Saturday 20 November 2021

Gentlemen of Gloucestershire by Michelle R Wood - Excerpt

Book Cover: Gentlemen of Gloucestershire by Michelle R Wood
Hi there everybody! I am pleased to be welcoming a new visitor to my blog today, Michelle R Wood. Michelle is is writing a sequel to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. Much as I love books based on Pride and Prejudice, Austen wrote some other wonderful books and it's so good to see some love going their way! The book Michelle is bringing with her today is called Gentlemen of Gloucestershire and she has brought an excerpt for us to enjoy. I'll share the blurb with you and then will hand over to Michelle to introduce the excerpt.

Book Description

Mrs. Catherine Tilney née Morland began her marriage to the Reverend Henry Tilney with every expectation of happiness. When a crisis emerges and her new family is put in danger, she must become the heroine she has been in training for all her life.

Gentlemen of Gloucestershire is a sequel to Northanger Abbey featuring dramatic scenarios, comic situations, witty banter, and hopefully wisdom gained through the evolving relationship of a young couple with plenty to learn about themselves and each other.

From the Author It's a great feeling to appear for the second time on another blog promoting my very own book. Gentlemen of Gloucestershire is at a milestone moment in publication right now, with about a third of it released on my blog. I began writing it during the pandemic last year, when I was furloughed from my job and the world locked down. Little did I realize how much I would have to write and share with the world at the time. Promoting a sequel to Northanger Abbey is a challenge: it often feels like the least popular of Austen's novels. I believe one reason is because fans are similarly uninterested in Henry Tilney as a leading man. Austen describes him as "not quite handsome;" he lives in a parsonage instead of a manor; he doesn't brood or smolder. Readers craving a romantic hero may also dislike Henry's apparent passivity as a lover. There is no romantic letter, no fervent avowal of love, no angsty dramatic gesture to prove his devotion. However, one of the reasons Henry never gets this breakthrough moment is because he shows his feelings for Catherine all along. He offers genuine compliments amid the witty banter, such as when he calls her "superior in good nature ... to all the rest of the world." He continually demonstrates concern for her feelings, respecting her enough to take her fears seriously even when he knows they're unfounded, and finally stands up to his father when ordered to forget her. I've been very pleased to see readers of my book say it has inspired them to give Northanger Abbey another look. It's got a lot going for it despite the lack of serious danger or deep plot (and some of Austen's wittiest dialogue, thanks in no small part to Mr. Henry Tilney). Hopefully, readers will give both Henry and Catherine more credit for their own good qualities, and appreciate them enough for more authors to explore their simpler but no less interesting relationship.


Now for an excerpt from my novel, which was posted on my blog. At this point in Gentlemen of Gloucestershire, Henry is gradually recovering from an illness which trapped our happy couple at Northanger Abbey. In this passage he speaks to his father for the first time since coming out of a dangerous fever. Unfortunately, General Tilney is not sympathetic to his son's situation, and reopens an old quarrel.


Book Cover: Gentlemen of Gloucestershire by Michelle R Wood
"Hello sir: I trust you have enjoyed as pleasant a walk as myself."

"Tolerable. I am glad to see you up: it is about time you stopped sulking like an infant."

If the morning's idyll had been fantastic and dew-laden, this admonition washed over Henry with all the abruptness of a cold water bucket, bracing in its stimulation. "I have missed being about, I assure you. There is little I desire more at the moment than honest work."

A pointed look at his relaxed posture was enough to make Henry regret his levity, and cause him to straighten in his chair. Changing the subject, he thanked the general for accompanying Catherine to services. "It was very good for her to be out of the house and in company; Mrs. Tilney is not made for isolation. I am glad for your kind offices on her behalf."

"It has always been our habit to obey the strictures of our religion. Nothing has changed there. Northanger Abbey should always be an example to the parish."

Henry was sorely tempted to make some clever remark over what kind of example was meant, but he refrained from more than a cordial nod.

"Where is she now?" was next asked of him, and Henry was able without irony to explain he had sent the lady in question to explore and thank his father again, thereby assuming rather than asking for permission. "She left in very gay spirits; I have hardly ever seen her better."

"Happy to leave you abandoned, and go out in the wild by herself, without thought for decency or duties owed? I trust you do not present this picture as one meant for increasing our reputation. I am not inclined to see any inhabitant of this house behave so, least of all someone who claims to belong to it."

Henry's smile was no longer natural but kept only by force of habit. "You mistake my meaning, sir; it was not our parting that made Mrs. Tilney glad. Why, she was put to tears at the mere suggestion of removal from this place."

"As any person would, who has designs on a higher position. Do not assume because you have always been so unambitious that others are likewise inhibited."

Henry did laugh here. "Ambition? Perish the thought. I can assure you my dear Catherine has never entertained such notions, would never even dream of any sordid schemes."

A sharp rap of the general's hand upon the table was enough to interrupt further defence, so forceful and emphatic was its execution. "This is what comes of marrying so early: you prove your folly with every word! Was it unambitious to toy with your affections, to draw you into an alliance? Do you expect me to display similar ignorance, when I have the evidence of where it has led you, and by extension, our name? spoken of by the community at large, the discussion of every Tom Cottager to his brethren, not only here but in your own parish? Can you claim to feel any pride at all, knowing how little the paupers in their pews fear you?"

"I do not believe it required my marriage to cure the congregation of any temporal dread in my presence. As to being the brunt of our neighbours' insinuations: if even the gods are susceptible to this abasement, we poor mortals must do our best to weather the same." While intentionally sedate in his accents, Henry struggled to remain calm while his wife came under increasing attack. He had not trusted himself to parry those taunts, but sought to distract his father with other objects of ridicule.

"You have always been too ready to abandon sober reflection."

"I admit to seeking amusement whenever possible, but trust I have never diminished the people's respect for our Heavenly Father or mother church. Why, there can be no higher praise for a parson than to think his audience has actually listened enough to discuss what he has said."

"As if that were the only concern: your sophistry is not, in fact, so important as you think, certainly not according to the report which I have just finished reviewing again."

"Ah, but I am very vain of my speech, you must allow that sir," was Henry's near desperate feint, and like all rushed manoeuvrers, deficient in its discharge entirely.

"Not only encouraged in your conceit, but flattered by the attentions of so middling a person, you fail to recognize her shameless notoriety. I am told this woman is without restraint: unruly in dress or deed, a busybody and interloper, engaging any rogue who chances by or will admit her. Do you deny it?"

For Henry could not help shaking his heads as these charges were laid down. "I do, most earnestly; there is no one in the parish more scrupulous. I cannot imagine who has been filling your ear with such idle, ridiculous talk."

"It little matters: that my intelligence is sent direct from Woodston should be enough. Or did you think because you were so dilatory about canvassing the district your subordinate should be as well? It is not only as a parent but the trustee of that living, and the chief landowner the other men of property must look to, that I am required to assume the disagreeable role of inquisitor. I know these things have been discussed openly; what say you to their accusations?"

A tightness closed around Henry's lungs, his breaths were shallow, and he gripped the chair so tightly he felt his shoulder began to ache again. With great deliberation did he seek to compose himself, mindful of the need to conserve his energy, so that he was able to reply after a moment's pause. "The only words Mrs. Tilney might reasonably excite from any quarter should be complimentary, as indeed they have been when spoken direct to me by nearly all who have met her, including the farmers you are so quick to assume in full agreement with whatever has been written—which, as I am ignorant of the particulars, and only suspicious of its source, I will not endeavour to refute except by an appeal to your own understanding and observations. Your strictures have been honoured, your position upheld, and as you make no complaint of this past Sunday I must believe she was credibly received by those among your own set who may even have had leanings in a different direction. Therefore a canvassing of her detractions must be in service to condemn them. I cannot believe anyone of good sense or character would sink so low as to accept vulgar gossip against a virtuous lady."


Author Michelle R Wood
About the Author: Michelle R. Wood studied Theatre Arts and English in college, then went on to work in entertainment venues ranging from Florida to Washington, DC. Her full-time career in live theatre hit a hiatus last year during the pandemic, allowing her to revisit her love of writing. More information about her interests and experience may be found on her website, blog, LinkedIn, and Goodreads. You can also follow her on Twitter.

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Thanks so much for sharing this with us Michelle! I am sure I am not the only one reading this who is having bad feelings towards the General!

You can read more of the book over on Michelle's blog, and follow the story there.


  1. Oh, yes, this is absolutely going on my reading pile. :)

  2. I have been enjoying reading the story

  3. Thank you for sharing this piece!

  4. Thanks again for hosting the book, Ceri, and to each person who commented here: I always love seeing reader reactions.


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