Editing Constancy: A Jane Austen Story

Mabel Winston is a modern successful woman – clever, stylish, and dedicated to her work. She’s the non-fiction publishing director of an international publisher. Tall, handsome lawyer, Tom Rutherford, is her boyfriend. Kitty, Mabel’s adoring personal assistant, thinks she takes Tom for granted and is too comfortable about the parade of admiring men seeking her favors.

Raphael Cannane drifts back into Mabel’s life after a ten-year break. Mabel and Raf grew up in the same street. Raf’s twin sister, Rebecca, was sweet, but Raf sometimes a snarling tomcat. Mabel was often his victim. She could never understand why. Now he is back, troubling her, not in the same savage way, but with a disturbing irony.

Mabel departs with her mother, Miriam, on a pre-planned holiday to England, part of which is a tour of the places in Jane Austen’s two Bath novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. They meet Dirk Howlett-Smit, a wealthy funds manager. Dirk invites Mabel and Miriam to his sprawling Georgian mansion. All is going well when Mabel abruptly packs up and flees to Bath with Miriam. Dirk and his daughter, Edwina, follow and join the tour which swells to eight. Raf is among the new arrivals. The tour is torture for Mabel. Worse is to come when she returns to her work. Her private life is in free fall.

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Writer … and still in the fifties