Good Afternoon everyone,
How are you this lovely week? Ready to be surrounded by chocolates this Easter? I’m sure I’ll eat way more than I should 😉 I don’t know if people eat a lot of chocolate this time of the year in your country, but here, we certainly do 🙂
Today I’m welcoming author Shannon Winslow to From Pemberley to Milton with a guest post about her recently released book The Ladies of Rosings Park. This is the 4th novel of the Darcys of Pemberley Series and focuses, as the name indicates, on the ladies who live in or near Rosings Park, but I will let you read the blurb and guest post to learn more about it. Enjoy!
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).
You can find The Ladies of Rosings Park at:
The Ladies of Rosings Park is primarily Anne de Bourgh’s story, and staying true to what Jane Austen wrote about her was my prime directive (to put it in Star Trek terms). Anne might imagine all sorts of things – and she does! – but she’s prevented from doing anything to contradict the original story in Pride and Prejudice. It’s only after Darcy and Elizabeth ride off together into the sunset that she is free to invent her own life and find her HEA.
In the meantime, in the early chapters, she’s stuck where Jane Austen left her – unseen and unheard, living perpetually in the shadow of her domineering mother. As Anne herself tells us in this new book… although Rosings is an extremely large house, there is room for only one person to exert the force of her will and opinions. And that person is my mother, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
But what if these constraints were removed? What if neither Anne nor I felt obliged to abide by the “non-interference” clause? What if she were allowed to not only imagine, but act as she pleased from the start? Although it would have been difficult to sustain the mash-up mentality for the length of an entire novel, it’s fun to see what happens when you try it out even temporarily.
So here’s a P&P scene at Rosings that I include in the book, now re-imagined – what might have happened if Anne had been able to let down her hair and cut loose a little sooner. Anne’s telling the story, and I’ll leave it to you to figure out where and how far it deviates from what I actually wrote in The Ladies of Rosings Park!
Mama droned on and on with no intermission, Darcy and I speaking only when asked some question requiring a response. Every minute, however, my attention was drawn across to the other side of the room, where Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were entertaining one another in so spirited a manner that it could not be ignored. I was hardly the only one to have noticed either. Darcy’s eye repeatedly turned that way, I observed, and finally so did Mama’s.
“What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam? What are you telling Miss Bennet?” she demanded.
“We are speaking of music, Madam,” he answered.
This solicited from my mother a long speech on the subject, ending in a query as to how her niece was getting on.
“Georgiana was very well when I left her, and her playing improves apace,” Darcy said. “I never grow tired of hearing her and often tell her so. She is very modest of her own talents, though, and will not believe me.”
I thought it a fine sentiment that needed no supplementation. However, this did not prevent Mama from adding her unnecessary advice that Georgiana should practice daily. Then she found a cautionary illustration conveniently close to hand. She said, “I have told Miss Bennet several times that she will not play really well unless she practices more. Otherwise, she will be forever condemned to mediocrity.”
I waited to see what reply Elizabeth would make to this piece of incivility, hoping for some pert opinion in return. When she only smiled ironically, something compelled me to come to her defense. Mama had run roughshod over us all long enough. “Mama, how can you be so rude to our guest? You may as well have pointed your bony finger at Elizabeth and said, ‘Look. Here is a sad example of the sorry state to which a person who does not heed my counsel is doomed to descend. Make very sure such a pitiful end does not befall you!’”
Mama seemed surprisingly unperturbed. “You know my reputation for frankness, Anne. I must speak as I find and let others draw what useful conclusions they might. It is my clear duty to give others the benefit of my sagacious observations.”
I could only look at Elizabeth and roll my eyes to show how I sympathized.
It was all the more remarkable, then, that after Mama’s insult Elizabeth consented to play for us later that evening. This having come about by Fitzwilliam’s particular request, he settled in a chair beside her to turn the pages. But then my other cousin broke from our group and made his way into the next room as well. I cannot say whether it was for a better view of the pretty performer or only to separate himself a little from Mama. In any case, the three of them were soon carrying on together, Elizabeth’s music punctuated by pauses for conversation.
From my location, I strained to hear even an occasional word. I could see quite well enough, however: an arch look from Elizabeth, some explanation from one of my cousins, a laugh in return, a comment to the other, a smile exchanged between two or all three. The gentlemen were clearly enthralled. How effortlessly Elizabeth had managed to captivate them!
I longed to join in – to be a part of their talk and laughter, possibly even to flirt a little as I had seen others do. And yet, there I sat, meekly by Mama’s side with my hands folded in my lap, keeping to my customary wallflower part and allowing another to thoroughly eclipse me in the eyes of the man who was supposed to have become my husband. It was not so much that I coveted Darcy’s attention myself or that I resented Elizabeth’s allurements; I just hated being perpetually unseen, unheard, and completely left out.
Suddenly I could bear it no longer. Perhaps emboldened by having got away with speaking my mind earlier, I decided then and there to do something about it. So I shot to my feet before I could change my mind. As daring as you please, I marched right up to the three gathered round the piano-forte, which instantly drew their full attention. Shaking my head, I gave my cousins a look of mock disapprobation.
“I have come to stand beside my friend Elizabeth in her time of need,” I told them. “For it seemed to me as if the two of you were teasing her without mercy. I think you will behave better, now I am here and our numbers are equal. Elizabeth, how can I be of assistance? We ladies must look out for one another’s welfare, to face down every attempt by men to intimidate us. Is not that so?” Then I laughed playfully to show that I was in fact teasing too.
Elizabeth smiled and joined me. “Indeed,” she said. “My courage had nearly failed, but now, with you to support me, I feel equal to anything.”
The gentlemen were left quite speechless at first, amazed (and possibly impressed?) that timid little Anne had the temerity to behave in such an astonishing way.
Finally, Fitzwilliam laughed too, saying, “We stand guilty as charged. Is not that so, Darcy? How lucky for Miss Bennet that you came along when you did, Anne!”
“True,” said Darcy. “Lucky for us all. Now, what would you like, Anne? If we are not to tease Miss Bennet anymore, what would you have us do instead? We are at your service.”
“More music, I think. Yes, by all means. That is the safest way to proceed. No one will dare misbehave where there is music. Perhaps, if Miss Bennet will play again, I might be persuaded to accompany her. I do sing a little, you know.”
“Do you?” asked Fitzwilliam. “That would be capital indeed!”
“Let us not have anything too serious, though,” I suggested. “I would wager we are, none of us, in the mood for a dirge. Elizabeth, do you know any comic songs?”
With me enthusiastically leading the way, the others soon joined in. I daresay Mama did not approve. I think I heard her complaining in the background – something about such ‘common’ songs only being suitable for public houses, sung by travelers and serving maids. But what could she do? It was four against one. We just sang all the louder until she was finally chased away to bed!
So what do you think? Believable or not so much? How far do you think Anne would really go? If you like this new, bolder Anne, I can promise you that she learns to stand up for herself before all is said and done, just not this early on. I hope you’ll also check out a mash-up I wrote about what happens when she crashes Georgiana’s birthday ball.
Thanks for stopping by!
Shannon Winslow comes bearing gifts this Easter as she would like to offer 2 ebook copies of The Ladies of Rosings Park to my readers. The giveaway is international and to enter it you only have to comment on this post and let us know what you think of the Darcys of Pemberley Series. All your love and support are appreciated 🙂
The giveaway is open until the 13th of April and the winners will be announced shortly after.
Good Luck everyone!