Living Large with the Ladies of Rosings Park:
William Collins Exclusive Interview with Shannon Winslow
Darcyholic Diversions is very happy to welcome Mr. Collins as he shares his interview with Shannon Winslow
WC: Well, well, Ms. Winslow, how kind of you to visit us again here at Meet the Author.
SW: Thank you, Mr. Collins, but the pleasure is mine. When I was here last, we ended with such a good understanding that you graciously invited me back anytime I liked. Do you remember?
WC: Oh, yes. I can truthfully say this much for you Ms. Winslow; your visits are always memorable. And I must tell you that I was very intrigued when I heard the title of your new book: The Ladies of Rosings Park! How those words warm my heart and take me back to a time I remember with great fondness.
SW: It is the same for me Mr. Collins. It seems I am always drawn back to the world of Pride and Prejudice, wanting to spend a little more time there with the characters I so admire.
WC: Ah, no doubt in this case you mean my noble former patroness, Lady Catherine, and Miss Anne de Bourgh. I assume they are the ladies to whom you refer in the title.
SW: Primarily, yes, although there are also a few contributions by Mrs. Jenkinson and Mrs. Collins as well.
WC: Ah, dear Charlotte. Yes, this all sounds very promising. It is high time that someone paid the Rosings family the homage they deserve. I presume that Lady Catherine herself is the heroine of the piece. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? But here I must confess that I haven’t actually read the novel. You must understand that I am extremely busy. You would have no way of knowing this yourself, but when one has achieved a certain level of fame, one’s time is not entirely one’s own anymore. My public clamors for more and I must not deprive them.
SW: Of course. As for who is the heroine of my book, that’s not as clear cut as you might imagine. Lady Catherine certainly gets her share of space on the page – she would stand for nothing less – and I must say that she has most if not all of the best lines.
WC: That is only right, for nobody can deliver a line like Lady Catherine. What timing! What a noble air! What a commanding presence!
SW: As you say. But you know as well as I do that there must be a courtship story in a Jane Austen style book, and Anne is the focus there. So, strictly speaking, the daughter not the mother is the heroine.
WC: [gasps] Oh, dear! Does her ladyship know? I cannot help thinking she will not approve of anyone upstaging her, even her own daughter!
SW: She may know it by now… and some other things in the book she will like even less. In any case, she did not hear these things from me. I interviewed her early on in the process, and I’m afraid we did not part on good terms. She seemed very annoyed when I asked her about her late husband, Sir Lewis.
WC: Oh, Ms. Winslow, you didn’t! That subject is strictly taboo. It was one of the first things I learned when I came to Hunsford all those years ago.
SW: Apparently, Mr. Collins, the subject is no more palatable to Lady Catherine today. Even if I had been forewarned, however, I would have had no choice. It was imperative to establish some background information on Sir Lewis, for how he and his early loss affected his wife and daughter. All we know from Miss Austen is that he is absent, and, so we must presume, dead. But I asked myself if that really were the whole story. Then I asked Lady Catherine. That’s when she terminated the interview. I can’t say as I blame her. From what I learned later through other sources… Well, let’s just say I now understand why she was so touchy on the subject.
WC: I cannot imagine Lady Catherine had anything to hide, so fine and upstanding a woman as she is!
SW: I suppose we all have things we would prefer to conceal, Mr. Collins. If I were to look closely into your background, for example, who knows what I might discover?
WC: No, you mustn’t! That is to say, surely there can be no occasion for your going to so much unnecessary trouble. After all, I am but a minor character in these events, and such idle speculations are profitless. Now, Ms. Winslow, one final question. It occurs to me that, by coming back to revisit events in Pride and Prejudice and what followed, it might have given you the opportunity to revise what you had written before. That upon further reflection, you might have thought better of the unfortunate choice to prematurely eliminate…
SW: Excuse me, Mr. Collins.
SW: Forgive me for interrupting, but I could see where you were headed. I’m sorry, but you must understand that events in this new book had to agree entirely with what I wrote in The Darcys of Pemberley. The same is true of Return to Longbourn and Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley. They’re all part of the same series, you see. So despite my personal fondness for you and how sincerely I value our friendship…
WC: Still dead, then, am I?
SW: I’m afraid so. But if it’s any consolation, I actually have sometimes regretted being so hasty in bringing about your character’s demise. You truly are one of a kind, sir, and a delight to write for. That’s why I always look forward to opportunities like this to renew our acquaintance. Plus, in The Ladies of Rosings Park, there are about a hundred and fifty pages prior to… the unfortunate event, so you have plenty of opportunity to shine before…
WC: Before I go out in a blaze of glory. I think that is the phrase you are looking for.
SW: Yes, thank you, Mr. Collins. And of course, that was not the end for you. You have not allowed yourself to remain trapped in the past. You have moved on and made a huge success of this, your second career, as well. I find that very admirable. Very inspiring. In fact…
WC: Ms. Winslow, you cannot outdo me at my own game. Besides, I’m afraid we are out of time for today. [Mr. Collins turns to address the audience.] Let us take this lesson from Ms. Winslow’s visit: make the most of every day, because one never knows when some lunatic person or event will come along to cut one down in one’s prime. Until next time, then – if indeed there is a next time for any of us – I thank you all for being here.
[The ‘applause’ sign lights, and the studio audience responds tepidly, looking a little uncertain. “Cut,” shouts the director. “That’s a wrap.” Mr. Collins’s personal assistant hurries to his side to blot his brow, offer him a cold adult beverage, and, at his instruction, escort Ms. Winslow away. Thus ends another memorable day on the set of Meet the Author.]
At first glance, Anne de Bourgh doesn’t seem a promising heroine. But beneath that quiet exterior, there’s a lively mind at work, imagining how one day she will escape her poor health and her mother’s domination to find love and a life worth living.
Now Anne finally gets the chance to speak her mind. But Lady Catherine demands equal time. Even Charlotte Collins and Mrs. Jenkinson get into the act. Chapter by chapter, these ladies of Rosings Park take turns telling the tale from the moment Elizabeth Bennet sets foot in Hunsford, changing everything. Is Anne heartbroken or relieved to discover Mr. Darcy will never marry her? As an heiress, even a sickly one, she must have other suitors. Does Lady Catherine gracefully accept the defeat of her original plan or keep conniving? Will Anne’s health ever improve? And what really happened to her father?
Complete in itself, this work expands The Darcys of Pemberley series laterally, beginning during the timeline of Pride and Prejudice and carrying beyond to reveal the rest of Anne’s story. When a young lady is to be a heroine… something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way. (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)