Whoohoo! Debut day has finally arrived!
Ever since I finished writing Return to Longbourn, I’ve been dying to get this story out there. The creative process isn’t complete until the resulting work is shared. And the wait to share a new book can be excruciating – like having a tantelizing secret to tell and no one to tell it to!
One reason I’m so anxious to share this book is that I want to know if it intrigues and surprises you as much as it did me when I wrote it. You see, although some authors plot their entire story in detail before actually beginning to write, I do not. I fly by the seat of my pants – dangerous at times, but also a lot of fun! This time the trip took me somewhere unexpected.
I set out to continue the Pride and Prejudice saga, following up on The Darcys of Pemberley by jumping about five years ahead in time. I wanted to finally answer the question first raised by Jane Austen herself 2oo years ago. What will happen to the the Bennet women when Mr. Bennet dies, seeing that the Longbourn estate is entailed away from the female line?
That’s the basic problem posed at the outset of Pride and Prejudice, and it’s only partially resolved by the end of the book. In The Darcys of Pemberley, I uncerimoniously knock off Mr. Collins (sorry, folks), but that changes nothing; the girls still cannot inherit. So when Mr. Bennet does (sadly) die, what happens to Mrs. Bennet, her two unmarried daughters, and the Longbourn estate?
Well, as it happens, Mr. Collins has a brother, one who emigrated to America as a very young man, and he is the new heir to Longbourn. With Mr. Tristan Collins on his way to England to claim his property, Mrs. Bennet immediately decides that the gentleman must be single… and he simply MUST marry one of her daughters; nothing else will do. So, will it be Mary or Kitty chosen for the dubious honor? At first neither one is too excited by the prospect. But, when the man in question turns out to be quite a catch after all, the contest between the sisters is on. Which one do you think will have the upper hand for ending up as the next mistress of Longbourn? Oh, but wait. There’s a dark horse (or possibly more than one) entering the scene to muddy the picture.
That’s the part I didn’t expect when I began writing this book: the dark horse contingent. First, one showed up in the story… then another… and even a third! What was going on? What I envisioned as a simple love triangle had morphed into a much more complicated geometric design right before my eyes. The next thing I knew, one of my characters flatly refused to confine himself to the supporting role I had assigned him; he unaccountably went charging off into “leading man” territory instead. And yet, the way he was behaving, he certainly didn’t deserve that honor. Suddenly, the entire anticipated ending of the book was in jeopardy!
How had it happened? After all, I am the author, right? It’s my book. Wasn’t I supposed to be in control?
But that’s the magical part of writing. Sometimes the story takes on a life of its own. It gallops off in an unexpected direction, and the author just has to go with it and hold on tight.
So now my secret is out. You probably thought that, in my genius, I always knew exactly where I was going. You assumed that I carefully planned every intricate twist and turn of the plot, that, like the great chess masters, I could see 25 moves ahead and make the correct adjustments so that I ended exactly where I had envisioned all along. But the truth is, I only head the horse in the right general direction and keep my eyes wide open, ready to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and every scenic detour.
In this case, it made for a far more interesting ride… and a much better novel too. At least that’s what I think. I hope you agree. After a brief prologue, the book begins like this:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every mortal being must at some point face the certainty of death and the day of reckoning. Despite his every effort to avoid it, this reality at last bore in upon Mr. Bennet, a gentleman who had long resided near Meryton in Hertfordshire. He had managed to live in tolerable comfort for nearly seven-and-sixty years, his contentment at least partially owing to the fact that he was rarely incommoded by bouts of serious introspection. Yet, in his final hours, he did at last pause to reflect upon the questionable quality of his earthly pilgrimage.
The traits of idleness and self-indulgence suggested themselves straightaway. Whereas these are not generally touted as virtues, Mr. Bennet reasoned that it would be outright hypocrisy to condemn in himself that which he freely forgave in so many others of his acquaintance. With his conscience clear on that head, his two remaining sources of potential regret as he prepared to meet his maker were these. First, he had married unwisely and in haste. Yet he hardly thought it likely he would be chastised for that above, having already paid more than thirty years penance for the folly below. Likewise, he knew the consequences of his second regret – not having produced a male heir – would soon be meted out on the terrestrial rather than the celestial plane.
Finally, the dying man considered that perhaps he should have taken his domestic responsibilities more seriously – disciplined his five daughters with some diligence when they were young and made better provision for his widow. But this belated remorse proved as transitory as it was ineffectual. Thus, being serenely satisfied with his deportment in this life and, therefore, confident of a favorable reception in the next, Mr. Bennet breathed his last.
(For more excerpts, check the bottom of the Return to Longbourn page)
I truly hope you enjoy reading Return to Longbourn as much as I did writing it. The book is now available at Amazon (Kindle and paperback and audio) and B&N (Nook) online stores.
Shannon, put me down for a paperback! I can’t wait to read the book! The first little part sounds brilliant and I wonder about the new Mr Collins and which Bennet sister will win his heart, I personally hope for Mary! I seriously hope to get to read your new book!
Good luck, Sophia!
I CANNOT wait to read this! I’ve been on a Jane Austen “gig” for several years now. After a flood we had in our basement two springs ago I have been trying to replace all of my beautiful literature books that were lost! Ugh! The other day after having a conversation with my 12yo son about Pride and Prejudice in the car I serendipitously found a copy of the book at the thrift store we walked into – I jokingly said, “Maybe I’ll just find P&P here.” We walked up to the huge shelves of hundreds of books on display, I stood in front of the books and reached my hand in and the first book I grabbed – Pride and Prejudice!!!! It wasn’t enough to just find that one. As we turned the corner to look at more books the next one I grabbed was also a copy of P&P! Seriously, one of the truly unexpected joys in life! It tickles me to share it with you!
Thank you for writing…so that we can read!!!
You’re most welcome, Kolein! Thanks for sharing your special P&P story!
A new book is always so exciting! This sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
smhparent [at] hotmail [dot] com
I shared this giveaway on Twitter!
smhparent [at] hotmail [dot] com
Shannon, heartiest congratulations to you on your latest success. I hope your book continue to sell well and you will write and publish more Austen-themed novels. Loving this book already though I haven’t read it yet.
Besides posting on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/MyLoveforJaneAusten), I also posted about your book tour on my blog @ http://forloveofausten.blogspot.com/2013/02/return-to-longbourn-giveaways-for.html Hopefully they may be more places where you stop by and talk about Return to Longbourn.
Thanks for spreading the word!
How exciting! You must be so proud!
I am posting this on our local Jane Austen Society facebook page.
Excellent, Beatrice. I appreciate it!
Congratulations on the launch. I would love to win a paperback copy- I have loved Jane Austen’s world since I was a teenager
That’s really why I wrote The Darcys of Pemberley, For Myself Alone, and now Return to Longbourn. I loved that world and wanted an excuse to spend a LOT more time in it!
I have tweeted the giveaway – https://twitter.com/Vesper1931/status/306476437551063040
Such fun, Shannon. Congratulations. Don’t put me in the pot as I just bought it for my Kindle. Be blessed.
Thanks so much, Normandie!
Congratulations! This sounds like an interesting story, I always love it when authors also tell us more about the other Bennet sisters! The cover is lovely!
I look forward to meeting Tristan Collins. I like wrap-around covers. They’re great.
Congratulations, Shannon! You always have the most beautiful covers for your books. Can’t wait to read this one!!=)
Yay! Thanks, Kelli.
Looks like a great read! Love to see what a sibling of Collins would be like 😀 Thanks!
The cover is wonderful and will look great sitting next to my others – after i read it of course! would love to win a copy!
cpnclprashe at yahoo
This new book sounds wonderful … just
can’t get too much of the Bennet family!
OMG, LOVE the originality of the plot – what DID happen once Mr. Bennet died? I want it!!!
Can’t wait for this one. Love to read ’em in paperback…
I’d love to win a paperback…so excited for this new book!
Congrats on your new book! I also tweeted this 🙂 -JJ
jsnato at gmail dot com
Hi Shannon! I would love to have a paperback copy of this book! The cover is so beautiful that I want to own the actual paperback book. I must ask who painted the cover? They did a fantastic job! Please forgive me if someone else has already asked this off you.
I must be honest and say that I didn’t read the excerpt you generously gave us to read. I love being able to read the whole book without knowing anything a head of time. 🙂 Which is also the reason that I didn’t read any responses. I love being completely surprised from cover to cover! 🙂
I can tell you, however, that this blog entry is utterly fantastic! I want to read everything you write if you can make a blog entry so fascinating to read! I’m hooked!!! 🙂
Thanks so much for letting us have a chance to win a free copy! What a treat! 🙂
Hi, Kyly – I’m glad the blog entertained you, and I’d love for you to read everything I’ve ever written! To read things in chronological order, you should start with my short story “Mr. Collins’s Last Supper” and then move on to “The Darcys of Pemberley” before this new book. Since “For Myself Alone” is an independent story, you can read that anytime!
To answer your question, I did the artwork myself. I actually started painting long before I discovered I was a writer! Thank you for the lovely compliment.
How wonderful! I would love to be able to write my own stories and then paint the covers for them! What a feeling of satisfaction that must bring to you! 🙂
Wow… I am glad I asked who painted the picture!!! 🙂 It is just beautiful!
Love the cover. I would share this on twitter if I knew how… I will just have to settle for anticipating it on my own
Mr. Collins’ younger, handsomer brother – oh, my! Fingers crossed that Mary Bennet has a chance for a love of her own.
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