Return to Longbourn: The Next Chapter in the Continuing Story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Shannon Winslow – A Review

Image of the book cover of Return to Longbourn, by Shannon Winslow (2013) © Heather Ridge Arts 2013From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder: 

Ever since Shannon Winslow debuted with The Darcys of Pemberley (DoP) in 2011, she’s been an Austen fan-fiction author that I’ve kept on my radar. In the two years since she published DoP I’ve not only read everything else she’s written, For Myself Alone (2012) and Mr. Collins’s Last Supper (2012), but have shared countless conversations with her about life, Austen, and everything in between. She is a woman that truly understands people and deep feelings. It’s easy to understand this without knowing her when you read her latest novel Return to Longbourn. The depth of feeling that the characters go through by the end of the novel is nothing short of astounding.

Mary Bennet is happily ensconced at Netherfield Park as the governess for the Farnsworth family. All is well in her life until her father suddenly passes away. Back at home in mourning with her family she realizes how alone she feels. Her sisters Elizabeth and Jane have their husbands to turn to, while Kitty has Lydia. She feels that her only value is to remain stoic and take care of the household while the rest of her sisters fall apart emotionally. It’s this event that triggers a sudden heaviness in her life. When it’s announced that her cousin Tristan Collins (the heir to Longbourn) will be notified of Mr. Bennet’s death, well, that’s when her life turns a bit hectic. Mrs. Bennet announces her plan to have Kitty marry Mr. Collins so that they can remain at Longbourn, while Kitty confides to Mary that she is planning her escape to Pemberley. Mary understands Kitty’s reluctance to enter a marriage without love and agrees to keep their new cousin occupied until Kitty is summoned back to Longbourn. Much to everyone’s surprise, Tristan Collins arrives and is the complete opposite of his odious older brother William in every way. Mary feels herself beginning to fall in love with him and internally questions her decision to live her life without the love of a man. Add to all of this the bipolar friendship she maintains with her employer, the widowed Mr. Farnsworth, and you have the makings of much soul searching. Will Mr. Collins return her feelings? How will Mr. Farnsworth deal with her possible leaving Netherfield Park?

Upon first glance, many readers will find this to be a story about love, and in some aspects, redemption.  The deeper, more beautiful story to take away from this novel is that of a young woman trying desperately to find her place in a world where she begins to feel valueless. Winslow’s Mary (and Austen’s too) is a stoic individual, not much taken with the fancies of romance, men, balls, or fine clothes. She much prefers to toil her hours away with books and reading. She can at times be a woman of unyielding character, but deep down past this hardened exterior is a woman just like any other. She wants to have a purpose, she wants friendship, and yes, she even longs for love. In Return to Longbourn, we see a Mary who is beginning to question the way she has lived her life emotionally. Add to that the grief from her father’s death and the relationships of her sisters and brothers-in-law, and you find a very lost woman indeed. All of this coupled together makes Mary a very relatable character. For who among us can claim to never have felt lost in their own skin and unable to make sense of a multitude of new and unusual emotions? Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Return to Longbourn

Image of the book cover of Return to Longbourn, by Shannon Winslow (2013)54 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win a copy of Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Aimee who left a comment on March 05, 2013
  • Jordan F. who left a comment on March 04, 2013
  • Sharon who left a comment on March 12, 2013

Congratulations to the lucky winners! To claim your prize, please follow these instructions:

  1. Please contact me with your full name and address by March 20, 2013.
  2. Please tell me which item you have won.
  3. Please tell me which format you want: print book or digital.
  4. If you want a digital copy please tell me which format you need: Kindle, NOOK, etc.

Print book shipment to US addresses only; eBook sent internationally.

Thanks to all who left comments, and author Shannon Winslow for her great guest blog and giveaway copies of her new novel Return to Longbourn. Best wishes with its success.

© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Return to Longbourn Blog Tour with Author Shannon Winslow & Giveaway!

Return to Longbourn, by Shannon Winslow (2013)It is always a red letter day when one of my favorite Austenesque authors releases a new book – so I am so pleased to share this guest blog with you today from Shannon Winslow. Her new “darling child” has arrived and it is a treat.

Return to Longbourn is her second installment after her popular The Darcys of Pemberley was published in 2011. Please help me welcome Shannon by leaving a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of her new novel available.  

Thanks, Laurel, for having me here today. It’s always a pleasure to visit Austenprose, especially when I have a new story to share!

Following last year’s publication of For Myself Alone, I longed to return to my first love, to the world of Pride and Prejudice. Even after tying up lots of loose ends in The Darcys of Pemberley, there were interesting avenues left to explore.

Yes, Elizabeth and Jane are well settled, and it would be pleasant to visit them again. As for Lydia… well, that’s another story. But I was chiefly intrigued by what lay ahead for the other two Bennet daughters. With her expiration date quickly approaching, Kitty is desperately looking for a husband.

She fretted over being already almost twenty with no prospects for marriage immediately apparent…(The Darcys of Pemberley, epilogue)

Mary, however, has pragmatically moved on with her life, putting her hard-won skills to good use as governess to the new family at Netherfield.

Thus, well seasoned by time, practice, and renewed dedication, she made great strides toward the standard of the truly accomplished young woman she had always aspired to be…(The Darcys of Pemberley, epilogue)

Then disaster strikes; Mr. Bennet dies. So, what will become of the Bennet ladies?

If you remember, Mr. Collins met a premature end in The Darcys of Pemberley. What you may not recall is that he had a younger brother (as revealed in that book and in the preview post for RTL here at Austenprose). You will find Mr. Tristan Collins far more agreeable (and swoon worthy) than his brother. And, to Mrs. Bennet’s delight, he turns out to be single. We first meet him in the prologue:

The letter from London was a true Godsend. He knew it the instant it arrived, and just as quickly determined what he must do. Now the fertile Shenandoah Valley of Virginia – which until so recently had encompassed all aspects of his life and every hope for the future – lay half an ocean behind him, the distance widening with each passing day.

As the creaking timbers of the deck dipped and rolled beneath his feet, Mr. Tristan Collins kept one gloved hand ready on the rail. He had long since overcome his initial discomfort with being at sea, to the point where his legs had learnt to compensate for the perpetual movement without any conscious effort.

“Mr. Collins, sir,” said the cabin boy, coming up behind him. “Capt’n says won’t you take supper with him?”

The distinguished young gentleman with sandy hair turned into the chill wind to answer the lad. “Thank you, Patrick,” he said with a wan smile. “Tell the captain I shall be along directly.”

Pulling his great coat more tightly about his person, he turned his gaze aft once more, to where the sun had recently sunk below the western horizon. He had no idea what he expected to see. There was nothing there, other than a fading glimmer of daylight and three thousand miles of cold, roiling brine – an impenetrable barrier, seemingly. But would only half an ocean be enough to keep the ghosts he left behind in America at bay… or to keep his own thoughts from forever flying back, like pigeons returning to their roost?

No, he would not feel truly secure until he once more set foot on the reassuring ground of his native country. In England, he would start again.

Hmm. I wonder what – or who – he has left behind in America. I wonder what he’ll think of Longbourn… and of its female occupants. Will he turn them out of the house, or obligingly fall in love with Kitty… or Mary?

The book is called Return to Longbourn, but I could just as easily have been named Netherfield or Pemberley in the title instead. I hope you’ll come along as we revisit all our favorite P&P places and people, come alive again between the pages.

Author Shannon Winslow (2013)Author Bio:

Shannon Winslow specializes in writing fiction for fans of Jane Austen. She first garnered attention as a finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest, with her entry titled Mr. Collins’s Last Supper. The 2011 publication of her popular debut novel, The Darcys of Pemberley, further cemented her place in the genre, being particularly praised for the author’s authentic Austenesque style and faithfulness to the original characters. A stand-alone Austen-inspired story, For Myself Alone, followed in 2012. Now Return to Longbourn continues Winslow’s Pride and Prejudice saga, serving as the sequel to her own sequel.

Her two sons grown, Ms. Winslow 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.

Learn more about Shannon on her website/blog. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway chance for Return to Longbourn

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Return to Longbourn, by Shannon Winslow, by leaving comment about what intrigues you about reading a sequel to Pride and Prejudice by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Winners to be announced on Thursday, March 14, 2013. Print copies shipped to US addresses and ebook internationally. Winners choice. Good luck!

Return to Longbourn: The Next Chapter in the Continuing Story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2013)
Trade paperback (270) pages
ISBN: 978-0989025904

© 2012 Shannon Winslow, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for The Darcys of Pemberley

The Darcys of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow (2011)56 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies available of The Darcys of Pemberley. The winners drawn at random are:

  • lostinavalonor who left a comment on February 04, 2013
  • Hannah who left a comment on February 05, 2013
  • Carolyn Rowins who left a comment on February 04, 2013

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by February 20, 2013. I have several giveaways running, so please state which book you won and if you would like print or digital format. Shipment of paperback to US addresses only. Digital copy sent internationally.

Many thanks to all who left comments, and to author Shannon Winslow for supplying the giveaway copies of The Darcys of Pemberley and for the great sneak peek of her new book in the series, Return to Longbourn, which releases on February 26, 2013. Check back on Monday, March 04, 2013 for a guest blog with Shannon about Return to Longbourn and a chance for giveaway copies too.

© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Preview of Return to Longbourn & Giveaway of The Darcys of Pemberley, by Shannon Winslow

Return to Longbourn, by Shannon Winslow (2013)Gentle 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.  

Excerpt from Return to Longbourn

“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.

Dear Madam,

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!”

End of excerpt

Author Shannon Winslow (2011)Author Bio: 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.

A Grand Giveaway of The Darcys of Pemberley

Get ready for the release of Return to Longbourn by entering a chance to win one of three copies available of the first book in the series The Darcys of Pemberley. Just leave a comment stating what intrigues you about the letter from Tristan Collins or reading a Pride and Prejudice continuation. The contest is open until 11:59 on Wednesday February 13, 2013. Winners will be announced on Thursday, February 14, 2013. Print copy shipment to US addresses only. Digital copy shipment available internationally. Good luck!

© 2013, Shannon Winslow, Austenprose