A Return To Norland


I am currently working on a sequel to Sense and Sensibility. I have always totally loved the 1995 movie version of this wonderful work of Austen’s, and as I write the chapters of this sequel, I still think of my characters with the faces and voices of those amazing actors, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman. But A Return to Norland is not only about the characters played by these actors, although they are all central to the novel’s progression. A Return to Norland is most notably the story of Margaret Dashwood, whose character came alive in the hands of the wonderful actress Myriam Francois, who in 1995 played the part of Margaret Dashwood aged 13yrs, about the same age as Margaret Dashwood is in the novel.

So, what of Margaret? What did she become? What was her life story after her sisters married their sweethearts? Did she too, find love, or did her life take a different turn altogether? Set five years after the end of Sense and Sensibility, these are some of the questions that A Return to Norland addresses, and I hope that when you turn its pages, you will be satisfied with this sequel.
But don’t think I have forgotten Margaret’s sisters, or her other family, for within the pages of the novel, you will follow the lives of Elinor and Edmund Ferrars, Marianne and Colonel Brandon, as well as all the favourite heroes and antiheroes from the original novel. Fanny Dashwood, Lucy Steele (now Lucy Ferrars) Mrs Jennings, and Sir John Middleton, along with many other characters from the original novel, all make appearances, and in some cases, cause quite a stir! But you will have to read the novel to find out more! Look out for it 2023!

Margaret Dashwood, the youngest sister of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, has grown up in the shadows of her two siblings, and is thought by her family, when we first observe her in Sense and Sensibility at the tender age of thirteen, to be ‘a good humoured well-disposed girl; but as she had imbibed a good deal of Marianne’s romance, without having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.’

But Margaret has been much underestimated by her family. She has blossomed into young woman of greater worth than she had been given credit for, although outside her immediate family she is admired mostly for her beauty. Naïve and innocent, she has an untouched country freshness that is pleasing to her family and friends. That is, until she is invited to Norland Park by John and Fanny Dashwood, and is thrust into London’s fashionable and sometimes aggressively consumerist society for the winter season. It is here that she is forced into ‘a better knowledge of the world’, as Colonel Brandon terms it, and indeed, a better knowledge of herself.

It is here, too, that she meets the charismatic and cosmopolitan Charles Ambrose, whose knowledge and experience fascinate her. Torn between two worlds, and two suitors, Margaret is confronted by secrets that threaten the very core of her soul. Forced to make decisions that will forever change her future, and that of her family, she must draw on all her resources to navigate the new world in which she finds herself.

A Return to Norland is a coming of age story but it also takes a look at the lives of those we left five years ago, at the end of Sense and Sensibility, as well as many of the characters we have known and loved from Austen’s original novel. This sequel novel will take readers on a journey of discovery as we watch Margaret, Elinor and Marianne find their way back to the peace and happiness they once treasured, long ago, at Norland Park, and will haunt readers long after turning the final pages.

The loss of her mother and the remarriage of her father have had a sobering effect on Miss Charlotte Milton. Charlotte readily accepts an invitation to spend the summer with her cousin at Delford, the home of her cousin’s guardian, where she hopes to deal with her sorrow and remove herself from a difficult situation at home. But almost as soon as she meets Sir Benedict Markham, sparks fly, and she finds herself wondering if spending the summer in his home is not exchanging one difficult situation for another!

Sir Benedict Markham takes his role as a guardian seriously, but past experience has made him cynical about love. His ward is bright, volatile and somewhat shallow, but when her cousin comes to visit, he discovers that Miss Charlotte Milton is a very different matter! She intrigues him, even as she infuriates him.

When Charlotte’s cousin is led astray, into the arms of a titled fortune hunter, can Charlotte convince Sir Benedict that scandal is imminent? Will Charlotte’s dislike of Sir Benedict prevent her from seeing the truth of her own feelings? And will Sir Benedict resolve his feelings about the past, before he can look to a future with Charlotte?

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