From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Do you have your reading lined up yet for the weekend? I am working my way through Jane Austen & Adlestrop, by Victoria Huxley. It is a detailed history of the Leigh family of Adlestrop, a village in Gloucestershire, and Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, the ancestral seat of Jane’s mother Cassandra Austen nee Leigh. I highly recommend it for those interested in Austen’s many family connections and how they influenced her writing.
Today I am delighted to feature a new Austenesque novel written by the exceptionally talented Anngela Schroeder. A Life Worth Choosing is a unique Pride and Prejudice variation—unlike any that I have heard of. Imagine the plot of Austen’s tale at the point after the failed first proposal by Mr. Darcy and then add in the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Yes, this is a fantasy story so to speak, and a very clever one at that.
Anngela is a seasoned author who has written several popular Austen-inspired novels including The Goodness of Men, and A Lie Universally Hidden. She has also contributed short fiction to three anthologies: Yuletide, Rational Creatures, and Then Comes Winter. I hope that you will be as intrigued as I was by the creative concept of A Life Worth Choosing and give it a try this weekend.
“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” Jane Austen
Reeling from the unexpected rejection of his proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy prepares to quit Hunsford for London but not before he defends himself against Elizabeth Bennet’s accusations. He cannot forgive her harsh words; her assertion Mr. Wickham would have made a better son has cut him to the core.
Suffering an accident while delivering the fated letter, he wakes to a world he does not know—and to those who do not recognize him. With a new life, a different name, and a fresh chance at winning the woman he loves, Darcy must decide which is “A Life Worth Choosing” ––the past he remembers or a future he has created for himself.
“Mr. Fitzroy. Was your ride enjoyable?”
Darcy looked up and smiled before catching himself. “Yes…Miss de Bourgh. It was. I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to stable Ulysses.” Guard yourself, man! You almost addressed her as Anne. “Rosings has some especially beautiful animals,” he said, turning from her and rubbing the muzzle of the stallion Wickham had returned moments before.
“That is Icarus.”
“Yes, he is the son of my uncle Darcy’s favorite—”
“Daedalus,” Darcy finished for her.
“Sir, I am fascinated by how familiar you are with all things Pemberley.”
“Ulysses is sired from the same line as Icarus.”
“What a happy coincidence.” With a tilt of her head, she indicated the path leading to the gardens. “I was hoping to take a turn about the grounds. Will you walk with me?”
They ambled along speaking of mundane topics, before hitting upon their shared love of books. “I fear you are wanting at the parsonage as Mr. Collins has no library, and therefore very little to occupy your mind at present.”
He laughed. “You are correct, but I have found other ways to occupy my time. However, I may attempt to visit the bookseller’s this week, although I am uncertain if they will have the book I seek.”
“And what is that?”
“Don Quixote. I, too, feel as if I am on an adventure where things do not make sense. I would find solace in the story and humor in Sancho Panza’s irony.”
“Then you must borrow my father’s book. No, I insist,” she said, cutting off his objection. “It is in my father’s study and has not been read in years.”
As they strolled, Anne pointed out places of interest, all of which Darcy knew well: the hermitage, a fountain, a sculpture garden, which began as a maze but was abandoned when his aunt discovered a neighboring estate had one two acres larger.
“You seem pleased with the grounds, sir.”
He nodded appraisingly. “Who would not? It is an impressive estate, and you seem well versed on the running of it.”
“My mother became ill only a year ago, but I had always prepared myself to run my estate. My uncle Darcy felt it was in my interest as I will inherit Rosings, and my betrothed will inherit Matlock House and the earldom. Two estates will take more attention.”
“You are to marry the viscount?” he asked, clasping his hands behind his back.
“And when is the great event to take place?”
He heard her sniff. “When the time is right for both of us.” They walked a little further before coming to a small pond, which enjoyed the benefit of the unseasonably warm winter weather. “My uncle Darcy was most attentive to me.”
“Did you know my father also knew both your uncle Darcy and Lady Anne? He spoke of them with fondness. I even visited Pemberley as a child.”
“Georgiana did tell me.” They watched as the ducks waddled around the edge of the water. “I am sure you heard my mother call you George Darcy the other night at dinner, Mr. Fitzroy.”
“I could not understand why at that moment she would recall him to memory. However, over the last few days, I have considered the occurrence. When did you last see my uncle, sir?”
He turned his head and directed his attention out over the pond. “It has been many years. I could not even say I knew what he looked like.”
The sound of geese flying overhead broke the silence between them, as Anne replied, “How interesting. Because you, sir, must see his face every time you turn to your looking glass.”
Day 4, pages 116-119
- “This was one story that will leave you thinking long after you have read it.” —J.W. Garrett, Goodreads
- “Schroeder’s stellar writing grips the reader from the first page – as my sleepless night attests. Fabulous book. Clean content. Highly recommend!” —Debbie Brown, Goodreads
- “The brilliance of this story is that it gave Anngela free reign to toss canon to the wind. And boy, did she! …The moral lesson is so touching and Anngela’s writing so lovely, that this is a definite must-read.” ––Melissa, Probably at the Library
Anngela Schroeder has a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature and a Master of Education. She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of 21 years and 3 rambunctious sons. Her earliest memory is sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging her legs and regaling her mother with stories she dreamt the night before. Her weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, her father’s Arabic food (namely grape leaves, and falafel), and frozen Girl Scout Thin Mints. She lives in California where she dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond.
When she is not writing, she teaches 12th grade English and Creative Writing, plans events for her high school seniors, and perfects her chocolate chip cookie recipe.
ADDITIONAL BOOKS BY ANNGELA SCHROEDER
- A Life Worth Choosing: A Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Anngela Schroeder
- Independently published (January 23, 2021)
- Trade paperback & eBook (341) pages
- ISBN: 979-8591196127
- Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance
Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image, book description, excerpt, & author bio compliments of Anngela Schroeder © 2021; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2021, austenprose.com.