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More fun in celebration of my book Willoughby’s Return! To win a copy of Willoughby’s Return simply answer the questions about Colonel Brandon, the true hero of Sense and Sensibility.

1 Where does Colonel Brandon live?

2 What is the name of Colonel Brandon’s ward?

3 Who first decides that the Colonel is in love with Marianne?

4 Which character says the following of Colonel Brandon?

“I have three unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon: he has threatened me with rain when I wanted it to be fine; he has found fault with the hanging of my curricle, and I cannot persuade him to buy my brown mare. If it will be any satisfaction to you, however, to be told that I believe his character to be in other respects irreproachable, I am ready to confess it. And in return for an acknowledgment, which must give me some pain, you cannot deny me the privilege of disliking him as much as ever.”

5 Who said of Brandon – “But he talked of flannel waistcoats, and with me a flannel waistcoat is invariably connected with the aches, cramps, rheumatisms, and every species of ailment that can afflict the old and the feeble.”

6 Of all the screen adaptations who is your favourite Colonel Brandon and why?

Click the link to post your answers to be added to the hat to win a copy of Willoughby’s Return. The competition is open worldwide and will close November 14th – winner announced on the 16th.

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Two Colonel Brandons for your delight! The top photo shows David Morrissey playing the part in the recent BBC adaptation – the bottom photo is Alan Rickman starring in the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version. With these lovely examples of Colonels how did it take Marianne so long to realise where her heart lay?
In Sense and Sensibility Marianne first meets Colonel Brandon at Barton Park – home to the Middletons on whose estate the Dashwoods have kindly been given a cottage. Mrs Jennings, Lady Middleton’s mother takes no time in asserting that the Colonel has fallen in love with Marianne and sets about teasing them both mercilessly. Marianne is less than impressed!

“…Colonel Brandon is certainly younger than Mrs. Jennings, but 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?”

“Infirmity!” said Elinor, “do you call Colonel Brandon infirm? I can easily suppose that his age may appear much greater to you than to my mother; but you can hardly deceive yourself as to his having the use of his limbs?”

“Did not you hear him complain of the rheumatism? and is not that the commonest infirmity of declining life?”

“My dearest child,” said her mother laughing, “at this rate, you must be in continual terror of my decay; and it must seem to you a miracle that my life has been extended to the advanced age of forty.”

“Mama, you are not doing me justice. I know very well that Colonel Brandon is not old enough to make his friends yet apprehensive of losing him in the course of nature. He may live twenty years longer. But thirty-five has nothing to do with matrimony.”

“Perhaps,” said Elinor, “thirty-five and seventeen had better not have anything to do with matrimony together. But if there should by any chance happen to be a woman who is single at seven-and-twenty, I should not think Colonel Brandon’s being thirty-five any objection to his marrying her .”

“A woman of seven-and-twenty,” said Marianne, after pausing a moment, “can never hope to feel or inspire affection again; and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse, for the sake of the provision and security of a wife. In his marrying such a woman, therefore, there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem only a commercial exchange, in which each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other.”

“It would be impossible, I know,” replied Elinor, “to convince you that a woman of seven-and-twenty could feel for a man of thirty-five anything near enough to love to make him a desirable companion to her. But I must object to your dooming Colonel Brandon and his wife to the constant confinement of a sick chamber, merely because he chanced to complain yesterday (a very cold damp day) of a slight rheumatic feel in one of his shoulders.”

“But he talked of flannel waistcoats,” said Marianne; “and with me a flannel waistcoat is invariably connected with the aches, cramps, rheumatisms, and every species of ailment that can afflict the old and the feeble.”

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I watched the lovely BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility yesterday for the umpteenth time. I really love this version quite as much as the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version. Colonel Brandon played by David Morrissey, gets it just right, I think, and I like the way that Andrew Davies, the writer of the screenplay, shows us little windows into his character, showing him as a suitor prepared to wait for Marianne’s affection, hinting at their shared interests, and giving Marianne some very good reasons to fall in love with him.
Jane Austen really glosses over the last stage of their courtship, which has left some of us wondering how on earth she managed to end up with him. There is something a little unsatisfactory, for me, in the way this is wrapped up.

Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another! – and that other, a man who had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment, – whom, two years before, she had considered too old to be married, – and who still sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!

But so it was. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting, – instead of remaining even for ever with her mother, and finding her only pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her more calm and sober judgment she had determined on, – she found herself, at nineteen, submitting to new attachments, entering on new duties, placed in a new home, a wife, the mistress of a family, and the patroness of a village.

Colonel Brandon was now as happy as all those who best loved him believed he deserved to be; – in Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction; – her regard and her society restored his mind to animation, and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.

Charity Wakefield was a super Marianne – I have to confess to crying when she receives the letters back from Willoughby. I do wonder why Marianne is always depicted with blonde hair. Charity Wakefield is a brunette and would have been far more in keeping with Austen’s idea of Marianne had she been allowed to be herself, in my opinion. I know she doesn’t specifically say dark hair, but with dark eyes and very brown skin, surely her hair was dark too! Anyway, I thought she gave a terrific performance, as did Hattie Morahan who was perfectly cast as Elinor.

This is what Austen says about Marianne’s description.
Her form, though not so correct as her sister’s, in having the advantage of height, was more striking; and her face was so lovely, that when, in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl, truth was less violently outraged than usually happens. Her skin was very brown, but from its transparency, her complexion was uncommonly brilliant; her features were all good; her smile was sweet and attractive; and in her eyes, which were very dark, there was a life, a spirit, an eagerness which could hardly be seen without delight.

Finally, Dominic Cooper was the epitome of bad boy Willoughby, and in this production I liked the way you could see how Marianne was going to be attracted to him, whilst also knowing right from the start that he is not to be trusted. Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars was a little too good looking, but hey, who’s complaining? I think the inclusion of scenes that Austen did not expand on was inspired – I particularly liked the scene where Willoughby takes Marianne around Allenham. I’d already written this scene as a flashback in my new book, Willoughby’s Return, and though not quite exactly the same, it’s very similar – a scene which shows us Marianne’s vulnerability and naivity. It was a joy to write.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable production and DVD, which I know I shall wear out before too long!

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