Jessie Lewis back to the blog with the blog tour for her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, Fallen, which is released today. Let’s take a look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Jessie for an excerpt from the book. Quills and Quartos are also offering a giveaway of an ebook of Fallen to a commenter on this blog post. Read on for details.
The air was all gone, and coldness overtook her, as though she had fallen into icy water and was sinking into the blackness. Her stomach churned, as it was wont to do these days. He would not marry her. She was ruined.
THE ARRIVAL OF TWO ELIGIBLE GENTLEMEN at Netherfield Park sends ripples of excitement through nearby Meryton. But Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy are not the only additions to the neighbourhood raising eyebrows. An unremarkable cottage in the woods between Netherfield and Meryton also has new tenants. One of them—a lively little girl with an adventurous spirit, a love of the outdoors, and a past shrouded in mystery—draws the notice of more than one local.
ELIZABETH BENNET—YOUNG, INTELLIGENT, and UNFASHIONABLY INDEPENDENT—forms a poor first impression of the haughty Mr Darcy. On closer acquaintance, and against her better judgment, her disgust begins to give way to more tender feelings. Yet standing in the way of any potential romance is the closely guarded history of a certain little girl in a cottage in the woods. Elizabeth might be ready to disclose her hidden affections, but she is about to learn that some things are better kept secret, and some hearts are safer left untouched.
Guest Post from Jessie Lewis
Fallen ostensibly follows the same timeline (though with vastly different things occurring behind the scenes) as Pride and Prejudice. This is a scene taken from the middle of the book, when Elizabeth is staying at Hunsford with her friend Charlotte. Having accidentally glimpsed a side of Darcy that he had thought to keep secret, her walks with him in the grove are proving a little bit more successful than in canon. For now…
“I should be very happy to see it,” she replied and accepted his proffered arm. They walked along a path she had early on dismissed as less scenic than most others. After about a quarter of a mile, they reached a slight bend in the path and Darcy turned them towards a large shrub, behind which another path opened up before them.
“Oh! I missed this route entirely when I was exploring. I always go the other way.”
“When Sir Lewis first had the folly installed, this was a far better kept path. But my aunt never liked the place—you cannot get to it by carriage—and it has fallen into disuse since his death. I ought to mention it to the steward but there seems little point when nobody visits it.”
“I shall visit it, now I know of this path. But do not have it cleared on my account. I rather like the idea of a secret trail to a secluded folly.”
Elizabeth was so intent on taking in her surroundings, she did not realise they had fallen back into silence until Darcy spoke again.
“Has your fondness for walking been gratified here in Kent?”
“Aye, very well indeed. The park is beautiful.” She paused to unpick a clinging bramble from her pelisse. “And I have only got lost half a dozen times.”
“You are remarkably intrepid, Miss Bennet. I do not know any other lady who would be unconcerned about getting lost in the woods.”
“I can better manage a woodland path than all the passages and rooms in that place,” she replied, pointing at Rosings, which could just be seen through the trees.
He nodded. “It has undergone many changes over time that have resulted in a less than intuitive arrangement of the rooms. Of course, it will not take a seasoned explorer such as yourself very long to familiarise yourself with it. Once you understand the layout of the upper floors, the lower ones will make much more sense.”
“That is of little use to me, Mr Darcy. I am not so intrepid that I could sneak past the footmen and wander Lady Catherine’s private rooms unchallenged.”
“Not on this visit, no. Be careful here, it is slippery.” He indicated to where the path narrowed and inclined steeply. Already flustered by his odd allusion to her being granted unrestricted access to Rosings in the future, Elizabeth grew more agitated still when it was necessary to let go of his arm to walk ahead, for she did not recall taking it. How long had they been walking arm in arm? Feeling herself colour deeply, she forged ahead up the slope.
On reaching the top, she forgot her discomfort entirely. The folly and the panorama surrounding it were beautiful. She had envisaged a vast, ornate construction, dominating the rise in consonance with all the de Bourgh family’s other design choices. In fact, the folly was a dainty stone rotunda, with several stone benches, a sweet domed roof, and four pillars, three of which were draped with trailing wisteria. It looked as much like a fairy house as anything she had ever seen. “Anna would love it here!” she whispered to herself.
Elizabeth jumped; she had not realised Darcy was so close behind. “I was just...I thought...it is lovely.”
He continued to look at her fixedly, though he did not appear angry. She wondered whether he had heard what she said and was pleased by it, but she was not about to risk endangering anybody by enquiring. Instead, she walked away to enjoy the view from the brow of the rise. “It is a spectacular vantage point. I confess, I had thought Kent was entirely flat.”
“It is, compared to Derbyshire, but picturesque nevertheless.”
“How close are we to the sea here?”
“About twenty miles.”
“How far is it to France?”
“About seventy. Why?”
“I am only curious. I have never been this close to the continent.”
“I do not think my aunt would like Rosings to be thought of as almost in enemy territory.”
Elizabeth pulled a face of ambivalence as she reflected that it seemed a singularly accurate description—and was mortified to be caught at it. Darcy had walked just far enough ahead that when her silence bade him turn towards her, he met her eyes directly. She pressed her lips together against a laugh, anticipating his disapproving glare, but it never appeared.
“I believe she has been more used to consider Kent as The Garden of England,” he replied, and the way his mouth moved as he said it made it seem as though he, too, was withholding a smile.
“People say all sorts of silly things to commend the places in which they live. Anyone who lives within forty miles of London will tell you they live in the Home Counties, as though anywhere north of Cambridgeshire is a foreign country. Mr Goulding is adamant that Cornwall is the Heart of England, but he grew up in Penzance, which I have always thought looked much more like England’s Big Toe.”
Darcy laughed—only a small, soft chuckle, but it rendered him so startlingly handsome that it distracted Elizabeth completely from what she was saying. Blinking away her surprise, she turned to stare fiercely at the panoramic.
“I shall always consider Derbyshire my home,” he said. “I think you would like it very well.”
“Well, you thought I would like this place, and you were right about that, so I daresay I would like Derbyshire, too.” It was the first thing that came into her head, spoken hastily to cover her discomposure, but she wished she had said something that sounded less like one of Miss Bingley’s panegyrics.
“I have been gone far longer than I told Charlotte I would be,” she said abruptly. “I ought to be getting back.”
He conceded with a small bow and no further comment, for which she was grateful. She rather resented his offering his hand at the top of the slope, however, for she disliked the implication that she required his assistance—until she slipped on the loose stones, at which point she laughed unrestrainedly at herself and thanked him for his foresight.
“You seem very close to Mrs Collins,” he said when they were able to walk side by side again.
“Aye, she is a dear friend, and among the most level-headed of all my acquaintance, which I value greatly. Though, I have had occasion more recently to question her judgment.”
Darcy’s small smile satisfied her that he took her meaning. “She and Mr Collins seem happily settled, though.”
“Aye, they are both delighted to be settled. Charlotte has the comfortable home to which she always aspired, and my cousin has finally been able to do something that pleased Lady Catherine. Whether they are quite as delighted with each other is less clear.”
He smiled more widely at this but did not reply. He seemed deep in thought, and Elizabeth left him to it, pleased to have learnt the difference between his pensive silences and his disdainful ones. He appeared startled when she said good-bye at the turning to the parsonage and, if she was not mistaken, a little embarrassed by his absence of mind. She hoped her parting smile was assurance enough that she was not offended. Indeed, she was more inclined to wonder what he had been thinking.
* * *Author Bio
Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken, Speechless, and The Edification of Lady Susan, enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English Language. She has always been particularly in awe of jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children, and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.
You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter, or on her Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author.
Fallen is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Jessie has other titles available in audio so fingers crossed for audio readers that this one makes it to that format at some point too!
Quills and Quartos are offering to give away an ebook of Fallen to a commenter on this blog post. To enter, just leave your comment. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :) Q&Q will choose a winner from the comments on 22 January.
Blog Tour Schedule
Visit the other stops on the tour to learn more about Fallen and have another chance to win a copy.
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