker for later that says “sex goes here.” I had to match my voice to hers and be careful to pay attention to the vocabulary and habits of the times.
For example, did women wear underwear beneath their nightclothes? Were undergarments called pantaloons or pantalettes? How would a couple address each other in the privacy of their bedroom? How did they approach intimacy? And for Henry and Caroline in Northanger Abbey, there was also the issue of her virginity to deal with.
This is one of my favorite passages I inserted:
Pulling the gown up farther, he proceeded to pull one nipple into his mouth. Catherine’s breath caught at her throat as he sucked deeply on it then gently scraped it with his teeth. He cradled her breast in his warm palm, kneading it gently as he continued to suck and nip at the stiff peak. Her blood heated and fire roared straight to her cunny to meet the insistent throbbing in her already wet slit. He gave equal attention to her other breast until she was arching up to him in delight.
When Henry lifted his head she cried out. “Oh, continue, please, I pray you. I cannot bear it if you stop.” His smile was mesmerising. “If I am to continue we must move all this fabric out of the way.” He plucked at her gown, rucked up around her neck and ran a finger around the waist of her drawers. “I wish to see your body in its entirety, that I may worship every inch of it.”
I was also challenged as to where to begin the spice. Henry and Catherine do not meet until halfway through the book and it wouldn’t do for me to wait that long. I was sure my readers would feel cheated. So I created a plot device whereby Catherine and her girl friend with whom she spent overnights found a volume on sex in the library of her friend’s home. They snuck the book up to the bedroom and spent hours experimenting and recreating with each other the things they read about.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I don’t feel that those of us writing the Clandestine Classics in any way dishonored the writers. Instead I felt we were introducing the classic authors to an entirely new generation of readers and a new audience. I hope everyone else feels the same way.