Hello dear readers, today Austenesque Reviews is paid a visit from a lovely new author, Sophie Turner, who just published a new Pride and Prejudice sequel titled A Constant Love. Sophie has thoughtfully prepared a little preview and excerpt to share with you today,which I found fascinating! I hope you enjoy learning a little more about her new Pride and Prejudice sequel!
I did not set out to write a series continuing on after Pride and Prejudice. When I began A Constant Love, I had the plot for one story, but didn’t see how there could be enough to sustain more beyond that, and so it was meant to be a standalone. Then history proved me wrong – the more I researched, the more I found great fodder for my plots, and so the series grew.
In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy has a large and successful estate. He has ten thousand a year (and very likely more). These things seem as though they will be firm and unchanging, and at the time Jane Austen wrote the novel, they may have seemed so to her, as well.
With the benefit of two centuries of hindsight, we can see this is not actually the case. These characters are living in an era on the precipice of major change – the Industrial Revolution has already begun, and their children will be Victorians. I often wonder what Austen’s later novels would have been like, if she had lived to see some of this change. How would her characters have been affected by the advent of the railways, and the changes in travel and communication they brought? Would some of her romantic leads have been wealthy industrialists, rather than landowners?
Even during Austen’s lifetime, conflict was brewing between these landowners and industrialists. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Corn Bill of 1815, where the end of a very long war means that Parliament must come down on the side of one or the other of these groups. It’s much more fun to let Mr. Darcy do the explaining, however, so here is an excerpt from A Constant Love :
The party in the drawing room broke up not long after he left, and Elizabeth, after listening to Mary struggle with a new song on the pianoforte for a little while, gave her sister some encouraging words and then made her way to Darcy’s study. He was inside, reading what looked to be the same paper he had been studying during breakfast.
“Did you not read that already?” she asked. “Or have you taken up a new hobby-horse, to memorise the newspapers?”
“And now I have come in and interrupted your focus,” Elizabeth said, although her interruption was not quite so substantial as the happy chatter Kitty and Georgiana had kept up through the entirety of breakfast, as they recalled all that had happened at the ball. “Let me select a book and then I believe I shall go to the conservatory and read.”
“I did not mean to make you leave,” he said, making an attempt to smile. “Your presence might be a distraction, but it does not follow that it is ever an unwelcome one.”
Elizabeth thought back to what he had said the newspaper article was about, for clearly something was worrying him, and she suspected that to be it. The Corn Bill, he had said. She knew from growing up on the Longbourn estate that “Corn” referred to all grains, including wheat, barley, and oats, and recalled that it had something to do with the price of those grains. She had only skimmed the headlines about it, however, and now wished she had read more.
“You seem worried,” she said, taking her seat. “Is it the Corn Bill?”
“It is,” he said. “I do not wish to alarm you, but it is of the utmost importance to Pemberley’s future. All of the inflation we experienced during the war required me to raise rents on the estate, which was fine so long as the war continued, for it is not as though we were importing grain from France. Now that the peace is here, we will be flooded with cheap grains from abroad, and we will not be able to compete unless Parliament fixes the prices at which all grains are sold.”
He had not wished to alarm her, but he certainly had done so. Pemberley had always seemed to her to be an indomitable estate, always assured of success, and that Darcy was worried about what the Corn Bill would to do it meant she should likely be doubly worried for Longbourn.
“Why would they not set the prices?” she asked. “It is not as though the owners of the estates asked for war. It was you who kept the country fed when America and the continent were closed to us.”
“Raising the cost of grains will raise the cost of bread, and these new industrialists argue against that. They wish to pay cheap wages for their manufactory workers and they cannot do that without cheap bread. Fortunately, they are not so well-represented in Parliament as those who own land, but still, they make a great deal of noise.”
“What will happen if it does not pass?”
“My tenants will have to sell their grains at market cost, and I will have to lower rents so that they can continue to make a living. Our income would be reduced. Some of that will be alleviated by what I have put aside – some of my investments profited from the inflation, and even moreso the peace, as you know.”
“Our income could be halved and we would still live very well,” she said.
“I am glad you say that, Elizabeth – it is quite a relief to me. I must admit there is a deep feeling of inadequacy, for a man to not be able to provide that which he promised his wife when they were married.”
“Darcy, you know that if I had married you for your income, I would have accepted your first proposal, instead of acting like a spiteful creature. Now, the other things you promised – to love and to cherish, for example – those you must continue to provide, and you are not allowed any reduction in that quarter.”
He smiled, more genuinely this time, and got up from his chair so that he could come over and kiss her thoroughly. “I do not think you are at any risk of a reduction in this quarter,” he said, and was about to kiss her again when there came a knock at the door.
Isn’t it interesting to think of the Darcys facing such problems? I love it when I learn bits of history and glean understanding of these characters’ lives! Don’t you?
Connect with Sophie
Today Sophie brings with her ONE ebook copy of A Constant Love for me to give away to ONE lucky winner!
To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Sophie below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Sophie!
- This giveaway ends June 24th!