Hello friends! Yesterday, author Beau North celebrated her long-awaited, much-anticipated release of The Colonel. Which is a companion novel to her magnificent, IPPY-winning Pride and Prejudice retelling – Longbourn’s Songbird – a story we think is just phenomenal, and is one of our favorites (see: HERE, HERE and HERE!)
Today Beau is sharing the fascinating real-life inspiration for some of the characters/relationships that appear in both stories. We hope you enjoy!
Hello Austenesque Reviews readers and a big thanks to you, Meredith, for hosting me today!
It’s so exciting for me to finally share my favorite elements of The Colonel after so many years of writing and rewriting this book! One aspect of both this book and Longbourn’s Songbird that I’m most proud of is one relationship in particular, so fair warning if you haven’t read Longbourn’s Songbird, spoilers abound!
Pride may be over for this year, but it’s never too late to discuss the queer love story that serves as the backbone for both books. Charlotte and Anne are probably my favorite couple, two women who both know their own mind, who move heaven and earth to get what they want and to make the other happy. They’re the other side of the Elizabeth/Darcy coin in Longbourn’s Songbird.
She was bundled in a bulky coat of her own, her hair tucked into a hat, but Charlotte would have known her anywhere. She could have found that face in a crowd of a thousand. She sprang forward, her legs taking on a life of their own. They were trying to keep up with the pounding of her heart as she sprinted towards Anne. It barely registered that Anne was running towards her too; she only knew that she was there, and Charlotte would never let her go again.
While Elizabeth and Darcy have to work through a mountain of internal conflict to realize their dreams, Charlotte and Anne seem to know they’re meant to be almost immediately in the story. All of their struggle, their hardship, comes from outside of themselves, from family cruelty and a society that isn’t ready to accept them. They didn’t just pop into my head that way. In fact, they were inspired by very real people, Edith “Edie” Windsor and Thea Spyer.
Edie and Thea met in the early 60’s and spent the next forty-two years in a committed, loving relationship. But up until 2007, when they married in Toronto, Edie and Thea kept their love a secret from peers and co-workers. After witnessing the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Edie was a first-hand witness to the fear and violence that LGBT people were (and still are) subject to.
It’s not just their looks that inspired my Charlotte and Anne, but the strength of their bond and devotion to one another. In 1977, Thea was diagnosed with MS, and Edie became not only her partner in life, but also her primary caregiver. When Thea died in 2009 she left everything she had, including property, to the woman who had been her whole world. Unfortunately, since same-sex marriage was not recongized by the US Government at the time, Edie had to sell almost everything she owned to pay the estate tax on her bequeath. That’s when she decided to fight DOMA – The Defense of Marriage Act – the legislation passed in 1996 that claimed only marriages between men and women would be recognized as legal. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and won in a 5-4 decision in March of 2013.
In 2013, and at the age of ninety-one, my mother, Charlotte Lucas Collins, got to add one more name when she finally, legally wed Anne DeBourgh.
Edie Windsor liked to say “Love is a million things. It’s magical.” It’s my hope that these characters put a little more of that magic into the world.
Thank you for sharing, Beau! Your Anne DeBourgh and Charlotte Collins are wonderfully brave and inspirational. I loved learning that the real-life people they were modeled after exhibit the same traits as well! I’m so looking forward to seeing more of Anne and Charlotte in The Colonel! All the best with your new release!
~ Book Description ~
“This isn’t a love story, but the end of one. The story of two ships forever passing in the night. This is the story of my father and the woman he spent most of his adult life loving, a woman who was never really his.”
After letting his chance at love with Elizabeth Bennet slip through his fingers a second time, Richard Fitzwilliam loses himself in women, whiskey, and war as he tries to forget what he left behind. Putting oceans, continents, and decades between himself and his heartbreak, Richard seeks his future, only to be pulled back to the past again and again.
Shaken by recent events, Ben Fitzwilliam has left everything familiar behind, walking away from his relationship, his Manhattan apartment, his career as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to return to his family home in Annapolis, Maryland. Struggling to navigate a world that makes less and less sense, Ben finds purpose where he least expected it: in his father’s private letters. With the help of Annapolis PD Officer Keisha Barnes, Ben attempts to uncover his father’s secrets, heal the rifts those secrets caused, and find the answers he seeks on far shores.
Connect with Beau
Commenting on this post and entering through the rafflecopter widget on this blog enters you in a chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Beau!
- This giveaway ends July 19th!
If you want to join a Virtual Celebration of Beau North’s The Colonel, hop on over to our Facebook Group – Mr. Darcy’s Extensive Readers. Beau put together some fun posts and the giveaways will remain open until 6:00pm EST.