Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lona Manning's A Contrary Wind

Available on Amazon
Have you been seeing the buzz about a new variation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park? I have too, and I am excited to welcome the person responsible for all this buzz. Lona Manning has a debut novel in JAFF, A Contrary Wind, that is generating much interest. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Manning to More Agreeably Engaged where she tells us a little about herself and shares an excerpt with us! (Be sure to notice the giveaway at the bottom of the post!)


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 from “A Contrary Wind,” Tom and Julia Bertram have caught their sister Maria in a compromising situation with Henry Crawford, and therefore, her engagement to the wealthy but dim-witted Mr. Rushworth must be called off.


Tom Bertram could not long endure being the only soul, apart from Julia, who knew what evil the day must bring. He woke his brother Edmund before six o’clock and gave him enough information to comprehend that Maria and Henry Crawford had secretly formed an understanding while Maria was still pledged to Mr. Rushworth.

“What would I give not to have to perform this interview with Rushworth, Edmund. I would almost condition for my father to be here, rather than have this fall to my portion!” Tom exclaimed.

“But our father is expected every day, and I grieve to think of how imperfectly we have discharged the trust he placed in us, to superintend his daughters – “

“Stop! Stop, don’t preach to me now, for pity’s sake, Edmund!” cried Thomas. “We have enough to do. We must break the news to our mother, we must manage Julia somehow. Can she reconcile herself a marriage between Maria and Mr. Crawford? What think you?”

“Perhaps, if given enough time. I can hardly take it in myself and I never fancied myself in love with Crawford, as I fear Julia has. But as awkward as this situation is, matters may yet tend for the best. You know what misgivings I was harboring about Maria’s union with Rushworth. Crawford is inferior to Rushworth in point of fortune, but his superior in understanding, education, address, wit –

“Surpassing Rushworth in wit would be about as challenging as surpassing our dear mother in enterprise.”

“Yes, yes, and perhaps this augurs well for Maria’s happiness, once the scandal attached to the sudden dissolution of her engagement to Rushworth passes over. However, can an understanding formed under such circumstances be expected to prosper? Whatever intimations Crawford has given to Maria of his attachment to her –

(May you never know about the intimations Crawford gave to our Maria, old boy, Tom thought to himself.)

“– he knew she was promised to Rushworth. What’s more, considering matters in this new light, I think Crawford’s manner was a little too warm with Julia. I was disposed to like Crawford, but, taken all in all, I doubt that Maria will find lasting happiness with him. How can she rely upon his constancy, faithfulness, honour? I will always regret how this came about, as should they. Even though – “ Edmund could not but consider the effect upon her who was always foremost in his thoughts – “even though I have reasons of my own for desiring closer ties to this family. But happily for us, Tom, we may defer any decision regarding a union with Crawford until our father’s return, which will accord with our inclinations and his principles. He asked that Maria not marry until he returned, and this condition should abide even if the bridegroom changes.”

Tom suddenly had a happy inspiration. “You are to become a clergyman soon, Edmund. Bearing sad tidings will be no small part of your future duties. Who better than you to separate Maria from Rushworth?”

Fortunately for Tom Bertram, nothing so reconciled his brother to the performance of an unpleasant task than the hint that it was a moral duty. Edmund charitably disregarded the motive that prompted it, and saw matters as Tom could have wished – if he shrank from addressing the follies and sorrows of others, he was perhaps unsuited for ordination. With a heavy sigh, Edmund arose and dressed and sought out Mr. Rushworth for the first of many unpleasant interviews that must be held before the morning was over. He had never before had such cause to be thankful that his mother was not in the habit of early rising, and that his Aunt Norris preferred to take a dish of hot chocolate in her room before joining the family at breakfast.

He cared not a jot for the loss of the connection to Mr. Rushworth’s grand estates and fortune, and he hoped, rather than believed, Maria would feel more regret for the pain she would be causing Mr. Rushworth, than for the loss of Sotherton and all the consequence and distinction attached to it. But above all Edmund wondered, how would Mary – for so he thought of her – bear this news? Would she be chagrined, as he was, that their near relations had engaged in secret intrigues – Maria, breaking her pledge to another, and Henry, requiting the hospitality of the Bertrams in such a fashion? Or would Mary welcome the joining of the two families as a precursor to another, more intimate tie?

Edmund found Maria’s fiancĂ© – or so poor Mr. Rushworth still fancied himself – pacing up and down in the little theatre, attempting to memorize one of his two-and-forty speeches, beating time with one hand as he furled and unfurled his copy of the script.

…..:In a gay, lively, flimsy…..hang it all!  In a gay, lively, inconsiderate, flimsy……. gay, lively, inconsiderate, flimsy, frivolous coxcomb…… such as…… such myself, it isexcusable.  No, it is inexcusable: In a gay, lively, inconsiderate, flimsy, frivolous coxcomb such as myself, it is inexcusable. For me to keep my word to a woman, would be deceit: 'tis not expected of me. It is in my character to break oaths in love.

A quiet shuffling, an ahem! brought Mr. Rushworth to order. He brightened at the sight of Edmund. “Is everyone awake? Is breakfast ready?”

Although Edmund had never congratulated himself on the prospect of having Mr. Rushworth as a brother-in-law, it was with genuine shame that he explained the connexion between the families was not to be, – if Mr. Rushworth wished to hear confirmation from Maria’s own lips he should have it, but circumstances had arisen which compelled the Bertram brothers, acting in loco parentis, to state that they could not, in honour, countenance the proposed union. Maria had transferred her affections to another – Mr. Rushworth could not be in doubt as to whom Edmund referred – Mr. Rushworth was held in too high esteem by them all, not excluding, of course, Maria, for any of them to be a party to the marriage going forward under the present circumstances. Edmund observed Mr. Rushworth’s countenance change slowly from perplexity, to surprise, to indignation, before Edmund’s concluding ‘greatest esteem and very great regret.’

Rushworth cleared his throat, and asked for his carriage. “I think I shall go away. I believe I shall, Mr. Bertram. I believe I shall go home to Sotherton.”

“Without,” he added, after some additional thought, “Without seeing Miss Bertram. Or having breakfast.”

Edmund stayed with the disappointed lover until his manservant was summoned, his valises were swiftly packed and his carriage was brought round, and Mr. Rushworth left Mansfield Park, never to return. Although Maria’s rejected suitor does not appear in this story again, the reader may kindly wish to know that by the time he reached the outskirts of Mansfield village, he was as angry as he had ever been in his life; by the time he crested Sandcroft Hill, he was wanting his breakfast very much indeed, and by the time he reached the long avenues leading to Sotherton, he was reflecting that, all things considered, he was tolerably relieved that he would not marry Miss Bertram, as for many months past she had been cold and careless in her manner, rejecting even the touch of his hand, and causing him to doubt whether she was of a truly amiable disposition.


Digital on Smashwords

What if Fanny Price, the meek and docile heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, ran away from home? What if Fanny could no longer endure living with the Bertrams? What if she could not bear to watch Edmund fall in love with Mary Crawford?

In Lona Manning’s debut novel, Fanny Price is given an opportunity to change and grow, to learn and to make mistakes; while Edmund Bertram’s fascination with Mary Crawford, and Henry Crawford’s efforts to avoid matrimony, lead to completely different outcomes than in Jane Austen’s masterpiece.
All of the familiar characters from Mansfield Park are included, and many – such as Mrs. Norris and little Betsey Price – help drive the plot. New characters, such as the brusque but kindly widow, Mrs. Butters, and the impecunious but charming writer, William Gibson, are involved with the movement to abolish slavery. Real characters from history – politicians, writers, and sea captains, join the story and there are even some cameo appearances from characters in other Austen novels.
The text employs many of the techniques which made Jane Austen so popular – dialogue in which each character speaks in their own unique voice, free indirect style of narration, Johnsonian cadences, and some snark.

A Contrary Wind differs from Mansfield Park in that not all the scenes involving sex occur off-stage and instead of having “[t]hree or four families in a country village,” the action moves from Mansfield Park, to Bristol, London, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and the coast of Africa, where young Lieutenant William Price fights the slave trade as part of the West Africa Squadron.

“Like many Jane Austen fans, I’ve wished that Austen had written more than six novels,” says Manning. “’A Contrary Wind’ is my homage to Austen, and a bit of a “what if” scenario. I really loved working with the unforgettable characters Jane Austen created, such as Henry and Mary Crawford and Mrs. Norris, while adding a few new characters of my own.”

High resolution photos are available from http://www.lonamanning.ca/a-contrary-wind.html

A paperback version is available on Amazon.com and a digital version is also available on Smashwords.

Lona Manning is the author of “The Hurricane Hoax,” “The Murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair,” and other true-crime articles available at True Crime Magazine online. She is currently teaching English in China. She and her husband make their home in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. This is her first novel.

For more information:  lonaleemanning@gmail.com or www.lonamanning.ca 


Thank you for visiting More Agreeably Engaged and letting us get to know you a little and learn more about your new release. I'm so happy to have you visit. I believe this is my first time to have a Mansfield Park variation here. How neat that it is yours! I wish you much success!

Well, dear Readers, what do you think? Does not this sound like a good read to you? I know I want to read it! There is a giveaway so two of you will get the chance! Yes, that's right. Two digital books of A Contrary Wind are being given away and the giveaway is international. Leave us a comment and make sure I have your contact info, if you want to be entered in the giveaway. It will end on the 6th of March at 11:59 PM. (can't believe it is nearly March!) Good luck to all


  1. Henry Crawford and Maria, I doubt it willlast

  2. Interesting to learn the author's background and I do love a variation on Mansfield Park.

    Oho, Maria and Henry and the engagement called off. This will take it an interesting direction.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

  3. Interesting premise, look forward to reading. Thanks for the giveaway. jadseah4 (at) yahoo

  4. Looks like an interesting book, thanks for the giveaway. :)

  5. I will confess that Mansfield Park has never been a favorite of mine. I like how the characters have changed in this variation and look forward to reading it. Thank you for the excerpt (I curious how Maria and Henry Crawford work out). Fanny runs away? The book sounds great! Thank you for the giveaway.

  6. Mansfield Park is the only one of the six novels that I've really struggled with and hadn't read it for years. However, last year I got the audio version, wonderfully narrated by Juliet Stevenson, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't read a Mansfield variation yet, though I think I've got a couple squirrelled away on my Kindle somewhere. This new one sounds most intriguing and I'm now wondering how it all works out and who ends up with whom.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    angmardee (at) hotmail (dot) com