Good Afternoon everyone,
I am very pleased to welcome one more at From Pemberley to Milton author Riana Everly. If you’ve been around for a while, you already know that I truly adore her guest posts because they are always very interesting and informative, and today she has not dissapointed. Apart from a wonderful excerpt of Much Ado in Meryton, a P&P Mash Up with Shakespeare, Riana brought us a little more information about house parties in Regency, a topic I am particularly fond of. I hope you enjoy the post and the excerpt! And don’t forget, Riana is offering 5 ebook copies of her latest release Much Ado in Meryton so don’t forget to check it out.
Thank you for visiting Riana, it is always a pleasure to welcome you here 🙂
A tale of friends, enemies, and the power of love.
“Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.” – Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, 5.2
Mr. Darcy’s arrival in Meryton raises many people’s disdain, and Elizabeth Bennet’s ire. An insult at a dance is returned in full measure, and soon the two find themselves in a merry war of words, trading barbs at every encounter. Matters go from bad to worse when Elizabeth and Darcy find themselves living under the same roof for a time, and their constant bickering frays everybody’s nerves.
Will a clever scheme by their family and friends bring some peace to Netherfield’s halls? And what of Mr. Wickham, whose charming presence is not quite so welcome by some members of the party? When the games get out of hand and nastier elements come into play, will everybody’s chances for happiness be ruined forever?
This clever mash-up of Pride and Prejudice and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing casts our beloved characters in fresh light, uniting Jane Austen’s keen insight into love and character, and Shakespeare’s biting wit.
You can find Much Ado in Meryton at:
I would like to wish everybody a happy 2022, with sincere hopes that it’s better than the last two years, and to thank Rita for hosting me here today. It is always a delight to visit this fabulous blog.
In my new novel, Much Ado in Meryton, poor Jane Bennet injures her ankle and is forced to stay at Netherfield Park for much longer than in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. To keep her entertained and amused while she is chair-bound, Mr. Bingley has a suggestion: Instead of Jane going out into Meryton for her amusement, Meryton should come to her. In other words, he arranges a prolonged house party.
The idea of a house party goes back centuries, if not millennia. One of the very first references to such an event is in the ancient Roman play Mostellaria (The Haunted House) by the playwright Plautus. This comedy tells the story of a young man who holds a house party while his father is away on business. For Austen fans who have read Mansfield Park, I’m sure this sounds familiar!
Another famous house party of sorts, if not quite one that was planned as such, is the story told in Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. This fourteenth-century work is a collection of short stories told by a group of young men and women as they shelter in a villa near Florence while the city is in the grip of the Black Death. I’m sure this also sounds familiar to a lot of people.
By the time we get to Regency England, however, house parties were less a matter of necessity and were more a matter of socializing and entertainment. One might invite close friends, business or political associates, potential matches for a son or daughter who really ought to be married by now, and possibly one or two somewhat scandalous people to keep matters interesting.
While the guests were expected to keep themselves amused for part of the time, there were also a number of planned activities. Since house parties often took place in the late summer or early autumn when Parliament was in recess, a lot of time was spent out of doors. The men might go hunting or riding, or they might engage in some sports such as cricket matches. The ladies tended to keep closer to the house and in the gardens (all beautifully kept, of course), but might go into the village or out for a carriage ride.
As well as suitable outdoor activities such as archery or croquet, the gathered party might take an excursion to some suitably interesting site in the neighbourhood. Think of the ill-fated picnic in Emma or the aborted drive to Blaise Castle in Northanger Abbey. Perhaps the groups in these stories weren’t coming from a house party, but this type of outing would have been a perfect fit.
If the weather was cold or rainy and the company had to keep to the house, they might have amused themselves with charades, fortune telling, tableaux, and a variety of card games. And, in the evenings after a long and elaborate dinner, the party might indulge in musical performances, informal dances, and home theatricals.
These are some of the ideas that Mr. Bingley mused over in his attempts to keep Jane happy while she recovered enough to travel home. What would you enjoy doing at a house party? Have you ever been to such an event? Did you have fun, or do you prefer more solitary activities?
Here is an excerpt from my novel, Much Ado in Meryton.
“Lizzy dear!” Jane called from the chaise where she half-reclined. Her leg rested on the long seat and Elizabeth could see the white bindings of the bandage about Jane’s delicate ankle. “I had not thought that you would take the trouble to come so soon.”
Elizabeth nodded her greeting to Mrs. Nicholls, who bobbed a curtsey and slipped from the room, and then hurried to sit at Jane’s side. “Oh, my sweet, how could I not? I cannot leave you to the Bingley sisters’ ministrations. I see they have quite forgotten you already in favour of their toast and chocolate.”
“They have been very kind to me. I can only be pleased by their concern. And even before hearing this news, they have insisted that I must stay until I am well enough to walk.”
“Mister Bingley insisted, you mean,” Lizzy teased, “and his sisters merely had to agree with him, for it is, after all, his house. But a sprained ankle will heal in days; a broken one will take weeks.”
“Then weeks she shall stay. Or until Mr. Jones declares her strong enough for the carriage ride back to Longbourn.” Mr. Bingley stood at the doorway. “May I come in?”
Jane nodded, and he entered, taking a chair and placing it beside the one where Elizabeth sat. His usual wide grin was gone and he spoke with all care and attention.
“Mr. Jones has left. He feels strongly that you should not travel, even so short a distance as to Longbourn, until your ankle has begun to heal. The rattle of the carriage might cause further injury to your leg. And I would not hear of it! You shall most certainly stay as long as is needed. Caroline is talking to the housekeeper to set up a suite for you on this very storey as we speak, and if Miss Elizabeth wishes, she may have the adjoining room. It shall be a merry party…” He paused and his eyes widened. “By gum, yes! That is the very thing! A party it shall be.” His accustomed grin began to make itself known once more upon his face. “As long as Miss Bennet is laid up and cannot move through Meryton, then Meryton shall come to her! We shall invite your sisters and friends and the officers to come and keep your spirits up whilst your ankle heals. It is the very thing!”
Elizabeth had to speak up. “You are most kind, sir, but we cannot importune your sister in this way. Let me call for the carriage, to see what kind of support we may contrive for Jane’s foot. She can rest well enough at her own home, and with less trouble by far for you.”
“You do hurt me, Miss Elizabeth!” She thought he was jesting. “I had hoped to arrange a party soon enough to regale my new neighbours, and this is the perfect thing for it. Indeed, by remaining here as my guests, you shall be helping me! I beg of you, for your sister’s sake, to stay.”
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Riana’s novels have received several awards and citations as favourite reads of the year, including two Jane Austen Awards and a Discovering Diamonds review.
You can follow Riana’s blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!
The blog tour is coming to an end but you can still check the previous posts 🙂
January 7 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
January 10 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
January 11 ~ A Novel Sentiment
January 13 ~ So Little Time… So Much to Read
January 14 ~ Austen Authors
January 17 ~ From Pemberley to Milton
January 22 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
January 27 ~ Austenesque Reviews
Riana Everly is giving away five eBooks internationally of Much Ado in Meryton. She has set up a Rafflecopter draw, but for anybody who cannot use the link, please email her your name and preferred email address and she will add you manually to the list for the draw. Her email is email@example.com
Good luck everyone!