Good day, dear readers! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I am thrilled to start out our week here at Leatherbound Reviews with Shannon Winslow. Thank you, Shannon, for having Leatherbound Reviews be one of the stops on your blog tour!
Shannon Winslow has recently published her latest novel, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen.
Please join me in welcoming Shannon to the blog as she talks about diaries, both her grandmother's and Jane Austen's.
Book Blurb:For every fan who has wished Jane Austen herself might have enjoyed the romance and happy ending she so carefully crafted for all her heroines: "The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen."
What if the tale Jane Austen told in her last, most poignant novel was actually inspired by momentous events in her own life? Did she in fact intend "Persuasion" to stand forever in homage to her one true love?
While creating "Persuasion," Jane Austen also kept a private journal in which she recorded the story behind the story - her real-life romance with a navy captain of her own. The parallel could only go so far, however. As author of her characters' lives, but not her own, Jane Austen made sure to fashion a second chance and happy ending for Anne and Captain Wentworth. Then, with her novel complete and her health failing, Jane prepared her simple will and resigned herself to never seeing the love of her life again. Yet fate, it seems, wasn't quite finished with her. Nor was Captain Devereaux.
The official record says Jane Austen died at 41, having never been married. But what if that's only what she wanted people to believe? It's time she, through her own private journal, revealed the rest of her story.
My husband and I have been charged with the monumental task of going through my parents’ house and all their stuff. They’ve both moved on now (one to heaven and the other to assisted living), leaving all their worldly goods behind. As we sort through, we’re finding lots of things that should have been thrown out decades ago. But we’re also finding an occasional treasure – something of true monetary or sentimental value. Often it’s something we didn’t know existed before.
Here’s one example: my grandmother’s diary from the year 1956.
My grandmother was not an easy person to get to know and she died many years ago, curtailing any possibility to deepen our relationship. But here was a new and unexpected opportunity. Through her diary, I could learn more about her. I could discover her thoughts and activities from a time long past, a time before I knew her. I had no idea she had ever kept a diary, so it was a surprising find. It had skipped over a generation and more than half a century before falling into my hands.
It struck me at once that this was a perfect illustration (and validation) of the premise for my new book, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. The book represents Jane’s private journal. Like my grandmother’s diary, it was not known to exist before but has now come to light, generations later. In it she tells the secret behind the story of Persuasion, that in fact she wrote her last, most poignant novel as a reflection of monumental events in her life, in homage to her ill-fated secret romance with a sea captain of her own.
She met Captain Devereaux when she was only twenty-two, and they fell rapidly and deeply in love, as she later wrote of their fictional counterparts – Anne and Captain Wentworth. Then, just as with that other pair, Jane and the gentleman were torn asunder, parted by the persuasion of others with years of painful separation passing before they would meet again.
The parallel could only go so far, however. Although Jane Austen made sure to fashion a second chance and happy ending for the lovers in her book, she could not write the same into existence for herself. Her novel complete and her health failing, she penned her simple will and resigned herself to never seeing the love of her life again. Yet fate, it seems, wasn’t quite finished with her. Nor was Captain Devereaux.
“What people may hereafter say about my life, I cannot control. My biographers, if any, must do the best they can with the sources available to them. It is necessary that this, my own account, shall remain for some time to come concealed from their eyes. For now, the story belongs to me alone – to me and to that one other.” JA
The official record says Jane Austen died at 41, having never experienced love or marriage. But what if that’s only what she wanted people to believe? No, Jane’s story wasn’t over; there was another chapter and a surprising ending left to come.
I found no such surprising revelations in my grandmother’s diary, and I’m sure it was merely overlooked rather than deliberately hidden away. Not the case with Jane’s journal. There were good reasons she could not reveal her story to her own generation, but neither could she bear that it should be lost forever. So she wrote it down and left it for residents of the future, for us, to discover.
What do you think? Does the idea of reading Jane’s private journal written alongside Persuasion intrigue you? How would you like her story to end? Do you have a tale of a long-lost memento or diary to share?
Wow! What a great post, Shannon! I am always intrigued when authors explore the possibility of Jane Austen's love life. Thank you for delving in to that and giving us The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. I hope readers truly enjoy this great work!
About the author:
Shannon Winslow says she was minding her own business - raising two sons and pursuing a very sensible career - when she was seduced by the writing bug ten years ago. Inspired by her love for the novels of Jane Austen, she set out to produce more stories in the same vein, beginning with a sequel to her favorite, "Pride and Prejudice." "The Darcys of Pemberley" was published in August, 2011, quickly becomming a best-seller. Two other Jane-Austen-inspired novels ("Return to Longbourn" and "For Myself Alone") and a short story ("Mr. Collins's Last Supper") have since followed. A life-long resident of the Pacific Northwest, Ms. Winslow resides with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.