Good Afternoon everyone,
I’m very pleased to welcome Shannon Winslow at From Pemberley to Milton once more. After the success of Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, she has decided to give Colonel Brandon his own voice and has released Colonel Brandon in His Own Words. I was super happy to see this happening because Brandon comes third on my Austen’s heros list, and I’m kind of hoping she will also release Captain Wentworth in His Own Words one of these days. But until then, I’ll have Colonel Brandon to fill my mind and heart. Ms. Winslow brought with her a guest post where she explains why she decided to write this book and where she also shared a small excerpt of it. I hope you like reading it!
Is Colonel Brandon a favourite of yours? Let us know in the comments 🙂
Thank you so much for visiting once more Ms. Winslow! It is a pleasure to have you here! I wish you all the happiness with this book 🙂
Thanks so much, Rita, for the chance to tell your readers about my brand new book baby: Colonel Brandon in His Own Words! Today, I want to share a little of what inspired me to write this novel and to write it now. I suppose you could say it was partly a matter of the head and partly a matter of the heart.
As for my head, I’ve long planned to write at least one novel related to each of Jane Austen’s six. That’s my goal. And with only Emma and Sense and Sensibility left to go, the tie-breaker was that S&S will be the theme at the JASNA convention in Victoria this year (which I will be attending, btw, yay!). So I thought the timing would be perfect to do this one first. Then my heart told me to make it a book about Colonel Brandon.
I’ve always had a deep fondness and special sympathy for Colonel Brandon (helped along, I suspect, by Alan Rickman’s poignant portrayal of him in S&S ’95). The colonel is my kind of hero. He’s a quiet man of genuine kindness and deep integrity, but he’s also a man of action when the situation calls for it. He’s just a really good guy, who tries to do the right thing, but has had some rough breaks in life. And since I always root for a worthy underdog, I have to root for Brandon to finally find all the happiness he deserves, which Jane Austen tells us, much too briefly, that he does:
Colonel Brandon was now as happy as all those who best loved him believed he deserved to be. In Marianne he was consoled for every past affliction. Her regard and her society restored his mind to animation and his spirits to cheerfulness; and that Marianne found her own happiness in forming his, was equally the persuasion and delight of each observing friend. Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband as it had once been to Willoughby. (Sense and Sensibility, chapter 50)
Because Austen’s book focuses on Elinor and Marianne, there’s no space to thoroughly tell Colonel Brandon’s story too. That was never her intent. But as wonderful as the paragraph above is, it doesn’t really feel like enough, does it? Luckily, as a writer, I knew I could do something about that! I didn’t have to be satisfied with a few lines telling me Colonel Brandon is happy, restored, and loved; I could take the time and space to show it’s true and how it came about. The same for his relationship with Eliza, the events of his youth, and his military years – things that must have shaped his character and experience of the world.
I got pretty excited about filling in all the very large and intriguing gaps in Brandon’s record. When I thought of the possibilities, my head told me there was plenty of scope for a whole new novel here. Not simply a rehash of S&S from a different point of view. No, I wanted a fresh approach. I wanted to bring in tons of new but compatible material to really flesh out Brandon’s character, to expand his story both in depth and across time.
Then, to give the book extra heart, I decided that the story must be told by Colonel Brandon himself, not by an impersonal narrator. It must be told in his own way – following along as his mind moves naturally from one event to another by association, rather than forcing things into strict chronological order. And it must all be viewed through the prism of his crisis with Marianne, which is where the book begins:
It is happening again, and I suddenly feel very old. Although I survived it once before – just – I have the gravest doubts that I can do so again. Some days, I do not even wish to.
The circumstances are quite different this time, it is true. But the pain is the same – the sudden wrenching in my gut each time I think of it, which I do nearly every minute of every day; the repeated jolt of panic in my brain, which tells me that I must do something to stop it; the hollow ache in my heart and the certain knowledge of my own pathetic powerlessness. It is all too familiar, for once again the hand of the woman I love more than life itself is being given irrevocably to another, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
It is no doubt weak and self-indulgent, as I have repeatedly told myself, but my mind will persist in entertaining questions of morbid curiosity. I cannot seem to help asking if, overall, it is better or worse this time. Is my disappointment more or less profound, the circumstances more or less regrettable? Will the resulting pain last as long as before and leave scars as deep?
Perhaps it is only the proximity, but the current event appears worse – at least for myself personally – for I shall not only have the pain that she is lost to me forever, but the additional mortification of knowing she does not care for me. In truth, she thinks nothing of me at all. So, God willing, I shall be the only one to suffer, which was not the case before.
I would not wish her fate on Marianne Dashwood, not for the world. In fact, that must be my chief consolation: knowing that Marianne is happy, even if it must be in the arms of another man. I would willingly sacrifice my own happiness and more if it would secure a lasting one for her. And yet who can say that her present bliss will endure, dependent as it is upon a man of whom I have every reason to think ill? And so my mind can by no means be easy.
I have been to her sister in Berkeley Street to have my worst fears confirmed, and now I know I should put Marianne from my mind and retire to Delaford to lick my wounds. And so I have made ready to do more than once. Still, as long as she is in London, I feel compelled to stand by – for what purpose, I cannot even conceive – at least until she is well and truly married. After that, it will be nobody’s right except her husband’s to be concerned for her welfare.
Until then, however, I will wait. Perhaps there may yet be some small service I can render. If I am needed, I swear I will not fail her. Whatever the cost, I must do better by Marianne than I did by Eliza… or by Rashmi.
Meanwhile, I have nothing to do but think of the past. Although there have been enough joys and compensations over the years, the regrets and failures continue to haunt me. I am in a dangerous state of mind.
Every time I read this, my heart breaks for him all over again!
A first-person account allows you to feel closer to the hero/heroine because you’re basically living inside that character’s head throughout the entire story. That’s true for the reader, of course, but probably even more so of the writer. I spent nine months of quality time with Colonel Brandon, and I grew to love and respect him all the more because of it! So in this book, you will see what Brandon sees and hear what he hears. You are privy to all his thoughts, internal debates, and emotions.
If you think about it, every one of us experiences life in “first person” – viewing the world from inside our own heads. We have no choice. So isn’t that the most realistic way to present a story? Besides, I really enjoy writing in this style. In fact, six of my eleven novels are done, like this book, in first person from a single character’s point of view. That includes my previous publication: Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words.
So, now with two first-person books from the hero’s point of view, is this a series in the making? Will there soon be half a dozen “in His Own Words” books lined up neatly on the shelf? I haven’t decided yet. I do still need an Emma book to finish off my goal, though. How about Mr. Knightley in His Own Words? I think it has potential! In the meantime, I hope you will read and enjoy Colonel Brandon’s story – with your head as well as your whole heart!
Colonel Brandon is the consummate gentleman: honorable, kind almost to a fault, ever loyal and chivalrous. He’s also silent and grave, though. So, what events in his troubled past left him downcast, and how does he finally find the path to a brighter future? In Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen gives us glimpses, but not the complete picture.
Now Colonel Brandon tells us his full story in His Own Words. He relates the truth about his early family life and his dear Eliza – his devotion to her and the devastating way she was lost to him forever. He shares with us a poignant tale from his military days in India – about a woman named Rashmi and how she likewise left a permanent mark on his soul. And of course Marianne. What did Brandon think and feel when he first saw her? How did his hopes for her subsequently rise, plummet, and then eventually climb upwards again? After Willoughby’s desertion, what finally caused Marianne to see Colonel Brandon in a different light?
This is not a variation but a supplement to the original story, chronicled in Brandon’s point of view. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the things Jane Austen didn’t tell us about a true hero – the very best of men.
You can find Colonel Brandon… in his own words at: