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Saturday, 3 March 2018

Cake and Courtship by Mark Brownlow - Blog Tour - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow - Blog Tour
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Mark Brownlow to the blog with his book Cake and Courtship, which has Mr Bennet as its protagonist. I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Mark for a guest post and excerpt. He's brought an international giveaway with him too!

Book cover: Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow
Book Description

When John Barton falls in love with the elusive Anne Hayter, there is only one man he can turn to for advice. Unfortunately, that man is Mr Bennet of Longbourn, a world-weary gentleman with five daughters pursuing their own marital ambitions.

To help John, Mr Bennet must emerge from his beloved library and face the challenges of the tearoom and dance floor one more time. In doing so, he finds his own romantic past catching up with him.

In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Mark Brownlow takes you on an Austenesque journey full of wry humour and Regency romance (with a few slices of sponge cake).

“As you get older, Lizzy, you will discover that life does not
bow easily to the wishes of even the most romantic of souls.
Quite the opposite. Life must be mastered with pragmatism
and sense, which explains why so few people succeed at it.“

Cake and Courtship is a standalone story, but also the first book of Mr Bennet’s memoirs. Look out for the sequel in 2018.

Guest Post and Excerpt from Mark Brownlow

Thanks Ceri for allowing me to drop in on your blog!

When I talk to people about Cake and Courtship, the question they tend to ask first is “Why Mr Bennet?” After all, he might be ahead of Mr Collins in the list of Jane Austen’s romantic heroes (who isn’t?), but he’s a long way behind Mr Darcy and Captain Wentworth.

The answer is part coincidence, part curiosity, and part inevitability.

“Coincidence” because, originally, I had no intention of writing a novel. I was simply playing with the idea of publishing Mr Bennet’s diary. He has some of the wittiest lines in Pride and Prejudice, so you can imagine how he might report on the Netherfield Ball, conversations with Mr Collins or the marital machinations of his wife.

But humour is not Mr Bennet’s only defining quality. There’s a cynicism to him, too. Even the hint of a cruel streak. This is when “curiosity” began to take hold. After writing a few diary entries, I found myself wondering what events and experiences might have moulded his personality and opinions?

Then I wondered how such a man might react if we took him out of his library and (back) into the world of courtship. What if Mr Bennet was charged with the task of bringing a young couple together?

And so a diary turned into a story, a story into a novel, and a novel into a romance. Not Mr Bennet’s romance, but that of a young friend and confidante. It gave me two canvasses to paint words on: Mr Bennet’s observations on the early events of Pride and Prejudice, and a fresh tale of love (and regret) as he tries to help John Barton court the elusive Miss Hayter. It’s that romantic thread that also reveals whether 20+ years of marriage to Mrs Bennet is the only cause of Mr Bennet’s cynicism (spoiler: it isn’t).

Which leaves us with “inevitability”. The obvious challenge for any author is putting themselves in the mind of their main protagonist. The more you identify with that protagonist, the easier this task becomes. I’m a middle-aged, world-weary father of teenagers, with a love of books, a touch of cynicism about me, and a dry sense of humour. Sound familiar?

The excerpt below is an example of the many places where the Pride and Prejudice story intertwines with both the new story and Mr Bennet’s perspective on life. Our protagonist has returned from visiting Netherfield and his daughters are curious about their new neighbour. 

He answers their questions at breakfast by comparing Mr Bingley with John Barton, who had visited Longbourn just a few days previously…

* * *

Book cover: Cake & Courtship by Mark Brownlow
My daughters ignored me until they decided to turn speculation about my future son-in-law into hard fact.

It was Lydia who broached the subject. “Is he very handsome, Papa?”

“His face is not unpleasant.”

“Yes, but is he handsome?” she urged, fists clenched.

“Jane,” I said. “Be a dear and pass the butter.” She smiled as she did so, doubling the pleasure of my morning roll.

Lydia’s fists beat a staccato on the table as she looked imploringly at her mother, who was thrashing a boiled egg into submission with a spoon.

Pausing in her dismemberment of that oval delight, my wife sought to reassure my youngest. “Of course Mr Bingley is very handsome, Lydia. Not that it matters with his income.”

“Money does indeed disguise many a disfigurement, girls,” I said. “Sorry looks may be of no consequence in a marriage, though a poor character may demand a price that twenty thousand a year cannot pay.”

The clatter of cutlery and glass continued while six minds fought a private battle between curiosity and compliance with a father’s wish for peace. Curiosity won, as it nearly always did.

“Papa, you must allow us some insight into Mr Bingley. The privilege of your sex allows you to visit him; we merely exercise the privilege of ours to ask questions of his character.”

“I do not deny you the right to ask, Lizzy; I am merely disinclined to answer.” I emphasised the point by lifting the paper to block my view of the table and, more importantly, the table’s view of me. “Besides, I am not used to describing young men. They are rarely sighted at Longbourn, so what I know of them comes mostly from books. My vocabulary would not do him justice.”

“Then we must take another approach, Papa,” said Lizzy. “You might simply compare him to other young men of our acquaintance. To John Barton, for example.”

“Interesting.” I lowered my paper. “Let me think. Well, let’s see. Yes, Mr Bingley’s eyes are decidedly bluer.” I raised the paper again. My statement produced nothing but groans from the table.

“Papa,” said Jane. “John’s eyes are chestnut.”

“Precisely,” I said from behind my protective printed wall. “And Mr Bingley’s are blue, so they are indisputably bluer.”

“Is he taller or shorter than Mr Barton?” said Kitty.

“He is,” I said.

“What about his hair?” said Lydia.

“He certainly had some.” I peered over the paper. “Does that help?” It seemed not, based on the girls’ expressions.

“You might at least say how he was dressed, Papa?” Lydia would not let up.

As I was old and married, fashion was now as mysterious to me as the supposed movement of the heavens. I resolved to give Lydia’s question more attention at my next meeting with Mr Bingley. “I am pleased to say he was definitely wearing clothes.”

Kitty and Lydia giggled. I turned down the paper enough to see even Mary raise a half smile. Mrs Bennet was still savaging her egg, which refused to give up its gold and ivory without a struggle.

“Is he a kind man, Papa?” A question only Jane would ask.

I folded away the paper and wiped all evidence of the buttered roll from my mouth. “I believe he is, Jane, I believe he is.”

“It does not matter if he is kind,” mumbled Mrs Bennet through a victorious mouthful of yolk. 

“When he has—”

“Four thousand a year,” chorused the girls before erupting into laughter. They knew their mother well.

* * *

Buy Links

Cake and Courtship is available to buy now.

Paperback:* |* | .de
eBook:* |* | .de | Kobo | iBooks | Nook / B&N
Goodreads: Book page

Author Mark Brownlow
About the Author

Mark Brownlow is a British-born writer living in Vienna, Austria. His debut novel, Cake and Courtship, is a Regency romance narrated by Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet.

Book cover: The Lovesick Maid by Mark Brownlow
He has also written a novella, The Lovesick Maid: a cozy mystery set in Jane Austen’s fictional village of Hunsford. You can find Mark at, where he is known for his reimagining of classic literature as emails. When not writing or teaching, he watches costume drama and football (though not at the same time).

Connect with Mark

 Website • Goodreads • Author page at • Author page at • Twitter • Facebook •

Giveaway Time

Giveaway books and chocolate
Mark is very kindly offering a giveaway to commenters on the blog tour. You can choose between a signed paperback of Cake and Courtship, or, as he lives in Vienna, some Viennese chocolates! To enter, just comment on this post by the end of the day on Friday 9 March. This giveaway is open to international entrants.

Other Blog Stops

Mark is visiting a number of blogs with Mr Bennet and Cake and Courtship. Details of the stops are below:

Feb 28 Diary of an Eccentric – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 1 Half Agony, Half Hope – review, excerpt
Mar 2 Austenesque Reviews – interview with Mr Bennet, giveaway
Mar 3 Babblings of a Bookworm – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 4 Laughing with Lizzie – Mr Bennet’s inbox, giveaway
Mar 5 From Pemberley to Milton – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 6 My Vices and Weaknesses – author interview, giveaway
Mar 7 More Agreeably Engaged – guest post, excerpt, giveaway
Mar 8 So little time…so much to read – Mr Bennet’s diary, giveaway
Mar 10 Just Jane 1813 – guest post, excerpt, giveaway

Giveaway stops

* * *

If you don’t want to miss any of my future posts, please subscribe:

Plans for March 2018

Hello to all of you, and happy March! They say that if March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb, and hopefully that will be the case. We had quite a bit of chaos here yesterday and today because of heavy snow. We can sometimes go a whole year without seeing snow, and if we do get snow often it doesn't even settle because it'll be quite wet snow, but the snow this week has been powdery and drifting with the cold winds. I went out with my kids to have a snowball fight earlier, and it was like a film, the snow was like icing sugar! This would have been ideal reading weather in other years but due to technology I have been able to work from home and have had no additional reading time!

On a personal level March is a stressful/exciting time because we are due to have building work starting on our home. We have a very standard home for the UK, two reception rooms, tiny kitchen on the ground floor. What we're having done is having a kitchen/dining room built on the back of the house and the existing tiny kitchen will become a utility room. It'll be awesome if all goes to plan, but will take a few months of stress and upheaval to get there. Wish me luck!

Cake and Courtship by Mark Brownlow
So, you are not hear for my weather reports and building updates, but to find out what reading plans I have for the month! Let me tell you about the visitors who are currently planned in. Firstly, I will be welcoming Mark Brownlow, who has written a novel focussing on Mr Bennet, Cake and Courtship.

The Darcy Saga by Ginger Monette
We'll be taking a look at Ginger Monette's Darcy Saga novels, which are now available in a combined volume. These are set in WW2 and have had wonderful reviews.

Book cover: Mysterious Mr Darcy by Monica Fairview
I also hope to be welcoming Monica Fairview, with her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, Mysterious Mr Darcy. This sounds very enticing, as there is some sort of mystery about Mr Darcy before he comes to Netherfield and Elizabeth is curious to find out what it could be. I am curious too!

Book cover: Alone with Mr Darcy by Abigail Reynolds
As I've mentioned before, I am part of an Austenesque reading group on Goodreads. It's a lovely group, and if you'd like to join you will be sure of a welcome there. March is the Dusty Shelf Book Scavenger Hunt, where you have to dust off one of the books you've been meaning to read for over two years. The scavenger clue is that it has to be a variation, or feature Miss Austen as a character. Since there is currently snow, I am planning to read Alone With Mr Darcy by Abigail Reynolds which sees Elizabeth and Darcy getting stranded together. Sigh!

What do you plan to read this month? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, 26 February 2018

A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity, By A. D’Orazio - Blog Tour - Review and Giveaway

Blog Tour: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Amy D'Orazio back to Babblings of a Bookworm with the blog tour for her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity. I was lucky enough to reading the book for this stop, and I was really excited to do this, because I've spent many happy reading hours enjoying the stories she shared on the A Happy Assembly site (login required). Amy was a contributing author to the popular anthology Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues which I haven't read yet, but am looking forward to. She has also published a full length novel, The Best Part of Love, which I haven't yet been brave enough to read! I was reading it in installments online, and the angst levels were too much for me wait for the next chapter! I was a little concerned that this would be an angsty read as well because I'm such a wimp, but I reasoned that it would be easier if I had access to all the chapters and could find out what happened immediately!

I'll start off by sharing the blurb with you and then we will move on to my review of the book. There's also an opportunity to win a copy.

Book Description:
Book Cover: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio

Is not the very meaning of love that it surpasses every objection against it?

Jilted. Never did Mr. Darcy imagine it could happen to him.

But it has, and by Elizabeth Bennet, the woman who first hated and rejected him but then came to love him—he believed—and agree to be his wife. Alas, it is a short-lived, ill-fated romance that ends nearly as soon as it has begun. No reason is given.

More than a year since he last saw her—a year of anger, confusion, and despair—he receives an invitation from the Bingleys to a house party at Netherfield. Darcy is first tempted to refuse, but with the understanding that Elizabeth will not attend, he decides to accept.

When a letter arrives, confirming Elizabeth’s intention to join them, Darcy resolves to meet her with indifference. He is determined that he will not demand answers to the questions that plague him. Elizabeth is also resolved to remain silent and hold fast to the secret behind her refusal. Once they are together, however, it proves difficult to deny the intense passion that still exists. Fury, grief, and profound love prove to be a combustible mixture. But will the secrets between them be their undoing?

My Review

Book Cover: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'OrazioA Short Period of Exquisite Felicity picks up about a year after the events of P&P,  but things have not ended as they did in the original book - instead of staying behind at the inn at Lambton to read Jane Bennet's letter, Elizabeth went for a walk with her uncle and aunt and bumped into Mr Darcy. There she had a chance to apologise for her previous behaviour towards him, he had a chance to renew his addresses to her, and so began a short period of exquisite felicity, 9 days to be precise, where Elizabeth and Darcy were betrothed. No announcements were made, as Mr Bennet's consent was yet to be sought. Then Elizabeth sent Darcy a letter breaking off the engagement. No explanation was proffered by her, or sought by him, regarding why the engagement was broken. Darcy has spent the last year trying to get over his broken heart, and trying to understand why.
'It astonished him to think it had been above a year since he had last seen her. A year since he had heard her laughter and witnessed the sparkle in her eyes. A year since he had felt the lightness of her touch on is arm and—dare he think of it?—felt the warmth of her breath against his mouth and tasted the sweetness of her lips.
A year since she had savagely ripped his still-beating heard from his chest and stamped it beneath her dainty little foot.'
The past year has seen many changes in the Bennet family too - Mr Bennet has died, and three of his daughters have married. Jane is now Mrs Bingley, Lydia is Mrs Wickham, and Mary married the parson who replaced Mr Collins at Hunsford, plus both Jane and Lydia have become mothers. Lizzy has lived with a more distant relation for the best part of the year, at a spa town, as she has been quite ill during the last year.

Darcy joins the Bingleys' house party initially believing that Elizabeth is still away. Once he realises that she will be joining the party he is torn between never wishing to see her again and feeling compelled to do so. He needs to know why she broke off the engagement but shrinks from finding out in case the answer to that question may hurt him even further. Is a short period of exquisite felicity all the happiness he can ever expect in life? To forgive her seems as impossible as ever loving another.
'The notion of seeing her might put him at sixes and sevens, might fill him with despair and sorrow, and might rob him of sleep. But still, the alternative—to go away and not see her—was far, far worse.'
I felt like this was a book of two halves, in one respect. The first half was quite slow moving. We see thoughts and feelings mostly from Darcy's perspective, but we are also privy to Elizabeth's and both of them are so heartbroken. They are fearful of being hated by the other, he is angry, she is sorrowful, and they are both in such pain. I felt that this part of the book went on for too long once they were able to be on civil terms, particularly as so much could have been cleared up just by having a simple conversation. You just wanted them to hurry up and speak to one another, and the only thing that prevented them from doing so was that neither took the opportunity to do so.

After the halfway point the story really took off for me. There were some plot points that I foresaw, but there were some twists that I wasn't expecting, and I love that in a story, particularly as due to the nature of JAFF, a lot of stories have similarities.

Some of the characters weren't as I expected either. You so often see them presented in the same  ways that you come to anticipate particular behaviour, yet, if you go back to Austen's characters, so many of them are lightly sketched, so that there is scope for them to be different. A particular character was moved quite a way from their usual JAFF persona which may not please everybody - it's not a character I am particularly fond of from Austen's book, so it didn't bother me at all!

I liked that Elizabeth learned something about her own character - she is a very private person in P&P, and this is something that is considered here. In P&P Mr Darcy is also very private, but he opens himself up to Elizabeth, making himself vulnerable. Elizabeth keeps things to herself until far later in the book.

A minor character I particularly enjoyed was the elder Fitzwilliam brother. We never meet him in P&P, though of course we know he exists as Colonel Fitzwilliam is the second son, so this is an opportunity for an author to have free rein in creating the character. Lord Saye is so funny, and came up with some very Oscar Wilde style quotes.
'Saye cleared his throat. "This is neither proper enough for polite society nor scandalous enough to interest me, and therefore, I beg you would stop."
I would recommend this book to JAFF lovers, particularly those who are fond of angst. Although the level of angst isn't that deep, it goes on for quite a while. I would make sure you have planned in some reading time because I wouldn't have wanted to break off during the angsty bit and pick up later. I started the book early enough in the evening that I could read right through

Once through the angst, there were some plotting twists and turns which you could either try to fathom out, or just sit back and see where the author takes the story. I enjoyed the fresh take on the characters away from the norm, the betrayal that I only partly suspected, the magnifying effect of character flaws on events. A particular highlight of this book for me was the dialogue, it's often witty and sparkling. I would have liked a bit more romantic page time between Elizabeth and Darcy, though, as a lot of their time together is spent very uncertainly.

There are no sex scenes in the book but the book isn't prim and proper and there are references to bawdy behaviour, though not by E&D.

For me, this was a four star read. I look forward to reading more of Amy D'Orazio's works as they are published.

4 star read

Buy Links:

The book is available to buy now, in kindle and paperback. - Amazon US / Amazon UK. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelves.

Author Amy D'Orazio
Amy D’Orazio’s Author Biography:

Amy D’Orazio is a former breast cancer researcher and current stay at home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in about equal measures. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh PA.

She has two daughters who are devoted to sports which require long practices and began writing her own stories as a way to pass the time she spent sitting in the lobbies of various gyms and studios. She is a firm believer that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses and happily ever afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker.

Contact Info:  

• Website • Goodreads Author Page • Twitter • Facebook • Pinterest     

Giveaway Time!

Book Cover: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio8 eBooks of A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on February 21 – until midnight ET on March 8, 2018.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.

Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour: A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity by Amy D'Orazio

February 21 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
February 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
February 23 Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 24 My Vices and Weaknesses / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
February 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway
February 26 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
February 27 Savvy Verse and Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
February 28 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway
March 1 So Little Time / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 2 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
March 3 Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview
March 4 Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway
March 5 Diary of an Eccentric / Guest Post & Giveaway

March 6 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Bennet Wardrobe: The Countess Visits Longbourn - by Don Jacobson - Blog Tour - Guest Post and Giveaway

Blog Tour - The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don JacobsonToday I'm very pleased to be welcoming Don Jacobson back to Babblings of a Bookworm with the latest installment of his time travel Bennet Wardrobe series. I'll start off by explaining something about the Bennet wardrobe, for the uninitiated of my blog visitors, and then we will take a look at the blub of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, and I'll pass over to Don for a guest post and excerpt. Plus, there's an international giveaway. Phew!

Intro to Bennet Wardrobe

What is the ‘Bennet Wardrobe’? Well it’s literally a wardrobe, but it’s no ordinary piece of furniture. It can transport people of the Bennet bloodline forward in time for a period, and then transport them back to their original time. The time traveller doesn’t get to choose when they travel to; it’ll take them to a period that will teach them something they need to know.

Book Cover - The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

Guest Post from Don Jacobson

Acts of Creation in the Austenesque Wardrobe Universe

Most fans of Austenesque Fiction have engaged in that oft-pleasant pastime of Daydreaming about their favorite characters. You may be sitting in a window seat with a well-thumbed copy of Pride and Prejudice.  On the other side of those crystalline panes rests your pretty little wilderness. Only, you are not imagining taking a walk on paths familiar to you in your present, but rather those snaking between Mrs. Bennet’s coveted flowerbeds behind Longbourn.

Will you overhear Lady Catherine abuse Elizabeth over her interest in Mr. Darcy? Perhaps you will chance upon Kitty and Lydia, heads together, plotting to meet Denny and Wickham. Or, will you simply drink in the beauty of a Hertfordshire day beneath the rising crest of Oakham Mount?

Whatever your destination, you have stepped into the reality created by Jane Austen. You believe that the Bennets and their broader circle are fully real; that Longbourn exists; and that the events described by Austen took place. You have partaken of the “world as myth” which is a literary device known as solipsism. Solipsism posits that the act of writing fiction creates the realities in which that fiction exists.

The speculative fiction master Robert A. Heinlein employed this approach in his majestic work The Number of the Beast (1980).
“As in many of his later works, Heinlein refers to the idea of solipsism, but in this book develops it into an idea he called "World as Myth" — the idea that universes are created by the act of imagining them, so that all fictional worlds are in fact real and all real worlds are figments of fictional figures' fancy…” 

Thus, by extension, the daughter of the rector of Steventon created a whole new universe within which Pride and Prejudice is an account of the real interaction between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. While she populated it with a number of persons and events, much of the terrain outside of Longbourn/Meryton, Pemberley/Derbyshire, and London/Darcy House/and Cheapside remained without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep.  In other words, Austen’s process of imagining her fiction did not extend beyond her narrative needs.

That was left to other writers to fill in…some writing in an Austenesque spirit, and others, like Patrick O’Brien and Graham Wilson, writing of things Napoleonic and Georgian/Regency. Essentially Captain Jack Aubrey, Ross and Demelza Poldark, and Richard Sharpe existed but were not mentioned in the Canonical novels was simply because Miss Austen had not met them.

The Bennet Wardrobe books become part of the Austenesque universe after the appearance of the Wardrobe at Longbourn Once Gibbons constructed it in the 1690s and delivered it to Mr. Christopher Bennet, the fabric of the cosmos was irrevocably altered creating the a backstory to the Longbourn saga. Now, the history of England within which the Longbourn of the Bennets existed split off to allow the Wardrobe tales to develop.

By this point I can imagine a number of readers seeking out references to mental health professionals in the Seattle area, all the better to help me avoid hurting others or myself. I assure you I am not fey. On the contrary, I have accepted that the easiest way for me to create the framework in which the Bennet Wardrobe stories exist is to treat the Wardrobe as real and the Pride and Prejudice world as equally real. Then, the stories become histories.

Consider that the leading characters appearing in the Bennet Wardrobe stories are able to interact not only with personages from our own history, but also those found in other works of fiction.

Book Cover: The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Journey by Don Jacobson
For instance, in the first Volume of the series, Mary Bennet encounters an original character in the streets of Meryton, naval Lieutenant Guillaume (Will) Rochet. Not interesting until you learn that he is serving aboard Post Captain Jack Aubrey’s Surprise. Aubrey is the main character of Patrick O’Brien’s 21 book series of Napoleonic War stories.

Likewise Mary, after her marriage to the Rector of Kympton, Edward Benton, comes face-to-face with a young Catholic Priest, John Henry Newman after a particular tragedy that brings the two confessions together to consider the welfare of weeks-old twins. The advantage of creating a universe is that I was afforded the liberty of making John Newman a Catholic from birth rather than a later-in-life convert which ultimately led to his elevation to Cardinal.

Book cover: Henry Fitzwilliam's War by Don Jacobson
In subsequent books, historical events and persons along with great fictional characters blend into the workings of the core characters of the Wardrobe. In Henry Fitzwilliam’s War, the hero falls victim to a horrible British miscue during the battle of Loos in 1915 which allowed released poison gas to blow back onto their own troops.

Book cover: The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque sees Kitty Bennet nursed back to health by Aline and Pierre-Auguste Renoir under the watchful eye of Sigmund Freud. And, Henry Fitzwilliam consults with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson as he searches for Kitty. As for The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn, Captain Richard Sharpe from Bernard Cornwell’s stories encounters both the Dowager Countess of Matlock as well as Lieutenant George Wickham in Regency London.

I found it fruitful to consider the Wardrobe, the Bennets, and all of my other characters in the stories as being part of a new reality created by Jane Austen as she write her overarching novels. You willingness to join me on this journey through another world is gratifying to me and, I hope, a worthwhile endeavor on your part.


Book Cover: Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess by Don Jacobson
The Bennet Wardrobe books are best read in the following order:

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

Book Cover - The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson
Excerpt (Copyright Don Jacobson)

The Dowager Countess of Matlock has departed from Longbourn after her meeting with Mr. Thomas Bennet. She is now in the offices of Wilson and Hunters in Lincoln’s Inn in the City where she is meeting with the Bennet family’s London solicitor, Mr. Frederick Hunters, from another branch of the Bennet family tree.

Chapter XI

Mr. Hunters’ acumen brought Kitty up short—not that she expected to continue her deception with the one man Papa seemed to trust beyond all others in this current world, even more so than Uncle Edward Gardiner. Hunters’ incisive manner clearly brooked no prevarication on her part, so she offered none, but rather spent the next twenty minutes briefly revealing her history in the future. All the while, she clutched the massive gold signet ring.

When she had finished this day’s second recounting of her experiences in the Twentieth Century, Hunters leaned back in his chair, hands curled over the knurled ends of the arm rests, looking much as kings of old may have when they viewed an emissary from a distant kingdom. His eyes bored into hers from beneath beetled brows.

At her expectant look, he said, “You, therefore, are the fourth of Bennet’s five…Catherine Marie. I had not known of your junior sister’s behavior, and I cannot suggest that I even remotely approve. The damage to the family would have spread far beyond Longbourn. Conceivably both the Collins and Hunters lines could have been tainted.

“But, we must accept that her die has been cast and, while eggs were assuredly cracked, it does appear that a soufflé has been made. All of us owe a considerable debt to your brother Darcy.

“However silly your sister may have been, I cannot entirely condemn her…or, for that matter, your mother. Lydia was full young to be out, but that is only the result of your mother’s terrible fear of losing her home and having her children suffer in the event of your father’s demise.

“And it all circles back to that contemptible entail Richard Bennet put on the property.”

Hunters paused and motioned to Kitty, indicating he wished her to return his ring. She leaned forward and slid it back across the walnut expanse.

Once he had replaced the device upon his right ring finger, the Master of Lincoln’s Inn continued,

“My Uncle Richard, your father’s grandfather, placed the entail on Longbourn right after his heir, George, was killed in a logging accident and Samuel had not been heard from for months while he faced the French in Braddock’s force in the Pennsylvanian wilderness. The middle child, a daughter, Maude, had already married that slimy man, William Collins.

“Richard was absolutely terrified that he himself would expire, that Sam would not survive the army, and that Collins would ultimately control everything through Maude. In Uncle Richard’s eyes, the entail would ensure that Longbourn—and the Wardrobe—would safely pass to his younger sister’s line and through to her eldest son: me.

“Once Samuel returned home and fathered not one, but two, sons, the entail seemed moot. That was, until Edward decided to vanish—Thomas told me that he used the Wardrobe. Then it all fell to your father.

“And we know how that turned out; a Collins will find fortune.”

Kitty pondered her cousin Frederick’s discussion of the entail that had been of monumental importance throughout her childhood. Yet, through the paradox of her trip to the future and then her return today, she knew what Mr. Hunters did not and could not…that, while Longbourn was indeed destined to be inherited in a few years by the current generation’s William Collins, an oleaginous specimen to be sure, he would never possess it. That would be left to a completely different Collins, the offspring of the match between him and the former Charlotte Lucas—little Maria Rose.

Yet the fear of being thrown into the hedgerows had so shaped Mama’s behavior that she impressed it upon not only the youngest daughters but also the entire neighborhood. The inference that Bennet girls were desperate to marry was ultimately used by both Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy to cast doubt upon Jane’s feelings for Bingley.

Kitty cleared her throat and stated the obvious, “Well, Cousin Hunters, the events of the past day have surely reduced that overwhelming worry. Four of the Bennet girls have found their mates, either in this time or another, leaving only Mary to tend the home fires. And, I can assure you that Mary will be all right.

“Now, however, we must be concerned about the Wardrobe and its fate, although the simple fact that I was able to translate to 1886 indicates that we found a satisfactory solution.

“As I mentioned, I am Keeper in my time. As such, I would task you to undertake this business as the Wardrobe’s advocate. The furniture is just that to all but those of us who know its secret. It, however, has no voice that we can hear, so we must speak on its behalf.

“If I am not mistaken, Master Gibbons’ Wardrobe is not part of the remainder which encompasses all of the real property that is Longbourn and is subject to the entail.

“Rather, it is personal property which may be bequeathed to any of my father’s daughters. And there is only one who can be considered: Mary. ¹

“Please urge my father, when he comes to Town to finalize the paperwork for the Bennet Family Trust, that he should name Mary Keeper. I, too, in my own manner will push him in that direction, as I am certain that he has not given it any thought. He must also stipulate in his Will that the Wardrobe is a keepsake that belongs to Mary. Furthermore, she must immediately remove it from Longbourn before Collins takes possession.

“I would encourage you to contact my Uncle Philips in Meryton who handles most of Papa’s country business.”

1)  For an excellent discussion of Regency-era entails, please see Regina Jeffers’ blog post Inheritance and the Need for a Widow’s Pension in Jane Austen’s Novels published 11/6/17 at 

Author Don Jacobson
About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Don


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Book Cover - The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson
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Blog Tour Schedule

Check out the other stops on the blog tour - details below:

Blog Tour - The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson
Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 24 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA