Thursday, 21 April 2011


April issue for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Celebration  is a brilliant piece of Austen -based fiction by Beth Pattillo, author of Jane Austen Ruined My Life and Mr Darcy Broke My Heart. In this delightful fragment, inspired to the characters and events in Sense and Sensibility,  she imagines her heroine caught in Sophia Grey's body  and lost in ... John Willoughby's bed! 
Read Lost in Sense and Sensibility and get the chance to win Beth Pattillo's latest release, The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, a modern day version of Elinor and Marianne's story. To win, answer Beth Beth Pattillo's question: " Do you think Willoughby will ever redeem himself?" and do not forget to add your e-mail address. The giveaway is open worldwide and ends April 30th.
Many thanks to Beth Pattillo for her delightful contribution to our celebration and for granting one of you, readers of My Jane Austen Book Club all over the world,  an autographed copy of her latest work.

Lost is Sense and Sensibility by Beth Pattillo

 “Mrs. Willoughby?” The maid appeared in the doorway to my bedroom. I was sitting at the dressing table, brushing my hair, which caused the maid to frown as if she’d caught me in an indelicate act.  Apparently I was to be treated like a doll, bathed and dressed and generally pimped out by my servant.
            I wondered what she would do if I told her the truth.  That I could do my own hair, button my own clothes, and apply what passed for makeup in this place.  Would she faint dead away if I said I was from two hundred years in the future? Or would I end up in the nut house?
            Definitely the nut house.  Which was why, ever since I’d awakened in my bed at Combe Magna the day before, I’d kept my mouth shut.  Except, of course, when arguing with my husband.
            John Willoughby.
            Yes, as in the novel.  I’d gone to sleep in an English country house hotel and woken up in this dream-nightmare-work of fiction.
            “Mr. Willoughby is waiting breakfast for you,” she said, and I sighed. If I were going to get stuck in my favorite Austen novel, why couldn’t I have Mr. Darcy? Or Frederick Wentworth?  I would have even settled for Edward Ferrars or Colonel Brandon in a pinch, since apparently my overheated brain had placed me smack dab in the middle of Sense and Sensibility.  But Willoughby? Aparently my rotten luck hadn’t changed, even when I was in a coma or a hallucination or whatever this thing alternate reality might be.
            “Tell him I’ll be down directly.”  The hours I’d spent watching all the Austen film and television adaptations were paying off, because I could spew early nineteenth century dialogue like nobody’s business.
            I knew the house pretty well after exploring it the day before, mostly to keep out of the way of my ‘husband.’  We’d exchanged the bare minimum of words. After all, I knew from reading the novel how he felt about me, the woman he’d been forced to marry to restore his fortunes.
            “Good morning,” he said stiffly when I entered the cavernous dining room.  Why in the world did he insist on eating there?  It was only the two of us.  Plus, the servants had to cart everything up from the kitchen one floor below.
            “Look, I know you’re a womanizer.” Why beat around the bush? If I was going to be stuck in this place, I didn’t want to spend my days around someone so unpleasant, even if he was a decent piece of eye candy.
            “Good morning to you as well, Sophia.  What, pray tell, is a womanizer?”
            I closed my eyes and tried to come up with an Austenesque synonym.  Horndog and tomcat wouldn’t exactly work.
            “You’re a rake. A rogue. A…..”  I was out of synonyms.
            “Upon my word, you are very direct.” He frowned, which should have made him look less attractive, but it didn’t.
            “Get used to it, Lothario.”
            “Pardon me?”
            “If I’m stuck here, buster, then you’re going to mind your Ps and Qs.” Apparently when I was under stress, my mother’s favorite clichés spewed from my lips.
            “I don’t care for peas.” He picked up his glass and swirled the wine in it while regarding me as if I’d just grown a pair of horns.  Wine for breakfast.  Just another day in the life of John Willoughby.  Probably still fancying himself in love with Marianne Dashwood and bemoaning how he’d been forced to marry me – or Sophia – due to his own imprudence.
            “You may not understand the expression, but I think you catch my drift,” I said.
            He sat down his glass with a clink. “Madam, I am unaccustomed to being harangued in my own home.”
            Apparently the real Sophia Grey had a backbone like a limp noodle. “Well,” I said, “then today should be a refreshing change of pace.”
April Giveaway

Lovely fragment, isn't it? Now, answer Beth Pattillo's question: Do you think Willoughby will ever redeem himself? Add your e-mail address and ... good luck! The giveaway is open worldwide and ends April 30th!


Maria Grazia said...

Thanks a lot, Beth, for writing this brilliant piece especially for My Jane Austen Book Club. I'm honoured to host your "Lost in Sense and Sensibility". And, I want to be the first to answer your question. I've always tended to be mild to Willoughby. Never been harsh to him.
I've always been sure he loved Marianne. If only... And my answer is YES. He will be able to redeem himself. Marianne is married to an "old" (lovely and very generous) man after all ... maybe, Jane Austen planned Willoughby's return in Marianne's life in order to give him the possibility to redeem himself.
Last but not least, I think John Willoughby is the best written male character in Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen depicted him thoroughly
while left Edward and Colonel Brandon rather .. mere sketches. I know many of you won't agree with me in saying this and I'd love to know what your opinion is.

Linda said...

What a thoroughly delightful scene - loved the 20th century idioms and Willoughby's reaction to them. I would think with the dogged influence of Sophia, he can definitely be redeemed. thanks for the giveaway.

Rebecca (RivkaBelle) said...

LOVE this little story - way too much fun, haha ...

Willoughby ... He bothers me. He really does. I can understand better now why people love him so much, but still - he's so, so, so ... So sure of himself? Too good at playing his own game? Honestly, I think the only way he could be wholly redeemed would be to suffer a severe dose of his own medicine, and then change his ways entirely ...

Great giveaway too, thanks!

Anne said...

Loved reading the scene, it was entertaining. No, I do not think Willoughby could be redeemed, he is who he is. He is such an entertaing bad boy, I would love to read a whole book about him!

Jenny Allworthy said...

This is fun. Hmmmm....Willoughby. He is a complicated bad boy isn't he? I think he is one of those individuals whose character depends largely upon whose company he is keeping.

I think if he had married Marianne (and eventually inherited the estate from his aunt), he would have been occasionally naughty as usual, but overall a decent human being.

Because he felt he had to run off and marry Sophia Grey with her however many thousand pounds, he would have been lost to dissipation and vice forever. I mean we all know that the real Sophia Grey didn't care for her poetry spouting spouse any more than he cared for her.

Now the real question is whether if Sophia wasn't just a rich *itch, could he still be redeemed? Well, I doubt it, as I would love to believe that he will forever be trying to drown his sorrows after making his poor choice. But I suppose if she was just the right rider to tame that bucking bronco???? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

jennyallworthy at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I don't think he will, since he didn't marry Marianne. If he'd married her, he might have had a chance...

nathorsey at aol dot com

Claudia said...

That's a tough question but... well, let me put it this way: reading the original novel my answer is NO. I'm too loyal to Colonel Brandon, I've loved him since the first lines; however, the fragment above suggested to me a perspective change. Probably till now I've looked at Willoughby only through Col. Brandon's eyes. I admit there might be possibility for redemption, but the real Sophia Grey couldn't do that. A 21th century girl... could. Two hundred years could make the difference!

Anonymous said...

The way Jane Austen portrayed him at the end of the novel convinced me that there was more to Willoughby than his rakish manners. We cannot simply label him a "Wickham" and easily toss him into the Jane Austen Bad Boys group. On one hand, his apology may have seemed to serve poetic justice. But there are always two sides to the same coin.

My answer is yes, Willoughby will redeem himself.


Lúthien84 said...

Have to say I love the scene.

As for Beth's question, I think Willoughby is redeemable because when he found out that Marianne was very ill, he rode to Cleveland to apologise and explain his past actions to Elinor. If he can feel remorse, he certainly could redeem himself but he needs someone other than Sophia Grey to influence him to change his character.


Patricia said...

This is a delightful scene!I don't really think Willoughby will ever redeem himself.He is an attractive but deceitful young man. Colonel Brandon, on the other hand, acts kindly and honorably towards Marianne. But perhaps Sophia can change him.


Anonymous said...

Willoughby always was a character that I disliked. But if I think it properly, I suppose he could have redeemed with time. Sometimes time makes you see things from a different point of view, don't you? ;). He wasn't a bad man after all. So my answer is YES.
Thanks for the giveaway and the fragment.


TheAtticGirl said...

Thanks for posting this! I love Beth's writing. As to Willoughby...I think he wishes he could be redeemed. I think he's a bad boy who made some very selfish choices that he regrets. But as to whether or not he could love anyone else but himself, that's a hard one. He seemed to love Marianne but truly loving someone in action and not just in words is something totally different. His actions proved otherwise.

donnyandshelly at yahoo dot com

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanne Angelina said...

Lovely! I find that when it comes to Willoughby, he could be redeemed. One day he might look back and will feel the guilt and where he has flaws, he is human, and being human means we often stumble across many mistakes, often which we could not see the consequences ahead of time- so he has the potential to be a better person.


Jennifer Delamere said...

I think, as Elinor notes in the book, that Willoughby will ultimately be content with the rich wife. His pragmatism has won over his feelings. I think the wonderful irony is that Col. Brandon was actually more of a romantic than Willoughby was, although it did not appear that way at first.
jfr(dot)harrington at gmail

Beth Elliott said...

Is he just a wild young man who can be excused by his youth? Willoughby's character is established by his seduction and abandonment of Eliza, a schoolgirl. We know he truly loves Marianne and the enduring question is whether he would have reformed to be worthy of her. Jane Austen ties him up with Sophia Grey and they are going to be a couple from hell - unless he becomes a devoted father. Do you see that happening? I don't.

lynnquiltsalot said...

What a fun read on a dreary, rainy day! Will he redeem himself? I think he just might. As his circumstances change (they always do), he just may see the error of his ways and settle down.

njm said...

Thanks for the tasty tidbit! Just wish it had been longer!
Willoughby redeemed? I don't think so. He would like to be and might give it a try, but ultimately his true colors will always shine through. Life for Willoughby will always be dictated by what he cannot achieve.

Unknown said...

No, I don't think Willoughby can be redeemed. He is to self serving for that.

Petali rossi said...

Why not? He's a selfish man but I think that he was really in love with Marianne...
The problem is that he chose money instead of love.