Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘eliza shearer’

I’m thrilled to welcome Eliza Shearer back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Miss Price’s Decision. I love crossover novels and seeing how the characters interact, and Miss Price’s Decision brings together characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice. I hope you’re all as intrigued as I am!

Eliza is here to introduce the book, share an excerpt, and give you all a chance to win a copy. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

It is a pleasure to be here today to present Miss Price’s Decision, my second novel in the Austeniana series after Miss Darcy’s Beaux. Like its predecessor, it tells the story of the younger sibling of a main character in a Jane Austen novel, in this case Mansfield Park.

Fanny Price is a leading lady that not all Janeites like, but there can be no doubt that in Mansfield Park Jane Austen gave us an unforgettable cast of characters and a complex web of interests, disagreements and secret desires.

The novel ends with the eldest Bertram sister disgracing herself by running away with Mr Crawford. It is a heinous development, and its gravity overshadows what would otherwise be a very shocking event: Julia’s elopement with Mr Yates.

I have always been intrigued by their elopement. Other than a certain personal antipathy from Sir Thomas, there are no substantial obstacles for the young couple to overcome if they wish to pursue the relationship. So why marry without parental consent?

In Miss Price’s Decision, set five years after the dramatic ending to Mansfield Park, we see that the tension between Julia and Sir Thomas is still very evident. Here is a sample; I hope you enjoy it! And if you would like to enter the giveaway, please comment below.

****

Miss Price’s Decision, Chapter 3 (excerpt)

On the breakfast room table at Berkeley Square stood a Dutch vase filled with delicate pink posies and white forget-me-nots arranged with exquisite taste. The flowers were so beautiful that the minute I saw them I longed for chalkboard and paper. However, their serenity did not reflect the general atmosphere in the room, for I immediately sensed tension in the air.

Sir Thomas was eating his bread and eggs in sullen silence. Across from him, my cousin Julia was doing the same. Julia and I had met at Fanny and Edmund’s wedding, so I recognised her at once. She, however, only acknowledged me with a rigid smile.

“You must be Fanny’s sister. Has the footman not shown you the way to the kitchen?”

“Her name is Susan,” said Sir Thomas, his voice as cold as ice. “She is your cousin and is treated as such at Mansfield Park. I expect that Mr Yates will be accepting of this arrangement under his roof.”

“Oh.” Julia gave me an unreadable look. “I suppose it makes sense. Life in Mansfield Park must be rather dull these days. Edmund and Fanny will be very busy with the parish and their little boy, and, of course, poor Aunt Norris is not there to keep Mamma company.”

Sir Thomas’ shoulders stiffened, and I held my breath. Mrs Norris was Lady Bertram and my mother’s eldest sister, as well as the sole companion of my disgraced cousin Maria, Sir Thomas’ eldest daughter. Maria had brought shame to her family with her adulterous behaviour and scandalous divorce and had been banned from all polite society. She was now living in a remote county in the north of England with the sole company of our aunt.

I had never met Maria, for her downfall took place before I arrived in Mansfield Park. The traces of her existence were everywhere in the big house, from the neat “M”s written in the nursery room books to the watercolours in the parlour, but she remained a ghostly presence, never to be spoken of. However, it appeared that the rules at Berkeley Square were different than under my uncle’s roof. Pushing what remained of a fried egg around her plate, Julia spoke again on the subject.

“This reminds me, Papa, I received a letter from Aunt Norris a few weeks ago. She assures me that the new cottage that Shillington found them is much more comfortable than the old one, if rather isolated.”

Sir Thomas gave his daughter a warning stare, but Julia ignored it.

“Apparently, they are a good ten miles away from the nearest hamlet, and their closest neighbour is a reclusive widower who lives alone in a crumbling Elizabethan mansion. Maria will be frightfully bored.”

Ignoring his daughter, my uncle spoke to me.

“Susan, would you be able to join Lady Bertram in her chamber as soon as you finish?”

“Of course. I hope my aunt had a good night.”

“Better than expected, but I am afraid that the journey exhausted her. She does not think she will come down for breakfast.”

“I would not worry, it sounds very much like Mamma’s usual self,” said Julia, waving her hand, before looking at her father. “Papa, do you know how long you will need to stay with us?”

“We must hear what the doctor’s opinion is before making a decision. I hope that having us stay for a while is not inconvenient for you and your husband.”

“I said no such thing. I am merely trying to plan the coming weeks. We have many social engagements in the spring, you know.”

“I see. Engagements like tonight’s.”

“Oh, Papa, I understand you are upset, and would perhaps prefer a more sedate evening, but we cannot possibly cancel tonight’s soirée. It is a very important event for Mr Yates.”

“I hope that your busy calendar will not prevent you from fulfilling your filial duties,” said Sir Thomas, lowering his voice. “Your mother needs you.”

“Maria could help. She has nothing else to do,” mumbled Julia.

“What did you say?”

Sir Thomas’ features had clouded like a dark November day. I shuddered inwardly.

“Oh, Papa, there is no need to behave as if she did not exist. She has suffered enough.”

“All her suffering, she has brought upon herself,” said Sir Thomas in a hoarse voice.

“If you say so, Papa. Now, if you will excuse me, I must talk to Cook about tonight.”

Julia stood up from the table, and her father placed his hands on hers.

“Your mother is eager to see you. Do go to her this minute. And please do not mention your sister,” he added in a whisper.

Julia nodded and left the room without glancing back.

****

About Miss Price’s Decision

Pretty, talented and hungry for adventure, young Susan Price is secretly thrilled when the poor health of Lady Bertram, her aunt and protector, forces a departure from sedate Mansfield Park. London and Bath offer a world of possibilities and new friendships, such as the Allens and Miss Morland, or Mr Bingley and his mysterious friend, Mr Darcy. However, with momentous decisions on the horizon, new enemies that threaten her place in the Bertram household and an unexpected encounter from her Portsmouth past, will Susan’s self-belief and unlikely allies be enough to secure her happiness?

Miss Price’s Decision is available on Amazon and Kobo.

****

About the Author

Eliza Shearer

Eliza Shearer has been a Jane Austen fan for as long as she can remember, regularly convincing family and friends to join in on pilgrimages to Austen-related sites and events. She is the author of the Austeniana series of Austen-inspired variations, which include Miss Darcy’s Beaux and Miss Price’s Decision.  

Having lived in different countries, Eliza is fluent in several languages and now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband, two children, and a tortie cat. Eliza is very partial to satin slippers, but like her namesake Elizabeth Bennet, she has never cared much for cards.

Connect with Eliza: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

****

Giveaway

Eliza is generously offering an ebook copy of Miss Price’s Decision to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, October 27, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Eliza, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

Read Full Post »

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Eliza Shearer to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time to celebrate the release of Miss Darcy’s Beaux, which is a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and PrejudiceMansfield Park, and Persuasion. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew this was a book I wanted to read, and my dear readers, I hope you agree. Having read the guest post you’re about to read, I must say I am even more excited about delving into the book. Please give a warm welcome to Eliza Shearer as she explains why Georgiana Darcy is one of her favorite Austen characters, and what makes her so interesting and important to Pride and Prejudice:

Miss Darcy’s Beaux, or the making of yet another introverted Austen female heroine

Jane Austen is renowned for having written splendid secondary characters in her stories. From Mr Collins and Mrs Jennings to Lord Elliot and Mrs Norris, there are plenty of well-drawn portraits peppered through her novels. One of my personal favourites is Georgiana Darcy, Mr Darcy’s younger sister in Pride and Prejudice, who takes centre stage in my debut novel, Miss Darcy’s Beaux.

Seasoned Janeites know that Georgiana doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in Pride and Prejudice. However, her role in the novel is crucial. Georgiana’s planned elopement with Wickham highlights her seducer’s lack of scruples and morals, and also acts as a partial motivator for Mr Darcy’s dramatic intervention to make Wickham marry Lydia Bennet. More interestingly, the way Darcy treats Georgiana in Pride and Prejudice allows Elizabeth and the reader to glimpse a softer side to him, fuelling his transformation from insufferable snob into the romantic hero we all know and love.

Georgiana is young, sweet and extremely timid, something Elizabeth notices immediately: “Since her (Elizabeth’s) being at Lambton, she had heard that Miss Darcy was exceedingly proud; but the observation of very few minutes convinced her that she was only exceedingly shy. She found it difficult to obtain even a word from her beyond a monosyllable.” (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 44)

Jane Austen has a soft spot for quietly spoken female characters. Let’s remember that two of Austen’s heroines, Anne Elliot of Persuasion and Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, could be distinctly defined as introverts. Like them, Georgiana is not one for casual flirting and inconsequential chatting; to her, socialising can feel like a chore, and she thinks more than she speaks. Georgiana’s reserve is a trait she shares with her brother, Mr Darcy, who at one point says to Elizabeth: “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before.” (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 31)

However, one may argue that her shyness is not just a matter of nature vs. nurture. Georgiana’s circumstances, and particularly the people involved in her upbringing, undoubtedly play a role in the development of her timid disposition. Her mother dies at her birth, her father a few years later, when she is still a girl, and growing up her guardians are her brother and her cousin, both much older than her. Darcy, ten years her senior, becomes a sort of substitute father. Colonel Fitzwilliam is charming and more affectionate than her brother, but he is also in the army at a time of war, so presumably away for long periods on a regular basis.

The other man in Georgiana’s early life is, of course, Wickham. I see him as the object of her puppy love, an outlet for her repressed affection. Georgiana is impressionable, and Wickham’s charm would have been hard to resist in her situation. We all know what happens next. However, what interested me the most about the failed elopement was its impact on Georgiana. What would such a lapse in judgement represent for a naturally timid young girl? She would be terrified to make another mistake. She would be tempted to retire and avoid the big bad world. She may even well grow to loathe her fortune, because it makes others see her for her settlement, not for who she really is.

As for the female influences on shy Georgiana, the only close relatives we know of are Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Anne de Bourgh. Lady Catherine, as we all know, is intimidating and a bit of a bully.  I could easily picture Georgiana terrified of her aunt when growing up. As a young girl, she certainly wouldn’t be seeking Lady Catherine’s advice on sensitive matters. Georgiana’s cousin Anne is much older than her, but she is also very quiet, so she and Georgiana may have felt a natural affinity (“she spoke very little, except in a low voice, to Mrs Jenkinson”, Pride and Prejudice, chapter 29).

At the end of Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen tells us that, after Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding, Georgiana grows close to her sister-in-law. It makes perfect sense. Elizabeth has plenty of experience with teenagers and, although the younger Bennet sisters are much more outspoken than Georgiana, their preoccupations and interests are likely to be similar. As for Georgiana, I imagine her delighted to have another female under the same roof, and an affectionate, intelligent and funny one at that.

So, would Georgiana have stayed at Pemberley once her brother married? I think so. It would have been a suitable state of affairs for everyone. Georgiana and Elizabeth would have enjoyed each other’s company. Darcy would be able to keep an eye on his sister.  Add the departure of Lady Catherine and Anne from the family circle, and it is plausible to suppose Georgiana would for some years.  Moreover, there’s the magnificent Pemberley library. What introvert wouldn’t think of the place as a paradise?

But a story needs conflict to advance, and Miss Darcy’s Beaux is no exception. Georgiana’s idyllic Pemberley stay has to come to an end. As she is pushed out into the unknown, I could not think of a better companion for her adventure than a Lady Catherine de Bourgh obsessed with marrying her niece to the best possible suitor.  The novel takes Georgiana to London, but for an introvert like her, it may as well have been Borneo: it’s a whole world away from the safety of her home, and well beyond her comfort zone. In the end, she enjoys the ride, and I hope you do too.

Thank you, Eliza, for putting into words some of things that make Georgiana such an intriguing secondary character.

****

About Miss Darcy’s Beaux

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s beloved sister Georgiana is now a woman of twenty. After living in the enclosed safety of Pemberley for years, she is sent to London for the season with Lady Catherine de Bourgh as her chaperone. Lady Catherine is determined that her niece shall make a splendid match. But will Georgiana allow her domineering aunt to decide for her? Or will she do as her brother did, and marry for love?

Check out Miss Darcy’s Beaux on Amazon | Kobo | Nook | CreateSpace | Goodreads

****

About the Author

Eliza Shearer

Eliza Shearer is a long-time an admirer of Jane Austen’s work and writer of Regency fiction and Jane Austen variations. She can often be found enjoying long walks and muddying my petticoats, or re-reading Jane Austen’s novels by the fireside. She is very partial to bread and butter pudding, satin slippers and bonnets and ribbons, but has never cared much for cards. You can find her on Twitter @Eliza_Shearer_ or at https://elizashearerblog.wordpress.com.

****

Giveaway

Eliza is generously offering 3 ebook copies of Miss Darcy’s Beaux to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell us what you find most intriguing or endearing about Georgiana Darcy. This giveaway is open internationally and will close on Sunday, July 9, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you again, Eliza, for being my guest today. I hope you will come back soon!

Read Full Post »