Good Afternoon everyone,
I hope you had a great weekend and that you are ready for another week. At From Pemberley to Milton I’m happy to start this week by welcoming Jayne Bamber who is here with a guest post about A Sister’s Curse which will be released tomorrow. The book is already available for pre-order, so check it out 🙂
In the meantime I hope you all join me in welcoming Ms. Bamber to From Pemberley to Milton and that you all find this guest post as exciting as I did 🙂
It’s great to be back at From Pemberley to Milton to talk about my new release, A Sister’s Curse, and I’m excited to share another excerpt with you all.
I’ll be introducing one of my favorite small characters in the story, Lady Eleanor – the matriarch of the Fitzwilliam family and reliable provider of sassy wisdom. Before I do, I thought I would give you just a little taste of the dowager countess by counting down some of her snarkiest moments, and celebrating some of the sassy grandmothers in TV and film that have inspired me.
So here are my favorite moments with Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, the Dowager Countess of Matlock…
“Our lady grandmother told me that Mr. Collins was to go and tour one of Sir Edward’s warehouses… she quite looked as if Mr. Collins had just taken the Tennis Court Oath.”
“You must never apologize for agreeing with me, my dear.”
There were footfalls on the garden terrace, and then the clink of Lady Eleanor’s cane. “So, this is where we come to speak the perfectly obvious? What a novelty!”
The dowager countess harrumphed. “Yes, well, I worry about all thirteen-year-old girls. It is a difficult age!”
Lady Eleanor groaned and slapped Elizabeth on the wrist. “Look at me, child! If you say one word about the curse again, I am sure I shall get up out of this bed and throttle you myself.”
“She was frightened by something in the middle of the night – and I do not think it was what she was reading in the library.”
“As you have chosen to hold your conversation in my sick room, I had inferred you might want my opinion on the matter.”
“Upon my word, you young people take everything so seriously nowadays. Every courtship is a Greek tragedy! I blame all the mania of novel-reading.”
“Well, I do agree you ought not get up to mischief of that sort in the middle of the night – though it is how I caught my late husband – at any rate, best not to make a habit out of it.”
“Yes, well!” The dowager countess punctuated herself with a firm stomp of her cane the carpet. “I shall spare these knuckleheads the trouble of repeating themselves – the last thing on earth I think any of us could bear.”
“Catherine, shut up,” the dowager countess sighed. “You give me such headaches.”
“William said that, did he? Well, I am glad it appears I have not waited so long in vain for him to exhibit some good sense.”
“I, for one, am perfectly willing to behave as one should when one is a guest in another person’s home.”
“They say he propositions every lady he dances with and I wanted to see if it was true.” Lady Eleanor reached over and stomped the walking stick that had been leaning against her chair. “It is not.”
As you can see, I’ve grown pretty attached to the dowager countess, and I think you will too as she berates the rest of her family into better harmony in A Sister’s Curse. In the excerpt below, we see her first meeting with Edward Gardiner, and it’s the beginning of a very cheeky and affectionate friendship.
Mr. Gardiner was accosted by an elegantly attired woman in her mid-sixties, who waved her cane at him as she exited the manor and approached a very grand carriage in front drive at Pemberley. He tipped his hat. “Good day, madam,” he said, still feeling half mad with grief.
“That is not what I hear,” she quipped with a sympathetic turn of her countenance. “I am Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, Dowager Countess of Matlock – Lady Anne’s mother. You must be Mr. Gardiner, I presume. You have my condolences, sir. Indeed, I have just been paying them to your dear sister.”
Mr. Gardiner was in too great a state of bewilderment already to form any rational reply to this new, surprising development. The dowager waited a moment before realizing no response would be forthcoming. “Well,” she said, stepping forward to clasp his hand in hers, “I have heard a great deal about you from your sister, and I look forward to coming to know you better through Phyllis, as your sister and I grow better acquainted ourselves.”
“Indeed?” Mr. Gardiner could only gape at the dowager, unable to express that he had not the pleasure of understanding her at all.
“Oh yes, my daughter Catherine sorted it all out before she left for Kent, a record success even for her. You see, young man, my last companion experienced the most perverse inclination to accept a proposal of marriage! I have not the least intention of moldering away all summer at the dower house by myself, and when your sister is recovered from her injuries, she will take up the position as my new companion. Perhaps we will go to Bath, or to Brighton. She is a lovely girl, and I do hope you are not unwilling to part with her.”
Mr. Gardiner had scarcely absorbed any of the lady’s information, but nodded anyhow.
“Well,” the dowager continued with a good-humored smile, “I can well understand your being reticent on a day like today, but another time I should like to speak with you further, as I have heard nothing but your praise every time I speak with dear Phyllis. You will call on me before you return to London, at the dower house at Matlock. Then you must visit, of course, once Phyllis is all settled in. How snug we shall be, when we are not traveling about. Oh! And here I am, you poor man, being overpowering, as my daughters would say. I shall leave you in peace now, but I shall be expecting that visit.”
Mr. Gardiner felt as if he was watching through thick fog as the dowager countess was handed into her carriage, which quickly sped down the driveway, and he did not stir until it was long out of sight. Only then did it strike him that somehow, in the last three days, his sister had agreed to become the dowager’s companion, without even mentioning it to him. “What is to become of those poor girls,” he groaned.
And then he saw them. Perhaps fifty yards distant, Lady Anne and her brother the earl were walking on the lawn with his nieces. Lady Anne held Mary in her arms as little Lizzy ambled along at her side, and a boy of ten or eleven was pushing little Jane in the bath chair Lady Anne had procured the previous day. It had been brought to the house for Phyllis’s use, and how tiny Jane looked in it! Mr. Gardiner could not help but give a little smile at the sight of it.
Lady Anne caught sight of Mr. Gardiner, and raised her free hand to wave at him, motioning for him to join them. He hesitated, still overwhelmed by all that had transpired that morning, but just alert enough to be sensible of the fact that he could not possibly hold a rational conversation with his hostess. She waved again, and this time was joined by the earl – Mr. Gardiner sighed, knowing he could not demur.
He took every step towards them with deliberation, struggling to recollect himself. He had buried one sister, lost the other, and had his heart broken all in the space of one morning, and after his encounter with the dowager countess, his capacity to speak with so many noble near-strangers was waning. Attempting to conceal his pain and confusion, he scooped little Lizzy into his arms as he joined their happy grouping.
Thanks for stopping by to check out this stop on my blog tour! I will be sharing more excerpts throughout the coming weeks, and there will be a chance to enter the giveaway each time! Happy reading, everyone!
Two families from very different situations in life are linked forever after a fatal accident on the Great North Road. This tragedy breeds years of sorrow and misunderstanding as well as prosperity and even romance in an emotional coming of age tale not only for Elizabeth Bennet, but for her sisters, and even the adults who let them down.
For nearly two decades, Edward Gardiner is haunted by the difficult decisions he has made. Lady Anne Darcy must bear all the guilt and delight of being granted her heart’s desire… at a price. The Fitzwilliam family has motives and misgivings of their own as the Earl of Matlock tries to keep them all together, right the wrongs of the past, and pave the way for the next generation.
Fitzwilliam Darcy realizes too late what it means to be a brother, and is faced with a parts of his past he regrets, just as his desire to protect the family he loves leads him back to the woman he was destined to love the most… a woman who despises him.
Elizabeth Bennet struggles through the turbulence of adolescence, her judgement clouded by past trauma and the complicated dynamics of her extended family. Secrets are revealed and re-examined as she is forced to come to terms with the truth of her past and the promise of her future, in a family bound together by heartbreak.
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