Time for a brief update, and then I have something fun for you to read – the opening of a work in progress. First, though, for those of you who have been asking, I wanted to let you know that the audiobook of The Ladies of Rosings Park will be out very shortly. Yay! It’s in the final review stage, and I don’t anticipate any further delays.
Now for my work in progress. If you read my post Which Book Should I Write Next? a couple of months ago, you know I was in a bit of a quandry at the time. The situation is still not entirely resolved either, not even after all your excellent suggestions. Instead of starting work on one new project, I’ve actually begun three at once, two of which weren’t even on my list of proposed options before!
I’ve started a non-JA short story / novella about a car (if you can believe it), my first non-fiction piece (a JA devotional), and then #3 from my list of possibles – a campy Northanger Abbey sequel, Gothic murder mystery style. How’s that for an eclectic mix? Rather than settling down to one at a time, I may just work on whichever inspires me most on any given day and see which makes it to the finish line first.
Today, though, I want to share the first part of what I’ve written for the NA sequel, proposed title: Midnight at Northanger Abbey. Be sure to let me know what you think!
To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced, that the General’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience. (Closing paragraph of Northanger Abbey)
Chapter 1 : Perfect Happiness
No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her in the beginning. But when a young lady is to be a heroine, no perverseness of circumstances can prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way, and Catherine Morland’s case was no exception.
Having thoroughly prepared herself for heroism in her adolescence by the industrious study of every novel – romantic to thoroughly horrid – she could, by fair means or even mildly foul, lay her hands upon, Catherine herself was hardly surprised when adventure and intrigue found her the moment she set foot outside her own sleepy community of Fullerton. It was inevitable that such a fate would overtake her, she believed, and oh, how she had longed for it! She had quite counted on it. Indeed, if nothing whatsoever had happened in Bath, if love and adventure had not been expectantly waiting for her there, she would have been exceedingly disappointed. She would have thought it unfair in the extreme.
But in fact, love and adventure did find her, as she had always foreseen. It was only now, some time afterward that she had difficulty believing it. Parts of the story began to feel like an implausible dream: those early heady days exploring Bath with the inconstant Isabella Thorpe, being introduced to Henry at the assembly rooms completely by chance, her uneven acquaintance with the rest of his family, the surprising invitation to Northanger Abbey, and finally her violent expulsion from that place with Henry following, resolved on marrying her.
It must all be true, however, Catherine reasoned when she blinked awake this particular morning, experiencing the same feelings of dawning pleasure as many other mornings before and since. This ceiling over her head was certainly not the ceiling of the crowded bedchamber she had shared with her sisters in Fullerton. This bed was more comfortable too, and its bedclothes newer and sweeter smelling than those which had embraced her throughout childhood (and which she had had the duty of laundering herself).
No, the dream was become reality, and this was Woodston parsonage. For the most conclusive evidence of that, she slowly turned her pretty face to the left, blushing becomingly in anticipation as she did so. As she suspected and hoped, it was not any mere sister’s visage that then greeted her eyes but a handsomely masculine face instead.
“Good morning, Mrs. Tilney,” he murmured low. “I hope you slept well.”
“Good morning, Mr. Tilney. Yes, I did, thank you.” she returned, smiling as if she possessed a delicious secret too good to tell. For it still seemed to her somewhat of a miracle that Henry Tilney was there in her bed, that he was truly her husband – a miracle that needed constant confirmation. The sight of him, albeit exceedingly agreeable, was not enough. Hearing his familiar voice, still rumbling with the effects of sleep, was yet insufficient for her. She must consult her other senses as well.
Henry had quickly learnt this about his young bride – her need for continual reassurance – and he was always happy to oblige her with every positive proof of his presence and his love that she required. Toward that end, he now pulled her close and proceeded to bestow kisses here and there upon her person – affectionate or passionate according to what was wanted – and to furnish whatever other personal attentions seemed advisable.
Catherine, sighing contentedly and abandoning herself to his capable ministrations, wondered if there could possibly be any felicity in the world to equal it.