Get ready for something special, readers! Jan Hahn is visiting Austenesque Reviews today, and she has prepared a fantastic little scene where several Jane Austen characters discuss her newest novel, The Secret Betrothal. This inspiring work of prose is a sequel of sorts to her first guest post on Austenesque Reviews in 2011! Thank you, Jan!! I’m thrilled to bits about sharing this post with everyone!
Thank you, Meredith, for the opportunity to be a guest at Austenesque today and post about my latest release, The Secret Betrothal. Rather than take the floor myself, I would like to give you an account of a recent somewhat anxious meeting between several of Jane Austen’s characters and let them discuss my book. Miss Elinor Dashwood has invited the ladies for tea.
ELINOR DASHWOOD: Do come in Miss Woodhouse and Miss Smith. I believe you know my other guests, Miss Elizabeth Elliot, Miss Catherine Morland, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and, of course, my sister Marianne.
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: Sit beside me, Miss Woodhouse. And Miss Smith, here is a chair for you beside Miss Woodhouse.
EMMA WOODHO– USE: Thank you, Miss Marianne. I hope everyone is well. (notes Elizabeth Bennet’s frown) Miss Bennet, are you well?
ELIZABETH BENNET: Perfectly well.
HARRIET SMITH: (to Emma) Then why does she look like she’s sucking on a persimmon?
EMMA WOODHO– USE: (whispers) Please, dear, sucking is such an ill-mannered word.
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: Miss Bennet has had some distressing news.
EMMA WOODHO– USE: Oh? Do tell.
ELIZABETH BENNET: It is that author again―that Mrs. Hahn. She pursues me with a vengeance.
CATHERINE MORLAND: That should not surprise you. Do not most authors write of you and Mr. Darcy?
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: (rolls her eyes) At times, I think authors forget Miss Austen wrote books other than Pride and Prejudice. They might consider Persuasion now and then. I would not mind being the heroine who wins the hero for a change. After all, I am not yet on the shelf.
HARRIET SMITH: If you ask me, she’s sat on that shelf so long, it’s getting bowed in the middle.
EMMA WOODHO– USE: (whispers) Harriet, please!
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: Why not write of Sense and Sensibility? I would adore falling in love with Mr. Willoughby again.
ELINOR DASHWOOD: Marianne! You pledged yourself to Colonel Brandon at the end of the book.
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: One never forgets one’s first love, Elinor.
HARRIET SMITH: Oh, that dog Willoughby! He could rescue me in the rain any old day of the week. (begins to fan vigorously)
EMMA WOODHO– USE: (whispers) Harriet, you must govern yourself.
ELIZABETH BENNET: I would love for Mrs. Hahn to choose one of you for this story, for she has placed me in the worst predicament. I am secretly engaged to Mr. Darcy’s worst enemy!
(Collective horrified intake of breath by all the ladies)
ELINOR DASHWOOD: Not Mr. Wickham!
CATHERINE MORLAND: Why would you ever become engaged to Mr. Wickham? Why, he’s as wicked as Frederick Tilney!
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: The idea is preposterous! I could sooner envision some addle-brained man proposing to my sister Anne. (begins to laugh) Insupportable!
HARRIET SMITH: (to Emma) But doesn’t that smoking-hot dude Wentworth marry Anne at the end of Persuasion?
EMMA WOODHO– USE: (whispers) Smoking-hot dude? Harriet, have you lost all sense of decorum?
HARRIET SMITH: No more so than Elizabeth Bennet if she gets engaged to Mr. Wickham. And I thought she was supposed to be the brain among this bunch.
EMMA WOODHO– USE: We do not use brain in that manner, dear, and we most certainly do not refer to these ladies as a bunch! Miss Bennet, knowing Mr. Wickham’s character, how could you do such a thing?
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: As I recall, in Miss Austen’s book, Miss Elizabeth thinks quite highly of Mr. Wickham for a good part of the story. She is not aware of his unsavory character until she reads Mr. Darcy’s letter.
CATHERINE MORLAND: I had forgotten that, but you are correct, Miss Dashwood. For the longest time, I thought Mr. Wickham good and Mr. Darcy horrid!
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: As I recall, you were never clever, Miss Morland. Do you not have a penchant for seeing ghosts?
ELINOR DASHWOOD: This is too much to bear, Miss Bennet. It is almost as bad as your affection for that dreadful highwayman in The Journey.
ELIZABETH BENNET: I never felt any affection for Nate Morgan! My feelings were naught but sympathy.
HARRIET SMITH: Well, I would have shimmied ‘round a pole all night for that highwayman! At first glance of that scar on his face, I was a goner! I bet that scar was in the form of a Z as though Zorro himself slashed his cheek.
EMMA WOODHO– USE: (hisses at Harriet) Really, Harriet! Shimmied around a pole? Goner? Of what are you speaking?
CATHERINE MORLAND: Who is Zorro?
HARRIET SMITH: Zorro was this swash-buckling, hot-blooded blade from Mexico or Spain or somewhere in the south. Believe me, he was right down your alley, Miss Morland.
ELINOR DASHWOOD: May I pour you some more tea, Miss Smith?
EMMA WOODHO– USE: By all means, have some tea, dear, a full cup. And let us speak of more suitable subjects.
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: I would ask Miss Elizabeth more about this new book. Surely, your attachment to Mr. Wickham destroys Mr. Darcy’s interest in you, does it not? (leans forward) Tell me, is the gentleman from Derbyshire…uh…available now?
ELIZABETH BENNET: I am sworn to secrecy, but I will say that in untold numbers of books Mr. Darcy has never yet given up his quest for my hand.
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: His constancy is astounding! It does not seem to matter what writers do to him, his passion for you refuses to die―not like Willoughby who dropped me like a hot coal for that rich witch.
ELINOR DASHWOOD: Marianne, must you employ such indelicate speech?
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: Forgive me, ladies.
HARRIET SMITH: Nothing to forgive, Miss Marianne. I like the way you speak, and speaking of Zorro―
EMMA WOODHO– USE: Must we, dear?
HARRIET SMITH: I have a theory. Men from the southern countries seem to be filled with more than their share of untamed desire.
ELINOR DASHWOOD: What is untamed desire?
MARIANNE DASHWOOD: Oh, Elinor! Have you never read Byron?
EMMA WOODHO– USE: Is today not a lovely day?
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: Most lovely. Now, getting back to Miss Smith’s theory, I would like to hear more.
EMMA WOODHO– USE: I fear you shall regret it.
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: Can you give us another example to support your theory, Miss Smith?
HARRIET SMITH: Of course! Just look at Rhett Butler.
CATHERINE MORLAND: Rhett who?
HARRIET SMITH: Butler, Catherine, Butler. He hailed from the colonies down in the old south, and what he did to Scarlett O’Hara―ooh, girl! It would curl your hair! I think it’s the heat from those southern nights that gives men such vigor. Now, if we moved our men to the south of England, perhaps―
EMMA WOODHO– USE: Harriet, do have a biscuit, perhaps two or three!
ELIZABETH ELLIOT: Miss Bennet, does Mrs. Hahn ever write books about these southern men of whom Miss Smith speaks? If so, I might be persuaded to sacrifice myself to fill their needs…that is, to serve as the heroine. Naturally, you understand, I make this offer with great, great reluctance.
ELIZABETH BENNET: Unfortunately, Mrs. Hahn appears to be fixed upon Mr. Darcy and me, Miss Elliot. She delights in making us suffer repeatedly.
CATHERINE MORLAND: At least tell us that Mr. Darcy succeeds in disentangling you from this secret betrothal.
ELIZABETH BENNET: I can tell you but one truth―Mrs. Hahn’s previous books had happy endings. As for The Secret Betrothal, you shall have to read it for yourself.
HARRIET SMITH: Well, my money’s on dishy Mr. Darcy, but if he came up against Zorro or Mr. Butler―oh, just imagine all three at one time―I’d probably wet myself right here in front of everyone!
EMMA WOODHO– USE: (rises) Harriet, come! Let us bid our farewells. (aside to Harriet as they hurriedly depart) Really, Harriet, I cannot take you anywhere!
All of us who love Pride and Prejudice, have read the book, seen the movies, and read countless variations encounter difficulty at the thought of Elizabeth Bennet preferring Wickham to Darcy. If possible, however, think back to the very first time you read the book. Can you remember how long you thought Wickham was a good man and Darcy a villain, or did you ever? I’d love to hear your comments.
Oh, I love it, Jan! Can’t wait to read The Secret Betrothal! (And yes, Harriet is quite right about men from southern countries…they are the best! ;))
Michele and the lovely people at Meryton Press have kindly donated 1 paperback and 1 digital copy of The Secret Betrothal for me to giveaway to 2 lucky winners! Woot Woot!
To enter this giveaway leave a comment, some love, or an answer to Jan’s question below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Meryton Press!
- This giveaway ends March 17th!