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The Kindle price of Mr. Darcy’s Secret has been slashed to £1.89 here in the UK and $2.95 in the US! It’s a huge saving, and if you haven’t had a chance to read it, I hope you’ll be tempted!

 After capturing the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England, Elizabeth Bennet believes her happiness is complete-until the day she unearths a stash of anonymous, passionate love letters that may be Darcy’s, and she realizes just how little she knows about the guarded, mysterious man she married… 

Praise for Jane Odiwe:
“Continuing a novel like Pride and Prejudice is a daring enterprise, and Jane Odiwe comes to it steeped in Austen, in all her renditions; Odiwe’s sentences often glint with reflections of the great Jane…”
-Historical Novel Society

 “Odiwe’s elegantly stylish writing is seasoned with just the right dash of tart humor.” – Booklist


 “Jane Odiwe writes with such eloquence and style that you can’t be helped for thinking that you are reading Jane Austen!” -A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf

 “Odiwe’s research and passion for the Regency era shine.”-Austenprose


“Jane Odiwe writes with skill and charm, and her latest novel will delight the thousands of readers for whom just one book about the Bennet sisters in not enough.” – Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine


Read more about Mr. Darcy’s Secret on my website

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Free E-books from Sourcebooks on December 16 – One Day Only

From Leah Hultenschmidt of Sourcebooks:

December 16 is Jane Austen’s birthday and as the world’s leading Jane Austen publisher, Sourcebooks, is throwing a huge one-day-only birthday book bash. We will be offering special ebook pricing on ten of the best Austen-inspired novels – and what better pricing could there be than free?

On December 16 only, the following bestselling ebooks will be available free through our retail partners (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc):

Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan 
Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
The Darcy’s & the Bingley’s by Marsha Altman
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Collins
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds 

But the party doesn’t stop there, because also for one day only, we are offering free illustrated ebook editions of all six of Austen’s novels. These special editions include the full novels plus the legendary color illustrations of the Brock brothers originally created to accompany the books in 1898.

Even if you don’t have a kindle you can download them onto your computer. I’m thrilled that my naughty Lydia is included in this set of wonderful books!
Here’s the link to claim your books from Sourcebooks

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I am very excited to tell you that I can now show you the cover for my new novel, Mr Darcy’s Secret.
I am absolutely thrilled with it, I think it’s the best yet, and I hope you like it too! I love the very curvy Lizzy on the cover, set against a backdrop that could either be Derbyshire or the Lakes where most of the action takes place. Look at those gloves! York tan if I’m not mistaken, and what a gorgeous contrast they make to the beautiful, sheer muslin gown she is wearing. The whole picture is lit by the shaft of light slipping under the curtain highlighting Lizzy’s skin and that enigmatic smile. Well, I’m really chuffed, as they say where I come from. Sourcebooks do the most wonderful covers in the world!

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Laurel Ann from the fabulous Austenprose blog has very kindly invited me to guest blog as part of her Pride and Prejudice without Zombies Group Read. If you’ve not been keeping up with all the fascinating posts do head on over there – there’s something of interest for all fans of Pride and Prejudice. I was thrilled when Laurel Ann asked me if I’d write about the main hero and heroine of the novel especially as I’ve just finished a continuation of Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are perhaps Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Pride and Prejudice was written more than two hundred years ago, yet these characters remain as fresh and irresistibly fascinating to us as they were for the first generations that read their tale, and remain the standard by which all other characters in a love story are judged.
So, why do we love them so much? Jane Austen tells their story through Elizabeth’s eyes so it’s easy to identify with this heroine who is lively, witty, and loveable as much for her faults as for her charms. We identify with her because we feel she is like us. She is capable of making mistakes, but having realised her errors, she changes and grows as a result. We see her character develop as the story enfolds.
The first time we really meet Elizabeth it is at the Meryton Assembly where the proud Mr Darcy is also in attendance with his affable friend Mr Bingley. There is a lack of gentlemen at the ball, and Lizzy has to sit out for two dances. Mr Darcy is seen to be behaving in a particularly disagreeable manner. He only dances with Mr Bingley’s sisters and ignores everyone else in the room. Everyone has heard that he is a rich landowner, but his wealth and power coupled with his anti-social manners only serve to make him appear arrogant. He doesn’t seem to care that his words may be overheard or that his speech is insulting. In fact, he is almost goading Elizabeth whom he has heard described as a pretty girl. He actually makes sure that Lizzy is looking at him before he speaks. It’s almost as if he wants her to hear, and make her aware that he can attract, and have any woman in the room.
“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”
It’s a real put down, and as an unsurprising consequence, she dislikes him instantly!
At this stage, we also think he’s horrid, and I doubt there are many people who stop and wonder at the psychology behind his behaviour. It’s only when their relationship starts to develop that we think about the undeniable ‘chemistry’ between them, and question their attraction to one another from what seems such an unpromising start.
To our utter delight, Mr Darcy finds himself attracted to her even though he is determined to find fault with her, and when she refuses to stand up with him for a dance we rejoice at her opportunity for revenge. The lively banter that ensues between them is what makes their relationship so satisfying. In every respect, Elizabeth proves herself equal in intelligence. She is no simpering female. When they are thrown together at the Netherfield Ball, Darcy begins to enjoy Lizzy’s lively conversation and pert manners. Although she is determined to continue her dislike of him, she agrees to dance with him before she can help herself. The conversation that flies between them is an exercise in brilliant dialogue as each of them tries to better the other with a witty retort. Elizabeth is beginning to realize that however fixed her first impressions of Darcy seemed initially, her opinion of him is changing. She recognizes that they have similarities in their characters; they both like to think that they can use their intellect coupled with a wry sense of humour to win an argument or to make a point all meted out in an economy of language.
“It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy – I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.”
He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said. Very well. That reply will do for the present. Perhaps by and by I may observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. But now we may be silent.”
“Do you talk by rule, then, while you are dancing?”
“Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together; and yet for the advantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged, as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible.”
“Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are gratifying mine?”
“Both,” replied Elizabeth archly; “for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.”
“This is no very striking resemblance of your own character, I am sure,” said he. “How near it may be to mine, I cannot pretend to say. You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly.

They behave for the most part as opposing forces that cannot help being attracted to the other. Elizabeth prides herself on reading the psychology of people – she likes to know what makes them tick. The infuriating thing is that she cannot make Darcy out, when she thinks she has the upper hand, he then seizes power to have the whip hand over Elizabeth.
Just as we imagine that the couple is warming toward one another, something happens to make Lizzy despise Mr Darcy even more. She witnesses his snubbing of Mr Wickham and when the latter claims that Darcy has mistreated him she dislikes him even more. Elizabeth is swayed by Mr Wickham’s charming manner and has no reason to doubt his word. Darcy’s general behaviour has prejudiced her view of him, and so she takes Wickham’s part.
One of the reasons we love Elizabeth is because she is fiercely independent and knows her own mind. When Mr Collins proposes, we know she should accept him, but she refuses to compromise on her principles being prepared to go against the wishes of her mother. Elizabeth knows her prospects to marry well are bleak due to her lack of a good dowry, and even though the likely outcome is that she will remain a spinster, she remains true to her beliefs unlike her friend Charlotte Lucas who ultimately marries Mr Collins. Elizabeth is determined to marry for love. We admire her because she is rebellious, but also because she recognizes her own faults.
Elizabeth is not impressed by Darcy’s wealth and position alone, his character is what interests her, and initially she thinks he is rather shallow when he judges women by their accomplishments alone. He obviously thinks no woman is worthy of his consideration unless she is ‘accomplished’ and when he says he knows of only a half dozen women like this Elizabeth retaliates.
“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”
It is the continual sparring between Elizabeth and Darcy that we especially enjoy. One of them says something designed to provoke the other, and we wait with bated breath to hear their reaction. Darcy responds to Miss Bingley playing a Scotch air on the pianoforte by suggesting that Elizabeth might feel the impulse to dance a reel. Lizzy knows this is a veiled insult – he’s already mentioned that ‘every savage can dance’, and reels are generally danced by the lower orders.
Elizabeth replies, “…You wanted me, I know, to say ‘Yes,’ that you might have the pleasure of despising my taste; but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have, therefore, made up my mind to tell you, that I do not want to dance a reel at all – and now despise me if you dare.”
Of course, Mr Darcy does not dare.
In order to fully understand Elizabeth’s character we must know something of the expected manners and customs of the time. Young women led sheltered lives amongst family members and had little freedom. Lizzy loves walking around Meryton and the surrounding area unchaperoned which at the time would have been seen as most inappropriate behaviour for a young lady. Walking through mud and jumping over stiles to visit her sister at Netherfield would not have been deemed as the correct way to conduct herself.
Darcy’s character is a composition in contrasts. On the one hand he exhibits reservations about the behaviour of certain Bennet family members, but Elizabeth’s own individual quirkiness and her efforts to go against convention only intrigue him. He likes what he sees as her athleticism, and when Miss Bingley tries to make Elizabeth appear less worthy in his eyes by pointing out her muddy petticoat, and the fact that he would not let his sister tramp about alone in the countryside, his increasing attraction to Elizabeth is observed when he remarks that ‘her eyes were brightened by the exercise.’
Mr Darcy famously refers to Elizabeth’s ‘fine eyes’, and indeed, Jane Austen uses eyes in many instances to show the growing attraction between the couple. Here are a few instances:
Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush.

Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her.

They were confined for the evening at different tables, and she had nothing to hope, but that his eyes were so often turned towards her side of the room, as to make him play as unsuccessfully as herself.
When Darcy realizes he is so in love with Elizabeth that there’s no turning back, he asks her to marry him. His proposal is ungracious; he declares he is going against his own sense in asking her to be his wife. Lizzy, in true fashion throws his words and proposal back at him saying she cannot return his feelings, and declares her anger at the way he treated Wickham.
“…from the first moment, I may almost say – of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”
We know that Elizabeth would be set up for life if she marries him but her principles are admirable. She is not going to marry a man simply because he is rich. She is prejudiced against him for the characteristics she deplores – his haughtiness, his pride, and because he has assumed that she will jump at the chance to be his wife. At this point Darcy is outraged. As far as he is concerned he thinks he is offering what any woman could possibly want to make their dreams come true – his estate at Pemberley, and his fortune. He also wants to put the record straight about Wickham. Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter, and this is an interesting illustration of his character. Why doesn’t he go and see her, to explain in person? Perhaps his pride prevents it. After all, she has rejected him. He may be good at a quick comeback, but he seems more reserved when it comes to expressing his feelings and thoughts. I think we begin to question whether his haughtiness is simply masking a real insecurity; perhaps he is reserved and a little shy in company. It maybe that his discomfort in society and his inability to be at ease in social situations makes him appear to be arrogant when this is not the case. We learn from Mrs Reynolds, his housekeeper, who has known him since he was a small boy that he is far from being an intimidating tyrant. She describes him as being good-natured, sweet-tempered and generous-hearted. Praise indeed!
In her turn, when Lizzy reads the letter with the explanation that Wickham tried to elope with Georgiana Darcy, her first impressions are questioned.
We see another side of Darcy when he and Elizabeth meet again at Pemberley. Mrs Reynolds’s warm appraisal, his changed manner, plus his beautiful house and grounds make Lizzy see him through new eyes. She is beginning to fall in love with him. He is pulling out all the stops to impress her. It’s clear he’s been thinking about what she said to him, and he is trying to change for the better. He is kind to her uncle and aunt, and does not display his former snobbishness toward them. Darcy goes out of his way to be sociable inviting them all to an evening party and introducing his sister.
After learning the truth about Wickham, Elizabeth realizes that there is always more than one way of looking at things. She comes to know the real Mr Darcy as he lets his guard down and when she discovers the quiet way in which he saves her sister Lydia from ruin hence making it possible for their eventual alliance, Elizabeth knows she has been wrong to judge him. Darcy falls in love eventually for all the right reasons – Elizabeth’s intelligence and lively ways have captivated him, and he enjoys the fact that she is not afraid of him or sycophantic toward him. They both change to suit the other because they really love one another unreservedly. Mr Darcy and Elizabeth both make mistakes, but try to put them right and because they admit to their shortcomings, we love them all the more!

Laurel Ann contributed this wonderful passage which shows so perfectly how Mr Darcy has changed for the better by the end of the novel. “Such I was, from eight to eight-and-twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.” Mr. Darcy, Chapter 58

My novel, Mr Darcy’s Secret will be published by Sourcebooks in February, 2011. My editor just sent me the cover today which is beautiful – I’m so excited, and can’t wait to hold it in my hands!

After capturing the heart of the richest man in England, Elizabeth Darcy believes her happiness is complete until mysterious affairs involving Mr Darcy’s past, and concerns over his sister Georgiana’s own troubled path to happiness present Elizabeth with fresh challenges to test her integrity, honour, and sweet nature as she fights her old fears and feelings of pride and prejudice. However, nothing can daunt our sparkling and witty heroine or dim her sense of fun as Elizabeth and the powerful, compelling figure of Mr Darcy take centre stage in this romantic tale set against the dramatic backdrops of Regency Derbyshire and the Lakes amongst the characters we love so well.

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My author copies have arrived! I can’t tell you how exciting it is when the box of books arrives – so much more thrilling because they have travelled 3963 miles to get here. I love the look of the book, it sounds silly, I know, but I can’t stop stroking the cover – Sourcebooks have the most wonderful book designers. Thank you, Brenden Hitt, for an amazing cover, I couldn’t have imagined anything as fabulous. Thank you very much to everyone at Sourcebooks – Dominique Raccah, Deb Werksman, Danielle Jackson, and to everyone else who has worked so hard to realise another of my dreams of seeing my work in print.
It’s always very strange to think as I sit in my little room, here in England, sending files through the internet to America on the other side of the world, that they will be turned into a book that I can hold in my hands.


My Sourcebooks publisher, Dominique Raccah, invited me and some of the othor Sourcebooks authors to dinner at the Reform Club last week. It was a day where the rain lashed down relentlessly, so I was a bit damp when I arrived. However, just walking down Pall Mall was exciting enough in itself, the whole area is seeped in history, and as I walked past the scarlet-coated, busby-wearing soldiers guarding St. James’s Palace, I couldn’t help thinking of Pride and Prejudice, nor of how Lydia Bennet would have appreciated seeing the soldiers!

Do you remember the references to St. James’s Palace in P&P? Here’s one – Jane Austen is describing Sir William Lucas:

By nature inoffensive, friendly, and obliging, his presentation at St. James’s had made him courteous.

The Reform Club was founded in 1836, in Pall Mall, in the centre of what is often called London’s Clubland. The founders commissioned a leading architect of the day, Charles Barry, to build an imposing and palatial clubhouse. Opened in 1841, membership was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party.

The Reform Club is no longer associated with any particular political party, and now serves a purely social function. While the Club presents a chaste and stately appearance on the outside, inside it is richly flamboyant. Large portraits of Whig and Radical leaders of the nineteenth century reform movement are set in panels in the upper and lower floors of the atrium. The walls and columns are faced with marble and scagliola, an artificial marble, the secrets of whose manufacture have only been rediscovered in recent years. The colours are deep red and green, white, sienna, black and gold.

Dominique and her husband were the most lovely and gracious hosts, and I was very lucky to meet four authors whose work I admire very much – Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell, Helen Hollis and last, but by no means least, the lovely Monica Fairview who I know from blogging with the Historical Romance UK authors. Sadly, Amanda Grange could not join us – she was greatly missed! A lovely evening was had by all, and will be one of those I have safely stored in my memory box of special treasures!

Pictures and photos:

Willoughby’s Return
Monica Fairview, Jane Odiwe, Helen Hollis
Helen Hollis, Dominique Raccah, Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell
Reform Club
St. James’s Palace (old print)
Elizabeth Chadwick and Jill Mansell

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When we first meet Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility he is quickly established as Marianne Dashwood’s admirer much to her dismay. At seventeen she considers the thirty five year old colonel to be past his prime: ‘…he is old enough to be my father; and if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind. It is too ridiculous! When is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and infirmity will not protect him?”
When dashing Mr Willoughby appears on the scene Marianne retreats from the colonel’s company altogether and takes as much opportunity to ridicule him alongside her lover. Her sister Elinor values Brandon’s friendship and sensible conversation, she can see how much he is attracted to Marianne and knows that with the livelier Willoughby for a rival he does not stand a chance. She warms to him even further when she discovers a little about his past.

Elinor’s compassion for him (Colonel Brandon) increased, as she had reason to suspect that the misery of disappointed love had already been known by him. This suspicion was given by some words which accidentally dropt from him one evening at the Park, when they were sitting down together by mutual consent, while the others were dancing. His eyes were fixed on Marianne, and, after a silence of some minutes, he said with a faint smile, “Your sister, I understand, does not approve of second attachments.”

“No,” replied Elinor, “her opinions are all romantic.”

“Or rather, as I believe, she considers them impossible to exist.”

“I believe she does. But how she contrives it without reflecting on the character of her own father, who had himself two wives, I know not. A few years, however, will settle her opinions on the reasonable basis of common sense and observation; and then they may be more easy to define and to justify than they now are, by anybody but herself.”

“This will probably be the case,” he replied; “and yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.”

“I cannot agree with you there,” said Elinor. “There are inconveniences attending such feelings as Marianne’s, which all the charms of enthusiasm and ignorance of the world cannot atone for. Her systems have all the unfortunate tendency of setting propriety at nought; and a better acquaintance with the world is what I look forward to as her greatest possible advantage.”

After a short pause he resumed the conversation by saying –

“Does your sister make no distinction in her objections against a second attachment? or is it equally criminal in everybody? Are those who have been disappointed in their first choice, whether from the inconstancy of its object, or the perverseness of circumstances, to be equally indifferent during the rest of their lives?”

“Upon my word, I am not acquainted with the minutiæ of her principles. I only know that I never yet heard her admit any instance of a second attachment’s being pardonable.”

“This,” said he, “cannot hold; but a change, a total change of sentiments – No, no, do not desire it, – for when the romantic refinements of a young mind are obliged to give way, how frequently are they succeeded by such opinions as are but too common, and too dangerous! I speak from experience. I once knew a lady who in temper and mind greatly resembled your sister, who thought and judged like her, but who from an enforced change – from a series of unfortunate circumstances” – Here he stopt suddenly; appeared to think that he had said too much, and by his countenance gave rise to conjectures which might not otherwise have entered Elinor’s head. The lady would probably have passed without suspicion, had he not convinced Miss Dashwood that what concerned her ought not to escape his lips. As it was, it required but a slight effort of fancy to connect his emotion with the tender recollection of past regard. Elinor attempted no more. But Marianne, in her place, would not have done so little. The whole story would have been speedily formed under her active imagination; and established in the most melancholy order of disastrous love.

We later learn that the young lady in question is Colonel Brandon’s first love who was forced to marry his brother against her will. Divorced and abandoned whilst the colonel is in India, on his return he is to discover that she has fallen into low company and living a life of sin. As she lies dying Colonel Brandon promises he will look after her three year old daughter, another Eliza, and he becomes her guardian.
When Willoughby later abandons Marianne for the wealthier Miss Grey we learn of another reason for his swift transfer of affection. Willoughby has met and seduced the Colonel’s ward who has given birth to a daughter. He, in turn, has been disinherited by his benefactor as a result, and must now marry for money if he is to continue to enjoy the lifestyle he prefers.

Colonel Brandon is first attracted to Marianne because of the likeness she has to his first love. “Your sister, I hope, cannot be offended,” said he, “by the resemblance I have fancied between her and my poor disgraced relation. Their fates, their fortunes cannot be the same; and had the natural sweet disposition of the one been guarded by a firmer mind, or an happier marriage, she might have been all that you will live to see the other be.

I cannot help thinking that this coupled with the fact that he maintains a close relationship with his ward and Willoughby’s child would create certain tensions within their marriage. How would Marianne feel about the fact that she looks so similar to Eliza? Wouldn’t a part of her always be questioning whether she is loved for herself alone, and be wondering if she is being compared to the grand passion of his youth? We know ‘Marianne could never love by halves’ and in my new book, Willoughby’s Return, I explore this aspect of their relationship. Mrs Brandon is a passionate woman – she might even be jealous of her husband’s first love, especially as she lives on in her daughter and granddaughter. The fact that both the colonel and Marianne have both been in love before provided me with lots of inspiration!

Willoughby’s Return is published by Sourcebooks on November 1st 2009

Jane Odiwe

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When we first meet Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility he is quickly established as Marianne Dashwood’s admirer much to her dismay. At seventeen she considers the thirty five year old colonel to be past his prime: ‘…he is old enough to be my father; and if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind. It is too ridiculous! When is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and infirmity will not protect him?”
When dashing Mr Willoughby appears on the scene Marianne retreats from the colonel’s company altogether and takes as much opportunity to ridicule him alongside her lover. Her sister Elinor values Brandon’s friendship and sensible conversation, she can see how much he is attracted to Marianne and knows that with the livelier Willoughby for a rival he does not stand a chance. She warms to him even further when she discovers a little about his past.

Elinor’s compassion for him (Colonel Brandon) increased, as she had reason to suspect that the misery of disappointed love had already been known by him. This suspicion was given by some words which accidentally dropt from him one evening at the Park, when they were sitting down together by mutual consent, while the others were dancing. His eyes were fixed on Marianne, and, after a silence of some minutes, he said with a faint smile, “Your sister, I understand, does not approve of second attachments.”

“No,” replied Elinor, “her opinions are all romantic.”

“Or rather, as I believe, she considers them impossible to exist.”

“I believe she does. But how she contrives it without reflecting on the character of her own father, who had himself two wives, I know not. A few years, however, will settle her opinions on the reasonable basis of common sense and observation; and then they may be more easy to define and to justify than they now are, by anybody but herself.”

“This will probably be the case,” he replied; “and yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.”

“I cannot agree with you there,” said Elinor. “There are inconveniences attending such feelings as Marianne’s, which all the charms of enthusiasm and ignorance of the world cannot atone for. Her systems have all the unfortunate tendency of setting propriety at nought; and a better acquaintance with the world is what I look forward to as her greatest possible advantage.”

After a short pause he resumed the conversation by saying –

“Does your sister make no distinction in her objections against a second attachment? or is it equally criminal in everybody? Are those who have been disappointed in their first choice, whether from the inconstancy of its object, or the perverseness of circumstances, to be equally indifferent during the rest of their lives?”

“Upon my word, I am not acquainted with the minutiæ of her principles. I only know that I never yet heard her admit any instance of a second attachment’s being pardonable.”

“This,” said he, “cannot hold; but a change, a total change of sentiments – No, no, do not desire it, – for when the romantic refinements of a young mind are obliged to give way, how frequently are they succeeded by such opinions as are but too common, and too dangerous! I speak from experience. I once knew a lady who in temper and mind greatly resembled your sister, who thought and judged like her, but who from an enforced change – from a series of unfortunate circumstances” – Here he stopt suddenly; appeared to think that he had said too much, and by his countenance gave rise to conjectures which might not otherwise have entered Elinor’s head. The lady would probably have passed without suspicion, had he not convinced Miss Dashwood that what concerned her ought not to escape his lips. As it was, it required but a slight effort of fancy to connect his emotion with the tender recollection of past regard. Elinor attempted no more. But Marianne, in her place, would not have done so little. The whole story would have been speedily formed under her active imagination; and established in the most melancholy order of disastrous love.

We later learn that the young lady in question is Colonel Brandon’s first love who was forced to marry his brother against her will. Divorced and abandoned whilst the colonel is in India, on his return he is to discover that she has fallen into low company and living a life of sin. As she lies dying Colonel Brandon promises he will look after her three year old daughter, another Eliza, and he becomes her guardian.
When Willoughby later abandons Marianne for the wealthier Miss Grey we learn of another reason for his swift transfer of affection. Willoughby has met and seduced the Colonel’s ward who has given birth to a daughter. He, in turn, has been disinherited by his benefactor as a result, and must now marry for money if he is to continue to enjoy the lifestyle he prefers.

Colonel Brandon is first attracted to Marianne because of the likeness she has to his first love. “Your sister, I hope, cannot be offended,” said he, “by the resemblance I have fancied between her and my poor disgraced relation. Their fates, their fortunes cannot be the same; and had the natural sweet disposition of the one been guarded by a firmer mind, or an happier marriage, she might have been all that you will live to see the other be.
I cannot help thinking that this coupled with the fact that he maintains a close relationship with his ward and Willoughby’s child would create certain tensions within their marriage. How would Marianne feel about the fact that she looks so similar to Eliza? Wouldn’t a part of her always be questioning whether she is loved for herself alone, and be wondering if she is being compared to the grand passion of his youth? We know ‘Marianne could never love by halves’ and in my new book, Willoughby’s Return, I explore this aspect of their relationship. Mrs Brandon is a passionate woman – she might even be jealous of her husband’s first love, especially as she lives on in her daughter and granddaughter. The fact that both the colonel and Marianne have both been in love before provided me with lots of inspiration!

Willoughby’s Return is published by Sourcebooks on November 1st 2009

Jane Odiwe

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