Music Monday: Period Drama, Once Upon a December

Welcome to December — the month in Pride and Prejudice where, in volumes I and II, Netherfield sits empty, Mr. Collins returns to Longbourn for a short visit, Jane receives Caroline’s letter about Bingley not returning, and the Gardiners come for Christmas and leave with Jane. What a dreadful month! But then, what a difference a year makes! For in volume III, all is right by December, making it an exceedingly happy month. In fact, the Gardiners are expected at Pemberley for Christmas.

lilian hearts. “• Period Drama | Once Upon a December ♡.” YouTube, YouTube, 7 June 2015, youtu.be/_SLyhgk6fp4.

I’ve been stuck in the month of December for some time now, writing-wise. Two Days before Christmas (TDBC), which I began writing on October 24, takes place in December.  It begins with Darcy’s arrival at home at the end of November and concludes on December 23. The sequel to TDBC, One Winter’s Eve (OWE), begins on December 23 and will conclude in January. However, I am still in December in that story, and I do not see me finishing the first draft of that story for another week and a half or two weeks — and then I will have to edit that book. By the time all is said and done for these two books, it will likely be halfway through January 2018, meaning I will have been in December for almost three months! 🙂  But I have to say, my stay in writing-land December has not been dreadful but, for the most part aside from a few misty-eyed moments, exceedingly delightful!

Starting today, I will be working feverishly on final edits to TDBC because my timeline for accomplishing tasks for that book has adjusted forward by an email I received from Draft2Digital, whom I use to publish on iBooks and Nook, informing me that to ensure books are processed before various companies shut down for the holidays, all books should be uploaded by December 11! Yikes!

Therefore, I hope to have a preorder setup with a final ebook version of the story uploaded by December 11 for Draft2Digital and by December 12 for Kindle and Kobo. Then, I will work on the print book to get it uploaded, proofed, and ready to release before December 21. Here’s hoping all goes according to plan! 🙂 (And I suppose I need to toss some finishing up school units and preparing for Christmas in there as well — I am going to be one busy girl!)

I may have to take a pause in writing OWE to get the editing done that needs doing this week, but I am hopeful that I will be able to continue rolling along in that story. It has been keeping me up at night as possible scenarios for dealing with a couple of “issues,” aka plot points like Wickham, have been attempting to work themselves out in my brain. However, I am enjoying the story. Colonel Fitzwilliam is pretty awesome — as always — and I am liking (yes, I said liking) Caroline. Getting to know the characters as I wish to portray them is one of the fun parts of a challenging couple such as this — it is also the source of the story-induced lack of sleep as the actions and decisions in the story have to be true to the characters who are revealing themselves to me as I write.

Below, is a lengthy portion from what I wrote this week. In this excerpt, Richard has also been attempting to discover Caroline’s character. He thinks he has reached a correct conclusion. Caroline insists he is mistaken. But who is right — the colonel (and Caroline needs to discover some things about herself) or Caroline (and Richard will have to form a new hypothesis)?

AN EXCERPT FROM One Winter’s Eve

He shifted again.  This time, however, the chair squeaked, drawing her attention. “Forgive me,” he said, keeping his tone soft to match the peaceful atmosphere of the room. “I did not mean to startle you, nor did I wish to take you from your repose. Please, stay as you were,” he added as she began to straighten herself. “You look at ease. It is rather charming.” 

Her cheeks flushed.  “Are you certain? It is not at all how a lady should sit.” 

“It is precisely how she should sit in her own home when she is enjoying a book in solitude.”  He grinned.  “Even if her solitude is encroached upon by an interloper. I’ll not tell,” he added with a wink.   

His words and tone were so warm that Caroline couldn’t help but smile as she returned to her comfortable position and turned her eyes back to her book.  However, her eyes would not stay on the page. They kept wandering to the gentleman across the room.  He was not so tall, handsome, or rich as his cousin, but there was something about him that was rather compelling. She sighed. If only he were an acceptable choice, but he was not. She wanted what Evelina would achieve.  A husband with an estate who was good and kind, gentle and attentive, and behaved as was fitting his rank. Oh, a title such as Lord Orville possessed would make a gentleman even more desirous as a husband, to be sure. However, one of her lot in life must not attempt to reach so high. It was only heroines of novels such as Evelina who could hope to rise above their circumstances to such a degree.  Still, Caroline thought as she glanced once more at Colonel Fitzwilliam, a lady could hope and dream. 

For three-quarters of an hour, Caroline applied herself with diligence to her book while casting an occasional look in the colonel’s direction.  He was not flipping pages very quickly.  His reading yesterday was well done, so it could not be because he found the task difficult. Perhaps it was just not a very entertaining book. 

Robinson Crusoe was entertaining enough to hold Richard’s attention the two previous times he had read it, but this time it was a trifle difficult to occupy his mind with thoughts of seeking shelter and food on a deserted island when there was a pretty lady whom he was attempting to decipher sitting so near him.  Finally, he snapped his book close and rose to leave just as Caroline was beginning to yawn. 

“Your sister would suggest you go lie down if she saw you,” he teased. 

Caroline shook her head as she covered yet another yawn.  “I do not need to lie down,” she replied with a smile.  “However, I do think I would like to lie down.” 

Richard chuckled and crossed to where she was sitting. “Allow me to see you to your room in safety.” 

Caroline slipped her feet into her slippers and placed her hand in the one he offered. 

“What were you reading?” he asked as she tucked her book under her arm.  He had left his book on the table next to his chair. He would return for it later. 

“Evelina.” 

“I have not read that.” 

“I read it when we were here at Michaelmas and had read it twice before that — not this particular copy, but another at home.” 

“In town?”

She nodded.  “Before Father died.” 

“Ah.” 

“He purchased it for me.”  She missed him.  He was much like the good Reverend Villars in her novel, and she was his heart, his lady, his princess, or so he had said often enough when she was young.  She sighed. 

“He was a good man?”

“He was.  We wanted for nothing, especially affection.”  She smiled sheepishly up at Richard. “He was perhaps a bit too indulgent.” That lovely deep chuckle rumbled from the colonel.  

“Spoiled you, did he?”

“Yes.”  Her father had given her everything for which she asked if it were in his power to do so.  Charles had continued the practice until recently when she had returned to town without his permission.  Since then, he had been withholding as much from her as he could — except for his displeasure. That he had heaped on her in great doses.

“And your mother? Did she spoil you as well?”

Caroline shook her head.  “Not like Father.  Mama was determined that Louisa and I grow up to be fine ladies. She knew that Father intended for us to leave our place in trade and rise to the level of a gentleman’s sisters as well as eventually a gentleman’s wife. Mama believed him absolutely capable of accomplishing that task. Therefore, she educated us accordingly.  Things were not her way of bestowing treasures upon us. Knowledge was.” 

“Your education is good then?”

“It is. Both Louisa and I attended school and were instructed by masters in all the accomplishments a lady requires.”

They had reached the hall on which her rooms were located. 

“Then why do you feel inadequate?”

“I beg your pardon?” Did he find her inadequate? She certainly did not think of herself in such terms.

“I believe I know.”

“Do you?” She was not positive she wished to hear his opinion on her adequacy or lack thereof, but from his confident tone of voice, she knew she would hear it whether she wished it or not.

He nodded and drawing to a stop a few feet from her door, turned to look at her.  “I have been considering you for days. You are pretty. You move with grace. You can organize a household and set it to running properly whether you are at Netherfield or in town simply conveying your wishes to Mrs. Nichols by post — I know that yesterday’s fete was not arranged in one day.”  He shook his head and his brows drew together.  “I have yet to witness any area in which you are deficient save your parentage and kindness.”  He placed a finger on her lips to stop her protest. “You do struggle with kindness, but I am beginning to believe it is not because you do not like Mrs. Bennet or Miss Bennet or even Miss Lydia there is another reason.” He should remove his finger from her lips instead of stroking them as he wished. 

“And what is that?” she demanded. It was rather ungentlemanly and unkind of him to point out her deficiencies in such a fashion. However, she was interested to hear his theory.  She had never encountered anyone who had attempted to unravel her character. Most gentlemen, as well as ladies, only looked at her status and appearance.  Therefore it was rather intriguing to think that the colonel had considered her beyond those things. 

He shrugged.  “It occurred to me as I was attempting to read and not watch you, that you do not like you.”

She gave him a befuddled look. “I like myself just fine.” Wallflowers that lined the ballrooms avoiding the notice of one and all did not like themselves. She was no wallflower. 

He shook his head. “No, you do not.” 

She crossed her arms. “Yes, I do.” 

He smiled and pulling her arms apart, took the hand that did not hold a book and placed it on his arm.  “No, you do not,” he replied as they traversed the last few steps to her door.  “But do not fear, I shall help you.”

“I do not need help in liking myself,” she protested. “I think very highly of myself.”

He chuckled but this time she did not enjoy the sound of it. 

“It definitely appears to everyone that you do think very well of yourself, however, it is a disguise.”

“It is not.”

“It is,” he said as she turned to open her door, “for a lady who truly thinks well of herself is kind, and we have already established that you struggle with kindness.”

She huffed. “You have established. I have done nothing of the sort.” 

“You have with your actions.  Must I remind you of them?”

“No.”

“Very well. Do have a good rest.” He caught her hand and lifted it to his lips.

She shook her head as she watched him leave.  They were having such a pleasant time in the library. Why did he have to ruin that with talking?  She entered her room and pushed her door closed rather loudly.  She liked herself just fine!  She tossed her book on the table next to the bed and slipped off her shoes before flopping onto the mattress and staring up at the canopy above her.  A rest would be impossible with his words about kindness and thinking well of one’s self chasing each other around her mind.  She draped an arm over her eyes, which had filled with tears.  Why must he be so disagreeable? And why, oh, why must her heart care so much about what he thought?    

~*~*~

Leenie B Books

KOBO      AMAZON      NOOK      IBOOKS      MAILING LIST

Published by

Leenie Brown

Leenie Brown fell in love with Jane Austen's works when she first read Sense and Sensibility followed immediately by Pride and Prejudice in her early teens. As the second of five daughters and an avid reader, she has always loved to see where her imagination takes her and to play with and write about the characters she meets along the way. In 2013, these two loves collided when she stumbled upon the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. A year later, in 2014, she began writing her own Austen-inspired stories and began publishing them in 2015. Leenie lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her two teenage boys and her very own Mr. Brown (a wonderful mix of all the best of Darcy, Bingley and Edmund with healthy dose of the teasing Mr. Tillney and just a dash of the scolding Mr. Knightley).

4 thoughts on “Music Monday: Period Drama, Once Upon a December”

  1. I do wonder why the Colonel seems to be so obsessed with Caroline. Surely he can’t be serious about her? I can’t see him marrying a tradesman’s daughter but then what do I know? Hopefully he can persuade her to actually like the Bennets as well.

    1. [This is going to be long because I am so delighted to put these thoughts to “paper” and share them. :)]

      Oh, he is serious about her. So, let’s consider her as I have while writing this story because yes, at first, I was — how is this going to work? 🙂 But we can blame this all on Lizzy — I’ll get to that in a minute.

      At the beginning of P&P, Louisa and Caroline are described (through Elizabeth’s eyes) as fine ladies, not deficient in good humour when they pleased, nor the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited (hmmm…sounds very much like how she would describe a particular gent from Derbyshire 😉 ) They were rather handsome (to me, that kind of sounds like she is grudgingly admitting they are pretty), had been educated at one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of 20 thousand pounds, spent more than they should, had a habit of associating with people of rank and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others (do I hear Lizzy’s prejudice against people of wealth and rank in that part? I think I do). They were of a respectable family from the north; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired through trade. (So, they were from trade but from a well-to-so family that was worthy of respect and that has coloured their thinking more than being tied to trade — they were rich girls first and foremost in their minds.)

      We know Colonel Fitzwilliam would like to marry money — more than 20 thousand but 20 thousand is what I have used as his lower limit when considering a female in my story. (Louisa asks him this at one point in this story.) So, there is that draw of money. However, that’s not the big ticket item here. I’ll give you a little peek at what he told his cousin when Darcy asked him some questions:

      Richard blew out a breath. “It was likely three or four o’clock this morning when I came to the realization that following a lady around and studying her finer qualities to assure her of her worth was not a good way to keep one’s heart from becoming attached to that lady.”

      A lifted brow? That was all the response he was going to get? He sighed. Very well, he would continue as Darcy expected him to do. “In battle it is good to scout out the enemy, study their tactics, and make notes of their strengths and weaknesses.”

      Darcy nodded silently.

      He pulled his horse to a stop and turned toward his cousin. “You remember when Elizabeth challenged me to see Caroline in a different light?”

      “I do.”

      “I have always found Caroline’s looks appealing. I will not deny I have been attracted to her features and found it challenging to keep my distance from her. However, focusing on her sharp tongue and unkind ways allowed me to keep my baser desires in check. Elizabeth’s challenge removed my safeguard.” He looked past his cousin. “When I arrived at Netherfield, I knew my best option was to avoid Caroline as much as possible, but not because I could not tolerate her.” He shook his head and chuckled. “I tried to avoid her, but staying out in the garden for the duration of my stay is not feasible.”

      You see, he has always been attracted to her physical looks but had a way to avoid becoming attached as long as he thought of her meanly instead of trying to see what made her the way she was. But once that veil of protection was lifted, he has found his heart becoming attached not just to her beauty but to what he sees of her good qualities and potential. He loves her despite her flaws, which I think is sweet. Of course, he is not willing to just let her remain flawed and that should be what helps her to circle back to what she is at her core. I hope that helps you understand how this pairing that seems strange to us at first could be possible. It has taken me two weeks of being with them every day to get to a point where I am definitely seeing it as a plausible and even a good match. Hopefully, when the book is finished and you can see it all in one place instead of just in short disjointed snippets, it will also make more sense. I readily admit it is an unusual pair. 🙂

  2. I think it’s perceptive. Caroline is trying to be more than she is and, in doing so, has left behind the things that are her base (especially being raised by loving parents). That immediately makes you not like yourself but as time goes on, it’s hard to find your way back. It’s easy to dislike the Bennets because there is no artifice and they are not ton (despite the landed gentry status). I am glad that Richard is decided upon her and is apparently going to help her back to her real self whether she likes it or not 🙂 LOL

    I look forward to these stories WHENEVER you get them done. Do take some time for you, at least to breathe now and then. 😉

    1. He most certainly is trying to improve her with or without her permission. 🙂 The boy needs something to do while his cousin and Bingley are off courting their ladies. So, Caroline becomes the project. LOL However, as he soon realizes, following a lady around to tell her about her good qualities is perhaps not the best way to stay unattached to that lady. Snared in his own web!

      I would add that it is also easy to dislike the Bennets when they are the source of Darcy (and Pemberley) being lost to Caroline. 😀 I wonder, if Darcy had not paid any notice to Elizabeth and never made any comment about her fine eyes, if Caroline would have seen a need to separate her brother from Jane because at first both Caroline and Louisa liked her (or seemed to).

      I’ll try that breathing thing 😉 (actually, my osteopath often has to remind me to breath when I come in for a treatment, and I do catch myself not breathing as I should — so it is a reality that I need to remember to breath at times 🙂 )

Leave a Reply