Friday, 28 December 2018

The Avenger by Don Jacobsen - Book 6 in Bennet Wardrobe Collection - Blog Tour

Blog Tour: The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament by Don Jacobson
I'm pleased to be welcoming Don Jacobson back to Babblings of a Bookworm. The latest book in his Pride & Prejudice-inspired Bennet Wardrobe series, The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament, is now available, and this is the first stop on the blog tour, which features a guest post, excerpt and giveaway!

If you're new to this series, let me explain a little about it:

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.

Let's look at the blurb for The Avenger, and then pass over to Don Jacobson for his guest post.

Book Cover: The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament by Don Jacobson
Book Description

Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages. 

Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But, he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life.

Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs. Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, t’would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness.

Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone… 

The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe – an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.
Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days

Guest Post by Don Jacobson for Babblings of A Bookworm
As we read Pride and Prejudice, we come to understand that everyone in the book—from Elizabeth to Darcy, from Jane to Bingley, from Mr. Bennet to Mrs. Bennet—exhibit behaviors that demand remediation. However, during the magisterial novel, only the romantic tetrarchy is shown to learn enough to alter their inherent natures. The remaining characters, while crying out for change, are never allowed to grow past their dramatically-necessary caricatures. Caroline sneers. Mary glowers. Mrs. Bennet flutters. Mr. Bennet ignores. Lydia flirts—or worse. And, Kitty coughs.
The Bennet Wardrobe grew out of my sense that the people populating the original novel, and toward whom the main characters reacted, deserved some form of redemption. Perhaps deserved is not the best word. If I were to reframe my motivation as a question, then I would ask What sort of person would __________ become if allowed to overcome their inadequacies? Have you ever wondered that as you read the Canonical books?
My device to allow an exploration of the growth of the secondary actors was the Bennet Wardrobe. On its surface, the Wardrobe allowed each to find a possible outcome that was rooted in both Miss Austen’s original sketch as well as my own suppositions about the structure of their psyche.
I have treated with Mary and Kitty Bennet in The Keeper and The Exile (parts 1 and 2).
In The Avenger, I consider the state of Longbourn’s father, Thomas Michael Bennet.
Bennet’s need is clear. He is described, at best, as an indolent man and an indifferent father. As we imagined that Mrs. Bennet would calm after Jane and Lizzy marry, so, too, did Mr. Bennet begin to change after the double weddings.
By the time we come upon Bennet in late 1814 (the earliest point chronologically in The Avenger), he has had nearly three years of Fanny Bennet’s moderated nerves, has spent considerable time engaging with Mary now a socially-conscious woman, and has encountered the loss of a daughter who could not survive, let alone thrive, one more moment in Longbourn’s precincts. All of this has prepared the ground for change but is not the frame within which a new picture of the Master of Longbourn can emerge.
Yet, he cannot do anything without another. And, that becomes the center of this novel: a revitalized love story wrapped in an adventure full of noir themes.
Just as Tom Bennet cannot change without another, neither can Fanny Bennet. While she is not a child of the Wardrobe, that cabinet has determined (yes, we do begin to see the Wardrobe as a personality unique unto itself) that for Mr. Bennet to change and grow, so too, must Mrs. Bennet. The couple must rediscover their love which was first ignited in a Meryton parlor in 1789. With that love comes new-found respect.
I also use the story within The Avenger to explore something which is even more important to me; my belief that the Wardrobe Universe, nay, our universe, is powered by love. Not just any generalized sort of affection, but rather ardor which carries specific freighted meanings. I use Tom and Fanny Bennet as the primary vehicles to explore this.
I refer you to my extension of C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves (Storge, Philia, Eros, Agape). To me, the Wardrobe is powered by two additional loves: The Fifth Love (Exagoras agapis—the love which drives us to be the best versions of ourselves) and The Sixth Love (Synchotikí agape—the love which forgives). These transcends the other forms, in my opinion, because these are active forms driving humanity rather than states of being. Perhaps they could be considered those forms which must be undertaken by the Bennets to re-ignite their agape.
Jane Austen wrote using, without articulating, the Fifth and Sixth Loves, so I do not feel like I am moving too far away from the Austenesque formulation. Consider the work Darcy does to make himself a better man to win Elizabeth’s regard. Likewise, consider the way in which Elizabeth explores her notional constructs and grows beyond her adolescent surety to overcome that which has prevented her from seeing the goodness in the center of the Derbyshire gentleman. That is the Fifth Love!
As for the Sixth Love: once Bingley has shaken himself loose from his dependence upon the opinion of others (a Fifth Love process), Jane uses the forgiveness that is the Sixth Love to allow them to share a lifetime of happiness. So, too, with Darcy and Elizabeth.
Only after Tom and Fanny Bennet find their agape after moving through the Fifth and Sixth Loves, can they join with their descendants to avenge the terrible wrong committed against their family.
I do hope you will enjoy this excerpt from The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. I look forward to your comments.
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This excerpt is ©2018 by Don Jacobson. Any reproduction of this excerpt without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited.

T’is late-July 1947, about two weeks after Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have translated from 1814. Bennet had drugged Fanny to allow her to move unawares through the Wardrobe. His wish? To fulfill her desire to see Kitty whom she believed was at seminary in Cornwall but had left the earlier timeline for the future. But, as Lydia Fitzwilliam had noted, “The Wardrobe has a nasty sense of humor.” The Bennets had arrived three years after Kitty’s death. In this chapter, the Bennets leave Longbourn House to seek privacy for the conversation they must have about the Wardrobe, the where/when, and Kitty’s fate. But, some items must be discussed before others.
Book Cover: The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament by Don Jacobson
Chapter XIII
The path along the side of Oakham Mount gradually rose away from Longbourn’s fields and wound gently up through the ancient deciduous woodland. The undergrowth along the furrowed slopes bore testament to the benign neglect that had been the watchword for at least the last two decades. The economic calamities before and then after the most recent war had dictated different priorities for the current Master of Longbourn. That six-year long cataclysm had, itself, been a great winnowing that had stolen away and never repatriated great tranches of young men who might otherwise have been put to work by a competent forester clearing away the brush and juvenile trees that burdened the hump. Thus, the timberland had undertaken that which it had always: exercising its wooded privilege of entropy by reclaiming what Man had sought to turn to another purpose.
The two figures toiling up the slope would have appeared, to a Twentieth Century observer, to be play-actors stepping directly from the sound stages at Gainsborough Studios in Shepherd’s Bush.[i] Their quaint and stifling garb—she in a long-sleeved muslin gown, gloves, and a broad-brimmed straw sunbonnet and he decked out in pantaloons, waistcoat, and topcoat…as well as his planter’s hat—were redolent of a sesquicentennial celebration honoring Jervis’ great victory.[ii] The mid-summer heat simmered in full intensity above the leafy canopy. However, the couple was shielded from its glaring worst by shadows thrown by massive branches flying up and away from equally colossal trunks. The air beneath eased and freshened as the pair moved further up and away from the manor house now hidden by thickened forest. The great arbor dwarfed both the Master and his Mistress in all but the enormity of their contemplations.
“I always wondered how Lizzy could possibly wear out boots and slippers at the pace that she did,” gasped Fanny Bennet, “And, now I know. That girl was up top of this knob at least five days out of seven! And this trail…t’is new to me, but, and please correct me if I am mistaken, t’is also surely age-old when you consider how deeply it has been worn through that ledge up ahead.”
Bennet marveled at Mrs. Bennet’s powers of observation for he had never considered her able to leap beyond household matters where her knowledge and management skills were unparalleled. Here again she offered another compelling argument against his earlier estimation of her mind. This was no foolish female, but rather someone with a laywoman’s appreciation of natural philosophy and longue durée history.[iii]
He, himself, had penned a monograph in which he had employed the findings from excavations of the ruins atop Oakham.[iv] His colleagues at Cambridge had been perplexed to find old strongholds or watchtowers using even older stockades as foundations; stacking fortifications like so many pancakes.[v] Bennet had demonstrated, through the use of recovered artifacts, that the Romans as well as certain predecessor Celts had taken advantage of the full-circle field of vision afforded from the crest, effectively pushing the history of the Meryton region back by 2,000 years.
Thus, Fanny had the right of it, almost as if she had read his essay. Not only had the dainty booted feet of Elizabeth Rose Bennet trod this path, but also those sporting medieval English clogs and imperial Roman sandals. Perhaps the leathery bare feet of Wessex warriors were the first to ascend the chalky slopes. Oakham’s prominence above Longbourn’s rolling fields gave its owner control of the reaches of the Mimram Valley as it coursed through the alluvial deposits between the shire and the Thames.
Bennet stopped for a moment—as much to catch his breath as to respond to his wife—and asked, “Have you been listening at the door as Lizzy and I talked about archaeology?”
At his wife’s look of reproof, he raised his hands in defense and quickly added, “I was simply teasing, my dear. I was offering what turned out to be, I am afraid, a backhanded compliment. I am afraid, Fanny, that I will have to relearn proper behavior. I have been lax, and you have been the victim.
“Let me try a ‘forehand’ compliment.
“As you said, you have never climbed Oakham through all the years of your life. Yet, you just offered a sophisticated reading of the apparent antiquity of the path beneath our feet.
“You may recall my journey up to Cambridge in ’03. T’was then that I delivered my paper Considerations on the History and Pre-History of the Mimram Valley in Roman and Celtic Hertford to the fellows at Trinity.[vi]  You may have heard me mention the late Professor Gibbons. I thought to revise his assessment of the historiography of the scholars of the last century…”
His voice tailed off when he almost heard an audible <click> as she rolled her eyes in response to his rambling soliloquy. Bennet glanced expectantly at her. Those blue to near purple orbs peered up at him from beneath the brim of her hat; its lip fetchingly bowed down beside her ears by a broad azure ribbon tied neatly beneath her chin. A small smile played across her lips and showed a hint of even teeth.
She asked coquettishly, “And the compliment?”
Bennet stammered, having lost his ability to speak when she had speared him with those sparkling beams emanating from her orbs, “Uh…I meant to say…that…you sounded just like Elizabeth. Oh, no, not that…rather that Lizzy sounded like you! No…uuuh.”
He stopped talking, and, using his long legs, loped up the hill a few paces, leaving Mrs. Bennet standing where she had halted.  He then arrested his flight, and froze in place, his back to the lady, one fisted hand planted in the small of his back, the thumb worrying the forefinger as he sought to regain his composure.  Mrs. Bennet, using the wisdom earned through a quarter century of managing her husband, waited for his assured return.
After two or three minutes, during which she closed her eyes and focused on the sounds of the birds calling to one another across the forest, he rejoined her.
At first, a solemn Bennet faced his wife. Then the façade cracked to allow the wry Thomas to escape. He had begun to smile before long. Finally, he spoke to her.
“I thought I had become immune to your arts and allurements, so long has it been since I have appreciated you as an object of desire. Yet, when you turn those lighthouses of your soul…your incredible eyes…my way, I nearly forget how to breathe.
“Miss Frances, for now I address you as such because you sparkle much like the girl who poured me tea in her mother’s parlor facing out onto Meryton’s High Street, you are nonpareil. You are an original. You are the woman without whom I would not have become half the man I am today.
“Wait, that statement is not well put for you may believe I am implying that I became the indolent man I am because of you.
“On the contrary, I would have only become more lackadaisical and more withdrawn in my own anguish and pain if you had not found your way Home from whatever ring of Hades where you had found yourself after that horrible day in the Year Zero. Only the good Lord knows what would have happened to our girls if you had withered like a bloom way past its prime.
“Even though you were distracted, you found the path back to becoming the Mistress of my house and the truest, fiercest, and, might I suggest, only defender of our daughters.”
He paused, grief coloring his hazel eyes as he recalled all those years he had closed his heart to the woman he had loved for nearly a dozen before.
In a voice thick with emotion, Bennet continued, “As you so aptly noted earlier, I have the ability to convince myself of the veracity of my acts. And, upon reflection, that is what I did with you.
“T’was easier to ascribe your uneven moods to nerves or silliness. That allowed me to ignore my responsibility to you—for did I not vow to protect you that day you changed your surname to mine? However, what did I do to help you ride the waves of loss? Nothing…absolutely nothing!”
He shook himself like a sheepdog as if doing so would rearrange his turbulent feelings around his longish frame.
“Frances Lorinda, you are the soul that makes my life meaningful. I had forgotten that singular fact and, instead, began to find all the ways I could moderate and diminish my respect for you because I had lost my own self-respect. And convincing myself that you had a second-rate mind was the worst of my transgressions!
“True, you are unschooled as are almost all women in England. And, unlike Madame de Staël, you never had the advantage of a parent who would see to your informal education.[vii] That you bravely entered Longbourn, the estate of a Cambridge don, as the younger daughter of a country solicitor, and meekly submitted to instruction from first Sally Hill and then our current Mrs. Hill, speaks volumes about your modesty and self-effacement.
“Every step of the way you never asked what was best for you, only your family and Longbourn. I could not be prouder of you or your list of accomplishments that, I assure you, would put any female of the ton to shame. I imagine they would succumb to fits of vapors if they had to undertake half of what you have done since ’89!
“Now, all that remains is for me to beg your forgiveness and pray that I will live long enough to earn it.”
There amongst the softly swaying blades growing in the shade of Oakham’s boughs, Mrs. Bennet forgave Mr. Bennet in the tenderness of her wifely embrace.


[i] From the filming of, perhaps, The Young Mr. Pitt (1942). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Young_Mr_Pitt accessed 3/31/18.
[ii] The Battle of Cape St. Vincent (February 1797) is considered to be one of six fleet actions (the others being the Glorious First of June—1794, Howe; Camperdown—1797, Duncan; The Nile—1798, Nelson; Copenhagen—1801, Parker/Nelson/Graves; and Trafalgar—1805, Nelson) across the 25-year long war that confirmed British naval supremacy and enforced the Blockade against Napoleon’s Continental System.
[iii] See Fernand Braudel who argued that the regularities of social life altered almost imperceptibly except over vast stretches of time: centuries or even millennia. http://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/62451.pdf
[iv] Please see Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, Ch. XII.
[v] Not an unusual situation in human construction. See the ruins of Troy discovered by von Schliemann in the 1870s where he found over one dozen distinct cities built atop the ruins of the previous town.
[vi] T. M. Bennet, MA, unpublished mss, 1803, Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge University.
[vii] A leading French intellectual of the Napoleonic era. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germaine_de_Sta%C3%ABl

Book Cover: The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament by Don Jacobson
Buy Links

The Avenger is available to buy now in kindle or paperback - Amazon UK / Amazon US / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads shelf

Here is the link to the whole Bennet Wardrobe series - Amazon UK / Amazon US

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 Exileis 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

Website    


Giveaway Time!

Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. To enter, please use the rafflecopter below.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour: The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament by Don Jacobson28 Dec Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
29 Dec Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Giveaway
30 Dec My Love for Jane Austen; Guest Post, Giveaway
03 Jan My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, Giveaway
04 Jan So Little Time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
05 Jan My Life journey; Review, Excerpt Giveaway
07 Jan More Agreeably Engaged; Character Interview, Giveaway
08 Jan Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Giveaway
09 Jan From Pemberley to Milton; Excerpt, Giveaway

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9 comments:

  1. We all hope that Mr and Mrs Bennet would improve and change for the better

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    1. The Wardrobe needs the Bennets to begin to execute its greatest mission...one which will be developed as we move forward in the Series. Look forward to your review and comments.

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  2. Enjoyed the excerpt and am glad that this story focuses on Mr and Mrs Bennet.

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    1. Yes, I needed to rehab each of these two so they could move forward into the depths of the plot.

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  3. I enjoyed this post. Your continuation of the four loves to include the fifth and six is quite fascinating. You have made that reality a true part of the loves. I will always consider the extra two from now on as they are essential. This series of books is phenomenal!

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  4. What is core to me is that the Fifth and Sixth Loves are actually processes rather than states of being.

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  5. Congratulations Don and great cover Janet! You pull at every heart string with this novel!

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  6. Appreciate your thoughts. look forward to your review!

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