Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!

Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins (2011)As 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s first novel Sense and Sensibility, it is a great pleasure to see a new sequel to it arrive from Pemberley Chronicles author Rebecca Ann Collins.

Please join us today in welcoming Rebecca Ann on her blog tour in celebration of the release of Expectations of Happiness published this month by Sourcebooks. Rebecca Ann has kindly shared with us some insights on creating the novel.

Thank you very much Laurel Ann, for inviting me to contribute to your blog; it is a pleasure to be able to speak directly to you and your readers about my work and the new book – Expectations of Happiness.

You have asked why I chose to write a companion volume to Sense and Sensibility and how I managed to “get my head into the Regency period after writing The Pemberley Chronicles.

If I may answer your second question first – I had absolutely no difficulty with the Regency Period, which covers the latter part of Jane Austen’s life; I was familiar with the historical, social and cultural background of that era.

As a Jane Austen addict ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility when I was just twelve years old, and a student of both English Literature and History, I had read everything I could get my hands on about the author, her family, her life and times.   Her novels were published within the period of the Regency so it was inevitable that a passionate reader and student of Miss Austen’s work and the society in which she lived would absorb the events and ambience of the era.

Besides that, I should point out that the first volume of The Pemberley Chronicles series follows directly after the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice – which is in the middle of the Regency, and I had undertaken careful research of the period in which the story takes place, as the main characters moved from Longbourn and Netherfield in Hertfordshire to London and Pemberley in Derbyshire. This period includes the years covered by Expectations of Happiness – 1819 to 1820, that mark the end of the Regency with the death of George III and the beginning of the reign of George IV – which was in many ways an extension of the Regent’s style into the next decade of the 19th century.

To proceed to your first question – choosing to write a continuation to Sense and Sensibility was easy because of all Miss Austen’s novels, it is the one that leaves the door open widest for a sequel.

Unlike all her major novels – Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion – in which the main characters settle happily and credibly into their new lives with their beloved partners, I found the conclusion of Sense and Sensibility unconvincing – particularly the manner in which the author describes Marianne’s marriage to Colonel Brandon.  Not because I thought Brandon was not a suitable husband for Marianne, Jane Austen makes it clear that he is man of excellent character and loves her dearly, but because it seemed to be taken for granted, that having been betrayed by Willoughby, Marianne – at nineteen, could discard her dreams of romance and accept a rather staid marriage to Brandon, with whom she is not in love, as a kind of safe haven after a storm.

I felt that we needed to see more of the development of Marianne’s character – post Willoughby, to be convinced that she had matured sufficiently to appreciate the true worth of Brandon’s character and his genuine love for her. Using the opportunity of a chance meeting with Willoughby a few years later, to test this, was, I felt, justifiable in the circumstances. Furthermore, Jane Austen makes it clear that Willoughby is miserable in his own marriage and deeply resents Brandon’s marriage to Marianne.

The clues are all there in Miss Austen’s novel. It wasn’t difficult to develop the characters and draw out the plotlines, including some of the best minor figures in the story – Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Jennings, the Palmers, Lucy Steele, Mrs. Ferrars – to reach a more satisfying conclusion, while respecting the essential integrity of the original.

And then, there was young Margaret Dashwood; only in Sense and Sensibility are we left with an attractive young girl on the brink of womanhood, her potential as a character undeveloped, with the rest of her life uncharted as the book concludes.  It was unthinkable that she should not be given the chance to fulfil “that sanguine expectation of happiness that is happiness itself”.

I also wanted to tell younger sister Margaret’s story, which I could do with a greater degree of freedom than I had with Elinor and Marianne, whose paths through life had already been set. With Margaret, one had more flexibility to develop a young woman – educated, well-travelled and with a new outlook on life. It was irresistible, and telling her story was a particular pleasure.

However, as in The Pemberley Chronicles series, in Expectations of Happiness, my concern has been to extend the lives and expand the horizons of Jane Austen’s beloved characters, while working within the framework she created, rather than to distort their personalities and manipulate their lives in ways that would have outraged their creator and her many devoted fans.  In so doing, I hope I have provided my readers with a story they can enjoy reading as much as I have loved writing it.

I look forward to reading your comments and those of your readers.

Thank you again and best regards,

Rebecca Ann Collins

Author Bio:

Rebecca Ann Collins is the author of The Pemberley Chronicles series of novels, which traces the continuing lives of certain characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice over a period of some fifty years.

A lifelong fan of the art of Miss Austen, Rebecca Ann Collins first read Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice at the age of twelve. Encouraged by a perceptive English mistress, she read everything available about the author, her life and times and the historical and social background of the era. At University, she studied both English Literature and History.

Ms Collins – a teacher and librarian – loves reading, writing, listening to music and entertaining her friends. She lives in Australia’s beautiful capital city – Canberra and enjoys gardening and walking her dog. Visit Rebecca Ann at her website- www.rebeccaanncollins.com

Giveaway of Expectations of Happiness

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Expectations of Happiness, by Rebecca Ann Collins by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about this new sequel to Sense and Sensibility, or which character in the original novel you love or hate, by midnight PT, Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Winner announced on Thursday, October 20, 2011. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Expectations of Happiness: A Companion Volume to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, by Rebecca Ann Collins
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1402253898

©2007 – 2011 Rebecca Ann Collins, Austenprose

53 thoughts on “Expectations of Happiness Blog Tour with author Rebecca Ann Collins, & Giveaway!

  1. Ooh, this looks great–I’d love to read it! :) I too found the ending of Sense & Sensibility a bit unconvincing, a bit rushed, and I’d love to see how Collins fleshes it out. :)

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  2. Oh, my goodness! How can one not be intrigued by this sequel? I, too, have always wondered about Marianne’s marriage to Colonel Brandon. I can’t tell you how my curiosity is perked just by the very idea of exploring that relationship. Plus the idea of the title Expectations of Happiness serves as a perfect continuation for Sense and Sensibility as it is always thought, at least by myself, that those expectations are always were more stories are to be discovered.

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  3. Ms. Collins has me so excited about this book……I’m doing cartwheels:) I have always thought Col Brandon should be as popular as Mr. Darcy. I love being a Janeite!!

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  4. I really want to see how things go with Marianne and Colonel Brandon. I want to see how she would have matured and grown up. To see her make the changes seems really interesting.

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  5. I have treasured the Pemberly Chronicles and they are tucked away with my other favorites for my Granddaughter. I am very excited to be have available another volumen by one of my favorite authors. Margaret Dashwood will have an exciting journey I am sure.

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    • Thank you Maggie; it is a special compliment to think that you have put the Pemberley novels aside for your granddaughter! Hope to hear from you when you have finished reading Expectations of Happiness.
      Best regards,
      Rebecca Ann Collins.

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  6. I think Margaret is a character who would have an interesting path to adult hood. I don’t see her as the typical girl interested in balls and coming out parties, nor do I see her wanting to passively submit to a husband’s will. I find the idea of this book intriguing.

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  7. I am super interested in reading this because I too feel like S&S begs for a sequel that looks at the interval of time…I think Marianne IS capable of loving Col. Brandon, but let us see how and why she becomes so…And Margaret is always an interesting specimen :)

    My fav character in S&S? I’m an Edward girl, through-and-through :D

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  8. Ms Collins, you began reading JA at age 12? This poor fool (Thank God) stumbled onto the divine Miss Austen at age 62 (!!) I’ve since read all of her stories multiple times and have been devouring prequels, sequels, and spin-offs at a frightening rate. (BTW, your website is elegant and beautiful!) Who intrigues me in S & S? I’m in love with Mrs Dashwood. She is fairly young for a mother and must be very pretty considering her handsome daughters. I feel sorry for her because even without a fortune she has to be considered a prize for an older single gentleman or widower of independent means. She has such a sweet, optimistic and caring personality. The lady deserves a man to court her and adore her too, doesn’t she? Yes indeed!

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  9. Your blogpost was interesting to me because I like the idea of a S&S sequel. I do wish to discover what you do with the Colonel and Marianne, but I could never stand Lucy Steele so I look forward to discovering your intentions for her.
    Congratulations on your new book and thank you for the opportunity for a giveaway.

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  10. What I love most about Sense and Sensibility is the relationship between Elinor and Marianne. I am very intrigued to see how Ms Collins continues their story! I’m so excited to read this book! Thanks for the giveaway!!=)

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  11. The sequel looks very interesting. I have to agree that I have never been quite convinced that Marianne had matured enough to appreciate Colonel Brandon, but I’d love to be convinced!

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  12. I’m really interested in Expectations of Happiness. I feel like I can relate to Marianne a little, especially more in recent years, so I’ll be glad to get a new perspective on their story. It’s funny cause when I was younger I had always likened myself to Elinor. She seemed smart and I like her, but as time went on I feel closer to Marianne. I can’t hate Willoughby. Mostly cause I think he would’ve made better choices if he were older, and he would have been a good match for Marianne.

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  13. I absolutely adored Marianne. I love her character I think perhaps for the heroine’s of her novels she is my favorite. Thank you for the giveaway!

    Margaret
    singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  14. I am definately intrigued! There are not too many S&S sequels and I am very currious to see what is done with these characters.

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  15. I have always been a huge fan of Marianne….I also adore Colonel Brandon. I am excited for an S & S sequel…you see so little continuation of that novel and it’s one of my favorites. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  16. Anything that tells me more about Marianne’s life is of interest to me. Austen tells us that she changes so much, but the book ends before we’re really shown how she’s matured. I would love to read this sequel.

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  17. I read all of The Pemberley Chronicles. They were very interesting. I would really like to win this book and would read it with great pleasure.

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  18. I am so excited to read this book! LIke Miss G. Darcy, Margaret Dashwood has always been a good reason to speculate and imagine whiat her life would be like after the marriage of her sibling(s). For both characters, their lives will take on new dimention and the possibilities are vast. Please pick me!

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  19. Elinor has always been one of my favorite characters so I’m curious to see what happens to her. I’d be curious to know whether the dynamic between Elinor and Marianne changes once Elinor is in the parsonage and Marianne in the great house. Can’t wait to read it.

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  20. My favorite character in the novel is Col. Brandon. He is just such a good, noble soul who’s made some mistakes, but is ever loyal to those he loves. Who doesn’t want that?

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  21. I’m so excited to see a new book based, and expanding, on the story of Sense & Sensibility!! I’ve only just discovered your Pemberley Chronicles series recently, and thoroughly enjoying them. S&S is one of my very favorites, next to P&P, and I can’t wait to read this! I LOVE the Dashwood sisters most, each for their own qualities and personalities, and little Margaret is such a sweet, fun-loving girl. I would love to read more about her, and to find out what’s in store for her. The character I dislike the most from S&S…. Lucy Steele! Wretched girl!!!

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  22. What Iintrigues me in this newest of Rebecca Ann’s writing is her accuracy in keeping true to characterization of JA , ” working within the framework” Jane created, and how that will effect the stories she now furthers for Margaret and Marianne… anticipation !!
    Thank you, Rebecca Ann, for your faithfulness to Jane’s foundations!

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    • Many thanks for the compliment faith, hope and cherrytea!
      My view is that is the onlyway one can claim to write a “sequel” to a great classic. It is unconcionable for one writer to take another writer’s charcters and distort them into something quite different- merely to cash in on the original author’s reputation. It is also dishonest.
      If a writer wishes to add something to a story, or develop a character further- it should be done sensitively and accurately. It’s the only way.

      RAC

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  23. Oh, the first and foremost thing that intrigues me is that it is a book related to another novel of Jane’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love P&P, and have many books related to it… but in comparison to those, it just feels so rare to have something with the other novels. Besides, I definitely would love to know what’s going on with Marianne and Brandon, because we didn’t get those details in S&S! :)

    Lois

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  24. Am interested in finding out what becomes of Col. Brandon, one of the more fascinating characters. It will be fun to see how his relationships evolve. Thank you for the giveaway!

    marilyn

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  25. I’m glad to hear Rebecca has branched out to the other Austen novels. I have really enjoyed the Pemberley chronicles and can’t wait to read this one.

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  26. A sequel to S&S that continues to explore the relationship between Marianne and Col. Brandon sounds like something I’d love to read! Their love story remains largely untold in the original novel, and I’ve always thought it deserves its own book. I’d be thrilled to win this giveaway!

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  27. I’ve always liked Col. Brandon. The idea of Marianne running into Willoughby several years after her marriage sounds like a fascinating scene. Looking forward to this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  28. Good for you Jeffrey, it’s never too late to read the divine Miss Austen.
    Many thanks too for your comments on my website.
    I look forward to reading your response to Expectations of Happiness; you can send them direct to me via the comments page on the website and ?or ost them on Austenprose.
    Thanks again- it’s great to meet a gentleman who enjoys reading Jane Austen.
    Rebecca Ann Collins

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  29. The characters to most easily dislike in S & S are Lucy Steele and Fanny Dashwood. Fanny is manipulative, selfish, and greedy. She convinces her husband, John (stepbrother to Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) to be as stingy as he can concerning his step-family. Unfortunately, he has no backbone and no sense of moral obligation even though he promised his father to take care of them. I thought it was fitting that Fanny and Lady Middleton took a mutual attraction to one another because each recognized “cold-hearted selfishness on both sides.”

    Congratulations on your new book, Ms. Collins!! I am looking forward to reading it.

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  30. I am very intrigued by this book! Though I have read many Pride and Prejudice sequels or continuations or reimaginings, I have actually never read one for Sense and Sensibility! I love the story but agree with this author that Marianne’s change of heart never seemed to make perfect sense. I would love to see her story continued and fleshed out.

    I’m new to this blog (it was suggested by a friend) and I am so excited to follow it!!

    Rinah

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  31. I like the idea of developing Marianne’s character so that we can see how she comes to appreciate and love Colonel Brandon. Also, looking forward to reading about Margaret and her future.

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  32. I always love continuations of favorite stories in order to find out what happened to my favorite characters after the original story has ended. I always felt that Margaret should have been in the story more and wonder if she ever found love and her story on the road to finding it

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  33. I own one of her books in the Pride and Prejudice series, and, although I haven’t started it yet, I read the intro and reviews of it, and I know I will love the author’s writing style! This plot seems amazing too, and I can’t wait to read it!

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  34. I am intrigued with the idea of a sequel to S&S. My daughter and I have heated discussions about the characters. As a teen, she finds Marianne’s marriage to Brandon revolting and is distressed by Jane Austen’s choice.
    I look forward to seeing how Rebecca treats their relationship and am wondering how her take might affect our discussions..

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  35. Very anxious to see what Ms Collins does with these characters! I heartily disliked John Dashwood …too stinking wishy washy!! :-)

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  36. i JUST FINISHED WATCHING A 1970’S BBC ADAPTTON OF S&S. MARGARET WAS OMITTED ENTIRELY!!! i LOOK FORWARD TO READING HER STORY AS TOLD BY MS. COLLINS. THANK YOU

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    • I agree Monica, most of the dramatisations ignore Margaret- which is why I felt she needed to have her own story told. I do hope you like what I have made of her character and the way she turns out. Do keep in touch ( via my website-www.rebeccaanncollins.com . ) and send me your response.
      Best regards,
      RAC

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