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Posts Tagged ‘Sense and Sensibility sequel’

Anyone who stops by to read my blog will know how much I enjoy researching for the books that I write. Willoughby’s Return is set in Devon, Dorset and London so I spent a lot of time reading about these places as they were in the 1800’s.
Marianne is married to Colonel Brandon and they are settled with one child at Delaford in Dorset with her sister Elinor and husband Edward Ferrars living nearby at the parsonage with their children. When Marianne receives news that her husband’s nephew is coming home from university, she gets very excited on Margaret’s behalf. Marianne thinks a ball will be the very thing to introduce Henry Lawrence to the neighbourhood (and her sister) and so promises to take Margaret shopping to Exeter, the nearest large town to Barton in Devon where Margaret lives in a cottage with her mother on the estate of Barton Park which belongs to Mrs Dashwood’s cousin, Sir John Middleton.
I found the wonderful painting above on a super site about Exeter which you can access by clicking on the link Exeter City Council Time Trail. You can travel through a model of the town made in 1820 amongst other things. The painting of Exeter High Street inspired the opening of one of the early chapters in Willoughby’s Return. I hope you enjoy the extract that follows.

They were set down by the square of the New London Inn, so that they could work their way down the High Street and not miss a single shop or market stall. Exeter was teeming with people and carriages, all seemingly unaware of the other as they set about their determined business. There were so many stalls with traders thrusting their wares under the girls’ noses as they attempted to pass, that there was scarcely any room to manoeuvre. Trays of sticky buns, held head high, wafted tempting smells of freshly baked treats. Panniers of ruby apples and yellow pears, swaying from the hips of ruddy-cheeked girls, scented the air with the perfume of a September orchard, whilst tiers of orange pumpkins arranged along the wayside impeded their every step. Waggons and carts rumbled down the street, piled high with sacks, boxes, barrels and packages. A flock of sheep were being shepherded by two small boys wielding sticks, along with a barking dog who leaped and snapped if any chanced to stray too far. Geese and ducks waddled in formation down the central thoroughfare as though they owned the road, as a young girl with a basket of eggs called out to passersby to try her goods. Marianne and Margaret wove their way through the teeming tapestry of market town life, calling to one another to look in a particular shop window or laugh at some amusing sight. They soon found themselves on the corner of Queen Street, close by their favourite linen drapers. On entering the shop, they found it to be as busy inside as out. Every mother and daughter in Exeter, it appeared, had chosen to arrive at the same time, all jostling for a chance to view the latest muslin, lutestring, and satin.

“Margaret, what do you think of that one?” Marianne asked, pointing to a fine white mull draped in the window, embroidered with gold thread, which glimmered in the sunlight.
“It is very beautiful,” sighed Margaret, “but I fear it will cost the earth!”
“I have not brought you here to discuss finances,” Marianne scolded, “I have promised you a ball gown of the highest quality and that is what you shall have!”
“But there is a very good white satin laid out on the counter which would make a very pretty gown. And though I must admit the mull is quite the most divine gauze I have ever seen, I could do very well with the other.”
Margaret could see the shopkeeper deep in conversation with a very smartly dressed young woman who was ordering yards of the glossy fabric which waved like the sea over the counter, rippling over the edge onto the floor. The elegant plumes on her grey hat were nodding as she talked. There was quite a queue forming, the mother before them muttering under her breath at the time it would take to get to the front, as her daughter complained that there would be no satin left if the lady preceding them was any indication to go on. Another assistant appeared to alleviate the restless crowd and at last they moved forward.
“Let me indulge you this once, Margaret,” Marianne insisted. “Henry Lawrence will be used to seeing women of his acquaintance attired in the very finest clothes; I cannot have you look anything but your very best.”
“Very well,” laughed Margaret, “so long as you promise not to speak of that man again. I am well aware you have married me off to him and I am certain that he and I will never suit.”
“How can you say such a thing? I have heard he is a very handsome man, cultured and charming. Every report declares him to be just the sort of gentleman you like.”
“There has never been a man yet who has had the power to engage my heart.” Margaret picked up a pair of long kid evening gloves from the display by the window. She turned them over but was not really examining them at all. She was lost in thought, wondering if she should confess her folly to her sister. Marianne was engrossed on the other side, in admiration of a bolt of crimson velvet, but declared it as being too dark for such young skin.
“Actually, that is not entirely true,” Margaret persisted, although not understanding quite why she was willing to confess her old, childish fantasies.
Marianne turned, all astonishment. “Tell me, Margaret, who is this paragon, this nonesuch, this nonpareil?”
“Do you promise not to reprimand me if I dare tell?” Margaret looked into her sister’s eyes, and then sighed. “Oh, it is so silly, I wish I had not said a word. It was just a youthful infatuation. What will you think of me? You will be very cross with me.”

I mentioned in the extract that Marianne and Margaret were set down by the new London Inn. I chose this location because Jane Austen had mentioned it in Sense and Sensibility. It’s the wonderful part of the book where we are fed certain intelligence which we later find out is not quite all it appears to be! Here is the extract where one of the servants, Thomas, reports who has seen outside the New London Inn.

“I suppose you know ma’am, that Mr. Ferrars is married.”

Marianne gave a violent start, fixed her eyes upon Elinor, saw her turning pale, and fell back in her chair in hysterics. Mrs. Dashwood, whose eyes, as she answered the servant’s inquiry, had intuitively taken the same direction, was shocked to perceive by Elinor’s countenance how much she really suffered, and in a moment afterwards, alike distressed by Marianne’s situation, knew not on which child to bestow her principal attention.

The servant, who saw only that Miss Marianne was taken ill, had sense enough to call one of the maids, who, with Mrs. Dashwood’s assistance, supported her into the other room. By that time, Marianne was rather better, and her mother leaving her to the care of Margaret and the maid, returned to Elinor, who though still much disordered, had so far recovered the use of her reason and voice as to be just beginning an inquiry of Thomas as to the source of his intelligence. Mrs. Dashwood immediately took all that trouble on herself: and Elinor had the benefit of the information without the exertion of seeking it.

“Who told you that Mr. Ferrars was married, Thomas?”

“I see Mr. Ferrars myself, ma’am, this morning in Exeter, and his lady too, Miss Steele as was. They was stopping in a chaise at the door of the New London Inn, as I went there with a message from Sally at the Park to her brother, who is one of the postboys. I happened to look up as I went by the chaise, and so I see directly it was the youngest Miss Steele; so I took off my hat, and she knew me and called to me, and inquired after you, ma’am, and the young ladies, especially Miss Marianne, and bid me I should give her compliments and Mr. Ferrars’s, their best compliments and service, and how sorry they was they had not time to come on and see you – but they was in a great hurry to go forwards, for they was going further down for a little while – but howsever, when they come back, they’d make sure to come and see you.”

There is a very interesting history of the New London Inn which can be found on this fascinating site Exeter Memories. Sadly, it was demolished in 1936 to make way for the cinema. The postcard below shows the inn as the hotel it later became in the 1920’s. The print above is from the 1800’s.

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It’s snowing again today in Barnet; the sky is as grey as the plump breasts of the woodpigeons that strut about outside in the garden looking for their breakfast. Increasingly, I am reminded of Narnia, and C.S. Lewis’s magical, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and wonder if winter will be here forever. There are signs that spring is on its way, however, – there are tiny green shoots pushing their way up through the earth, despite the cold weather. At last, the snowdrops have made an appearance – aptly named, their delicate heads nodding as the snow falls down from the heavens.

I was reminded of this poem by William Cowper, one of Jane Austen’s favourite poets. I used a tiny portion of this poem in Willoughby’s Return – Marianne is feeling rather vulnerable and lonely when she receives a gift of Cowper’s poems. The volume falls open at this particular poem where she also finds a letter, which gives rise to feelings of mixed emotions.

Here is the poem in full – I think it is one of Cowper’s most beautiful poems.

The Winter Nosegay

What Nature, alas! has deni’d
To the delicate growth of our isle,
Art has in a measure suppli’d,
And winter is deck’d with a smile.
See, Mary, what beauties I bring
From the shelter of that sunny shed,
Where the flowers have the charms of the spring,
Though abroad they are frozen and dead.

‘Tis a bower of Arcadian sweets,
Where Flora is still in her prime;
A fortress to which she retreats,
From the cruel assaults of the clime.
While earth wears a mantle of snow,
These pinks are as fresh and as gay,
As the fairest and sweetest that blow
On the beautiful bosom of May.

See how they have safely surviv’d
The frowns of a sky so severe!
Such Mary’s true love that has liv’d
Through many a turbulent year.
The charms of the late-blowing rose,
Seem grac’d with a livelier hue,
And the winter of sorrow best shows
The truth of a friend, such as you.

William Cowper

Illustrations/photos

Daffodils at Chatsworth
Kate Greenaway
Jane Odiwe

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To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here is a snippet from Willoughby’s Return. I wanted this book to be as much Margaret’s story as Marianne’s and I thought it high time she started to enjoy herself by attending balls and meeting young men. Colonel Brandon’s sister and family have recently returned to Whitwell and his nephew, Henry Lawrence, back home from university, is introduced to Margaret for the first time at a ball at the Brandon’s home, Delaford.

The gong rang out, calling the weary dancers to rest awhile and replenish their energy. All the guests hurried off to the dining room, where tables were set, groaning under the weight of a magnificent spread. The musicians laid aside their instruments and dashed to the servant’s hall for a glass of negus and a bowl of soup. Colonel Brandon ushered his guests, Sir Edgar and Henry Lawrence, to his table, where much to her great delight, Margaret already sat, with her mother, the Middletons, and Mrs Jennings. There was such a hubbub and frenzied bustle about the room as people found their chairs and struck up conversation.

Every little party was talking nineteen to the dozen, piling plates with cold meat and hot pies, sweets and sorbets, filling glasses with ice cold wine. Everyone had so much to say and wanted to say it all at once. The sound of chattering, braying, prattling, and screeching, punctuated by howling laughter or tittering giggles, added to the delirious atmosphere.

Henry took his seat next to Margaret. “This evening is surpassing all my expectations,” he whispered, smiling into her eyes. “This is so much fun, do you not agree, Miss Dashwood?”

“I do, indeed, Mr Lawrence,” she replied. “I am enjoying myself very much, though I would more so if I felt we were not under so much scrutiny. Do not look now, but we are being observed.”

“Let me guess, Miss Dashwood,” he responded, “Lady Middleton and her sweet mother are watching us and, no doubt, trying to catch the essence of our conversation. Hmm, let me see. I must give them something on which to ponder and discuss.”

He selected a dish of pink, heart-shaped marchpane and, taking one between thumb and forefinger, proffered it toward her, proclaiming in an audible voice for all to hear, “Miss Dashwood, may I offer my heart? Pray, do not leave me in suspense, I beg you. Do not break it, but take it and devour it whole!”

Margaret felt mortified, especially when she saw Lady Middleton exchange knowing glances with Mrs Jennings. Everyone laughed when Margaret refused to take the heart and even more so when Henry begged again and it was only when Mrs Jennings spoke that the table fell silent.

“Colonel Brandon, where is your dear wife? Has she not come in to supper? I cannot think where she can be and for that matter, I cannot recall when I saw her last. I hope she is not ailing; she did look a trifle pale after the last dance. Bless my soul, but I must say it is probably wiser that she sit down more often.”

Margaret looked about the room and, in so doing, caught her sister Elinor’s solemn expression. They had each perceived the hints that Mrs Jennings was making and knew their sister would be far from pleased. But apart from that neither of them could see Marianne and both recognised the solicitous mien in the other.

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Here’s a review for Willoughby’s Return from the Jane Austen Centre online magazine!

Set four years after the close of Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby’s Return starts off apace with a surprise visitor (no, not that one…) plans for a ball and mounting tension in the Brandon household. Marianne Brandon wonders if she has lost that part of herself that used to be so wildly impetuous and romantic. Has marriage and motherhood irrevocably changed the girl that her husband fell in love with… or was he ever in love with her at all? It is possible that he only married her because of her resemblance to his lost love? While their marriage seems outwardly happy, Colonel Brandon’s many extended visits to Eliza Williams and her daughter cause Marianne to wonder if he might find her, so very like her mother, to be his true heart’s home.

Meanwhile, at Barton Cottage, Margaret Dashwood prepares for her first grand ball—and an introduction to one on whom all her hopes of future happiness depend. Mrs. Jennings, ever a convenient source of gossip is full of the news of Mrs. Smith’s imminent demise and the return of the Willoughbys to claim Allenham as their own.

It is impossible that all should not meet, that relationships and passions once lost should not be rekindled, for Willoughby, too, has not been unaffected by the passing years. Realizing the mistakes of his youth, how he had valued the demands of his pocketbook above those of his heart. Is it too late for true love? Can the past be undone? Are future generations doomed to repeat his mistakes?

Fans of Sense and Sensibility will rejoice to find all their old familiar friends (Middletons, Steels, Ferrars and more) once more in “all the old familiar places”. From cozy scenes at Delaford and Barton Cottage to the hectic rush of a Season in London, author Jane Odiwe constructs a compelling tale of love in all its forms. Appealing to all ages, fans of happy endings will be delighted with how the author spins her story, weaving suspense and intrigue into a well-crafted tale that manages to answer the many questions left by the original.

True love does conquer all!

There’s lots of information on the Jane Austen Centre’s fabulous website for interested Janeites and they have a sale on at the moment in their gift shop! Becca, the shop manager has recently joined Twitter – you can follow her tweets by clicking here!

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Well, it’s feeling very festive here in England with all the snow we’ve been having! As I look out of my window I can see the world dusted with icing sugar – the sky is a beautiful iridescent pearl, which reminds me of the sort of day it was in Willoughby’s Return when Marianne and Margaret join a skating party in London’s Hyde Park – hence the painting above. I did enjoy doing the research for this part of the book, though I seem to remember it was early summer when I wrote it!
We put up our Christmas tree yesterday – I always love to dress the mantlepiece and my children love to do the tree. There’s something very special about unwrapping all the baubles that we’ve had for many years – it’s like finding old friends. They did a lovely job, the tree is sparkling with flower lights, glass birds, angels, father Christmases, fans and icicles – I even have Lizzy and Darcy – beautiful fabric decorations made by my sister-in-law, Trin. I’m taking a moment to enjoy it all by the fire before the house wakes up and joins me!
I’d like to thank Laura Gerold from Laura’s Reviews for her review of Willoughby’s Return, which is posted below – thank you so much for taking the time to read and review!

Willoughby is the Austen bad boy that I can’t quite find it within myself to hate. He does more despicable deeds than most Austen bad boys (he impregnated and left Eliza and then ditched Marianne for a lady with more money!), yet he comes clean with Elinor and tells her that he did indeed love Marianne, but had to marry for the money. This leaves me with sympathy in my heart no matter how heard I try to hate him, I think about how he has been punished for his misdeeds by never being able to be with the one woman that he truly loves. It also doesn’t help that Greg Wise is such a very handsome and wonderful Willoughby in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility.

I couldn’t wait to read more about Willoughby, Marianne, and the rest of my favorite Sense and Sensibility characters in Jane Odiwe’s sequel, Willoughby’s Return. Just the title excited me with the thought of Greg Wise, I mean Willoughby, striding back into the scene.

The novel did not disappoint and was quite simply, a superb sequel to Sense and Sensibility. Marianne Dashwood found love and romance of another sort with Colonel Brandon at the end of Sense and Sensibility. At the beginning of Willoughby’s Return, they are still happily wedded with a young son, James. The only wrench in their happiness is that Colonel Brandon still finds himself drawn away quite often to help Eliza and her small daughter Lizzy. Marianne finds herself jealous of the unknown Eliza, who no only had Willoughby’s love, but also is the spitting image of her mother, Colonel Brandon’s first love. I love how the first Eliza’s portrait with Colonel Brandon’s brother still hangs at the top of the stair. It gave me an almost Rebecca like quality to the specter of Eliza, Brandon’s lost love.

Colonel Brandon and Marianne are distressed by the news that Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have inherited Allenham after all and will soon be moving to the neighborhood. Sad at the constant absences of her husband, Marianne soon finds herself feeling the old feelings again and being tempted by Willoughby. Will she succumb to temptation or find her way back to Colonel Brandon?

This story is also the romance of Margaret. Margaret has now grown up and has the same temperament as Marianne. She is searching for her one true love. Colonel Brandon’s nephew, the dashing Henry Lawrence, has moved back to England and Marianne is determined to set Henry Lawrence and her sister up. Henry is friends with Mr. Willoughby. Will he live to make the same mistakes as Henry or will he find true love?

My favorite character in Sense and Sensibility is Elinor. She is now a happy wife and mother of two, but this is not her story. She is only seen briefly. I wish there would have been more of her, but I realize that would be a different story.

Overall this book was a terrific read that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend it to all lovers of Sense and Sensibility, Austen, or just a wonderful romance. This is the best sequel to Sense and Sensibility that I have ever read! The characters are captured perfectly and the story is wonderful.

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Thank you to Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews for her review of Willoughby’s Return!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
*****
“Sense and Sensibility” is such a lovely, honest, and entertaining novel; it such a shame that not many authors have attempted to compose a sequel for it. I have greatly enjoyed “Colonel Brandon’s Diary” by Amanda Grange (S&S told from Colonel Brandon’s point-of-view) and “Reason and Romance” by Debra White Smith (a modern adaption with Christian undertones); but neither of those are sequels or include a continuation story for Margaret. But now, having read “Willoughby’s Return,” I feel I have found the sequel for “Sense and Sensibility” I have always wanted! I am so very delighted that Jane Odiwe has supplied us ravenous Austenites with this compelling and expressive sequel to cherish and enjoy!

Whatever became of Margaret Dashwood? As Elinor and Marianne’s younger sister, Margaret has witnessed their heartbreaks and heartaches first hand. Has their experiences made her wiser, more cautious, or perhaps, more indifferent to love? Does she take after rational and sensible Elinor or does she favor Marianne’s romantic tendencies and impetuous nature?

In this novel, Margaret Dashwood, who is at the marriageable age of 18, seems to be the victim of Marianne’s matchmaking schemes. So far she has yet to meet a man that can live up to her expectation or measure up to her childhood love (can you guess who that is?). However, when Margaret meets Colonel Brandon’s nephew, the handsome, romantic, and charming Henry Lawrence, she feels she may have finally met her ideal man…

Marianne and Colonel Brandon, the other couple focused upon in this story, have been married for three years and have a two-year old boy named James. Like all married couples, they are experiencing some difficulties and trials in their marriage. Marianne is exhibiting some jealousy, insecurity, and mistrust in Colonel Brandon’s love for her. Colonel Brandon, trying to be a father figure in two separate households (he looks after his ward, Eliza Williams and her child, Lizzy), finds that he has unintentionally been neglecting Marianne and spending too much time away from her. Furthermore, the ghost of Willoughby haunts their marriage, both Marianne and Colonel Brandon never mention his name or their past association with him. Because of their silence on the subject, when Willoughby re-enters Marianne’s life, she chooses not to share with her husband their encounters and conversations. Secrets are never good for a marriage…

Jane Odiwe has done a magnificent job of continuing the story of “Sense and Sensibility,” I greatly enjoyed spending more time with these characters and was pleased to see them so accurately portrayed. I was delighted that other minor character such as the Mrs. Jennings, the Middletons and Mrs. Lucy Ferrars were included in this novel and that they appeared the same as ever. I would have loved for Elinor and Edward to have more page time, but I understand that a story with two heroines is quite enough and to add a third heroine may have resulted in diminishing the stories of the other two.

“Willoughby’s Return” was appropriately romantic, emotional, and passionate. I commend Jane Odiwe for capturing the essence and excellence of “Sense and Sensibility” and continuing the story in a knowledgeable and sympathetic manner. It is obvious that Ms. Odiwe loves and cares greatly for her characters (even the difficult ones), and I feel that Jane Austen loved her characters the same way. I greatly enjoyed this sequel for “Sense and Sensibility” and look forward to more works from Jane Odiwe.

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Here’s a review from Laurel Ann at Austenprose. I’d like to thank her very much for taking the time to read and review my book!

While the Jane Austen sequel industry abounds with numerous books inspired by Pride and Prejudice, regretfully there are very few sequels to Austen’s first published novel Sense and Sensibility. Why? Possibly because some readers have been disappointed with half of Austen’s unsatisfactory ending for her two heroines. While the two Dashwood sisters do marry: staid and stoic Elinor to Edward Ferrars and impulsive and free-spirited Marianne to Col. Brandon, the second pairings future happiness seemed doubtful. How could a young lady with Marianne’s intense passionate depth be happy with anyone other than her Byronic first love Mr. Willoughby – even after he threw her over for an heiress? Nagging questions arise. Did she settle when she married the Colonel? Would she be tempted into extramarital affairs and runaway with her lover? Possibly, leaving an intriguing premise for continuing the story.

All these concerns are addressed in Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation a new sequel to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Odiwe. How, or if they will be resolved to our satisfaction is now a possibility.

Three years after her marriage to Colonel Brandon, Marianne is the mistress of Delaford Park and the mother of a young son James. She has everything that a young married woman could desire: wealth, position, an heir and a loving husband, but her insecurities, jealousy and impetuous nature rob her of complete happiness. Resentful that her husband is frequently called away to attend his ward Eliza Williams and her infant daughter, Marianne “feels” that he cares for his other family more than his own. Their ties to the Brandon’s are strong and painful; Eliza being the daughter of Brandon’s first love who died tragically, and Eliza’s young child Lizzie the illegitimate daughter of John Willoughby the rogue also who threw over Marianne’s affections for an heiress five years prior. In addition, there is that imposing portrait of Eliza’s mother hanging in the Hall staring down at her. Every time Marianne passes it she sees the similarities of their appearances and doubts more and more if Brandon married her because he loved her, of if she is replacing the woman that he loved and lost years ago. When the charming rogue John Willoughby reappears in her life proclaiming he has never stopped loving her, the pain of their failed romance is renewed gradually replaced by conflicting emotions and the temptation to be with him again.

We are reintroduced to many of the characters from the original novel: Elinor Ferrars and her husband Edward, Mrs. Jennings, the Middleton’s, Lucy Ferrars and importantly Elinor and Marianne’s younger sister Margaret Dashwood who has her own romance in the course of the novel that may equal Marianne’s dilemma in emotion and drama. It could not be a Jane Austen sequel without talk of beaus, gowns and a glamorous Ball, so imagine everything most “profligate and shocking” in the way of young couples dancing and sitting down together! Margaret Dashwood supplies the shocking (to the horror of the neighborhood biddies) in her behavior by dancing more than three times in one night with one partner, Henry Lawrence, the charming and bold nephew of Col Brandon. Like Willoughby, Henry appears to be a good catch: attractive, well connected, an heir to a fortune and too irresistible. He wastes no time in pursuing Margaret’s affections. There is a surprise twist to their relationship that I will not reveal, but readers might recognize similarities to another Austen heroine.

Odiwe has captured Marianne’s spirit superbly. Romantic, impulsive and let’s face it, high maintenance! At times I really wanted to give her a firm dressing down and felt the same of Austen’s younger Marianne, so I knew that Odiwe had connected their characteristics seamlessly. Marianne may be five years older, but she’s still Marianne the drama queen and that makes for great entertainment! Interestingly, the two men in her life, Brandon and Willoughby, had fewer scenes than expected but caused many reactions to fuel the narrative serving their purpose. This was a nice mirror to women’s fate in Regency times. Men have all the power, women all the presence.

This is Odiwe’s second Austen sequel, and like Lydia Bennet’s Story she has chosen a character in Marianne Brandon that is ruled by impulse and emotion making for surprise and tension – all good elements to an engaging story that she delivers with confidence and aplomb. Developing younger sister Margaret Dashwood brought youth, vivacity and a bit of rebellion against social dictums to the story. Her romance with Henry Lawrence was an excellent choice as she shared the narrative equally with Marianne and balanced the story. Odiwe’s research and passion for the Regency era shine, especially in her descriptions of the country fair and fashions. It is rewarding to see her develop her own style evocative of Austen but totally modern in its sensibility. There were a few missteps with cadence and vernacular, but I am splitting hairs, and few will notice. Of course we are never in much doubt that it will all end happily, but unlike Jane Austen’s tale, the final transformation of the heroine’s troubling want of caution and choice of spouse will not prompt debate two hundred years later.

A light and enjoyable read, Willoughby’s Return is a charming tale that sweeps you back into Austen’s mannered world of a young girl searching for love and a married woman realizing it.

Illustrations:
Settee – Ellen Hill
Willoughby’s Return Cover
Marianne and Elinor – Jane Odiwe

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