Here it is, my eighth novel! The Ladies of Rosings Park is ready for her ‘coming out party,’ prepared to meet the reading public, excited to be launched onto literary seas and to make her debut upon the larger world!
Well, I don’t know if a book can really be excited (I guess that’s just a bit of anthropomorphism on my part), but I am! Even though this is hardly my first time, it’s always a thrill to see my story (the product of a year’s worth of work) finally in print, to know that other people will be reading and enjoying it too.
But how did we get to this point? Here’s a little history of the project:
My subconscious must have realized it before I did. I just knew I wanted to write Anne de Bourgh’s story. Or rather that I wanted to let Anne tell her story, since I intended to write the book in first person from the heroine’s point of view, the same as I had with Georgiana in Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.
The next thing that came to me was the title: The Ladies of Rosings Park. I liked the sound of it right away. It didn’t occur to me at the time that Anne was only one lady, not “ladies.” But I guess my subconscious knew what it was doing in proposing the plural, because as soon as I had Anne’s first chapter down, I began to rethink my strategy.
I liked hanging around in Anne’s head – figuring out what made her tick, what she must have been thinking, feeling, planning, hoping, dreaming. If I stayed there for the whole book, however, I’d never be able to see inside her mother’s mind. That would be missing half the fun!
Lady Catherine is a marvelous character, the kind of conniving villain we love to hate. And let’s face it; early on at least, Lady Catherine is the driving force of the story. She’s the one who stirs the pot. She’s the one whose overbearing personality and schemes impact Anne’s life most. It would be a shame to miss listening in on all that calculated deviousness at work, to be deprived of the chance to eavesdrop on the warped rationale behind her self-righteous posturing and bad behavior.
Besides, Lady Catherine simply would not allow it. She made it perfectly clear at the outset that her opinions were the only ones that really mattered, since they were always correct while everybody else was wrong. She absolutely insisted on being heard, and as you know, she is not a lady to be gainsaid!
I considered switching to third person as a way to admit Lady Catherine as an equal partner in telling the story, but I hated to lose the intimacy and impact of a first-person account. Instead, I decided that the ladies – mother and daughter – should take turns narrating the tale, peaceably and politely alternating chapters. That way we would get both their points of view about what was happening, for instance when Elizabeth Bennet arrived in Hunsford. As you can imagine, they see this and other events quite differently!
But that wasn’t the end of it. As long as I had admitted Lady Catherine, there didn’t seem any reason I had to stop there. After all, “Ladies” could mean any number above one, right? While the door was still ajar, I might just as well see who else wanted in, who else had something to say on the subject of Anne, her coming of age, and her marital prospects. In walked two more women belonging to Rosings Park: Charlotte Collins and Mrs. Jenkinson. They didn’t command an equal share, but it turned out they had unique perspectives and valuable contributions to make as well.
So that’s how The Ladies of Rosings Park fulfilled the implied promise of the pre-selected title; that’s how it went from one young lady’s story to a tale told by four very diverse women. You may have heard that sometimes characters take over a story, foiling the author’s original plans. I can testify that it’s true. And surely if anybody is capable of pulling off such a coup, it’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh!
The Ladies of Rosings Park is currently available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon, with audio to come. Here’s the official book blurb:
At first glance, Anne de Bourgh doesn’t seem a promising heroine. But beneath that quiet exterior, there’s a lively mind at work, imagining how one day she will escape her poor health and her mother’s domination to find love and a life worth living.
Now Anne finally gets the chance to speak her mind. But Lady Catherine demands equal time. Even Charlotte Collins and Mrs. Jenkinson get into the act. Chapter by chapter, these ladies of Rosings Park take turns telling the tale from the moment Elizabeth Bennet sets foot in Hunsford, changing everything. Is Anne heartbroken or relieved to discover Mr. Darcy will never marry her? As an heiress, even a sickly one, she must have other suitors. Does Lady Catherine gracefully accept the defeat of her original plan or keep conniving? Will Anne’s health ever improve? And what really happened to her father?
Complete in itself, this work expands The Darcys of Pemberley series laterally, beginning during the timeline of Pride and Prejudice and carrying beyond to reveal the rest of Anne’s story. When a young lady is to be a heroine… something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way. (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)
For more inside information, fun original posts, and prize opportunities, please join me on my virtual book tour in the weeks ahead. I have been invited to stop by the blogs listed below to share about The Ladies of Rosings Park – something new and different at each one. (Check back for post titles and links as we go along or watch for my announcements on Facebook.) If you stay with me, not only will you have a pretty good chance of winning a prize, you should also be quite an expert on the book when we finish. Of course, I hope that somewhere along the way you’ll decide to read it as well!
March 19: Austen Variations (preview chapters continue)
March 21: Just Jane 1813 – Anne de Bourgh: Unlikely Heroine
March 23: Austenesque Reviews – Excerpt: “It taught me to hope…”
March 27: My Jane Austen Book Club – An Interview with Lady Catherine
March 29: From Pemberley to Milton – Following the Prime Directive or Mashing Things Up?
April 3: More Agreeably Engaged – Darcy’s Duty to Anne
April 5: So Little Time – Excerpt: “An Heiress’s Fate”
April 16: Darcyholic Diversions – Mr. Collins Interviews the Author
Here I go! Wish me bon voyage!