Good Afternoon everyone,
Author MJ Stratton visits today with a guest post and an excerpt of From Another Perspective, a very interesting and original story that will be released on the 11th of February. I’ve seen many books that tell us Austen’s stories from a different POV, but this one appears to have many different POV’s from many different secondary characters, which is quite unique and interesting in my opinion.
Do you enjoy seeing familiar events from different perspectives? It always makes me think about human nature to see the same event described by someone with a different personality, so this is a story that intrigues me 🙂 But why don’t you take a look at the excerpt to tell us what you think of this idea? And don’t forget, there is a giveaway going on, so check it out too 🙂
I can’t remember the last time a story just poured out of my mind and through my fingertips. We made a last minute decision to go to visit my husband’s family just before Christmas. Their home is three hours from ours, and traveling with 4 children, three of which have special needs, is no picnic.
Everyone was asleep except me. The hotel room we were in wasn’t very big, and the bed was awful. My almost one year old had already woken up twice, and by the time I had her back to sleep, my brain was wide awake. So, I started filtering through different plot bunnies I had on the back burner.
I’m not sure what triggered the actual idea, but it suddenly occurred to my sleep-deprived brain that I had never seen a variation that told the story from the perspective of minor characters. And I’m not talking one or two minor characters, but 16. So, I pulled out my phone and there, in the dark, I wrote out a rough outline following the Pride and Prejudice timeline, assigning one chapter per character.
Over the next few days, I puzzled out a few things in my head. When we returned home, I started writing. The book came together in about two weeks. Many of my characters were rather fun to write. Anne de Bourgh was a surprise. She’s far from the insipid miss everyone thinks she is. Louisa Hurst was another one that surprised me. She has actually inspired a whole new story that I am working on right now. Another interesting character is Mrs. Hill. Her real role in the lives of the Bennets was enlightening.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this fresh take on Pride and Prejudice!
Mrs. Penelope Long was a quiet woman, who often faded into the background of social gatherings. The lady could be quite vocal with the right inducement and had many louder friends with whom she enjoyed gossiping about the latest news surrounding the environs of Meryton. It was in the home of Sir William and Lady Lucas, and in their happy company, that she found herself just two days before the assembly that was to be held in their dear village.
“Has Sir William been to call upon Mr. Bingley, yet?” Mrs. Goulding asked Lady Lucas eagerly.
“He has indeed!” Lady Lucas said. “Sir William finds the gentleman to be all that is pleasing. He has stated that Mr. Bingley dresses very well and wears his enthusiasm like a well-fitted coat!”
Mrs. Long smiled behind her teacup. The description was somewhat ridiculous and just what one might expect from the garrulous Sir William Lucas. He was a jolly sort, though perhaps overly impressed with his knighthood. Still, there was no harm in being proud of one’s accomplishments.
“Oh! I am all aflutter to think that such a fine man is in our midst,” came Mrs. Bennet’s shrill voice. “Though I am rather vexed. Mr. Bennet has insisted he will not visit Mr. Bingley. What will the residents of Netherfield think of such incivility?”
Again, Penelope mused to herself. It was likely that Mr. Bennet had already visited Mr. Bingley and the man had chosen to torment his poor wife by withholding the information. Such was Mr. Bennet’s way. The entire community was used to it, though that did not make it any less of a tragedy that one should treat his wife in such an infamous manner.
“My dear Fanny, Mr. Bennet will have to see him eventually, you know. I am sure that the party at Netherfield will be much involved in our little community and attend many soirees and evenings of fun,” Mrs. Phillips said soothingly. Mrs. Phillips had always had a way of calming her sister’s effusions, and this time was no different. Mrs. Bennet settled back into her chair and sipped her tea.
Mrs. Phillips had been quite put out that Mrs. Long had told her sister Bennet the news from Netherfield before she had the opportunity. Mrs. Long rarely had the village gossip first and had been pleased to relate it to Mrs. Bennet before her sister could. Mrs. Long had the news from Mr. Morris, the owner of Netherfield, quite by chance. Mr. Morris resided in London, preferring the bustle of the city to the country, and was returning to town after reviewing the accounts at Netherfield as he did once a year. She had encountered the gentleman at the Swan, a coaching inn just ten miles south of Meryton, on her own return from town. He had informed her there that Netherfield had been taken by a young man of large fortune, and that Mr. Bingley intended to take possession of the property by Michaelmas.
With much enthusiasm did Mrs. Long relate the latest gossip to her friend and Mrs. Bennet was suitably impressed by her knowledge. That Mrs. Phillips was disappointed her sister already had the news was an understatement.
Penelope came back to herself to hear Mrs. Bennet once again lamenting her husband had not yet visited Mr. Bingley. Mr. Long had visited the man within three days of his arrival; the Longs had two nieces to marry off, after all. Shirking such an acquaintance would never do. It pleased Mrs. Long that Mr. Bingley had returned the visit post haste and Penelope had had the pleasure of meeting him herself.
“I would be pleased to introduce Mr. Bingley to you at the assembly, my dear Mrs. Bennet,” Mrs. Long said when there was a break in conversation. “He returned my husband’s visit just the other day.”
Mrs. Bennet thanked her friend with a pinched smile. Penny could easily see what Mrs. Bennet was thinking. No doubt she thought Penny to be selfish and hypocritical, desiring Mr. Bingley for her own nieces.
No, Penelope could not deny that having one of her dear nieces married to Mr. Bingley would be grand, but she very much doubted such a thing would occur. It was not common knowledge, but Julia was being courted by a gentleman in London and Margaret was to spend the season there with her father’s sister. Mr. Bingley was safe from them.
In due course, the gathering broke up and the attendees returned to their own houses. The Meryton Assembly would shortly be upon them, and preparations would need to be undertaken for all to look their best.
Mrs. Long sat in her usual position along the far wall of the assembly room, waiting for the dancing to begin. The assembly had been due to start some fifteen minutes gone, but had been delayed in hopes that the Netherfield party would be there before the dancing commenced. There were rumors that Mr. Bingley brought a large party of ladies and gentlemen with him, exciting any woman with marriageable daughters and many of the single gentlemen as well. With many of the local boys off to fight on the continent, the young ladies often sat out in want of a partner.
Sir William, the master of ceremonies, finally called a start to the dancing. The first set formed and the musicians began to play. Penny watched the young ladies and gentlemen dancing with pleasure. Not one to dance herself since her youth, it gave her great joy to see the young people enjoying themselves. She could see the five Miss Bennets were all partnered and dancing. Her own nieces stood up with each other, and Charlotte Lucas danced with Mr. Tomlinson, an elderly widower who occasionally attended these functions.
It was nearing the end of the first dance of the set when the guests from Netherfield arrived. It was abundantly obvious that their group’s numbers had been grossly exaggerated; Penelope could easily see Mr. Bingley at the front of the party. With him were two ladies and two gentlemen.
Of the ladies, one could say much. They were dressed in the latest of London fashions. The shorter had dark brown hair and a slightly bored expression on her face. Her dress was of a color that indicated she was married, most probably to one of the other gentlemen in attendance. The taller lady also had dark hair, though hers had a hint of red that flashed when it caught the candlelight. This lady’s expression bordered on contempt as she examined her surroundings. Had her nose been any higher in the air, Penny might have been able to see her brain.
The two remaining members of the party were as different as night and day. The shorter, portly gentleman had the shorter woman on his arm. His expression was bland and his waistline wide. His eyes roved the room and landed on the refreshment table almost immediately; it was only his wife’s grip on his arm that kept him place, of that, Penelope was sure.
The other, taller gentleman was truly a sight to behold. He must have stood at least six feet tall,with dark curls and an unreadable expression. His eyes appeared dark from her vantage point, but Penelope would not have been surprised if they were blue, rather than the brown that they seemed from a distance. He stood tall and stiff and examined the assemblage with a tight expression on his face.
Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, was the same gregarious self Mrs. Long had met when he returned her husband’s visit. Sir William was greeting the group enthusiastically, introducing those around him to the party.
Penelope watched with amusement. It was as she observed the newcomers that she witnessed the exact moment Mr. Bingley first noticed Jane Bennet. His jaw went slightly slack as he spied Miss Bennet during the final dance of the set. He seemed to forget that Sir William was speaking to him for a moment before turning back to the man. It was no surprise that after the set concluded, Sir William led the party to Mrs. Bennet and her daughters, who were gathered near the refreshment table.
Mrs. Long soon lost track of the newcomers as she rose to stretch her legs and walk the room. It was on her circuit around the hall that she overheard the two ladies, who she had discovered were sisters to Mr. Bingley and called Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, speaking.
“Such a backwater, Lousia!” said the taller sister. “How Charles could let such a place without first speaking to me is beyond the pale.”
“It is not so bad,” Lousia said. “Charles needed to be close to town, and Netherfield suits that need. It is also of a size that Charles might learn from the steward to manage an estate without becoming frustrated as he is wont to do.”
“If Charles would just sell the remainder of his stock in Father’s company, he would not need to settle close to town at all,” the tall lady said vehemently. “Really, the continued ties to trade do us no favors in society.”
“But it does add to his fortune, which in turn will allow the purchase of a larger estate,” the one called Louisa said reasonably. “Though I do agree with you; there is no elegance here. Why, I have yet to meet anyone of distinction. Even Sir William is just a lowly knight.”
“Mr. Darcy must be appalled at being required to spend his time in such company,” the other lady said. “I feel for him. I see little beauty or refinement. Perhaps I will find him and be a balm to his misery.”
“You should, of course, Caroline,” Louisa said.
Ah, Caroline. So that was her name. It was amazing to Penny how unobservant people could be. Penny had stood within six feet of the ladies for more than five minutes as they conversed. Since she was no one of consequence, they chose not to see her. It was a pity the ladies already held such antipathy for the society they found themselves in. They would do their brother no favors with that attitude.
Mrs. Long watched the one named Caroline saunter (for no other word could describe her walk) across the room to the tall, handsome gentleman, who Mrs. Long now knew was called Mr. Darcy. As she approached, the man moved farther away from her to another part of the room. Anyone who had not been watching would not have seen what Penny did: Mr. Darcy had seen the lady coming and sought to distance himself from her. Penny was highly amused.
The events of Pride and Prejudice are well known by those familiar with Jane Austen’s work, but what would we see if the minor characters told the story? What were Mrs. Hill’s thoughts on the heir to Longbourn? How did Anne de Bourgh feel about her cousin’s fascination with the guests at the parsonage? Did Mrs. Younge willingly help Mr. Darcy find Wickham? From Another Perspective follows the events of Pride and Prejudice as seen through the eyes of some of the lesser players found in the novel, along with some others of the author’s own creation.
You can find From Another Perspective in pre-order at:
MJ Stratton is a teacher turned writer. She lives in rural Utah with her husband and three children. MJ has written for years and finally published her first book last September. Her love from Jane Austen began at a young age when she read Pride and Prejudice. Lost in Austen was the first Austenesque fiction she encountered and has been in love ever since. Along with writing, MJ loves to sew, cook, grow her garden, and tend her chickens
MJ Stratton is currently offering 3 ebook copies of From Another Perspective.
To apply to this giveaway, all you need to do is click on this raffle link.
Good luck everyone!