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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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In a romantic frame of mind today – here’s a description of young love at its most besotted! The photo is from the film Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet (a perfect Marianne) and Greg Wise (Emma Thompson, you are such a lucky girl!) as Willoughby.

When he was present, she had no eyes for any one else. Everything he did was right. Everything he said was clever. If their evenings at the park were concluded with cards, he cheated himself and all the rest of the party to get her a good hand. If dancing formed the amusement of the night, they were partners for half the time; and when obliged to separate for a couple of dances, were careful to stand together and scarcely spoke a word to anybody else. Such conduct made them of course most exceedingly laughed at; but ridicule could not shame, and seemed hardly to provoke them.

Mrs. Dashwood entered into all their feelings with a warmth which left no inclination for checking this excessive display of them. To her it was but the natural consequence of a strong affection in a young and ardent mind.

This was the season of happiness to Marianne. Her heart was devoted to Willoughby, and the fond attachment to Norland which she brought with her from Sussex, was more likely to be softened than she had thought it possible before, by the charms which his society bestowed on her present home.

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Here are two Mr Willoughbys for your delight! Greg Wise and Dominic Cooper star in recent productions – I wonder which was your favourite?
After Marianne’s accident when Willoughby scoops her up into his arms and carries her home the whole family are eager to learn about the handsome man who has behaved so gallantly. I love the way Jane Austen only gives us tantalising glimpses at Willoughby’s character through Sir John Middleton’s eyes. Willoughby is a good huntsman and rider and as far as Sir John is concerned there is no higher recommendation than a young man who enjoys sport and can dance all night. Of course hearing that Willoughby dances with elegance and spirit makes him all the more interesting to Marianne!

Sir John called on them as soon as the next interval of fair weather that morning allowed him to get out of doors; and Marianne’s accident being related to him, he was eagerly asked whether he knew any gentleman of the name of Willoughby at Allenham.

“Willoughby!” cried Sir John; “what, is he in the country? That is good news, however; I will ride over to-morrow, and ask him to dinner on Thursday.”

“You know him then,” said Mrs. Dashwood. “Know him! to be sure I do. Why, he is down here every year.”

“And what sort of a young man is he?” “As good a kind of fellow as ever lived, I assure you. A very decent shot, and there is not a bolder rider in England.”

“And is that all you can say for him?” cried Marianne, indignantly. “But what are his manners on more intimate acquaintance? What his pursuits, his talents and genius?”

Sir John was rather puzzled.

“Upon my soul,” said he, “I do not know much about him as to all that. But he is a pleasant, good humoured fellow, and has got the nicest little black bitch of a pointer I ever saw. Was she out with him to-day?”

But Marianne could no more satisfy him as to the colour of Mr. Willoughby’s pointer than he could describe to her the shades of his mind.

“But who is he?” said Elinor. “Where does he come from? Has he a house at Allenham?”

On this point Sir John could give more certain intelligence; and he told them that Mr. Willoughby had no property of his own in the country; that he resided there only while he was visiting the old lady at Allenham Court, to whom he was related, and whose possessions he was to inherit; adding, “Yes, yes, he is very well worth catching, I can tell you, Miss Dashwood; he has a pretty little estate of his own in Somersetshire besides; and if I were you, I would not give him up to my younger sister in spite of all this tumbling down hills. Miss Marianne must not expect to have all the men to herself. Brandon will be jealous, if she does not take care.”

“I do not believe,” said Mrs. Dashwood, with a good humoured smile, “that Mr. Willoughby will be incommoded by the attempts of either of my daughters towards what you call catching him. It is not an employment to which they have been brought up. Men are very safe with us, let them be ever so rich. I am glad to find, however, from what you say, that he is a respectable young man, and one whose acquaintance will not be ineligible.”

“He is as good a sort of fellow, I believe, as ever lived,” repeated Sir John. “I remember last Christmas, at a little hop at the Park, he danced from eight o’clock till four, without once sitting down.”

“Did he indeed?” cried Marianne, with sparkling eyes, “and with elegance, with spirit?”

“Yes; and he was up again at eight to ride to covert.”

“That is what I like; that is what a young man ought to be. Whatever be his pursuits, his eagerness in them should know no moderation, and leave him no sense of fatigue.”

“Aye, aye, I see how it will be,” said Sir John, “I see how it will be. You will be setting your cap at him now, and never think of poor Brandon.”

“That is an expression, Sir John,” said Marianne warmly, “which I particularly dislike. I abhor every common-place phrase by which wit is intended; and ‘setting one’s cap at a man,’ or ‘making a conquest,’ are the most odious of all. Their tendency is gross and illiberal; and if their construction could ever be deemed clever, time has long ago destroyed all its ingenuity.”

Sir John did not much understand this reproof; but he laughed as heartily as if he did, and then replied, –

“Aye, you will make conquests enough, I dare say, one way or other. Poor Brandon! he is quite smitten already, and he is very well worth setting your cap at, I can tell you, in spite of all this tumbling about and spraining of ankles.”

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Here are some photos from my collection showing the interior of Efford House where they filmed the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. As you can see I am no photographer! I can never get photos to look like the images I see – well, I wanted to keep a record and I thought you might be interested to see comparisons with shots from the film. The first shows the view through the doorway looking over the estuary – and here we have gorgeous Greg Wise carrying the equally lovely Kate Winslet up the path.

Here’s the text from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
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.

She thanked him again and again; and with a sweetness of address which always attended her, invited him to be seated. But this he declined, as he was dirty and wet. Mrs. Dashwood then begged to know to whom she was obliged. His name, he replied, was Willoughby, and his present home was at Allenham, from whence he hoped she would allow him the honour of calling to-morrow to inquire after Miss Dashwood. The honour was readily granted, and he then departed, to make himself still more interesting, in the midst of an heavy rain.

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.

The next two pictures show the same view – Efford House 2007 and Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Emilie Francois in a very elegant scene in 1995. I love the expressions on the faces of all three Dashwood sisters – each one bowled over by ‘his manly beauty and more than common gracefulness’ methinks!

Finally, the last two phots are not quite of the same view but show glimpses of the hallway and into the Dashwood’s dining parlour. Mr Willoughby is calling on Marianne to enquire after her health. I thought it was very clever how in Emma Thompson’s screenplay Willoughby presents Marianne with a bunch of wild flowers and contrasts this with Colonel Brandon’s bouquet grown in a hothouse or greenhouse. Marianne is a romantic who delights in nature, so Willoughby’s offering of wild flowers from the hedgerows would seem to her to be the superior gift.

From Sense and Sensibility

Marianne’s preserver, as Margaret, with more elegance than precision, stiled Willoughby, called at the cottage early the next morning to make his personal inquiries. He was received by Mrs. Dashwood with more than politeness — with a kindness which Sir John’s account of him and her own gratitude prompted; and everything that passed during the visit, tended to assure him of the sense, elegance, mutual affection, and domestic comfort of the family to whom accident had now introduced him. Of their personal charms he had not required a second interview to be convinced.

Don’t you think it the most romantic story that Greg Wise and Emma Thompson met on set during the filming and fell in love? They are married now with a daughter and also have a son who they adopted.

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