Although For Myself Alone pays conspicuous homage to Jane Austen in style (the same time period, type of story, and language), it is an independent story rather than a sequel or direct tie-in. No prior knowledge of her novels is required to read and enjoy this one. I like to think this is the next story Jane Austen would have written, given the chance. And just for fun, I’ve borrowed lines from her books and hidden them throughout the novel for her fans to find. This book is now available here in paperback and Kindle, here for Nook, and here as an audiobook!
Set in Hampshire and Bath, For Myself Alone is the tale of Josephine Walker, a bright, independent, young woman whose quiet life is turned upside-down by an unexpected inheritance. With a tempting fortune of twenty thousand pounds, she’s suddenly the most popular girl in town. Yet Jo longs to be valued for who she is, not for her attractive bank balance. She cannot respect the men who pursue her for her money, and Arthur, the only one she does admire, is considered the rightful property of her best friend. Now, even the motives of her new fiance are suspect. Does Richard truly love her for herself alone? There’s only one sure (but extreme) way to find out … if Jo has the courage to take it.
This is what Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine had to say in their review:
“Shannon Winslow continues to add to her “stash of unpublished Jane Austen novels” with this picturesque tale of a young woman who comes into an unexpected fortune. Set in familiar Jane Austen territory – Hampshire and Bath – For Myself Alone follows Josephine Walker,a rather charming heroine, on her journey to self-knowledge and true love. Winslow is attracting quite a following, and this book will please her growing army of fans.”
Here’s how the novel the opens:
I know that in the grand scheme of things the misadventures of one country girl amount to no more than a drop in the great watery deep. However, in the infinitely smaller scope of that particular young lady’s imagination, the very same drop may prove enough to thoroughly drench her. I am one such girl, just come in from a soaking rain.
With my hand still damp, metaphorically speaking, I take up my diary from its traditional resting spot on the bedside table. I stroke the pebbled surface of the embossed red leather binding and trace the name engraved on the cover in gilt lettering: Josephine Walker. The book was a present for my seventeenth birthday, a parting gift of sorts from my hapless governess. In it I have diligently documented, without embellishment, the meager fare of which my life has consisted for the four years since. Putting pen to paper always gives me comfort, although the stories I write for children are on the whole, I trust, far more entertaining than the entries in my diary.
Judging from the stillness of the house, even the last of the servants has retired. Only the great clock in the hall and a distant discontented dog keep me company through the watches of the night. The relief of sleep escapes me. My restless mind continues pacing to and fro, retracing the turbulent events of the past few weeks. How glad I am to be home at Fairfield again; vain was my wish to leave it in the first place. How much misery might I have been spared had I never gone toBath? I craved adventure then. Now the peace of privacy and the company of my closest friends are all I yearn for.
By the flickering candlelight, I revisit a simpler past as set down in the foremost part of the volume in my hand. As I leaf through, my eye catches upon a date with a small star carefully drawn beside it. A significant day: my first grown-up ball, I remember, smiling. A dozen other entries of similar import are denoted by the same fanciful symbol, marking bits and pieces of my innocent youth.
As I continue turning forward in time, my diary falls open to the twenty-seventh day of April, the current year – a day which earned not just one star, but an entire constellation. With equal agitation of an entirely different sort, I likewise opened to a fresh page in my diary that night. I remember taking inordinate care writing the date, adorning the capital “A” with as many scrolls and flourishes as I could devise. I was in no hurry. At last I had something truly worth recording for posterity. Yet in my excitement, I hardly knew where to begin. Nothing in my past had prepared me for the circumstances in which I found myself…