How’s your Thanksgiving so far? Today was a pretty normal day for me, but I hope you are enjoying it with your families and eating a lot 🙂 That’s what we do here in the holidays 🙂
My guest today is an author who is new to From Pemberley to Milton but I hope to see her again in the future because it’s been a please to work with her. I’m talking about Sarah Courtney who has just released a modern P&P story that is very different from anything I’ve seen. If you read the blurb you’ll understand why 😉
I hope you also take a few minutes to read the excerpt because it is totally worth it, will give you an idea of what to expect from this book, and it brings attached to it a giveaway of one ebook 🙂
You may also find interesting to know how Ms. Courtney’s tastes regarding P&P variations have changed. I could easily relate to her because the same thing happened to me. When I started to read JAFF I could not bear to read anything that was not regency, I mean, the characters were created based on regency values right? But the truth is that the more I read, the more I felt the need for new things and nowadays moderns are something I really enjoy too.
Anyway, I digress. Please let us know what you think of the excerpt, and join me in welcoming Ms. Courtney and wishing her all the luck with this release!
George Wickham’s childhood friendship with Lizzy Bennet saved his life. How will it change her future?
Ten-year-old George Wickham was hungry, lonely, and desperate until the day he met Lizzy Bennet. She transformed his life with a peanut butter sandwich and the magic of books. Losing her friendship devastated him, until his meeting with the Darcy family set him on a course to a new life.
Will Darcy insulted Elizabeth Bennet at their first meeting and accidentally injured her a few months later. She is just starting to overcome her first impression of him when something from his past comes to light. Will the revelation of Elizabeth’s childhood friendship with George Wickham change everything?
When I first started reading Pride and Prejudice variations, I was only interested in Regency stories. To me, the story was intrinsically linked to that setting, and I could not imagine it taking place in any other time or place.
I’m not sure what finally nudged me to give moderns a try, but the first modern that I remember reading was A Searing Acquaintance, by J.L. Ashton. I was immediately hooked, and read several others right afterwards that I loved. It can be a lot of fun to envision Elizabeth and Darcy as competing journalists, or restauranteurs, or gymnasts. My favorites were stories that took a “what if” turn, variations that took the plot in a different direction from the original.
A Good Name was based on a “what if” idea that I had one evening just as I was getting ready to go to bed. I had to write down my notes before I went to sleep and forgot it all. What if there was more to George Wickham than meets the eye? What if he was befriended by young Lizzy Bennet before he met Mr. Darcy, and what if that friendship turned his life around? What would happen when Will and Elizabeth then met as adults? I had a lot of fun with the twists and turns this tale takes, and I hope you will, too!
In this excerpt, Will and Elizabeth have rented canoes for the weekend, and they are about to realize how very different their ideas of “adventure” are. Elizabeth is recovering from an ankle injury but is not about to let that keep her down.
It only took them about half an hour to discover that they should never share a canoe.
“Elizabeth!” Will called to the front. “Steer left! There are rapids on the right!”
“Oh, goody! Let’s go right—I love rapids!”
Will forgot to breathe until they were through the rapids.
“For crying out loud, Elizabeth, we do not have to go through every bit of whitewater you see! There’s nothing wrong with taking the easy route.”
“Nothing wrong, maybe, except that it’s boring. Come on, Will, where’s your spirit of adventure?” Elizabeth taunted.
He was relieved when they passed without comment by a little creek branch separated from the rest of the river by trees, since it looked rocky and dangerous. He should have known better.
“Oh, Will, we missed an adventure!” she called back. “Quick, turn around and let’s go upstream a bit so we can go in!”
“You know what, Elizabeth? I think we should get separate kayaks tomorrow,” Will said. “We can still paddle close by each other and chat, but you can go through all the rapids and I’ll just coast along in the deeper water.”
She shook her head sadly. “You stodgy businessmen. It’s almost like you value life and limb or something.” She looked at her ankle. “Clearly, I don’t nearly enough.”
They had planned a two-day adventure, spending both Saturday and Sunday afternoon on the water. So Sunday, he rented two separate kayaks instead of a canoe. Will was relieved, as he spent a lot less time fearing for his life and more time enjoying the view and laughing at Elizabeth’s antics―and watching the way her hair sparkled in the sunlight.
The next time he saw a place where a little branch of the river was separated from the rest of it by a stand of trees, he pointed it out to Elizabeth. He loved such little side routes when they were gentle, but he could see the beginnings of rapids at the mouth and figured it was more Elizabeth’s speed than his own.
“Thanks!” she called as she paddled her canoe into the entrance.
Will continued on the main part of the river and waited at the bottom of the little branch for her to exit. When she didn’t appear, though, he grew worried, and after some minutes, he finally paddled against the current upstream to see what had happened. He didn’t really want to follow her, but he got as close as he could to see what happened.
“Hey, Will!” she called when she saw him. He could see her sitting on a cluster of rocks on the little tree-covered island between the branch-off and the river, just a few yards in from the entrance. “A little help, please?”
He had to laugh. She’d somehow managed to tip over her kayak, getting herself completely soaked through. Not only that, but the kayak had managed to turn on its side and get wedged up against a tree on the island, filling with water from the strong current, enough that she couldn’t get it off the tree.
“I don’t even know how you manage to get into such fixes,” he said as he found a safe spot on the river side of the island to wedge his kayak, then climbed gingerly onto the rocks next to the tree.
Between the two of them, they managed to push one end of her kayak until the angle changed enough that the current couldn’t keep pressing it against the tree. He dragged it up a bit onto the rock pile to dump out the water, then he held it while Elizabeth limped over.
“I’m getting hungry,” she said as she gingerly climbed in, careful of her ankle. “I wish we’d thought to bring a picnic lunch. This would have been the perfect spot.”
“If you’d had it in your kayak, it’d have been long gone by now.” Will winked at her. “I do have a granola bar, though, if you’re hungry.” He always had two on him when he wore casual clothes, and of course some in his desk drawer at work and the glove compartment in his car. “Here.”
“It’s all crumbled!” She laughed as she tried to take a bite without sending bits of granola everywhere.
“Beggars can’t be choosers. I don’t see you pulling out a stash of granola bars. Of course, given the way you paddle, that might be a good thing.”
“Squished is better than wet,” Elizabeth agreed. She took a bite and waved at him as she pushed off. “Thanks, Will!” she called as she entered the current. “I’ll beat you to the next mile marker!”
He had to laugh as he carefully stepped back into his kayak, avoiding getting so much as his sneakers wet, while a sodden Elizabeth paddled at top speed back down the river.
Ms. Courtney is offering to one of my readers a copy of A Good Name. The giveaway is international and it is open until the 3rd of Noevmber. To apply to it, please click on the Rafflecopter link.
How are you this week? Getting ready for Thanksgiving? Does it require a lot of preparation? We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Portugal so I only have a small idea of the preparation it may require.
I hope it won’t take much of your reading time because Austenesque books keep being published and I’m sure your TBR pile keeps increasing!
Today I’m sharing an excerpt of Rose Servitova’s new book A Completing of the Watsons which may also be a great addition to your library. It is certainly different from other JAFF books and the first attempt I’ve ever seen of working on The Watsons. That alone says a lot about Ms. Servitova, it takes a lot of courage and skills to do this and I’m very curious to see what you all think about this book and the excerpt below 🙂
Can she honour her family and stay true to herself?
Emma Watson returns to her family home after fourteen years with her wealthy and indulgent aunt. Now more refined than her siblings, Emma is shocked by her sisters’ flagrant and desperate attempts to ensnare a husband. To the surprise of the neighbourhood, Emma immediately attracts the attention of eligible suitors – notably the socially awkward Lord Osborne, heir to Osborne Castle – who could provide her with a home and high status if she is left with neither after her father’s death. Soon Emma finds herself navigating a world of unfamiliar social mores, making missteps that could affect the rest of her life. How can she make amends for the wrongs she is seen to have committed without betraying her own sense of what is right?
Jane Austen commenced writing The Watsons over two hundred years ago, putting it aside unfinished, never to return and complete it. Now, Rose Servitova, author of acclaimed humour title, The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence between Mr Collins and Mr Bennet has finished Austen’s manuscript in a manner true to Austen’s style and wit.
Mr Watson’s living, transferable to another clergyman on his death, afforded him five hundred pounds per year with which to maintain the appearance of a gentleman. With this modest sum and a large family he had, over the years, made valiant but largely unsuccessful attempts to keep his home in good repair. Hopes centred on his younger son, Sam, taking orders and thereby, in securing the living and house, provide protection for his sisters. But being a liberal man and having lost his sensible wife while his children were still young, Mr Watson made no outward objection when Sam declared his intention to study medicine. Emma, after all, would save them. But here she was, returned to Stanton, with less in her purse than when she had left it fourteen years before.
“I hope, my dear Emma,” said Elizabeth as they sat down to breakfast one morning, “that you have been perfecting your Vingt-un for I have reason to expect an addition to our company. I received a letter this morning with all the particulars.”
“Who can you mean?”
“Why, you must guess, of course.”
“Sam. It is Sam, surely.”
“No, I am afraid not. Sam works too hard and is determined to do well so we do not see him often. You must guess again.”
“Robert visited recently; therefore, it must be Penelope.”
“Yes, it is Penelope and in the company of a gentleman.”
“She is wed?”
“Yes, married to a Dr Harding. She is cunning and has had her way at last. They are to stay at the inn at Dorking.”
This was good news indeed for, in their residing elsewhere, Emma would be spared the trouble of becoming intimate with the sister she was most frightened of. The domestic quietude that she and Elizabeth enjoyed, even with Margaret, the principal quarreller, at home would almost definitely be upended if Penelope returned to the nest. It was with great enthusiasm, therefore, that she said, “Why, this is marvellous news!”
“Yes, and they are to continue to live in Chichester, for the doctor has a fine house there which I should like to visit someday. Penelope longs to pay a visit to Stanton so that her husband may meet with father. And, I am convinced, to show off her wealthy husband to all her old friends. So they come next Tuesday and bring the doctor’s niece and nephew with them. We will meet often, I daresay. What a wonderful thing!”
Emma could tell by how Elizabeth’s eyes lit up that the “wonderful thing” she referred to was not Penelope’s return to the homestead. It was, rather, the promise of visitors, some of whom were unknown to them and would thus widen their circle of acquaintance for a time and enliven their otherwise dull days. As if she read Emma’s thoughts, Elizabeth added,
“Oh my word, visitors means visiting. Such toing and froing as we have not had in years at Stanton. Why, Miss Shaw may be a delightful girl and her brother may be handsome, rich and ready to fall in love. I shall include them both in my evening prayers that we will find them so. But remember what I mentioned to you about Penelope,” said Elizabeth leaving the room, “do not trust her for an instant.” Pages 83-85
Irish author Rose Servitova is an award-winning humor writer, event manager, and job coach for people with special needs. Her debut novel, The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr. Collins& Mr. Bennet, described as a ‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication in 2017. Rose enjoys talking at literary events, drinking tea and walking on Irish country roads. She lives in County Limerick with her husband, two young children and three indifferent cats. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
The blog tour is almost over but you can still check the other blogs for more information on A Completing of the Watsons.
I’m very pleased to announce that Jennifer Joy released a new book today called Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian and I honestly cannot wait to start reading it! I love Jennifer Joys’s books and her latest novel in the Dimension of Darcy series was one of my favorite books this year, so Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian which is the third book in the series, is definitely in the pipeline!
Today we are sharing with you the book blurb and an excerpt that in my opinion demonstrates Jennifer Joy’s ability to engage us in her stories. I hope you like it, and don’t forget there is a very generous giveaway too, please comment on this post to have a chance to win one of the four e-books the author is offering.
He lost everyone he loved … except for a secret baby.
Fitzwilliam Darcy will lie and break the law to keep his sister’s newborn safe. When the only way to protect her is to have an heir of his own, his search for a trustworthy wife begins…
She was her father’s favorite … until he sacrificed her happiness.
When Elizabeth Bennet’s father falls gravely ill, she is willing to shoulder the responsibility of her family’s care while maintaining her freedom — until she is forced to marry Mr. Darcy.
One broken man + one bitter lady = one happy family?
Through grief and betrayal, Darcy and Elizabeth learn to trust each other and work together to honor the promises they have made — including the vows they exchanged.
But a spiteful enemy from Darcy’s past is determined to divide their family, and the law is on his side…
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian is a sweet and clean romantic suspense variation of Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice. It’s the third book in the Dimensions of Darcy series of standalone novels.
Frustration fluttered within Darcy. If she did not want to marry, then why had she gone through with it? Why complain now that the deed was done? “And yet you married me. You repeated the vows just as I did.”
She scrunched her face and huffed, “Yes, I did,” with so much scorn, Darcy became quite offended.
“Why did you go through with it, then?” he asked.
She blinked, sighing deeply. “I said I would do it, and I will not go back on my word. I would have disappointed myself and my sisters … and I could not have lived with the guilt.” Under her breath, she added, “Blast my quick temper and infernal tongue.”
Darcy knew better than to smile, but her spicy wording and the reassurance that his choice had indeed been a wise one offered too great a relief to go completely unappreciated. Elizabeth was a lady of her word. Of course, he had known as much. Had he not witnessed her dealings with her selfish father?
He felt her eyes on him, putting an end to his musings.
“I do not even know what to call you. Mr. Darcy?” She shook her head. “No, that is too formal. Husband?” She wrinkled her nose, mumbling, “No, that is too obvious.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Fitzwilliam,” she said slowly, nodding as her eyebrow arched and her lips curled sardonically. “Yes, ‘Fitzwilliam’ will do perfectly when we quarrel. I rather fancy the name right now.”
Her humorous remark contrasted so boldly with the tension in the carriage, Darcy guffawed. “My mother used to call me Fitzwilliam when she was cross with me. It did not happen often.” He trusted it would not happen often in his marriage either.
Elizabeth folded her arms. “I am not your mother.”
Darcy’s grin faded. “No, you are not,” he mumbled, struck by how distinct the two women were and wishing his mother were still alive. He had not been alone with his wife for a quarter of an hour and, already, he needed the guidance of his matron. He could not be certain, but he began to sense that Elizabeth’s anger was somehow directed at him. He could not fathom why.
“It hardly bodes well for us to quarrel on our wedding day. What shall I call you then?” Elizabeth asked.
Finally, she spoke sense. He answered, “Pray call me William.”
It occurred to Darcy that he ought to ask how she preferred for him to address her, but she did not give him the opportunity.
“Very well, then, William. Are you a man of your word? Will you love me or is ours to be a cold, disinterested union?” Elizabeth uncrossed her arms, leaning forward and bracing herself with her hands against the edge of the cushion. She looked as if she would pounce on him if he replied unsatisfactorily.
Her anticipation increased his anxiety while her doubt, once again, injured his pride.
“I always honor my word,” he said.
“Forgive me for expressing disbelief, but how can you be so certain? Is it not better to fall in love before committing to a permanent union?”
“There was no time. I required a wife, and you required a provider.”
“Why did you marry?” she asked.
“I had to.”
Darcy rubbed his hand over his face. “I will provide everything you need.”
“Then, it is settled, for I need nothing more than to be cherished, to be of account in an equal union. Now that we are forevermore attached, I should think it is quite obvious that I will look to you to satisfy my needs … as you call them.”
Where had all the air gone? Darcy pulled at his cravat, but relief was not his to find.
Why could she not ask for gowns and jewels as most ladies would?
He knew the answer as soon as the question crossed his mind. Elizabeth was not like most ladies. He would not have chosen her otherwise.
What did you think of the excerpt? Don’t you love when Elizabeth and Darcy quarrel with one another if it is quite obvious they will end up together in the end?
To celebrate this reelase, Jennifer Joy is promoting a giveaway of 4 ebooks of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian.
All you have to do is comment on this post until the 1st of December and let us know what you thought of the excerpt.
The giveaway is international and the winners will be announced shortly after.
Falling for Mr. Thornton is the best Christmas present you can give to any North & South aficionado. Why? Because in it you will find twelve different Mr. Thornton’s with whom to fall in love all over again.
I had high expectations for this anthology because not only it was the first one ever published, but also because it has several authors whose writing skills I respect. After reading it, I am glad to say that it surpassed my expectations and that I was pleasantly surprised with its quality and ability to engage the reader.
Falling for Mr. Thornton is very diverse and balanced. In it, you will find twelve different stories with different plots, subgenres and writing styles. It starts with Melanie Stanford’s enthralling story, which is a modern take with characters I loved and could easily relate to, and it continues with Kate Forrester’s time slip story that I could not stop reading. It is very different from any time travel story I had ever read and I’m a huge fan of the genre, so I was happy to see it was included in the book. If these genres are not your cup of tea, fear not, the anthology progresses with humorous stories, romantic variations and different endings. Each author will have a different style and a different approach to North and South and I found that fascinating. This is more than a romance book; it is a true homage to Elizabeth Gaskell.
One of the highlights for me was to see Bessy Higgins having a happy ending in more than one story! I have always been partial to her character and I’ve often wondered why authors would not change her fate, in this anthology they did, and that made my day. Another detail I absolutely loved was the relevance Nicholas Higgins had in Cinders and Smoke by Don Jacobson. The author did an incredible job in developing both Higgins and Thornton’s characters and their dialogues were priceless. And of course, the depth of feeling you’ll find in some stories like Mischances from Nicole Clarkston or Her Father’s Last Wish from Rose Fairbanks is everything you could hope for in a North and South variation. The book closes with yet another wonderful and powerful story penned by Trudy Brasure and by this time, the reader will definitely want to go back and re-read some of the stories.
As you can see, this anthology really captured the essence of North and South and brought to readers a little bit of everything they love in Elizabeth Gaskell’s story. It has plenty of romance, the clash of classes and costumes and absorbing characters. The length of each story is perfect in the sense that it captures exactly what each author wanted to focus on, without extending it to a level that disengages the reader. This was definitely a plus in this anthology that can be read in one single occasion, or savoured one story at a time.
Falling for Mr. Thornton is perfect for those who have read every single North & South variation out there and who are craving for more, and perfect for those who are still reluctant to try this genre. Those who love either the book or the BBC series but were never convinced to try fan fiction, have in this anthology the perfect opportunity to try several subgenres and finally have an idea of what may suit them better. It has the advantage of having something for every taste and not occupying too much of the readers time.
Summing up, Falling for Mr. Thornton is definitely a well-balanced anthology with strong stories that will appeal to many different readers. The diverse plots and writing styles make it an interesting addition to any library, and I highly recommend this book to all my fellow readers.
My review was part of the blog tour for Falling for Mr. Thornton, if you liked my comments, please do check out the other blog tour stops where you’ll be able to get to know writers that are unfamiliar to you, and re-connect with the ones you already know. You’ll have interviews, guest post, reviews and a wonderful giveaway attached to each stop 🙂
The twelve authors are offering one big prize to one reader following the entire blog tour. This prize will contain 13 different ebooks: one copy of Falling For Mr. Thornton and one other ebook from each author.
Additionally the authors would also like to offer two bookmarks of Falling For Mr. Thornton at each blog. To enter the giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton, please comment on this post until the 1st of December. The winners will be announced shortly after.
How are you this week? I’ve been quite busy and if feels like Christmas is already around the corner, so I am glad to start the week with the announcement of a giveaway winner.
This month Victoria Kincaid came to From Pemberley to Milton to share with you an excerpt of her recently released book, When Charlotte Became Romantic, and she brought along with her an e-book copy to offer to one of my readers.
All you had to do to apply to it, was to comment the guest post and let us know how you felt about Charlotte. As always, you were awesome and showed real interest in this book! I have to thank you all for continuing to support JAFF writers and me by visiting From Pemberley to Milton. I am sure that without you, and your comments, our dear authors wouldn’t feel as motivated to keep writing!
I also need to thank Victoria, not only for continuing writing, but also for her generosity in offering her books to my followers.
Now, without further ado, the giveaway winner is:
When Charlotte Became Romantic
Congratulations Becky, I hope you enjoy this book! Can you please contact me through e-mail ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com and provide me your kindle address so that the ebook can be sent to you?
I have been interested in the Darcy mania phenomena ever since discovering Jan Austen Fan Fiction several years ago. I’ve participated in an academic conference to talk about this topic, read plenty of academic papers about it, and even considered writing a book regarding this matter. Unfortunately my daily job, along with several other hobbies, never allow me to have enough time to do it so I was very excited when I learned that a new book called There’s Something About Darcy was going to be released.
When I read the blurb, I though this book would be pure perfection, and that it would finally generate more discussion about Jane Austen Fan Fiction in a lighter manner, focusing on what makes us read about the same characters over and over again. I have nothing against academic papers, but I never felt they really conveyed what JAFF was all about, and my hopes were all placed in There’s Something About Darcy. Check out the blurb to see if you agree with me 🙂
For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. But what is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?
Dr Gabrielle Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.
In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?
It is visible in There’s Something About Darcy that Dr Gabrielle Malcom made an extensive research about the Darcymania phenomenon, and literary romantic heroes, using the knowledge acquired to draft a detailed and very organized book. It starts by enlightening readers about what may have influenced Austen in her creation of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s character, progressing to how Darcy influenced other romantic heroes, and finally focusing on the Pride & Prejudice adaptations on screen and in literature.
In the first part of the book I found particularly interesting to read about the influences Austen herself may have add, and how Darcy became a stereotype of a romantic hero. We’ve all heard about other characters that share similar traits with Darcy and we like to believe he is the cause. There are several articles comparing Darcy to other literary characters such as Mr. Thornton (one of them written by Nicole Clarkston and shared here at from Pemberley to Milton two years ago), Mr. Grey and even Edward Cullen from Twilight, but Gabrielle Malcom goes even further comparing Darcy to Dracula, Rochester and even Heathcliff. I find this an interesting topic, but I could not agree with some of the comparisons the author made, and I would have preferred for this part of the book to have been shorter as too much page time was spent talking about those characters and explaining their background. In my opinion, where some comparisons were a little exaggerated, like Heathcliff, others like Mr. Thornton were lost opportunities. I believe these two characters are the ones that are more alike and I would have liked to read more about their similar traits.
The second part of the book was more in line with what I was expecting and I truly enjoyed reading about the several T.V. adaptations that were made of Pride & Prejudice. I particularly loved the analysis the author made of Andrew Davies’ adaptation, because even if I have read many about this subject, I had never seen such a detailed and interesting analysis. The author explains how Davies was able to bring added value to the adaptation remaining faithful to Austen’s work, namely by adding silent scenes that would give a better view of Darcy’s character without creating dialogue that Austen herself didn’t write.
After the interesting analysis of Darcy on film, the author analyses the evolution of Darcy in literature and here she details the storyline of several books and explains the author’s interpretation of the Darcy character. The author is of the opinion that each writer has their own vision of who Darcy is (an opinion I also share), and describes and analyses the plots of books such as Longbourn, Death Comes to Pemberley, The Madness of Mr. Darcy, Project Darcy, etc.
Many papers about this topic focus on far-fetched stories where Darcy is a vampire, pirate, zombie slayer, gay etc, and even if I also like some of those books, I believe most JAFF readers prefer the regular regency variations. That is where the biggest fan base is, so I truly loved the inclusion of The Madness of Mr. Darcy, which is one of my all time favourite JAFF books, in this list. The analysis was very interesting and definitely my favourite, especially because I had read the book before, so the extensive description of the plot was not a spoiler for me.
At some point the author mentions that authors realise the potential of Mary Bennet’s character as the forgotten sister, and I believe it would have been interesting to read more about books focused on Mary Bennet such as When Mary Met the Colonel, but the focus was on Darcy after all, so I guess that is understandable.
Dr. Gabrielle Malcom also discusses the close relationship between readers, writers and reviewers of JAFF and I was very happy to see her quote my fellow blogger Mira Magdo. This was the part of the book I enjoyed the most as it was the one that was closer to the JAFF community, and in line with what I was expecting from this book and I wouldn’t have mind if this was the lengthiest part of the book.
There’s Something About Darcy is an interesting book that Jane Austen Fan Fiction readers will enjoy because it makes an extensive analysis of the many facets of Darcy. It doesn’t clearly answer to the question of why Darcy is still so relevant in the 21st century, and it doesn’t discuss some of the big names in the genre like Abigail Reynolds or Joana Starnes, but it does bring several ideas to the table for our discussion and it is definitely worth reading, therefore I do recommend it to those interested in the Darcy phenomena. It will give those readers much to think about and discuss with their friends.
This review is integrated in the Blog Tour for There’s Something About Darcy, so if you’re curious about this book, you can find more information on the following blogs:
And if this is a book that belongs in your library, you can find it at:
As you all know, I could not live without the company of Audiobooks, so it is with great pleasure that I receive Harry Frost, the narrator of Yuletide, for an interview today.
I feel a great fascination regarding the entire process of narrating an audiobook because I consider it a complex and difficult involving many details, such as genre voices, accents, rhythm etc. This means I absorb with great interest any information that involves the narration process, and Harry Frost satisfied my curiosity with this interview because he talked about many different aspects a narrator needs to consider. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and if you do not have a copy of Yuletide yet, you MUST grab a copy! It is perfect for this time of the year and I’m sure you will not regret it 🙂
When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
In retrospect, the day when I was seven and my French teacher had me stand at the front of the class and show everyone how well I could pronounce ‘les orreilles’ (ears), with authentic-sounding French ‘rr’. Since then, it has become clear that, while I can be rather shy, I’m quite happy to perform as long as I’ve got a character, a foreign language, or a microphone to hide behind! Of course, while it would be satisfying to think I went forward from that moment determined to narrate audiobooks, in truth it’s more that I just sort of wound up narrating and only then realised that it was exactly what I wanted to do; that it was the point of intersection for all my interests up to that point and could offer just the career I had been looking for.
How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
Well, the signs were all there, but they only came together down the line a bit. I studied English Lit at university, and had loved audiobooks ever since listening to Martin Jarvis read ‘Just William’ on cassette when I was a child, but it didn’t occur to me to even aspire to narrate them myself until I heard about ACX (the Audible platform through which I have so far worked). So, the motive was there from ‘les orreilles’ onward, the means had been provided a while back by technology (internet distribution, cheaper consumer hardware and digital editing software), and the opportunity just suddenly presented itself. I determined to do the absolute best I could on my first project (‘The Darcy Monologues’, also edited by Christina Boyd), while still thinking of it really as an interesting experiment-slash-hobby. Then, when it was released, I was just blown away by all the wonderful feedback I got from the community. If even a few people enjoyed it—despite all my anxieties about it not having been good enough, and despite the fact that I had largely winged it through the technical side of things—and if I enjoyed doing it, then what else was to be said? I drew up an Excel spreadsheet, decided the game might be worth the candle, and opened my wallet for some better hardware. So I guess the final answer is that I did stumble into it by chance, but that, having done so, it was hard not to suddenly see all the jobs and interests and hobbies I had pursued beforehand as though they had been conscious steps on the road to that goal.
A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
I certainly hope not; I do not have such a background! But then I’m only starting my career, so we’ll see. I have been in six or seven amateur stage productions, and two student films, but no more. I have never been classically trained. Perhaps, therefore, this is a wishful rationalisation, but I think what might be called the ‘bio-mechanical’ training that stage actors get is at least partially redundant for recorded narration. They are trained to be heard, un-mic’ed, in large venues with terrible acoustics, yet condenser mics are so sensitive that coughing overloads them, and they pick up even the quietest breaths, not to mention whispered lines. It’s well known that stage actors going into film or television have to dial back their projection, as well as making their physical acting more subtle, and I think that’s even truer of narration; it’s much more intimate than declaiming on a stage, and there could hardly be less of a ‘fourth wall’ between actor and audience than when one is soliloquising through a speaker literally inches from a listener’s inner ear. So, in that respect, I think (hope?) that, on the contrary, one would have to unlearn some aspects of traditional stage acting for recorded narration.
On the other hand, breath control and the knowledge of how to warm up the voice are absolutely essential, and I have definitely felt that lack of classical training in that respect, and have had to teach myself (and even take up singing lessons!) to compensate. Then, of course, the main point of intersection is being able to inhabit characters and switch between them quickly, all the while acting as they might act (remembering, too, that the writer’s prose style itself, not just directly reported speakers, must be counted as a character in need of interpretation). I’m certain dramatic training would help a lot here, too, but I also believe that much of just ordinary social life involves trying to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and perhaps ‘rehearsing’ the conversations they might have with us, or that we might have with them, and how they might behave in so-and-so a situation. Hopefully, because of that, there’s something to be said for simply ‘leaning by doing’.
What about YULETIDE compelled you to take on the project?
The editor, Christina. Not everyone has the best things to say about working through ACX, but I was lucky enough to have an amazing experience producing the audio version of another of her Austenesque anthologies, and it was all thanks to her and her wonderful authors. The whole ‘JAFF’ community they work within is great; an all-too-rare mixture of high-brow literary tastes and open, enthusiastic, mutually-supportive creativity. I was only too keen for another project, and this time armed with a bit more confidence, and far, far better equipment. It also felt lovely coming back to the same characters I had worked out my ’takes’ on for the earlier project; particularly dusting off the old ‘Darcy voice’. There have been certain situations in my life where talking the way I do (very English, rather ‘posh’) has made it hard to fit in and put me at something of a disadvantage. Voicing Regency-inspired comedies of manners in a near-perpetual drawing room setting is not one of those situations. That said, I also love the opportunity to push myself and try some of the modern and non-British settings; it’s a fantastic challenge, particularly when such strong characters are a given.
What types of things are harmful to your voice?
I wish I knew more thoroughly! That’s where the classical training would come in, I suppose. So far it doesn’t seem to be good news: I’ve determined I can’t drink alcohol within 36 hours (I know…) of recording, because it dries out my throat and tongue and leads to ‘mouth clicks’. Then, of course, one can’t go about shouting and screaming as much as one might have been accustomed to do, though serendipitously the not drinking helps with that. Colds, rather than being an annoyance, now mean a week without recording, which makes me even more aware of hand-washing and nose-breathing than ordinary prudence dictates. The world (the internet; same thing) is full of ‘helpful’ tips on what food and drink is good or bad for voice, and so far I can confirm the following: chocolate does seem to clag up the throat and so is to be avoided, dairy does seem to thicken the saliva so ditto, and slippery elm bark (lozenge or powder) helps sooth your throat if ever you overdo it and talk yourself hoarse (I think P.G. Wodehouse calls this ‘clergyman’s throat’).
Who are your “accent inspirations”?
BBC USA did a series called ‘Killing Eve’ (adapted from books by Luke Jennings of which there are audio versions on Audible, incidentally), and the lead was a British actor called Jodie Comer, playing hired assassin ‘Villanelle’. The character is a sort of terrifying, psychopathic chameleon, who can change her entire outward appearance on the fly so as to evade capture or complete her missions around the work. That meant, of course, that the actor had to, too. Quite apart from her wider performance (outstanding), I’ve never heard such perfect voice work as she achieves in that show. So accurate, with such instantaneous shifts: Russian, French, German, English of various types, UK and US, and never resorting to pantomime clichés, but always as naturalistic as though she’d had a full-blown professor of linguistics on retainer for each one. Or maybe is also a full-blown professor of linguistics herself; I would hardly be surprised. Then I watched her on a chat show, and her ’natural’ accent is Liverpudlian—perhaps Britain’s third most conspicuous accent—and I’d never had any idea. So, she is a real inspiration, but not an aspiration, because even I know when I’m setting my sights too high.
I’m also very inspired by the audiobook work of Steven Pacey, who I first encountered reading Martin Amis’ ‘The Pregnant Widow’, but who I only recognised and started following properly after hearing him read Joe Abercrombie’s fantasy series ’The First Law’. He demonstrates perfectly how narration style and prose style can come together to really elevate a story as in no other medium. His characters are great, but it’s his standard narration that’s really brilliant; the pace, and that combination of repeated and varied patterns of emphasis that avoids either boring you or jarring you away from the story. He is, of course, inimitable, but I hope that might be a more reasonable aspiration for me: I can see what he does and most of how he does it, so that while I might not be able to do it myself yet, I can imagine one day being able to.
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
It’s made much easier for me in this anthology, because everyone has an idea of how Darcy, Elizabeth, Lady Catherine etc. sound, so there’s less credit to the voice actor for interpreting, and it’s more about simple mimicry. Then again, there are certainly different flavours of those characters that different authors emphasise or de-emphasise for their purposes, and that comes down to just reading the material before diving in. My two axioms for narration, which I developed as a listener before I was a producer, are ‘Read it like you love it’, and ‘Read it like you understand it’; in that order, and both with the implicit rider ‘…because then the listener will, too’. Loving Jane Austen— I mean, who doesn’t? One would have to have a heart of stone not to. And understanding just takes spending a bit of time with the text, and asking “Which Darcy, which Collins etc., and why?”. My ’training’ (three years and several thousand pounds spent drinking heavily and reading occasionally in the sunny south-west of England) in English Literature and literary criticism probably helps me pick up on those signals and answer those questions.
How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done? How does narration of an anthology differ from that of a novel?
Well, on the first point, I’ve not yet done any other type of voiceover work. I know that advertisements and character work and so on are far, far better paid, but I’ve gone right ahead and specialised in audiobooks (because that’s what I love), so that I’ve not yet had any time to audition for anything else, or to think about an agent, or a showreel. On the second, the character voice question above certainly applies here. One can generally completely record a short story in a day, whereas a novel takes far longer, so a character’s first appearance can be separated from his next even by some weeks. So with novels, consistency is much harder to achieve, and I find I have to pick a sort of ’signature’ line in a character’s voice, mark it in the recording, then return to it to make sure I’ve got it right before that character reappears. That’s where a director or producer (who isn’t also me) would come in handy. Apart from that, I’ve not yet detected many other differences, except perhaps that the variety of an anthology might gratify a performer who gets bored with their material. However, that kind of performer probably shouldn’t be attempting audiobooks in the first place.
If you could narrate one book from your youth, what would it be and why?
‘Gormenghast’ by Mervyn Peake. The writing is so incredibly dense, the sentences so long, the language so complicated that it’s nearly impossible to slog through as a reader. And yet it’s the most amazing book (series; there are three, this is the second), one of those ones that you can only spend so much time with before you have to leave it alone and sit in a darkened room for a while to calm down and let the images fade. Peake was a painter before he was a writer, and I’ve never come across a book that uses language better for visual effect. A good audio version of that is essential to overcome its deficiencies in plot and readability; it’s one of those instances where the audiobook is far better than the printed one. Now, whether or not I could manage it is another question, but it certainly needs someone who loves the book, and I surely do love it. Alas, there have been at least three versions already made (although one is abridged— boo, hiss—so doesn’t count), read by incredible readers: Simon Vance, Saul Reichlin, and Rupert Degas. There’re probably more, somewhere.
Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
The ‘funny’ anecdotes of any trade often fall flat with non-practitioners, and we narrators are particularly odd, given that we spend so much time alone in darkened, airless rooms. But here goes, you asked for it…
In editing software, you can listen back to work at higher-than-normal speed, which lets you check accuracy to the text while getting through a recording quicker. You just have to put up with the high-pitched chipmunk voice. Sometimes, listening back, I think to myself, “Frost, you could do better on that line”, so I re-record it, to drop it in. On one occasion, we were at the emotional apex of a Darcy/Elizabeth scene; the moment Elizabeth realises her own pride, not to mention prejudice, and finally puts herself out there to love and be loved, and Darcy comes back with some endearingly gruff line that seals their happiness forever. Except in this case, I felt I could have done rather better with Darcy’s—more endearing, maybe, or more gruff—so up I jump to re-record. However, the speed you listen at is also the speed you record at, and I had forgotten to turn the speed setting back to normal. I realised when I came to play back the scene with the new dropins, and unthinkingly re-set it to normal, rolling my eyes at my own absent-mindedness. But of course, like something out of that movie Interstellar, for something recorded at 1.5x speed, ‘normal’ is really 1.5x slower than normal, and the opposite of the high chipmunk voice is a pretty frightening low growl. Unsuspecting, I listen with satisfaction to the lead-in—“Wow, aren’t I good; so delicate, so sensiti…”—then, when the new line hits I nearly fall off my chair. The line is there, but instead of being delivered with my version of ‘romantic lead gravel’, it’s several registers deeper, with this metallic tinge and, worst of all, this sinister, slurred, slow enunciation that completely changes the meaning of the beautifully-written sentiment. I’m instantly transported into this terrifying new scene, where Elizabeth is feigning love to escape the clutches of this half-robot-half-demon creature that she’s somehow contrived to get reeling drunk. This being the first time it had happened to me, I had absolutely no idea what had gone wrong, and didn’t know whether to Google ‘audio production unexpected slow playback’ or ‘audio production unexpected demonic possession’. A stirring lesson in what a difference tone, pace, and delivery can make to a scene with no change to the words.
As for funny…well, I guess you had to be there.
11.What was your biggest challenge with this performance?
Definitely having to attempt a New England accent for some parts of ‘Homespun for the Holidays’. It was a new one for me—I mean, I’d watched Good Will Hunting, Family Guy and The Departed alright, but hearing isn’t doing—and led down some interesting Youtube rabbit holes. I hope I managed OK; I could have given more characters the accent as the writer intended, but I took the decision that, unless I could become an absolute master in a short space of time, it would detract from the drama. So selected characters have it, with some creative biography having to suffice to explain why certain members of the same family speak quite differently!
Harry Frost is an English voice actor specialising in audiobook narration and production. He’s passionate about the power of the audio medium to bring literature to life in every sense of that phrase; to reconnect writing to the spoken tradition it never really escaped, and to turn books into true companions for life as it is lived, rather than things one must escape the world and defer responsibility to read. His studio is in rural Leicestershire, he has recently found an unlikely love of Economics, and he makes a really good Manhattan. Find samples and articles on www.bellows-audio.co.uk, and follow him on Facebook @bellowsaudio.
About the audiobook: “I went up to the Great House between three and four, and dawdled away an hour very comfortably…” –Jane Austen
A holiday short story anthology with some favorite Austenesque authors, YULETIDE is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the spirit of the season. Regency and contemporary alike, each romance was dreamt to spark love, humor, and wonder while you dawdle over a hot cup of tea this Christmas.
Stories by Elizabeth Adams * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Lona Manning * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin William
Edited by Christina Boyd * Narrated by Harry Frost
Yuletide Audiobook is going on a blog and it only started last week at Drunk Austen, please don’t forget to follow the other blogs for more news on this wonderful Christmas Anthology 🙂
The Quill Ink will offer one $15 Amazon gift card giveaway for the entire tour. You be automatically entered to win by simply commenting on the blog post. It is not necessary to comment at every blog on the tour, but each allows you more entries. The Quill Ink will choose one random winner by December 9.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that we have recently revealed the cover of A Covenant of Marriage, C.P. Odom’s most recent book, and you also know how much I enjoyed doing that because of my love for cover art. Today we will not discuss his cover, but I am equally happy to share with you an excerpt and a vignette, that I hope will increase your curiosity towards this book. These snippets will reveal the very beginning of A Covenant of Marriage, and I believe will be enough to let you know this is one that should not be missed 🙂
Please do let us know your impressions on this excerpt once you’ve read it 🙂 And if you don’t know what the book is about yet, you can also read the blurb below 🙂
A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!
Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.
With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together.
Marriage is by nature a covenant. Not just a private contract one may cancel at will.
— Bruce C. Hafen (1940–), American attorney,
academic, and religious leader
Monday, June 29, 1812
The time fixed for the beginning of Elizabeth’s northern tour finally arrived, and on a Monday at the end of June, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrived at Longbourn with their four children, who were to be left in the care of their cousin Jane. She was the particular favourite of all the children, and she responded in kind since her own steadiness and even temper suited her exactly to the task.
The Gardiners stayed only one night at Longbourn before setting off the next morning with Elizabeth, all of them highly anticipating six weeks of touring the Lake District. Elizabeth had heard much of the region and looked forward to days of diversion and pleasure, especially since she was in company with her beloved aunt and uncle. She knew she could not have picked more suitable travelling companions, and the inconveniences that so often afflicted travellers would not put a damper on their own excursion. Whether they faced inclement weather, a broken carriage wheel, or problems with inns along the way, she knew Aunt and Uncle Gardiner would deal with any problems in the same way she would with good temper, intelligence, and common sense.
Elizabeth recorded no descriptions of the area they toured or the places that provided delightful diversions during their journey, and in later years, she found she could not remember any of those places with any distinction.
Thus, after a month and a half of travel, the party bent their path towards Hertfordshire, and after sleeping two nights on the road, arrived at Longbourn, expecting to be greeted with predictable enthusiasm by the children as well as the rest of the family.
Only half of their expectations were met.
How many times had those awful words—“I know what I’m doing”—been uttered throughout history as prelude to disaster?
— Christopher Buckley (1952–) American political satirist
Wednesday, August 12, 1812
As soon as the carriage entered the paddock at Longbourn, Elizabeth saw her cousins standing on the steps of the house, having been attracted by either the sight or sound of their vehicle. When the carriage arrived at the door, their faces lit up with joyful surprise that seemed to spread to the rest of their bodies since they began to caper and frisk about the carriage even before the door could be opened.
Elizabeth was the first to climb down, and she stooped to give each of them a kiss and an embrace while her aunt and uncle exited the carriage. As she rose to her feet, she was surprised to see Jane running down the steps in a most unusual haste, her face pale with dark circles under her eyes. Elizabeth had not even time to ask whether she was feeling ill before her elder sister embraced her.
“Oh, Lizzy, I cannot tell you how relieved I am to see you!” Jane cried, and Elizabeth was startled to see tears running freely down her sister’s cheeks.
“What is wrong?” Elizabeth asked, suddenly afraid some illness or accident might have afflicted a member of her family during her absence.
“Did you not receive my letters?” Jane asked in confusion.
“I got only four or five while we were gone, but I received nothing during the past several weeks. Come, what is wrong! Are my mother and father well? Did something happen to one of my sisters?”
“No, everyone is well, but Lydia—oh, it is so distressing!”
By this time, both her aunt and uncle had joined them and realized something was wrong.
“Perhaps it would be best to take the children inside and entrust them to the care of the housekeeper before we discuss this further,” Mrs. Gardiner said quietly. “We do not want to upset them unduly. Are your mother and father inside?”
“My father is in town searching for—” Jane stopped when her aunt raised a finger to her lips.
“My father is not here, and my mother is upstairs in her room,” Jane said, choosing her words more carefully. “I am afraid Hill is sitting with her, so she cannot take the children. My mother is too—”
“Then one of the other servants,” interrupted Mrs. Gardiner forcibly. “Come, one need only to look at your face to see how upset you are. We want to know what has happened as soon as possible, but we want to discuss it in private.”
This was obviously sensible, and Jane allowed herself to be guided inside to the front parlour. Within a few minutes, the children had been taken upstairs, and Mrs. Gardiner returned, closing the doors firmly behind her.
“Now, pray tell us what has happened,” Mr. Gardiner said calmly.
“As I told Lizzy, it concerns Lydia. I assume you know she went to Brighton with her friend Mrs. Forster?”
“Yes, Lizzy mentioned it,” Mrs. Gardiner said flatly, and Elizabeth noted her aunt’s admirable self-control in not showing her displeasure. Lydia was not a favourite with her aunt and uncle, and both had thought it the height of rashness that she was allowed to go to such a place as Brighton without a family escort.
“On Sunday last, an express came at about midnight when we were all gone to bed. It was from Colonel Forster, and it contained dreadful news. He informed us that Lydia had gone off to Scotland with one of his officers.”
“Scotland!” exclaimed Mr. Gardiner. “Gretna Green?”
“I presume so, but I do not know for certain. Colonel Forster’s express only mentioned Scotland.”
“Which officer?” Elizabeth asked. “Lieutenant Denny?”
“No, it was…it was Mr. Wickham.”
“Mr. Wickham!” exclaimed Elizabeth, jumping to her feet. “That cannot be!”
“And why is that?” Mr. Gardiner asked.
“It is simple, Uncle. Mr. Wickham would never marry a woman with no money. He has none himself, and he has already proved himself a complete mercenary!”
“Be calm, Lizzy,” Mrs. Gardiner said. “I agree it does seem inexplicable from what you wrote us about his previous engagement.”
“To Miss King,” Elizabeth said, recovering her composure and sitting down. “Miss King and her ten thousand pounds.”
“Yes, I remember, but perhaps we might be wrong,” her aunt said gently. “It may be possible he truly loves Lydia—loves her enough to marry her despite her lack of fortune.”
“I understand what you mean. You think I might be upset at the thought of Wickham seeking to marry Lydia when he made no offer for me despite having earlier shown a preference for me. But I assure you it is not wounded vanity that makes me critical of him. I know Wickham’s true character, as does Jane. He has been profligate in every sense of the word. He has neither integrity nor honour, and he is as false and deceitful as he is cunning.”
“But, how do you know all this?” cried Mrs. Gardiner.
“I am quite sure,” replied Elizabeth, colouring somewhat as she remembered Mr. Darcy’s letter. “I am not at liberty to give you all the particulars, but pray believe me when I say I have reason to believe my information is true. It has been verified by personal testimony as well as unbiased witnesses.”
Both Mr. Gardiner and his wife looked at Jane, who nodded unhappily in agreement with her sister. Her face showed distress at having to openly criticize another person.
“There is good reason to doubt Mr. Wickham’s intentions—though I must admit I was originally hesitant to accept what Lizzy told me.”
“Jane wishes to think well of everyone,” Elizabeth said. “And despite what I had shared with her that refuted the lies Mr. Wickham told me and everyone else about how badly he had been misused by Mr. Darcy, she still tried to find some way to prove everything had been a misunderstanding. But she was finally forced to agree with me about Mr. Wickham. Am I not correct, Jane?”
“I am afraid she is, Aunt Gardiner,” Jane said, nodding in agreement even though her face showed her unhappiness. “And I have to confess that at first I was disposed to think the same thing in this case. As I wrote in my first letter—the one that never reached you—I originally hoped the reported elopement marked nothing malicious in his heart. As thoughtless and indiscreet as both had been, I believed Wickham had chosen Lydia because of disinterested love for he had to know my father could give her nothing. But then Colonel Forster called here on the very next day after I sent my first letter. He had questioned Lieutenant Denny, who disclosed the unhappy information that Mr. Wickham had never intended to go to Gretna Green—or to marry Lydia at all.”
The effect of this disclosure was utterly and immediately disturbing to the others, and everyone began talking at the same time, trying to ask questions of Jane and of each other, until Mr. Gardiner was finally able to bring a measure of quiet to the room.
Post-Prologue Vignette for A Covenant of Marriage
Unwritten events between the Prologue and Chapter 1
Saturday, August 1, 11:45 pm
While the Gardiner party was engaged in their tour of the Lake District, events elsewhere in the kingdom were taking place that would have the most deleterious impact on Elizabeth Bennet and her family. In the seaside port of Brighton, where the regiment of militia was encamped after their removal from Meryton, a young girl eased open a French door and tip-toed through it, closing it silently behind her. The house from which she exited was on in which the commanding officer of the regiment, Colonel Forster, resided with his young wife and his wife’s “particular friend,” who had accompanied the regiment to Brighton.
Lydia Bennet had to repress a squeal of delight at seeing the figure of George Wickham standing below on the road with a finger on his lips cautioning silence. She quickly flew into his arms, kissing him fervently but inexpertly, and he lost no time in ushering her further down the narrow road to the central plaza of the town, where a chaise and drive awaited them.
“I assume you were able to slip away without anyone the wiser?” Wickham said softly, as he assisted Lydia in entering the chaise.
“Oh, yes indeed,” Lydia said, giggling. “The colonel and his wife made a good deal of noise in their bedroom soon after retiring, but both of them then fell asleep. I could hear both of them snoring through the thin walls.”
“Oh, I am so excited that we will be off to Scotland! What fun it is going to be!”
Wickham said nothing to this, and Lydia’s excitement was so great that she did not notice it. Nor could she, in the darkness, observe the carefully controlled expressionless look on Wickham’s usually mobile face.
“Of course, I had to leave a brief note to Harriet, telling her we were off to Gretna Green. Otherwise, she would be greatly worried when I am missed.”
Wickham scowled in the darkness but nodded to himself after several seconds. There was nothing to be done, with the note already written, and Lydia was correct that Mrs. Forster and her husband would be highly agitated to find her missing. And, since he had no plans to go anywhere near Scotland, it would serve as a false lead.
“My sisters are going to be so jealous of me, the first of all of them to be wed, and me only sixteen. How long will it take to reach Gretna Green, darling?”
If possible, Wickham’s face became even more frozen, but Lydia’s excitement was so elevated that she likely would not have noticed even had there been sufficient light to see.
“Several days,” he said shortly, then leaned back. In her eagerness to at last be alone with Wickham, Lydia twisted around so her torso faced him and she was able to pull his head down to hers.
It is fortunate that I was able to borrow money from Denney, he thought as his hand explored the firmness of the girl’s breast and she squirmed in pleasure. I carefully avoided ever putting the touch to him, saving him for an emergency, which this is. I think some of the officers are about ready to approach Colonel Forster about my gaming debts, so I had best be off to London. Hopefully, Mrs. Younge can give me refuge until something turns up. And this naïve girl will do well enough to warm my bed at night . . .
Monday, August 3, 1812, 12:00 am
The loud banging of the knocker at the sturdy front door of Longbourn was sufficient to awaken the whole household. Some residents reacted in a positive manner, such as the butler and Mr. Bennet, who both armed themselves before approaching the front door, where the knocker again sounded. Being awakened at midnight was not a normal occurrence at any house of the gentry and almost certainly did not bode well. Other residents were more cautious, such as Jane and her sisters, only coming part way down the stairs after throwing on a dressing gown.
And of course, there was Mrs. Bennet, who set up a wail audible throughout Longbourn that “We are all going to be murdered in our beds! Do something, Mr. Bennet!”
The butler eased the door open, pistol held at the ready, then he slumped in relief.
“It is an express rider, sir,” he said, opening the door wider.
“Express for Mr. Bennet of Longbourn from a Colonel Forster,” said the dust-covered rider, holding out a brown envelope that obviously comprised several pages.
“Thank you,” Mr. Bennet said, accepting the proffered missive. As the express rider started to turn away, he said, “Wait a minute.”
He handed the express rider a coin from his purse, and the rider gave him a smile and a quick bow. He had not really expected anything, since he had been paid in full to deliver the express, but it was pleasant to have his efforts appreciated.
Mr. Bennet lost no time in opening the express and read it by the light of a candle held by the butler. His complexion paled in shock, and his jowls—indeed, his whole body—seemed to sag.
“What is it, Mr. Bennet?” his wife screeched, having finally made her way down the stairs. “What news does it contain?”
“We should go upstairs—” Mr. Bennet started, since he had no desire to talk of private, family matters before the servants, but Mrs. Bennet could not restrain herself.
“Tell me! Tell me now! Oh, my nerves are going to fail me altogether!”
“Then read it, madam,” Mr. Bennet said, holding out the express, but his wife through her hands up in the air and would have collapsed to the floor if she had not been caught by Jane and Mrs. Hill.
“NO! NO! I am so distracted I cannot see to read! Tell me immediately!”
Mr. Bennet could see that his wife’s unseemly display had ruined any chance of keeping the contents of the express private, since his wife would undoubtedly broadcast the news throughout the house when she learned them.
“Very well, madam. It is from Colonel Forster informing her that your daughter Lydia has gone off to Scotland with one of his officers. To be specific, with the amiable and personable Mr. Wickham.”
“Ruined!” Mrs. Bennet instantly wailed. “They have eloped, and we are all RUINED!”
Despite the cries of his wife, which were just what he had expected, Mr. Bennet was startled by an unexpected gasp from Jane. He looked at her quizzically to see that she had turned pale at this news. He wondered what that might mean, but any investigation could wait for another time.
“Lydia was not missed until eight o’clock this morning, and the colonel believes that she and Wickham left together in a chaise somewhere around midnight. Several witnesses observed the vehicle departing the central plaza at that time, but the light was so dim that none of them could identify the two occupants. However, further investigations revealed it could have been no one else, so Colonel Forster writes that he plans to set off in pursuit and expects to stop by Longbourn sometime today. Hopefully, he will bear better information when he arrives. Though I have to wonder why Wickham would fix on Lydia—after his engagement to Miss King, we know he needs to marry someone with money, and Lydia certainly has no fortune.”
“I can easily believe him thoughtless in this matter,” Jane said, while her mother continued to wail as she was helped upstairs by Hill and one of the other servants. “But his choice at least shows a goodness of heart, since he must know that you can give her nothing, Papa.”
Jane was to long remember this statement and the naiveté it showed in the dismal events yet to come . . .
By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.
I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing. One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).
How are you this week? I’m still adjusting to my daily routines after being away for 3 weeks and I’m reading much less since I got back. However, my blog has been very busy with new authors stopping by, and recurrent guests that I’m always happy to host such as Victoria Kincaid, who is here today to share an excerpt of her most recent novel: When Charlotte Became Romantic.
This is another book of her secondary characters series that started with one of my favorite secondary characters: Mary Bennet. It’s been almost 4 years since When Mary Met the Colonel was released, but it is still present in my memory as one of my favorite secondary character books of all times. This time Victoria Kincaid decided to give voice to Charlotte Lucas who I believe is a controversy character. Are you team Charlotte? Do you get her character? Or is she someone you tend to dislike? Let us know what you think of her character and the excerpt we are sharing below to apply to the giveaway. Enjoy this small sneak peek at Ms. Kincaid’s take on Charlotte Lucas.
In the original Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s friend, Charlotte Lucas marries the silly and obsequious clergyman, Mr. Collins. But what if fate—and love—intervened?
Desperate to escape her parents’ constant criticism, Charlotte has accepted a proposal from Mr. Collins despite recognizing his stupid and selfish nature. But when a mysterious man from her past visits Meryton for the Christmas season, he arouses long-buried feelings and causes her to doubt her decision.
James Sinclair’s mistakes cost him a chance with Charlotte three years ago, and he is devastated to find her engaged to another man. Honor demands that he step aside, but his heart will not allow him to leave Meryton. Their mutual attraction deepens; however, breaking an engagement is not a simple matter and scandal looms. If they are to be happy, Charlotte and James must contend with her parents’ opposition, Lady Catherine’s nastiness, and dangerous figures from James’s past.
Charlotte had forsworn romance years ago; is it possible for her to become romantic again?
Hello Rita and thank you so much for having me back to visit! In Pride and Prejudice, we only really get a brief glimpse into Charlotte Lucas’s character. She’s best known to Austen readers as not being romantic. But in the grand tradition of P&P what-if stories, I wondered what would happen if Charlotte did have a secret romantic side. How would her life be different if she did have romantic feelings that were simply suppressed and buried under layers of practicality and rationality? The result was quite interesting. I found her acting more like Elizabeth Bennet in some instances and in other places making her own unique decisions. But, no matter what, I think the reader will be rooting for her. Below is an excerpt from close to the beginning of the book. Enjoy!
Elizabeth trailed in her wake as Charlotte hastened into the front hall. With her head lowered to ensure that she did not trip on the hem of her gown, she did not notice who was in front of her until a voice intoned, “Char—Miss Lucas?”
Reflexively looking up, her gaze was caught by brown eyes, as warm and kind as she remembered—and yet impossible to turn away from. For a moment her voice deserted her; then she managed a thin and reedy approximation of her normal tones. “Mr. Sinclair…er, greetings.” She had the sinking feeling of having been just a little too slow; a minute sooner and she would have made it to safety.
Was it possible he had grown taller? Perhaps her recollection was faulty. His thick sandy brown hair still fell over his forehead and into his eyes. His full lips held the merest hint of a smile—or perhaps a smirk. His shoulders were quite as broad as she remembered, and he was well-dressed, with a coat of fine wool over an embroidered waistcoat.
I must conceal the effect he has on me. Of course, he might guess by her inability to utter a word in his presence. Was that a smug smile at the thought that he could still render her as articulate as a startled goose?
I am in control of myself. I am my own mistress. I cannot give him any advantage. She repeated these words to herself until she remembered to close her mouth and wet dry lips, but speech still eluded her. Naturally, James was relaxed and unbothered, the picture of serenity and grace.
Only then did Charlotte notice Mrs. Hargrave standing beside her nephew. A bit stout with curling gray hair, she regarded Charlotte with a cool smile. “Miss Lucas.”
Both her hands clenched fistfuls of her skirt, a nervous habit since childhood. Appearing otherwise smooth and unruffled required all of Charlotte’s energy. How could she be expected to speak as well? Elizabeth’s eyes darted between them, sensing the tension but unaware of its source. Charlotte swallowed, hoping her voice would work. “M-Mr. S-Sinclair, allow me to introduce my friend, Elizabeth Bennet. And, of course, you know Mrs. Hargrave.”
Charlotte allowed an inward sigh of relief. That had not been horrible. “Mrs. Hargrave introduced me to Mr. Sinclair when Mama, Papa, and I visited Bath three years ago.”
Elizabeth and James exchanged nods. “Are you visiting your aunt for the whole of the Christmas season?” she asked him.
“Yes. It has been too long since my last visit.”
Does he blame me for that? Charlotte sought his face for traces of bitterness, but his expression was, as ever, open and artless.
“James has a very responsible position with the Customs House in London—the headquarters for HM Customs, you know,” Mrs. Hargrave announced haughtily. He gave his aunt a look of exasperation, which she ignored. “And, in time, he will inherit his father’s estate in Sussex.”
Charlotte’s stomach roiled sickeningly. Why does she tell this to Elizabeth? Does she seek to remind me of what I lost? Or does she hope Elizabeth will develop an interest in James?
Of course, it was infinitely preferable to having James’s aunt tell them about his wife and children.
For the sake of my sanity, I must quit this conversation now. But her eyes would remain fixed on James’s face while he seemed determined only to gaze upon Elizabeth. It makes sense; she is very pretty, but I am driving myself to distraction. Why can I not find any excuse to depart?
Elizabeth seemed to find Mrs. Hargrave’s boasts amusing. “How very fortunate,” she murmured. Then she appeared to read Charlotte’s thoughts. “Are you wed, sir?”
“Unfortunately, I have not yet had that pleasure,” James said, carefully averting his eyes from Charlotte.
“Miss Bennet is the second of five sisters in the Bennet family,” Mrs. Hargrave explained.
“Indeed?” James’s attention had already switched to Charlotte. “Miss Lucas, my aunt tells me you are still residing in Hertfordshire.”
A reminder of her unmarried status? Would he torment her with what could have been? “Yes—” Charlotte cleared her throat. “Yes, I am.”
Elizabeth might not know the story from Bath, but she could sense the tension in the air. “Alas,” she said quickly, “Charlotte is to remain among us only a little longer. She is engaged to Mr. William Collins from Kent.”
“Engaged?” James said faintly. “I had not…heard.” The news seemed to disconcert him, but perhaps that was Charlotte’s imagination.
“Mr. Collins?” Mrs. Hargrave said. “He is a curate, I believe?”
“No, he is a parson,” Elizabeth said rather forcefully. “With his own living—under the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.” Lizzy must have been piqued indeed to defend someone she found so tedious. “He is my cousin and will inherit Longbourn upon my father’s death.”
Despite herself, Mrs. Hargrave seemed rather impressed. Perhaps she had hoped Charlotte would become an old maid—or wed the local rat catcher. “How nice.”
After a moment, James roused himself. “My congratulations,” he said stiffly. His expression was unreadable, although his countenance was quite pale. “I wish you both happy.” He nodded briskly. “Now, if you will excuse us, my aunt is quite parched, and I promised to obtain some punch for her.” He barely gave his aunt enough time to clutch his arm before he whisked them both into the crowd.
Elizabeth and Charlotte stared after them. “My goodness,” Elizabeth said. “What did you do in Bath to offend them? Did you insult Mr. Sinclair’s favorite waistcoat or put too much sugar in his tea?” She gave Charlotte an impish grin.
If you only knew.
is offering a very generous giveaway. On this stop you can either win a $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice which will be
Victoria Kincaid would like to offer one of my readers an ebook copy of When Charlotte Became Romantic . This giveaway she is promoting is international and will end on November 14th.
To apply to it all you have to do is comment on this post and let us know what you thought about the excerpt.