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Archive for May, 2011

Here are some pictures from my lovely weekend with P and P Tours. The sun shone, and the views were stunning! Everyone had a wonderful time – there’s nothing nicer than spending time with like-minded people! I did a reading from Willoughby’s Return, and I bet you can’t guess what film we watched on television. I slept like a dream – I like to think it was all the exercise I did, though I think the odd gin and tonic or glass of wine may have helped.

There are wildflowers everywhere – if you want to be Marianne for a day, this is the place to do it!

A side view of the house.

Here am I standing in the doorway of the house – notice the columns are not there-they were added for the film, as were shutters on the windows to give Georgian proportions.

In the room where Emma Thompson does her sewing and bemoans the price of beef!

Mrs. Dashwood sat here!

A view over the estuary.

Waiting for Willoughby to sweep me over the threshold!

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This weekend I’m off on a special trip with P and P Tours to South Devon to celebrate 200 years of Sense and Sensibility. I’m looking forward very much to meeting everyone and to staying in Barton Cottage! I’ll tell you all about it next week!

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When writing Mr. Darcy’s Secret, I had a lot of fun with the character of Caroline Bingley. I wondered how she might change if she really fell head over heels for someone, and whether her personality might also be temporarily affected! I decided she might fancy herself capable of all sorts of things if she were to be influenced by cupid’s arrows, and when she becomes part of a new painting and poetry circle led by the enigmatic artist and writer, Lord Henry Dalton, Caroline finds she is willing to embrace a whole new world! I decided to have her completely smitten with all things literary and artistic, and far from snubbing the countryside as she has done formerly, she finds a new passion for wild and romantic landscapes, and a desire to experience a simpler, rustic way of living. The Darcys are staying in the Lake District when Caroline and her sister Louisa are bent on following Lord Dalton along with Lady Catherine de Burgh, and a host of others to sample the delights of poetry and painting against the dramatic backdrop of mountains and water! Here’s an extract from Mr. Darcy’s Secret. I hope you enjoy it!

At the very start of April, as the daffodils danced on the quiet shoreline of Lake Winandermere, an untidy procession of coaches, carriages, tilburies, and phaetons noisily wound their way along the roads from Kendal to their various destinations, some toward the lake itself whilst others travelled on to more remote hideaways.
Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst looked out of their carriage window in expectation as they bowled along.
“How soon do you think we shall see him, Louisa?” said Miss Bingley, who could not speak Lord Dalton’s name out loud for fear of raising her blushes higher. Caroline, who had never felt anything remotely like love for anyone in her life before, was completely smitten. Such a change had come over her that she hardly recognised herself. So softened by her notions of amour and romance had she become that even Louisa looked quite handsome today in her eyes, which was saying a lot, because apart from the sibling rivalry that prevented her from ever admitting anything in her sister’s favour, she privately thought that Mrs Hurst was very fortunate to have caught herself a husband with a countenance that she considered would make a turbot appear attractive.
“You gave him our forwarding address, did you not, Caroline? I am sure he will find us if that is his desire,” answered her sister with a look of discontent spreading over her face. In her opinion, there was little chance of Lord Dalton calling often, if at all, but she kept her thoughts to herself. She started to gesticulate through the window. “It all looks rather wild out there. Are you quite sure this is such a good idea? To turn down Lady Catherine’s kind invitation so you can cavort in a cottage is not my idea of fun. What did you mean by it, Caro? Have you gone mad?”
“I confess, I think I am a little mad, dearest Louisa… mad in love, if you please. And, I think when you hear me out, you will see that my reasons for choosing a sweet cot are very sane.”
“There’s nothing sane about wanting to stay in a tiny hovel a peasant wouldn’t thank you for with no servants to light the fires and no cook to wait on us. I do not know how you talked me into staying with you.”
“Oh, Lulu, you know I must have a chaperone, especially one that likes to take herself off for long walks when a certain gentleman comes calling. It is so romantic! I can see it all! Just picture it: a cosy sofa by the fire and Henry on his knees before me. Louisa, this is my chance, you must know that.”
Louisa knew nothing of the sort and privately thought that her sister had as much chance of winning over Lord Dalton as she had of winning the State Lottery, which she never did. The fact that he seemed similarly smitten with one of Lady Catherine’s circle, the unassuming yet beautiful Miss Theodora Winn, was a truth that Caroline refused to acknowledge or admit.
Presently, the carriage stopped, the door opened, and the steps were let down. “You’ll have to get out here,” said the driver of the post chaise. “I can’t get down that track; I’ll never get back again.”
“But how far is Robin Cot from here?” snapped Mrs Hurst who was less than impressed by the coachman’s attitude.
“I can’t say, ma’am, it depends who’s doing the walking,” he answered gruffly, observing their fine kid shoes. “Though by just looking I’d say fifteen minutes if the mud’s baked, twenty-five if not. That’s Robin Cot yonder.”
The sisters followed his pointing finger to the sight of a small dwelling, which could just be seen through a clump of trees on the brow of a hill in the distance. The narrow lane they must walk down was three inches deep in mud. Neither sister was equipped for such a jaunt nor did they relish the prospect of undertaking such a feat. They looked at one another in horror. “But you cannot leave us here,” wailed Caroline, as she watched the driver climb back onto the box.
“Company rules, ma’am,” he shouted, with a dismissive wave as he set off to leave them. “I’ll arrange for your luggage to be brought up to the cottage, but you’ll have to pay extra for a man to carry it all. Goodbye, ladies, I hope you enjoy your stay!”
Sourcebooks 2011 © Jane Odiwe

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The Friendship Book/Album of James Stanier Clarke containing, amongst many other items, a watercolour portrait believed to be a very rare depiction of Jane Austen, will be offered for sale at Christies, London, on Wednesday 8th June 2011!

I’ve always thought this a fascinating story, and I must admit the painting fits in with my idea of how Jane Austen looked. You can read all about the book’s incredible history by  clicking here.

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Thank you to everyone who joined in and left such lovely comments on my blog. My husband drew the name out of the hat today, and the winner of the signed copy of Willoughby’s Return is:

                                             Mer


                                      Congratulations!

Can you please send me details of your name and address and I’ll post your prize.

Here’s a little extract from the book:


Colonel Brandon looked surreptitiously at his wife over the breakfast table. Three years on from the day they had wed had hardly changed his feelings toward her, although as he sat in secret contemplation on the matter, he swiftly acknowledged his regard for Marianne was altered in every way completely. His love for her was deeper and more passionately felt than it ever had been, he decided, and his covert glances at her over the coffee pot confirmed this in his look of sheer admiration. He watched her as she buttered a slice of toast and stirred her chocolate, before licking the fragrant cocoa from the silver spoon, her eyes closed to savour the moment.
“Marianne Brandon is a very attractive woman,” he thought, “her complexion as brilliant as when first my eyes beheld her, her smile still as sweet and in those dark eyes, her spirit and eagerness are as discernable as ever. Even the most disenchanted soul would call her a beauty.”
She looked quite contented as she daydreamed. Yet, he was disturbed by a sense that Marianne, for all her animation, was not as happy as she ought to be. Sometimes, as he watched her, he was aware that she was lost in her own thoughts, seeming to be somewhere else far away. He occasionally detected a want of spirits, discerning the escaping breath of a sigh from her lips; a sound so slight as to be hardly there at all, only perceptible to him. Any enquiries he made, however, as to her welfare, always had the immediate effect on Marianne’s composure, bringing a bright smile to her countenance once more. But there was something on her mind, he was certain. Ever since he had returned from Lyme there had been a feeling of slight distance between them but he knew she hated to talk about Eliza and Lizzy, or to hear about their life, so he had kept his silence on the subject.
“He hasn’t mentioned a word about his trip,” thought Marianne as she scraped the remains of chocolate from the bottom of her cup. “He does not wish to communicate his true interest in his other life, the one he shares with those who possess such a claim on his affections. I wish I knew how Miss Williams looks, if she is like her mother’s painting. And the child; she must be almost five years old now. Does she favour her mother or her father? But I cannot ask Brandon; I must pretend that I do not care about either of them. He would think me such an unworthy person if he could read my mind and know how I despise them for taking him away from me so often. But Elinor is right; I must bear it for his sake. And I must try harder not to think about his time spent with them and keep my counsel on the subject. After the last time when I said so much that I did not really mean, when I saw the look of hurt in his eyes, I cannot be so outspoken again.”
Marianne and Brandon from the film Sense and Sensibility
William longed to ask his wife on what she was reflecting. Indeed, any conversation would have been welcome. He wished he could talk to her about his fears for little Lizzy’s health but the last thing he wished was to upset her with any conversation of Lyme. He tried to catch her eye but failed. His reverie was disturbed by a knock at the door. James, accompanied by the nursemaid Kitty, ran into the room to jump upon his father’s knee. Marianne laughed, catching William’s eye at the same moment. He held her gaze in his and the look of love that passed between them brought a blush to Marianne’s cheek. She looked down to smooth the tablecloth with her slender fingers, aware of his lingering expression and feeling immense happiness that at last she had gained William’s full attention.
“Your mama is in very good looks today,” pronounced the Colonel to his little son, as if expecting him to understand his every word.
“William, do not tease so,” Marianne admonished with a smile, raising her eyes to his again, to be caught once more by a look that spoke of his most earnest feelings.

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