If you’ve followed me for a while or if you used to read the now-defunct Austen Authors blog, you will remember our popular P&P200 series, which was later compiled into Pride and Prejudice: The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote (with proceeds going to a JA charity). Well, now we’re doing the same thing with Persuasion at Austen Variations. It’s the 200th anniversary of the year the story took place, and we’ll be tracking right along in “real time,” supplementing the original novel with scenes Jane Austen alluded to but didn’t write herself.
I’m very excited about this project, both because I had a blast writing for P&P200 and because I love Persuasion so much. A story about youthful error, mature love, and second chances, it runs P&P a close second in my affections. Now I’ll have reason to spend more time with this wonderful book.
I’ve been inhabiting Anne and Captain Wentworth’s world for a year now anyway, as I worked on my new novel (see Work-in-Progress), a Persuasion tie-in with Jane Austen herself as the heroine. In it I’ve drawn a parallel between a previously unknown romance in her own life and the one she was writing about in her novel. [Update: The book, titled The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen, is finished except for final rewrites and it should be out sometime this summer!]
We’ve just gotten underway with Persuasion200 at Austen Variations, featuring some prequel scenes (things that take place prior to the live action of the novel). In fact, I had the privilege of writing the very first scene called Beginning with an Ending. It shows Anne Elliot as a 14-year-old girl about to lose her mother and receiving some final words of affection and advice from her.
The end approached. As Lady Elizabeth Elliot lay there, gravely ill and helpless, on what she expected would prove to be her deathbed, she could no longer flatter herself that it might be otherwise. Although she had no particular fear for what was to come, she did have enough duty and pleasure in this life as to make her very sorry indeed to be quitting it so soon – especially to be leaving behind her children in want of love and proper guidance. In vexation of spirit, she wondered who was to provide them these and other necessities when she was gone. Certainly not her husband, Sir Walter.
Looking back over a life too brief, Lady Elliot regretted nothing so much as that she had been far too careless in the choosing of her children’s father… (continue reading here at Austen Variations)
Lady Elliot’s death is really the first pivotal event in Anne’s life, and it effects everything that follows, including why she decides she must give up her engagement to Captain Wentworth later, when she is 19.
She was persuaded to believe the engagement a wrong thing – indiscreet, improper, hardly capable of success, and not deserving it. But it was not a merely selfish caution under which she acted in putting an end to it. Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up. The belief of being prudent and self-denying principally for his advantage, was her chief consolation under the misery of a parting – a final parting… (Persuasion, chapter 4)
I’m scheduled to write the engagement scene (look for it at Austen Variations on May 13) and the break-up scene too (May 23)! Which do you think was the most fun for me to write? Actually, I had a little head start with both, since I was able to draw on what I’d already written about the comparable events in my novel.
So, I hope you’ll come along on the journey. Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the heart-warming story of Persuasion, now with the addition of these new scenes. And at the same time whet your appetite for my new book, coming soon!