Monday, October 24, 2011

“What elements of Sense and Sensibility make it ripe for a sequel?” by Rebecca Ann Collins (and GIVEAWAY!)

Thank you Laura, for your invitation to contribute to your blog. It is a pleasure to be able to speak directly to you and your readers.

While it is always possible for an imaginative writer to create the conditions needed to continue any story- as is demonstrated by the innumerable Austen “sequels” that have appeared in recent times, there are some books that leave the door open or at least ajar for a continuation. In these cases, a creative writer has the opportunity to tell a credible and interesting story.

However, if one decides to pass through that door into the domain of another writer, one is conscious of being a guest in that environment and of the need to be sensitive to the original author’s intentions- particularly in relation to character development. This is particularly significant when using the classic works of a beloved writer like Jane Austen- e.g-Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. While all characters evolve and may change in some ways over time, it isn’t credible or ethical to distort another writer’s characters out of recognition.

I have been a Jane Austen addict since the age of twelve and have researched and studied her life and work extensively. Having worked for ten years on the ten volumes of the Pemberley Chronicles series, in which we followed the lives of the characters over a period of some fifty years, I had learned a great deal about the political and social history of nineteenth century England. All this prepared me for the work I undertook on Sense and Sensibility in 2009/10.

To answer your question specifically-- there are some elements in the original novel that provide options for a continuation of the story. As readers who are familiar with the novel would know, Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen’s first novel, tells the story of three sisters Elinor, Marianne and Margaret Dashwood and their widowed mother-who are faced with a quite desperate situation, when the death of their father leaves them homeless and poor. The generosity of a relative- Sir John Middleton takes them into Devonshire and a new social circle, where after some of the usual disappointments and debacles of the type that attend every 19th century romance, the book ends with two of the sisters married to exemplary gentlemen.

However, while Elinor’s union to Edward Ferrars is one of those “marriages made in heaven”- where happiness seems guaranteed, I could not have the same confidence in the way young, romantic Marianne – having been betrayed by the handsome gentleman she had idolized all summer, had been settled into a rather staid marriage with a man twice her age, with none of the qualities she had claimed were essential to her happiness. ( He even wore flannel vests!!!)

With all due respect to Miss Austen, it did feel like a convenient way of tying up the loose strands of the story, but it didn’t ring true. Not because Colonel Brandon is an unsuitable husband for Marianne, for he is indeed a man of honour and loves Marianne dearly, but because we see nothing in Marianne’s development to convince us that she genuinely loves him. Nor can we be certain that Marianne is completely over her romantic infatuation with Willoughby- her faithless cavalier, who has made an unhappy marriage of convenience and still claims he loves Marianne and hates Colonel Brandon.

Then there was Margaret- the youngest sister- pretty, precocious and keen to learn, she is only thirteen years old at the conclusion of the novel. I felt she should have the chance to follow her own “expectations of happiness” in a new environment. A sequel would provide an opportunity to develop her character and talents and see how she turns out. Being only a little girl at the end of the original novel, she affords one the opportunity to create quite an interesting young woman in a sequel.

As for Mrs Dashwood, she is a well meaning and kindly woman- if a little silly, and it seemed unfair to leave her stranded at Barton Cottage after her daughters left the nest, with nothing to do but grow old, in an era when single or widowed women in straightened circumstances were pathetic creatures indeed- usually dependent upon the reluctant charity of relatives.

In addition, the original novel contains a collection of bizarre minor characters created by Jane Austen, who stand ready to add interest and humour to the tale. I had been playing with possibilities for continuing the story, and was delighted when Sourcebooks agreed that it was a good idea. Which is how “Expectations of Happiness” evolved into a sequel. (The title is taken from Sense and Sensibility – “That sanguine expectation of happiness that is happiness itself”)

I hope your readers also agree and look forward very much to reading their comments, when they have read “Expectations of Happiness”

They can contact me via your blog or the contact page on my website-

Thanks again for hosting this page and all the best,

Rebecca Ann Collins.

October 2011

Giveaway Details

Sourcebooks is going to send one lucky winner a copy of Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins. 

If you would like to win a copy of Expectations of Happiness by Rebecca Ann Collins please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or this guest blog.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday November 4th.

Good luck!


  1. Sounds like fun to have a sequel! I'm looking forward to reading this book.

  2. I think it sounds like an interesting read :)

  3. I'm very excited about this book because I loved Sense and Sensibility but I didn't think Marianne was happy. I'm interested to see what happens with her in this book, especially if & when she encounters Willoughby. I'm kind of hoping it improves her current marriage & doesn't end it.
    I'm also hoping that there's a good story with Margaret.

    Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

  4. I'm intrigued by the idea that Austen's minor characters get their chances in the spotlight in a "sequel" to her work. Please enter me in this great giveaway. I enjoyed reading this guest post. I will post this giveaway in my sidebar. Thank you for hosting this, Laura.


  5. I love the character of Marianne so a sequel would be wonderful to read to see an idea as to what happens with her and of course the others.


  6. I would love to read a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. I am very curious to see how the author continues Elinor and Marianne's story!Thanks for the giveaway!!=)

  7. thank you for this giveaway!!
    i can't wait to read this book!!!!


  8. I love the story of how this sequel developed. S&S is definitely just begging for sequel(s), and this one sounds great! :o)


  9. I love sequels that imagine what might have happened to the beloved characters once the last page was turned (as long as it doesn't involve vampires, zombies, etc. :) ). Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. I am so glad the author found ideas in the original novel which allowed her to continue the story!!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  11. What intrigues me is a minor character getting a chance to tell her story. I can't wait to read it!
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  12. Writing books that follow-up a Classic Novel, is something I never considered prior to this year, when I discovered Book Blogging! So, I find it fascinating that Rebecca took a Classic Austin, and created what appears to be a very intriguing storyline. I am also very impressed with the length of time Rebecca has devoted to learning "things Austin".
    Whether or not I win this Giveaway, I will be adding "Expectations of Happiness" to my TBR list, for sure!
    Thank you for the Giveaway, Rebecca, and Laura, and Sourcebooks!
    My email: madley (AT) cogeco (DOT) ca
    Thank you!

  13. I am intrigued by the idea of the 'rematch' between Willoughby and Marianne. I love that she ended with Colonel Brandon, but not the idea that she found her life with him boring which might make Willoughby tempting again.

    Thanks for the review and the chance for the giveaway.

  14. I would love to read the sequel, Sense and Sensibility left me intrigue, I want to know more about the amazing characters Austen leave for us to enjoy! Thank you so much for the giveaway!


  15. I believe is would be fun to be able to take a book you love and continue to feed your own imagination. I would like to take a couple of my treasure books and add my own spin and continuation of the characters and their lives. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

    plb1050 at gmail .com

  16. I posted the contest in my sidebar.

    plb1050 At gmail dot com

  17. I like sequels as long as it doesn't involve changing the characters too much and certainly it would be nice to know how each marriage (Elinor's & Marianne's) is going. I like Elinor and Margaret but Marianne seems too spoil to be Colonel Brandon's equal. But perhaps his kindness can make her happy. I still wonder how people in those days just get marry barely getting to know their partners.

    I wish someone would write a prequel to my favorite 'Persuasion'. I know there is at least one book out there but I didn't quite like that one. I think I like to know more of what Anne is thinking when she broke off with Wentworth. Sorry, I'm straying from the topic here.


  18. this book would be thought provoking and interesting. Many thanks. ellie. Elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  19. This giveaway has now ended and the winner has been posted.

  20. Thank you very much, Laura, for hosting this Giveaway. I am quite grateful - and happy!! - to be the fortunate winning recipient!!
    I look forward to the book's arrival!
    Thank you!