Category Archives: giveaway

These Dreams – Guest Post & Giveaway

 

These Dreams is a very special book to me for a million different reasons, some of them you’ll understand when reading this last post of the blog tour, and it is to me a great honor and joy to be closing the tour of such an incredible book from a kind, talented and genuinely good person as Nicole Clarkston.

On this last post you’ll read about the Portuguese connection in These Dreams, and I would love to read your opinion about it. Did you like the Portuguese scenes, or was it too hard to bear? Did you start hating the Portuguese characters when you saw what they were doing to Darcy? Or did Amália got to your hearts immediately ? What about her love story, what do you make of that?

I know I’m filling you with questions, but I would really love to hear everybody’s opinion about the Portuguese connection and characters, especially after you read this post. I hope you enjoy it!!!

 

 

 

Nicole: Part of the inspiration for These Dreams came about a year and a half ago, during a chat with Rita about Colonel Fitzwilliam. She said she always wished she could see him fall in love with a Portuguese girl, but no one (that she knew of) had played with that idea. As I was not familiar with Portuguese history, she began telling me of the complicated relationship between the English and the Portuguese during this time.

 

Rita: Portugal was Britain’s oldest ally in Europe and in the beginning of the 19th century, Britain was finding new opportunities for trade with Portugal’s colony in Brazil and the Royal Navy used Lisbon’s port in its operations against France. This was obviously a great problem for Napoleon, as he wanted to deny the use of the Portuguese fleet to the British, so on July 19, 1807 he ordered Portugal to declare war on Britain, close its ports to British ships, detain British subjects on a provisional basis, and sequester their goods. Prince John of Braganza, regent for his insane mother Queen Maria I, declined to join the emperor’s Continental System against British trade, and that was the starting point of the Peninsula War— a military conflict for control of the Iberian Peninsula between Napoleon’s empire and the allied powers of Spain, Britain and Portugal that took place between 1807 and 1814.

Portugal was able to defeat the French with the assistance of the British troops. In fact, the Portuguese army was reorganised and refitted under the command of Gen. William Carr Beresford, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces by the exiled Portuguese royal family. Beresford fought as part of a combined Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellesley.

However, the connections between Portugal and Britain do not end there. The burden of war destroyed the social and economic fabric of Portugal and ushered in an era of social turbulence, political instability, and economic stagnation that was in part created by the political and economic agreements Portugal made with Britain. The war with the French was over, but a new war over political and economical power was starting in Portugal, and the former ally was now Portugal’s greatest enemy.

 

Nicole: Our villain was an important character, and his development was integral to the plot. Some of what Rita told me about Portugal’s history and economy gave me some ideas and places to start digging for motives. I wanted to create a man with real and perhaps even admirable ambitions. He wanted to help his country and he wanted to set right what he perceived as an injustice, but his conscience was so twisted that to him, the ends justified the means. (Just to balance him out, there was a British character with even less conscience.) What Vasconcelos wanted was “good,” and he would stop at nothing to achieve it.

 

Rita: The aftermath of The Peninsula War signified Portugal’s traumatic entry into the modern age and the rise of several nationalist movements that wanted to defend the country against the British military intervention in our politics, and fight the economical impositions that were beneficial to Britain but detrimental to the Portuguese economy. When Nicole started talking about a Portuguese villain I thought that this scenario would be perfect for the rise of man such as Vasconcelos whose patriotism would go too far due to everything he was witnessing in his country. I can even relate to him as I am very patriotic myself and the British imposition was truly devastating to Portugal. Who would not want to defend his own country from a foreign power?

The nationalists started to have a voice during the Peninsula Wars and were involved in the liberal wars that started in 1820, which opposed the absolutists to the liberals. I like to think that Vasconcelos was a crucial player in these wars and that his fervent nationalism placed him in an important position amongst the absolutists who supported D. Miguel.

 

Nicole: After Rita gave me some interesting points in the history, a plot was starting to develop in my mind. I had already decided that Darcy and Elizabeth would face a heartbreaking separation, and Portugal seemed like a great place to send him. The next challenge would be to craft more believable Portuguese characters. I started with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s love interest, and even her name was carefully chosen.

 

Rita: I suggested a couple of names that could have been used on the 19th century and amongst them were my mother’s name, Amélia, and a very similar name which was the name of the most known portuguese Fado singer and national icon, Amália Rodrigues. Nicole wasn’t too fond of Amélia, but she loved Amália and from the moment she chose that name I created a vivid image of the character in my mind that was precisely the one I saw described in These Dreams.

Below you can see both Amália Rodrigues and Maria Amália Vasconcelos, or the representation of the character that Nicole chose…which reminds me we didn’t even talk to you about how she chose the lady that would portray Amália! I guess we will have to leave that to another time, but I also had a tremendous fun looking at paintings and telling Nicole which ladies could have been Portuguese and which were clearly British… She ended up choosing this beautiful lady and I think she is the perfect Amália!! There is a fierceness in her eyes that I find enchanting! And she is a bit similar to Amália Rodrigues too, isn’t she?

Speaking of Amália Rodrigues, as I mentioned before, she is a national icon due to the influence she had in our musical culture. She dramatically changed Fado by bringing lyrics from famous portuguese poets into the musical genre, creating her own emotional lyrics and working along with talented musicians, such as Alain Oulman, who modernised the national musical genre. Me and Nicole would like to share with you one of her musics, it’s not her best for sure, but it is called Fado Amália, and speaks of who she was and what she was doing in this world. I hope you like it 🙂

 

Nicole: We agreed that Amália should be strong, ladylike, a dutiful daughter, and enough of a spitfire when provoked to fight for what was right. What she lacks in Elizabeth Bennet’s delightful sense of humour, she makes up for in sheer backbone. She reminded me quite a bit of Margaret Hale; a lady in circumstances not of her choosing, who sacrifices for honour and justice. Amália endures quite a bit of her own grief during the story, so her character needed to reflect enough depth that she could believably stand, yet tremble because she is, after all, human.

 

Rita: To me Amélia is a much sweeter name and I’m glad that Nicole didn’t chose it because Amália is much stronger and fits perfectly in the character. She is my favourite original character in JAFF literature, and the perfect match for our good Colonel.

 

Nicole: Thank you, Rita, that means a great deal to me! Amália’s brother was our means of introducing her to Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was a soldier in the Anglo-Portuguese army alongside “Major Fitzwilliam,” in 1809-1810 we decided, and their history in battle had made them trust one another. I wanted to paint a noble Portuguese soldier, a character whose role is like Georgiana in the original; not central, but pivotal. His name was special to me as well, because I wanted a very traditional sounding name which could be shortened to a more intimate one.

Col. Fitzwilliam

 

Rita: The curious thing is that we found the perfect name! Rodrigo was a common name at the time, and it was shortened to Ruy, which is the name of my husband, even if nowadays it is spelled Rui, so this could not have been more perfect!

 

Nicole: I loved this name! It’s both dignified and playful.

After we had the characters fixed, the next challenge was manners and language. There were a few mannerisms I had to ask about (i.e. would the Portuguese greet one another with a kiss as some cultures do?) but the larger challenge was the language. I have a fair bit of experience with Latin and French, so several of the Portuguese words appeared to be cognates, but the usage was another matter. I wanted authentic, natural sounding speech, and that is something you just can’t get from Google Translate. There are a few key Portuguese phrases smattered about the book, and some of them are very special.

 

Rita: I was in a dreamlike state when I started seeing Nicole venture into the Portuguese language. I could not believe I was reading sentences such as “tive saudades tuas” and “Eu Amo-te Richard Fitzwilliam.”

Tive saudades tuas is not possible to translate because there isn’t an exact equivalent to the word saudade (saudades is plural). The word reflects the feeling one has when they miss someone or something, it doesn’t just mean we missed someone, it translates a feeling and it is very powerful in the Portuguese language.

Amo-te (I love you) is also very special because unlike English, Portuguese people do not use this word lightly. Amo-te is only used toward people and when the feeling is really strong. It would never be used in sentences such as, “I love this bonnet,” for example. In a sentence such as that, a Portuguese person would use the word “like” and not “love,” which makes the word really special.

These are just two examples, but Nicole used many more Portuguese expressions and words throughout the book, many of them were written by Nicole herself, and I can tell you she was really good at research. Google only mislead her a couple of times. 🙂

 

Nicole: Wahoo! Props to the programmers!

Another detail I wanted to get just right was the pattern of speech which would be natural for a Portuguese speaker who is not absolutely fluent in English. I made the assumption that, being a lady, Amália would have had a little bit less practice than her father who does business with the English all the time, or her brother who sat in army camps with English soldiers. Naturally we wanted her to be fluent, but we intentionally built charming little patterns into her speaking which give her away as a non-native speaker. I chugged right ahead by using the patterns I would have assumed for a French speaker, and Rita had to correct me in nearly every instance.

 

Rita: The masculine/feminine use of words was the most frequent mistake as it is one of the biggest differences between English and Portuguese, and things like Meu flôr, became minha flôr, but also the use of the word yes when making a question. A portuguese would most likely use “no” to end the question instead of the “yes”. And in the end we actually ended up using a mistake I sometimes make when I speak English as a way to “imperfect” Amália’s speech. It is something I know that is incorrect, and I never make the mistake when I’m writing  but when I’m speaking really fast my Portuguese brain makes me say things like “I did heard you” instead of “I did hear you”, that is also because of the differences between the languages, which I find really interesting.

Working on the Portuguese with Nicole was one of the things I loved the most during our collaboration, she is a very curious person who is always willing to learn but also share a lot of knowledge. We had lots of fun discussing linguistics and cultural references 🙂

 

Nicole: That was my favourite part, too! I was thrilled that Rita was willing to take the time to offer constructive feedback and to help me get the details right. We both wanted to honour Portuguese language and culture in this small way. We ended up knowing much more about each other and it was a joy to share both the differences and the similarities of life in modern Portugal and rural Oregon.

I suppose, in the end, those are some of the things Richard and Amália learn to negotiate as well, when they decide that those barriers between continents and people really don’t matter that much.

Thank you, Rita, for your friendship and for the heart you have invested into bringing this book to life.

 

Rita: I’m the one who should thank you for the friendship and the opportunity to work on such a beautiful project with you Nicole! 

I think it is befitting that we close this blog tour with the final moment of the writing process, the memorable moment when Nicole Clarkston wrote Fim (tTe End).

Nicole: That was the most satisfying word I have ever written! This book was a long journey, and it challenged me in new ways. I am delighted to know that it has touched so many already. For me, it enriched so many relationships, from my collaboration with Rita on the plot, with Janet on the stunning cover and many of the emotional elements, with Debbie and Don and Joy and Joana on the read-through process, and with all the lovely bloggers who opened up their pages. I have been blessed with new friends as well, and to everyone I express my most heartfelt gratitude for your support.

 

.

An abandoned bride

    A missing man

        And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy

is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far

from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear,

only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley,

and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared,

Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her

from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and

questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.

An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under

mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and

another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might

have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain

and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

.

If you can’t resist and want to purchase the book immediately, you can find at:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

 

 

Nicole Clarkston is offering a giveaway of 10 eBook copies of These Dreams to readers commenting the posts throughout the blog tour. This is the final stop, so don’t miss this last chance to participate in this international offer.

To enter the giveaway comment the post and click here.

 Good Luck everyone!

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36 Comments

Filed under Amalia, giveaway, Guest Post, JAFF, Nicole Clarkston, Pride and Prejudice

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future – Guest Post & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

Best selling author Sharon Lathan has recently released Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future which is already #1 new release in Historical European Fiction in the Amazon charts. This is the second book in the two-volume Darcy Saga Prequel Duo, and today I am very glad to receive her at From Pemberley to Milton to talk to you about the book and challenge you to do a very interesting quiz 🙂

I hope you have as much fun doing it as I did, but I shall not reveal how many answers I failed 😉

 

 

Sincerest thanks to Rita for welcoming me to the blog today! It is a true joy sharing my latest novel with the From Pemberley to Milton visitors.

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future is the second book in the two-volume Darcy Saga Prequel Duo, which began with Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. These two novels perfectly fit with my Darcy Saga Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the series now including nine lengthy novels and one novella. A whole lot of the Darcys living “happily ever after.”

After writing Austen’s beloved characters for over ten years now, they are as close to my heart as my flesh-and-blood friends. I can hear their voices in my head and recognize who is talking by the smallest snippet of dialogue. The trick is to convey the individual personalities in such a way that my readers know them as intimately.

With this in mind, I have decided to do something different today. Rather than one long excerpt from Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future, I have chosen random bits of dialogue from assorted characters, given without any scene set-up, for a fun guessing game. I have given three choices for each dialogue set, just so it isn’t too difficult. Hopefully, even if never having read one of my novels, everyone can figure out who is talking.

Who is the Character Talking?

  1.  “I have never hosted a tea party all on my own and admit that doing so unnerves me. Why I initiated the idea is unfathomable! What if I embarrass us by saying something inappropriate? Or what if my tongue refuses to move at all and I stare dumbly for hours?” . . . “Now you must describe your wedding gowns. Is the train four feet and of the spun silk you wanted?” . . . “I’ll spare you guessing my favorite aspect of the chapel. It is the organ! It dates to 1732, and the sound is incredible. The rector let me play it once. Oh, it was such a thrill!”
  1. Georgiana Darcy
  2. Mary Bennet
  3. Anne de Bourgh

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  1.  “Men are always thinking about…that. This is part of the problem with the male gender if you ask me.” . . . “Why are your new shifts and other undergarment made of such thin fabrics and adorned with lace and ribbon accents? Why, this stay is barely boned at all! And it is pink!” . . . “Precisely why the wedding must be perfect. Two Bennet daughters marrying wealthy, respected gentlemen of Society. We shall be the talk of the county for ages!”
  1. Mrs. Gardiner
  2. Kitty Bennet
  3. Mrs. Bennet

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  1.  “I am glad to hear of it, Lizzy. Long private audiences during one’s betrothal period are necessary for a happy, fulfilled marriage. A new bride should not be wholly surprised on her wedding night. A bit of prior knowledge and practice is most beneficial for early and lasting pleasure with your husband in the bedchamber. Make sure you arrange a few private interludes with Mr. Bingley, Jane dear.”  . . .  “Now, I wonder, which has you two the most shocked? That I would approve of such scandalous behavior before marriage? That an old woman like me still engages in and enjoys bedroom antics? Or that I would openly broach the topic in the first place?”
  1. Mrs. Bennet
  2. Mrs. Gardiner
  3. Lady Lucas

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  1.  “Females and weddings! A most riveting topic of conversation! Please, do tell us all about the wedding gown, Miss Bennet. I can’t fathom anything more fascinating. Can you, Darcy?” . . . “Very well, I concede. You are the superior horseman. Just never forget that I trump you at dancing and witty conversation!” . . . “I am incognito. Actually, I am a notorious spy blending in with the common folk for an ultra-secret mission for the Crown. Quite heroic and dangerous. Are you impressed?”
  1. Mr. Bingley
  2. The Earl of Matlock
  3. Colonel Fitzwilliam

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  1.  “Oh, we have so much to talk about! I have known Fitzwilliam since he was born, you know? Just imagine the stories I have accumulated.” . . . “In due course, you will visit much of the country. William is fond of travel, although not as fond as he is of staying at Pemberley.” . . . “In all seriousness, Miss Bennet, you have no cause to worry. Pemberley may seem imposing, but the Darcys have made it a home. William is the soul of patience and kindness. I assure you, you will be most happy there.”
  1. Colonel Fitzwilliam
  2. Mrs. Reynolds
  3. The Countess of Matlock

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  1.  “Ooh la! Fancy Mrs. Darcy to have a fancy lady’s maid. Shall I wear the taffeta or the silk? The mink or the ermine? Oh! And what jewels shall I choose?” . . . “You must eat or you will faint at the altar. Can you imagine the horror? Come, come! You can sleep later. Oh! I forgot. You won’t be getting much sleep for days and days and days!” . . . “I maintain it is a travesty to conceal and restrain these lush locks, which God gave me, may I remind. Besides, all the pulling and tugging, and those pins stuck into my scalp give me a headache.”
  1. Georgiana Darcy
  2. Kitty Bennet
  3. Lydia Wickham

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  1.  “If two open carriages driving together as allowable under the rules of propriety, who am I to argue? Besides, we both have excellent vision so can see the other carriage even if little more than a dot on the horizon. If asked, we can swear we were within eyesight the whole time.” . . . “She was but a babe in a wheeled miniature carriage, Miss Darcy. Although, now that you mention it, I never recall nurse being as generous with flowers for my younger sister.”
  1. Jane Bennet
  2. Lizzy Bennet
  3. Mr. Bingley

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  1.  “Mr. Darcy specifically noted that allowing modest decoration inside the church was his request as a gift to Mrs. Bennet for her kindness. Is that not kind of him? I do not think he wanted you to know, so do not make a fuss over it. He does not like undue attention.” . . . “I believe it is imprudent to squander the time God has given us in pointless anxiety. As the wise proverb of Solomon instructs, ‘Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.’” . . . “You judge Mr. Collins too harshly, Lizzy. He is a gentleman and has devoted his life to serving God. That is a noble calling with heavy burdens and, as such, is worthy of respect.”
  1. Charlotte Collins
  2. Mary Bennet
  3. Mrs. Gardiner

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  1.  “Frankly, I cannot fathom how the ton manages the endless dances, dinner parties, and theatre events of the Season! I feel a bit overwhelmed merely thinking of it.” . . . “At the first mention of gowns or hair accessories he would run screaming from the room. To be fair, my mind wanders the second the topic of cigars or firearms is broached.” . . . “It is an excellent house with generous proportions to the rooms, tall windows, a pleasant garden, and a parlor on the uppermost floor with a superb view of the square. The decor is…unique. There are plenty of furnishings, no doubt of that. Some are not quite my taste.”
  1. Jane Bennet
  2. Mrs. Bennet
  3. Georgiana Darcy

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  1.  “A scolding by Lizzy is a rather fearsome thing, as I suspect you know. A rousing challenge, most of the time, but I’m not up to it tonight.” . . . “You two want to make a grand entrance, do you not? Trust me. You two just concentrate on breathing. I can’t drag both of you down the aisle.” . . . “The foyer is fine, if you wish, but you might consider the terrace. Lizzy has a fondness for starry skies and fresh air. You may have learned that already.”
  1. Mr. Bennet
  2. Mr. Gardiner
  3. Mrs. Bennet

 

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet will soon be joined in Holy Matrimony!

The initial month of their Season of Courtship has passed. Together, the lovers strengthened their bond through honest communication, as they dealt with adversity, jealousy, and distrust. Ever growing in mutual love and understanding, a dramatic confrontation broke through the final barriers.

Now their Hope of the Future “happily ever after” is assured!

As long as Lady Catherine can be stopped in her scheme to interfere, that is. Or, will Mrs. Bennet’s bad advice ruin future marital felicity? Might increasing liberation lead to overwhelming passions that cannot be controlled, with catastrophe a result?

Continue the journey begun in Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. Delight in their flourishing romance, ride along on their escapades in London, and be a witness at the wedding of the century.

The miraculous design of how Two Shall Become One begins before the sacred vows.

Darcy and Elizabeth: Hope of the Future is Volume 2 of the “prequel duo” for Sharon Lathan’s Darcy Saga sequel series to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Purchasing links—

Amazon Kindle and Print 

Barnes & Noble Nook and Print

Kobo digital

iBooks digital  


 

 

 

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her first novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, was published in 2009. Sharon’s series of “happily ever after” for the Darcys now totals nine full-length novels and one Christmas themed novella.

Darcy & Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship and Darcy & Elizabeth: Hope of the Future complete the “prequel to the sequel” duo recounting the betrothal months before the Darcy Saga began.

Sharon is a native Californian relocated in 2013 to the green hills of Kentucky, where she resides with her husband of over thirty years. Retired from a thirty-year profession as a registered nurse in Neonatal Intensive Care, Sharon is pursuing her dream as a full-time writer.

Sharon is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, JASNA Louisville, the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA, and serves as the website manager and on the board of the Louisville Romance Writers chapter of the RWA.

Sharon is the co-creator of Austen Authors, a group blog for authors of Austenesque literary fiction. Visit at:  www.AustenAuthors.com

Connect with Sharon at the following places—
Website/blog:  www.SharonLathanAuthor.com
Facebook at Sharon Lathan, Novelist
Twitter @SharonLathan
Pinterest  SharonLathan62


Sharon Lathan would like to offer 3 ebook copies of Darcy & Elizabeth: Hope of the Future to my readers.

ALL those who comment this post will be entered into the drawing! Sharon will be popping in to chat and answer questions, so feel free to ask whatever you want 🙂

Taking the “quiz” is optional but those who attempt the quiz will earn 1+ bonus point for the attempt and 1+ bonus point for each correct answer. The total points earned equal a name entry into Random.org which increases the odds of winning an eBook copy of my her newest novel 🙂 It’s a fun idea for a giveaway isn’t it?

The giveaway is international and will end on the 1st of September.

Good luck everyone!

 

37 Comments

Filed under giveaway, JAFF

Blog Anniversary & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

Today is a very special day for me because it marks the second anniversary of From Pemberley to Milton!

People usually say that time flies by when we are doing something we love, but honestly, I do not feel that way. I feel that I’ve been blogging for much much longer than 2 years, and it’s even hard to remember what I used to do with my free time…

It all started as a way to organise myself, to list the books I had read and to have an idea of which authors I would want to read next, but soon this blog became much more than that!

From Pemberley to Milton opened the doors to many experiences, but above all, to conversations with kindred spirits. Because of it, I got to know people with whom I feel really connected with and whom I consider true friends.

It all started in 2015 with me posting the review of Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, after this first step, comments started to appear and I started talking to many of the people with whom I’m still in contact today.

Getting to know all of you was a plus, and one I was not expecting, I never imagined a JAFF community existed and that everyone was so welcoming and nice 🙂 Thank you so much for all your kind words in the past 2 years, and for being such na important part of my live!!!

But the conversations I established with you were all online until the beginning of 2016. That’s when I got to meet Elizabeth Adams, Joana Starnes, Sophie Andrews and Ana from My Vices and Weaknesses.

This first meeting was absolutely wonderful, but it was only the beginning. Since then I’ve been with these ladies many more times, and I believe we are now establishing a tradition of meeting in London once a year 🙂 Who wants to join us next year?

That first meeting opened the door to other encounters, and the next time we all met, we even added another Janeite to the party, author Caitlin Williams, whom I was lucky to meet a second time just last month, along with another group of amazing ladies.

But my Janeite meetings were not restricted to the UK, I crossed the ocean and met fellow blogger Claudine Pepe in New York City that same year.

And then, back in Europe, I had an opportunity to chat with some readers of my blog like Glynis and Sonia. I confess this was particularly touching for me because I might have met other authors and bloggers if I didn’t have my own blog, but I don’t think I would ever have met other readers, and I absolutely loved being with these ladies 🙂

This year, my janeite encounters continued and I met several writers such as Cassandra Grafton and Amanda Grange .

Travelled with writers Lory Lilian, Andreea Catana and editor Ellen Pickels.

 

And of course, through all this time, Ana and Joana were a constant in all Jane Austen related places 🙂

In fact, Joana was the one who introduced me to Mira Magdo, and later on I got to introduce Mira to Ana 🙂

The last day I was with Mira, I was telling her I had to prepare this post, because my blog anniversary was coming, and you’ll never guess what happened! We were on a train on our way to London, when we discovered that, in fact, we started our blogs exactly in the same day!!!

(Me and Mira seconds after discovering our blogs started exactly in the same day)

The 3rd of August 2015 saw 2 JAFF blogs come to life, From Pemberley to Milton and Obsessed With Mr. Darcy! And not only did we start our blogs on the same day, but we also published reviews of books from the same author, Abigail Reynolds. We could not believe the coincidence! So I would like to ask you to wish, along with me, a happy anniversary to Obsessed With Mr. Darcy! Congrats for such a fun and original blog Mira, I still love the tissues, chocolate and icecream things…

And of course, to celebrate our blog anniversary, we are doing a giveaway for our readers 🙂

 

 

As you, wonderful people, have been with me and Mira on this journey, you shared, liked, commented, entered giveaways, wrote us messages, etc,. We would like to offer one lucky winner a copy of The Darcy Monologues, signed by the editor Christina Boyd, and 3 authors: Lory Lilian, Joana Starnes and Caitlin Williams along with a Mr. Darcy Magnet. The giveaway is international and open until the 22nd of August.

You can enter by commenting on BOTH From Pemberley to Milton and Obsessed with Mr. Darcy‘s original wordpress posts. Good Luck!

66 Comments

Filed under giveaway, JAFF

An Interview with Cassandra Grafton & Giveaway

Hello everyone,

If you’ve read my last post, you know I was very lucky to meet Cassandra Grafton in Winchester last week. Ever since reading A Fair Prospect, I wanted to meet Cassandra and place her a few questions. Now, with all the celebrations occuring in Winchester, and with the release of A Quest for Mr. Darcy, I got a chance to finally meet and interview her.

I hope you enjoy this interview where she goes from her love for Jane Austen, how she discovered fan fiction and what we can expect from her latest book, A Quest for Mr. Darcy.

Thank you so much for your company last week, and for visiting From Pemberley to Milton Cassandra! It was delightful to have you here for the first time, and I hope it will not be the last 🙂

(Me and Cassandra in Winchester last week)

 

 

Rita! Thank you so much for this fun discussion! It was just lovely meeting you in person in Winchester on such a significant date as the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing, and I will cherish the memories forever. ❤

.

Thank you Cassandra! It was lovely meeting you too! We’ve discussed many things already, but I have yet asked, how did Jane Austen influence your life?

Oh gosh, where do I begin? I first discovered Jane Austen and her works when I was 15 (that’s rather a long time ago!), and even now, every time I re-read one of her books, I take something new from it.

She speaks such wisdom through her characters (not all of them, of course!), and I never cease to be amazed at how relevant her stories are today and how her words resonate here in the 21st century.

It has to be said, however, that the biggest influence is far more personal. By nature, I am an introvert, and I’m a pretty solitary person when it comes to writing, but Jane Austen has persuaded me out of my comfort zone to attend events and meet-ups where I have been able to connect with some lovely people – many of whom I’ve encountered online – and who have since become hugely significant to me. My life has been enriched beyond measure as a result, and I only wish I could thank Miss Austen in person!

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And what inspired you to go from reading Jane Austen to writing JAFF?

I’d discovered the world of fan fiction in the early 2000s when I’d ventured into the online Harry Potter community during the three long years between books 4 and 5. I started to co-write Harry Potter fan fiction with Ada, a new friend I made online, and it was such fun!

Becoming curious about similar online communities, I began to look around for those connected to my favourite author and found several sites dedicated not just to the lady but also to writing JAFF!

After co-writing so many short stories inspired by Harry Potter, I finally decided it was time to try my hand at a full length one inspired by Jane Austen’s characters, and so I began A Fair Prospect.

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Following A Fair Prospect you wrote a Jane Austen inspired, but non-JAFF book, called The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, but now you are back to JAFF with the recently released Mr. Darcy’s Quest, what can you tell us about it?

It follows the premise that Darcy does not go home to Derbyshire in the August following his rejection by Elizabeth but instead he goes abroad, taking his sister with him. Not around to ‘save the day’ when Lydia elopes with Wickham, the story begins as we discover the aftermath of that and its impact upon those affected.

Darcy is returning to England a year later, convinced he is over his foolish infatuation with Elizabeth and determined to do his duty, both to the estate of which he is guardian and to his sister: he intends to secure a wife and without delay.

Soon restored to his home in Derbyshire, he puts his quest in motion, preparing to welcome guests from Town, one of whom is a suitably eligible young lady he has earmarked as his future wife.

But it seems there are new tenants on the estate – tenants named Bennet. Could it be coincidence, or is his path fated to cross with Elizabeth’s once more?

With the addition of his friend, Bingley’s, mischievous twin younger sisters, mysterious letters from a stranger and a shadowy figure lurking in the grounds of Pemberley, Darcy’s carefully laid plans are soon in tatters as the rigid protection he has placed around his heart begins to falter.

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The mysterious letters and the shadowy figure bring some mystery to the book. Is this a genre you would like to develop?

Very much so! I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed the mystery genre until I co-wrote The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen with Ada Bright. It was so much fun. In fact, the mystery was the main element to that story, with the romance very subtle and underlying (though the sequel will expand on that). With Quest, I loved interweaving the mysterious elements with Darcy and Elizabeth’s growing awareness of each other’s feelings.

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But the main focus remains romance, right? What can we expect from Darcy and Elizabeth in this book?

Oh yes! I’m a complete romance geek at heart! I’ve always loved the dance of Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship, how they move away from each other, then towards each other, then back again, only perhaps not so far, and slowly their steps become in tandem, until they are in each other’s arms. Sigh…

In this story, although Elizabeth read Darcy’s letter, she has seen nothing of him since the moment he put it into her hands, almost eighteen months ago. She is carrying some resentment towards him for keeping Wickham’s nature secret from the Meryton populace because of the impact upon her family and also is fighting her discomfort over how it is going to feel to meet with him again now she lives nearby. However, she has also realised how she misjudged him, and is daily reminded of his value by those in Derbyshire who hold him in great esteem, so she is in conflict with herself when they become reacquainted.

Darcy has convinced himself he is over his feelings for Elizabeth, dismissing them as a foolish infatuation. He believes he has himself under good regulation, but how long will his armour remain intact? I’m not going to say!

 

This story starts later than the majority of variations, why did you choose this approach?

My favourite JAFF stories take place after the first proposal has gone so disastrously wrong, so I knew I would continue in that vein. The first idea for the story came from a line in A Fair Prospect. Elizabeth is commenting on the fact poor Darcy seems unable to escape her, their having unexpectedly met again – post proposal – in Kent, London and finally Bath. She remarks jokingly that she will likely return home to Longbourn to find her father planning to move them all to Derbyshire.

This idea seemed like it had a lot of potential for fun and, sorry Darcy, also for throwing a few challenges in his direction! How to make it happen, though? Providing a reason for such a thing to take place was key, as it had to have some logic behind it to be credible enough. Darcy not having been around to step in when Lydia eloped seemed the obvious answer, and so I sent him away, hence the story taking place a year later.

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Readers will find Mr. Bingley’s sisters a little different than usual, what can you tell us about them?

The idea of Bingley having five sisters came from Jane Austen herself, or rather from a scene in Pride & Prejudice where Lady Lucas is speculating with Mrs Bennet about the rumours surrounding the number of ladies and gentlemen Mr Bingley will bring to the Meryton assembly.

Here it is:

‘Lady Lucas quieted her (Mrs Bennet’s) fears a little by starting the idea of his being gone to London only to get a large party for the ball; and a report soon followed that Mr Bingley was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a number of ladies; but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing that instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters and a cousin.’

Volume I, Chapter 3

I reasoned that although the early surmising was gossip, the latter comment above is after Bingley has returned from London with his guests, so the likelihood is it could have some truth to it. Just because only two sisters came to the assembly didn’t necessarily mean there weren’t three still at home at Netherfield. It therefore stood to reason they were younger otherwise they would have attended.

I decided Bingley’s mother had passed away when he was young and his father had remarried, having three girls, the twins, Olivia and Viola and a younger sister, Julia.

It is the twins who feature in the story, and I’m hoping readers will grow to love them! All I can say is, they are nothing like their elder sisters!

Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley do of course feature briefly, but they remain pretty much the same as in the original novel!

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While reading the book I noticed some interesting names from secondary characters such as Thornton and Latimer. Was this a coincidence, or are you also a North and South fan?

Absolutely, Rita! I’m a huge North & South fan!

One of the many things I enjoy when writing is naming my characters, and I love it when friends and family say how fun they found it to find themselves or a family member mentioned in some form or another.

However, I do also love using names from other works of literature I have enjoyed. I did knowingly, therefore, use some from North & South such as Higgins and Latimer. As for Thornton, Darcy’s valet, he has an entire back-story though it’s not relevant to this story.

In brief, he is the grandfather of our lovely John Thornton (big sigh)! The family has always been in service and proud of its history of serving some of the country’s most significant families, but he has become estranged from his only son (John Thornton’s father) who has turned his back on the family tradition to try his hand in trade. Working his way up from a clerical apprentice, he has recently started his own small business in Lancashire. The John Thornton we know and love has yet to be born!

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Thank you so much, Rita, for asking your great questions. I had a lot of fun answering them!

 


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A fan of Jane Austen since her long-distant school days, Cassandra Grafton has been indulging her appetite for all things Austen for many years. Having long wanted to be a writer, she began publishing her endeavours in 2013. A Fair Prospect, a Pride & Prejudice-inspired Regency romance, was released in three volumes.

She then went on to be part of the co-writing team on The Darcy Brothers, another Austen-inspired historical novel, before settling down to co-write with one of her best friends.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, a contemporary mystery/romance, was released in July 2016 under the names of Ada Bright and Cass Grafton.

A former college lecturer and PA, Cassandra has lived in three countries, and loves travelling, reading, cats and dry wine (and she combines most of these as often as she can!)

She has two grown up children and splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, and England, where she lives with her characters.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors, the Jane Austen Society UK and is a founding member of the Jane Austen Society of Switzerland.

 


 

 

Cassandra Grafton would love to offer a giveaway – open internationally – of a copy of A Quest for Mr. Darcy (eBook or paperback, winner’s choice), plus some Jane Austen goodies from the gift shop at Jane Austen’s House Museum, namely:

  • Jane Austen 200 pen and key ring
  • Jane Austen compact mirror
  • Jane Austen lip balm
  • Miniature Pride & Prejudice
  • Set of 20 Jane Austen bookplates

 

The giveaway is open until the 4th of August and to be eligible all you have to do is comment on this post. Share your thoughts with us or place Cassandra your own questions.

The winner will be announced on this blog shortly after the 4th of August. Please follow the blog to make sure you receive an e-mail with the name of the winner. I would hate for people to miss a prize because they didn’t see they had won. Unfortunately this has happened in the past and I’m trying to avoid it from happening again 🙂

Good Luck everyone!

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My Jane Austen Road Trip – Chapter IV

Hello dear readers,

Today one of the most wonderful weeks that I have ever lived comes to an end. As you know we have celebrated Jane Austen’s live and work throughout this past week due to the 200th anniversary of her death on the 18th of July, and as most events were taking place in England, that’s where I chose to be this last week.

I’ve been in England many times and I had visited several places related to Jane Austen, but this was the first big road trip completely dedicated to Jane Austen that I have done. I’ve met lots of amazing people, reconnected with old acquaintances and participated in some ceremonies that inspired me to write a few posts Austen related (bear with me for a while, I’ll be posting more than reviews in the upcoming weeks).

My trip started in Milton, er…sorry, Manchester.I would have loved to visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s home there, but as it is only open a few days a week, I didn’t have that chance. I was sad about it, but it means I have another reason to return to the area, so I have to look at the bright side of it. From Manchester I took the train to Stockport to meet for the first time author Lory Lilian, Andreea Catana and Ellen Pickels. These lovely ladies were my travel companions for several days and with them I visited Lyme Park, Chatsworth House and traveled south across the country to attend the religious ceremony in Winchester on the 18th of July. I’ll tell you all about our adventures in the North, but for now, I would like to share with you how it was to be in Winchester on such a memorable date.

We got to Winchester on the 17th, but the 18th was the big day! After breakfast we headed straight into the garden in front of Winchester Cathedral, took some pictures and were even interviewed by BBC radio, but the real fun started when our dear friends Joana Starnes and Mira Magdo from Obsessed with Mr. Darcy joined us for the day. With them we attended a recital in the Cathedral, and travelled the streets of Winchester to find the house where Jane Austen spent the last weeks of her life, and where she eventually died on the 18th of July.

The house is on 8 College Street but it is now a private house and can not be visited. It bears an oval plaque over the front door, placed there in 1956 and designed and executed by Esmond Burton.It is nowadays the only sign that tells us this is a very special house. In front of it lies a small garden with an Austen quote, and even if some people may miss it, we surely didn’t.

Jane Austen wrote to her nephew, James Edward Austen, “our Lodgings are very comfortable. We have a neat little Drawing room with a Bow-window overlooking D’ Gabell’s garden”, and even if this is not what people may see from the bow-window nowadays, I like to imagine Jane looking over this window.

After this walk, we headed back to the Winchester Cathedral where I met Cassandra Grafton author of A Fair Prospect trilogy and the recently released A Quest for Mr. Darcy. Together we attended to the unveil of the 10£ bank note with the presence of the 120th Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney.

Mr. Carney demonstrated a true knowledge of Austen’s life and work, making a charming and captivating speech, but he also shared some interesting aspects about the new 10 £ note. For example, on the front of the £10 polymer note there are two clusters of raised dots in the top left hand corner, this tactile feature will help blind and partially sighted people identify the value of the note. I also learned about a few details the new note will have, such as a finely detailed metallic image of Winchester Cathedral positioned over a see-through window, and a book-shaped copper foil patch which contains the letters JA. But the most controversial detail on the note is the quote “ I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”.

I have nothing against it, I know it was pronounced by Miss Bingley and that it was said in an ironic tone, but it remains a true statement nonetheless, and I find it appropriate for a note with the picture of a writer. What do you think? I know many people do not agree with this quote on the note, is that your case?

The bank note will only enter circulation in September, so I couldn’t come home with one, but thanks to Sophie Andrews, I did come home with a 2 £ coin :)) Do you have it already?

The coin was launched in locations that have a close connection to Jane Austen’s life but the design will only be released into wider circulation later this year. The coin is already being sold on Amazon, but the prices are excessive and the coin can be found at reduced prices in any Jane Austen related place, so if you visit places such as the Jane Austen House in Chawton, don’t miss the opportunity to have one of the first coins out there.

With this ceremony over it was time to eat something, get some rest and be prepared for the religious ceremony that took most of us there.

It was a beautiful ceremony fully dedicated to one of the greatest authors in England and I feel particularly honored to have been there to pay my tribute.

The entire day was wonderful with a beautiful weather, but once the ceremony was over, as if crying for Austen, the sky started pouring rain and we had to leave Winchester.

We ended up eating pizza, drinking god knows what and teaching eachother how to speak our native languages. I don’t think the day could have ended in a better way and I want to thank all these lovely ladies for putting up with me and my photos the entire day! Being in Winchester for Jane was absolutely unforgettable but it wouldn’t have been as special if I hadn’t shared all these moments with people who, just like me, were touched by Jane in so many ways 🙂

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I know that not everybody got a chance to go to Winchester to Jane Austen’s life, so I bring some tokens of the 200th anniversary to offer to one of my readers. As Persuasion was released in 1817, I thought it would be fitting to offer it along with a keyring, rubber and pencil commemorative of the date. I’ve also added an I love Jane pin, and  a bag of lavender I made at Jane Austen’s House in Chawton.

The giveaway is international, and all you have to do to be eligible for it is to leave your share your thoughts with us by commenting on this post. It will run until the 4th of August and the winner will be announced shortly after.

Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under giveaway, JAFF, jane austen

Giveaway Winners Announcement

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Hello everyone,

I’m sorry to have been so quiet this week, but real life got in the way and kept me away from my computer. I wish I could say that I would make it up in the upcoming weeks, but unfortunately May and June will not be easy months for me at work, however, I’ll do my best to find the time for From Pemberley to Milton, and hopefully you will still be here to talk to me about all things Austen 🙂

In the meantime I would like to announce you the winners of the last giveaways I hosted here, at FPTM:

Darcy’s Honor by Victoria Kincaid

* DarcyBennett


A Man With Faults (or any other of the below Lory Lilian’s books at your choice)

Remembrance of the Past, Rainy Days, His Uncle’s Favorite, The Perfect Match, Sketching Mr. Darcy, The Rainbow Promise, A Man with Faults.

* J. W. Garrett

* Cvtperez


Surprise prize from Joana Starnes

* Ceri


Joana Starnes ebook (winner’s choice)

From This Day Forward, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, Mr. Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter

* Theresa M.


Bag of Goodies from Joana Starnes

* J. “Joy” Dawn King


Congratulations everyone! Please send me your contacts to ritaluzdeodato at gmail dot com, and if you won a winner’s choice prize, please let me know what is your choice.

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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill – Q&A with Julie Klassen and Giveaway

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Hello dear readers

Today I bring you a very different post, a small interview with author Julie Klassen concerning her latest novel The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill.

This is a different post because The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is not a JAFF book, but Julie Klassen is an enthusiast of Jane Austen and she transports the magic of Jane ‘s regency world into her books. I’ve hear much about this author and could not resist being a part of this wonderful blog tour. I’m honored to be the first stop in it and I hope you enjoy reading Julie Klassen’s answers as much as I did 😉 The premise of this book is captivating, but Mrs. Klassen’s enthusiasm regarding the inn’s importance in regency England was the final incentive to put this book at the beginning of my TBR pile. I’m looking forward to read it and share my opinion with you, until then, please see the blurb and Mrs. Klassen interview 🙂

 

***Book Blurb***

 

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

Visit talesfromivyhill.com to find a map of the village, character profiles, a book giveaway, and more!

You can find this book at:

Amazon.com – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

Amazon.co.uk – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

 

 

***Author Bio***

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JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Her books have been honored with the Christy Award for Historical Romance, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Midwest Book Award, among others. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.

 

 

***Q&A with Julie Klassen***

 

What can you tell us about the series, Tales From Ivy Hill?

The series tells the stories of four women facing life-altering challenges with the help of their quirky neighbors and intriguing newcomers. Each novel will have a romance and drama wrap up in a hopefully satisfying way, while the main character’s story spans all three books. The series celebrates the strong bonds of friendship, because in a small village like Ivy Hill, everyone is connected, like leaves on a vine.

 

Why did you choose to set the first book in the series at an inn?

In the early nineteenth century, before the advent of trains, the lifeblood of many small villages were their coaching inns. In this era, stage and mail coaches were the primary means of travel, and they stopped at coaching inns along the way to change horses, let passengers take a meal, or stay the night. Coaching inns were restaurant, hotel, “train” station, travel agency, livery, and repair shop, all rolled into one. I think it’s a wonderful setting for a series, providing a backdrop for a cast of regulars who work at or frequent the inn, as well as for new people who are traveling through.

 

Do you as the author have a favorite resident of Ivy Hill?

I like so many residents, but would have to say Thora Bell. Her gruff exterior disguises a hidden vulnerability, and her sassy directness, and dry, often self-deprecating sense of humor endeared her to me, if that’s not a weird thing to say about a fictional character I created. 🙂

 

What real-life locations inspired the setting of the series?

Ivy Hill is a fictional place, but it was inspired by the National Trust village of Lacock in Wiltshire, which I’ve had the privilege of visiting a few times. Lacock was used as a film location for scenes in Pride & Prejudice (1995), Cranford (2007), Emma (1996), and recently, a market scene in Downton Abbey (season 6). Even though I am using Lacock as a basic model for Ivy Hill, I’ve placed the village farther south, on the old Devonport-London Royal Mail route, not far from Salisbury and the real village of Great Wishford.

 

Assume for a moment that Mr. Darcy had never met Elizabeth. Which of your heroines would be most likely to attract his interest?

What a fun question. I would guess that Mr. Darcy would admire Miss Rachel Ashford. She might be a little proud, and not a great reader, but I don’t think he would be able to resist her gentle beauty and fine eyes.

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***Blog Tour Schedule***

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December 5: Author Q&A on Pemberley to Milton

December 6: Excerpt on My Love for Jane Austen

December 8: Review on Laura’s Reviews

December 9: Book Spotlight on More Agreeably Engaged

December 10: Review on A Bookish Way of Life

December 11: Review and Excerpt on Delighted Reader Book Reviews

December 12: British Show Inspiration Guest Post on Living Read Girl

December 13: Historical Background Guest Post on English Historical Fiction Authors

December 14: Review on Calico Critic

December 15: Excerpt on So Little Time

December 16: Review and Author Q&A on My Jane Austen Book Club

December 17: Review on Just Jane 1813

December 18: Excerpt on Babblings of a Book Worm

December 19: Review on Austenesque Reviews

December 20: Guest Post on Jane Austen in Vermont

December 21: Review on Luxury Reading

 

 

***It’s giveaway time***

Be sure to enter the giveaway before you leave—the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will be notified on December 22.

To enter click the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Courtship of Edward Gardiner – Guest Post & Giveaway

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Hello dear readers,

Welcome to the last stop of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner blog tour! It’s been a long but interesting tour and I personally enjoyed all stops that brought us excerpts, reviews and vignettes of this wonderful book!

I would like to thank all bloggers involved in this tour as their dedication, efforts and kind words were essential to show everyone the worth of this story. Thank you so much for all your hard work and support!!!

I would also like to praise Nicole Clarkston for her creativity! I always love to read the new scenes she creates for the blog tours 🙂 My love for her vignettes started with Northern Rain, but it surely continued with The Courtship of Edward Gardiner, and I’m very happy to see she chose a seasonal vignette to finish the blog tour at From Pemberley to Milton 🙂

 

***Guest Post***

In keeping with one of my very favourite times of year, today I give you a vignette from the early days of Edward and Madeline’s marriage. Life is unfolding beautifully at their feet, and they celebrate the joyous day in their new home, surrounded by loved ones. I hope each of you will be similarly blessed this year.

-Nicole

***

First Christmas

Edward Gardiner slowly paraded down the staircase of his new home, his heart full and his spirits buoyant. This was to be his first Christmas as the master of a fine house, the first year of lavishly bestowing gifts upon so many now in his employ, and the first year of hosting his Meryton relations in London, rather than going to his sisters as he always had. Most importantly of all, it was his first year of waking with his very dearest treasure wrapped in his arms. Perhaps no other would have perceived the purpose of his motion, but he tipped his chin very slightly down and to the left as he walked, drawing a delicious breath. Madeline’s fragrance still lingered near his neck, where she had kissed and nuzzled him only moments ago.

It was with no small measure of satisfaction that he gained the bottom of the stairs to find the house still largely quiet. His sisters would remain abed at least another hour, and the Bennet children, fatigued from their journey, would likely follow suit. The only soul he expected to encounter was that of his brother, Thomas Bennet. In this, he was not disappointed, for the library had already been commandeered by that reclusive fellow. It seemed, however, that Bennet was not alone.

“Merry Christmas, Uncle!” Elizabeth chirped brightly from the window seat, where she had been flipping through one of his newest books. She set it aside carefully- for a mercy- and bounced to him with her freshly scrubbed face shining.

“And a very Merry Christmas to you, Lizzy!” he scooped her up and gave her a joyful peck on the cheek. “And to you, Thomas,” he turned, extending his greeting to his brother-in-law.

“Aye, it is that,” the other nodded agreeably, his eyes only briefly rising from his book. “For another hour or two, at least.” He lifted his brows, wetted his fingers, and turned a page.

Elizabeth peered up at her uncle with a quizzical little frown, a furrowed brow, and a teasing sparkle in her eyes. Edward sighed, shaking his head. “Come, Lizzy, have you seen all of the greens yet? Does the house not look beautiful this morning?”

She nodded. “Uncle, when may we open our presents?”

“Oh! You must wait, Elizabeth. Did you expect to open yours before your sisters are even dressed?”

“Yes,” she admitted guilelessly.

“I tell you what,” he chuckled, “I’ve a special surprise for your aunt. Would you help me to prepare it for her?”

Her brilliant eyes glittered afresh and she caught her lip between her teeth. “Oh, tell me, what is it? Did you buy her a phaeton and ponies?”

He laughed. “You must wait and see! Come, I think your father would enjoy having the library to himself anyway.”

Three hours later, Elizabeth stood beside her uncle as he welcomed the entire family to the drawing room. “Oh, brother!” cried Fanny Bennet, fluttering her fan. “I knew it would be lovely! Why, Sister, simply look at the bowers, and the ribbons, and… oh! The lace on that table, so charming! Where ever did you find such exquisite decorations?”

Edward beamed proudly at his wife, who had come to his other side. “Madeline deserves the credit. There, my dear, do you see? You feared making a poor impression, but I have never seen a lovelier home than my own this day.”

Madeline blushed prettily, catching her father’s eye as he bounced little Mary Bennet upon his knee. “My dear, I believe you would say so even if I had chosen to decorate the house in brown and yellow, instead of the proper colours!”

“It is a clever man who pays his compliments wisely,” affirmed Thomas Bennet, lifting his glass in a mock salute.

“Indeed!” Edward agreed. “And to that end, I know I am breaking somewhat with tradition, but I should like to give you the first gift, my dear. Lizzy?”

“Yes, Uncle!” Elizabeth dove for the pile of gifts, attempting to wrap her arms about an especially large one right in the middle. Three or four other boxes toppled as she dislodged the base of the stack, but she wrestled determinedly until she had dragged it free.

“Edward, you should not have!” Madeline objected. “What could possibly…?”

Edward laughed and bent to assist Elizabeth. The box was awkward rather than heavy, but even he found it more convenient to drag than to lift. “Open it, my love!”

Madeline bit her lip and tilted her head askance. The box was lovingly wrapped and decorated so beautifully that she hated to break it open. Moreover, her natural modesty objected to what was clearly a large and lavish gift from her husband. What was everyone else to think? Nonetheless, she grasped the ribbon and gave a gentle tug. Carefully she peeled away the folds of paper, taking the greatest pains that not one single corner should be ripped in her haste. Elizabeth started to bounce.

The paper fell away, Madeline lifted the lid of the box, and beheld… another box. She darted a quick look to Edward, and found his eyes dancing with mirth. This box was even more exquisitely wrapped than the first, and still quite large. Edward helped her to lift it out, and with a little laugh, she began to unwrap this box as well. Inside the second box was a third, this one wrapped in gold foil. “Oh, Edward!” she giggled in feigned exasperation.

Fanny Bennet and most of her daughters were beginning to grow restless. To cries of impatience and admiration, with not a little smattering of children clamoring to see over one another, Madeline worked her way through four more boxes. Where Edward had found such a perfect assortment of nesting boxes, she could not fathom, but his cheeks grew ever brighter as she continued to add to the mounting pile of discarded wrapping.

Inside the seventh box, Madeline discovered a nest of tawny packing material, concealing and protecting something precious within. She lifted her brows teasingly at Edward, catching Elizabeth’s bubbling delight as she did so. “For such a large box to begin, whatever is inside must be quite small!”

“It is often so, is it not, my dear? The most magnificent blessings are often in the smallest details.”

Her eyes pricked a little at the warmth in his tones, and she began to suspect that whatever lay within was some priceless treasure- something in which she would delight for the rest of her life. Blinking quickly, she began to search through the rustling packing material until her fingers found a small, humble little box. It was wrapped simply in brown paper and string, and fit within the palm of her hand. She raised her eyes to Edward and he gave her a small nod of encouragement.

Drawing breath, she pulled the string and reverently unfolded the very last of the wrapping, then lifted the lid of the box. Inside was a bright, shining key. She pinched it gingerly between her fingers and held it up with questioning eyes.

Edward came near to rest a hand upon her shoulder and spoke lowly into her ear. “It is a key to my study desk,” he told her quietly. “I know it seems a simple thing, my love, but it is yours as much as it is mine. Everything I am, every facet of my life, is as an open book to you. I want you forever by my side, Madeline, sharing in my heart, my labours, my hopes. I lay all before you, and desire you as my partner in every corner of this life.”

Her throat had tightened and her eyes burned in overpowering joy as she blinked down at his gift- that tiny little object which unlocked his entire world. “It is as you say, my love,” she whispered. “The most priceless treasures are often very small.” She looked up and caught Jane Bennet’s eye. Understanding at once, Jane leapt to the pile of gifts to find a small, soft parcel, and brought it to her aunt.

Madeline took it and gave it into Edward’s hand. “Merry Christmas, my darling!”

His brow creased, he tore silently into the folds of tissue. The item within emerged, and he held it up in some confusion. “What is it?”

Laughing lightly, Madeline took it from him and unfolded the downy material for him to examine. “It is a bonnet… for an infant.”

His face washed in wonder. “A… an infant? Madeline!” He gasped, then caught up his wife in his arms and spun her dizzily about. “Are you certain? We must speak of this at once!” Not delaying even a moment upon his resolution, the determined husband carried his surprised young wife from the drawing room and mounted the stairs. The remaining guests craned their necks to peer round the

doorway in curiosity as the couple departed so unceremoniously, the echoes of their laughter sounding through the entire house.

Thomas Bennet cleared his throat. “Well,” began he, with a suspicious twinkle in his eye. “It seems we must carry on without our host and hostess. Mr Fairbanks, sir, would you care to do the honours?”

Mr Fairbanks, his eyes weak and his smile radiant, took up the invitation. He clasped Mary’s little hand ever more fervently, glorying in the knowledge that soon he might cradle his own flesh and blood once more. Before he gave out the next gift, he hesitated and his squinted gaze passed over each person in that room- his new family. Slowly, he began to nod, as if confirming to himself all that his old heart whispered. “’And it was good,’” he softly quoted the ancient line. “Very good. Merry Christmas!”

 

***

I hope you have enjoyed this final vignette! It made me wish I could read more and more… But I’ve got to stop asking for more vignettes right?

In case you find Mrs. Clarkston’s writing as captivating as I do, you can always find out more about her and her work through the following contact links:

WebsiteNicole Clarkston

Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

 

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***It’s giveaway time***

Nicole Clarkston would like to offer one last eBook copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner. All you have to do to be entitled to it is comment on this post. Let us know what you thought of this seasonal excerpt or just share your opinion on P&P’s secondary characters. The giveaway is international and is open until the 15th of December.

Good luck everyone!

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Filed under giveaway, Pride and Prejudice

Meryton Vignettes Review & Giveaway

meryton-vignettes-cover4.5 stars

Hello everyone,

Meryton Vignettes is a compilation of six vignettes featuring several characters from Pride & Prejudice that took me completely by surprise.

First of all, I had never seen a book of vignettes. It is true that there are several compilations of short stories, but these are not exactly short stories, they are as the name indicates small pieces that could perfectly be integrated in a short story or novel. Now, you may wonder what are the advantages of reading just a vignette and not a full story, and I’ll tell you that apart from the delight of having just a glimpse of our beloved characters when we don’t have much time to read a full story, it is the possibility of having any kind of moment ahead of you and exploring many paths that would be blocked if the writer was writing a full story. The sky is the limit with vignettes and authors can write just about anything, that is precisely what Elizabeth Adams did.

Unlike all expectations, these vignettes are not centered in Darcy and Elizabeth. They do appear is some of the stories, but Elizabeth Adams choose to portray several other characters that are usually disregarded, and she did so in an astonishing way! She developed moments in these characters lives I never expected to read in any JAFF story, and to be frank, I don’t even think I will read some of these moments in the near future. She showed us a side of these characters that is usually not shown and they are not embellished to be part of a book, they are raw material, and I loved that!

But I will give you a brief description of the vignettes and my opinion on each one of them so you can understand what I mean.

 

Mistress of Longbourn

In this opening vignette, Charlotte returns to Longbourn 17 years after her marriage to Mr. Collins. I loved the tone of this vignette and to see everyone’s reaction to this event. It was the first time I read this particular moment occurring and it was interesting to see it from Charlotte’s POV.

There was one question that was left unanswered for me, but I have no doubts about Charlotte’s ability to become the Mistress of Longbourn, or Mr. Collins ability to become it’s master… Mrs. Bennet may have been a silly woman, but it will not be easy for Charlotte to fill her shoes as Mistress of one of the most proeminente estates in the neighbourhood 🙂

 

Life After Darcy

This snippet shows us Caroline Bingley’s life after Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding. We will go through her feelings of rejection, anger and injustice until she is ready to move on, and when she does, we will see her as she truly is, as the real Caroline Bingley. In this story she will find her match who will give her a valuable lesson! I loved to see Caroline Bingley finally understanding what is most important in life and this was one of my favorite stories in the book. I reckon everyone will like this one 🙂

 

First Attachments

In this story we will see Lizzy’s attachment and developing relationship throughout the years to Jack Turner, the son of one of her father’s tenants. She will remember all the important moments in their relationship and consider how a true affection feels like. It is an impossible relationship of course, and it never goes beyond a friendship, but still it bothered me a little to see Elizabeth caring so much for someone who is not Mr. Darcy.

 

To Do Her Duty

Mrs. Bennet is the main character in this vignette, and it was the first time I ever saw her taking the leading role!

The story is told from Mrs. Bennet POV which I absolutely loved and will show a side of her that is very rarely portrayed. It was the first time I saw her go through a pregnancy and it was so touching I actually cried!! I really did! It is among my favorites in this book 🙂

 

To Fool a Fool

Prepare yourselves, this vignette describes the wedding night of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Collins. You heard me right, Elizabeth Adams did create this vignette. Don’t you think it takes a lot of courage to do that? I was shocked and amazed with To Fool a Fool, and I doubt any author will venture on writing that particular night in any other book. It takes a lot of bravery to write that night and Elizabeth Adams was not intimidated. However, do not fear! I will not give any details not to spoil it for you, but it is not as bad as it may seem 🙂

It is a bit humorous and ridiculous at the same time 🙂

 

He Had it Coming

This is the longest story in the book and it will focus on Lydia’s life after her wedding to Mr. Wickham. There are some books based on Lydia’s character, but this was the first time I saw a story so advanced in time and so dark. Seven years after her marriage, and tired of suffering abuses from her husband, Lydia sends a distress call to her sister Elizabeth who will come to her rescue. As I mentioned this is the longest vignette in the book and many events will occur in it. I will not say much more because I truly do not want to spoil it to you, but this is also on my top 3 favorite stories in the book. It is very, very good. I liked that Elizabeth Adams didn’t take a soft approach towards Lydia’s life and that she was not afraid to show us how miserable it was. I loved to see the development of Lydia’s character and the ending of course 🙂 After so much suffering, you can hope for a happy ending 🙂

 

I believe this compilation of vignettes is something every Janeite will like because not only it will give us the company of characters that are often overlooked, but it is also completely innovative in the premises! I have read scenes I never expected to read in a JAFF book and was amazed, shocked, grieved, merry and content at the same time. This is a delicious book with an interesting concept that I truly recommend.

 

You can find Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride & Prejudice in:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

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***It’s giveaway time***

Elizabeth Adams would like to offer one copy of Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride & Prejudice to my readers. The giveaway is international and is open until the 2nd of December, all you have to do is comment on this post and share your thoughts on this book or the author. If you want to double your chances of winning, comment on the excertp post published on the 21st of November. Entries in both posts will be considered for the giveaway.

Good Luck everyone!

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Filed under 4.5 stars, giveaway, Pride and Prejudice

Meryton Vignettes – Excerpt & Giveaway

meryton-vignettes-cover

Hello everyone,

Today I bring you an excerpt of the first short story in Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride & Prejudice which is Elizabeth Adams’ latest release.

This book is a collection of six short stories where we can see that the people of Pride and Prejudice move on, grow up, and explore paths not taken. Time leads these beloved characters down roads of self-discovery, courage, and heartbreak. And sometimes the journey takes them to surprising places.

I’ve started reading this collection and I’m loving it so far! I’ll review it next Friday, so if you are curious to know my opinion, and to know more about each story, stop by at From Pemberley to Milton.

But I don’t want to suspend the pleasure you’ll have reading this excerpt any longer, so here it is:

 

Mistress of Longbourn

Charlotte Returns

Charlotte ran her hand along the back of the sofa, her gloves skidding lightly along the upholstery. Her eyes scanned the room: the pair of chairs by the empty fireplace, the windows covered in lavender drapes, the aged mirror over the mantle.

Of all this, she was now mistress.

She gazed at the portrait of Mr. Bennet, painted in his prime, and remembered the man who had been her neighbor for twenty-seven long years, and who was now, by his failure to produce an heir, the means of her husband having his own estate. In a way, he could be credited with her having a husband at all. If he had not agreed to host Mr. Collins all those years ago, and supported Elizabeth’s refusal of her cousin’s proposal, Charlotte would have never met and married Mr. Collins.

And now, seventeen long years after her wedding, she was here. The mistress of Longbourn. Second only to Netherfield Park, it was one of the most respectable estates in the area, belonging to one of its oldest families.

And now, it was hers.

“Was your journey pleasant?”

Charlotte jumped and looked over her shoulder. “I didn’t hear you come in. Forgive me, Mary. How do you do?”

“As well as can be expected, Mrs. Collins,” replied Mary Bennet.

“Please, call me Charlotte. We are such old neighbors,” said Mrs. Collins kindly.

“I think not,” Mary said plainly. “Nearly everything is packed. We shall be gone tomorrow.”

Mary turned and left the room, leaving a bewildered Charlotte behind her.

Charlotte shook off the feeling of guilt that had tried to settle on her shoulders and went upstairs to see to her children. She did not particularly enjoy her husband’s company, and she found the act of begetting children quite off-putting, but the results of her endurance were more than adequate recompense.

“Mother, have you considered my request?” asked a voice to her left.

She turned and looked into the face of Charlotte Rose, her eldest daughter. She was quite a pretty thing if Charlotte could say such about her own daughter. She had the look of her Aunt Maria about her.

“I have, Lottie, and since you have been so helpful throughout this move, I have decided to grant your request.”

“Oh!” the girl squealed, jumping on her toes and clasping her hands in front of her. “May I choose my chamber now?”

Before her mother could answer, the eldest of the Collins children ran off and began opening doors and comparing views. Charlotte shook her head at her enthusiasm.

“Oh, to be fifteen again!” she mumbled to herself.

She went into the nursery to help settle in her younger daughters.

Two years after her marriage, she had been delivered of a girl, Charlotte Rose, Lottie to her family. Only eighteen months later she had born a son, William John. He was followed in two-year increments by Catherine Ann and Mildred Grace. Believing she had done her duty, and not wishing to die in childbirth as her years increased alongside her womb’s fecundity, Charlotte told her husband she wished for no more children. Having birthed four babes, he couldn’t possibly expect more of her.

Mr. Collins acquiesced as she knew he would and no more was said about it.

Unfortunately, when young William was but five years old, he succumbed to a fever and was buried in the churchyard. Charlotte was devastated.

Within a year of his death, at thirty-seven years of age, Charlotte was with child. When she delivered a boy, she thanked God she would be spared further confinements. Lying in bed exhausted and spent, so happy and relieved was she that she didn’t hear her husband clearly at first when he suggested a name for the babe. She cuddled the white bundle closer to her and asked again what he had said.

“William, after his father. It’s fitting, don’t you think?” Mr. Collins said with an ingratiating smile.

He clearly had no idea of his suggestion being denied.

“We already had a son called William. Do you not remember, Mr. Collins?” she asked, her voice calm.

She remembered perfectly. How his skin had felt so hot and yet so thin, his cheeks flushed and his forehead clammy. She remembered how he had struggled for breath as she held him, praying with every fiber of her being for God to spare her only son. How she had bargained with fate, promising to be the best mother, the best wife, if only her boy would live! And how lost she had felt when the last ragged breath had left his body limp in her arms, his eyes unmoving, his chest eerily still.

She had let out a mighty wail the likes of which Hunsford had never heard, lost to everything but the profundity of her grief. She had not been practical Charlotte in that moment. She had been nothing but a mother, deprived of her life’s greatest achievement and proudest joy.

Her husband’s idiotic rambling brought her back to the conversation and his insulting suggestion.

“Well, yes, but, as the boy is no longer with us, a man wants his name to carry on, that is, I am his father…”

He spluttered on and Charlotte settled her eyes on the window, the church just visible in the distance, and next to it, the churchyard that held her beloved boy in its peaceful clasp.

“No, Mr. Collins, we will not,” she said simply.

He looked at her stupidly for a moment, but her eyes remained fixed on the window.

“What was that, my dear?” he asked.

“We will not name him William.”

“But surely, I am his father, my name, I must—”

“No,” she said forcefully. “I have already birthed and buried a son called William. There will not be another.”

Mr. Collins stood gaping at her, his mouth opening and closing like a fish.

“I shall call him Lucas Adam, after my family and my grandfather.” She looked at the baby fondly. “He was always kind to me.”

Mr. Collins had left the room then, and she had written it in the family Bible before he could argue further.

 

***

What did you think of the excerpt? Did it foster your curiosity? I particularly liked the tone Elizabeth Adams chose to start this story, it’s contemplative and soothing. Having read the full story, I liked to see what Charlotte’s life was and how everyone reacted to her becoming Mistress of Longbourn. It’s not very common for authors to venture in this idea, after all, who likes to see Charlotte and Mr. Collins taking over Longbourn? But I did like to see their trials in doing so, and I particularly liked reading the end of the story which will demonstrate the position the Collins’s will have in the neighborhood.

But to know how they will be seen and how they will act, you’ll have to read the story 🙂

 

You can find Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride & Prejudice in:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

***It’s giveaway time***

Elizabeth Adams would like to offer one copy of Meryton Vignettes: Tales of Pride & Prejudice to my readers. The giveaway is international and is open until the 2nd of December, all you have to do is comment on this post and share your thoughts on this book or the author. If you want to double your chances of winning, comment on the review I will post on the 25th of November. Entries in both posts will be considered for the giveaway.

Good Luck everyone!

48 Comments

Filed under giveaway, Pride and Prejudice