Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler

The untimely death of Anne de Bourgh, only days after his disastrous proposal at the Hunsford parsonage, draws Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Alexander Fitzwilliam back to Rosings Park before Elizabeth Bennet has left the neighborhood. In death, Anne is revealed as having lived a rich life of the mind, plotting rather constantly to escape her loathsome mother, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Anne’s journal, spirited into the hands of Charlotte Collins and Elizabeth, holds Anne’s candid observations on life and her family. It also explains her final quirky means of outwitting her mother. Anne’s Last Will and Testament, with its peculiar bequests, upheaves every relationship amongst the Bennets, Darcys, Fitzwilliams, Collinses, and even the Bingleys! Was Anne de Bourgh a shrewder judge of character than Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy combined?



The Calico Critic issues a warm welcome to Linda Beutler, author of the new Austenesque novel, A Will of Iron!  Today Linda presents an excerpt from her latest work and also offers an international giveaway of a paperback copy of the book.   Thanks, Linda-- and good luck to all who enter the contest!

Dear Laura and the Calico Critic Readers,

Thanks so very much for hosting a stop on the A Will of Iron Blog Tour. When the germ of the idea for this story sprouted as my editor and I worked on another story, I didn’t quite realize how Shakespearean in structure the seedling story would become. By that I mean, with some amusing yet gruesome twists and turns, the good end well and the bad end not just badly, but dead! I had no idea I had launched upon a morality tale, but there it is! It is half Shakespearean comedy, half Greek tragedy (without following the action in 24 hours form).

Anne de Bourgh makes some wrong-headed choices, and we learn through her journals—entries of which appear peppered throughout the story—that her moral compass is as skewed as one would expect, given her confined and unvarying relationship with so domineering a mother. Anne’s will to escape leads to desperate measures. Can anything good come of decisions so bad? Therein lies our story.

In addition to giving us insights into Anne’s misbegotten motivations, her journals also provide glimpses of her astute and often acidic opinions of her family and her limited circle of acquaintance. The excerpts I’ve included are first, her reaction to the hiring of William Collins as the Hunsford vicar, followed by her initial impressions of the vicar’s new wife, the former Charlotte Lucas. In these instances, we might agree with her summations!

Best regards,
Linda B


EXCERPTS: A Will of Iron by Linda Beutler


14 August 1811
It is not to be believed. Had I not heard the announcement myself, I would never ever have known my mother could sink so low. She has named William Collins as the vicar for Hunsford. I would have wagered the de Bourgh turquoise and diamond diadem that she would have chosen the more scholarly James Leigh. Mr. Leigh is two and thirty, from a fine old family, married with two children, and seemed well spoken when I was in his company for his interview with Mama. He is a Cambridge man, as I recall.
But, alas not.

A dinner was given today for the local dignitaries (such as they are) and the verger of the church, who will not be replaced (without regard to the flagrant embezzlement he seems to think part of the emolument of his office) since he has my mother’s support, and Collins will not thwart her. They all came to stare at this repulsive and shabby fellow. Never ever, ever have I heard anyone lavish such praise and flattery upon her, yet I do believe the misbegotten creature to be utterly sincere. He is young, stupid, lacking all self-awareness, wholly without fashion, and sings his own praises behind a guise of humble servitude. He cannot reason, which renders him incapable of guile, at least any that cannot be seen through. His countless vain little niceties are, I presume, the product of much study, and if he tells me again that my ill health has robbed the court of its finest jewel, I shall run mad. No…I have not the energy for that, but I do think I could manage an oyster fork in his throat. His repellent Adam’s apple makes a fine large target. Yes, that I would happily do.

He is unmarried. Mama will have him marry, and together these two jackdaws have mentioned something about Mr. Collins being cousin and heir to an entailed estate currently populated by a healthy incumbent, his wife, and five daughters, some or all of marriageable age. There is some plot afoot to send him off thither, to which I heartily subscribe. Let him visit his Hertfordshire cousins as often as may be. Tonight I am a disgruntled —A de B


29 December 1811
What would you have me say of the vicar’s wife? What a conundrum she is. Her name is Charlotte Collins, formerly Lucas, and her family are near neighbours of the estate Mr. Collins is to inherit.

She is not tall, neither fair nor dark, and of middling figure. But her grey eyes are intelligent, and she must occasionally hide a blush at some foolish pronouncement of her husband’s. As to the nonsense of my mother, Mrs. Collins will learn to hide her astonishment better in time. I cannot think why she would marry into a situation such as this. Relations with the man must be most distasteful, and she cannot have had any accurate information about the disposition and manners of my mother. Given the exorbitant praise heaped upon his patroness by Mr. Collins, I am certain this is so.

Poor Mrs. Collins must have entered the neighbourhood assuming an independent control over her household that she will never have while Mama yet lives. Given that the lady appears to be on the wrong side of five and twenty—she may be older than me—Mr. Collins must have been seen as a welcome pis aller, and she must be happy to no longer be a burden to her family. But the fact remains, she has married one of the stupidest men in England. How can she make herself easy with such a man as her master and my mother as his exacting benefactress?

Soon and very often, Mrs. Collins is going to wish the current incumbent of Longbourn might die of a sudden fit, no matter how intimate and pleasurable her friendship with the family. Most assuredly, when the letter comes announcing Mr. Collins is to inherit, the lady will get herself to Hertfordshire before the dust has settled from the express rider’s horse. —A de B



An additional thought from Linda, for our conservative readers:

"The book does contain mature content, mainly concentrated in the last two chapters. The themes of the entire novel are mature, in that the plot removes around the untimely death (strict moralists would say a deserved end) of Anne de Bourgh due to the complications of an illicit and thus far secret pregnancy. But as I say in the preface to theses two excerpts, the good end well and the bad most decidedly do not. But there is also something Puckish about Anne. She does want to see her cousins happy; she is not wholly lacking in compassion, she is simply remarkably self-centered. The story could also be seen as a cautionary tale against stupendously bad parenting!"




GIVEAWAY: Paperback Copy of A Will of Iron
by Linda Beutler
Open Internationally
Ends July 29, 2015 at 12am EST

a Rafflecopter giveaway




About the Author

Linda Beutler is an Oregon native who began writing professionally in 1996 (meaning that is when they started paying her...), in the field of garden writing. First published in magazines, Linda graduated to book authorship in 2004 with the publication of Gardening With Clematis (2004, Timber Press). In 2007 Timber Press presented her second title, Garden to Vase, a partnership with garden photographer Allan Mandell. Now in 2013 Linda is working with a new publisher, and writing in a completely different direction. Funny how life works out, but more on that in a minute.

Linda lives the gardening life: she is a part-time instructor in the horticulture department at Clackamas Community College, writes and lectures about gardening topics throughout the USA, and is traveling the world through her active participation in the International Clematis Society, of which she is the current president. Then there's that dream job--which she is sure everyone else must covet but which she alone has--Linda Beutler is the curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, which is located at Luscher Farm, a farm/park maintained by the city of Lake Oswego. They say to keep resumes brief, but Linda considers Gardening With Clematis her 72,000 word resume. She signed on as curator to North America's most comprehensive and publicly accessible collection of the genus clematis in July 2007, and they will no doubt not get shut of her until she can be carried out in a pine box.

And now for something completely different: in September 2011, Linda checked out a book of Jane Austen fan fiction from her local library, and was, to put it in the modern British vernacular, gobsmacked. After devouring every title she could get her hands on, she quite arrogantly decided that, in some cases, she could do better, and began writing her own expansions and variations of Pride and Prejudice. The will to publish became too tempting, and after viewing the welcoming Meryton Press website, she printed out the first three chapters of her book, and out it went, a child before the firing squad. Luckily, the discerning editors at Meryton Press saved the child from slaughter, and Linda's first work of Jane Austenesque fiction, The Red Chrysanthemum, published in September 2013. Her second work of fiction, From Longbourn to London was published in August of 2014.

Linda shares a small garden in Southeast Portland with her husband, and pets that function as surrogate children. Her personal collection of clematis numbers something around 230 taxa. These are also surrogate children, and just as badly behaved.



CONNECT WITH LINDA BEUTLER






Check out the other stops in the blog tour!

Blog Tour Schedule:

 

7/6: Review at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell 
7/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/9: Review at Wings of Paper
7/10: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time… 
7/11: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club 
7/13: Review at Songs and Stories
7/14: Review at Austenprose
7/15: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm 
7/16: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
7/17: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars 
7/18: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen 
7/19: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
7/20: Review at Diary of an Eccentric




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35 comments:

  1. What a great idea to offer a glimpse into Anne de Bourgh's mind! I find this an interesting proposition and ia already on my humongous pile of books I have to find the means to buy.

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    1. Anne does cover a lot of ground in her journals, that's for sure! Best of luck with the give away contest! If you buy all of those books, you'll also need to take out a home-improvement loan for a new room on your house!

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  2. At the moment I don't keep a diary, but I have in the past. I cringe every time I read my teenage rambles! So glad I'm over all the drama! But Anne's diary sounds interesting!

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    1. Oh, I kept a teenage diary too, and it is an embarrassment now! But how organized I was! As a teen I found Sunday evenings before the school week a very stressful time, and I unknowingly calmed myself in some part by selecting my clothes for the upcoming week, and hanging the outfits in order in my closet. In my diary I started each day by giving a detailed account of what I wore that day. I am in no way so organized now! This level of organization seemed to dissipate once I was in college and too busy (yet less stressed...a lot of which came from peer drama, as you say, arjanne!). Thanks for following the tour stops!

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  3. I don't have a will but my husband gets the house and my pension. If my family want the rest they will have to travel from Britain to claim it so I think my possessions will be safely kept for him.
    I used to kept a journal when I was a teenager, written in French, to help my studies.
    I am curious to know who the father of Anne's baby is.

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    1. Yes, perhaps one of Anne's messages is : get and keep your financial house in order (so to speak). She does!

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    2. I am AMAZED no reviewer or commenter has revealed who the father is. Some characters learn who it is right away. Frankly, I don't think it so shocking, Vesper, and knowing JAFF as you do, I don't think you'll be shocked, either!

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  4. The journal entries will add a certain insight to every part of this book. It should be interesting to read Anne's perspective on things. Looking forward to it!

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    1. Ginna, yes, this Anne spoke with a strong voice, by turns compassionate, curious, foolish, vulgar, snide, depressed, elated, and sarcastic. Kind of a lady Mr. Bennet, at times!

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    2. Hmmm (taps finger on chin) not sure that this is the compliment I'd like to hear about myself....

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    3. LOL. I meant to be descriptive, not necessarily complimentary! Mind you, I am one of the few, the proud, the brave, who adore Mr. Bennet, flaws and all, as I believe Jane Austen did.

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  5. I don't keep a diary, per say, but keep travel journals and write impressions and anecdotes of what transpired or was viewed along with reactions, feelings, and conversations. Anne's story sounds quite intriguing. Thank you for the excerpt and generous give away.

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    1. You are most welcome. I think Anne gains here from being allowed a rounded, human, flawed character. But alas, we don't learn this until her death. Her death alters everything for the people closest to her, whether they knew they were close or not!

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  6. I like reading Anne's honest opinion of the appointment of Mr Collins as the vicar of the Hunsford church but find her comment of Mrs Collins a little bit harsh. Thanks for sharing this delightful excerpt from your latest novel, Linda.

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    1. You are most welcome! She is having the last word in the blog tour, just as she does in the story!

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  7. Replies
    1. You are welcome, and thanks to Laura for the opportunity.

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  8. I have never liked writing so I have never kept a journal. I love reading though!

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    1. Terry, then I hope you'll enjoy A Will of Iron!

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  9. Very interesting reading what is going on from Anne's mind and being far from the "normal" point of view that we are used to. I like it :)

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    1. Yes, Anne is not exactly normal. Too much of the confined and unvarying opinions of her mother.

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  10. I love the idea of journaling regularly but I am a miserable failure at it. I have many that are only partially filled. :)

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    1. When my husband and I (29 years TODAY) bought our house, I kept a very thorough journal of the first couple of years of the garden's progress, and I treasure it now. Once I started keeping lists of plants on a computer, the journaling fell away. Sad but true.

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  11. I love the journal entries! Can't wait to read what she has to say about Darcy & Elizabeth!

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    1. About Darcy, Anne writes things like: "stop staring and say something flattering." If only she had said it to him out loud!

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  12. as of now I don't have a will, maybe later. as for the journal,i had when i was still in my elementary days, writing about my daily experiences etc. Anne's story is quite intriguing

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    1. I do hope you will find this Anne de Bourgh intriguing and amusing.

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  13. Actually I'm not really a fan of writing something like journals.. But I really love reading books and manga.. ^^

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    1. I hope you will feel lucky, upon reading this story, that Anne kept a journal. It explains so much!

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  14. I don´t have a will, and I´m not writing journals anymore either although I have in the past.

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    1. This Anne is fortunate that her journals find their way into friendly hands. Otherwise, I would have no story to tell!

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    1. Being an heiress, Anne wished to be responsible and leave a will. Of course she also wanted to control her friends and relatives from the grave! She is her mother's daughter!

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  16. Another wonderful stop on a fun blog tour. Love the post. Thank you for the giveaway! Congratulations!

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    1. Becky, you have now had a great deal of the story! I am amazed more important spoilers were not revealed as I went along, but even that would not show how it all fit together!

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