Good Morning everyone,
How is October treating you so far? It is already cold in my part of the world and autumn is definitely set here. This weather always makes me want to stay home, grab a hot beverage and read something interesting, and even if in Portugal we don’t celebrate Halloween, I had vouched that this month I would only read paranormal books with a hot coffee in front of me. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happen yet. I have stayed very little time at home and I haven’t read any paranormal books yet. But I am happy to welcome author Jennifer Kloester with an excerpt of Jane Austen’s Ghost because that is in line with the paranormal theme:)
It is the first time I am receiving Jennifer Kloester at From Pemberley to Milton and I am very happy to be working with her team to promote Jane Austen’s Ghost. As you know, I am a big fan of the paranormal and this Austen inspired book really caught my attention. I am eager to have a chance to read it.
I hope you all enjoy the excerpt and share with us your thoughts on this book. It will be released on October 29th, but you can pre-order it already on Amazon.com.
Thank you so much for visiting Ms. Kloester and happy reading everyone!
A masterpiece of wit, ingenuity and impeccable style, Regency maven Jennifer Kloester brings the great Jane Austen into the modern world in this enchanting, exhilarating adventure of love, literature and life everlasting…
With her life a mess, Cassandra Austin seeks refuge in Winchester with her eccentric great-aunt – but Aunty B has problems of her own. Ghost problems.
Cassie doesn’t believe in ghosts but she’ll do anything to help the only person who’s ever loved her. Besides, a simple spell in the cathedral crypt couldn’t do any harm, could it? Well, except for the two-hundred-year-old curse on Jane Austen, that is.
Overnight, life is suddenly a whole lot weirder and it’s up to Cassie to save the day with the help of a dour Bishop, two literary geniuses, a couple of wise-cracking geriatrics and the enigmatic Oliver Carling.
Magic and mystery abound in this genre-bending contemporary-historical paranormal romance with a Regency twist.
Jane Austen’s Ghost is not yet out, but you can preorder it at:
The book will be automatically delivered to you on October 29th.
Carlton House Library
November 22nd, 1816
‘MARRY you?’ repeated Jane, and there was that in her voice which ought to have given him pause.
‘It would be an honour, Miss Austen.’
‘I fear it would be too great an honour for me, Mr Clarke.’ Jane laid down the book of prints she had been perusing and eyed her unlikely suitor with disfavour. Rising from her elegant gilt chair she added firmly, ‘I assure you that I am well past the marrying age.’
The Reverend James Stanier Clarke folded plump hands across his tight velvet waistcoat. ‘It is indeed true that you are no longer in the first blush of youth.’ He nodded with a satisfied air. ‘But I am confident that the tone of your mind, your principles and literary attainments will more than compensate for those other things which a gentleman generally looks for in his bride.’ He wiped his glistening forehead with a large red handkerchief and reached for her hand.
Jane took a hasty step backwards and gestured towards the magnificent bookcase. ‘Such intricate woodwork. I assure you I never saw a palace as beautiful as Carlton House.’
‘Its beauty is only enhanced by your presence, dear Miss Austen.’ Mr Clarke smiled and, to Jane’s dismay, stepped towards her.
She quickly lifted an elegant volume from the shelf. ‘I see the Prince Regent has a taste for Miss Burney’s books. Here is a copy of Camilla.’ She opened it. ‘And signed to His Majesty, King George. How delightful. I must confess, however, that I prefer Evelina.’
‘As always, we are in agreement, Miss Austen. I am in no doubt that our months – nay – our year of shared correspondence has shown you how entirely your taste in literature, as in so many other things, accords with my own.’
‘You place a great deal too much weight on a few letters, sir. I cannot—’
‘A few letters?’ Mr Clarke frowned. ‘Never say so. Why, I have counted six at least between us since your first visit to this library little more than a year ago. And then there are your novels, Miss Austen.’
‘My novels, sir?’ Jane was puzzled.
‘In which members of the clergy figure so largely. I cannot conceive of any type of man who would make you a better husband than a clergyman.’
Jane suppressed the bubble of laughter that rose within her and looked at him in wonder. ‘Do you think I should enjoy being married to Mr Collins, sir, or do you prefer Mr Elton?’
Mr Clarke considered the question with such ponderous gravity that she itched to seize quill, ink and paper from the nearby secretaire and set down the preposterous scene. At last he said, ‘I cannot, of course, answer for either of those gentlemen but, for my own part, I think us an ideal match.’ He held up a hand to silence her protest. ‘If you will but consider: I am a clergyman and you are a clergyman’s daughter. You have also two brothers who are clergymen. How well you would understand me, what support you would give me in writing my sermons and I, in my turn, could assist you with your stories. I have several ideas that—’
‘I am aware of your ideas, sir.’ Jane’s voice grew cold and her hazel eyes glittered. ‘You have already shared several of them with me in our brief correspondence.’
He smiled, his thin lips parting to reveal yellowed teeth and ruddy gums and she eyed his stout, middle-aged figure with increasing dislike. He did not seem to notice but said with a smug certainty that only made her long to box his ears, ‘There, I knew you would understand. Imagine how it will be when we are married. Two like minds working together as one. I can see us now, living in complete accord, reading and writing our books together in happy understanding.’ He surged towards her across the sumptuous crimson carpet and Jane, finding her back hard up against the Regent’s bookcase, suffered him to take her hands in his.
Mr Clarke sank slowly to one knee, his black clergyman’s breeches straining across his mutton thighs until she thought they must surely split at the seams. As he bowed his head Jane found herself staring down at his shiny pink pate. It glistened through his thin sandy locks and she saw he had grown his hair long enough to comb it across. It was a poor sop to vanity, she decided, and did nothing to lessen her revulsion. She wrinkled her fine, straight nose just as her suitor, unaware of being thus exposed to his chosen bride, launched into speech.
‘My dear Miss Austen.’ He gazed adoringly up at her, his florid face shining with perspiration. ‘My dear Miss Austen, make me the happiest of men and say you will be mine.’
Jane tugged her hands free. ‘Please get up, Mr Clarke.’
‘Never! Not until you say “yes”.’
‘Then you shall be on your knees for a very long time. The truth is we should not suit.’
This pronouncement brought him to his feet in an instant. ‘Not suit? Not suit? I do not see how that may be. Not when you are the very woman for me and I am the ideal man for you.’
She shook her head resolutely and spoke with a civility she was far from feeling, ‘I thank you for your kind offer but I beg you will accept my refusal. It is from one who has long ago decided against entering the married state.’
His expression became mulish. ‘It is your Duty to marry. It is every female’s responsibility to marry.’
‘But not where there is no love,’ countered Jane. ‘I firmly believe that anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.’
‘But I love you.’ He spoke with the air of one making an irrefutable pronouncement.
Ignoring the inward tremor his declaration evoked, Jane enunciated carefully. ‘You do not even know me. You have created a mythical creature in your mind of the woman whom you seek to wed. Let me assure you that I am not she. Indeed, had you seen me in my own home, among my own set, with my friends and family just as I always am, then perhaps you might have formed a just judgement of me. As it is, our acquaintance has been of the shortest duration and what little we know of each other has been expressed only in the occasional courteous letter.’
She set her hat on her brown curls, lay her long red stole across her shoulders and took her fur muff from the Boulle table upon which she had laid it on her arrival. Drawing herself up with unnatural haughtiness she said with a crispness that belied her pounding heart, ‘I am ready to meet the Prince Regent now.’
‘I am afraid that will not be possible.’ Mr Clarke spoke coldly.
‘Indeed? But did not the Regent invite me here? Your letter explicitly stated that His Royal Highness regretted not having met me here last November and wished me to return so that he might thank me himself for the pleasure of reading Emma. I assure you, Mr Clarke, that the Prince’s command is the only reason I am here. In general, my health does not allow me to undergo the exigence of travel.’
‘I apologize for the inconvenience, Madam, but there will be time enough for you to meet the Prince Regent once we are wed.’ He held out his hands to her, ‘You see, Miss Austen, His Royal Highness expected you here in the capacity of my affianced wife. He was most pleased when I told him we were to be married.’
Jane gasped. ‘How dared you tell him such a thing?’ Her heart was beating so fast she wondered she did not faint. ‘It is an odious lie.’
‘I am certain that if you consider the advantages of the match you will think differently.’
‘Indeed, I shall not. Oh, what can I say that will convince you that we should not suit?’
‘Nothing at all, for my mind is made up.’ He nodded wisely. ‘You will learn to trust my judgement in time, my dear Miss Austen, for you of all people have long recognized the superiority of the male intellect. Why, your books abound with men of sound judgment, and all of them with wives or daughters to manage.’
‘Like Mr John Dashwood, I suppose?’ Jane barely concealed her disgust.
‘Yes, or Mr Woodhouse. Now there is a man of great good sense.’
‘I am glad you think so,’ she retorted. ‘But if you believe that your good opinion of two of the most selfish, thoughtless men ever written into my books will convince me to marry you, you are sadly mistaken.’
‘And yet marry me you will. Whether you wish it or no.’
A chill ran down Jane’s spine. She watched his tongue flicker across his lips and saw the carnal hunger in his eyes and knew she had never met a man who repulsed her more than James Stanier Clarke. For one wild moment she considered taking refuge behind the Regent’s graceful Louis XVI desk, but forced herself to stand firm. Meeting Mr Clarke’s hungry stare with as much dignity as she could muster, she pulled her stole tightly about her and turned her back on him. Then, with her chin held high and trying not to tremble lest he seize her from behind, she marched to the door, before turning to face him one last time.
‘Mr Clarke.’ Jane was glad to hear her voice sound calm and steady. ‘Mr Clarke, let me assure you once and for all – for I can promise you, we shall never meet again – that you are the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.’ She dropped a slight curtsey, turned away and closed the door sharply behind her.
James Stanier Clarke stood listening until the sound of her footsteps had passed beyond hearing. When all was silent he moved to a chair by the window and sat down, his gaze lingering on the small, ornate table so recently home to Miss Austen’s hat and stole.
‘I must not do it. I am a man of God.’ He muttered the words a dozen times, before moving abruptly to the bookcase. Here he traced his fingertips across the books’ embossed bindings until he found Camilla. Easing it from its place, he held it gingerly between his finger and thumb. ‘Undoubtedly her taste walks hand in hand with mine. It is merely that she cannot see. If she only knew how ardently I admire and love her, she would think differently.’
He carried Camilla to the Boulle table, spread out his handkerchief and carefully laid the book upon it. Delving into his coat pocket he drew forth a piece of fur from Miss Austen’s muff and a red feather stolen from her elegant black hat and placed them on the book. Turning to the secretaire, he withdrew three letters from the drawer, kissed each one tenderly and added them to the pile. He carefully tied his handkerchief around the items, then sat and stared at the bundle until the clock on the mantelpiece chimed the hour.
Prompted by the sound, Mr Clarke took a key from the fob at his waist and turned it in his fingers.
‘Dare I do it?’ he whispered. ‘It is dangerous to be sure, but would I not risk all for her? I would, indeed I would. The book came to me, called to me. Is that not a sign?’ He unlocked a drawer and withdrew a heavy black volume. It was worn with age, with faded symbols tooled into the heavy leather cover. A curiously-wrought metal clasp in the shape of talons held it shut. Forcing the talons apart, he carefully turned the thick parchment pages. With every page his smile grew, and once or twice he laughed softly. He was nearly three-quarters of the way through the book before he found what he was looking for and a greedy smile spread across his face as he savoured the ancient names. When at last he had finished reading, the Reverend James Stanier Clarke laid his hands over the heavy black text and chuckled triumphantly, ‘I promise you this, Miss Jane Austen. I promise that we shall meet again. Oh, yes. Whether it be in this life or the next, we shall most certainly meet again.’
Jennifer Kloester first read Georgette Heyer’s novels while living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea and re-read them while living in the desert in Bahrain. In 2004, she completed a Doctorate on Georgette Heyer and her Regency Novels. Since then she has written extensively about Heyer and the Regency and has given writing workshops and public presentations in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. She is the author of Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller. Jennifer also writes fiction; her novel Jane Austen’s Ghost is out October 29, 2019.
You can contact Jennifer Kloester throught the following social media: