Linda Beutler is a fifth generation Oregonian who lives in an antique house called Tanglevine Cottage in Portland, Oregon. She began writing stories about wild animals, told from their point of view, at the age of ten. So is it really much of a stretch to go from the mind of a young tiger to the heart of Fitzwilliam Darcy? Perhaps not.
In between the age of ten and delving into fiction again as a woman of a certain age, Linda has lived, and still lives, a gardening life. She has gardened everywhere she has ever lived. At 30 she walked away from a desk job, albeit at a library, to become a florist. This was followed by teaching horticulture, garden writing for local and national publications, and authoring three books of gardening writing. Her latest is Plant Lover’s Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, March 2016). Is there a resemblance between garden writing and fiction/fantasy? Yes. Linda also lectures nationally on a variety of gardening topics. In 2017 she will be speaking in Seattle and Port Townsend WA, Vancouver BC, Memphis TN, Kansas City MO, and various places in Oregon.
In 2007 she left floral design without so much as a backward glance, and signed on as the curator of North America’s foremost collection of the genus Clematis. Her attachment to this genus and her fellow “clemateers” (her husband’s word) has led to travels all over the world including three trips to England, plus visits to Ireland, Japan, Poland, Germany, and China. How do you say clematis? Anyway you want as long as you are not pronouncing letters which are not actually in the word. In June of 2013 Linda was elected the first woman, and first American, president of the International Clematis Society. She will serve through the annual conference in 2018.
After reading Pride and Prejudice again for the umpteenth time during the fall college break of 2011, Linda chanced to pick up a “what-if” at her local library. The substance proved instantly addictive, and after a torrid career through every title she could find, a small voice sounding a bit like actress Jennifer Ehle suggested she ought to try her hand. This proved akin to growing ones own narcotics.
It is with a combination of beginner’s luck and humble gratitude that Linda has now embarked on a new publishing endeavor through the patience and generosity of Meryton Press. The Red Chrysanthemum celebrates the language of flowers, a dialect that allows Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy to express feelings too daring and frightening to speak aloud. The story strays from the canon by asking the questions: why did Darcy go to the inn at Lambton to see Elizabeth on the morning she received the letter from Jane revealing Lydia’s perfidy? And what would have happened if that letter had been filled with Jane’s jolly and trivial tales from Longbourn instead? The Red Chrysanthemum, published in September, 2013, won a silver IPPY award for romance fiction in 2014.
Next up? Debuting in August 2014, Longbourn to London is not so much a what-if as an expansion of that part of Pride and Prejudice given such short-shrift by Jane Austen—the actual engagement period of Lizzy and Darcy. The story begins just a few days after Darcy’s second proposal is accepted, and continues through the first week of their honeymoon at Darcy House in London. Again the inspiration is not Pride and Prejudice alone, but also the 1995 BBC mini-series, with its lively screenplay by Andrew Davies. Those readers who are members of the Meryton Literary Society will recognize this story as Linda’s first posted work at A Happy Assembly, but we know you will find this fully edited published version much improved. It does include mature content.
Linda’s third novel she likens to Jane Austen’s description of Pride and Prejudice as “her own dear child.” A Will of Iron was conceived by Linda and her editor-beyond-price Gail Warner, during the editing of The Red Chrysanthemum. It was due to Gail’s persistent nudging that AWOI was published in 2015. Because she is a flawed and silly human being, Linda chose not to post the novel through AHA before publication, a decision that has led to profound regrets. But none-the-less, this macabre rom-com set mainly at Rosings has been well received. Part of the story is told through the journals of Anne de Bourgh, who, before her death at the beginning of the novel, has led a rich life of the mind. Her journal observations are used to enhance the plot as Darcy and Elizabeth are thrown into each other’s company again barely a week after her blistering rejection of him at Hunsford. Like all of Linda’s stories thus far, it ends with mature content. There is murder and mayhem throughout, but this is not a mystery story. Each death is fully explained, and there is never a doubt as to “whodunit.” If a novel featuring a swath of vengeful destruction can be described as madcap, well, there you have it.
In October 2015, Linda had the great honor of providing a break-out session for the JASNA AGM in Louisville KY. The theme that year was “Jane Austen’s World”, and Linda’s presentation was “Garden Like Austen: Plants Jane Knew and Grew (and so can you!)”. This talk has since been repeated for the Southern Oregon JASNA chapter in September 2016. If your chapter is willing to pay her way, she will happily repeat it and provide the highly educational booklet of cultivation tips, plant sources, image list, and bibliography.
In 2017, watch for My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley, which started as the story “Your Mr. Bingley” at AHA. What happens to the key Pride and Prejudice relationships if Mr. Bingley does what we all wish he had done in the first place, returning alone in January to Hertfordshire to court Jane Bennet, against the advice of his family and Darcy? Of course Jane is still in London when Bingley returns to Netherfield, so there is that hurdle to overcome. And how is Darcy to be heroic if Bingley steps up to do his own heavy lifting? Watch for this in February or so of 2017.
Linda’s home garden is replete with clematis, heirloom roses, flowers both quaint and queer, favorite vegetables, and a bit of scrappy lawn for the dog. She is an avid bird-watcher, adoring dog and cat owner, a happy traveler, and dedicated popularizer (if that isn’t a word, it should be) of the genus Clematis. Linda has been married for 30 years to Larry Beutler, bless his cotton drawers.