Good things come in small packages!
My regular readers will know that I adore a well-written short story and edited an anthology of them myself inspired by Jane Austen. Falling for Mr. Thornton is a new collection of “little gems” inspired by another classic author, Elizabeth Gaskell.
Based on her Victorian-era novel North and South, set during its industrial revolution— a turbulent time in British history when machinery was replacing manual labor— it also revolves around the spikey relationship between Margaret Hale and John Thornton, a love story that rivals Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.
This anthology includes a dozen stories by popular historical fiction authors in the Gaskellesque genre and is a mixture of historical, contemporary, variations, and continuations that are sure to thrill anyone who is a hooked as I am on the 2004 television adaptation North & South, starring Richard Armitage. Here is additional information on the anthology and an exclusive excerpt for your enjoyment.
Amidst the turbulent backdrop of a manufacturing town in the grips of the Industrial Revolution, Elizabeth Gaskell penned the timeless passion of Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale. A mixing of contemporary and Victorian, this short story anthology by twelve beloved authors considers familiar scenes from new points of view or re-imagined entirely. Capturing all the poignancy, heartbreak, and romance of the original tale, Falling for Mr. Thornton is a collection of stories for all who love North and South.
STORIES AND AUTHORS
- “On the Island,” by Melanie Stanford
- “Passages in Time,” by Kate Forrester
- “The First Day of Spring,” by M. Liza Marte
- “Loose Leaves from Milton,” by Damaris Osborne
- “Reeducating Mr. Thornton,” by Evy Journey
- “Mistakes and Remedies,” by Julia Daniels
- “Her Father’s Last Wish,” by Rose Fairbanks
- “The Best Medicine,” by Elaine Owen
- “Cinders and Smoke,” by Don Jacobson
- “Mischances,” by Nicole Clarkston
- “Looking to the Future,” by Nancy Klein
- “Once Again,” by Trudy Brasure
“Her Father’s Last Wish,” by Rose Fairbanks
“Mother, I will thank you to not do Miss Hale such a disservice. For the grief my heart has known due to her—”
“Aye, I know your grief, Johnny. It is why I hate her so. It is why I must tell you these things—”
“No more.” He fell to his knee beside her. “She is to be my wife. My wife, at last!”
A gasp stole from Mrs. Thornton’s lips before she covered it with a hand. Her cheeks grew red as though ashamed of that show of emotion. “It cannot be. Aside from all her games, I am sure she is too proud to have you.”
“It will be. Her father decreed it just before he died.”
“John, no! Not like this. Do not bring me that creature as a daughter and tell me to love her. Not when she is too foolish to love you as well and treats your heart so carelessly. I cannot bear it. Do not be so foolish!”
“I have vowed to look after her, and I will. She is not as fickle as all your gossips say. You ought to know better.”
She hung her head a little, penitent in believing the vicious and idle chatter of others. However, no apology formed on her lips.
“She is as alone as you say, but not for us. Tomorrow, I ask that you call on her. Be a mother to her in her grief.”
“She would not want—”
“You did not see her sorrow today. Whatever you think you know of her, she is softer than that. Or do you think I could love a hard woman? Do you suppose I was taken in by her charms? I thought you did not believe she had any.”
“I would never think so little of you.”
“Then listen to me now when I say your Christian duty requires this of you at the very least. Your mothering heart will demand it as well. Every time you speak evil of her, you wound me.” John did not wait for a reply. He stood and ascended the stairs, too tired to call for a tray or ask for one to be sent to his chamber.
At last free with his thoughts, he collapsed on his bed still half-dressed. Margaret’s pain was like an iron searing his heart. He recalled too easily the grief of losing his own beloved father. The misery of knowing he had made foolish choices and left him alone to bear with them made a prison for John. It was not only the death of Mr. Hale which now weighed on Margaret but the fact that he had moved them to Milton—to the place that took so much from them.
Could a woman driven into a man’s arms by such mourning find love there? Would she give up the other man in return for John’s loyalty and kindness? He would never want her gratitude, and he thought he could settle for even less than her whole heart. He prayed that she could allow him just a piece of it. He needed only a small fraction to move in. Perhaps when their time on earth was through, she could say with a small smile that if he did not love her best, he had at least loved her the longest. Perhaps that would do for her.
It was all the hope he had, but it shined brighter than a solitary candle in the darkest night. He could not see clearly the path between here and there. He knew not how he would traverse it. John only knew that he would bravely seek that light. Reaching for it would be his guide, and he prayed it would be enough to escort Margaret on the way there and through her heartache.
Margaret awoke with a start. The dream had turned too delicious. She was encased in Mr. Thornton’s strong arms. In her sleep, she reveled in it in a way that would have brought a blush to her maidenly cheeks during the day. Through the fog-filled thought of sleep, she realized it was no dream. The memory of his heat against hers, the feeling of security, and the desire to lay against his chest forever were far too real to be a conjuring of her most secret yearnings.
Misery and shame assaulted her as soon as her eyes flickered open. How could she think on yesterday with any sort of pleasure? How often had she hoped in the hidden depths of her heart that she might receive another offer from Mr. Thornton? Too late she had realized his value and—oh!—how pride went before the fall! He could not love her. She had shown an unpardonable trait. Not only must he believe her in love with another man, but all she had ever heard about Mr. Thornton was of how highly he valued honesty. The lie of Frederick’s appearance at the Outwood train station stood between them as wide as any chasm. He would hate her forever after being trapped in a marriage he did not want.
To find even a fraction of gladness, even to rejoice in the situation she was now in showed more of her wickedness than she ever knew she had. She had sometimes longed for a respite, for a chance to sit and think without caring for a parent. Now, she had such the opportunity but at the highest cost! However, she could not regret all of yesterday.
Pain and joy, misery and hopefulness mingled until she could contain the flood no longer. Bitter tears fell down her cheeks. Margaret thought she could fill an ocean for each regret she had. In this state of anguish, with her knees drawn up to her chin and her hands covering her face as sobs wracked her body, she sat until Dixon entered the room.
- “I can easily recommend to devotees of Victorian romance, especially North and South, this bang-up tribute to the heart and soul of a beloved classic.” — Christina Boyd, Quill Ink
- “Falling for Mr. Thornton is perfect…It is definitely a well-balanced anthology with strong stories that will appeal to many different readers.”—Rita Deodato, From Pemberley to Milton
- “What a satisfying piece of story-telling-retelling by a top-notch group of writers. I highly recommend this to any who are already readers of N&S variations [and] to readers of Austen variations because there are some of our favorite Austenesque authors here.” — M. H.
Trudy Brasure fell in love with Mr. Thornton ten years ago and turned her passion into prose. She’s a mom and musician on the sunny side of the San Francisco Bay who keeps the North and South flame alive at her blog, More Than Thornton.
Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog.
Julia Daniels loves to write happily ever after stories that warm the heart. In addition to writing, she designs cross-stitch patterns, sews, gardens and cares for an odd menagerie of animals, including chickens and goats. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two kids.
Rose Fairbanks loves reading and writing romance, sweet tea, chocolate, and researching a variety of historical periods. She has been married to her own Mr. Darcy for fifteen years and is the mother of two children and twenty-seven book babies and counting.
Kate Forrester lives in Shropshire, one of the most beautiful counties in Britain, with her family and other animals. She’s a nurse in the NHS who has written several novels since first being bitten by the writing bug ten years ago.
Don Jacobson, a life-long professional writer, turned his attention to the world of Pride and Prejudice variations in 2015. He has authored twelve Austenesque novels and novellas in The Bennet Wardrobe series and the Lessers and Betters stories. Cinders and Smoke is his first North and South story.
Evy Journey writes stories and blogs about things she loves (travel, art, food, books). Having seen too many sad stories as a research psychologist, she prefers happy endings, love stories with multicultural elements, and strong characters with rich inner lives.
Nancy Klein has written North and South-based fiction since 2007. Her time travel story, How Far the World Will Bend, is available on Amazon, and she anticipates publishing a second N&S fiction soon.
Damaris Osborne is an English author and lover of North & South whose novella North & Spoof is available on Amazon. Spoofing is her outlet for her ‘silly streak,’ however, she also writes a 12th-century murder mystery series under another pseudonym.
Elaine Owen writes in both the North and South and Pride and Prejudice worlds. She lives in the Philadelphia area and enjoys spending time with her family, church activities, and training in martial arts.
Liza Marte works in accounting by day. She bakes, travels, and visits casinos too much… and has been known to write.
Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She writes romance and YA of different genres and has enjoyed retelling classics such as Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South and Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South, by Trudy Brasure,, Nicole Clarkston, Don Jacobson, Nancy Klein, M. Liza Marte, Elaine Owen, Evy Journey, Damaris Osborne, Melanie Stanford, Rose Fairbanks
Kydala Publishing, Inc. (2019)
Trade paperback & eBook (506) pages
Cover image, book description, author bios, & excerpt courtesy of Kydala Publishing, Inc © 2019; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com