Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas with Mr Darcy!

Happy Christmas everyone!

I've recently finished writing Mr Darcy's Secret, which is to be published by Sourcebooks. Here's a small extract with a festive theme. Elizabeth Bennet is married to Mr Darcy and is welcoming her family for the Christmas season to Pemberley for the first time, not without some trepidation!

Christmas Eve and the arrival of the Bennets and Bingleys to Pemberley marked the official start to the festive season. Elizabeth was pleased and surprised at her own feelings on firstly welcoming her parents and two of her sisters, Mary and Kitty, to her new home. For all her newfound happiness and exultation in the success of her marriage, she had not realised until coming face to face with them again, how much she had missed them. It was especially heartening to see her papa again and as he hugged her until she thought she might have no breath left, her feelings took her by surprise. The resulting misting of her eyes she quickly brushed away before his notice provoked a comment.

“I am very glad to see you, Elizabeth, and for this invitation from you and your husband, we are very grateful,” he said, standing back at arm’s length to admire the daughter he loved best. “I have missed you and it does my heart good to see you looking so well.”

Mrs Bennet was, for once, struck quite dumb on their entrance into the hall and did not utter a syllable for the first ten minutes. Her eyes darted everywhere, alighting on the marble floors, staring at the grand curving staircases, the statues in the niches and the paintings adorning the walls and the ceiling. She looked almost frightened and had such an appearance of stupefied shock upon her countenance that Lizzy felt quite concerned.

“Are you quite well, mama?” asked Elizabeth, taking her mother’s hand and rubbing it between her own. “Indeed, you do look very tired. But the journey is such a long one, I know. Come inside and get warm by the fire.”

Mrs Bennet shook her head and spoke at last. “I am astonished, Lizzy. I knew Pemberley must be a great house, but I never expected this; not in all my born days did I expect to see such opulence, such finery! The floor alone must be worth a mint, not to mention the gilded balustrades, the paintings and statues, the drapes, the chairs and settees, and I know not what. And this is only the hall! Lord bless me! I shall have to sit down. And as for the grounds, I thought Christmas would be over before we arrived, so long did it take to get from the road to the house. What a prospect! The finest house, the grandest park, the most magnificent hall that I ever did see. What a pity that Lydia cannot be with us to see it. I know she would have loved to see Pemberley, and dear Wickham too. I’m sure he would have enjoyed seeing his former home.”

“But, mama, though I admire your feelings of benevolence in consideration of Mr and Mrs Wickham’s lack of invitation,” observed Mary, who loved to reflect and sermonize on the folly of others, “in my opinion, such deliberation is ill conceived. If you dwell for just one moment on the real likelihood of such a summons to our misguided sister and her husband from Mr Darcy who we know to be a rational man, you must also know it to be highly improbable.”

“Oh, Mary, hold your tongue. Mrs Wickham can come to Pemberley whenever she likes, whatever you might think on the matter,” rejoined Mrs Bennet loudly, with an expression of exasperation.

Mrs Gardiner advanced quickly to reach Mrs Bennet’s side to greet her and divert the course of conversation just as Mr Darcy entered the hall to welcome his guests. He had thought it prudent to allow Elizabeth a little time with her parents and sisters before he came on the scene. His manners were as impeccable as ever and Mrs Bennet became quite girlish in her manner at his attentions, patting her curls and looking at him under her lashes. When Lizzy was able she could not resist catching her husband’s eye, raising her own heavenwards. She felt such a mixture of pride and love for all that he represented to her, the man who in disposition and talents suited her to perfection.

No sooner were the Bennet family installed dispatched to become acquainted with their rooms over which Mrs Bennet was soon exclaiming, not only at the size, but also at the number assigned to them, than Elizabeth’s sister, Jane Bingley, her husband, and his sister arrived. Never was a reunion more joyful between two sisters who adored one another and who had never before in their lives been separated for so long. Jane still had the glow of a new bride about her and Lizzy was overjoyed to see Bingley again. Elizabeth was not so pleased to see Mr Bingley’s sister Caroline, who had in the past been the cause of a temporary rift between Jane and her husband during their courting days, not only separating them but informing Jane of her wish that her brother be married to Miss Darcy. But she received her with much civility, which in the circumstances was highly gratifying, as she recalled with a certain glee that Caroline had at one time fancied that she might take on the role of the mistress of Pemberley herself. How very satisfying it was to be addressed by Caroline Bingley as Mrs Darcy.

“My dear, Mrs Darcy, how splendid it is to see you again. It is exceedingly kind of you to invite me to Pemberley for Christmas, which, as I am sure you have heard is always unsurpassed in both hospitality, and by its splendour.” She turned to Mr Darcy who was regarding her with what Elizabeth had come to recognise as the expression he reserved for those he could not tolerate; a look of polite indifference, but happily, undetected by the person on whom it was bestowed. “Oh, Mr Darcy, we have enjoyed one or two merry Christmases together, have we not? Such parties and balls, that I have been quite spoiled forever. I do not think I shall ever enjoy such entertainments again. But, forgive me, Mrs Darcy, you are hosting a grand ball on the morrow, are you not? What felicities we shall enjoy, I cannot wonder. Do you remember, Mr Darcy, when Reynolds fetched out the old fancy costumes from the attic and we dressed up? I thought I should die laughing when I saw you as Robin Hood and I was Little Bo-Peep, as I hark back. What fun we had. Do you recall, Georgiana? You were the sweetest lamb, all in white with a pink ribbon on your tail.”

Miss Bingley, having found a willing listener in Georgiana immediately led her away talking at the top of her voice about the wondrous parties of the past.

Elizabeth was starting to feel quite sick with nerves at the prospect of the coming ball. She did so want it to be a success and whispering into Mr Darcy’s ear when the others were busily engaged in directing the servants with their luggage, said, “Oh dear, do you suppose we should have had a fancy costume ball?”

To which came the rapid answer, “Absolutely not. The whole idea was of Miss Bingley’s engineering and I loathed every minute of it. I absolutely forbid fancy costume balls to be held at Pemberley ever again!”



I hope you and your families all have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season and wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year!
Jane Odiwe

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow, Christmas Trees and a Review for Willoughby's Return

Well, it's feeling very festive here in England with all the snow we've been having! As I look out of my window I can see the world dusted with icing sugar - the sky is a beautiful iridescent pearl, which reminds me of the sort of day it was in Willoughby's Return when Marianne and Margaret join a skating party in London's Hyde Park - hence the painting above. I did enjoy doing the research for this part of the book, though I seem to remember it was early summer when I wrote it!
We put up our Christmas tree yesterday - I always love to dress the mantlepiece and my children love to do the tree. There's something very special about unwrapping all the baubles that we've had for many years - it's like finding old friends. They did a lovely job, the tree is sparkling with flower lights, glass birds, angels, father Christmases, fans and icicles - I even have Lizzy and Darcy - beautiful fabric decorations made by my sister-in-law, Trin. I'm taking a moment to enjoy it all by the fire before the house wakes up and joins me!
I'd like to thank Laura Gerold from Laura's Reviews for her review of Willoughby's Return, which is posted below - thank you so much for taking the time to read and review!

Willoughby is the Austen bad boy that I can’t quite find it within myself to hate. He does more despicable deeds than most Austen bad boys (he impregnated and left Eliza and then ditched Marianne for a lady with more money!), yet he comes clean with Elinor and tells her that he did indeed love Marianne, but had to marry for the money. This leaves me with sympathy in my heart no matter how heard I try to hate him, I think about how he has been punished for his misdeeds by never being able to be with the one woman that he truly loves. It also doesn’t help that Greg Wise is such a very handsome and wonderful Willoughby in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility.

I couldn’t wait to read more about Willoughby, Marianne, and the rest of my favorite Sense and Sensibility characters in Jane Odiwe’s sequel, Willoughby’s Return. Just the title excited me with the thought of Greg Wise, I mean Willoughby, striding back into the scene.

The novel did not disappoint and was quite simply, a superb sequel to Sense and Sensibility. Marianne Dashwood found love and romance of another sort with Colonel Brandon at the end of Sense and Sensibility. At the beginning of Willoughby’s Return, they are still happily wedded with a young son, James. The only wrench in their happiness is that Colonel Brandon still finds himself drawn away quite often to help Eliza and her small daughter Lizzy. Marianne finds herself jealous of the unknown Eliza, who no only had Willoughby’s love, but also is the spitting image of her mother, Colonel Brandon’s first love. I love how the first Eliza’s portrait with Colonel Brandon’s brother still hangs at the top of the stair. It gave me an almost Rebecca like quality to the specter of Eliza, Brandon’s lost love.

Colonel Brandon and Marianne are distressed by the news that Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have inherited Allenham after all and will soon be moving to the neighborhood. Sad at the constant absences of her husband, Marianne soon finds herself feeling the old feelings again and being tempted by Willoughby. Will she succumb to temptation or find her way back to Colonel Brandon?

This story is also the romance of Margaret. Margaret has now grown up and has the same temperament as Marianne. She is searching for her one true love. Colonel Brandon’s nephew, the dashing Henry Lawrence, has moved back to England and Marianne is determined to set Henry Lawrence and her sister up. Henry is friends with Mr. Willoughby. Will he live to make the same mistakes as Henry or will he find true love?

My favorite character in Sense and Sensibility is Elinor. She is now a happy wife and mother of two, but this is not her story. She is only seen briefly. I wish there would have been more of her, but I realize that would be a different story.

Overall this book was a terrific read that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend it to all lovers of Sense and Sensibility, Austen, or just a wonderful romance. This is the best sequel to Sense and Sensibility that I have ever read! The characters are captured perfectly and the story is wonderful.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Review for Willoughby's Return from Austenesque

Thank you to Meredith Esparza of Austenesque Reviews for her review of Willoughby's Return!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
*****
“Sense and Sensibility” is such a lovely, honest, and entertaining novel; it such a shame that not many authors have attempted to compose a sequel for it. I have greatly enjoyed “Colonel Brandon's Diary” by Amanda Grange (S&S told from Colonel Brandon's point-of-view) and “Reason and Romance” by Debra White Smith (a modern adaption with Christian undertones); but neither of those are sequels or include a continuation story for Margaret. But now, having read “Willoughby's Return,” I feel I have found the sequel for “Sense and Sensibility” I have always wanted! I am so very delighted that Jane Odiwe has supplied us ravenous Austenites with this compelling and expressive sequel to cherish and enjoy!

Whatever became of Margaret Dashwood? As Elinor and Marianne's younger sister, Margaret has witnessed their heartbreaks and heartaches first hand. Has their experiences made her wiser, more cautious, or perhaps, more indifferent to love? Does she take after rational and sensible Elinor or does she favor Marianne's romantic tendencies and impetuous nature?

In this novel, Margaret Dashwood, who is at the marriageable age of 18, seems to be the victim of Marianne's matchmaking schemes. So far she has yet to meet a man that can live up to her expectation or measure up to her childhood love (can you guess who that is?). However, when Margaret meets Colonel Brandon's nephew, the handsome, romantic, and charming Henry Lawrence, she feels she may have finally met her ideal man...

Marianne and Colonel Brandon, the other couple focused upon in this story, have been married for three years and have a two-year old boy named James. Like all married couples, they are experiencing some difficulties and trials in their marriage. Marianne is exhibiting some jealousy, insecurity, and mistrust in Colonel Brandon's love for her. Colonel Brandon, trying to be a father figure in two separate households (he looks after his ward, Eliza Williams and her child, Lizzy), finds that he has unintentionally been neglecting Marianne and spending too much time away from her. Furthermore, the ghost of Willoughby haunts their marriage, both Marianne and Colonel Brandon never mention his name or their past association with him. Because of their silence on the subject, when Willoughby re-enters Marianne's life, she chooses not to share with her husband their encounters and conversations. Secrets are never good for a marriage...

Jane Odiwe has done a magnificent job of continuing the story of “Sense and Sensibility,” I greatly enjoyed spending more time with these characters and was pleased to see them so accurately portrayed. I was delighted that other minor character such as the Mrs. Jennings, the Middletons and Mrs. Lucy Ferrars were included in this novel and that they appeared the same as ever. I would have loved for Elinor and Edward to have more page time, but I understand that a story with two heroines is quite enough and to add a third heroine may have resulted in diminishing the stories of the other two.

“Willoughby's Return” was appropriately romantic, emotional, and passionate. I commend Jane Odiwe for capturing the essence and excellence of “Sense and Sensibility” and continuing the story in a knowledgeable and sympathetic manner. It is obvious that Ms. Odiwe loves and cares greatly for her characters (even the difficult ones), and I feel that Jane Austen loved her characters the same way. I greatly enjoyed this sequel for “Sense and Sensibility” and look forward to more works from Jane Odiwe.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Review for Willoughby's Return from Austenprose

Here's a review from Laurel Ann at Austenprose. I'd like to thank her very much for taking the time to read and review my book!

While the Jane Austen sequel industry abounds with numerous books inspired by Pride and Prejudice, regretfully there are very few sequels to Austen’s first published novel Sense and Sensibility. Why? Possibly because some readers have been disappointed with half of Austen’s unsatisfactory ending for her two heroines. While the two Dashwood sisters do marry: staid and stoic Elinor to Edward Ferrars and impulsive and free-spirited Marianne to Col. Brandon, the second pairings future happiness seemed doubtful. How could a young lady with Marianne’s intense passionate depth be happy with anyone other than her Byronic first love Mr. Willoughby – even after he threw her over for an heiress? Nagging questions arise. Did she settle when she married the Colonel? Would she be tempted into extramarital affairs and runaway with her lover? Possibly, leaving an intriguing premise for continuing the story.

All these concerns are addressed in Willoughby’s Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation a new sequel to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Odiwe. How, or if they will be resolved to our satisfaction is now a possibility.

Three years after her marriage to Colonel Brandon, Marianne is the mistress of Delaford Park and the mother of a young son James. She has everything that a young married woman could desire: wealth, position, an heir and a loving husband, but her insecurities, jealousy and impetuous nature rob her of complete happiness. Resentful that her husband is frequently called away to attend his ward Eliza Williams and her infant daughter, Marianne “feels” that he cares for his other family more than his own. Their ties to the Brandon’s are strong and painful; Eliza being the daughter of Brandon’s first love who died tragically, and Eliza’s young child Lizzie the illegitimate daughter of John Willoughby the rogue also who threw over Marianne’s affections for an heiress five years prior. In addition, there is that imposing portrait of Eliza’s mother hanging in the Hall staring down at her. Every time Marianne passes it she sees the similarities of their appearances and doubts more and more if Brandon married her because he loved her, of if she is replacing the woman that he loved and lost years ago. When the charming rogue John Willoughby reappears in her life proclaiming he has never stopped loving her, the pain of their failed romance is renewed gradually replaced by conflicting emotions and the temptation to be with him again.

We are reintroduced to many of the characters from the original novel: Elinor Ferrars and her husband Edward, Mrs. Jennings, the Middleton’s, Lucy Ferrars and importantly Elinor and Marianne’s younger sister Margaret Dashwood who has her own romance in the course of the novel that may equal Marianne’s dilemma in emotion and drama. It could not be a Jane Austen sequel without talk of beaus, gowns and a glamorous Ball, so imagine everything most “profligate and shocking” in the way of young couples dancing and sitting down together! Margaret Dashwood supplies the shocking (to the horror of the neighborhood biddies) in her behavior by dancing more than three times in one night with one partner, Henry Lawrence, the charming and bold nephew of Col Brandon. Like Willoughby, Henry appears to be a good catch: attractive, well connected, an heir to a fortune and too irresistible. He wastes no time in pursuing Margaret’s affections. There is a surprise twist to their relationship that I will not reveal, but readers might recognize similarities to another Austen heroine.

Odiwe has captured Marianne’s spirit superbly. Romantic, impulsive and let’s face it, high maintenance! At times I really wanted to give her a firm dressing down and felt the same of Austen’s younger Marianne, so I knew that Odiwe had connected their characteristics seamlessly. Marianne may be five years older, but she’s still Marianne the drama queen and that makes for great entertainment! Interestingly, the two men in her life, Brandon and Willoughby, had fewer scenes than expected but caused many reactions to fuel the narrative serving their purpose. This was a nice mirror to women’s fate in Regency times. Men have all the power, women all the presence.

This is Odiwe’s second Austen sequel, and like Lydia Bennet’s Story she has chosen a character in Marianne Brandon that is ruled by impulse and emotion making for surprise and tension – all good elements to an engaging story that she delivers with confidence and aplomb. Developing younger sister Margaret Dashwood brought youth, vivacity and a bit of rebellion against social dictums to the story. Her romance with Henry Lawrence was an excellent choice as she shared the narrative equally with Marianne and balanced the story. Odiwe’s research and passion for the Regency era shine, especially in her descriptions of the country fair and fashions. It is rewarding to see her develop her own style evocative of Austen but totally modern in its sensibility. There were a few missteps with cadence and vernacular, but I am splitting hairs, and few will notice. Of course we are never in much doubt that it will all end happily, but unlike Jane Austen’s tale, the final transformation of the heroine’s troubling want of caution and choice of spouse will not prompt debate two hundred years later.

A light and enjoyable read, Willoughby’s Return is a charming tale that sweeps you back into Austen’s mannered world of a young girl searching for love and a married woman realizing it.

Illustrations:
Settee - Ellen Hill
Willoughby's Return Cover
Marianne and Elinor - Jane Odiwe

Monday, December 7, 2009

Red Roses for Authors Interview!

I was recently interviewed by Red Roses for Authors blogspot in celebration of the publication of Willoughby's Return. It's always an interesting experience being interviewed - I'm always surprised by how much I learn about myself as well as my book!


Tell us a little about yourself

I’m an English author, an artist, and a wife and mother to three children. I live on the edge of London and enjoy indulging my passions of reading Jane Austen, writing and painting.

What do you write?

I write books inspired by Jane Austen’s life and works. I’ve written and illustrated a book about Jane and have also written three novels, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Willoughby’s Return, and Mr Darcy’s Secret.

Why do you write?

I love escaping into a different world and the sheer pleasure I get when I write is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a little girl. I like the fact that each book is like a puzzle waiting to be worked out with ideas coming to life on the page with my words.

What are you writing now?

It’s another Austen sequel. I’ve just finished another Pride and Prejudice sequel – Mr Darcy’s Secret, which Sourcebooks Inc. is publishing in Spring 2011.


What kind of clothes do you like to wear?

I live in jeans, trousers and tops, though I do enjoy wearing dresses now and then. I like soft, colourful fabrics and I have a weakness for accessories, necklaces, scarves and earrings.


Are you in love? Have you ever been?

I am in love with the man I married twenty five years ago.


Do you have a dream lover – and what does he or she look like?

I do – it’s my husband. I still get goosebumps when I look at him and when he kisses me….


What kind of comfort food do you like best?

A bowl of soup or a tasty stew with mashed potato is my favourite comfort food – something savoury and warming!


What makes you laugh? Cry?

Family mealtimes are hilarious in my house – I sometimes wonder what my neighbours think at the noisy laughter they must hear, especially on a Sunday when everyone is at home.

Hearing about suffering of any kind makes me cry – the injustices that some people have to suffer in their lives through illness, death or misfortune.



What do you do to amuse yourself when not working?

I love spending time with my family, reading, going out to watch music gigs, cinema and the theatre. I really love dancing – I studied ballet for years and I am often to be found twirling round the kitchen.


What is it in a man or woman that turns you on? The clean version please!

A man who really listens and makes you feel as if you are the only person that matters in their world is a turn on for me.


What do you hate about life?

Nothing – my mother died when she was very young, and it’s made me appreciate every second. There’s too much to love to waste time thinking negatively.


What do you hope to achieve in life and when will you know that you have been a success?

I’ve achieved my dream of becoming a published writer. The only other ambition I have is to feel satisfied that I’ve done all I can to make those around me happy – I’m not sure if I shall be able to say when or whether I’ve been a success!

What are you going to write next?

I’ve got at least two more Austen sequels I’d like to write, but I also have ideas for other historical books I want to write. My daughter wants me to write down the book I used to tell them as children a few years ago – I’d just like more time to do everything I’d like to accomplish!

Illustration by Phillip Gough from Sense and Sensibility
Book cover - Willoughby's Return - Sense and Sensibility continues

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Review for Willoughby's Return from Book Eater

Here's a review from Odessa at Book Eater.

Sequels, prequels, paraliterature; we see it everywhere, especially in regard to Austen. I am often skeptical, but when I saw Jane Odiwe (author of Lydia Bennet's Story) had a new sequel to Sense and Sensibility I thought I'd give it a read. I'm glad I did.
Unlike most sequels that endow Austen's characters with alarming amounts of sex and violence, Odiwe keeps in the spirit of Austen's style. She resurrects her most charming rogue with success. At the end of S&S the secondary heroine, Marianne Dashwood, marries the much older Colonel Brandon and the dashing Wiloughby disappears with his wife, married only for the money. Many fans have often asserted that Wiloughby's not a bad guy, that they almost wish in spite of everything that he and Marianne end up together.
This novel begins three years after the close of Austen's novel. It brings up very real concerns in Marianne's marriage to the Colonel. Does he only love her because she reminds him of his long dead first love? Does he spend too much time with his ward? At the same time, Odiwe also shows how much their relationship has grown from the timid affection and gratitude Marianne originally had toward the Colonel. It has a believable conflict for Marianne to face as her husband is constantly absent and her first love waltzes back into her life.
Though the title character, Wiloughby has comparably few scenes in the book, his prescence hangs over the story, even in the subplot surrounding Margaret, Marianne's younger sister, who is falling in love for the first time herself. It was refreshing to see her character grow, she is barely a shadow in the original novel. Perhaps 'subplot' is too subdued a term for her role in this book, she dominates the story at many moments, her struggles recieving almost equal time to Marianne's.
I would have liked to see more of Elinor and how her life with the trying Ferrars clan is at this point. Her major role in this story is to present an image of an ideal marriage match for Margaret. There are some spectacular cameos by Mrs. Jennings, Lucy and Robert Ferrars, and other amusing characters from S&S.
Overall, it was a tasteful, well constructed story that paid homage to Austen's style and characters. Jane would approve.

Illustrations:
Willoughby's Return book cover
From Sense and Sensibility by Phillip Gough

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Researching Willoughby's Return!


One of the things I enjoy about writing my Austen sequels is the research I have to do for each novel. I love to set each major scene giving clues to how places looked at the time, as well as considering sounds and smells! Jane Austen did not devote much of her writing to descriptions of places and scenes as she took it for granted that people would know what she was talking about, but I think it is important that I transport my reader back to the 1800’s especially if they know little about the era.

I have Marianne and Colonel Brandon go to London for the season. I read everything I could about shopping, amusements and entertainments of the time and it is very fortunate that so much of the part of London I was researching still exists even if some of the buildings have changed. Helping to transport me back in time was a map from 1803 that I downloaded from the internet. Off I went on the tube to stand in Oxford Street and Bond Street trying to imagine that the cars roaring by were carriages and that the sounds around me were different again.

I wanted to give an idea of how exciting it would be for Marianne’s sister, Margaret, to come to London for the first time. She is a young lady who has grown up in the relative quiet of the countryside:

Fascinated by everything she saw, marvelling at the shops on every side, Margaret exclaimed at all she witnessed. Watchmakers, silk stores, and silversmiths displayed their wares behind sparkling glass, illuminated by the amber glow of oil lamps. Exotic fruit and towering desserts in the fruiterers and confectioners formed a dazzling spectacle; pyramids of pineapples, figs, and grapes cascaded from porcelain epergne. Marchpane castles, rosewater creams, and fruited cake vied for attention on platters of every shape and size. And the crowds of people stretching across the wide pavements, the ladies gathered outside in admiration of the linen shops, draped with silks, chintzes, and muslins were a sight to behold; such fashionably dressed gentility as Margaret had never seen before… After the relative quiet of life in Devon and Dorset, she could not believe how noisy London was to her ears; not only the sound of rumbling carriages and carts, but the clatter of patterns on pavements and the distinctive cries of street sellers rang everywhere about.

I love writing descriptions of interiors. When Marianne and Colonel Brandon visit his sister, Lady Lawrence, at Whitwell, it gave me an opportunity to ‘paint’ the setting. We know from Sense and Sensibility that Brandon’s sister spent some time in France and I decided that her taste in design would have been influenced by her travels abroad.

The Brandons were shown into a large salon, filled with the most beautiful fittings and furniture. The style was French, the room ornate with gilded chairs, pier glasses, and chandeliers of the finest crystal. The silk-covered walls glowed with coral shades and iridescent hues of shell pink, further illuminating the room in flowing drapes at the floor-length windows, in the decorative ceiling, and in the Aubusson rug, which burgeoned with fat summer roses and green leaf garlands.

Lady Lawrence sat upon a velvet sofa, bolstered with pads and rolls, guarded by golden lion heads on either arm, which seemed ready to spring into life and leap out at anyone who might come to disturb her apparent idle repose. Despite the warmth of the day, she was covered to her waist by a heavy coverlet fringed with gold braid. She did not get up when they entered but excused herself, claiming that the damp of the day was responsible for her inability to stand.


Whilst writing Willoughby’s Return, I celebrated a special birthday and was lucky enough to spend a few days with my family in the house where Sense & Sensibility 1995 was filmed! It was great fun walking in the footsteps of Marianne and Elinor Dashwood, seeing the spot where Willoughby pulled up in his curricle and where Colonel Brandon helped Marianne cut reeds in the estuary. It was such an enormous treat and great inspiration for my writing.

I had a wonderful time researching Willoughby’s Return. If you could go back in time and star in your own Austen fantasy, where would you like to go? Would you prefer experiencing a vast country house, a grand ball, or perhaps an evening at a Georgian circus like Astley’s?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Willoughby's Return Interview with Barbara from Everything Victorian


I've been having a lovely time on my blog tour for the launch of Willoughby's Return. Here's an interview I had with Barbara from Everything Victorian and More. Thank you Barbara, I really enjoyed the interview!
1. What inspired you to write about the main character?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. She’s a heroine who wears her heart on her sleeve and never loves by halves. In Jane Austen’s book Marianne has two great love affairs – firstly, with the dashing Mr Willoughby, who ignites the feelings of her first great passion but who lets her down badly, and secondly, with Colonel Brandon, an older, steadier man who is the real hero, the one she marries. The ending of Sense and Sensibility surprises some readers who can’t believe that Marianne really loves the Colonel enough to marry him. This intrigued me, and the fact that she is a character we easily identify with – I’m sure most people have known a Willoughby at some stage in their lives, but have been able to move on and find lasting, true love with somebody who really suits them. Colonel Brandon has also suffered from the disappointment of a first love and I wanted to explore not only their relationship but also how the impact of those first attachments might affect their lives together.

2. What is your favorite line from this book?

Gosh, what a good question! This is a difficult one, but when Marianne meets Willoughby again and has to be escorted into dinner by him she finds herself in a very difficult situation. Here’s the line: Despite purposefully leaning as far away from him as she was able, she could not help but be aware of his nearness, and of his smell, emanating like an elixir from a bygone age, mingled into a potpourri of fragrant images from the past.

3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been developing your craft?

I was a very small girl when I first started writing, but then I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I still have a series of little books about the ‘Smiles Family’ that I made when I was about eight or nine. I think it’s taken a lifetime to develop my craft and I’m still learning now!


4. Is reading a large part of your life? Which book/books made the biggest impact on your writing?

Of course Jane Austen is a huge influence. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and all of her books have made the biggest impact. But I also love any books by Frances Hodgson Burnett, (The Making of a Marchioness) Edith Wharton, (The Age of Innocence) and Fanny Burney (Evelina) to name but a few of my favourite writers. There are so many wonderful books out there that it’s hard to choose. Writers of the past rather than the present are my biggest influence because those are the books I tend to prefer – I love the quality of writing that you get in an older book.

5. Who is your favorite writer?

No contest – Jane Austen. Her books have been the pleasure of my life and the reason I have become a published writer. She is recognised now as a genius, but I wish she had known in her lifetime how her writing would eventually be regarded - how much her work is revered and loved today!

6. Does storytelling run in your family?

We all enjoy a good book or story. My parents encouraged us to read and told stories when I was young. I hope I’ve passed this love of storytelling to my children. My husband is a brilliant storyteller – I think he’d write a marvellous book.

7. When creating the story, which is the most difficult, the beginning, middle, or ending?

The middle is the most difficult for me, most definitely. I think you have to be able to keep the reader interested in turning the pages and keeping up the momentum being careful not to give too much away too early and tying it all up too soon before you get to the end.

8. What is the writing process like for you? Are you a morning person or night person? Do you have a special place you like to go to for inspiration? What energizes you?

I am a morning person, but that can mean very early morning. Sometimes, I wake at three in the morning with an idea, and I have to write it down because if I don’t I’ll forget it before I wake up again the next day. I think I must be solving problems in my sleep because this happens quite a lot. There is something lovely about writing in the early hours when there is no one about – my little writing room is next door to my bedroom so it’s very easy to pop in there and switch on the computer. I love my room, I am so lucky to have one all of my own. It’s lined with books, and filled with objects, pictures and paintings that I love. I have a desk before the window and watch all the world pass by whilst I’m writing. It’s great inspiration.

9. What advice would you have for emerging writers?

Keep striving to learn how you can improve your writing, and read, read read! Remember why you started writing in the first place when you get bogged down with problems – that’s sometimes forgotten when you are in pursuit of getting published and you’ve just received a rejection letter.

10. What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

I sometimes get to meet the people who have read my books – I can’t tell you the thrill it is when someone tells me or writes to tell me that they enjoyed a particular book. I indulge myself in my favourite activity on a daily basis and also get to spend huge chunks of the day in another century in Jane Austen’s world (or my version of it, at least) – what more could anyone wish?

The very lovely Anne Herries also interviewed me for the Red Roses for Authors blogspot. Thank you, I really enjoyed your questions!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mr. Willoughby - is it possible to resist him?

I was very kindly invited to guest blog on Book Nerd Extraordinaire Blogspot. Here's what Jaime Huff has to say about Willoughby's Return followed by my guest post.

'I have been enjoying the selection of Jane Austen sequels, and Willoughby's Return by Jane Odiwe is right there leading the pack. Marianne, in my opinion, was spoiled, vivid and full of life and Jane Odiwe has maintained that spirit as she brings us to Marianne's life and her marriage to Colonel Brandon..."Willoughby's Return" has maintained the spirit and life of it's predecessor, "Sense and Sensibility" and was such a strong, flowing read and I would definitely recommend this to any Sense and Sensibility fan who has wondered "well, what then?"' Jaime Huff

Jaime, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my book, Willoughby’s Return. I thought I’d talk a little about Mr. Willoughby, that bad boy we find hard to resist!

Have you ever felt an irresistible attraction toward someone, and fallen so passionately in love with a guy that he made you throw all caution to the wind, so that your behaviour became reckless and even a little wild? In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne’s relationship with John Willoughby escalates quickly into a whirlwind romance, so rapidly that the gossips assume they are engaged. Willoughby, dashing and handsome, is the man of her dreams – he enjoys poetry, music, and loves to dance. Marianne thinks she has met her perfect match until he breaks her heart. Scandal surrounds him, not only does he leave her for a woman with a fortune, but she finds out he is not the man she thought. Later, she is able to forgive him, especially when he tells her sister that he is full of remorse and regret; Marianne will forever be his secret standard of perfection. He has realised, too late, just how much he loves her, but by then Marianne has moved on and fallen in love with Colonel Brandon, an older, but much wiser, and kinder gentleman, far more suited to our heroine.
When I wrote Willoughby’s Return, I was full of questions about the ending of Jane Austen’s book - I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if John Willoughby came back to the neighborhood, as it is likely that he will inherit his benefactor’s grand house, Allenham Court.

Has Marianne really buried all her former feelings for Willoughby who once claimed her heart, and who has publicly made no secret of the fact that he still admires her. If they are thrown together in circumstances neither of them can avoid, what will happen? Will Marianne’s love for Colonel Brandon be tested?
Here’s an extract from the book. Marianne has met Willoughby again, and memories she thought were gone will not go away!

Seeing Willoughby again had disturbed her mind, and now she was travelling through countryside she could only ever associate with him. Pulling down the window to breathe the cool air, she could not help being reminded of a time, five years ago, of a season just like this one. She tried to dismiss her thoughts but they crowded in on her until she was forced to remember a particularly golden, autumnal day, when she had first been taken to see Allenham Court, which John Willoughby would inherit one day. The dwelling he had hinted would also be her future home was the place where he had first stolen more than a lock of her hair.

It was at his suggestion that he show her over the house. They travelled alone in an open carriage, bowling at speed down the green lanes, so fast that Marianne was forced to cling to his arm for fear of being thrown abroad.

He was so pleased and proud to show it off. “Do you like the house?” he asked, taking her hand and helping her down from the carriage. “Would it suit Miss Dashwood to live in a house like this?”
Marianne’s excitement knew no bounds. “This house would suit anyone, Mr. Willoughby,” came her fervent response, gazing up at the charming edifice.

He took her into the garden first. They strolled away from the house and into a leafy walkway. The fragrance of damp earth and the musk scent of leaves like amber jewels above her head in the arbour were smells she would associate forevermore with those feelings of longing and love. He crooked her arm in his and they wandered through thorned archways, gleaming scarlet with rose hips, embroidered with the lace of jewelled spider’s webs. It seemed like a dream come true to Marianne, and the thought that this might be her retreat some day brought on such ecstasies of happiness that she was lost for words. They walked in silence. All she heard were the leaves rustling under her feet, the birds in the trees calling out to one another. Her only desire was to link his arm in hers, and to feel the nearness of his face, his breath so close as to stir her curls. She could not have imagined greater felicity.
After going all round the grounds he took her inside. They crept about for fear of disturbing Mrs. Smith, who slumbered in her chair in the drawing room, quite unaware of their presence. He took her hand as they crept up the stairs with stifled giggles. The ancient oak door opened with a creak into a darkened room, the heavy, old-fashioned drapes drawn against the morning sun to protect the furniture.
Marianne’s eyes were not able to adjust to the gloom after the brightness outside. “I cannot see,” she whispered.

He caught both of her hands in his and whispered in reply, “Let me be your guide, Miss Marianne.”


© Jane Odiwe, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak at Willoughby’s Return! Now tell me—who’s your favorite Austen hero and why?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lucy Ferrars writes a letter!

In celebration of the publication of Willoughby's Return, Vic (from Jane Austen Today) and I have decided to write a series of posts as Jane Austen characters from Sense and Sensibility. Recently, Lucy Ferrars wrote a letter to Elinor Ferrars - Vic is writing as Lucy and my response shows Elinor's thoughts and point of view! We thought it might be fun to see how these sister-in-laws might behave now they are married to Robert and Edward Ferrars.


My Dear Mrs. Ferrars, (or may I call you Elinor now that we have been SISTERS for more years than I care to admit!)

I write seemingly out of the blue, for I have been the poorest of correspondents. Unfortunately, my duties as Mrs. Robert Ferrars keep me too busy to attend to this important duty as MATRIARCH of the family (now that Mrs. Ferrars, that dearest of mama-in-laws, has been laid to rest). Be assured that I have managed to apprise myself of both your and Rev. Ferrars’ well-being through Mrs. Jennings’s cheery correspondence and through my association with Mrs. John Dashwood, whose conversations have been nothing short of ENLIGHTENING.

First, let me extend my felicities on the INCREASE of your family. How you are able to accommodate the addition of even one child, much less two, given Rev. Ferrars’ modest income, astonishes me. Your methods of economy are laudable, for I assuredly could not have contrived to be comfortable with twice the amount of his living, and yet somehow you have managed.

The purpose of my inquiry is this: It has come to my attention that Colonel Brandon is frequently away from home and that during his current absence, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have ARRIVED IN TOWN to settle Mrs. Smith’s estate. Pray tell, how is Mrs. Brandon bearing up under this new development? Is there aught I can do to help the situation, for she must be torn twixt her unresolved feelings towards her former lover and a husband whose attentions are ELSEWHERE? Pray, tell me how I can be of service to you or Mrs. Brandon.

My sincere well wishes to you, Rev. Ferrars, and your dear children. If you would be so kind as to extend my courtesies to Colonel Brandon, Mrs. Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, I would be most obliged. T’would save the cost of franking additional letters, and as you have discovered firsthand, a penny saved is a penny earned.

Ever your servant,
Lucy, Mrs. Robert Ferrars

Elinor read the letter twice through. Lucy’s relationship by marriage to Edward’s brother Robert did make her a relation, but the address of sister; she felt more than a little wanting. Lucy had made it perfectly clear from the start that Elinor held no interest for her apart from being the means by which she might be invited to the Mansion house. For her own part Elinor must admit to being ashamed that the feelings she harboured of intolerance and prejudice towards Lucy were not those that a clergyman’s wife should possess, struggling with her feelings towards the woman who had once captured her husband’s heart. But, she kept her thoughts to herself and did her utmost to keep them under regulation whilst determining to behave with due civility.

Unlike Lucy, Elinor had written regularly to her sister-in-law and her husband informing them in a general and friendly way of the news from Delaford Rectory and the Mansion house. It had never surprised Elinor that Lucy had ignored her letters, and that in the last five years Robert and Lucy had only come to Delaford once shortly after they were all married. Lucy had made no secret of the fact that she found the rectory too cramped and too plain for her taste. There had been some amusement in listening to Lucy’s plans for its improvement. Her suggestions of verandahs on two sides, and a large extension complete with bow windows festooned in lace and brocade had brought a smile to Elinor’s lips, not to mention biting them as she received her advice on colour schemes, empire fripperies and new-fangled lamps. Lucy’s taste reflected the mode of the day whereas Elinor felt far more comfortable with dear, familiar objects from the past arranged with more thought to comfort than to fashion. A chair from her father’s study held pride of place in the parlour along with his writing slope arranged on Edward’s desk. The set of her mother’s breakfast china given on the occasion of their marriage sparkled in the glass-fronted cabinet that had been in the drawing room at Norland and the walls glowed with paintings executed by the mistress of Delaford Rectory during her courtship. Colonel Brandon had been very generous but as a gentleman sensitive to the feelings of others, his interventions had been made only where he felt he could be of use without offence. The rectory was very comfortable though luxuries were few, but all who entered the house felt charmed. It was true, Reverend and Mrs. Ferrars enjoyed a modest income, but what they lacked in material wealth, they more than made up for in the accumulation of other, less worldly goods. Their fortune was founded on the simple pleasures that days spent in worthwhile service to their community bring, and in the love, respect and admiration each held for the other.

Elinor sat down in her father’s chair to stroke the scrolled arms as she had often seen him do as he sat lost in thought musing over a problem. How was she to answer this letter? Could it possibly be true that the Willoughbys had returned to the neighbourhood or was Lucy bent on making mischief as usual? And if it were true – Elinor did not want to think about the possibility. Surely Mr.Willoughby would not wish to live so closely to her mother and Margaret where the likelihood of running into them might be a daily occurrence. No, impossible, that surely could not be! Besides, she had heard nothing of the matter and she was certain if Marianne had known of it, she would have confided in her. Elinor folded the letter and consigned it to the flames roaring in the grate deciding it would be best if she simply refuted the whole affair assuring Lucy that she must be quite mistaken.

The photograph is of Teigh Old Rectory which was used for Mr Collins' rectory in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. You can actually stay there - just imagine!

You can read our letters inspired by Lydia Bennet's Story by clicking here

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Competition Winners and a Review for Willoughby's Return from Jane Austen Today!

I am delighted to announce the winners of the competitions held during the last fortnight. I just want to say thank you to everyone who entered the competitions and also to everyone who joined in the fun and left their comments. I've been very touched by your comments and personal e-mails; it's so lovely to hear from you all.

Names were drawn from the hat for each competition - here are the winners!

Painting of Marianne and Elinor - Milka

Greetings cards - Sylvia Chan and Etirv

Sense and Sensibility CD - Mer

Willoughby's Return Books - Michelle W and Laura Gerold

Jane and Cassandra painting - Alexa Adams

Here's a review from Jane Austen Today

Humans are complex creatures. We are all multidimensional, like the characters that Jane Austen created in her delightful novels. Take Willoughby, the handsome cad from Sense and Sensibility. At the end of Jane Austen’s tale, he expressed his love for Marianne to Elinor, even though he had become engaged to another woman . The reader, sensing his regret, almost feels sorry for him, for he had exchanged his dearest possession for empty coin.


Jane Odiwe’s novel, Willoughby’s Return, centers around Willoughby’s reappearance in Marianne life. But which man does she write about? The scoundrel or the romantic hero with the complicated emotions? Jane O. does not reveal this important bit of information until the very end of her tale. Marianne, although three years older, married, and the mother of a small son, is still as volatile as ever - sensitive, romantic, and impressionable. She has fallen deeply in love with her husband. Although their marriage is sensual and the Colonel spoils her, Marianne has become suspicious of her William. His obligations to his ward, Eliza and her daughter, call him away frequently. When Willoughby reenters her life, as handsome and attractive as ever, Marianne has become unsure of her husband's affections and is feeling vulnerable.

Adding richness to the plot of Willoughby Returns is the tale of Margaret, Marianne's and Elinor's youn sister. Now seventeen years old, she plays the other central role in this novel, in which the happily married Elinor takes a back seat and is barely glimpsed. Margaret experiences her own romance with dashing Henry Lawrence, William Brandon's nephew.

Like Jane Austen, Jane Odiwe is spare in her descriptions of the characters, but unlike Jane A., she is free with her depiction of an age long gone, of market days and vegetable stalls and flowers in a meadow. An artist as well as a writer, Jane O.'s details of scenery and village life are vivid. She has no need to imitate Jane A.'s writing style and in this, her second novel, is developing a keen style of her own. Favorite characters like Mrs. Jennings are revisited, and Lucy Steele (now Ferrars) and her sister Anne also make a reappearance. Jane O's plot has its twists and turns, the suspense coming from the characters' actions, which comes to a satisfying conclusion only after several misunderstandings are cleared up.


Readers who love Jane Austen sequels will find this charming book a more than satisfying read. I give it three out of three Regency fans.

I was a guest on Jane Austen's World - here's the interview


Jane, I have thoroughly enjoyed ‘Willoughby’s Return’. Your writing style is lovely and has matured since your first book. Was it easier to write a second novel?

Jane: Thank you Vic for inviting me onto your blog, and for your lovely comments; I am so thrilled that you enjoyed my novel. I did find it easier in some ways, yet I feel I still have so much to learn. Writing the first one teaches you so much, and I was able to draw on those experiences. Feeling confident to experiment a bit more was very helpful, I wasn’t so afraid to write the book as I wanted to – I’m always conscious that people are constantly comparing what I write to Jane Austen. It isn’t possible to emulate Jane, of course, but I try to retain the tone and flavour of her books, bearing in mind that I am writing for a modern audience.

How were you inspired to write this book? How did you come up with the plot? It was a stroke of genius to make Margaret Dashwood the heroine of your story and yet retain Marianne. They shared center stage much in the way that Elinor and Marianne did in Sense and Sensibility. Was this done on purpose?

Jane: Like a lot of people who have read Sense and Sensibility, I never felt completely convinced at the end of the book that Marianne would have fallen in love so easily with Colonel Brandon as we are told in the two paragraphs that Jane devotes to their courtship and marriage. I wanted to believe that they were right for one another, and this is what started me thinking about how he might have won her over, and about their relationship in general. Marianne is a passionate romantic, a little self-centred, and a firebrand. I imagined that although she might love the Colonel as much as she had Willoughby, it would have been quite a different courtship, and a complicated relationship, especially as they have both loved and lost in the past. The fact that Brandon is guardian to the daughter of his first love who is also tied to Willoughby as the father of her child, I felt would cause big problems. Marianne thinks only of others in terms of herself, I think she would be very jealous of Brandon’s relationship with his ward and her child. Starting with these ideas as a background, I wondered what might happen if Willoughby returned, and how he could be worked into the plot so that Marianne could not avoid him.


I wanted to introduce an older Margaret, who we are told has a character very similar to her sister. The relationship between the sisters is an important part of the book – would Marianne be able to chaperone Margaret as Elinor might or would she indulge her sister, encouraging her to fall head over heels with the first love that comes along? Would Margaret make the same mistakes as her sister?

Finally, I’ve always wondered about Brandon’s sister that we hear Mrs Jennings mention in S&S. Why was she in France? I decided to bring her and her family back to Whitwell, and this gave me an opportunity to introduce one of the young men central to the story. I love all the twists and turns in the plots of Jane Austen’s books, and I spent a long time thinking about how I could achieve a few of my own. I had a lot of fun with the plot, which changed several times before I got to the end!

Mr. Wickham and Willoughby are central to the plots of your two novels. Do you have a penchant for bad boys? Or do you think they are more complex characters than Edmund Bertram or a Henry Tilney, let’s say?

Jane: I don’t have a penchant for bad boys as such, but I understand how such characters have a certain appeal for most women – I think most of us have probably come across a Willoughby at some stage when we were growing up – I am convinced Jane knew of one or two! Bad boys are central to Austen’s plots also, and what fascinates me is that these characters are always introduced as handsome, dashing young men on first acquaintance. But, I think what’s important about Jane’s writing is that even when it is found that they are far from the good characters they are initially painted, they are not caricatures, never wholly bad. Willoughby, for instance, does realise his mistakes by the end of the book even if he doesn’t suffer forever. The development of a character like Willoughby was something I wanted to bear in mind with my book. I love the fact that Marianne is his ‘secret standard of perfection in woman’ – wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Willoughbys spent the rest of their lives in such secret regret?

I also enjoyed the historic touches that you managed to weave into your plot. It is evident that you know the countryside well and that you are familiar with Regency customs. Tell me a little about your research. I know you have visited many of the places you describe.

Jane: Research is a favourite part of writing these books – I probably spend far too much time on it, and always end up with more than I need, but England at this time is so interesting. My book starts off in Devon and Dorset, counties I’ve known and enjoyed since I was a little girl. My father used to take cine films of us when we were little – I have film of me in Lyme when I am about seven, and I have very fond memories of holidays taken in the area. I had to include Lyme in the book for these associations and for those that Jane wrote about in Persuasion.

I also spent a lot of time wandering around London finding all the places where the characters spend the season, and deciding where Marianne and her Colonel might have their house. As you know, Vic, there is still so much to see of Georgian London!

Oh, yes! I envy your living so close to the places that I research and your proximity to London. You write, paint, oversee at least three blogs and a twitter account, and have a family. How do you find time for it all? I am curious how you still manage to paint, for I always found that to be the most time consuming of my talents and the easiest to drop when my schedule is hectic.

Jane: The truth is that I find it difficult to find time for it all, but I am an early riser, and get a lot done when everyone is still asleep. We always come together for meals in my family, that’s most important and, we spend time together in the evenings – sometimes we paint together. There are several artists in the family; I love it if we are all working round the table. My own painting has taken a back seat at present, but that’s more to do with the fact that writing has taken me over for the moment.


Any other thoughts about your book that you would like to share with our readers?

Jane: One of the themes in the book concerns that of love, lost and found. Both the Colonel and Marianne have been in love before, and their relationship is a second attachment. I wonder what your readers think of second attachments – and have they ever encountered or suffered at the hands of a Mr Willoughby?

Thank you so much for this interview and for the photos you supplied. I can’t recommend ‘Willoughby’s Return’ highly enough to people who love to read Jane Austen sequels.

Jane: Thank you for inviting me to talk to you about my book and for a fantastic interview with such thought provoking questions!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Willoughby's Return Interview with Serena from Savvy, Verse and Wit!

Well, I've come to the end of my blog tour - I'm feeling a little bit sad, it's been so lovely to 'meet' and hear from everyone who has made comments and entered the competitions. Thank you to all who have interviewed me and spent time reviewing Willoughby's Return, I greatly appreciate all your efforts on my behalf.
There's still time to enter the competitions - I'll announce the winners on Monday!

Here's an interview I had with Serena from Savvy, Verse and Wit

Most authors dealing with classic characters fell in love with them early on, but wanted something more. Is this how you felt about Willoughby, and what is it you sought to do that Jane Austen had not?

Rather than falling in love with Willoughby, I suppose it was really that ideal of romantic love that I fell in love with early on, and the relationship that Willoughby first shares with Marianne Dashwood. Jane Austen painted him initially as the epitome of the dashing hero and that is very attractive!

I wanted to discover if Marianne had truly recovered from the heartbreak that he caused and wondered how she might react if he re-entered her life. I also felt we needed to know more about Marianne’s relationship with Colonel Brandon who is her husband, a subject Jane Austen hardly touched upon.


Willoughby is often considered the villain of Sense and Sensibility, is this what attracted you to writing about his character or was it something more?

He is a villain, but I think his character is more complicated than that. I think a little part of me wanted to believe that he was not all bad and even Jane Austen made him remorseful in Sense and Sensibility. What was more important to me was examining the way Marianne perceived him – we see him through her eyes – and I wanted to take her feelings on a journey.

Many readers are eager to know which character or characters authors most identify with, so in your latest novel, which of the characters do you identify with and why?

I’d like to say Marianne or Margaret Dashwood, both romantic and passionate heroines who think with their hearts not their heads. Like Marianne, I can wax lyrical on a falling leaf from the sky and a picturesque scene, but that’s where the comparison ends. I think these days I probably identify more with Mrs Jennings, the interfering busybody friend of Colonel Brandon – I have a habit of asking totally outrageous and embarrassing questions of my children’s friends much to their great mortification!

Why choose Jane Austen novels versus other classic authors' novels?

I just love them – I’m actually obsessed, as my family will tell you. Jane’s writing is the best and her books work on so many levels. I’m still discovering new wonders in every one, which is just as well, as there are only six.

Who is your favorite Jane Austen hero and why?

Captain Frederick Wentworth. The story of Persuasion has a special significance for me and that’s why he’s my favourite. It is the most wonderful love story – whenever I go to Bath my husband and I like to stroll along the Gravel walk and follow in the footsteps of Anne and Captain Wentworth. I also think Colonel Brandon would be gorgeous and I have to include Mr. Darcy in this trio of equally splendid heroes.

Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

I just asked my youngest son what he thought for an answer to this question and he immediately answered – your computer! I’m afraid it’s true, but it’s really my writing that is the obsession. I also Google anything and everything on Jane Austen every day – I told you I was obsessed!

Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would like to recommend?

I’ve been reading Jane Austen’s Letters and Persuasion, Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, Samuel Richardson’s The History of Sir Charles Grandison, Sarah Waters’ Dancing with Mr Darcy, and Sue Wilkes’ Regency Cheshire. I’d recommend them all.

Finally, following Willoughby's Return, do you have any other projects in the works? Do they deal with other classic literature or do you see yourself flourishing in the Jane Austen market?

Sourcebooks will be publishing my next book, Mr. Darcy’s Secret, in the Spring 2011, so that’s exciting to be having a third book published by them. I have started two other books which are both Austen related. I have other non-Jane books I want to write, but I’m really happy living in Austenland at the moment. I’d be really interested to hear what kind of books your readers would like to see – more Jane Austen inspired fiction or maybe another classic author. What do you all think?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Willoughby's Return, Fresh Fiction and Lyme Regis


You can find me guest blogging on Fresh Fiction today talking about descriptions of Georgian dress in my books.

I've been very busy this last fortnight mostly talking about my book! Here's my chat with Naida from The Bookworm.

Thank you Naida for inviting me to talk about my about my favourite Austen novel, and how it helped me to write my new book, Willoughby’s Return.

My favourite Austen novel is a difficult choice because I love them all, but, if I could only choose one, it would have to be Persuasion. Of course, Willoughby’s Return was inspired very much by Sense and Sensibility, another favourite, but my love of Persuasion is very strong, and sometimes themes and motifs from that book creep into my writing. One of these themes is of love being renewed after it is lost between the hero and heroine. I wanted to explore the idea in a different way in Willoughby’s Return. Although Marianne is very happily married, I wondered what would happen if her love was tested. If circumstances forced her to doubt her husband, and Willoughby returned to tempt her, would the love that Marianne and Willoughby had known be rekindled, or would Marianne’s “sense” prevail?

I also wanted to tell Margaret Dashwood’s story, as in Sense and Sensibility she only has a small part. I decided she was now old enough to fall in love! Enter Charles Carey – although we only hear of the Miss Careys in Sense and Sensibility, I thought it might be fun to introduce their brother. Charles is a sailor, and early on we learn he has gone to sea, and that he is strongly attached to Margaret. There are definite echoes of Persuasion here, but Mr. Carey is not her only suitor!

Finally, Jane Austen tells us that Colonel Brandon’s house is at Delaford in Dorset. I could not resist having Lyme Regis (from Persuasion) for some of the action that takes place in the book and it is also here in a village just out of Lyme that the Colonel’s ward has made her home. Marianne finds it difficult to talk about the Colonel’s ward, Eliza Williams, partly because she is the daughter of the Colonel’s “first love,” and partly because of Eliza’s past liaison with Mr. Willoughby. However, circumstances arise that are beyond Marianne’s control, and she is forced to face some ‘ghosts’ from the past.




Here’s an extract from Willoughby’s Return which was heavily inspired by Persuasion, taking place in the same setting as that book:

On the third day Marianne entered Lyme, weary but thankful she was nearing her destination. She had made occasional visits to the watering hole in the past with her sister Elinor and the children on hot sunny days and remembered them with happiness. The splendid situation of the town with the principal street almost rushing into the water looked very different in the winter light. Everywhere was shut up; only the fishermen were to be seen on the Cobb, their boats bobbing on the water, their nets prepared for fishing. In warmer weather the pleasant little bay would be lively with bathing machines and company in the season. Her eye sought the beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town; they passed through Charmouth, backed by dark escarpment, trotting down narrow lanes and past Pinny, finally entering the village of Wolfeton Fitzpaine where the forest-trees and orchards waved bare, skeletal arms as if to hasten the warmer winds of summer.
They were soon stopped outside a cottage in the centre of the village, a neat-looking house with mullioned windows to either side of a canopied doorway over which was trained an old rambler. There was a small garden to the front behind a wicket fence with a bench under a window and a stone path winding between the flower beds, where the first signs of spring were starting to sprout in the form of green shoots. Now she was here, Marianne felt very apprehensive. With anxious fears attending every step, she was assisted down from the coach and took a deep breath as she looked toward the house. Before she took another step, the door was flung back and a young girl, her dark hair framing her pretty features, rushed down the path to take Marianne’s hands in her own.
© Jane Odiwe, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009

The photos were taken on a recent trip to Lyme Regis - Looking towards Charmouth, Yours truly throwing stones on the beach, Two views of the harbour showing the old cannons and boats.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ninjas, Birthdays, and Regency sights and sounds!

Vic from Jane Austen's World let it slip that it was my birthday yesterday - thanks to everyone who sent birthday messages! I had a lovely day. One of the highlights was this card my son made for me - well, it made me laugh. I don't think he's considering a career change, but you never know!

I'm a guest on Love, Romance, Passion today. Click here to read about the sights and sounds of Regency Britain.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Willoughby's Return Interview on Jane Austen's World!

Please join me today for a guest blog on Jane Austen's World. It was lovely to be interviewed by Vic again - thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my book, Willoughby's Return.

Today's question is for fun! Which hero from Sense and Sensibility do you like best - would you fall for an Edward Ferrars or a Colonel Brandon? Are you influenced by the actors who play these roles? The top photo shows Alan Rickman and David Morrissey as two very gorgeous Colonel Brandons and the equally dashing Hugh Grant and Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars below. I have to admit I loved them all!
Please leave a comment below if you are brave enough to join in.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Willoughby's Return Competition - Win a Painting of Jane and Cassandra

Sense and Sensibility centres on the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. They appear at first to be opposites - Elinor is rational and sensible and Marianne seems to think and act only on her impulsive feelings and highly charged emotions, though by the end of the book we have witnessed quite a crossover in the way that both girls behave and interact with the world.

Jane Austen and her sister were very close. There were just under a couple of years between them, and we know that they spent much of their time together as they grew up, writing daily letters whenever they were apart. From family recollections we are given the impression that Cassandra, Jane's older sister, was the more level-headed, and from her letters it appears that Jane looked to Cassandra for guidance and advice. I'm not the first to wonder if Jane drew on her own experiences with her sister Cassandra when drafting her story. Who knows? Perhaps Elinor and Marianne represent aspects of Jane's own personality, though I'm sure it's not as simple as that. Jane was too great a writer to simply base her characters on people she knew - her imagination was too good!

Margaret, the youngest, is too young to become a heroine in Jane Austen's book, though I have made her one in Willoughby's Return. We are told she is similarly romantic in Sense and Sensibility, and I really enjoyed writing her story.

I've been enjoying my blog tour - click here to read a review of Willoghby's Return from Books Like Breathing.

To celebrate the book's publication I have a competition today to win the painting above of Jane and Cassandra walking in the snow around Steventon. To enter all you have to do is tell me what you enjoyed about the relationship between Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. Click here to enter The competition is open worldwide and closes on November 14th. Winner announced on Monday, November 16th!

Tomorrow I shall be a guest on Jane Austen's World, so I hope you'll join me there!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Willoughby's Return, Blog Tour, another Review and Gunter's Teashop!


I am having a lovely time on my blog tour. Thanks so much to everyone who has given me such a warm welcome. Follow the links for more guest posts and giveaways from The Bookworm and here is a review from Books Like Breathing

I have been yearning for a Sense and Sensibility sequel. Colonel Brandon is my second favorite Austen hero (sometimes he even beats Darcy). Sometimes I get a bit tired of Darcy (just bought two more P&P sequels) and yearn for some Brandon, Wentworth, Tilney and Knightley (never Edmund Bertram).
Odiwe’s portrayal of all of the characters was perfect. Marianne was exactly as she was in S&S albeit a bit more mature. I also could understand why she was upset with Brandon. He completely neglected her to take care of his “other” family. I would have been upset too. Colonel Brandon was broody yet sweet—just as I imagine him. He did make a few mistakes throughout the book but redeemed himself. Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s marriage was a huge highlight for me. There was so much tension yet so much love.

I was so pleased to find that Margaret was a main character in Willoughby’s Return. She was sorely neglected by Jane Austen in S&S. She deserved a happy ending too. Henry was the perfect match for her and I enjoyed the twists and turns her story took. Willoughby was really not a huge portion of the book. Well, he is there but he is kind of like a storm cloud…you worry about what he will do but he passes through without any major problems.
I am going to sound like a huge nimrod say this but…I had no idea that Colonel Brandon had no first name. I always thought his first name was Christopher. Pollution from the 1995 movie, I guess. I think that it may make me a bad Jane Austen fan but I had no idea.

I think this may be put on my favorite Jane Austen sequels list. I wish there were more Sense and Sensibility sequels (psst…sequel authors, drop Darcy for a minute and write about Colonel Brandon and Marianne). Willoughby’s Return is definitely worth a read if you love Jane Austen sequels but are looking for something new.
Grade: A+
Grace

When I was researching Willoughby's Return I travelled into London city centre to see if I could find anything of Regency London. One of the places I wanted to track down was Gunter's Teashop in Berkeley Square where Margaret Dashwood is taken by her friend Henry Lawrence on her arrival in the capital. Unfortunately, much of the original square is lost and the cafe now occupying the spot where the sign of the pineapple proclaimed Gunter's position is a modern affair behind plate glass. However, on the opposite side you can still see splendid buildings and catch a glimpse of an Adam ceiling through a window. A couple of liveried gentlemen were standing outside one of the grand houses and I stopped to have a chat with them. They were fascinated by my 1803 map and told me that the house they were guarding had some wonderful Georgian interiors.

Gunter's Teashop was famous for its ice creams and sorbets. In summer the carriages would gather in the square to be served outside - more information and lovely pictures on the Georgian Index

The top print shows a Gillray print of Bond Street. Marianne takes Margaret shopping in and around Bond Street and they also visit Hookham's circulating library. The second print shows Berkeley Square looking very different from today!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Willoughby's Return in Bidding War for Film Rights and Two Reviews!

OK - so that's just the dream scenario and one surely every writer thinks about! In my absolute fantasy, of course, I have Emma Thompson phoning me begging to let her produce the film (she tells me she has already written the screenplay based on my book, which she couldn't wait to buy!) In the next breath she is saying that Greg would make a perfect Colonel Brandon now his temples are greying so deliciously - I hesitate, only because on the other line my husband's mouthing at me that Sony want Richard Armitage. Oh, the dilemma - what to do?!!!



Emma's sister Sophie would make a wonderful Mrs Dashwood or even Mrs Jennings - she's a fabulous character actress. But, maybe in the dream scenario I could get to play Mrs Jennings! And could Emma resist being in a new Austen adaptation especially if we could get Ang Lee on board. I'd definitely want Patrick Doyle or Mario Darianelli for the music and the same fab designers who did the original S&S - the list goes on.

So, if you could put on your dream version of Sense and Sensibility or Willoughby's Return, who would you cast? I think Carey Mulligan would make a good Marianne and perhaps Johnny Lee Miller for Willoughby. What do you think? And who would you cast for the roles of Elinor and Edward, and for my book - Margaret Dashwood and Henry Lawrence?



Please leave a comment below - just for fun, this one!

I've had a couple more reviews I'd like to share:

4.0 out of 5 stars Willoughby's Return, November 5, 2009
By S. Agusto-Cox "Savvy Verse & Wit"

Willoughby's Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation by Jane Odiwe reunites readers with Mr. and Mrs. Brandon and Marianne's sisters Margaret and Elinor from Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen.

"But three years of married life had done little to really change her. Marianne still had an impetuous nature, she still retained a desire for impulse and enterprises undertaken on the spur of the moment." (Page 3)

Truer words were never spoken about Marianne. She is the same impetuous girl from Austen's book, even though she is married to Colonel Brandon and has a son, James. Her husband, however, has obligations to his ward, the daughter of his deceased first love, and her child--a child she had with Marianne's first love, Mr. Willoughby. Drama, drama, drama fills these pages, just as they filled Marianne's life in Ausen's work, but Odiwe adds her own flare to these characters.

Marianne continues to hide things from her husband no matter how innocent the situations may be and her jealousies drive her to make nearly scandalous decisions and snap judgments. However, while this book is titled Willoughby's Return, he is more of a minor character and his storyline with Marianne looms from the sidelines as her younger sister Margaret and her beau Henry Lawrence take center stage.

Margaret is very like Marianne in that she is passionate, romantic, and impetuous. She's opposed to marriage and Marianne's matchmaking until Margaret sets eyes on Henry Lawrence. She falls head-over-heels for him, but Odiwe throws a number obstacles in their way.

Readers may soon notice some similarities between Henry Lawrence and Frank Churchill from Emma by Jane Austen, but the romance unravels differently for Henry and Margaret than it does from Frank and Emma. Readers that enjoy Jane Austen's books and the recent spin-offs will enjoy Willoughby's Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptation - a fast-paced, regency novel with a modern flair.


5.0 out of 5 stars Sense and Sensibility Continues Brilliantly, November 4, 2009
By Lori Hedgpeth "Psychotic State" -

I adore Jane Austen and I have a serious obsession with Austen fan fic. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this book not only due to my love of all things Jane Austen but also because I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Odiwe's previous effort, opportunity to review this book not only due to my love of all things Jane Austen but also because I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Odiwe's previous effort, Lydia Bennet's Story.

Ms. Odiwe again took a secondary character from an Austen story - this time Margaret Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility - and shared with her readers a continuation of what happened after Austen's novel ended. She also took what could have been an unfinished story - Willoughby's leaving and Marianne marrying Colonel Brandon - and wove it intricately into the tale of a now of-age Margaret finding love.

Willoughby's Return works so well because, as she did with Lydia Bennet's Story, Ms. Odiwe stayed faithful to the characters Jane Austen originally created and by doing so, Willoughby's Return reads virtually as a Sense and Sensibility sequel written by Austen herself. Marianne, while more mature due to Colonel Brandon's love and the events that transpired in Sense and Sensibility, still has a romantic, and even flighty, streak. Colonel Brandon, while deeply enamored of his wife, is still serious about his responsibilities to his wards. Elinor is still mindful of appearances and decorum and Lucy Steele Ferrars and Anne Steele are still very much the busybodies they were. Even Mrs. Jennings still remains ever the fanciful matchmaker.

I could not wish for a more fluid, yet entertaining, story, nor a more satisfying ending. I raced through the book as I was anxious to find out what would happen, while at the same time dreading for the story to end because I was enjoying myself so much. In my opinion, Ms. Odiwe surpassed herself with this effort and I enjoyed it even more so than I did Lydia Bennet's Story.


If you are a fan of Jane Austen, of Regency romps and/or historical fiction, I cannot recommend Willoughby's Return enough. A definite must-read!

Don't forget the competitions are still running - click on the links in the side-bar!