I am happy to welcome author Lona Manning to Austenprose today. She has graciously offered to share her latest Austenesque novel, A Different Kind of Woman with us. Inspired by Mansfield Park, this is her third book in her Mansfield Trilogy, all of which are variations on Jane Austen’s original.
Manning’s Mansfield Trilogy sets out to alter the original Regency-era story by pivoting the relationship of its main characters: Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram. There are also other changes that some will find beneficial and engaging. Are you as curious as I am if Fanny Price is no longer priggish? What is married life like for Edmund and his new wife?
If you are in the mood to experience a re-imagined Mansfield Park, then this is the series for you. Check out the book description and the exclusive excerpt supplied by the author.
In the exciting conclusion of the Mansfield Trilogy, the lives and destinies of Jane Austen’s well-known characters are deftly blended with dramatic historical events. Fanny Price is torn between her love for William Gibson and her duty to her family. In London, Fanny’s brother John meets his match in a feisty bookseller’s daughter. And Edmund Bertram’s wife Mary meets the charismatic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and risks everything to gain the power and influence she craves. Regency England comes alive in this tale of love, loss and second chances set against the real-life backdrop of political turmoil in England.
Author’s note: In this excerpt from Chapter One, the writer William Gibson is visiting Fanny Price, who lives with her family in Portsmouth. In the previous book of the Mansfield Trilogy, Fanny postponed her engagement to Gibson because of the sudden death of her father.
“Fanny, I truly regret having to leave you so soon. Will you give me some assurance that upon my return, you will allow me to propose marriage to you?”
Despite the cold, Fanny felt a warm flush sweep up her body. She was very conscious of his nearness to her. “How—when will you return?”
“By the end of January, or early in February, I fancy. When I return from York, I shall publish my novel, and then, if everything goes well, we will have enough to marry upon!”
As he spoke his warm breath came out in frozen puffs of cloud, which dissolved into nothing. Fanny could not help fearing that, although Mr. Gibson sincerely believed what he was saying, his expectations could be just as insubstantial.
“You are silent, Fanny! And you look troubled, my love.” Mr. Gibson lowered his voice. “What is the matter? My dearest, do you have some reservations? Please share them with me.”
“I am only a little worried for you, that is all. However, if you feel you must go to York—”
“Yes, I feel I must—in the sense that water feels it must go over a waterfall. I cannot do otherwise. I must meet these accused men, and hear their stories, for myself.”
“And you must write about it,” said Fanny quietly.
“Fanny—tell me truthfully—does this cause you distress? I fear it does.”
Fanny hesitated, and Mr. Gibson gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. Finally, she spoke, in a steady, level voice: “Mr. Gibson, you live by your convictions. You fought against slavery, even when it set the authorities in Bristol against you. You speak out against the powerful, on behalf of the weak. You do not live for selfish, shallow pleasures, as so many do. It is no wonder I admire and esteem you. But I have come to understand what this may mean for—for any persons who care about you, whose happiness is bound up with your safety and credit in the world. When you believe something to be a matter of principle, you place it above everything else.”
They walked in silence for a few moments, then Mr. Gibson said, in a chastened manner, “You must have been contemplating this point for some time, Fanny. Have you been worrying about what might occur, should you bind yourself to me? Am I too engrossed in public affairs to be a considerate husband? I used to think so myself—used to say so, in fact, rather boastfully. I thought I was ill-suited for marriage. Until I met you. Then I realised I had never before met a woman whom I wanted to marry. And are you afraid you face a lifetime of listening to me quarrel with stiff-necked old John Bulls, like our friend Mr. Miller?”
Fanny shook her head. “You have a fondness for disputation, which I certainly do not share, but that is nothing. No, I am anxious, I must own, very anxious, that perhaps your account of the York trials will be too critical of the authorities. You must be exceedingly careful of what you say, and how you say it, or you will be charged with libel.”
Mr. Gibson scowled. “Libel. You know about Leigh Hunt, do you? Mr. Hunt wrote that the Prince Regent was a selfish, lazy glutton, a companion of gamblers and demireps, a man completely devoid of any redeeming qualities. In other words, Mr. Hunt was sent to prison for printing the exact truth, and they call it libel.”
“Do not think I am defending the law,” Fanny rejoined. “But it is the law, and what are we to do? The thought of you being sent to prison is quite unbearable to me. Could you—could you promise me to be very careful in what you write?”
Mr. Gibson’s expression was grave. “I have no intention, Fanny, of breaking the unjust laws that fetter the press at this time, but I shall not cease protesting against them.”
“But you are so passionate about the causes you believe in, you may provoke the government to retaliate, should you go too far. Lord Sidmouth has already prosecuted several journalists.”
“I hope I will never speak, or act, or write, blindly, foolishly and in the heat of passion. If I do a thing, it will be after considering all the consequences. More than that I hope you will not require of me.”
Fanny nodded but was not reassured.
Chapter 1, pages 17-19
Lona Manning loves reading, choral singing, gardening, and travel. Over the years, she has been a home care aide, legal secretary, political speechwriter, office manager, vocational instructor, non-profit administrator, and ESL Teacher. She is the author of many true crime articles for CrimeMagazine.com. She began writing A Contrary Wind, her award-winning debut novel, while she was teaching English in China. Manning and her husband live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.
Additional Books in The Mansfield Trilogy
A Contrary Wind: A Variation on Mansfield Park (Mansfield Trilogy Book 1)
Fanny Price, an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, lives at Mansfield Park with her wealthy cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away and take a job as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the man she secretly loves, will Fanny grow in strength and confidence? Will a new suitor help her to forget her past? Or will a reckless decision ruin her life and the lives of those she holds most dear? This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, and some new acquaintances as well.
A Marriage of Attachment: A Variation on Mansfield Park (Mansfield Trilogy Book 2)
A sequel to A Contrary Wind, Marriage of Attachment continues the story of Fanny Price as she struggles to build her own life after leaving her rich uncle’s home. Fanny teaches sewing to poor working-class girls in London while trying to forget her first love, Edmund Bertram, who is trapped in a disastrous marriage with Mary Crawford. Together with her brother John and her friend, the writer William Gibson, she discovers a plot that threatens someone at the highest levels of government. Meanwhile, Fanny’s brother William fights slavery on the high seas while longing for the girl he loves. Filled with romance, suspense, and even danger, A Marriage of Attachment takes the familiar characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park on a new journey.
PRAISE FOR THE MANSFIELD TRILOGY:
- “Well-crafted, meticulously composed, and richly researched – A Marriage of Attachment is another remarkable and praiseworthy story by this skilled author!”—Meredith Esparza, Austenesque Reviews
- “One of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read.”—Book Squirrel
- “A Contrary Wind is well-written, keeping close to the style of Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I never lost interest and enjoyed the occasional comic relief.”—Historical Novel Society
A Different Kind of Woman (Mansfield Trilogy), by Lona Manning
Independently Published (February 3, 2020)
Trade paperback, & eBook (366) pages
Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Lona Manning © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com