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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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