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Archive for November, 2009


I’ve been having a lovely time on my blog tour for the launch of Willoughby’s Return. Here’s an interview I had with Barbara from Everything Victorian and More. Thank you Barbara, I really enjoyed the interview!
1. What inspired you to write about the main character?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. She’s a heroine who wears her heart on her sleeve and never loves by halves. In Jane Austen’s book Marianne has two great love affairs – firstly, with the dashing Mr Willoughby, who ignites the feelings of her first great passion but who lets her down badly, and secondly, with Colonel Brandon, an older, steadier man who is the real hero, the one she marries. The ending of Sense and Sensibility surprises some readers who can’t believe that Marianne really loves the Colonel enough to marry him. This intrigued me, and the fact that she is a character we easily identify with – I’m sure most people have known a Willoughby at some stage in their lives, but have been able to move on and find lasting, true love with somebody who really suits them. Colonel Brandon has also suffered from the disappointment of a first love and I wanted to explore not only their relationship but also how the impact of those first attachments might affect their lives together.

2. What is your favorite line from this book?

Gosh, what a good question! This is a difficult one, but when Marianne meets Willoughby again and has to be escorted into dinner by him she finds herself in a very difficult situation. Here’s the line: Despite purposefully leaning as far away from him as she was able, she could not help but be aware of his nearness, and of his smell, emanating like an elixir from a bygone age, mingled into a potpourri of fragrant images from the past.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?

I was a very small girl when I first started writing, but then I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I still have a series of little books about the ‘Smiles Family’ that I made when I was about eight or nine. I think it’s taken a lifetime to develop my craft and I’m still learning now!

4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book/books made the biggest impact on your writing?

Of course Jane Austen is a huge influence. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and all of her books have made the biggest impact. But I also love any books by Frances Hodgson Burnett, (The Making of a Marchioness) Edith Wharton, (The Age of Innocence) and Fanny Burney (Evelina) to name but a few of my favourite writers. There are so many wonderful books out there that it’s hard to choose. Writers of the past rather than the present are my biggest influence because those are the books I tend to prefer – I love the quality of writing that you get in an older book.

5. Who is your favorite writer?

No contest – Jane Austen. Her books have been the pleasure of my life and the reason I have become a published writer. She is recognised now as a genius, but I wish she had known in her lifetime how her writing would eventually be regarded – how much her work is revered and loved today!

6. Does storytelling run in your family?

We all enjoy a good book or story. My parents encouraged us to read and told stories when I was young. I hope I’ve passed this love of storytelling to my children. My husband is a brilliant storyteller – I think he’d write a marvellous book.

7. When creating the story, which is the most difficult, the beginning, middle, or ending?

The middle is the most difficult for me, most definitely. I think you have to be able to keep the reader interested in turning the pages and keeping up the momentum being careful not to give too much away too early and tying it all up too soon before you get to the end.

8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or night person? Do you have a special place you like to go to for inspiration? What energizes you?

I am a morning person, but that can mean very early morning. Sometimes, I wake at three in the morning with an idea, and I have to write it down because if I don’t I’ll forget it before I wake up again the next day. I think I must be solving problems in my sleep because this happens quite a lot. There is something lovely about writing in the early hours when there is no one about – my little writing room is next door to my bedroom so it’s very easy to pop in there and switch on the computer. I love my room, I am so lucky to have one all of my own. It’s lined with books, and filled with objects, pictures and paintings that I love. I have a desk before the window and watch all the world pass by whilst I’m writing. It’s great inspiration.

9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?

Keep striving to learn how you can improve your writing, and read, read read! Remember why you started writing in the first place when you get bogged down with problems – that’s sometimes forgotten when you are in pursuit of getting published and you’ve just received a rejection letter.

10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

I sometimes get to meet the people who have read my books – I can’t tell you the thrill it is when someone tells me or writes to tell me that they enjoyed a particular book. I indulge myself in my favourite activity on a daily basis and also get to spend huge chunks of the day in another century in Jane Austen’s world (or my version of it, at least) – what more could anyone wish?

The very lovely Anne Herries also interviewed me for the Red Roses for Authors blogspot. Thank you, I really enjoyed your questions!

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I was very kindly invited to guest blog on Book Nerd Extraordinaire Blogspot. Here’s what Jaime Huff has to say about Willoughby’s Return followed by my guest post.

‘I have been enjoying the selection of Jane Austen sequels, and Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe is right there leading the pack. Marianne, in my opinion, was spoiled, vivid and full of life and Jane Odiwe has maintained that spirit as she brings us to Marianne’s life and her marriage to Colonel Brandon…”Willoughby’s Return” has maintained the spirit and life of it’s predecessor, “Sense and Sensibility” and was such a strong, flowing read and I would definitely recommend this to any Sense and Sensibility fan who has wondered “well, what then?”‘ Jaime Huff

Jaime, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my book, Willoughby’s Return. I thought I’d talk a little about Mr. Willoughby, that bad boy we find hard to resist!

Have you ever felt an irresistible attraction toward someone, and fallen so passionately in love with a guy that he made you throw all caution to the wind, so that your behaviour became reckless and even a little wild? In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne’s relationship with John Willoughby escalates quickly into a whirlwind romance, so rapidly that the gossips assume they are engaged. Willoughby, dashing and handsome, is the man of her dreams – he enjoys poetry, music, and loves to dance. Marianne thinks she has met her perfect match until he breaks her heart. Scandal surrounds him, not only does he leave her for a woman with a fortune, but she finds out he is not the man she thought. Later, she is able to forgive him, especially when he tells her sister that he is full of remorse and regret; Marianne will forever be his secret standard of perfection. He has realised, too late, just how much he loves her, but by then Marianne has moved on and fallen in love with Colonel Brandon, an older, but much wiser, and kinder gentleman, far more suited to our heroine.
When I wrote Willoughby’s Return, I was full of questions about the ending of Jane Austen’s book – I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if John Willoughby came back to the neighborhood, as it is likely that he will inherit his benefactor’s grand house, Allenham Court.

Has Marianne really buried all her former feelings for Willoughby who once claimed her heart, and who has publicly made no secret of the fact that he still admires her. If they are thrown together in circumstances neither of them can avoid, what will happen? Will Marianne’s love for Colonel Brandon be tested?
Here’s an extract from the book. Marianne has met Willoughby again, and memories she thought were gone will not go away!

Seeing Willoughby again had disturbed her mind, and now she was travelling through countryside she could only ever associate with him. Pulling down the window to breathe the cool air, she could not help being reminded of a time, five years ago, of a season just like this one. She tried to dismiss her thoughts but they crowded in on her until she was forced to remember a particularly golden, autumnal day, when she had first been taken to see Allenham Court, which John Willoughby would inherit one day. The dwelling he had hinted would also be her future home was the place where he had first stolen more than a lock of her hair.

It was at his suggestion that he show her over the house. They travelled alone in an open carriage, bowling at speed down the green lanes, so fast that Marianne was forced to cling to his arm for fear of being thrown abroad.

He was so pleased and proud to show it off. “Do you like the house?” he asked, taking her hand and helping her down from the carriage. “Would it suit Miss Dashwood to live in a house like this?”
Marianne’s excitement knew no bounds. “This house would suit anyone, Mr. Willoughby,” came her fervent response, gazing up at the charming edifice.

He took her into the garden first. They strolled away from the house and into a leafy walkway. The fragrance of damp earth and the musk scent of leaves like amber jewels above her head in the arbour were smells she would associate forevermore with those feelings of longing and love. He crooked her arm in his and they wandered through thorned archways, gleaming scarlet with rose hips, embroidered with the lace of jewelled spider’s webs. It seemed like a dream come true to Marianne, and the thought that this might be her retreat some day brought on such ecstasies of happiness that she was lost for words. They walked in silence. All she heard were the leaves rustling under her feet, the birds in the trees calling out to one another. Her only desire was to link his arm in hers, and to feel the nearness of his face, his breath so close as to stir her curls. She could not have imagined greater felicity.
After going all round the grounds he took her inside. They crept about for fear of disturbing Mrs. Smith, who slumbered in her chair in the drawing room, quite unaware of their presence. He took her hand as they crept up the stairs with stifled giggles. The ancient oak door opened with a creak into a darkened room, the heavy, old-fashioned drapes drawn against the morning sun to protect the furniture.
Marianne’s eyes were not able to adjust to the gloom after the brightness outside. “I cannot see,” she whispered.

He caught both of her hands in his and whispered in reply, “Let me be your guide, Miss Marianne.”

© Jane Odiwe, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak at Willoughby’s Return! Now tell me—who’s your favorite Austen hero and why?

Read Full Post »

I was very kindly invited to guest blog on Book Nerd Extraordinaire Blogspot. Here’s what Jaime Huff has to say about Willoughby’s Return followed by my guest post.

‘I have been enjoying the selection of Jane Austen sequels, and Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe is right there leading the pack. Marianne, in my opinion, was spoiled, vivid and full of life and Jane Odiwe has maintained that spirit as she brings us to Marianne’s life and her marriage to Colonel Brandon…”Willoughby’s Return” has maintained the spirit and life of it’s predecessor, “Sense and Sensibility” and was such a strong, flowing read and I would definitely recommend this to any Sense and Sensibility fan who has wondered “well, what then?”‘ Jaime Huff

Jaime, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my book, Willoughby’s Return. I thought I’d talk a little about Mr. Willoughby, that bad boy we find hard to resist!

Have you ever felt an irresistible attraction toward someone, and fallen so passionately in love with a guy that he made you throw all caution to the wind, so that your behaviour became reckless and even a little wild? In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne’s relationship with John Willoughby escalates quickly into a whirlwind romance, so rapidly that the gossips assume they are engaged. Willoughby, dashing and handsome, is the man of her dreams – he enjoys poetry, music, and loves to dance. Marianne thinks she has met her perfect match until he breaks her heart. Scandal surrounds him, not only does he leave her for a woman with a fortune, but she finds out he is not the man she thought. Later, she is able to forgive him, especially when he tells her sister that he is full of remorse and regret; Marianne will forever be his secret standard of perfection. He has realised, too late, just how much he loves her, but by then Marianne has moved on and fallen in love with Colonel Brandon, an older, but much wiser, and kinder gentleman, far more suited to our heroine.
When I wrote Willoughby’s Return, I was full of questions about the ending of Jane Austen’s book – I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if John Willoughby came back to the neighborhood, as it is likely that he will inherit his benefactor’s grand house, Allenham Court.

Has Marianne really buried all her former feelings for Willoughby who once claimed her heart, and who has publicly made no secret of the fact that he still admires her. If they are thrown together in circumstances neither of them can avoid, what will happen? Will Marianne’s love for Colonel Brandon be tested?
Here’s an extract from the book. Marianne has met Willoughby again, and memories she thought were gone will not go away!

Seeing Willoughby again had disturbed her mind, and now she was travelling through countryside she could only ever associate with him. Pulling down the window to breathe the cool air, she could not help being reminded of a time, five years ago, of a season just like this one. She tried to dismiss her thoughts but they crowded in on her until she was forced to remember a particularly golden, autumnal day, when she had first been taken to see Allenham Court, which John Willoughby would inherit one day. The dwelling he had hinted would also be her future home was the place where he had first stolen more than a lock of her hair.

It was at his suggestion that he show her over the house. They travelled alone in an open carriage, bowling at speed down the green lanes, so fast that Marianne was forced to cling to his arm for fear of being thrown abroad.

He was so pleased and proud to show it off. “Do you like the house?” he asked, taking her hand and helping her down from the carriage. “Would it suit Miss Dashwood to live in a house like this?”
Marianne’s excitement knew no bounds. “This house would suit anyone, Mr. Willoughby,” came her fervent response, gazing up at the charming edifice.

He took her into the garden first. They strolled away from the house and into a leafy walkway. The fragrance of damp earth and the musk scent of leaves like amber jewels above her head in the arbour were smells she would associate forevermore with those feelings of longing and love. He crooked her arm in his and they wandered through thorned archways, gleaming scarlet with rose hips, embroidered with the lace of jewelled spider’s webs. It seemed like a dream come true to Marianne, and the thought that this might be her retreat some day brought on such ecstasies of happiness that she was lost for words. They walked in silence. All she heard were the leaves rustling under her feet, the birds in the trees calling out to one another. Her only desire was to link his arm in hers, and to feel the nearness of his face, his breath so close as to stir her curls. She could not have imagined greater felicity.
After going all round the grounds he took her inside. They crept about for fear of disturbing Mrs. Smith, who slumbered in her chair in the drawing room, quite unaware of their presence. He took her hand as they crept up the stairs with stifled giggles. The ancient oak door opened with a creak into a darkened room, the heavy, old-fashioned drapes drawn against the morning sun to protect the furniture.
Marianne’s eyes were not able to adjust to the gloom after the brightness outside. “I cannot see,” she whispered.

He caught both of her hands in his and whispered in reply, “Let me be your guide, Miss Marianne.”

© Jane Odiwe, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak at Willoughby’s Return! Now tell me—who’s your favorite Austen hero and why?

Read Full Post »

In celebration of the publication of Willoughby’s Return, Vic (from Jane Austen Today) and I have decided to write a series of posts as Jane Austen characters from Sense and Sensibility. Recently, Lucy Ferrars wrote a letter to Elinor Ferrars – Vic is writing as Lucy and my response shows Elinor’s thoughts and point of view! We thought it might be fun to see how these sister-in-laws might behave now they are married to Robert and Edward Ferrars.

My Dear Mrs. Ferrars, (or may I call you Elinor now that we have been SISTERS for more years than I care to admit!)

I write seemingly out of the blue, for I have been the poorest of correspondents. Unfortunately, my duties as Mrs. Robert Ferrars keep me too busy to attend to this important duty as MATRIARCH of the family (now that Mrs. Ferrars, that dearest of mama-in-laws, has been laid to rest). Be assured that I have managed to apprise myself of both your and Rev. Ferrars’ well-being through Mrs. Jennings’s cheery correspondence and through my association with Mrs. John Dashwood, whose conversations have been nothing short of ENLIGHTENING.

First, let me extend my felicities on the INCREASE of your family. How you are able to accommodate the addition of even one child, much less two, given Rev. Ferrars’ modest income, astonishes me. Your methods of economy are laudable, for I assuredly could not have contrived to be comfortable with twice the amount of his living, and yet somehow you have managed.

The purpose of my inquiry is this: It has come to my attention that Colonel Brandon is frequently away from home and that during his current absence, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have ARRIVED IN TOWN to settle Mrs. Smith’s estate. Pray tell, how is Mrs. Brandon bearing up under this new development? Is there aught I can do to help the situation, for she must be torn twixt her unresolved feelings towards her former lover and a husband whose attentions are ELSEWHERE? Pray, tell me how I can be of service to you or Mrs. Brandon.

My sincere well wishes to you, Rev. Ferrars, and your dear children. If you would be so kind as to extend my courtesies to Colonel Brandon, Mrs. Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, I would be most obliged. T’would save the cost of franking additional letters, and as you have discovered firsthand, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Ever your servant,
Lucy, Mrs. Robert Ferrars

Elinor read the letter twice through. Lucy’s relationship by marriage to Edward’s brother Robert did make her a relation, but the address of sister; she felt more than a little wanting. Lucy had made it perfectly clear from the start that Elinor held no interest for her apart from being the means by which she might be invited to the Mansion house. For her own part Elinor must admit to being ashamed that the feelings she harboured of intolerance and prejudice towards Lucy were not those that a clergyman’s wife should possess, struggling with her feelings towards the woman who had once captured her husband’s heart. But, she kept her thoughts to herself and did her utmost to keep them under regulation whilst determining to behave with due civility.

Unlike Lucy, Elinor had written regularly to her sister-in-law and her husband informing them in a general and friendly way of the news from Delaford Rectory and the Mansion house. It had never surprised Elinor that Lucy had ignored her letters, and that in the last five years Robert and Lucy had only come to Delaford once shortly after they were all married. Lucy had made no secret of the fact that she found the rectory too cramped and too plain for her taste. There had been some amusement in listening to Lucy’s plans for its improvement. Her suggestions of verandahs on two sides, and a large extension complete with bow windows festooned in lace and brocade had brought a smile to Elinor’s lips, not to mention biting them as she received her advice on colour schemes, empire fripperies and new-fangled lamps. Lucy’s taste reflected the mode of the day whereas Elinor felt far more comfortable with dear, familiar objects from the past arranged with more thought to comfort than to fashion. A chair from her father’s study held pride of place in the parlour along with his writing slope arranged on Edward’s desk. The set of her mother’s breakfast china given on the occasion of their marriage sparkled in the glass-fronted cabinet that had been in the drawing room at Norland and the walls glowed with paintings executed by the mistress of Delaford Rectory during her courtship. Colonel Brandon had been very generous but as a gentleman sensitive to the feelings of others, his interventions had been made only where he felt he could be of use without offence. The rectory was very comfortable though luxuries were few, but all who entered the house felt charmed. It was true, Reverend and Mrs. Ferrars enjoyed a modest income, but what they lacked in material wealth, they more than made up for in the accumulation of other, less worldly goods. Their fortune was founded on the simple pleasures that days spent in worthwhile service to their community bring, and in the love, respect and admiration each held for the other.

Elinor sat down in her father’s chair to stroke the scrolled arms as she had often seen him do as he sat lost in thought musing over a problem. How was she to answer this letter? Could it possibly be true that the Willoughbys had returned to the neighbourhood or was Lucy bent on making mischief as usual? And if it were true – Elinor did not want to think about the possibility. Surely Mr.Willoughby would not wish to live so closely to her mother and Margaret where the likelihood of running into them might be a daily occurrence. No, impossible, that surely could not be! Besides, she had heard nothing of the matter and she was certain if Marianne had known of it, she would have confided in her. Elinor folded the letter and consigned it to the flames roaring in the grate deciding it would be best if she simply refuted the whole affair assuring Lucy that she must be quite mistaken.

The photograph is of Teigh Old Rectory which was used for Mr Collins’ rectory in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. You can actually stay there – just imagine!

You can read our letters inspired by Lydia Bennet’s Story by clicking here

Read Full Post »

In celebration of the publication of Willoughby’s Return, Vic (from Jane Austen Today) and I have decided to write a series of posts as Jane Austen characters from Sense and Sensibility. Recently, Lucy Ferrars wrote a letter to Elinor Ferrars – Vic is writing as Lucy and my response shows Elinor’s thoughts and point of view! We thought it might be fun to see how these sister-in-laws might behave now they are married to Robert and Edward Ferrars.

My Dear Mrs. Ferrars, (or may I call you Elinor now that we have been SISTERS for more years than I care to admit!)

I write seemingly out of the blue, for I have been the poorest of correspondents. Unfortunately, my duties as Mrs. Robert Ferrars keep me too busy to attend to this important duty as MATRIARCH of the family (now that Mrs. Ferrars, that dearest of mama-in-laws, has been laid to rest). Be assured that I have managed to apprise myself of both your and Rev. Ferrars’ well-being through Mrs. Jennings’s cheery correspondence and through my association with Mrs. John Dashwood, whose conversations have been nothing short of ENLIGHTENING.

First, let me extend my felicities on the INCREASE of your family. How you are able to accommodate the addition of even one child, much less two, given Rev. Ferrars’ modest income, astonishes me. Your methods of economy are laudable, for I assuredly could not have contrived to be comfortable with twice the amount of his living, and yet somehow you have managed.

The purpose of my inquiry is this: It has come to my attention that Colonel Brandon is frequently away from home and that during his current absence, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have ARRIVED IN TOWN to settle Mrs. Smith’s estate. Pray tell, how is Mrs. Brandon bearing up under this new development? Is there aught I can do to help the situation, for she must be torn twixt her unresolved feelings towards her former lover and a husband whose attentions are ELSEWHERE? Pray, tell me how I can be of service to you or Mrs. Brandon.

My sincere well wishes to you, Rev. Ferrars, and your dear children. If you would be so kind as to extend my courtesies to Colonel Brandon, Mrs. Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, I would be most obliged. T’would save the cost of franking additional letters, and as you have discovered firsthand, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Ever your servant,
Lucy, Mrs. Robert Ferrars

Elinor read the letter twice through. Lucy’s relationship by marriage to Edward’s brother Robert did make her a relation, but the address of sister; she felt more than a little wanting. Lucy had made it perfectly clear from the start that Elinor held no interest for her apart from being the means by which she might be invited to the Mansion house. For her own part Elinor must admit to being ashamed that the feelings she harboured of intolerance and prejudice towards Lucy were not those that a clergyman’s wife should possess, struggling with her feelings towards the woman who had once captured her husband’s heart. But, she kept her thoughts to herself and did her utmost to keep them under regulation whilst determining to behave with due civility.

Unlike Lucy, Elinor had written regularly to her sister-in-law and her husband informing them in a general and friendly way of the news from Delaford Rectory and the Mansion house. It had never surprised Elinor that Lucy had ignored her letters, and that in the last five years Robert and Lucy had only come to Delaford once shortly after they were all married. Lucy had made no secret of the fact that she found the rectory too cramped and too plain for her taste. There had been some amusement in listening to Lucy’s plans for its improvement. Her suggestions of verandahs on two sides, and a large extension complete with bow windows festooned in lace and brocade had brought a smile to Elinor’s lips, not to mention biting them as she received her advice on colour schemes, empire fripperies and new-fangled lamps. Lucy’s taste reflected the mode of the day whereas Elinor felt far more comfortable with dear, familiar objects from the past arranged with more thought to comfort than to fashion. A chair from her father’s study held pride of place in the parlour along with his writing slope arranged on Edward’s desk. The set of her mother’s breakfast china given on the occasion of their marriage sparkled in the glass-fronted cabinet that had been in the drawing room at Norland and the walls glowed with paintings executed by the mistress of Delaford Rectory during her courtship. Colonel Brandon had been very generous but as a gentleman sensitive to the feelings of others, his interventions had been made only where he felt he could be of use without offence. The rectory was very comfortable though luxuries were few, but all who entered the house felt charmed. It was true, Reverend and Mrs. Ferrars enjoyed a modest income, but what they lacked in material wealth, they more than made up for in the accumulation of other, less worldly goods. Their fortune was founded on the simple pleasures that days spent in worthwhile service to their community bring, and in the love, respect and admiration each held for the other.

Elinor sat down in her father’s chair to stroke the scrolled arms as she had often seen him do as he sat lost in thought musing over a problem. How was she to answer this letter? Could it possibly be true that the Willoughbys had returned to the neighbourhood or was Lucy bent on making mischief as usual? And if it were true – Elinor did not want to think about the possibility. Surely Mr.Willoughby would not wish to live so closely to her mother and Margaret where the likelihood of running into them might be a daily occurrence. No, impossible, that surely could not be! Besides, she had heard nothing of the matter and she was certain if Marianne had known of it, she would have confided in her. Elinor folded the letter and consigned it to the flames roaring in the grate deciding it would be best if she simply refuted the whole affair assuring Lucy that she must be quite mistaken.

The photograph is of Teigh Old Rectory which was used for Mr Collins’ rectory in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. You can actually stay there – just imagine!

You can read our letters inspired by Lydia Bennet’s Story by clicking here

Read Full Post »

I am delighted to announce the winners of the competitions held during the last fortnight. I just want to say thank you to everyone who entered the competitions and also to everyone who joined in the fun and left their comments. I’ve been very touched by your comments and personal e-mails; it’s so lovely to hear from you all.

Names were drawn from the hat for each competition – here are the winners!

Painting of Marianne and Elinor – Milka

Greetings cards – Sylvia Chan and Etirv

Sense and Sensibility CD – Mer

Willoughby’s Return Books – Michelle W and Laura Gerold

Jane and Cassandra painting – Alexa Adams

Here’s a review from Jane Austen Today

Humans are complex creatures. We are all multidimensional, like the characters that Jane Austen created in her delightful novels. Take Willoughby, the handsome cad from Sense and Sensibility. At the end of Jane Austen’s tale, he expressed his love for Marianne to Elinor, even though he had become engaged to another woman . The reader, sensing his regret, almost feels sorry for him, for he had exchanged his dearest possession for empty coin.

Jane Odiwe’s novel, Willoughby’s Return, centers around Willoughby’s reappearance in Marianne life. But which man does she write about? The scoundrel or the romantic hero with the complicated emotions? Jane O. does not reveal this important bit of information until the very end of her tale. Marianne, although three years older, married, and the mother of a small son, is still as volatile as ever – sensitive, romantic, and impressionable. She has fallen deeply in love with her husband. Although their marriage is sensual and the Colonel spoils her, Marianne has become suspicious of her William. His obligations to his ward, Eliza and her daughter, call him away frequently. When Willoughby reenters her life, as handsome and attractive as ever, Marianne has become unsure of her husband’s affections and is feeling vulnerable.

Adding richness to the plot of Willoughby Returns is the tale of Margaret, Marianne’s and Elinor’s youn sister. Now seventeen years old, she plays the other central role in this novel, in which the happily married Elinor takes a back seat and is barely glimpsed. Margaret experiences her own romance with dashing Henry Lawrence, William Brandon’s nephew.

Like Jane Austen, Jane Odiwe is spare in her descriptions of the characters, but unlike Jane A., she is free with her depiction of an age long gone, of market days and vegetable stalls and flowers in a meadow. An artist as well as a writer, Jane O.’s details of scenery and village life are vivid. She has no need to imitate Jane A.’s writing style and in this, her second novel, is developing a keen style of her own. Favorite characters like Mrs. Jennings are revisited, and Lucy Steele (now Ferrars) and her sister Anne also make a reappearance. Jane O’s plot has its twists and turns, the suspense coming from the characters’ actions, which comes to a satisfying conclusion only after several misunderstandings are cleared up.

Readers who love Jane Austen sequels will find this charming book a more than satisfying read. I give it three out of three Regency fans.

I was a guest on Jane Austen’s World – here’s the interview

Jane, I have thoroughly enjoyed ‘Willoughby’s Return’. Your writing style is lovely and has matured since your first book. Was it easier to write a second novel?

Jane: Thank you Vic for inviting me onto your blog, and for your lovely comments; I am so thrilled that you enjoyed my novel. I did find it easier in some ways, yet I feel I still have so much to learn. Writing the first one teaches you so much, and I was able to draw on those experiences. Feeling confident to experiment a bit more was very helpful, I wasn’t so afraid to write the book as I wanted to – I’m always conscious that people are constantly comparing what I write to Jane Austen. It isn’t possible to emulate Jane, of course, but I try to retain the tone and flavour of her books, bearing in mind that I am writing for a modern audience.

How were you inspired to write this book? How did you come up with the plot? It was a stroke of genius to make Margaret Dashwood the heroine of your story and yet retain Marianne. They shared center stage much in the way that Elinor and Marianne did in Sense and Sensibility. Was this done on purpose?

Jane: Like a lot of people who have read Sense and Sensibility, I never felt completely convinced at the end of the book that Marianne would have fallen in love so easily with Colonel Brandon as we are told in the two paragraphs that Jane devotes to their courtship and marriage. I wanted to believe that they were right for one another, and this is what started me thinking about how he might have won her over, and about their relationship in general. Marianne is a passionate romantic, a little self-centred, and a firebrand. I imagined that although she might love the Colonel as much as she had Willoughby, it would have been quite a different courtship, and a complicated relationship, especially as they have both loved and lost in the past. The fact that Brandon is guardian to the daughter of his first love who is also tied to Willoughby as the father of her child, I felt would cause big problems. Marianne thinks only of others in terms of herself, I think she would be very jealous of Brandon’s relationship with his ward and her child. Starting with these ideas as a background, I wondered what might happen if Willoughby returned, and how he could be worked into the plot so that Marianne could not avoid him.

I wanted to introduce an older Margaret, who we are told has a character very similar to her sister. The relationship between the sisters is an important part of the book – would Marianne be able to chaperone Margaret as Elinor might or would she indulge her sister, encouraging her to fall head over heels with the first love that comes along? Would Margaret make the same mistakes as her sister?

Finally, I’ve always wondered about Brandon’s sister that we hear Mrs Jennings mention in S&S. Why was she in France? I decided to bring her and her family back to Whitwell, and this gave me an opportunity to introduce one of the young men central to the story. I love all the twists and turns in the plots of Jane Austen’s books, and I spent a long time thinking about how I could achieve a few of my own. I had a lot of fun with the plot, which changed several times before I got to the end!

Mr. Wickham and Willoughby are central to the plots of your two novels. Do you have a penchant for bad boys? Or do you think they are more complex characters than Edmund Bertram or a Henry Tilney, let’s say?

Jane: I don’t have a penchant for bad boys as such, but I understand how such characters have a certain appeal for most women – I think most of us have probably come across a Willoughby at some stage when we were growing up – I am convinced Jane knew of one or two! Bad boys are central to Austen’s plots also, and what fascinates me is that these characters are always introduced as handsome, dashing young men on first acquaintance. But, I think what’s important about Jane’s writing is that even when it is found that they are far from the good characters they are initially painted, they are not caricatures, never wholly bad. Willoughby, for instance, does realise his mistakes by the end of the book even if he doesn’t suffer forever. The development of a character like Willoughby was something I wanted to bear in mind with my book. I love the fact that Marianne is his ‘secret standard of perfection in woman’ – wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Willoughbys spent the rest of their lives in such secret regret?

I also enjoyed the historic touches that you managed to weave into your plot. It is evident that you know the countryside well and that you are familiar with Regency customs. Tell me a little about your research. I know you have visited many of the places you describe.

Jane: Research is a favourite part of writing these books – I probably spend far too much time on it, and always end up with more than I need, but England at this time is so interesting. My book starts off in Devon and Dorset, counties I’ve known and enjoyed since I was a little girl. My father used to take cine films of us when we were little – I have film of me in Lyme when I am about seven, and I have very fond memories of holidays taken in the area. I had to include Lyme in the book for these associations and for those that Jane wrote about in Persuasion.

I also spent a lot of time wandering around London finding all the places where the characters spend the season, and deciding where Marianne and her Colonel might have their house. As you know, Vic, there is still so much to see of Georgian London!

Oh, yes! I envy your living so close to the places that I research and your proximity to London. You write, paint, oversee at least three blogs and a twitter account, and have a family. How do you find time for it all? I am curious how you still manage to paint, for I always found that to be the most time consuming of my talents and the easiest to drop when my schedule is hectic.

Jane: The truth is that I find it difficult to find time for it all, but I am an early riser, and get a lot done when everyone is still asleep. We always come together for meals in my family, that’s most important and, we spend time together in the evenings – sometimes we paint together. There are several artists in the family; I love it if we are all working round the table. My own painting has taken a back seat at present, but that’s more to do with the fact that writing has taken me over for the moment.

Any other thoughts about your book that you would like to share with our readers?

Jane: One of the themes in the book concerns that of love, lost and found. Both the Colonel and Marianne have been in love before, and their relationship is a second attachment. I wonder what your readers think of second attachments – and have they ever encountered or suffered at the hands of a Mr Willoughby?

Thank you so much for this interview and for the photos you supplied. I can’t recommend ‘Willoughby’s Return’ highly enough to people who love to read Jane Austen sequels.

Jane: Thank you for inviting me to talk to you about my book and for a fantastic interview with such thought provoking questions!

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I am delighted to announce the winners of the competitions held during the last fortnight. I just want to say thank you to everyone who entered the competitions and also to everyone who joined in the fun and left their comments. I’ve been very touched by your comments and personal e-mails; it’s so lovely to hear from you all.

Names were drawn from the hat for each competition – here are the winners!

Painting of Marianne and Elinor – Milka

Greetings cards – Sylvia Chan and Etirv

Sense and Sensibility CD – Mer

Willoughby’s Return Books – Michelle W and Laura Gerold

Jane and Cassandra painting – Alexa Adams

Here’s a review from Jane Austen Today

Humans are complex creatures. We are all multidimensional, like the characters that Jane Austen created in her delightful novels. Take Willoughby, the handsome cad from Sense and Sensibility. At the end of Jane Austen’s tale, he expressed his love for Marianne to Elinor, even though he had become engaged to another woman . The reader, sensing his regret, almost feels sorry for him, for he had exchanged his dearest possession for empty coin.

Jane Odiwe’s novel, Willoughby’s Return, centers around Willoughby’s reappearance in Marianne life. But which man does she write about? The scoundrel or the romantic hero with the complicated emotions? Jane O. does not reveal this important bit of information until the very end of her tale. Marianne, although three years older, married, and the mother of a small son, is still as volatile as ever – sensitive, romantic, and impressionable. She has fallen deeply in love with her husband. Although their marriage is sensual and the Colonel spoils her, Marianne has become suspicious of her William. His obligations to his ward, Eliza and her daughter, call him away frequently. When Willoughby reenters her life, as handsome and attractive as ever, Marianne has become unsure of her husband’s affections and is feeling vulnerable.

Adding richness to the plot of Willoughby Returns is the tale of Margaret, Marianne’s and Elinor’s youn sister. Now seventeen years old, she plays the other central role in this novel, in which the happily married Elinor takes a back seat and is barely glimpsed. Margaret experiences her own romance with dashing Henry Lawrence, William Brandon’s nephew.

Like Jane Austen, Jane Odiwe is spare in her descriptions of the characters, but unlike Jane A., she is free with her depiction of an age long gone, of market days and vegetable stalls and flowers in a meadow. An artist as well as a writer, Jane O.’s details of scenery and village life are vivid. She has no need to imitate Jane A.’s writing style and in this, her second novel, is developing a keen style of her own. Favorite characters like Mrs. Jennings are revisited, and Lucy Steele (now Ferrars) and her sister Anne also make a reappearance. Jane O’s plot has its twists and turns, the suspense coming from the characters’ actions, which comes to a satisfying conclusion only after several misunderstandings are cleared up.

Readers who love Jane Austen sequels will find this charming book a more than satisfying read. I give it three out of three Regency fans.

I was a guest on Jane Austen’s World – here’s the interview

Jane, I have thoroughly enjoyed ‘Willoughby’s Return’. Your writing style is lovely and has matured since your first book. Was it easier to write a second novel?

Jane: Thank you Vic for inviting me onto your blog, and for your lovely comments; I am so thrilled that you enjoyed my novel. I did find it easier in some ways, yet I feel I still have so much to learn. Writing the first one teaches you so much, and I was able to draw on those experiences. Feeling confident to experiment a bit more was very helpful, I wasn’t so afraid to write the book as I wanted to – I’m always conscious that people are constantly comparing what I write to Jane Austen. It isn’t possible to emulate Jane, of course, but I try to retain the tone and flavour of her books, bearing in mind that I am writing for a modern audience.

How were you inspired to write this book? How did you come up with the plot? It was a stroke of genius to make Margaret Dashwood the heroine of your story and yet retain Marianne. They shared center stage much in the way that Elinor and Marianne did in Sense and Sensibility. Was this done on purpose?

Jane: Like a lot of people who have read Sense and Sensibility, I never felt completely convinced at the end of the book that Marianne would have fallen in love so easily with Colonel Brandon as we are told in the two paragraphs that Jane devotes to their courtship and marriage. I wanted to believe that they were right for one another, and this is what started me thinking about how he might have won her over, and about their relationship in general. Marianne is a passionate romantic, a little self-centred, and a firebrand. I imagined that although she might love the Colonel as much as she had Willoughby, it would have been quite a different courtship, and a complicated relationship, especially as they have both loved and lost in the past. The fact that Brandon is guardian to the daughter of his first love who is also tied to Willoughby as the father of her child, I felt would cause big problems. Marianne thinks only of others in terms of herself, I think she would be very jealous of Brandon’s relationship with his ward and her child. Starting with these ideas as a background, I wondered what might happen if Willoughby returned, and how he could be worked into the plot so that Marianne could not avoid him.

I wanted to introduce an older Margaret, who we are told has a character very similar to her sister. The relationship between the sisters is an important part of the book – would Marianne be able to chaperone Margaret as Elinor might or would she indulge her sister, encouraging her to fall head over heels with the first love that comes along? Would Margaret make the same mistakes as her sister?

Finally, I’ve always wondered about Brandon’s sister that we hear Mrs Jennings mention in S&S. Why was she in France? I decided to bring her and her family back to Whitwell, and this gave me an opportunity to introduce one of the young men central to the story. I love all the twists and turns in the plots of Jane Austen’s books, and I spent a long time thinking about how I could achieve a few of my own. I had a lot of fun with the plot, which changed several times before I got to the end!

Mr. Wickham and Willoughby are central to the plots of your two novels. Do you have a penchant for bad boys? Or do you think they are more complex characters than Edmund Bertram or a Henry Tilney, let’s say?

Jane: I don’t have a penchant for bad boys as such, but I understand how such characters have a certain appeal for most women – I think most of us have probably come across a Willoughby at some stage when we were growing up – I am convinced Jane knew of one or two! Bad boys are central to Austen’s plots also, and what fascinates me is that these characters are always introduced as handsome, dashing young men on first acquaintance. But, I think what’s important about Jane’s writing is that even when it is found that they are far from the good characters they are initially painted, they are not caricatures, never wholly bad. Willoughby, for instance, does realise his mistakes by the end of the book even if he doesn’t suffer forever. The development of a character like Willoughby was something I wanted to bear in mind with my book. I love the fact that Marianne is his ‘secret standard of perfection in woman’ – wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Willoughbys spent the rest of their lives in such secret regret?

I also enjoyed the historic touches that you managed to weave into your plot. It is evident that you know the countryside well and that you are familiar with Regency customs. Tell me a little about your research. I know you have visited many of the places you describe.

Jane: Research is a favourite part of writing these books – I probably spend far too much time on it, and always end up with more than I need, but England at this time is so interesting. My book starts off in Devon and Dorset, counties I’ve known and enjoyed since I was a little girl. My father used to take cine films of us when we were little – I have film of me in Lyme when I am about seven, and I have very fond memories of holidays taken in the area. I had to include Lyme in the book for these associations and for those that Jane wrote about in Persuasion.

I also spent a lot of time wandering around London finding all the places where the characters spend the season, and deciding where Marianne and her Colonel might have their house. As you know, Vic, there is still so much to see of Georgian London!

Oh, yes! I envy your living so close to the places that I research and your proximity to London. You write, paint, oversee at least three blogs and a twitter account, and have a family. How do you find time for it all? I am curious how you still manage to paint, for I always found that to be the most time consuming of my talents and the easiest to drop when my schedule is hectic.

Jane: The truth is that I find it difficult to find time for it all, but I am an early riser, and get a lot done when everyone is still asleep. We always come together for meals in my family, that’s most important and, we spend time together in the evenings – sometimes we paint together. There are several artists in the family; I love it if we are all working round the table. My own painting has taken a back seat at present, but that’s more to do with the fact that writing has taken me over for the moment.

Any other thoughts about your book that you would like to share with our readers?

Jane: One of the themes in the book concerns that of love, lost and found. Both the Colonel and Marianne have been in love before, and their relationship is a second attachment. I wonder what your readers think of second attachments – and have they ever encountered or suffered at the hands of a Mr Willoughby?

Thank you so much for this interview and for the photos you supplied. I can’t recommend ‘Willoughby’s Return’ highly enough to people who love to read Jane Austen sequels.

Jane: Thank you for inviting me to talk to you about my book and for a fantastic interview with such thought provoking questions!

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