Monday, November 10, 2008

Publishing Rights for Pemberley Remembered sold to Source Books

The publishing rights to Pemberley Remembered have been sold to Sourcebooks. It has been retitled Searching for Pemberley. It will contain the story line from Pemberley Remembered, but it will also continue Maggie Joyce's story. It will be out on December 1, 2009. If you would liked to pre-order or have a look at the new cover, please click on URL link. Thanks. Mary Simonsen

Thursday, October 2, 2008

e-mail the Author

I would like to hear from my readers, so if you have any comments you would like to share, please post them here or e-mail me at Thanks you. Mary Simonsen

Monday, September 29, 2008

Interview in The Scranton Times

You know you've hit the big time when you are interviewed by The Scranton Times. Seriously, I am thrilled, especially since it's my only newspaper interview. The main character in Pemberley Remembered is Maggie Joyce who grew up in Minooka in the 1930s and '40s. My cousin, who still lives in Minooka (now a part of Scranton), gave a copy of my book to a friend of hers at The Times, who, in turn, gave it to Jeremy Burton who writes a personal-interest column called "Around the Towns." I was really pleased when Jeremy called to interview me because I wanted people from my parents' hometown to know that I had written a book that, I hoped, reflected the hard work and struggles of my parents and their parents and grandparents. It was a rough coal-mining town in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, but it produced a hearty people, many of whom rose to prominence despite having grown up in the Depression. Here is the article:

"Mary Simonsen didn't grow up in the Minooka section of Scranton, but Maggie Joyce sure did. Maggie is the protagonist in Ms. Simonsen's first book, Pemberley Remembered, which follows the story of a young woman from a coal town in Pennsylvania who gets wrapped up in romance and mystery in post-war England.

For inspiration, Ms. Simonsen drew from her family's deep roots around Scranton, which stretch back to before the Civil War. By the time Ms. Simonsen was born, her parents, Paul Lydon and Hannah Mahady, had moved to suburban New Jersey, but Minooka was still the family home. She remembers visiting the graves of ancestors at St. Joseph's and listening to stories from her grandmother.

The character of Maggie is a composite of Ms. Simonsen's mother and her aunts. Maggie is very much defined by her Irish Catholic ties and the close-knit life of Minooka before World War II.
Ms. Simonsen said in a way the novel allowed her to preserve a piece of her family's history in the voice of Maggie. The book is available from"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Six Month Anniversary for PR

I received a wonderful review from Swapna Krishna at Curled Up With a Good Book, and I would like to share parts of it:
Pemberley Remembered is historical fiction in the broadest sense. Not only does it cover Austen’s Regency England; it is a revealing portrait of World War II and postwar England as well. Any fan of either will greatly enjoy this book. However, it is also a story of romance, the likes of which are unsurpassed in today’s literary climate. I am hesitant to categorize the book as a romance, because while it is the story of Maggie and Rob and their love for each other, there is so much more that develops in the novel.
When a reader hears the title, Pemberley Remembered, the first thing that comes to mind is Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice. Any real fans of that work will most likely clamor to read this novel; anyone who does not recognize the name Pemberley will pass it by, even after picking it up to read the synopsis. What a mistake they would be making!
The most remarkable aspect of Pemberley Remembered is Simonsen’s ability to take multiple stories from completely different time periods and fuse them together into a cohesive whole. Maggie’s search for answers, Jack and Beth’s story, the horrors of war, the development of Maggie and Rob’s relationship, the story of the Garrisons and Laceys (the supposed characters the Bennets and Darcys were modeled upon), all while keeping the reader’s interest in the mysteries of the novel – it is quite an achievement. Simonsen devotes ample time to each storyline, never neglecting one for another. The result is a beautiful, full book that is not a quick read – the complicated nature of the novel does not allow for that. Instead, it is a slower, satisfying read, another rarity with books today.
Pemberley Remembered is a shining addition to the world of historical fiction. While the reader may find some storylines more interesting than others, all are well written.... While Pride and Prejudice is a big factor in the book, it does not define it. It can stand very well on its own merit, and because of that, any reader will most likely enjoy this book.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at
© Swapna Krishna, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reviews of Jane Austen Inspired Films

Review of Masterpiece, Sense and Sensibility
As a big fan of Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, I was eager to see if another adaptation of Jane Austen's first published novel could shine as much as the 1995 film. It did. The performances of the leading ladies was exceptional, especially Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood, and the supporting cast was first rate. As for the gents, the actor playing the cad, Willoughby, was a little to smarmy for my taste, and David Morrissey's portrayal of Col. Brandon was quite good. Unfortunately, he's too old for 17-year old Marianne Dashwood. Part II moved at a sluggish pace, but the superior acting of the female leads continued to hold your interest. And who wouldn't want to look at the actor who played Edward Ferrars? However, the scene where Edward is disinherited by his mother exposed one of the flaws of the novel. If Mrs. Ferrars was willing to disinherit her son because of a secret engagement with Lucy Steele, why wouldn't she do the same when Miss Steele transferred her affections to Robert Ferrars, the younger son? It seems as if Miss Austen wanted to wrap up the story with everyone ending up with the right person. In any event, this adaptation was wonderful, and the scenery was jawdropping. As far as I'm concerned, any Jane Austen is better than no Austen at all, and so now it's back to the DVDs.

Review Jane Austen Book Club
The film version of Jane Austen Book Club is now out on DVD. It is the tale of five women with very different personalities and interests who come together to discuss the one thing that they all have in common: Jane Austen and her writings. They are joined by a young man who has no interest in Jane Austen but is very interested in one of the members. The actors, Hugh Dancy, Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Kathy Baker, and Emily Blunt, all share the spotlight, without a camera hog among them. Rounding out the cast is Jimmy Smits who divorces his wife (Amy Brenneman) of 20 years, only to find out that he immediately regrets the decision.Through Jane Austen writings, the members are able to share the difficulties of personal relationships that are present regardless of era. If you are watching this as a Jane Austen fan, you will have to be patient because there is a lot of time between discussion of the different novels. But every once in a while, they do discuss the books, and you'll pick up a tidbit now and then. However, it really is a story about love and friendship, and one that is very well done.

Review of Becoming Jane Austen
If you have ever longed for the slower pace of times past, then this is the movie for you. Not much happens in this supposed tale of a fleeting love interest in Jane Austen's life, and when something does happen, it is most likely to be complete fiction. The stars of ths movie are the sets which recreate a time when everything was candlelit, and even the plainest girl could look pretty in the flickering light of a dancehall, and the dance scenes. Anne Hathaway's portrayal of Miss Austen is very well done, and Scotsman, James McAvoy, who plays her love interest in the film, is talented and easy on the eyes. The supporting cast is first rate with James Cromwell playing Jane's father and Maggie Smith as a Lady Catherine DeBourgh type character. But for those who know Jane, there is too much inaccuracy in the film; for those who don't, there isn't enough action; and for those of us in between, there was nothing to grab hold of. Having said that, it would be a good film to watch on a rainy day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Austen's Dedication of Emma: Who and Why

One of Jane Austen’s most ardent supporters was her brother Henry. Despite being cautioned by his sister that she did not want her identity known, Henry could not help but brag about his younger sister’s success, especially when Pride & Prejudice went into its third printing. It was Henry, from his sickbed, who successfully negotiated her agreement with John Murray, Lord Byron’s publisher, for her fourth novel, Emma. After an agreement had been secured with Murray, Jane went up to London to see if she could expedite the printing of her book. During her stay, she was contacted by Rev. James Stanier Clarke, the Prince Regent’s librarian. His Royal Highness had learned that Jane was in town from his physician who also happened to be her brother Henry’s doctor.

Rev. Stanier Clarke invited Jane to tour Carlton House, the Regent’s opulent London residence. Putting aside her “hatred” for the Prince because of his debauchery and ill treatment of his wife, Princess Caroline, Jane accepted the invitation. During her tour, Stanier Clarke told Jane that the Prince had a set of her novels in each of his many residences and that, “by permission of His Royal Highness,” she was “at liberty to dedicate any future novel to him.” Jane immediately recognized the commercial value of such a dedication. The dedication that Jane wrote for Emma read: “Dedicated by permission to HRH The Prince Regent,” but was embellished by the publisher, and in unctuous prose worthy of Mr. Collins, the wording as it appeared on December 23, 1815 read: “To His Royal Highness, The Prince Regent. This work is, by his Royal Highness’s permission, most respectfully dedicated by His Royal Highness’s dutiful and obedient humble servant, The Author.”

Did the Prince Regent’s notice of Jane Austen’s writings have any effect on the success of Emma? It is impossible to know. What we do know is that Emma sold more copies in its first run than any of her three previous novels.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Berlin in Ruins

In the novel, Maggie Joyce goes to work in Frankfurt in 1946 for the Army Exchange Service. This part of her story was based on my father's sister, Mim, who went to work for the State Department in Berlin shortly after the war ended. Because of the ferocity of the fight by the Russians in taking the German capital, much of the city was left in ruins. Many of the buildings left standing were comandeered by the Army of Occupation to house their employees. The hardships suffered by the Germans after the war are unimaginable, especially since the winter of 1945-46 was brutally cold. However, the Germans immediately started to rebuild their city and their lives. Streets were cleared of rubble; trolley lines were repaired; buildings were rebuilt using material from bombed buildings. Although there was a non-fraternization order between Americans and Germans, it didn't last long, and many soldiers returned to the U.S. with a German war bride. Photos from my aunt's time in Berlin can be seen at on the "Story Background" page. There is a slide show at the bottom of the page.