Good morning, readers. Here is a special treat for you today. Author Shannon Winslow has graciously offered an exclusive sneak peek to Austenprose readers of an excerpt of her new Austen-inspired novel, Return to Longbourn, which releases on February 26th.
I have had the pleasure of reading an advance copy and I can share that Shannon is in peak form channeling Jane Austen characters and creating new ones too. This new sequel to her popular The Darcys of Pemberley is sure to please her many fans.
The passage that she has chosen for us also includes a letter from one Tristan Collins, the heir to Longbourn, the estate of the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice. Some of you might recognize similarities in phrase and tone to his elder brother Mr. William Collins whose unexpected demise in The Darcys of Pemberley made Tristan the heir to the Longourn estate.
“Now you shall see why I am in such a flutter,” Kitty said. She drew a packet of paper from her pocket and held it out to Mary…“It is from the heir to Longbourn – Mr. Tristan Collins! He has written from America, and it is a great secret because Mama has not yet read it. Nor must she! …Kitty held up a hand to forestall the anticipated protest. “I know you will say that I should not have taken it. But before you quote me a sermon, read the letter yourself and hear my proposal. Then, on the grounds of sisterly loyalty, you must come to my aid, else before Michaelmas Mama will have me engaged to this stranger and forever miserable.”
Mary looked grave, and yet she opened the letter.
I feel myself called upon by our relationship to condole with you on the grievous affliction you are now suffering under, of which I was only yesterday informed by a letter from your solicitor in London. I pray you will forgive me for introducing myself to your notice at this difficult time, and that you will not think my sympathy any less genuine for the awkwardness of our situation. I write chiefly to reassure you that I am very sensible of the severity of your loss, and that I mean to in no way add to your misery where it can be helped. Therefore, although I propose myself the satisfaction of coming to you without delay, I do not anticipate any need for you to vacate your comfortable abode at once. I ask only that you allow me to be a guest therein whilst we sort out between us what is best to be done… My intention is to follow this letter as soon as I am able to settle my business affairs, and I hope to arrive within three weeks of your receipt of the same. Until then, please convey my respectful compliments to all your family.
Tristan Collins, esquire
“Well? What do you think of it?” Kitty demanded.
“I think it is a very good letter – well composed and clearly expressed.”
“Is that all you can say on the subject?” cried Kitty in exasperation. “How can you be so tiresome, Mary?”
“Very well, then. Let me look again.”
Mary’s second appraisal was more comprehensive and more gratifying to her sister’s feelings.
“The content reveals nothing so very remarkable. It was always to be expected that he would come to inspect his property. This is only a little sooner than anticipated. As to the style of the letter, I must say that I am pleased with it. His generous sentiments do him credit, and they are elegantly conveyed.” Mary took a moment to consider before adding one more point. “There is a certain something in his way of expressing himself, however. It is rather reminiscent of a person we used to know.”
“Exactly! I can see this Mr. Tristan Collins now,” said Kitty, evincing horror at the specter before her mind’s eye. “The man is his brother to the very core, and he will be here in less than a month!”
Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years.
In addition to three short stories (one a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest), Ms. Winslow has published two novels to date. The Darcys of Pemberley, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was her debut. For Myself Alone, a stand-alone Austenesque story, now follows. Her third novel Return to Longbourn is the next installment of her Pride and Prejudice series.
Shannon lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier. Visit Shannon at her website/blog Shannon Winslow’s Jane Austen Says, follow her on Twitter as @JaneAustenSays, and on Facebook as Shannon Winslow.
© 2013, Shannon Winslow, Austenprose