Wednesday 25 October 2023

Mr. Knightley In His Own Words by Shannon Winslow - Excerpt

Book cover: Mr Knightley in His Own Words by Shannon WinslowToday Shannon Winslow visits the blog with an excerpt of her new book, Mr. Knightley in His Own Words. As the name will suggest, it’s a book looking at one of the main characters from Jane Austen’s Emma, but it’s not just the events from that book that we get to look at from another perspective. More events from Mr. Knightley’s life are included to consider how he became the man that we meet in Emma.  Shannon has written a series of this type of book, looking at Sense & Sensibility in Colonel Brandon in His Own Words and Pride & Prejudice  in Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words. Let’s take a look at the blurb and then I’ll bring you the excerpt for your enjoyment. I found it to be charming, and I am sure you will too.

Book Description

Mr. George Knightley. According to Emma Woodhouse, you won’t see one in a hundred who is so clearly the gentleman. Respected by all, he’s kind, unpretentious, and scrupulously honest, with an air so remarkably good that it’s unfair to compare other men to him. We also know he’s been his “own master” from a young age. But Jane Austen tells us little more.

What were his early years like, and how did he lose his parents? A man in his mid-thirties, he must have had at least one romance along the way. Did it end badly? Is that why he’s never married? When and how did his relationship with Emma shift from friendship to love? And what can explain his incredible forbearance towards the eccentric Mr. Woodhouse? Now, Mr. Knightley reveals these answers and more in His Own Words.

This is not a variation from but a supplement to the original story of Emma, chronicled in the hero’s point of view. Two-thirds completely new material, it features key events in Mr. Knightley’s past – events that still haunt him and yet have shaped who he’s become, the superior man Emma can’t help falling in love with.

Excerpt from Mr. Knightley in His Own Words, Introduced by Shannon Winslow

Introduction:  Mr. Knightley in His Own Words features three key periods in this Austen hero’s life: the early years (age 15-17), the young man (age 23-24), and “the present day” (the period covered in the original novel Emma). This excerpt is taken from the last of these – an entirely new scene that takes place after Mr. Knightley has recognized his feelings for Emma and just before the dance at The Crown. It’s told (as the book’s title suggests) in Mr. Knightley’s own words.

Book cover: Mr Knightley in His Own Words by Shannon Winslow
Chapter 36: Seen in a New Light

That night, I had an inspiration built upon some of the conversation at the dinner party at Hartfield. I would set aside my other plans to accomplish two things at once: to claim a little more time with Emma before Mr. Churchill’s return, and to simultaneously do my share for contributing to the care and entertainment of our visiting nephews. I would rise early, and if the weather were even reasonably fine, I would propose a little outing.

April could be so changeable, but the sky was blue when I awakened. That was all the encouragement I needed. I asked Mrs. Hodges to assemble a cold collation into a basket while I saw to the horses and carriage. Normally I would have taken the gig and driven myself, if I had wanted a carriage of any kind, but I had something different in mind for the day. So in the stables I pressed into service Webster, who was one of Donwell’s former workers that I had been able to hire again after Uncle Spencer’s leaving. He would drive and tend the horses, leaving me free to give my full attention to my guests. I only hoped Emma had not made other plans.

When the carriage pulled up at Hartfield’s front door, I sprang out and rang the bell.

The butler’s eyes popped wide when he opened to find me standing there. “Mr. Knightley!” he said in amazement.

“Yes, yes, I know, Pinkerton,” I said in answer to his unspoken question. “When is the last time I ever came to the front door rather than letting myself in from the garden? I shouldn’t wonder at your surprise, but would you tell Miss Woodhouse that I am here nonetheless?”

“Certainly, sir,” he said, still looking perplexed. “Would you care to… Would you care to wait in the drawing room, sir?”

“Of course,” I said, feeling a bit awkward also, to be so formal in a house I knew as well as my own. It was part of the point I was trying to make, though. This was a different kind of occasion, and I wanted Emma to notice it. I wanted her to see me more in the light of a gentleman caller than a member of the family to be taken for granted.

She did notice at once that something was unusual.

“Mr. Knightley?” she said in puzzlement when she came in a few minutes later. “What can you mean by coming in all this state this morning?”

“I have come to propose an outing for you and the boys. My carriage is here and Webster to drive it.”

“A carriage and horses?”

“Yes, and I have a picnic in a basket and fishing gear for Henry and John. Won’t you take a drive with me, Emma? No Harriet Smith today?”

“No, not with the boys here.”

“Ah, so then you are at liberty, if you would care to come.”

“Yes, I suppose I am, and it sounds delightful, although I am still a bit overwhelmed. What a surprise you have given me, Mr. Knightley.”

I could not help being pleased to hear it. “So you will come?”

“Yes, certainly. Only give me a few minutes to collect my wits and get the boys organized.”

“Excellent. The carriage is open. Still, there will be room for your maid, if you believe it more proper.”

“In an open carriage with your man and our nephews to chaperone? I hardly think it necessary, Mr. Knightley! We are practically brother and sister, after all.” With that cheerful sally, she turned to leave the room, adding over her shoulder, “I won’t be twenty minutes!”

I was delighted by her approbation. Everything was going as I had hoped – well, except for that “brother and sister” remark – and I was too excited to sit idle and wait. So I wandered to the back of the house to find my old friend for a short chat.

“Fishing?” Mr. Woodhouse exclaimed when I had related my plan. “But Henry and John do not have any idea how to catch a fish. They have been raised in town, you know.”

“Then it is high time they learnt! Do not you agree, Mr. Woodhouse? No boy should grow up without the chance to cast a line and feel the thrill of landing a fine trout to be cooked for his supper.”

“I daresay they do not know how to swim, Mr. Knightley, and neither does Emma. Oh, dear.”

“Now, sir, before you allow your fears to run away with you, consider. You know that Emma will not go near the water herself. And do you think I will permit either of those dear boys out of my sight for one second?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“Quite right. I am an excellent swimmer myself, if it should come to that. Plus the piece of water I have in mind is shallow and quiet. I believe either of the boys might walk with his head and shoulders above the surface all the way to the other side.”

“Oh, dear, I think that had better not be attempted, Mr. Knightley.”

“Certainly not. Rest assured, Mr. Woodhouse. I do not expect anybody to get so much as a boot wet.”

At this point, Henry came running into the room followed closely by his brother. They whooped and hollered with delight, throwing themselves at me and attacking me with questions. “Are we really going to learn how to catch fish, Uncle George?” That was the gist of it, over and over again.

“I am sorry, Mr. Knightley,” said Emma, coming in as well. “Once they learnt of your plan, I could not hold them back for anything.”

She had changed into a pink walking dress, which looked very becoming I noticed amid the confusion and noise. “‘Tis no trouble to me, Emma,” I said, laughing and fending my nephews off as well as I might. “I am delighted by their enthusiasm. But let us be on our way, children, so that we do not disturb your grandpapa with our noise, shall we?”

I did not have to ask them twice. They raced for the door and were energetically exploring the carriage interior, Webster in nervous attendance, by the time Emma and I could catch them up. “Now do sit down like gentlemen. There,” I told them firmly, pointing to the backward-facing seat. I waited until they had settled before helping Emma in and following myself.

We set off at once, Emma and I sitting side by side facing forward. As for Henry and John, they spent very little time sitting properly at all. They were bouncing to test the springs, or turning to look ahead and pester Webster with questions. Where are we going? How long till we get there? Will there be very many fish to catch, do you suppose? Who do you think will catch most, me or John? Me, of course, for I am older. Do not you think so?

“This is quite unlike you, Mr. Knightley,” said Emma, while the boys were thus occupied. “Being so spontaneous, I mean.”

“I disagree.”

She looked her skepticism.

“Well, I suppose I do generally think and plan ahead; I will not apologize for that. My experience in life has required me to do so. But sometimes, like today, Emma, I am struck by an inspiration that must be put into action at once. And if I have taken you by surprise, so much the better. After all, it would be a shame if we knew each other so well that there were no surprises left between us. Do not you think so?”

“That is true enough. I enjoy surprises – pleasant ones, at least. I simply have not yet learnt to expect them from you.”

I smiled. “If you expected them, then they wouldn’t be surprises, would they?”

We both laughed.

“I suppose not,” she admitted.

“Now, I will promise you this. If you enjoy today, I will contrive to produce other pleasant surprises for you in future. How will that be?”

This is as much as we had time for before the boys claimed our attention again. But Emma was smiling at me, and that was enough.

 * * *

When we arrived, I made the boys sit still until I had given them careful instruction about how we would proceed. I told them there would be no mad dash for the water. There would be reasonable calm and following instructions, or it would be back in the carriage to head for home again.

“Yes, Uncle George,” they said when I asked if they understood and agreed to this.

I helped Emma to alight, and only then were Henry and John allowed to get down.

“The ground is quite uneven, Emma,” I said. “Do take my arm.” And she did so.

“What a pretty spot!” she said as we approached the gentle bank of the river. “Oh, but I see we are not the first to find it today.”

She was right. A well-dressed man seemed to be preparing to leave as we arrived. He tipped his cap to me, saying, “Good morning.”

I returned the salutation and asked, “Had you any luck, sir?”

“Good luck indeed, but I believe I left some fish for you and your family too.”

I smiled and said, “I thank you kindly.”

 “That man took us for your wife and children,” said Emma after he was out of hearing.

“I daresay he did,” I answered, and I left it at that. However, the thought went a long way towards creating a very pleasant picture in my mind, towards feeding my unfounded dreams for Emma and myself…

* * *

Author Shannon Winslow
Author Bio

Shannon Winslow says she was minding her own business - raising two sons and pursuing a very sensible career - when she was seduced by the writing bug a dozen years ago. Stirred by the novels of Jane Austen, she set out to produce more stories in the same vein, beginning with a sequel to her favorite, "Pride and Prejudice." "The Darcys of Pemberley" (published in August 2011) quickly became a best-seller, praised for being true to the original's characters and style. Several more Austen-inspired novels have followed. "Winslow is one of the few authors who can channel Austen's style of prose so well that I could not tell the two apart if I tried," reports one reviewer. A life-long resident of the Pacific Northwest, Ms. Winslow resides with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.

You can connect with Shannon via her websiteFacebook and Twitter or find links to her books on her Amazon Author Page or Goodreads.

Book cover: Mr. Knightley in His Own Words by Shannon Winslow
Buy Links

Mr. Knightley in His Own Words is available to buy now in Paperback and ebook. It’s also available in audio! 

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CABarnes and Noble (Nook) • Add to Goodreads shelf

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  1. Enjoyed that brief taste. :)

    1. Shannon Winslow says: I'm glad! I hope you'll decide to continue on with the full-meal deal. :D

  2. Shannon Winslow says: Thanks so much for hosting me today, Ceri, and helping me get the word out about Mr. Knightley's story! It's a delight, as always, to visit BoaB. :)


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