Hello book friends! Welcome back to the blog. It is a busy book week over here with lots of goodness to share. There is something about the weather turning cooler that makes me just want to snuggle up under a blanket with a cup of tea in hand and a book on my lap.
Today I’m excited to share with you an excerpt from Shelley and the Unknown Lady. This book will leave you weeping -so be warned. But still, I highly recommend reading it. Just like Bronte’s Mistress, this book is written with the intent to give voice to the women who have been silenced for so many years.
EXCERPT FROM SHELLEY AND THE UNKNOWN LADY
by Lona Manning
In this excerpt from Chapter 5, Mary Crawford learns to her surprise that the impetuous young poet she has met in Italy is the heir to a baronetcy.
Shelley’s reception of her at their trysting-place in the forest was joyful and ardent— “My dear one! I am writing again!” he exclaimed, raining down kisses on her face and hands. “I could hardly wait to tell you! Since I met you, I am able to write again! You have freed me from my ice prison! Perhaps you are the sun! No, no, not with those bewitching dark eyes and that dark hair.”
He pulled off her bonnet and started to pull the pins from her hair, while she laughingly protested.
“My dear nymph, do not suppose this faun permits his visitors to bind and confine their hair in that fashion—there, now. How beautiful you look with your hair flowing about your face.” Shelley broke off, and taking her face in both of his hands, softly exclaimed. “What shall I call you? I cannot call you ‘Mrs. Crawford.’ I will not call you ‘Mary.’ You are my deliverer. You make me feel reborn. You are such a woman as I had dreamt of, but could not believe really existed.”
He held out his hand and in a rapturous tone, recited:
Methought in dream
A shape of speechless beauty did appear:
It stood like light on a careering stream
Of golden clouds which shook the atmosphere—
He hesitated and coughed. “I know my voice is not very pleasant! I date it to a time when I was severely ill as a child. I nearly died of a putrid sore throat.”
“Good heavens!” Mary said politely, rather hoping he would resume his praises of her despite the limitations of his voice. “Was your family without the means to hire a good physician?”
Shelley laughed. “I have never told you about my family, have I? My father is a baronet and the member for Horsham in Sussex. It is not impossible that I should succeed to his seat in Parliament one day.”
Mary was dumbfounded. How had he never mentioned this before? This half-wild creature was the heir to a landed estate? This young man who refused to imprison his neck in a cravat, would be raised to the dignity, authority and honour of a baronetcy? Would be lord of the manor? Would be “Sir Percy” one day?
“You?” Mary exclaimed. “You are the heir to a baronetcy! And your father sits in Parliament?”
Shelley blinked, surprised that she should be surprised. Then he laughed and slipped his arm around her waist, the better to escort her to their familiar boulder-seat in the grove.
“Oh yes,” he affirmed, taking his seat next to her. “But do not imagine the Shelleys are an ancient house! Grandfather was a veritable old pirate and fortune hunter. He bought his honours when I was a child. My father, sadly, is a slave to conventional prejudice. He turned me out of the house.”
“But you are still the heir,” Mary asked, looking at him with some degree of alarm.
“Would… would you not like to be reconciled to your father?” Mary asked, not pleased to hear Shelley speak so casually of the honours and fortune he might yet contrive to throw away out of youthful impetuosity.
Shelley’s smile faded. “I will not disavow my beliefs. I will not give up my poetry.”
SHELLEY AND THE UNKNOWN LADY
BY LONA MANNING
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
eBook; 177 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s brief and turbulent life was as passionate and haunting as his poetry.
Romantic, idealistic and impulsive, Shelley had several intense love affairs.
When Shelley drowned at sea, he took his secrets with him.
Did a beautiful, lovelorn lady really follow him throughout Europe, as he claimed? Did Mary Shelley ever learn about this rival for her affections?
Shelley and the Unknown Lady is a carefully researched imagining of the true-life tragedy behind the mystery.
This novella is a stand-alone story excerpted from Lona Manning’s Mansfield Trilogy.
Praise for Lona Manning’s Writing
“Many try to emulate [Jane] Austen; not all succeed. Here, Manning triumphs.” -Blue Ink Reviews
“Manning’s books are… maniacally well-researched, gorgeously written, and wholly accurate in character. I can’t wait for the next one! I wholeheartedly recommend her books…” -Goodreads reviewer
About the Author
Lona Manning loves reading, choral singing, gardening and travel. Over the years, she has been a home care aide, legal secretary, political speech writer, office manager, vocational instructor, non-profit administrator and ESL Teacher. She has also written true crime articles for www.CrimeMagazine.com. She began writing A Contrary Wind, her award-winning debut novel, while she was teaching English in China. Manning and her husband raised their family in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow her on Twitter or Goodreads or at her Facebook page, “A Contrary Wind” where she posts on all things Jane Austen.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, October 5
Review at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 7
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Thursday, October 8
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Saturday, October 10
Feature at Reading is My Remedy
Sunday, October 11
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Monday, October 12
Guest Post at Coffee and Ink
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter. https://gleam.io/TW6nr/shelley-and-the-unknown-lady”
Direct Link: https://gleam.io/TW6nr/shelley-and-the-unknown-lady
Thank you to Amy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for letting me join this tour. Thank you to Lona Manning for giving a voice to the voiceless women that should not be forgotten.