Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Mr Willoughby Returns’ Category


In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Margaret Dashwood, the youngest sister has a minor role. We learn in chapter one that she was a good-humoured, well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne’s romance, without having much of her sense; she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.

At thirteen Margaret is too young to be ‘out’ and we only see glimpses of her as she observes her sisters’ behaviour. She does not miss a trick; telling Elinor that she thinks Marianne is engaged because she has witnessed Mr Willoughby stealing a lock of her hair. I love the following extract, which shows how keenly Jane Austen observed the foibles of the young.

Margaret’s sagacity was not always displayed in a way so satisfactory to her sister. When Mrs. Jennings attacked her one evening at the Park, to give the name of the young man who was Elinor’s particular favourite, which had been long a matter of great curiosity to her, Margaret answered by looking at her sister, and saying, “I must not tell, may I, Elinor?”

This of course made everybody laugh; and Elinor tried to laugh too. But the effort was painful. She was convinced that Margaret had fixed on a person, whose name she could not bear with composure to become a standing joke with Mrs. Jennings. Marianne felt for her most sincerely; but she did more harm than good to the cause, by turning very red, and saying in an angry manner to Margaret, –

“Remember that whatever your conjectures may be, you have no right to repeat them.”

“I never had any conjectures about it,” replied Margaret; “it was you who told me of it yourself.”

This increased the mirth of the company, and Margaret was eagerly pressed to say something more.

“Oh! pray, Miss Margaret, let us know all about it,” said Mrs. Jennings. “What is the gentleman’s name?”

“I must not tell, ma’am. But I know very well what it is; and I know where he is too.”

“Yes, yes, we can guess where he is; at his own house at Norland to be sure. He is the curate of the parish I dare say.”

“No, that he is not. He is of no profession at all.”

“Margaret,” said Marianne, with great warmth, “you know that all this is an invention of your own, and that there is no such person in existence.”

“Well, then, he is lately dead, Marianne, for I am sure there was such a man once, and his name begins with an F.”

My new book, Willoughby’s Return, starts three years after S&S finishes and at eighteen going on nineteen, I thought it was time to give Margaret a heroine’s role. Her story is intertwined with that of Marianne’s who encourages Margaret to follow her heart.

Willoughby cutting Marianne’s hair by Brock

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

My new book which is a Sense and Sensibility sequel has a new title, ‘Mr Willoughby Returns, a tale of irresistible temptation’. It is to be published by Sourcebooks next autumn, so I am very excited about that! Here’s a little taster:

When Marianne Dashwood weds Colonel Brandon both are aware of the other’s past attachments; Marianne’s grand passion for the charming but ruthless John Willoughby and Brandon’s tragic amour for his lost love Eliza. Three years on Marianne is living with her husband and child at Delaford Park, deeply in love and contented for the most part, although Marianne’s passionate, impulsive and sometimes jealous behaviour is an impediment to her true happiness. News that John Willoughby and his wife have returned to the West Country brings back painful memories for Marianne and with the demise of Mrs Smith of Allenham Court comes the possibility of Mr Willoughby and his wife returning to live near Barton and the surrounding area of Devon and Dorset, a circumstance which triggers a set of increasingly challenging, yet often amusing perplexities for Marianne and the families who live round about.

I do not think there is another of Jane Austen’s anti-heroes who receives such a promising and lengthy description as Mr John Willoughby, which instantly conjures up a picture of a gallant suitor. I have italicised the parts which refer to his looks and manner in Chapter nine of Sense and Sensibility when we are first introduced to him. No wonder Marianne was completely smitten by him!

They set off. Marianne had at first the advantage, but a false step brought her suddenly to the ground, and Margaret, unable to stop herself to assist her, was involuntarily hurried along, and reached the bottom in safety.

A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers playing round him, was passing up the hill and within a few yards of Marianne, when her accident happened. He put down his gun and ran to her assistance. She had raised herself from the ground, but her foot had been twisted in the fall, and she was scarcely able to stand. The gentleman offered his services, and perceiving that her modesty declined what her situation rendered necessary, took her up in his arms without farther delay, and carried her down the hill. Then passing through the garden, the gate of which had been left open by Margaret, he bore her directly into the house, whither Margaret was just arrived, and quitted not his hold till he had seated her in a chair in the parlour.

Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at their entrance, and while the eyes of both were fixed on him with an evident wonder and a secret admiration which equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized for his intrusion by relating its cause, in a manner so frank and so graceful, that his person, which was uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice and expression. Had he been even old, ugly, and vulgar, the gratitude and kindness of Mrs. Dashwood would have been secured by any act of attention to her child; but the influence of youth, beauty, and elegance, gave an interest to the action which came home to her feelings.

His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the theme of general admiration, and the laugh which his gallantry raised against Marianne received particular spirit from his exterior attractions. Marianne herself had seen less of his person than the rest, for the confusion which crimsoned over her face, on his lifting her up, had robbed her of the power of regarding him after their entering the house. But she had seen enough of him to join in all the admiration of the others, and with an energy which always adorned her praise. His person and air were equal to what her fancy had ever drawn for the hero of a favourite story; and in his carrying her into the house with so little previous formality, there was a rapidity of thought which particularly recommended the action to her. Every circumstance belonging to him was interesting. His name was good, his residence was in their favourite village, and she soon found out that of all manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming. Her imagination was busy, her reflections were pleasant, and the pain of a sprained ankle was disregarded.

Read Full Post »