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Showing posts from February, 2010

William Cowper - A Winter Nosegay, and Willoughby's Return

It's snowing again today in Barnet; the sky is as grey as the plump breasts of the woodpigeons that strut about outside in the garden looking for their breakfast. Increasingly, I am reminded of Narnia, and C.S. Lewis's magical, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and wonder if winter will be here forever. There are signs that spring is on its way, however, - there are tiny green shoots pushing their way up through the earth, despite the cold weather. At last, the snowdrops have made an appearance - aptly named, their delicate heads nodding as the snow falls down from the heavens.

I was reminded of this poem by William Cowper, one of Jane Austen's favourite poets. I used a tiny portion of this poem in Willoughby's Return - Marianne is feeling rather vulnerable and lonely when she receives a gift of Cowper's poems. The volume falls open at this particular poem where she also finds a letter, which gives rise to feelings of mixed emotions.

Here is the poem in full -…

Pictures and prints for inspiration: Lydia Bennet in Brighton!

I love using pictures and prints for inspiration. When I was writing Lydia Bennet's Story, I drew on many that I was able to find in museums and books. These prints of contemporary scenes in Brighton by the seaside helped me to write a scene where Lydia and her friend, Harriet Forster, are interrupted by the attentions of a certain gentleman.

The following afternoon found Harriet and Lydia taking a turn along the seafront. They were standing watching some ladies riding on donkeys when Lydia was startled by a voice in her ear which seemed to come from nowhere. “Mr Wickham,” she cried as she turned to face him, “whatever do you mean by pouncing on young women in such a manner?! You quite frightened the life out of me.”

“Forgive me, Mrs Forster, Miss Bennet, but you were so engrossed, I could not resist making you jump. I declare, Miss Bennet, that I never saw you in such studied contemplation since I saw you outside the milliner’s in Meryton!”

Lydia could not help herself; she struck h…

A Valentine Snippet from Willoughby's Return, a Sense and Sensibility Sequel

To celebrate Valentine's Day, here is a snippet from Willoughby's Return. I wanted this book to be as much Margaret's story as Marianne's and I thought it high time she started to enjoy herself by attending balls and meeting young men. Colonel Brandon's sister and family have recently returned to Whitwell and his nephew, Henry Lawrence, back home from university, is introduced to Margaret for the first time at a ball at the Brandon's home, Delaford.

The gong rang out, calling the weary dancers to rest awhile and replenish their energy. All the guests hurried off to the dining room, where tables were set, groaning under the weight of a magnificent spread. The musicians laid aside their instruments and dashed to the servant’s hall for a glass of negus and a bowl of soup. Colonel Brandon ushered his guests, Sir Edgar and Henry Lawrence, to his table, where much to her great delight, Margaret already sat, with her mother, the Middletons, and Mrs
Jennings. There was…

A love of Costume - paintings from my sketchbook

This is very tenuously linked from my last post, but one of the exhibitions they had on at Chatsworth featured the costumes from 'The Duchess' which starred Keira Knightley and Dominic Cooper who we also know as Mr Willoughby, of course. I think this era and the Regency period have to be my favourite for costume - I'm not sure I would have enjoyed being trussed up in all that stuff on a daily basis, though when I was much younger, I did dress up in similar costumes for Fancy Dress parties. I've always loved dressing up!
The paintings I'm posting today came about after a trip to the Lakes. We visited Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top and of course, I felt so inspired when I visited her husband's office where so many of her exquisite paintings are kept. Whilst I could never hope to aspire to Mrs Heelis's excellence with a brush, I hope you enjoy them. They are just a few of the paintings I did with a children's book in mind - never finished, but as wi…

Lizzy and Darcy go to the Lakes!

As promised, a very small extract from my new book, Mr Darcy's Secret!

They were soon off again relieved to know that their destination was not far off. Little over an hour passed before they found themselves winding through an undulating road over low promontories and spacious bays, which gradually rose over the hills. From here Elizabeth grasped Fitzwilliam’s arm in excitement as Winandermere like a majestic river swept along in gentle beauty, the shores and hills as richly wooded as a pleasure ground. Here and there the land opened up through the landscape to the sight of some distant villa, a sign that society had even found its way to this remote corner of England. The weather was showery with sudden bursts of sunshine, the tops of distant mountains concealed in vapour ascending in grey columns. Hues of blue and purple enveloped the tops of hills, whilst lower down shades of olive and brown ranged over craggy heathland and wooded slopes, which appeared to fall into the water …

Photos from my album! Chatsworth, Pride and Prejudice and Mr Darcy's Secret.

Here, for your delight is an extract from Pride and Prejudice with accompanying photos of Chatsworth! The weather was lovely up until the time I got the camera out - wouldn't you know. My sister and I visited Derbyshire last year all in pursuit of research - Mr Darcy's Secret is my next book which Sourcebooks are publishing next spring. We visited Bakewell and the surrounding area - I absolutely fell in love with Haddon Hall which became my inspiration for the house the Darcy's stay in on holiday in the Lake District. Oh, yes - Elizabeth had to see the Lakes at last! Anyway, here is Jane Austen's wonderful Pride and Prejudice - Lizzy is travelling with her aunt and uncle and sees Pemberley for the first time.

Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.

The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They en…

February 1st, a letter in Persuasion

I make no apology for reproducing this letter in full - it is a masterclass in Jane Austen wit and hilarity. It's February 1st today and here is the letter that Mary Musgrove sends to her sister Anne Elliot whilst she is in Bath on that day in 1815 in Jane Austen's wonderful novel Persuasion. It is the letter that gives Anne hope that perhaps not all is lost for a reconciliation between her and Captain Wentworth.
Jane Austen has captured Mary's character to perfection - she's never happy unless she is grumbling about something or someone and it is a missive full of contradictions. I think the comment about Mrs Harville being an odd mother to part with her children for so long a very funny one because we already know that Mary has no scruples about leaving her children to someone else's care at the drop of a hat, as she did when she first goes to meet Captain Wentworth with her husband leaving Anne to take care of her son who has a broken collar bone. Further on in h…