Return to Longbourn

What will happen to the Longbourn family when Mr. Bennet dies? – seeing that his estate is entailed away from the female line.  The question was first posed by Jane Austen herself 200 years ago, in the opening chapter of Pride and Prejudice, and it’s still hanging there, unanswered. I settle the matter once and for all in this second installment of my P&P saga. Return to Longbourn picks up the story about five years after the close of The Darcys of Pemberley, and centers on Mary, Kitty, and the new heir to the Longbourn estate.

Return-to-Longbourn-book-cover-webWith Mr. Tristan Collins on his way from America to claim his property, Mrs. Bennet hatches her plan. The new heir to Longbourn simply must marry one of her daughters. Nothing else will do. Will it be Mary or Kitty singled out for this dubious honor? When the gentleman in question turns out to be quite a catch after all, the contest between the sisters is on. Which of them will be the next mistress of Longbourn? Or will the dark horse in the race win it all in the end?

Darcy, Elizabeth, and the rest of the Pride and Prejudice cast are back as the socially awkward Mary emerges from the shadows to take center stage in this next chapter of the story.

A lot of us have a secret soft spot for Mary, and I believed she might have the hidden makings of a heroine. Now, in Return to Longbourn, we learn what really makes her tick. Find out if Mary is destined to be a governess forever, or if she overcomes the misfortune of being ‘plain’ to discover love and her own happy ending.

Published in February, 2013, this book is available in Kindle, Nook, paperback, and audio. I’m proud to say it’s receiving excellent reviews and has now appeared on multiple “Best of 2013” lists! Return to Longbourn was named #1 of the top-ten Austen-inspired historical novels at Austenprose, and best Austenesque sequel of the year at Austenesque Reviews!


“Kudos to Shannon Winslow for bringing Mary Bennet to life as an admirable and sympathetic heroine in a novel filled with drama, suspense, and romance. I think Jane Austen herself would have approved!”bestselling author Syrie James

After a brief prologue, chapter 1 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.

I know what you’re thinking: “Does she have to kill a character off at the beginning of every book? Last time it was Mr. Collins; this time, Mr. Bennet. Who’s next?”  Well, I admit I seem to be falling into that pattern, but I want you to know that I’m not overly bloodthirsty by nature. In fact, I abide very strictly by a no-more-than-two-bodies-per-book policy.  So, one down; one more to go?

Read other excerpts of Return to Longbourn on my 6/8/12 post – “The Look”, the 6/21/12 post – “A Three-Hour Tour”, and in a preview at Austenprose.

31 Responses to Return to Longbourn

  1. Patty Marq (@PattyMarq) says:

    Killing Mr. Collins was what ensured that I would buy your book, I am curious about this, even though Mr. Bennet dying is one of the saddest things to read about in P&P fanfic

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  3. janashe says:

    congratulations Shannon on getting another book finished! you go girl! I am in the middle of The Darcey’s and enjoying it very much

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  6. michelleregan1009 says:

    I just finished The Darceys of Pemberley I loved it.. This could not have been a better sequel to Pride and Prejudice! I am ready to ready Mr.Collins last supper.

  7. LOL Shannon! There is nothing like a death for a roaring start of a novel – and a handsome heir at Longbourn with Mary and Kitty in the mix. Hmm??? Great premise.

    • That’s right, Laurel. Opening with a death worked for “The Darcys of Pemberley,” so why not its sequel? And I’m glad you’re intrigued by the premise. My beta readers are calling the book “romantic” and “fun.” I had fun writing it; that’s for sure!

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  10. Beate Dobbratz says:

    I liked the Darcys very much. Looking forward to the new book 😉

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  13. says:

    They don’t know it, but the Darcy’s and their family are my family too. I simply can’t get enough of all of Austen’s well defined and perfectly drawn characters. I look forward to reading your newest book and wish you great good luck with it.

  14. leesalu says:

    Hi, I just finished two of your books and am in the process of reading another. I think you did a great job. I really enjoyed them! I did have a question on “the return to longbourn” one. What happened to Clinton? Did I completely miss that part or was in not in the book? Who was the person who saw him trying to assault Mary? Thanks for writing these books for those of us who need more of the Darcy’s. 🙂

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying my books, Leesalu! Clinton was banished from Netherfield by Mr. Farnsworth after the butler Haines informed his master of what he had seen (the attempted assault). Reread chapter 50 if you want to refresh your memory.

      I know you can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy. But I hope you’ll give the other Austen heroes a chance too. My next book, coming out later this summer, is a “Persuasion” tie-in. And Cpt. Wentworth is pretty swoon-worthy too!

      • leesalu says:

        thank you so much for such a quick response. I am definitely giving your other books a chance. I am currently enjoying “For Myself Alone”. However, I need to take a time out to reread chapter 50 of Return to Longbourn. lol

        I can’t wait for your “Persuasion” tie-in. Thanks again for your books. 🙂

  15. leesalu says:

    By the way, I think you are pretty awesome for taking the time to respond to your fans.

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  17. Will there be another installment of P&P? 😭

    Thank you!

    • Have you read all 4 of mine already?

      I would LOVE to write another P&P story if I have an idea that I can get excited about. So far, I really haven’t gone in for endless variations like some authors do. I tend to think there’s ONE TRUE story, so I have only added instead of changing it. I have thought of doing a prequel about the Bennets and the Gardiners, though. I also want to write at least one novel related to JA’s other 5 books. Thee to go, including the Northanger Abbey sequel I’m working on now. I hope you will consider reading my non-P&P books too!

      Thanks for your question!

    • PS – I’ve been thinking about it the last couple of days, since your comment, and I AM getting excited about another P&P installment! After I finish my NA book, maybe I’ll write an account of P&P/TDoP from Darcy’s point of view – the known events and more as seen through HIS eyes. That would be a fun challenge and a worthwhile addition to what I’ve already written by way of expanding the ONE TRUE story. What do you think?

      • Just finished all 4! I need more 😭🙏 you read my mind about Darcy’s point of view. His thoughts about Elizabeth and her family, his accounts of Wickham when they were growing up, his father and how he was raised and how that influenced his thoughts on how he would feel towards his children before the age of understanding. Omg I am obsessed with your continuance of P&P. I thoroughly enjoyed the intimacy of Darcy and Elizabeth. It was refreshing and tastefully done. Crossing my fingers for a movie! Excellent. Just excellent!

      • Oh and how Darcy felt when he read the letter Lydia wrote impersonating Elizabeth and how Wickham I’m sure drove it home! A Wickham’s point of view would be veryyyyyy interesting as well!!

    • I’m gratified to hear you’re obsessed with my P&P additions! And yes, a movie would be fabulous. Know anybody in Hollywood, or better yet, the BBC?

      Interesting what you say about Wickham. Perhaps I could combine the men’s points of view in one book (Darcy, Wickham), like I did the ladies in The Ladies of Rosings Park. That could be interesting, and a worthy addition to the ONE TRUE STORY.

      So many fun ideas to explore! Just wish I could write faster. In the meantime, I hope you will consider my 4 non-P&P novels. And my Jane Austen devotional is coming out in less than 2 weeks. So you have some options. 🙂

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