By A.S. Fenichel, Author of A Lady’s Escape
As many of you likely are, I am a huge Jane Austen fan. I dearly wish she had written more books, but what she gave us is so rich. I’ve read them dozens of times and seen all the adaptations on big and small screens. Every time I indulge in one of Jane’s books, I find something new to intrigue me.
My favorite book is Persuasion, Jane Austen’s sixth and final completed novel (1818). At nineteen, Anne Elliot was persuaded to break off her engagement with a young lieutenant in the Royal Navy, because Frederick was a commoner without a fortune. I love that Anne goes against expectations and chooses to never marry once she’s given him up. She will not be further persuaded and in this way takes control of her own life. A rare thing in those times, but something that Jane may have done as well. In fact, the Mrs. Musgrove even mentioned that Charles would have preferred to marry Anne rather than hysterical Mary. They don’t go into detail, but I like to suppose that Anne was “unavailable” for courting because she loved Frederick still.
However, my favorite line from any of the books is from Sense and Sensibility. It is after Marianne has recovered from her near-death illness. She and Elinor are sitting in the spot where Marianne first fell and first met Willoughby. When Marianne tells her sister that she should have behaved better throughout the ordeal, that she should have behaved as Elinor did, it breaks my heart. In a way, this small passage, sums up the title of the book. We have seen the sensibility of passionate Marianne and the good sense of reasonable and accepting Elinor.
“I am not wishing him too much good,” said Marianne at last with a sigh, “when I wish his secret reflections may be no more unpleasant than my own. He will suffer enough in them.”
“Do you compare your conduct with his?”
“No. I compare it with what it ought to have been; I compare it with yours.”
Both women had fallen in love in a short time just after their father’s death. Marianne is sixteen at the start of the novel. She is wildly romantic. Keep in mind, Elinor seems quite mature but is only nineteen. Elinor gives council to her mother as well as her sisters. In the movie adaptation, her half brother says she is a faded beauty. At NINETEEN!
What strikes me about Marianne’s admission is that Elinor behaved in what they considered the appropriate way. She kept her heartbreak to herself. She went on with her days and nights as if nothing was wrong. She even nursed her sister back to health. All the while, her own heart was in tatters.
Have you had a broken heart? I have and would have to say, I was a combination of the two characters, though maybe more Marianne than Elinor. Still, I wish I had the strength of bearing to hold my head up and accept quietly. There was something regal about Elinor bearing up under all that pain. And of course, because she suffers in silence, we are all the more charmed by her getting her Happily Ever After.
The ladies of the Everton Domestic Society are far from stoic, but they have a certain grace under pressure that I admire. In A Lady’s Escape, Millie survives her disastrous debut and even manages to marry off most of her friends to eligible young men. She does not rage against society, though she does take control of her own life by leaving the safety of her uncle’s home and becoming an Everton Lady.
It’s sometimes hard for us, in modern times, to fathom the courage it must have taken to thwart society and become the person they wanted to be. I’m thankful, Jane paved the way. Strong women are so much more interesting to read about and surround ourselves with.
About A Lady’s Escape
The perfect match may be closer than they imagine . . .
Despite her disastrous London debut, Millicent Edgebrook has proven skilled at securing matches—for every young lady but herself. Resigned to spinsterhood, and eager to gain independence from her lovable but eccentric uncle, Millie joins the Everton Domestic Society. Her first assignment: find a bride for Preston Knowles, Duke of Middleton. How difficult can it be to secure a match for a handsome, eligible aristocrat? As difficult, it seems, as resisting her own attraction to the duke.
Preston has promised himself not to be ruined by love. After being rebuffed by two perfectly respectable candidates, he’d rather remain happily single for the rest of his life if only his mother would let him. Yet suddenly, he’s fantasizing about the lovely matchmaker she’s hired—the least suitable bride imaginable. Millie’s past is shrouded in scandal, and the Everton Society forbids relations between employees and clients. But even with so many obstacles against them, Preston longs to convince the woman he adores that love trumps rules every time.
About the Author
A.S. Fenichel is a multi-published romance author who writes across several sub-categories, including Regency historical romance, historical paranormal romance and erotic romance. Originally from New York, she now lives in East Texas with her husband and a temperamental cat. Visit her online at www.ASFenichel.com or on the social media platforms below.