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Thank you, Janet, for inviting me here to share a little more about my recently released novel, Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley – a new sequel to Pride and Prejudice and companion of my earlier book, The Darcys of Pemberley.
While I was in the midst of writing Georgiana’s story and still struggling to round out her character, a friend made some very helpful comments to me on the subject, words to this effect:
“Georgiana is supposed to be so accomplished, but what does she do exactly? Play pianoforte? Is that all? How will she manage as mistress of a large estate? Does she ever check accounts, make decisions, or visit tenants?”
According to Miss Bingley, arguably Georgiana’s most verbal proponent in Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana is “extremely accomplished for her age!” Although only her excellence at the pianoforte is specifically mentioned, presumably Miss Darcy could claim her fair share of the long list of other female achievements mentioned moments later in the same conversation: painting tables, covering screens, netting purses (so says Mr. Bingley), possessing a surpassing knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages (Miss Bingley suggests), along with a superior air, etc. Mr. Darcy adds the final qualification… “the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
Sounds like a lot, but my friend’s comment still left me wondering, “Is that all?” Had Georgiana been taught anything practical? With no mother to train her in the role she would likely occupy in the future, did Georgiana have the first idea how to manage a large household?
So, at my direction, the question likewise occurred to Georgiana halfway through her story when she realized she would probably have more success in romance if she presented herself as a “mature and competent young woman, one who was ready for the responsibilities entailed of being a gentleman’s wife and mistress of a manor house…” Here are her thoughts:
It occurred to me that I was very ill prepared for either. I suppose I had some notion of how a wife should behave, thanks to
example. And I knew the lady of the house was expected to create a gracious
home for her family and guests alike. I could contribute music, but I would
need to further overcome my shyness to be more comfortable as a hostess. And as
to running a household, I was almost completely at a loss. The current Mrs. Darcy
managed everything at home now. And before she came, Mrs. Reynolds had carried
on mostly alone (probably with some direction from first my father and then my
brother) since my mother, the former mistress, had died. I had been the
presiding mistress of Pemberley in name only during that interval, and I still
would not know where to begin if ever I were left on my own. Elizabeth
That must change, I decided. Whether it be Reddclift Hall, a townhouse in
or as a help to
at Pemberley, I wanted to be of some practical use. Elizabeth
Everybody seemed to consider that my pursuit of excellence in music was achievement enough, that and my efforts on behalf of the parish poor – something which I had always been allowed to assist with. But surely I was capable of more. A truly accomplished woman must have something to offer beyond the purely ornamental; she must know how to manage servants, how to keep accounts, to exercise economy where appropriate, and to see to it everything necessary for keeping a household running smoothly is done. I had very little idea about any of these things at present, but I could learn. I would learn, and I would begin at once.
Georgiana immediately appeals to Mrs. Paddington (the housekeeper at the Darcys’
townhouse) to undertake her education. From her, however, Georgiana learns one more
lesson than expected. After seeing firsthand how that woman handled her heavy responsibilities
with proficiency and grace, Georgiana declares she will never again think of
truly accomplished women without
including Mrs. Paddington on her list.
I know this is pretty forward thinking for a young lady of her time – to consider the work of a servant, even one holding the highly respected position of housekeeper, as being of comparable value to the elevated claims of any gently born woman. But I don’t believe it is out of character for an Austen heroine. And it shows Georgiana has a good head on her shoulders, being astute enough to perceive that there is merit and honor in any worthwhile job done well.
Before I gave it up to write fulltime, my “day job” was something very unglamorous but very practical, providing a necessary service to others and a good income for me. I was a dental hygienist, a profession not usually given much respect in popular culture, I’ve noticed. But when you go to get your teeth cleaned, don’t you hope you’ll see someone skilled at the job?
I was just reminded of a line often repeated on the show Dirty Jobs, something like “…they do the dirty work that makes civilized life possible for the rest of us.”
Since Jane Austen rarely speaks of the servants’ lot, it’s easy to forget that behind the highly civilized life of the Regency era gentry and nobility toiled a whole host of other people doing unglamorous but necessary tasks. I’m proud of Georgiana for valuing their efforts as true accomplishment!
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Back Cover Blurb:
What’s Georgiana Darcy’s story? Jane Austen tells us so little in Pride and Prejudice that we’re left to wonder. How did the early loss of her parents shape Miss Darcy’s character? And what about her near-disastrous affair with Mr. Wickham? Is that the true source of her shyness? She adores her brother and his new wife Elizabeth, but will their guiding influence be enough to steer Georgiana clear of new trouble as she comes of age and falls in love again?
This work is intended as a companion of sorts to The Darcys of Pemberley (sequel to Pride and Prejudice), with the timelines of the two running parallel. Both novels are unique and complete in themselves, but together they supply a richer reading experience than either one alone. The earlier book focused primarily on Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship during their early married life. There was a third Darcy represented in the title, however. Now she and her courtship story take center stage in Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley.
Shannon Winslow specializes in writing fiction for the fans of Jane Austen. Her popular debut novel, The Darcys of Pemberley, immediately established her place in the genre, being particularly praised for authentic Austenesque style and faithfulness to the original characters. Since that bright beginning, the author has followed with two more Pride and Prejudice sequels (Return to Longbourn and Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley), a stand-alone Austen-style story (For Myself Alone), and a novel starring Jane Austen herself (The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen). With no shortage of inspiration, Winslow promises more romance and happy endings to come.
Her two sons now grown, Shannon Winslow lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of
where she writes and paints in her studio facing . Mt. Rainier
Learn more at
Follow her on Twitter (as
JaneAustenSays..) and on Facebook.
Thank you, Shannon, for sharing such an insightful post with us. I too, believe that Georgiana would be the kind of young woman who would consider 'every person', regardless of position in society, of value, especially one of her housekeepers. I am very happy to see that you have written her as such. After reading 'her thoughts' it appears that you have yet another book very much in the voice of Jane Austen. I look forward to reading it.
Shannon Winslow has a giveaway that each of you will love. She is giving away one signed paperback, US, and two eBooks, internationally. Yes, that is correct...three in all. Thank you Ms. Winslow for such a generous giveaway. Please have 'your share in the conversation' by leaving a comment and your contact info. Tell us what you think Georgiana Darcy would be like or what you would like to know about her. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on 19 August, 2015. (This date has been revised due to the review I just posted of another book by Shannon Winslow, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen. The giveaway is still the same as above, only the ending date has changed.) Good luck to all! More chances to win and to learn more about the book, be sure and visit the other blog stops.