Monthly Archives: December 2019

2019 Achievements & 2020 Goals

Hello everyone,

It’s the last day of the year, and even if people usually say time flies by, to be honest, I think 2019 took a long time to come to an end! I don’t feel the year went by very quickly, on the contrary. When I think about what I did in the beginning of the year it feels like it was ages ago!

Professionally speaking it was a great year! I started the year in a new position within the company and so far I’m loving my new role, my new colleagues and my new boss. In 2020 this new position will require I travel quite often to Oporto, so I may be a little more tired and have less time to create content for the blog, but I promise to give my best to maintain the number of posts I’m currently doing. Plus, all those days away from home will probably mean more time to read, which is always good 🙂

Personally speaking the year had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs, but I guess that all depends on how we look at life, right? After all, I am still here and I am in good health, so I should not be complaining! I wasn’t able to visit my favorite country in the entire world (after Portugal of course), but I did visit some new countries that I have also enjoyed immensely 🙂

I started the year by visiting the UK where I finally travelled to Steventon, re-visited Lyme Park and saw Gilliam Anderson on a theatre play; did a road trip through some of the less known Balkan countries, namely Macedonia, Bulgaria and Kosovo and even went to Asia to relax in Thailand for a week.

Visiting these five countries was an incredible experience and increased my number of countries visited to 27 but they do not replace a visit to the United States (remember I said I didn’t visit my favorite country this year?), so one of my 2020 goals is to go back to the states! I even bought a scratch map of the United States to motivate me.

It’s looking great so far, but in April I hope to increase it by adding Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. I’ll probably drive through Pennsylvania and Ohio but that doesn’t really count, does it? I’m also hoping to return to California to visit a couple of places I missed the last time I was there, making it the first state I’ve visited twice 🙂

I would love to go to Washington, Montana and Wyoming in September but…I’ll need to manage my budget and vacation days very well in order to do that.

Anyway…enough of those personal goals. You’re here because of literary stuff! And Literarily speaking, this was a very different year from my previous, and that’s because I managed to achieve one of my goals! (I know, achieving one is not much of a victory…but well…)

In 2019 I had established 4 goals:

  1. Dedicate more time to the blog and re-design it to have an archive with all my posts always available
  2. Read more non-austenesque books (5 was my goal)
  3. Read more books in Portuguese
  4. Read more paperbacks

Can you guess which one I achieved? I clearly didn’t dedicate as much time to the blog as I should have, on the contrary, I kind of went awaol for a while in the months of April and May. I only read 2 books in portuguese this year, so, I didn’t read much in my native language…and my paperback pile remains pretty much the same. So when I said my year has been very different from my previous years, it’s because in 2019 I was actually able to read several non-austenesque books! I know that’s probably not what you want to hear, but I really needed to read something a little different, and to be honest I got addicted to the Stargate novels from Fandemonium. If they had more good ones, I would probably continue reading them, but unfortunately, I started with the best, and I don’t think they have many more I’ll enjoy.

 

I read a total of 42 books this year, and 11 of them were not Austenesque. The other 31 books were mainly variations of Pride & Prejudice but I also read 2 Emma sequels, 2 Persuasion adaptations and of course, 2 North and South books.

Next year I think I’ll stick to Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion because truly those are my favorite Austen books and I’ve already convinced myself that there is no point in trying to read anything Emma related…I really don’t like Emma (sorry Emma fans).

Taking into consideration I completely failed to achieve most of my 2019 goals, in 2020 I MUST conquer them, so my first reading goals of the decade are:

  1. Re-design the blog and create an archive containing all my posts (in an organized manner)
  2. Read more books in Portuguese (I’m starting to feel I’ll never achieve this one)
  3. Read at least 5 paperbacks

And I’ll add a 4th one to accommodate my latest inclination:

4. Listen to at least 12 Austenesque Audiobooks

Overall, I’ll try to read 35 books. That’s been my goal in the last years and I’ve always been able to achieve that, so I don’t want to get over confident and establish a goal I won’t be able to complete. I will also try to read older books but I’m not making that a goal, I’ll just try to go back and read some of the amazing books I’ve missed over the years. With so many books coming out every month it’s becoming harder to keep up, and that means the TBR piles are never really overcome, so I’ll try to reduce it by reading some of the older books and not adding many of the new releases.

I’ve been very surprised in the last couple of years to read books that were published in previous years and that were absolutely amazing! When you see the 2019 favorites list I’ll publish in the beginning of the year, you’ll notice that many of those books were not released in 2019, so I’m hoping to continue finding incredibly good books from great authors 🙂

What about you? What will be your 2020 reading goal or goals? Do you have any particular one you would like to achieve? Any particular type of book you want to dedicate more time to? Please let me know, I would love to know what you’re planning to read next year 🙂

Whatever your goals are, I hope you will be able to achieve them and that you have a WONDERFUL 2020!!!

Happy New Year everyone!

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Twelfth-Night Cake & the Rosings Ghost: A Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam Tale

After reading I, Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam: A Perfect World in the Moon, I had to read its sequel, Twelfth-Night Cake & the Rosings Ghost: A Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam Tale. The first story was very whimsical and I loved the writing style that was very peculiar and distinctive, plus the main character was Portuguese which is obviously a big allure to me.

On this Christmas sequel Sofia-Elisabete is a little older, and is visiting her father’s family at Rosings Park for the holidays. She will entertain readers by being caught up in a mystery involving a ghost at Lady Catherine’s estate and will challenge the great Lady with her impertinence and imaginative mind.

The writing style is pretty much the same as the first book. It keeps the whimsical essence I was expecting and the story is also narrated by Sofia-Elisabete. She is now 8 years old and continues to find it difficult to behave properly, especially in the eyes of Lady Catherine who does not accept her nationality, skin color and religion. Being Portuguese I found Lady Catherine’s comments absurd and offensive, but she is just being herself and her behavior was not only in character but also crucial for the story. I can’t say she was my favorite character, but she did bring some depth to the story by raising issues like religion and illegitimacy.

I enjoyed knowing about what happened to Sofia-Elisabete after the first book and I particularly loved knowing that our dear Colonel had found happiness once more. He was my favourite character in this short story. He is as lovable as always and a wonderful father! It is impossible to resist him, and I’m only sorry his wife was not present during the events at Rosings.

The story of the Rosings Ghost was a little vague at times, difficult to follow and unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same coziness I felt with the first story. Even if the writing style is still the same, it was not as fascinating or as alluring in this environment, so I didn’t feel as enraptured with this story as I did with the first one. Also, Sofia-Elisabete’s portuguese expressions failed to convince me once more, even if it was amazing to read a few portuguese words in this book 🙂

It is an agreeable story that can easily be read in one afternoon, and even if this is a stand alone, I think readers will enjoyed it more if they read I, Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam first. This was not one of my favourite Christmas stories, but it is certainly unique and charming, so I still recommend it to Pride & Prejudice lovers who do not mind not having Darcy and Elizabeth in the center of the story.

You can find Twelfth-Night Cake & the Rosings Ghost: A Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam Tale at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

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An Unexpected Merry Gentleman

An Unexpected Merry Gentleman is the perfect story to read on a winter afternoon, especially around Christmas time. The environment created in it is cozy and the children make it an adorable story!

In this book Mr. Bingley receives a business advise from Mr. Gardiner, who was an old associate of his father, and shortly after that decides he should see for himself if Jane Bennet really loves him. He decides to spend Christmas at Netherfield with his aunt acting has host (no one could convince Caroline to go back), and invites both the Gardiners and the Darcy’s to go with him. Initially Mr. Darcy refuses the invitation but in a turn of events, ends up agreeing to it and so this story progresses with a merry party at Netherfield.

Mr. Gardiner’s daughters are small versions of Elizabeth and Jane and they are absolutely adorable! Their innocence allows them to see people for who they really are and even open Elizabeth’s eyes regarding several of her acquaintances. They can tell when gentleman have hearts in their eyes, or when they look at lady’s in a manner that is not quite proper.

Having the children around will bring a different side of Darcy that Elizabeth had not known, and that starts to open her heart towards him. Slowly she starts questioning her feelings and falling in love with the last man in the world she thought that would happen.

Mr. Darcy is adorable in this story, he is incredible good with children, is loving towards his sister and charming when Elizabeth is present. My only quibble with him, and the book in general was the lack of pride. He was not as proud as in Pride & Prejudice and even it that helped the story progress easily, it still bothered me a little.

This story is a small novella that can be read in one afternoon and is clean, sweet, romantic and funny. I recommend it to readers who want to spend and agreeable time with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

You can find An Unexpected Merry Gentleman at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Kindle Unlimited

 

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The Giveaway Winners are…

Good Afternoon everyone,

Today I am the bearer of good news; two giveaway winners I announced last week already had the books that were being offered, so apart from announcing the giveaway winner of my Christmas Box, I’m also announcing another winner for When Charlotte Became Romantic from Victoria Kincaid and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian from Jennifer Joy.

I hope these will be good news for everyone 🙂

I’m sure you’re all very busy this last weekend before the Christmas holidays, so I won’t take much of your time! The giveaway winners are:

 

Rita’s Christmas Box

*** Glynis ***

When Charlotte Became Romantic

*** Mary A Coble ***

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian

*** Patricia Lima ***

 

Congratulations ladies! As always can you please contact me throught e-mail ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com so your prizes may be sent to you? Please provide me with the email address to which the ebooks may be sent to you, and the Amazon store in which you have an account. Glynis, can you please send me your address to where the gifts can be mailed?

Happy Reading everyone!

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Speechless – Guest Post & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

Yesterday I started reading Speechless from Jesse Lewis and I could hardly stop, so I’m very happy to receive the author today with a guest post about what appears to be a very promising book!

Speechless starts with Mr. Darcy stranded at an in, which is a very cozy setting that always captures my attention, and Jessie decided to interview its owner, Mr. Timmins, who will be able to give you a very interesting perspective of the books events 🙂

I enjoyed this interview very much and I am really loving the book so far! Iwill be reviewing it next week, so please don’t forget to visit to know my opinion 🙂 Until then, I’ll leave you with Mr. Timmins 🙂


 

Thank you so much, Rita, for taking part in the blog tour for my new novel, Speechless. It’s a Pride and Prejudice variation that takes place in the winter following Darcy’s initial visit to Meryton. After a terrible accident, Darcy and Elizabeth are stranded together at a remote inn called The Dancing Bear. I hope your readers will enjoy this interview with its proprietor, the lovely Mr Timmins.

 

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Good afternoon, Mr Timmins. Could you begin by telling us about your establishment?

I should be glad to. The Dancing Bear is just outside Spencer’s Cross in Hertfordshire. ‘Tis a little off the beaten track—not your run-of-the-mill coaching inn—but those as wish to drink here always seem to find it.

 

Mr Darcy certainly found it, and he was in dire need of your hospitality when he knocked at your door, was he not?

I should say it was Death’s door at which Mr Darcy was knocking when he arrived, but he found his way here, and I took him in. There are few I refuse.

 

Did you have any inkling of his consequence at first?

None at all. The name Darcy was completely unknown to me ’til that day, and there was rather too much urgency to take account of anybody’s airs or graces. Indeed, it would have been mighty tricky for Mr Darcy to present himself as a man of consequence when he was so diligently attending to playing the part of a corpse. It was discovered he was a gentleman in the days following, but such things are not generally accorded much import here at The Bear. If you are thirsty, you are welcome.

 

A very shrewd policy, Mr Timmins, though I had heard Mr Darcy’s consequence enabled him to liberally bestow his gratitude on all those who assisted him in his time of need, is that not the case?

Mr Darcy has been vastly generous to us, that I shall not deny. Though it is his good word that has benefitted us most. We have enjoyed a great deal more business of late on account of his recommendation.

 

Could you tell us what your part in his recovery entailed?

Truth be told, very little. I provided a room; I fed and stabled his horse. And what with my sister being snowed out at her mother’s all week, and me not generally being known for my culinary excellence, I dared not venture to prepare him any food. Fortunately, I was not required to serve him in that capacity.

 

Is it true, then, that Elizabeth prepared Mr Darcy’s meals for him?

Aye, it is. Most of us dined on what my sister had stored away in the kitchen, but Mr Darcy could scarcely swallow his own spittle, let alone cured meat and hard cheese, so he was treated to a special diet of watery broth and my best brandy.

 

What did you make of Elizabeth?

I was singularly impressed by her fortitude. She went to great lengths to secure aid for Mr Darcy despite having been involved in a dreadful accident herself. His injury was gruesome to behold, too, yet she was not frightened by it—or if she was, she kept her head and showed no sign of it. Stayed by his side almost every hour of the day after that. Mr Darcy is very fortunate in his choice of wife.

 

[Interviewer coughs] Did they seem like a happily married couple to you, then?

They seemed like a married couple. Happiness is relative. Though in fairness, they did not have a great deal about which to be happy at the time. They had a bit of a spat on the last day that gave us all a chuckle. Especially Mr and Mrs Stratton, who’ve been married a lot longer, I think, and have had their share of vexations.

 

Can you tell us the nature of their quarrel?

Can’t say as I recall. It was a funny old sort of quarrel in any case, for Mr Darcy was completely mute at the time, and we heard only one side of every conversation they had. His contributions never amounted to more than a few hand gestures and a very limited range of facial expressions, mostly scowls.

 

They understood each other, though?

Seemed to. Which was useful, for it meant she could translate for the rest of us what he was trying to say. Not that we had much need of that, for the very same day Mr Darcy ventured downstairs, his cousin arrived to whisk him away.

 

Could you tell us a little about the night Colonel Fitzwilliam arrived?

Very strange affair, that. Arrived out of the blue with half a dozen soldiers and the sort of urgency typical to all men used to being at war. We all thought it unnecessary at first, for Mr Darcy had been drinking with us only an hour before. He had not looked well, admittedly, but he had been conscious, which is the opposite to what he was when the colonel’s men carried him downstairs ten minutes later. The whole party had departed within quarter of an hour, preventing me from making enquiries—and Mr Darcy is not the sort of man one questions, which is why, to this day, I have no notion of what transpired upstairs. Still, you see all sorts when you run a drinking establishment. I daresay I shall see stranger things before my time is up.

 

A very strange story indeed, Mr Timmins. I should think Mr Darcy and Elizabeth’s version of events would be interesting! Thank you for talking to us. One last question, if you please. Your establishment is named for the large stuffed bear in your taproom. Can you tell us where it came from?

My sister likes to tell the customers it danced all the way across the world and only stopped dancing when it found somewhere it wished to call home, but I do not know about that. All I know is it came with the building. Happen it stopped dancing when someone stuffed it.

 

***

Thank you, everyone, for popping in to From Pemberley to Milton today to take part in the Speechless blog tour. Feel free to ask me (Jessie, not Mr Timmins) any other questions in the comments below, or you can interact with me on Twitter (@JessieWriter), FaceBook (@JessieLewisAuthor), or on my blog, (www.lifeinwords.blog). I’d love to hear from you!


 

Could anything be worse than to be trapped in a confined space with the woman you love?Fitzwilliam Darcy knows his duty, and it does not involve succumbing to his fascination for a dark-eyed beauty from an unheard of family in Hertfordshire. He has run away from her once already. Yet fate has a wicked sense of humour and deals him a blow that not only throws him back into her path but quite literally puts him at Elizabeth Bennet’s mercy. Stranded with her at a remote inn and seriously hampered by injury, Darcy very quickly loses the battle to conquer his feelings, but can he win the war to make himself better understood without the ability to speak?

Thus begins an intense journey to love and understanding that is at times harrowing, sometimes hilarious and at all times heartwarming.

You can find Speechless at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 


There are only 3 days left in the blog tour ot Speechless but you can still go back and read the other posts. Here is the schedule if you are interested 🙂

 


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Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken and The Edification of Lady Susan, enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English language. She has always been particularly in awe of Jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.

You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on her Facebook page, JessieLewisAuthor.

 


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Quills & Quartos Publishing is giving away one ebook of Speechless per blog tour stop. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this blog post, and Quills & Quartos will randomly choose winners for the entire blog tour on December 19. So, make sure you join in the conversation!

Good Luck everyone!

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Giveaway winners, christmas gifts and handmade stuff

 

transparent_christmas_mistletoe_decor_png_picture

Good Afternoon dear readers,

How are you this weekend? Have you finished all your Christmas shopping? I know most people took advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I was quite busy last week preparing all the handmade postcards and bookmarks for my company’s Christmas Market so I’m only now starting to look for presents to buy.

I told you on my last post that I would share some pictures of these items, so here they are:

 

 

 

What do you think? Do you like the items we created? We sold out and all profits were donated for charity, but I loved doing them so much that I believe I will continue creating these handmade postcards and bookmarks for myself, my friends upon demand and maybe even start a little online shop 🙂

After all the hussle with the Christmas market I finally had time to put out my Christmas tree, and start thinking about the 2019 Christmas gifts for my family and friends (that includes many of you, so look out for your mail).

This year I have decided to mainly offer my family and friends handmade presents because I am trying to have a more minimal lifestyle with less objects and more moments to remember, and I believe we already have everything we need for, so presents that require other people’s time are much more special in my perspective. Time is our most valuable asset, so spending my time preparing these gifts is in fact a proof of love, which I hope my family will appreciate.

I started looking online for ideas and obviously this led me to the Austenesque items which reminded me of all of you, so I decided to share my Top 5 Austen Christmas gifts for 2019 (secretly hoping my husband will read this post, and get me one).

 

1 – Jane Austen 2020 daily calendar

 

This Jane Austen 2020 daily calendar has classic quotes and trivia questions about her life, her books, and her cultural influence. I think is perfect for any Jane Austen fans who will be enterntained all day. Plus it is only 9,95, which is actually less expensive then the 2020 agenda I bought for myself and which is simply a black aganda (I’m kinda dying right now with my stupidity… should have bought this instead…but well, next year I’ll have to be smarter).             

 

2 – 2020 Weekly Planner with space for a TBR list

 

This 2020 Weekly Planner only costs 6,95$ and to be honest, I’m going to get it for myself! I’ll use the other agenda I already have for work, and use this one for my blog planning (I also had one for that, but I MUST have this one!). This planner contains yearly, monthly, and weekly calendars with space to write appointments, a section to list priorities, and a “to read” section for our TBR stack, isn’t that PERFECT??? Apparently, it was designed for bibliophiles, avid readers, librarians, book bloggers, bookstagramers, and booktubers and I kind of fit in that category don’t I?

 

3 – Pack of 15 Jane Austen Christmas Cards

 

Everybody knows I love postcards and snail mail, so this Jane Austen Christmas Box of 15 Holiday Cards is the perfect Christmas gift for me. With it, I can make 15 different people happy when opening their mailbox. I know some people don’t care about snail mail anymore, but come on?! Who doesn’t love to know that someone thought about them and cared enough to write something down on a postcard? It is a little pricy costing 18,95$ but it will be a good addition to my own handmade Christmas postcards.

 

4 – JAFF Christmas Books

Christmas Books are the best gift someone can give to me at Christmas. Well, any book really…but Christmas books are always an enjoyable read this time of the year, and even if I’ve read quite a few in previous years, there are still several I would love to read 🙂 These are just a small sample!

A Jane Austen Christmas Bundle: A bundle of Regency Christmas traditions, history and fiction

Christmas with Darcy: Christmas with Jane Books 1-3: Holiday Tales of Pride and Prejudice

 

Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

 

A Snowy Christmas at Rosings Park: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Farce

 

A Very Meryton Christmas: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

 

5 – Christmas Kiss Tree Ornament

This christmas tree ornament is available at JT Originals and is absolutely beautiful!!! I happen to have one myself, so this does not go into my wish list, but I kind of hope Janet Taylor creates another ornament to match this one (again, secretly hoping she will see this post and designs another ornament).

Doesn’t it look amazing on my christmas tree?

So, what do you think of these? Would they enter your Christmas Wish list? This year I didn’t create a Jane Austen’s Christmas Cart because I was just looking for some ideas, but in 2016 I created a list of my favourite Austenesque items and when I published the Jane Austen’s shopping cart I mentioned the below 3 items.

What do you think of them? Are they to your taste? I hope you like them because I decided to offer to one of my readers a Jane Austen Christmas box and I have decided to include similar items 🙂 I believe we must tell people when we are grateful for their presence in our lives, and Christmas seems to be the ideal time for me to tell you all how grateful I am for all your support through all these years, so today I’m offering a Christmas gift box to one of my readers.


 

Today I’m offering a Christmas gift box to one of my readers with several items I purchased and many others I created myself. The giveaway is international and includes:

2 Jane Austen Handmade Postcards

2 Jane Austen Handmade Bookmarks

1 Elizabeth Bennet Handmade Bookmark

1 Fitzwilliam Darcy Handmade Bookmark

1 Jane Austen Bronze & Glass Metal Bookmark

2 Jane Austen Earings

2 Jane Austen Necklaces

1 Jane Austen Keychain

1 Elizabeth Bennet Keychain

1 Looking for Mr. Darcy Bracelet

 

To enter the giveaway please make sure you follow From Pemberley to Milton and tell me which of my posts or reviews were your favourite. If you’d like to give me your opinion on the handmade items, I would also appreciate and honest opinion since I am doing them myself 🙂 And please, tell me which of these is your favourite item, I would love to know that 🙂 It may be biased but I love the handmade stuff I made 🙂

The giveaway is open until the 11th of December and the winner will be announced on the 12th of December because I want to send the package in time for Christmas. All comments of blog followers will be considered for the giveaway.


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Now, I do believe it is also time to offer some ebooks, but this time, I’m not the one offering them 🙂 I’m not sure if you remember, but I posted an excerpt of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Guardian on its release day two weeks ago. The author, Jennifer Joy, kindly offered 4 ebook copies to my readers and today I’m happy to announce that the winners are:

*** Evamedmonds ***

*** Mary ***

*** J.W.Garrett ***

*** Sheilamajczan ***

I’m also happy to announce that the Rafflecopter winner of A Good Name from Sarah Courtney who also visited in November was BeckyC!

Congratulation ladies, and Happy Reading!

 


 

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The Clergyman’s Wife – Excerpt

Good Afternoon everyone,

How are you this week? I’ve been very busy creating handmade postcards and bookmarks to sell at the Christmas Market we will have at my company tomorrow. All the profits will be donated to an institution who helps our elderly community so I’m really hoping our stand has success among my colleagues.

I’ll tell you all about it in my next post, and share some pictures too, but today I am sharing an excerpt of The Clergyman’s Wife. This novel was released today and focuses on Charlotte, one of my favorite Pride & Prejudice secondary characters. I believe she has a lot of potential as a character, and I’m curious to see how Molly Greeley approached her.

Have you heard about this book yet? It is already available at amazon, so if you like the blurb and the excerpt, you can offer yourself an early Christmas gift 🙂

 


Charlotte Collins, nee Lucas, is the respectable wife of Hunsford’s vicar, and sees to her duties by rote: keeping house, caring for their adorable daughter, visiting parishioners, and patiently tolerating the lectures of her awkward husband and his condescending patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Intelligent, pragmatic, and anxious to escape the shame of spinsterhood, Charlotte chose this life, an inevitable one so socially acceptable that its quietness threatens to overwhelm her. Then she makes the acquaintance of Mr. Travis, a local farmer and tenant of Lady Catherine..

In Mr. Travis’ company, Charlotte feels appreciated, heard, and seen. For the first time in her life, Charlotte begins to understand emotional intimacy and its effect on the heart—and how breakable that heart can be. With her sensible nature confronted, and her own future about to take a turn, Charlotte must now question the role of love and passion in a woman’s life, and whether they truly matter for a clergyman’s wife.

 

 

 

You can find The Clergyman’s Wife at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

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Prologue
Autumn

Mr. Collins walks like a man who has never become comfortable with his height: his shoulders hunched, his neck thrust forward. His legs cross great stretches of ground with a single stride. I see him as I pass the bedroom window, and for a moment I am arrested, my lungs squeezing painfully under my ribs, the pads of my fingers pressed against the cool glass. The next moment, I am moving down the stairs, holding my hem above my ankles. When I push open the front door and step out into the lane, I raise my eyes and find Mr. Collins only a few feet distant.

Mr. Collins sees me and lifts his hat. His brow is damp with the exertion of walking and his expression is one of mingled anticipation and wariness. Seeing it, the tightness in my chest dissipates. Later, when I have time to reflect, I will perhaps wonder how it is possible to simultaneously want something so much and so little, but in the moment before Mr. Collins speaks, as I step toward him through the fallen leaves, I am awash in calm.

On the morning of my wedding, my mother dismisses the maid and helps me to dress herself. Lady Lucas is not a woman prone to excessive displays of emotion, but this morning her eyes are damp and her fingers tremble as she smooths the sleeves of my gown. It is only my best muslin, though newly trimmed at the bodice with lace from one of my mother’s old evening dresses. My father went to town the other day, returning with a few cupped hothouse roses, only just bloomed, to tuck into my hair this morning. He offered them to me, his face pink and pleased, and they were so lovely, so evocative of life and warmth even as winter grayed and chilled the landscape outside, that even my mother did not complain about the expense.

“Very pretty,” my mother says now, and I feel my breath catch and hold behind my breastbone. I cannot recall having heard those particular words from her since I was a small child. I look at my reflection in the glass and there see the same faults—nose too large, chin too sharp, eyes too close together—that I have heard my mother bemoan since it became apparent, when I was about fourteen, that my looks were not going to improve as I grew older. But the flowers in my hair make me appear younger, I think, than my twenty-seven years; I look like a bride. And when I look into my mother’s face now, I find nothing but sincerity.

My mother blinks too quickly and turns away from me. “We should go down,” she says. She makes for the door, then pauses, turning slowly to face me again. “I wish you every happiness,” she says, sounding as though she is speaking around something lodged in her throat. “You have made a very eligible match.” I nod, feeling my own throat close off in response, a sensation of helpless choking.

I am largely silent during the long, rocking ride into Kent. My new husband speaks enough for both of us; he has an astonishing memory for minutiae and discusses the wedding ceremony in such great detail that I find myself wondering whether he remembers that I was also in attendance. We left for my new home directly from the church; my family and a few friends all crowded, shivering in their cloaks and muffs, outside the entrance, waving as we were driven away. Maria, my sister, cried as I left; my brothers looked solemn, my father beamed, my mother smiled a tremulous smile. My friend Elizabeth’s smile looked as if it had been tacked in place, like a bit of ribbon pinned to a gown but not yet properly sewn on.

Mr. Collins’s awkward height is emphasized by the cramped conditions of the coach. His long legs stretch out before him as far as they can go, but he still appears to be uncomfortable. The hair at his temples is moist, despite the cold, and I have to glance hastily away, feeling a lurch in my stomach that has nothing to do with the jolting ride.

He is very warm beside me in bed. I watch him sleep for a time, tracing the relaxed lines of his face with my eyes and thinking how different he seems without the rather frantic energy he exudes in his waking hours. There is a tension about him, much of the time, that I did not recognize until this moment, until sleep removed it.

He introduced me when we arrived to the housekeeper, Mrs. Baxter, who is broad and pleasant, and to the gruff, graying manservant, John, whose powerful shoulders are built from years of labor. The parsonage itself is exactly as Mr. Collins described it: small, but neat and comfortable, with surrounding gardens that he assured me would be beautiful come spring. His eagerness to please me was matched by his inability to believe anyone might find fault with his home, and I found his manner at once endeared him to me and irritated me thoroughly.

Throughout the tour, he pointed out improvements here and there that had been the suggestion of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. There were rather a lot of them.

At our bedchamber he paused with his palm against the door. “I hope . . . it suits,” he said, then opened the door and bowed me in.

The room was much like the rest of the house: comfortably furnished, if a trifle small. “Charming,” I said, and pretended not to notice the flush on his cheeks.

We ate dinner together. I had little appetite, despite the novelty of eating a meal in my own home that I had had no hand in preparing. Afterward, I considered suggesting we adjourn to the parlor but found I could not face the intervening hours between then and bed. Tomorrow I would unpack my books and my embroidery. I would write letters. I would meet Lady Catherine, for Mr. Collins assured me that lady had vowed to have us to tea when we returned to Kent; and I would begin to learn the duties of a clergyman’s wife. But tonight—I wanted only for tonight to be over.

“I am tired,” I said. “I think I will retire early.” Mr. Collins rose from his chair with alacrity. “A fine idea,” he said. “It has been a long day.” And to my consternation, he followed me up the stairs, his footsteps behind me a reminder that it will forever be his right to do with me as he pleases.

It is not so terrible, I think after, lying in the quiet dark watching my husband sleep. At my insistence, he allowed me time to change into my nightdress in private. And the rest was vaguely shocking, dreadfully uncomfortable, and far more mess than I had anticipated, but bearable. Mr. Collins, at least, seemed vastly pleased at the end, murmuring affectionate nonsense against my neck until he drifted off to sleep.

I wake before dawn, and for a moment I imagine I am still at home. There is a presence beside me in the bed, warm and heavy against my back, and I think it is my sister, Maria, until it lets out a gusty snore against the nape of my neck. My eyes open and I find myself staring at an unfamiliar wall covered in delicate floral paper. For a moment, I am held immobile by the weight of all the ways in which my life has changed. And then Mr. Collins— William—shifts in his sleep, one heavy arm reaching over my hip, his long fingers brushing my stomach, and I go rigid for the barest of instants. A moment later I force the stiffness from my body, allowing my spine to relax back against my husband’s chest. Exhaling the breath I had been holding, I wait for him to wake.

I will, no doubt, grow accustomed to mornings begun beside William. This is, after all, the life I chose.


 

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Molly Greeley earned her bachelor’s degree in English, with a creative writing emphasis, from Michigan State University, where she was the recipient of the Louis B. Sudler Prize in the Arts for Creative Writing. Her short stories and essays have been published in CicadaCarve, and Literary Mama.  She works as on social media for a local business, is married and the mother of three children but her Sunday afternoons are devoted to weaving stories into books. 


 

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December 3, 2019 · 8:55 pm