Last week I reviewed Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and I encouraged readers to reconnect with this story. Today, I am excited to welcome Lona Manning to Just Jane 1813 because she’s here to talk about her new book, A Contrary Wind, which is a JAFF variation based on Mansfield Park and she’s sharing an excerpt and a giveaway for my readers!
Here’s a book blurb to share for this story:
Fanny Price, niece to Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, is an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, who is grateful for the advantages of education and breeding conferred upon her as result of growing up with her wealthier cousins.
But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away from Mansfield Park and find employment as a governess.
Far away from everything she ever knew and the one man she loves, will Fanny grow in fortitude and independence? Will a new suitor help her to forget? Or will a reckless decision threaten to destroy her own life and the lives of those she holds most dear?
This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, as well as some new acquaintances. Note to readers: There are some mature scenes and situations not suitable for all readers.
Please help me welcome Lona Manning to Just Jane 1813…
Hello. I was born in South Korea a few years after the Korean War. My father taught library science at Yonsei University. And — being from the American South, he also taught his students how to do the Virginia Reel. My mother fostered Korean war orphan babies.
My folks returned to the United States in the early 60’s and were active in the civil rights movement. We always had the kind of house that was filled with books and magazines. Our family (with six kids by then) moved to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, in 1967. Then we had a house filled with books, magazines, and war objectors playing guitar and singing “Where have all the flowers gone.”
I put myself through university in Vancouver. Over the years, I’ve been a home care aide, legal secretary, political speech writer, office manager, and vocational instructor. Mainly I worked in non-profit administration until suddenly deciding (in my late 50’s) to get an ESL teaching certificate. So most recently I’ve been teaching English in China. My husband Ross and I raised two boys; one is now a computer programmer and the other is finishing law school.
Although I have not written much in recent years, I have authored several lengthy non-fiction pieces about notable American crimes, such as: the murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the Lindbergh kidnapping, the 1920 Wall Street bombing, the satanic ritual moral panic of the 90’s, and the Rubin Hurricane Carter case. These articles have been cited in over a dozen books and been used in secondary school and university courses [for example, Sam Houston University, University of Missouri-Kansas City] My article about O’Hair was used in a course on the history of atheism at the Center for American Studies at Heidelberg University. My Wall Street bombing article was referenced in a New York City Law Journal Review article.
Last spring, after a long silence, my Muse showed up and started writing this book in my head.
Hobbies, interests, passions and peeves: I’ve sung in a number of bands and choirs, most recently the Kelowna International Choir. My husband and I love to travel around Asia. I get buggy when people use possessive apostrophes when they really mean plural, as in “apple’s for sale.”
In this excerpt, the Bertram family has discovered that Fanny Price has run away from home.
There can be no doubt then,” Tom concluded, “She bought a ticket to Newbury and by the time we discovered she was missing, she had already been on the road for eight hours.”
“And from Newbury it is only another day’s journey to Portsmouth,” Edmund explained for Miss Crawford’s benefit.
“No prospect of overtaking her, then. Mother, could you please send a note to your sister Price, asking her to inform us of Fanny’s safe arrival?”
“I daresay she wrote to her family in advance to advise them of her coming,” Mrs. Norris ventured, who appeared to be chiefly annoyed that she had not been consulted on the scheme, or asked to organize the trip herself, for she could not be supposed to object to Fanny’s departure from the household. “Such secrecy and double dealings, I never expected to see! Baddeley,” she enquired of the butler, who had entered to remove the tea things, “did Miss Price give you any letters to post in the last fortnight?”
Baddeley paused, “I believe, ma’am, she sent a letter to her brother, the midshipman. Aboard the Antwerp, ma’am.”
“She writes him every month, I think,” said Edmund. “but she has no other correspondents that I know of, outside of her family.”
“If you would be so kind as to give me the direction to her parent’s home in Portsmouth, Mr. Bertram,” Mary interposed. “Would it be officious of me to write to her directly – as a friend?”
“You are too good,” Tom answered, “but I expect Maria or Julia to…..”
“Oh, but they have cares of their own, and – and, am I not soon to become your sister, that is – once Maria and Henry are united?”
Tom said nothing, but Edmund’s countenance, as he thanked Mary for her kindness, was all she could desire, and she accepted his offer to accompany her back home to the Parsonage, where, despite the chill of the evening, they chose to walk, so that they might have a longer tête-à-tête.
“You do not appear to be angry with me, Mr. Bertram.”
“Angry? No. Did you suspect me of being so?”
“Thank you. I wanted to assure myself. I know that my brother has behaved selfishly, imprudently. I cannot expect you to countenance his behavior, whatever the outcome. And I feared… I feared….”
For answer, Edmund drew her arm within his.
“While my brother certainly behaved rashly, in the end it will all be for the best. As for poor Mr. Rushworth, he is better off as he is. You were kind enough to undeceive him, but the truth would at last have dawned upon him sooner or later.”
“While I cannot defend either of our relatives, I think the first error was on my sister’s side. When Maria discovered her feelings for Rushworth were not what they ought to be, she should have ended the engagement.”
“You have heard of the expression, ‘a bird in the hand,’ Mr. Bertram? Many women would not relinquish the first plump little bird until she was assured of the second.”
“Night is falling and I cannot clearly see your face, Miss Crawford. I don’t know if you are jesting or are in earnest. If you sincerely believe this, then your opinion of womankind is a degraded one.”
“You are too severe upon our sex, Mr. Bertram. Kindly recollect, if you please, that we women generally are not as bold as Amelia to her Anhalt; custom deprives us of the freedom to make declarations of love. The alliance with Mr. Rushworth was not a thing to be thrown away lightly unless she was certain she had secured my brother’s affection.”
“By ‘alliance’ you are referring, I suppose, to his property and his fortune?”
“Any sober-minded woman would weigh a proposal from such a man very carefully before refusing. You shake your head. But we have debated this point before, have we not? Please,” she leaned lightly on his arm, “let us not quarrel about the prudence of marrying well. We have had enough discord for one day! I flatter myself I was of some use today in soothing both your sisters. To succeed with them, only to quarrel with you, makes me doubt my abilities as a conciliator. But pray believe me when I say that I respect your opinions. You cause me to think and reflect, as perhaps no other person has…. you have a solidity, a constancy, so different from the sort of man one meets in London.”
“If I could lay myself out for a compliment as artfully as some ladies do, I would prefer to hear some encomiums on my wit.”
Mary laughed, and Edmund had never heard a sound half so enchanting. “Your wit, Mr. Bertram, could be used to start a fire, so dry as it is.”
And Edmund was almost ready to forget that not half a minute ago he had been distressed to hear Mary speak of her brother’s imprudence, merely imprudence, and not his honour. He thought to himself that he would have to relate some part of the conversation to Fanny, as was his habit – then startled slightly when he remembered that Fanny was gone.
“Yes, what is it, Mr. Bertram?”
“I own myself surprised that Fanny would go away without confiding in me….”
“Yes! It shows such a want of consideration and respect for you, as must astonish anyone who knows of your kindness to her. So patient with her timidity! So indulgent of her dependence on you! Can you speculate on her reasons for leaving so abruptly?”
“I think I can. She has been living amongst us since she was a child, and yet has not always felt herself to be one of us, and you were recently a witness to an instance of why this is so. I think it has, at times, been difficult to bear – even more difficult than I supposed.”
“She may have resented being left at home to protect your good mother from ennui while your sisters were attending balls and dinner parties?”
“I do not mean to imply that she felt resentment. You have seen how truly modest and retiring she is. I recollect when you said that Fanny seemed almost as fearful of notice and praise as other women were of neglect. Your powers of observation are remarkably acute.”
Mary was pleased that her companion had stored a casual remark she had dropped in his memory, and even more pleased that he did not list jealousy of herself as the reason for Miss Price’s departure. He seemed to be entirely unaware of his cousin’s regard for him. She shivered delicately, as though she required protection from the cold night air, and hung upon his arm even more closely. “You know her best, of course, Mr. Bertram. I think her a dear, queer, little thing, in some respects like a child of eight, in others like an old woman of eighty, but very unlike the young ladies of eighteen that one ordinarily encounters! Recall her raptures at the trees of Sotherton, her quaint way of talking: ‘to look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment’!” She began to laugh, then checked herself.
“While I can say nothing in defense of her mode of leaving your household, it may be for the best – yes decidedly it is for the best – for her to spend some time among her own people, of her own class, wouldn’t you agree? As direct as your dear aunt can be, she spoke the truth – Miss Price is not one of you, not by birth, or fortune, and while the education and manners she has acquired under your roof may help her attain a station in life above her expectations, it would be cruel to allow her to think that she could win the affection of any gentleman of consequence.”
“Are you speaking of matrimony? Fanny married? In my imagination I always pictured her residing here with my family. But now that you broach the topic, I must say that the man who sees Fanny’s worth, and takes her for his wife, will have chosen wisely.”
Miss Crawford stumbled a little here, and Mr. Bertram placed his arm around her waist, briefly, while she steadied herself. She looked up at him, slowly, and his breath caught in his throat.
“Do not imagine such a thing – yet, Mr. Bertram. She is still very young, and younger still in knowledge of the world. I wish her a safe and speedy journey to Portsmouth! But I cannot judge her too harshly for leaving you as she has done, as selfish and thoughtless as it was. Her yearning to see her own family is very natural. Having lost my own parents at an early age, I can imagine no greater felicity than being with those I love, knowing that I belong to them and they belong to me!” This last was uttered in such low, thrilling tones that Edmund might have spoken there and then, had he not recalled that the great dispute between them – his determination to become a clergyman – had not been resolved.
Wasn’t that a great excerpt? I love that this story is a variation on Mansfield Park because I love seeing these characters thrown into some very different, yet plausible scenarios. I look forward to sharing my review of this story in the upcoming weeks too!
Lona Manning has brought an eBook of A Contrary Wind for my readers, so please feel free to enter this giveaway by commenting on this post no later than May 7th. The winner will be announced on this blog on May 8, 2017.