What Happened on Box Hill
What Happened on Box Hill: Austen University Mysteries
by Elizabeth Gilliland
About What Happened on Box Hill
What Happened on Box Hill: Austen University Mysteries
1st in Series
Setting – Louisianna
Bayou Wolf Press (February 1, 2022)
ASIN : B09KQZZPJF
What would happen if you combined all of Jane Austen’s characters into one modern-day novel?
Murder, of course.
When Caty Morland’s roommate, Isabella, falls to her death on Initiation night, Austen University is quick to cover up the scandal and call it a tragic accident. But avid true-crime lover Caty remains convinced that Isabella didn’t fall; she was murdered. With the help of Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse, Caty organizes a dinner party with the most likely suspects, including familiar faces such as Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley, and Marianne Dashwood. The theme of the night is murder, and Caty has three courses to find out what happened to Isabella–and to try to keep the killer from striking again.
Emma Woodhouse’s 5 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Dinner Party:
Hi, my name is Emma Woodhouse and I’m a senior at Austen University. I’m a double major in marketing and hospitality, with a minor in French, and I’m also the President of the Pi Kappa Sigma House. As you can imagine, all these commitments keep me incredibly busy, but never too busy to throw a killer dinner party. Some people are born to dance, some are born to paint, and others (including yours truly) are born to host!
Between organizing sorority events, hosting my father’s business dinners (I won’t drop names, but let’s just say I know how the mayor likes his steak), and entertaining my own friends, I’ve been told I know how to throw a pretty stellar dinner party. Read on to get all the tools you’ll need to ensure your special night is a success.
If you follow all these guidelines, I can assure you, you will have a night that everyone remembers fondly.** And if you need any more tips, check out my Pinterest board for all things elegant, memorable, and chic!
Here are my top five tips for ensuring the night goes off without a hitch.
Make sure you get an RSVP well in advance of the event and that you know everyone’s dietary restrictions. Can you imagine anything worse than the night ending with a trip to the emergency room because you didn’t realize the boss’s husband was allergic to sesame seeds? For legal reasons, I’ve been instructed that I can’t say if this is a true anecdote or not, but if it is, I can assure you it didn’t happen at one of my parties.
Theme! Theme is everything, darling! My annoying friend Knightley thinks it’s funny to say, ‘Isn’t the theme of a dinner party dinner?’ And that is what makes him annoying. You can always tell an amateur host because there’s nothing coherent tying the evening together. You know the kind of party I’m talking about: crabcake starters, meat pie entree, tiramisu for dessert, while Louis Armstrong plays in the background. Where are we–the beach, an English pub, an Italian cafe, or New Orleans in 1942?? A unifying theme keeps your guests focused on the sparkling conversation instead of guessing/fearing what will be coming next. (Anything but charades!)
Create a guest list that gels. While it might be tempting to invite anyone and everyone you find remotely nice or entertaining, keep in mind that the right combination of guests is the key factor in securing a night that everyone will remember. An even number of guests is CRITICAL - no third wheels, please! And you must have the right balance between talkers and listeners, jokesters and philosophers. While it’s good to have a nice variety of backgrounds (if everyone’s from the same office, it might feel too much like a meeting, no?), you don’t want to have TOO wide a gulf. Call me a snob if you choose, but I’m not going to invite my mechanic to an evening with President de Bourgh (AKA the president of Austen University), no matter how good he is with a carburetor.
Set your expectations in STONE. If the dinner is formal, make sure your guests know. If it’s a costume party, make clear that you expect EVERYONE to dress up (no one likes the ‘cool’ guy who refuses to participate–I’m looking at you here, Darcy). I like to help my guests by including a Pinterest list of the types of outfits that would be most appropriate in the invitation. Some might say that’s a little too passive aggressive, but I’m just looking out for my guests. One person wearing, say, jeans and boots while everyone else is in semi-formal cocktail wear just makes everyone feel uncomfortable. (And if it doesn’t, you have no business at a dinner party.)
No murder. No unsolved murder BEFORE the party, no murder talk AT the party, and God forbid, no active murder DURING the party. Trust me. It does not go well.
**Provided that no one dies. Which, I think we can all agree, is a real mood-killer at a party.
About Elizabeth Gilliland
Elizabeth Gilliland teaches English at the university level, putting as much Austen into her syllabi as she can get away with. In 2018, she completed her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, where she wrote her dissertation on Jane Austen adaptations and fever-dreamed this series in a caffeine-induced haze. She is a proud member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and excerpts of the Austen University series have won awards through JASNA and Jane Austen & Co/The Jane Austen Summer Program. She lives in Alabama with her husband and son.
Twitter: @egilliland7 – https://twitter.com/egilliland7
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