Hey Everyone! I'm so happy to welcome Shannon Winslow to So little time...! She is here to talk about her new book The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen!
(Giveaway is over)
Thanks so much, Candy, for inviting me to stop off here on my tour celebrating the debut of my new book, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen.
In Jane Austen’s day, writing a good letter was a skill every accomplished young lady needed to master. And she herself, judging from the surviving examples, made sure that hers entertained as well as informed. (Read them sometime if you haven’t already.)
Of course, the letters Jane Austen wrote with which we’re most familiar are the ones she transcribed on behalf of the characters of her novels. Probably the two most memorable examples are the letter Darcy wrote to Elizabeth following his failed proposal midway through Pride and Prejudice, and Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne near the end of Persuasion. Much as we all love Mr. Darcy, I believe we must give the nod to the other gentleman here. In case you’ve forgotten…
You pierce my soul I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been; weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant…
Did I hear a collective sigh, ladies? Was there ever a more poignant plea for the ultimate consummation of a long-thwarted love? I think not.
So imagine how excited I was to be able to incorporate this letter into my novel! Since in it the author herself tells “the story behind the story” of Persuasion – how her secret, life-long romance with the dashing Captain Devereaux inspired what she wrote for Anne and Captain Wentworth – it only made sense that something as important as “the letter” had its origins in her life as well.
The idea for this novel had been rolling around in my brain for a long time. Jane Austen took care that all her heroines found romance and a happy ending. I figured she deserved the same. The problem was how to develop that concept within the framework of her recorded life.
Here too, letters play a role. Cassandra Austen, according to which of Jane’s letters she preserved for posterity and which ones she destroyed, became the filter through which we have received much of our information. What we are told about her sister is only what Cassandra wanted us to know or believe. So what was in the letters Cassandra burned, I wondered? What didn’t she want us to know, and why? Intriguing possibilities.
This new novel contains seven letters including Captain Devereaux’s to Jane (which ultimately inspired the one above). Here is that letter, edited to remove spoilers:
My Dear Miss Austen,
Please excuse the extreme liberty I take in writing to you directly, but I must speak by such means as are within my reach. I would come to you in person this instant if I could, but my ship sails with the tide, and who knows when my next chance might be?...
I feel compelled to say it once more, now that I am at liberty to speak openly. The fault has been mine, wholly mine. Had I done as I ought when I first met you in Sidmouth (or even sought you out before that, as soon as I had established my fortune – dear God, how I wish I had done so!), none of this would have happened…
…And yet, by some miracle, purely by the grace of God, I have been given leave to hope that things may still be put right. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings as we once expressed and later revived, are now gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it four years and a half ago. I have loved none but you, Jane. Unjust I may have been. Weak and resentful I know that I have been, but never inconstant.
You said last September that you had forgiven me with all your heart. Too good, too excellent creature! Is it possible that your heart could do still more? Could you persuade it to love me again?
For you alone I now think and plan. For you alone I shall fight and return. The dream that you may then, at long last, be my wife – this must sustain me. I go now, uncertain of my fate. Do us justice, my darling. Consider that there is indeed true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in… -PD
Of this missive, Jane later writes in her private journal:
I would not be convinced to part with that treasured letter for any price. It is to this day my most cherished possession. Because of it, I know I was once well and truly loved by a man of superior worth. That can never be taken from me.
Thinking about what’s happened in the story up to this point, I can barely read this without tearing up, even now. But this is not the end. Jane will receive at least one more, very important letter.
Separations can be painful. But, when you think about it, they are responsible for the creation of all treasured letters – in Jane Austen’s day as well as for some of us. I still have a lovely bundle my husband wrote to me while we were dating. If we hadn’t been kept apart by circumstances, however, sending them would have been unnecessary.
For every fan who has wished Jane Austen herself might have enjoyed the romance and happy ending she so carefully crafted for all her heroines…
The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen
By Shannon Winslow
What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend Persuasion to stand forever in homage to her one true love?
While creating Persuasion, Jane Austen also kept a private journal in which she recorded the story behind the story – her real-life romance with a navy captain of her own. The parallel could only go so far, however. As author of her characters’ lives, but not her own, Jane Austen made sure to fashion a second chance and happy ending for Anne and Captain Wentworth. Then, with her novel complete and her health failing, Jane prepared her simple will and resigned herself to never seeing the love of her life again. Yet fate, it seems, wasn’t quite finished with her. Nor was Captain Devereaux.
The official record says that Jane Austen died at 41, having never been married. But what if that’s only what she wanted people to believe? It’s time she, through her own private journal, revealed the rest of her story.
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Author Shannon Winslow specializes in fiction for fans of Jane Austen. Her popular debut novel, The Darcys of Pemberley, immediately established her place in the genre, being particularly praised for the author’s authentic Austenesque style and faithfulness to the original characters. For Myself Alone (a stand-alone Austen-inspired story) followed. Then last year Return to Longbourn wrapped up Winslow's Pride and Prejudice saga, forming a trilogy when added to the original novel and her previous sequel. Now she has given us a “what if” story starring Jane Austen herself. In The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, that famous author tells her own tale of lost love, second chances, and finding her happy ending.
Her two sons grown, Ms. Winslow lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.
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I love this! Letter writing is a dying art. I can't wait to hear what you all think, and if you have any love letters of your own!
~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY is over ~ ~ ~
Giveaway time!! I'm super excited! Shannon Wilslow has generously offered to giveaway one SIGNED paperback (US only) and two e-books (Kindle or Nook ~ Open Internationally) of
The Persuasion of Miss Austen!
Thank you, Shannon!
- One person will win a SIGNED paperback of The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen! (US only)
- Two people will win an e-copy (Kindle or Nook) of The Persuasion on Miss Jane Austen! (Open Internationally)
- Last day to enter: September 1, 2014
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