The author: Cynthia Ingram Hensley
I turned 40. In a nutshell, that’s the reason I began writing books. Echoes of Pemberley, my debut novel, started as nothing more than a personal challenge for that dreaded milestone. I figured writing a novel was better than jumping out of an airplane—I hate heights! After years of jotting down short stories and poetry in my free moments, I quit my career in early childhood education and started writing full-time, praying I hadn’t made a terrible mistake. Thankfully, I had a husband and children who cheered me on. Almost three years later, Meryton Press took a chance on my novel and here I am!
Born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, storytelling is in my blood. My hometown of Asheville, NC was birthplace to many famous writers such as Thomas Wolfe and John Ehle—Jennifer Ehle’s papa and one of my personal favorite storytellers. I grew up in the rich history of the early Scottish and Irish settlers. Their music and ballads passed down through the generations and played on my grandfather’s banjo.
Being published was nothing short of a dream come true for me, but nothing compared to the kind words of praise and encouragement that have followed from family, friends, and complete strangers. I’ve been truly humbled and honored by the excitement so many have shared with me on this journey.
Echoes of Pemberley has been nominated for a 2011 Independent Publisher Book Award. I am currently working on my next novel.
The guest post
First let me say, it is a privilege to be a guest on My Jane Austen Book Club. Thank you, Maria Grazia, for inviting me. I am grateful for the incredible opportunity to share Echoes of Pemberley with your readers.
I’ll admit—Pride and Prejudice made me a textbook case anglophile. When not writing or reading—my two favorite pastimes—you’ll find me standing on an upturned crate, on my tippy-toes, peering at what’s going on over the pond. I love all things English, but nothing so much as Jane Austen, her novels, and the brilliant assortment of fan fiction that has followed. I read it all!
I have always greatly admired writers who have taken up the questions of “what happened next” and “what if” and written sequels or variations of Pride and Prejudice. Try as I might, however, I couldn’t do it. And I really wanted to! Instead, I dwelled on other questions. Such as: What if the Darcys still lived at Pemberley? Isn’t there a whole host of great country houses scattered throughout the U.K., occupied to this day by the original families? What would the modern descendants of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy be like—their personalities, peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses—can you imagine? So, I gave in, grabbed my laptop, and started writing. After all, maybe I wasn’t the only one curious?
Echoes of Pemberley is neither a sequel to nor a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It is a renewal of sorts, a continuation of the family Jane Austen started two centuries ago. In my novel, I wanted to offer devoted Pride and Prejudice readers a chance to meet Darcy and Elizabeth’s descendants, their modern-day counterparts. Echoes of Pemberley is just that—an echo of Pride and Prejudice.
Like Ms. Austen’s Georgiana Darcy, Catherine (Catie) Elizabeth Darcy was orphaned at a young age and left in the custody of her overly protective brother, Bennet Fitzwilliam Darcy—a man worthy of his lineage. A true romantic who has never been kissed, Catie Darcy spends her school holidays at Pemberley—the Darcy’s ancestral home in Derbyshire, England—reading romance novels that her brother calls “rubbish.”
Enter nineteen-year-old Sean Kelly, an Irishman from his flat cap to his boots, who arrives at Pemberley in his relic Land Rover to give Miss Darcy riding lessons. Sean lives at Kells Down, his family’s horse farm in Northern Ireland. One of five—what some might call rowdy—brothers, Sean is most unwilling to bow down to Pemberley’s “perceived” haughty young heiress. Oh, those wretched first impressions! Starting to sound familiar?
Echoes of Pemberley is a love story with a slight, respectful nod to Pride and Prejudice. However, it is also a heartwarming tale of siblings and family devotion. Like Fitzwilliam and Georgiana Darcy, Ben and Catie’s lives have been complicated by death and grief governs their obligation to each other. Throw in a WWI-era diary, which Catie finds in her window seat, and you have a plot full of twists and turns that is sure to entertain. If you didn’t laugh, cry, cringe, and gasp during Pride and Prejudice then I’d suggest you check your pulse then go back and read it all over again. It was my hope to make my readers react similarly to my humble addition to Ms. Austen’s original story.
It is my sincere belief that Ms. Austen would appreciate how she has inspired so many women and writers. For me, Jane Austen’s novels are like a slow Sunday afternoon on the porch swing or the homey comfort of visiting a close friend. Her characters are imperfect, passionate, endearing and wicked. Essentially—they’re real! Using the human spirit as her canvas, Jane Austen set the standard for romance.
Thanks you again, Maria Grazia, for allowing me to share Echoes of Pemberley with your lovely readers. I truly hope everyone enjoys reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
There are two copies of Echoes of Pemberley for the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club who will enter this giveaway contest:
- 1 paperback copy for US readers
- 1 e-book for readers from the rest of the world
Please, remember to say which country in the world you live in in your comment and add your e-mail address to be contacted in case you are the winner.
The contest will end on March 21, when the name of the winners will be announced.
You can find Cynthia Ingram Hensley at www.cynthiahensley.merytonpress.com and on Twitter: @Writer_CHensley. Also, you can follow the book’s progress on Echoes of Pemberley/Facebook and at Goodreads.com.