I was saddened to hear recently that one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Aston (Edmondson), passed away. According to her website:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Elizabeth, who died on the evening of Monday, 11th January, following a short battle with cancer. She was 67. Elizabeth was the author of over thirty novels, in genres including historical, detective, romantic comedy, women’s fiction and children’s fantasy.” ~ elizabethedmondson.com
When I met with my good friend, Karysa Faire, at our weekly get together last week, she dropped the bombshell. It wasn’t her fault, she had no idea what a big impact Elizabeth had made on me. Karysa was actually talking about a friend of hers dealing with grief and how her friend who passed was a woman named Elizabeth Edmoundson, who wrote Jane Austen fiction. At first, my mind went searching for the name and I was relieved because I knew Elizabeth’s last name was Aston, the name Edmondson didn’t ring a bell. But as we talked, the realization that Elizabeth was MY Elizabeth creeped over my shoulders like a ghostly draft.
I say MY Elizabeth, but we did not know each other. I’d never sent her an email or connected with her for an interview. In fact, I’d become a fan of her writing so long ago, before Facebook, before Kindle, before I started writing professionally. I’d never even seen her photo before researching for this post. So, to call her MY Elizabeth is pretty pretentious, but she was MY Elizabeth just as Lizzy and Darcy are OUR Lizzy and Darcy.
Although Elizabeth never knew me, she touched me in that way a great author can. Her books reached inside my soul and wrapped me up in Austen situations. I read the print books and have the worn and bent covers to prove it! Elizabeth was the first person I read after my great love affair with Jane Austen’s writing found me at the end of her reading list. I was Austen crazed, had to have more, and finding I’d read everything she’d written, searched online for something more. At first I was cautious about reading someone else’s take on OUR most beloved Austen stories, but Elizabeth Aston calmed my fears by writing like Jane. She knew the characters as well as I did. She understood my need for continuation without spoiling the original plots. She got me.
So, although Elizabeth never knew me, she answered a longing I had at a time when I needed it badly. She was my answer to the dream that Austen’s works continued and a gateway drug to all the other variations and continuations I’ve read since.
Thank you Elizabeth for writing such great books and for opening the world of Austen knock-offs to me, an obsession that has now spanned over 15 years. You will be missed.