I am delighted to announce the imminent launch of Miss Price’s Decision, my second novel in the Austeniana series, which focuses on the stories of the younger sisters of Austen’s heroes and heroines.
If Miss Darcy’s Beaux told the story of Georgiana Darcy, now it is the turn of Susan Price, Fanny’s younger sister in Mansfield Park. But why Susan Price, and what makes her perfect for a leading role?
The Opposite of Fanny
Fanny Price is perhaps the least liked Austen heroine. Many see her as too timid, weak and passive, particularly compared with the likes of witty Elizabeth Bennet, passionate Marianne Dashwood, and clever Emma Woodhouse.
Susan Price, however, is a different story. She does not have a formal education, but she is spirited, loyal and a good listener. At the same time, she is bold and fearless. The combination is a hit with the Bertrams, as Austen herself says in the last chapter of the novel:
“Susan could never be spared (…). Her more fearless disposition and happier nerves made everything easy to her there. With quickness in understanding the tempers of those she had to deal with, and no natural timidity to restrain any consequent wishes, she was soon welcome and useful to all, and after Fanny’s removal succeeded so naturally to her influence over the hourly comfort of her aunt, as gradually to become, perhaps, the most beloved of the two.”
Mansfield Park, Chapter 48
I simply had to write Susan’s story; she is such a fascinating character! I can’t wait to share it with you, and that’s why I am offering a giveaway of an e-book copy of the novel. You only need to add a comment below. But there’s more…
Miss Price’s Decision Blog Tour
In the coming days, I have been kindly invited to present the novel on a number of Janeite blogs. I will be sharing different snippets and takes on the story and characters, as well as more giveaway copies, so feel free to follow me there. The schedule is as follows:
Book Excerpt: Miss Price’s Decision
And now, exclusively for Austen Author’s readers, here is an extract of Chapter 2 of Miss Price’s Decision. Lady Bertram is in poor health and has been told that she needs to go to see a famed doctor in London. Susan is secretly delighted at the opportunity to leave Mansfield Park, but Fanny knows her too well. What follows is a conversation between the sisters.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt and do not forget to enter the giveaway by commenting below.
Miss Price’s Decision – Chapter 3 (excerpt)
On the day before our departure, my sister Fanny, her husband Edmund and their little boy William joined us from Mansfield Parsonage. It was a glorious day. After lunch, Sir Thomas excused himself on account of having to go over some estate business with Mr Shillington, his steward, prior to the journey, and the rest of our party sat in the chairs outside, in a shady spot by the old oak tree. Lady Bertram began fussing over the toddler, who was remarkably well behaved, but as soon as the tea things were brought in, William traded his grandmother’s attention for the sponge cake. My aunt watched him eat with a beatific smile. Then, her expression changed and she let out a deep sigh.
“I do not know if going to London is a good idea. I fear I do not have the inclination, and I am so very tired! Maybe it would be best to cancel the trip altogether.”
Edmund took it upon himself to convince Lady Bertram that all was perfectly settled, that she would enjoy seeing Julia very much, and that the new turnpike road really made the journey very comfortable. However, I noticed that it was Fanny’s silent looks that told him what to say and how to say it. I marvelled once more at the luck of my sister in securing such a favourable match, particularly given her retiring disposition. She was a woman delighted with her fate, and very much in love with her husband.
I wondered if I would be fortunate enough to feel such synchronicity of hearts with another human being. I had had it once, a long time ago, but I had lost it. Surely, it was something too rare to be repeated in a short human life.
Some time later, Fanny asked me to show her Lady Bertram’s roses, which had just been pruned. As we were inspecting the work of the head gardener, my sister spoke to me, her voice barely a whisper.
“Please look after Lady Bertram. The smallest disruption in habit is quite capable of rendering her most miserable. Promise me that you will do your best to ensure she is as comfortable as possible during her time away from Mansfield Park.”
“Of course, sister. You know that I am always by our aunt’s side.”
“I realise you care for her very much, but I sometimes worry about you.”
I looked at Fanny with irritation.
“You need not concern yourself.”
“I know you well, Susan. You have a sweet temperament, but your nature is inquisitive, and you are growing restless. I see it all the time, in your shrugs, your sighs, your lonely walks around the park. But you must reign in your frustration and be more patient. Apply yourself and be Lady Bertram’s main support. Your happiness depends on her wellbeing.”
Her words only increased my annoyance.
“If her ill health takes us to London, I may as well enjoy the journey.”
Fanny looked at me with concern.
“You do not realise the danger in your situation, Susan. I beg you, do nothing foolish. Do not discard the security that you have so painstakingly achieved after all these years. You must think about your position within the family.”
“But I do not know if I want stay at Mansfield Park forever.”
“Well, then,” replied my sister in an even tone. “If you do not see your future here, try making the most of your London stay.”
“What do you mean?”
Fanny’s lips were just a line on her face. With a gentle movement, she took my arm and pulled me closer.
“I am referring to your only other alternative, Susan. Do you not wish to marry?”
“I can’t!” I exclaimed, my insides suddenly feeling as tight as a binding knot. Fanny looked at me with some surprise. I blushed and collected myself. I must not let the truth be known.
“You are very pretty and lively, sure to attract male attention,” continued Fanny. “Our father is in no position to provide any financial support, but our uncle would not leave you destitute. He has been very good to Edmund and me, and he assisted our brother William in his naval career, too.”
“But I do not want a husband,” I protested.
“If you want to leave Mansfield Park, it is your only option.”
“I could become a governess.”
Fanny looked at me with pity.
“Oh, Susan. I do not wish you the fate of a governess. It is the saddest of lives. Governesses are utterly dependent on the will of their masters, the disposition of their mistress and the obedience of their charges. But above all, dear sister, you would make a poor instructress.”
“That is not true!” I hissed. “I am good at the fine arts, and even Sir Thomas admires my botanical sketches.”
From beyond the rose garden, I could see Edmund’s enquiring gaze set upon us. Fanny gently shook her head and looked at me gravely.
“You cannot rely on drawing flowers alone to work as a governess. What do you know, other than reading, writing and the most basic grasp of numbers? You are in no position to teach about history, geography, ancient mythology, philosophy or foreign languages.”
“We both know that as a young girl your education was much neglected, but you must admit that you have shown little interest in improving yourself since arriving at Mansfield Park.”
I looked away. I had tried my best to read some of the many books she and Edmund had recommended over the years, but I remembered little about them. Fanny did not say another word, and squeezed my hand instead.
We joined Lady Bertram, Edmund and little William for a while, but the mood of the day had changed for me and I extracted little pleasure from the rest of our time together. Soon, it was time for the young family to depart. There were hugs and the odd tear as my cousin and sister said their goodbyes and expressed their best wishes for a comfortable and eventless journey. Before leaving, Fanny searched my company again, and as she was adjusting her bonnet, she spoke to me in a whisper.
“Promise me that you will at least consider marriage with the right man.”
I heard Edmund ask his wife if she was ready to leave. I felt tears burning inside my eyelids but there was little else to say. I nodded, embraced her, and she was gone.
What do you think? Leave your comment below and you will enter a giveaway of an e-book copy of MISS PRICE’S DECISION. Good luck! The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Wednesday, October 23. The winner will be announce on October 27.