Hey there, friends! Rabbit rabbit! And May the Firth be with you!
For this month’s blog post, I thought I would talk about why I’ve decided to pen a contemporary Persuasion variation (tentatively titled Once, Always), as a few readers have asked why I’ve chosen to move away from Pride and Prejudice (which I really haven’t. I’ll get back to Darcy and Elizabeth eventually).
Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet will always be my first Austen loves. P&P is my favorite Austen novel, but Persuasion runs a close second. Honestly, I was in need of a change, and felt ready to tackle a different cast of characters and dissect another relationship, and the one between Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth called to me. It has a different dynamic from Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship – though Austen always sews common threads throughout her novels.
I love stories that feature second chances, as anyone who has read my books would know. The theme is prevalent in Sanctuary; Darcy and Elizabeth have each been granted a new life on a tiny island in Maine, and then are given a surprising second chance at love. And Darcy eventually reconciles with his father, giving that relationship the second chance it so desperately needs. In Dance the Tide, after a massive misunderstanding (on Darcy’s part), Elizabeth ultimately decides that her love for Darcy is worth giving him the opportunity to right his wrongs and prove that he is working to become a better man. And in An Unexpected Harvest, Darcy chooses to give Elizabeth another chance by learning more about her and what makes her tick, after he realizes that perhaps she is not the terrible person he imagined her to be.
Also addressed in Harvest, but less so in my other books, is the issue of status and class. In Sanctuary and Dance the Tide, Darcy is extremely wealthy, but Elizabeth is not; and even though the discrepancy in their situations is addressed, it isn’t a stumbling block in their relationship. In Harvest, it’s a bit more of a hurdle. Here, the characters are reversed from Canon; Elizabeth is the wealthy city girl, who is horrified to realize that she’s attracted to — gasp! — a blue collar country boy. Darcy has his own struggles, chief among them his worry that he will be unable to provide Elizabeth with the life she’s accustomed to.
Social mobility, or more appropriately, a lack of social mobility, is a favorite theme of Austen’s. I realize this is not a revelation; fans of Austen are well acquainted with her knack for social commentary. While she doesn’t openly condemn society or its flaws, the subtext is there. If you read closely enough, you can clearly see that she was quite critical of the laws and conventions of the world she lived in. Today, some readers overlook those subtle nuances and label her novels as strictly “romance novels.” It’s true, they are romantic, but they also provide us with a view of marriage, education, money, parental responsibilities, and gender roles of that era, as seen through a female eye.
Pride and Prejudice is arguably Austen’s most recognizable novel, and is one that perfectly illustrates her support for greater social mobility and less class rigidity. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s background and social status make it necessary for him to marry a woman of wealth and standing. However, despite his reluctance and *strong* mental objection, he falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet, a woman who is beneath him in all the ways society deems important. The second chance scenario does play out here – and Darcy works hard for it — but Austen takes it a step further in Persuasion, by choosing to separate two people who are already madly in love — “there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved.” Anne and Wentworth are separated — regretfully — not only by gaps in wealth and consequence, but also by the influence of others. Fortunately, the Navy gives Wentworth the ability to elevate his status and wealth, changing his situation: “He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet, who had not had principle or sense enough to maintain himself in the situation in which Providence had placed him…” Austen acknowledges the importance of social structure, but she also enforces the notion that it be flexible, thus allowing other important elements such as friendship and true love to prevail.
Second chances and social structure are timeless themes, readily adaptable to a contemporary variation. With Once, Always, I want to explore how two people could be so in love, yet allow that love to be dismantled due to (antiquated?) social conventions and the influence of others, when one falls in love with someone “from the wrong side of the tracks.” How do two people find their way back to each other and forgive each other for those particular mistakes and transgressions? My hope is that Once, Always will realistically show Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth’s love story through a modern lens.
Social Media update
I’ve been trying to post pretty regularly on social media, and have condensed all my links to one location here. If you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram, check out my author pages on Amazon and Goodreads, take a look at my website, and follow my blog! There are also links to Spotify and Amazon Music, but that’s a blog post for another day. Right now, my posting schedule looks like this:
Monday – a Persuasion quote, which will eventually change to a line or two from Once, Always when I have enough material!
Tuesday – #LibraryLove! I’ll feature pictures and a brief history of libraries found in the U.S., and alternate those with libraries from around the world. If you’d like to see a particular library featured, please let me know!
Wednesday – #whatsupwednesday – an interactive post, usually a random question. I hope you’ll join in the fun and leave an answer — let me know what’s up!
Thursday – anything goes! Could be a suggestion about how to support authors, could be a book review, could be a meme about writing…you get the idea.
Friday – #FridayKiss – I’m having fun with this! The admins at the Friday Kiss page pick a word, and it’s up to us authors to find scenes from our own stories that use the word.
I’ll also randomly post pictures of the locations I’ve chosen for Once, Always on my Facebook and Instagram stories; and on the first Monday of each month, there will be a new blog post here!
Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!
9 thoughts on “Common Threads”
I do enjoy your quotes Cat as well as the Friday kiss 💋. I’m so happy to see that you will eventually return to Darcy and Elizabeth but I’m really looking forward to Once, Always, I can’t wait to see how you modernise it. Happy writing ✍️
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I’m having so much fun with Friday Kiss! I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I have to many Darcy & Elizabeth plot bunnies to NOT return to them! But right now, I’m really becoming invested in Anne and Wentworth, and love venturing into a different world. Thanks Glynis!
Excellent post, Cat. As a reader, I love it when an author provides their personal thoughts and perspectives on their stories and characters. I like to see if I’ve missed something when I read the book. I also like learning about how you’re forming your ideas for the upcoming book too. I am all anticipation, and I truly can’t wait to see how it all comes about.
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It’s hard for me to talk about what’s going on in my head, because I feel like no one will find it interesting except for me! I’m glad you’re anticipating Once, Always – and hoping I can live up to expectations. Thanks, Marie.
Persuasion is also a close second to P&P for me. I look forward to a modern version and I’m curious to see how you handle the persuasion from others for Anne to reject someone she loves – that seems a lot trickier in modern times. I am already intrigued!
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It’s definitely trickier, but I believe it could happen – an opportunity that at first seems wonderful can be painted with a different brush by someone else, and all of a sudden, it might not seem so wonderful. I’m hoping my ideas for that will make sense and feel authentic. (fingers crossed!) Thank you, my friend!
I can’t wait to read Once, Always. 😍 I used to be a strictly P&P variation girl, but authors put so much heart into their interpretations of Anne and Wentworth that I’m learning to branch out. I know I can count on you to do a deep dive into their relationship and am really looking forward to it.
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I hope others will feel as you do, and take a gamble with a Persuasion variation – it’s a tough sell, and even tougher with a contemporary. But I’m pushing ahead! Thanks for your support, Mary! (And I’m looking forward to a re-read of Prevailed Upon to Marry! So excited for you!)