The Longbourn Quarantine – Review, Exclusive Vignette & Giveaway

The premise of The Longbourn Quarantine couldn’t be more perfect. In this story, as disease spreads over England, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy are forced to flee from London towards Netherfield in an attempt to escape it. Unfortunately, as they get there, they realize the property has been vandalised and is inhabitable, being therefore forced to seek solace in Longbourn, where they will have to stay under a quarantine regime. 

This will place in a very small space the Bennet family, Mr. Darcy and Miss Darcy, and Mr. Bingley and Miss Bingley, how perfect is that? Can you imagine how they will live together for 2 weeks in such a small space?

The Longbourn Quarantine is an interesting novella that will focus on how people react under difficult situations, and I liked the different bonds that were created between many characters, and to see Mrs. Bennet stepping up to the challenge. I also liked to see a less cheerful and somewhat fragile Bingley who needed the support of his friends. His character was probably my favourite character in the entire story because it felt real under the situation.

Because all these characters are confined in a small estate, and obviously during this dark time some tragedy reaches their door, they are forced to think on their actions and see their co-habitants under a different light, so we see all of them changing and improving their manners and attitudes. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are no exception and that is how we see them overcome their pride and prejudice.

I did like the premise and the fact that all characters find redemption throughout the story, but I would have liked to see them interact more with one another, and to witness more dialogues between them. We do see a lot of introspection, and even though that is nice to have in a story, in this novella it created a distance between the narrative and myself and I would have prefered to see the characters evolve based on their actions and dialogues then reading their inner thoughts. I love Don Jacobson’s writing style in the Wardrobe series, and all the historical references that mark his style, but in this novella I was expecting a more simple and cozy writing. Readers who do love to get inside these characters’ heads will enjoy this story which gives the reader a chance to get to know them better, so this might be a personal preference.

Despite those few quibbles I recommend this book, especially at this time, because readers may appreciate to see our dear characters facing the trials we ourselves have faced and are still facing during this pandemic. The Longbourn Quarantine is a character driven novella that will get you thinking about how precious life is and whose characters will surprise you. If you like introspective stories, this is for you 🙂

You can find The Longbourn Quarantine at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

and on Kindle Unlimited


I am excited to be visiting From Pemberley to Milton today as we explore my latest story: a novella, The Longbourn Quarantine. This tale explores the dynamics of the response to an epidemic and uses the themes and plots created by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice. I believe that the universal nature of human behavior (it has been barely 200 years…a blink in time) supports imposing the present’s unfamiliar world onto a fictional context with which we are well-acquainted.

I am an eternal optimist. Even in plague time, I am convinced that the need to love and be loved, the desire to be of service to others, and the drive to respond to better angels remains and may become that much stronger. Confining a story’s characters to a specific setting—Longbourn and its environs—strips away much of the extraneous. Repetitive descriptions of Longbourn’s parlor become boring for a reader. Imagine being forced to reside in that chamber for a fortnight. Such a limitation will lead characters to ignore their surroundings: at least once Miss Bingley expresses her disdain. Instead, they will begin to focus on that which can evolve—the behavior of the other characters. 

The general timeline places The Longbourn Quarantine in early-April 1812 in the Canonical gap between the Netherfield Ball and the Hunsford Visitation. The invasion of smallpox into town has prevented Darcy from traveling to Kent to attend to Lady Catherine. Elizabeth’s trip to Hunsford has likewise been canceled. Jane Bennet has been called home from the Gardiners to protect her.

I hope that you will enjoy this vignette written especially for From Pemberley to Milton. This is set in Day One of the Quarantine and occurs in the background of the latter portion of Chapter Six.

****

Longbourn, April 4, 1812

George Hill was not-well-pleased with how events were unfolding in Longbourn’s parlor. Of course, if the master, mistress, or any of the five young ladies had been asked the butler’s mood, they could not have offered anything in reply. The hereditary leader of Longbourn’s servant family—his father Silas had served both Mr. Richard and Mr. Samuel before passing the reins to his eldest—could only be described by family and visitors as being identical to any good steward of any house in the land: unflappable. Hill firmly believed that showing emotion that would draw attention to those in service to the Bennets would be unbecoming.

The events of the past several days—from riot to quarantine—had seen Hill calmly doing what he could to ensure the comfort of the manor’s residents. The mistress had efficiently sorted the four guests imposed upon them by Sir William. As headman, Hill had counseled the entire staff that tempers would be short as the great and the good rubbed on one-another in too-close quarters. He recalled tales told by his father of when Mr. Richard—the current master’s grandfather—housed ten officers of his company when they mustered at Longbourn. Then they marched off to Culloden to put paid to the Pretender’s aspirations. Of course, the gentlemen were none-the-worse-for-wear, used as they were to doubling up from their school days. 

T’was clear that Longbourn’s patience and reputation as a hospitable home would be tested over the next fortnight.

Hill had seen good guests and bad pass through the manor’s front door. He found that neither group paid much attention to him. Of course, that might have been because he was Longbourn’s butler, and gentry instinctively treated senior staff—their own or not—with a degree of deference. Mayhap the silver on his roof or the lines on his wife’s face reminded visitors of their elder relatives, at least enough so that they subdued their most abusive inclinations. However, they often reserved offensive behavior—nothing of which Mrs. Bennet on her worst days would ever match—for the maids and the footmen, those younger and weaker than they.

Well-mannered company tended to be invisible to the staff. Those who acted otherwise in Longbourn’s precincts were rare enough that the exceptions were well-noted.

Mr. Bennet’s distant cousin, the vicar Collins, had spent several weeks beneath Longbourn’s eaves after last year’s harvest. He reserved his obsequious comments for the young ladies and Mr. Bennet. However, this man of God also found the time to bully Cook’s kitchen skivvy and importune more than one of the upstairs maids. Mrs. Hill found it necessary to speak to the mistress who slipped a few shillings into the hands of the offended parties and suggest that they spend time with their families.

Miss Bingley, on the other hand, had managed to avoid overstaying her welcome at Longbourn last year through the simple expedient of rarely joining her brother when he and Mr. Darcy called at the house. Yet, when she condescended to accompany the gentlemen, she invariably found ways to reduce Sarah to tears through spiteful critiques of the maid’s attentiveness and speed.

Now, however, the ginger-haired poseur—George Hill was proud to serve a long-established gentle house and disdained those who tried to hide their roots in trade—was forced to do that which she previously had not. She was required to spend time as a guest at Longbourn. Every lesson Miss Bingley had been taught demanded that she politely deal with her hostess. She also had to bear up at the edge of the twin whirlwinds that were Miss Kitty and Miss Lydia. She was not holding up well under the assaults to her pretensions. Hill took some comfort from the lady’s discomfort.

Hill had earlier chalked her up as a woman who needed to prove to herself that she was worthy of the lofty social standing to which she aspired. Her problem, in Hill’s opinion, was that, unlike the young Miss Frances Gardiner who wed the master and left her roots in trade behind, Miss Bingley was wealthy. The mistress was at heart a humble woman who recognized that she had improved her station beyond all expectations through her marriage. On the other hand, Netherfield’s former hostess was living proof that wealth could purchase neither manners nor taste. 

And, today’s tableau proved that.

Evidence that the good man’s choler was up appeared on his long cheeks as he—at least for Hill—stormed into the kitchens startling his wife and Cook. The red stain was not the beguiling tint that had graced Miss Bennet’s countenance last autumn when Mr. Bingley called. No, this was the angry hue of a sunrise lifting itself above the greyish mist driven by southeasterly winds racing from Iberia across Biscay to crash against Devon and Cornwall.

The butler dropped into a chair at the servant’s table with an exasperated sigh. He had neglected to fully close the kitchen door, allowing the beautiful sounds of Longbourn’s pianoforte to waft in. While the three adults loved Miss Mary as if she were their own, t’was clear that another was at the keyboard given the entrancingly elegant sound.

Hill closed his eyes and allowed the waves of notes wash over him in a partially successful effort to calm his soul. “That t’is what true beauty t’is about. ‘eaven must be short an angel, what with the grace Miss Darcy puts into that music.”

His wife gave a knowing nod to Cook and laid a sticky bun on a small plate and placed it and a cup of coffee before her husband. Alma Hill, like George, long had been in service to the Bennets: ever since she followed her mistress from Meryton’s High Street to the solid brick mansion alongside Longbourn Lane.  

“There, now, George. Set’le yerself,” she said, her Hertfordshire “Rs” rolling from the depths of her throat, “Ye need hae that cuppa. Lucky for ye, Miss Lydia hae nay been through the kitchen yet or that bun’d be long gone.”

Hill grumbled around the buttery layers of the pastry, “I’d trade this treat if we could send that red-headed witch ta Lucas Lodge!”

Mrs. Hill waited patiently and husbanded her own cup. She knew that, given time, her man would come to the point.

Then it began, pouring out of him like a double-batch cake in a small pan. “I know ye be jugglin’ lit torches with ev’ry chamber filled and bed linens needin’ refreshin’ ‘n th’ like. So I put Jimmy Foote ta use fetchin’ an’ carryin’ in th’ parl’r.

“That Miss Bingley—an’ I wag’r thut she be a Miss fur a ver’ long time—wrinkled that pointy nose of ‘ers ‘as ‘e passed by. Then ta n’bdy in partic’lar, but she made sure she were lookin’ ta the hearth where the mistress sat, she let loose complain’ ‘ow in town th’ grooms know ta stay out in the stables whur th’ ‘orses’ stink covers up ‘other objectionable odours!’

‘Now Jimmy is a young feller an’ is well-aware whut a man ‘oo works ‘ard smells like. None ‘o us got our church baths on Satiddy thanks to those louts from ‘ertford and St. Albans. T’aint as if ‘e was paradin’ about like ‘e was some town dandy. ‘e was doin’ ‘is job…the one the master pays ‘im ta do…an’ th’ one that ‘elps that woman hae her tea ‘ot and ‘er biscuits crisp!

“But, nay, she embarrasses ‘im in front of all o’ our ladies. I t’wasn’t sure, but I relieved ‘im of the tea tray afore ‘e ‘ad an unfort’nat accident right next ta that Bingley woman. Sent ‘im off ta cool down with John Coachman.

“If she thinks Jimmy smells of the stables, then, by God, let him give ‘er ‘er money’s worth!”

“George, ye sound like one o’ those frog Jacobins, ‘oo upset the nat’r’l ord’r back in ’92!” Alma gently chided knowing that if her husband could vote for Longbourn’s Member, he would follow Mr. Bennet’s lead and support the government.

Hill chuckled as her gibe deflated the last of his ire. “Ah, ye be the best ‘o women, Alma Hill. T’was jest openin’ th’ windows ta air out, so ta speak. Th’ two o’ you,” taking in both Mrs. Hill and Cook at a glance, “got th’ best ears in Meryton.

“Let us finish up afore ‘erself wonders why thur be no ‘ot cross buns so close ta Easter we be.”

The three bent themselves to the senior servants’ prerogative of drinking hot coffee sweetened with some of Cook’s baking sugar. Then their peace was interrupted when James Foote bustled through the back door, a small boy in tow.

“Sorry ta bust in like this,” the young man exclaimed, “but Timmy ran o’er from Lucas Lodge. Got a lett’r from town that were ‘anded o’er th’ barricade. Mr. Angelo sent it ta Sir Will’m.”

In his hand he held a missive, its edges and corners besmirched in black ink.

Hill unconsciously rose to his feet: Mrs. Hill and Cook following suit. This they did in respect for the news such a letter bore. Black meant but one thing.

“T’is addressed to Mr. Bingley.”


Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books Of Fortune’s Reversaland The Maid and The Footman.”

 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling. Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

You may contact him through the following social media:

Website

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter


Meryton Press would like to offer one ebook copy of the Longbourn Quarantine to one of my readers. The giveaway is international an open until the 3rd of September. To apply to it all you have to do is comment on this post and let us know what you thought of the vignette 🙂

Good Luck everyone!

40 Comments

Filed under JAFF

40 responses to “The Longbourn Quarantine – Review, Exclusive Vignette & Giveaway

  1. donjacobsoncarpediem

    I am looking forward to greeting each and every one of you with your comments on this exclusive content.

    Like

  2. This was an interesting vignette, Don! The perspective of a servant is not usually seen in JAFF, so it was a great choice! Thank you, Rita for your review!

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      KM…thank you very much. I wanted to offer up a backstage view of life at Longbourn in the first days of the quarantine.

      Like

  3. suzanlauder

    Interesting vignette in using the servants’ point of view. Of course, no spoilers. Congratulations on your review, Don. It will entice new readers to the book. Obrigada to Rita for hosting.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Thank you, SL, for your kind words. I always like to imagine what is going on behind the scenes when other action is in the foreground.

      Like

  4. Ginna

    I’m looking forward to enjoying the whole thing!

    Like

  5. Robin G.

    Like others, I enjoyed the viewpoint of Mr. Hill. Thank you for the vignette, and I look forward to reading the whole story.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Mr. Hill is one of those grand old men (probably in his early 50s) that are the bearings which help so many of our stories move forward.

      Like

  6. Enjoyed the vignette and interesting to read from the POV of the servants.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      One of my novellas–The Maid and The Footman–honed my thinking of how the lessers would characterize the follies of the betters. In fact, you could look at Chapter 6 in “TLQ” as being akin to ‘Of Fortune’s Reversal” with this vignette matching “TM&TF.”

      Like

  7. Luisa1111

    What a perfect story to read during our life in the time of Corona Virus! It has to make us smile to imagine the disparate characters unwillingly living together. Can’t wait to read the rest.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Thank you so much. I wanted to offer all of them the enclosed space to force them to confront and consider their deeply-seated beliefs in order to grow into the best version of themselves.

      Like

  8. Dung

    Looking forward to reading it and how they all manage during the quarantine especially in such tight quarters. Congrats on your newest release Don.

    Like

  9. Jan Hahn

    I enjoyed your review, Rita. And I liked hearing the servants’ views on the Darcys and Bingleys, especially everyone’s favorite, Caroline. I appreciate your writing, Don. It’s a different take than most Austen-inspired books.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Thank you, Jan. I try to create a reading experience that moves readers to a different understanding of the characters. Inform and Entertain. I do try to paint easily-visualized pictures.

      Like

  10. caroleincanada

    Lovely review, Rita. I love seeing a window into the minds of the servants and all they have to put up.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      CinC…you were a part of the process, you know…an important one. I enjoy writing all sorts of personages…gentle or servant…Lesser or Better.

      Like

  11. Cheryl Kepler

    Reminded me of the viewpoints expressed in your “Lessers and Betters” and enjoyed the localized accents as well. Love your stories and really appreciate all the wonderful entertainment.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      I try to drop the reader “into the room.” I believe that this level of engagement makes for a more fulfilling experience. Appreciate that you see the underlying structures that run through much of my work. I tried that same approach…emulating E. Gaskell…in my story “Cinders and Smoke” in the Noth and South anthology.

      Like

  12. Lois

    It’s hard enough to quarantine with those you love. I can’t imagine having to quarantine with Caroline Bingley!

    Like

  13. Glynis

    It’s a shame they can’t insist that Caroline looks after herself including all lifting and carrying then see how good she smells! What an obnoxious person she is.
    It’s obvious what the note says, poor Bingley!
    Thank you for sharing this vignette.

    Like

  14. alexandrariverstories

    Oh, that was good!
    Good vignette and good review!
    I like “limited-setting” stories where the heroes are enforced by circumstances to interact, even in introspection.
    It’s a mechanism that helps the characters grow, mature and develop faster.

    That said, and having in mind that I’m not a good person, I’d like Miss Bingley to somehow get humbled in front of the groom she insulted but it’s my vindictive nature speaking now (insert evil emoticon here.)
    No, I’m not really counting on that because I know this is a novella and I won’t start with my objections with novellas.
    I’ll get satisfied with “On the other hand, Netherfield’s former hostess was living proof that wealth could purchase neither manners nor taste.”

    Still, IMO the best line of the vignette is this:
    “Hill had seen good guests and bad pass through the manor’s front door. He found that neither group paid much attention to him.”
    A sharp political comment that pretty much summarizes everything!
    Thank you, both, for the giveaway.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      A terrifically insightful comment. Thank you. In another space I commented about the loss of 50,000 words to go from novel to novella forced me to use this sort of plot mechanism. (Some reviews of “In Plain Sight” complained that I delved too deeply into the characters’ inner dialogues. On the other hand, early reviews of “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey” kvetched that the characters talked endlessly.) I could not introduce and create new characters. I had to use the preconceived notions of the existing panoply as my starting point…assuming that the characters already were formed when they exited the coach to pass through Longbourn’s front door. I also appreciate your “catch” of the idea that this is as much a story of reflection that leads to growth as well as expository dialogue.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. ForeverHis

    The vignette was well thought-out and interesting. I agree with the others that we do not often see the thoughts of the servants–those invisible people serving to the best of their ability the needs of the wealthy. I do hope Miss Bingley gets her due and someone has the fortitude to stand up to her–such as Mr. Darcy.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Recall the last bit of the vignette…the black-edged letter. Life will change for some at Longbourn. The idea of Lessers and Betters is an ongoing theme throughout my work. see the bennet wardrobe series (last book in the computer) and ‘Lessers and Betters.”

      Like

  16. Janet Taylor

    Thank you Rita, for hosting Don, and reviewing The Longbourn Quarantine. It is always good to read your thoughts on a book. I loved the vignette, Don! Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Like

  17. J. W. Garrett

    Sorry, I’m late responding. I was taking a… I guess you could call it… a caregiver’s day out of the house and missed this post. Don, you have the unique gift of giving us a hilarious scene and then slapping us back to reality with something menacing. It is always so much fun knowing what the servants are thinking. Of course, we know what a missive with black ink signifies. Oh, dear. Thanks to Rita for hosting this post… so much going on. Good luck to all in the drawing. I wish you much success, Don. Blessings to everyone, stay safe, wear masks, and be healthy.

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Humor and sadness are often two sides of the same coin…but also are present in real life in equal measures. Thank you for your kind notes and ongoing encouragement. the balance between the Sir William scene and Chapter 7 is truly a point-counterpoint, release-compression comparison.

      Like

  18. Miss Bingley sounds awful; to quarantine with her… shudder that does not sound fun.

    Like

  19. Though with a sad background, looking forward to learning the banters that will transpire in this close setting between FD/EB and CB. Esp with CB under the Longbourn’s roof

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      Less banter after chapter 6…more introspection and thought as our characters withdraw more into themselves in their own form of isolation.

      Like

  20. Jen D

    I really loved your addition of the Hertfordshire accent and slang to the dialogue. Reminds me of a piece that a good friend of mine is writing, though in her case it’s from another county. Thank you for posting!

    Like

    • donjacobsoncarpediem

      As one of the voice performers with whom I have worked (Amanda Berry) noted, the Hertfordshire accent features the “r”s rolling off the back of the tongue with a bit of Yorkshire added in for good measure.

      Like

  21. evamedmonds

    Loved the excerpt and learning about George Hill. I cannot begin to imagine being quarantined with Miss Bingley. My ears already hurt thinking of Mrs. Bennet, but she does set a good time. This is so timely and sounds like lots of fun to read. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway.

    Like

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