The Germ of a Novel


If you have seen the ’95 version of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, this spot will look familiar.  In the movie we see Captain Wentworth sitting on that very bench outside the pump-room in Bath before he rises to speak to Anne, who meets him in the doorway. I recognized the place when I visited Bath two years ago, and so took this picture.

Preparing to write this blog entry, I went looking for a quote from this scene to use here.  Only one problem: there apparently was no such scene in the book!  In fact, unlike in the movie, there doesn’t seem to be a single scene that takes place in the famous pump-room.

I think I know Jane Austen very well, but some of what is so familiar to me I have derived from the movies made from her books, not from the books themselves.  Although I have read them all multiple times, I have seen the movies more. 

I rewatched Persuasion last night and called it research, because I have an idea for another novel that will relate to the events of Jane Austen’s life when she was writing it.  It was her last completed work, written near the end of her short life.  At forty, she was definitely “on the shelf”, no doubt having long since given up the idea of marriage for herself, but making sure that her heroine, Anne Elliot, had a second chance at finding connubial bliss with the galant Captain Wentworth.

…how should a Captain Wentworth and  an Anne Elliot, with the advantage of maturity of mind, consciousness of right, and one independent fortune between them, fail of bearing down every opposition?  They might in fact have borne down a great deal more than they met with, for there was little to distress them beyond the want of graciousness and warmth.  (Persuasion, chapter 24)

So, as I said, the idea for another book has germinated in my brain, and now I enter a research phase.  I won’t rely on the movie; I’ve begun reading Persuasion yet again.  I need to study more about Jane Austen’s life during that period as well.  The writing itself won’t start in earnest for a couple of months, although I couldn’t resist dashing off this short prologue just for fun (I’m a great fan of prologues, by the way). 

Jane Austen put down her pen with the gesture of solemn finality the occasion seemed to require.  She sat a moment, gathering the necessary strength to lift her feeble frame to a standing position so that she might wind a string around the manuscript.  Persuasion, she had entitled it.  She was thankful to have been granted enough time to see it through, to finish the story that was perhaps closer to her heart than any of the others.  But, now that the last “I” had been dotted and the last “T” crossed, what more remained for her to do? 

She had been careful to tie up all her loose ends as neatly as ever, seeing to it that, unlike in real life, everybody not greatly at fault had been returned to tolerable comfort in the end.  It set her mind at ease to know the good-natured Miss Musgroves would be suitably married.  And she had even taken the trouble of putting Anne’s invalid friend, Mrs. Smith, in the way of a secure future.  More importantly, Anne and Captain Wentworth were at last reconciled.  This time, their happiness would not be threatened by either objections at home or by want of money… or by debilitating illness.  As author of their lives, if not of her own, she had been able to do that much for them.

My husband hoped I was done writing for a while.  Sorry honey – just getting started.

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in Bath, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, Shannon Winslow's writing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Germ of a Novel

  1. You know what’s funny? Not only does this scene (Wentworth comes to ask Anne whether it’s true she’s marrying Mr. Elliott) appear in the ’95 theatrical movie, but the most recent PBS version had it as well! In a different setting, but the same essential action. And as you say, there’s no trace of any such scene in the book.

    Speaking of Jane Austen in fiction, have you read Lauren Willig’s The Mischief of the Mistletoe? Austen appears as a friend of the heroine, whose situation is a bit like that of the heroine in The Watsons. It’s a fun read, and nominated for a Rita this year.

  2. Argh. Make that “Elliot.” Next time I’ll check before I hit the “Post comment” button.

    • Cecilia – Thanks for visiting and for your comment. Yes, the books and movies tend to merge in places. Your book recommendation sounds like fun too. I’ll have to see if I can fit it into my ever-growing TBR pile.

  3. I am intrigued by reading your new Prologue…..cannot wait to read where you take the novel!

    I do believe the only movie adaptation that is nearest to the book is the BBC Pride and Prejudice 1995 w/ my beloved Colin Firth….all the rest take the essence of the story and adapt it to their own liking…even Sense & Sensibility with Emma Thompson’s Screen play is moved along and scenes cut….that is Hollywood for you!

    Happy Writing!


    • Hi Susan!

      I’m intrigued by my new idea too! It came as a flash of inspiration when I was out power-walking. I do my best thinking then. “I’m very fond of walking,” as Lizzy would say.

      As far as the faithfulness of the movie adaptations, they vary widely. I understand the constraints of the medium make it difficult to be totally true to the novels, but some could have tried a little harder, I think.

  4. Pingback: To Prologue or not to Prologue? « Jane Austen Says…

  5. Pingback: Finishing the Fragments | Jane Austen Says…

  6. Pingback: WIP: “My Darling Exile” | Shannon Winslow's "Jane Austen Says…"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s