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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.