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Monday, November 9, 2009

Jane Odiwe Guest Post

Thank you, Grace, for inviting me to talk to you and your readers today about my new book, Willoughby’s Return!

In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, when Marianne Dashwood marries Colonel Brandon, she puts her heartbreak over dashing scoundrel John Willoughby in the past.

Willoughby's Return: A tale of almost irresistible temptationWhen Marianne Dashwood weds Colonel Brandon both are aware of the other’s past attachments; Marianne’s grand passion for the charming but ruthless John Willoughby and Brandon’s tragic amour for his lost love Eliza. Three years on Marianne is living contentedly with her husband and child at Delaford Park, although Marianne's passionate, impulsive and sometimes jealous behaviour is an impediment to her true happiness. News that John Willoughby and his wife have returned to the West Country brings back painful memories for Marianne along with the possibility of the Willoughbys returning to live near Barton and the surrounding area of Devon and Dorset, a circumstance which triggers a set of increasingly challenging, yet often amusing perplexities for all concerned.

Jane Austen doesn’t really tell us very much about the Brandon’s marriage at the end of Sense and Sensibility, and because of this, I wanted to explore how their lives might be. In creating their marriage, I had to consider their past. Both of them have been in love before and both of these first attachments have consequences for the Brandon marriage.

Marianne first falls in love with Willoughby but has her heart broken by him when she discovers he means to marry someone else. It transpires that he is to marry for money as he has been disinherited and we discover that the reason for him losing his inheritance is that he has seduced Colonel Brandon’s ward. This young girl is the daughter of his first love – so here is the first link in the chain between Willoughby, Marianne and Brandon. I wondered how Marianne would cope with the idea of always having this other family in the background. The Colonel’s first love, Eliza, has been dead for many years, but Marianne knows she bears a resemblance to her. Would she wonder if she is loved just for herself alone, or would she ever think that this resemblance might just be the reason that Brandon has pursued her so relentlessly?

Marianne can be a little self-centered, and I think she might be quite jealous of the fact that Brandon spends any time seeing to the needs of Eliza’s grown-up daughter who has a child by Mr. Willoughby. Eliza’s position in society at that time is a very difficult one – as a single woman with a child she would have been ostracized. Marianne would not really be able to receive her, but in any case, I think she would decide that she didn’t want to meet her at all – the idea of seeing a child that belonged to Willoughby would be too disturbing. Colonel Brandon is a kind and dutiful guardian, anxious to make sure that Eliza and her child have as comfortable a life as possible, which means he has to visit them. This leads to a little friction between the Brandons – Marianne tries to be sensible about the whole affair, but often ignores Elinor’s advice. Her heart still has a habit of ruling her head and she is passionately outspoken on occasion.

Apart from the tensions I wanted to show how very well suited Marianne and her Colonel really are – I enjoyed writing scenes that show their affection for one another. Though ‘grave and silent’ Colonel Brandon is a romantic, like Marianne. I imagined he would always be thinking of little treats to surprise her and that a look or touch between them would speak volumes!

Colonel Brandon looked surreptitiously at his wife over the breakfast table. Three years on from the day they had wed had hardly changed his feelings toward her, although as he sat in secret contemplation on the matter, he swiftly acknowledged his regard for Marianne was altered in every way completely. His love for her was deeper and more passionately felt than it ever had been, he decided, and his covert glances at her over the coffee pot confirmed this in his look of sheer admiration. He watched her as she buttered a slice of toast and stirred her chocolate, before licking the fragrant cocoa from the silver spoon, her eyes closed to savour the moment.

“Marianne Brandon is a very attractive woman,” he thought, “her complexion as brilliant as when first my eyes beheld her, her smile still as sweet and in those dark eyes, her spirit and eagerness are as discernable as ever. Even the most disenchanted soul would call her a beauty.”
© Jane Odiwe, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009

The best marriages are those where each partner strives to gives as much love as they can in whatever form showing their affection in deeds as well as with words. Partners must learn to give as well as take, and admit when they are wrong. Marianne and her Colonel truly love one another, but sometimes they find it hard to really communicate especially when the subjects are difficult to broach. I took them on a journey and I hope you’ll agree that by the end of my book their marriage is the stronger for it!
I’d like to know what you think is the recipe for a successful marriage! Do you agree that Marianne and the Colonel are made for one another?

A lost love returns, rekindling forgotten passions…
In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, when Marianne Dashwood marries Colonel Brandon, she puts her heartbreak over dashing scoundrel John Willoughby in the past.
Three years later, Willoughby's return throws Marianne into a tizzy of painful memories and exquisite feelings of uncertainty. Willoughby is as charming, as roguish, and as much in love with her as ever. And the timing couldn't be worse—with Colonel Brandon away and Willoughby determined to win her back, will Marianne find the strength to save her marriage, or will the temptation of a previous love be too powerful to resist?
About the Author
Jane Odiwe is an artist and author. She is an avid fan of all things Austen and is the  author and illustrator of Effusions of Fancy, annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen, as well as Lydia Bennet's Story. She lives with her husband and three children in North London. For more information, check out Jane’s blog:



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