Monday, 28 June 2021

Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter - Blog Tour, Deleted Scene and Review

Book cover: Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Julia Winter, a new author, to the blog. Julia has written a Pride & Prejudice variation, Mistress of Netherfield, and she’s visiting here today with a deleted scene from the book and a giveaway opportunity. She was also so kind as to provide me an ebook of Mistress of Netherfield to read and so I’ll share my review below. Let’s look at the blurb first, and then I’ll hand over to Julia.

Book Description

It is a truth universally acknowledged that on escaping an unhappy marriage, a young widow will be delighted to remove to the dower house and lease the marital abode to a single man in possession of a good fortune, provided he looks elsewhere to fulfil his want of a wife.

Forced into an unwanted marriage at the tender age of sixteen, and freed six months later by the death of her abusive husband, Elizabeth Grayson (née Bennet) has finally found a measure of peace. The inheritor of her husband’s estate, Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is now a wealthy young widow, independent and self-reliant. With an eye always on improving her four sisters’ woefully small dowries and providing for her mother, who will be homeless when her father dies, Elizabeth is pleased to lease out Netherfield to the Bingley family from the north of England, making her home in the dower house in Meryton and vowing that she will never remarry.

Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire is rich and well-connected, but reserved in company with anybody outside the very few he counts as friends. Towards those friends, he is loyal and steadfast, the staunchest of supporters. So when a young man comes to him with a tale of the clandestine marriage and mysterious death of Darcy’s old schoolfriend, James Grayson, and begs Darcy’s help to investigate the widow’s role, Darcy agrees. Visiting Charles Bingley, the new tenant of Netherfield, Darcy is very soon torn between his loyalty to his dead friend, and his burgeoning attraction to the widow.

Throw two unprincipled rogues and an elopement into the confines of Meryton, and how will Darcy’s dilemma over Elizabeth ever be resolved? And is she willing to put aside her misgivings, and trust again?

(British English spelling and grammar used throughout)

Deleted Scene from Mistress of Netherfield, introduced by Julia Winter

Not everything written in the first draft of a books makes it through subsequent edits. There are a host of reasons for cutting something: it doesn’t add anything to the plot or characterisation, it’s from a self-indulgent author having fun, it slows the pace, or it’s made redundant by plotting changes later. Here’s a cut scene that I decided could be conveyed with much more economy, something of a consideration in a book the size of Mistress! 

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Book cover: Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter
Heigh-ho. Another Feast of St Valentine without a lover to share it with. She had a knack, it seemed, of turning off those who might aspire to the position, and so must suffer the consequences. She did not regret Mr Wickham, but perhaps— No. Elizabeth regretted none of them.

She needed a brisk walk to blow away introspection and something that was perilously like remorse. Not for having turning off all those aspirants, but, in one case at least, the manner of it. She could not be satisfied with her own conduct, and when remembrance swept over her, it was a lowering reflection. She, who had always prided herself on her discernment! A voice in her head insisted on repeating Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation, until she could only conclude she had no superiority of mind at all.

“I am become addlepated, Mary. If I do not go out to walk immediately, I am likely to be unbearable.”

Mary remarked that she was unlikely to notice the difference, but if Elizabeth was passing the haberdasher’s, early in the day as it was, she needed another skein of the emerald green silk.

Elizabeth opened her mouth to acquiesce to the errand, when the door bell was jangled in most discordant fashion. An instant later, and frenzied knocking was added to the general din.

“Good lord, what is amiss?” Mary put one hand to her mouth.

“I have no notion…” Elizabeth went to the door of the morning room, Mary on her heels.

A maid opened the house door, just as Thomas appeared, still shrugging himself into his jacket, a napkin from his breakfast clutched in one hand.

“Miss Lizzy? Is Miss Lizzy in? I bring word from the Squire. ’Tis urgent, he says.”

“Is that Jimmy?” Elizabeth came forward. It was. Mrs Hill’s youngest boy, working as stable lad. “Let him in, Sally. What does Mr Bennet need, Jimmy?”

“You’re to come at once, Miss. You and Miss Mary, both. And he says to bring Mr Rance with you, if you please.”

“What is wrong?”

Young Jimmy had all the innocence of an entire church full of choristers. “I dunno, for sure, Miss. Something bad. The missus is carrying on as if she were running mad.”

Which common occurrence quite failed to add to Elizabeth’s understanding of the situation.

“I’ll harness your phaeton, ma’am. It’ll be faster than walking. I’ll be around the front in five minutes.” Thomas tossed the napkin aside and went back through the servants’ door at speed.

Mary exclaimed something, and hurried up the stairs for her outdoor things. It was the closest she had ever come to running, probably, since she was a child. Sally hurried after her, to find Elizabeth’s pelisse.

A curling disquiet settled under Elizabeth’s breastbone. She and Mary were waiting on the steps when Thomas drove the low phaeton around.

Elizabeth drove, with Mary on the seat beside her; Thomas took the groom’s place standing on the iron step at the back. Jimmy ran to open the gates onto the Longbourn road. Thank heavens it was late enough that all the Friday market traffic had already passed into Meryton, and she could swing out of the gates and send the phaeton bowling down the road at a brisk pace, pausing only to let Jimmy jump up on Mary’s other side after he closed the gates behind them.

“Goodness!” Mary gasped out, clutching at the edge of the seat with one hand and her bonnet on the other. When Elizabeth looked sidelong at her, she was looking straight ahead, her lips slightly parted. “Do not slow for me, Lizzy. I will hold on.”

Elizabeth had no intention of slowing. She said nothing, but flicked the reins over the pony’s back and returned her attention to the road, straining to see Longbourn. Past the church, and a sharp left turn, and they were through the courtyard gates, Longbourn looking its usual placid self in the pale February sunshine. Two horsemen cantered around from the stable block. One, in a soldier’s bright uniform… Captain Carter? And John Lucas? What was John doing here?

John halted his horse beside her as she brought the pony to a stop. “Lizzy, I have no time to explain. Mr Bennet and Colonel Foster are gone north, and the captain and I are for the London road. My parents are with your mother and Kitty, and will tell you all. Bear up, my girl!”

“But—!”

But John only nodded and touched his heels to his horse, and was away, the captain with him. Captain Carter cast her one passing glance. She was struck by the expression on his face. She could not decipher it at all.

“I’ll look after the pony, Miss Lizzy.” Jimmy scrambled down from the phaeton and, with natural courtesy, helped Mary down.

Thomas lifted Elizabeth to the ground and followed as she and Mary hurried into the house. Her mother was upstairs, but her wailing greeted them, long and wavering and underlain with a shriek trying to break free.

Mrs Hill sagged when she saw them, reaching out welcoming hands that held a tonic bottle in one and a towel in the other. “Thank the lord, Miss! Sir William’s in the front parlour with Miss Kitty. Lady Lucas is up with the mistress.”

Another wail came from upstairs, and with an apologetic smile, Mrs Hill scurried up to deal with Mrs Bennet. Elizabeth, not stopping to shed her pelisse and bonnet, ran for the front parlour.

“Lizzy! Lizzy!” Kitty hurled herself into Elizabeth’s arms. “Oh Lizzy, thank heavens you have come!”

“What on earth is it?”

“Lydia, Lizzy! It is Lydia. She has eloped with Mr Wickham!”

 

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Book Cover: Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter
Mistress of Netherfield - My Review

I was really intrigued to read this book due to the blurb, there being such a difference in circumstances – if Elizabeth was a widow who had actually inherited an estate, rather than just living there until a remarriage I would imagine that she would have been extremely eligible. I am not sure how much an estate would be worth in terms of dowry, but surely it would eclipse Georgina Darcy’s £30,000, even if Elizabeth doesn’t have the same prestigious family connections. There is also the intrigue of the husband dying in possibly suspicious circumstances, so two good reasons to give this a read. 

Starting the book it’s immediately plain that Elizabeth’s marriage was not a happy one, and also clear that her hand was forced by her mother:

“You bestowed upon me such a notable husband, Mama, that I have no desire to make a second venture into matrimony. I thank you for the favour, but I am unlikely to be so fortunate twice.”

Charlotte, whose ear was as well attuned to irony as to condescension, again laid her hand on Elizabeth’s arm.

Financially, Elizabeth has been left well off following her short marriage. She has inherited Netherfield, which she lets out, and makes her home comfortably in the small dower house, which is in the village. Obviously, a young widow needs a companion, and her dear friend Charlotte has come to live with her. Elizabeth means to make her sisters’ futures as secure as possible. She has been saving to supplement their dowries, because her father, as in canon, hasn’t bothered to do so.

“Mama’s solicitude is for our happiness and security. She means well.”

“She is concerned for security, certainly. But I will have a care to make sure my sisters find happiness.”

Elizabeth is going to rent her house out to an eligible bachelor, a Mr Bingley, who will be accompanied by his sisters and friend, Mr Darcy. An old acquaintance of Darcy’s, Mr Grayson, has heard that he is going to stay at Netherfield, and approaches him. Mr Grayson’s elder brother was the previous owner of Netherfield – he moved into the area five years ago, married a local very quickly and 6 months later he was suddenly dead, leaving his young widow the estate, which the brother finds suspicious. Although feeling uncomfortable at the idea, Darcy agrees to take Mr Grayson with him to Netherfield in the guise of his secretary.  However, as in canon, Mr Darcy’s sister has recently had a near escape at Ramsgate, and he’s not convinced that a girl of sixteen, as Mrs Grayson was at the time of her marriage, would have entrapped a young man into marriage and then murdered him:

‘Well he was committed now, but without consideration and proof of wrongdoing, he would not be rushed into a hasty judgement of the widow Grayson. No matter how much her brother-in-law wanted it.’

Quote from Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter
This is obviously a more angsty set up than it first seems, because these type of suspicions are hard to forgive, even if Darcy doesn’t actually really believe Mrs Grayson is guilty of anything. Also, Elizabeth has clearly had a very bad first marriage, and has been burned by the experience. Add this to risking her social and financial freedom and it would clearly be a big gamble for her :

“I am merely more practical than you are. I am not romantic, you know.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Nor am I. Not now.”


One aspect I enjoyed about this book was seeing the differences in Elizabeth’s circumstances – she’s able to be more outspoken in society, etc. I thought it was interesting how society in Meryton had clearly rallied round her, despite the circumstances of her marriage. Some events in the book were the same as in canon and although I enjoyed seeing how some events were weaved in some others didn’t quite work for me, such as Mrs Bennet steering Mr Collins towards Elizabeth as a possible wife – Mrs Bennet resents him getting one estate, I don’t think she would be keen to give him another; I think she’d rather hedge her bets, and have the potential of two daughters to save her from the hedgerows should the worst happen.

Something to watch out for in this book is that there are descriptions and recollections of violence, which although brief, may be a topic that some readers may avoid as a trigger.

This book is quite long, at nearly 500 pages, which I know will really please some readers! On the whole I prefer shorter reads, but given the complications of the premise things will take some ironing out, and even more is added to these complications in terms of other events and behaviour. I enjoyed the ups and downs of this story and was kept guessing at what was going to happen next. I’d rate this as a 4 star read.

4 star read

Author Bio 

Once Julia was a communications specialist with several UK government departments. These days she's thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. She lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Contact Julia:

Email  |  Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

 

Book cover: Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter
Buy Links

Mistress of Netherfield is released today to buy on Kindle. I believe a paperback version is to follow.

Universal link to digital stores: https://books2read.com/

Amazon Store Links: Amazon.com  |  Amazon.co.uk 

• Add to Goodreads shelf

 

 Giveaway Time

 

Julia is giving away some prizes to accompany her blog tour. Between 21 June and 3 July, enter this Rafflecopter for the chance of a first prize of a copy of Mr Darcy’s Hunsford letter (complete with seal, and tied in red ribbon) and a copy of the eBook, or one of two second prizes of an ecopy of Mistress of Netherfield.

Link to Rafflecopter 

Note about comments:  If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

 

Blog Tour Schedule 

Check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Blog Tour: Mistress of Netherfield by Julia Winter



25 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me here today. Your support is much appreciated - as is the nice review!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Julia, and all the very best with Mistress of Netherfield!

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  2. What a fabulous premise! Can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the review.

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  3. I have a comment to add from Glynis:

    So, Lydia is still as stupid! I suppose if Wickham failed with Elizabeth, he’s after her money indirectly! I do hope Darcy supports her and gets rid of his ‘secretary’ 😉. I don’t mind long books as long as the angst isn’t too bad and I don’t have to wait until the end for ODC to get together 😉🥰

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  4. This post was intriguing from beginning to end. I am going to go against several of my "rules" and read this book: I usually don't like it when either of Darcy or Elizabeth is in a deep relationship prior to getting together and I don't like long books. But all of the info in the post has convinced me that this novel is worth it. Thanks, Ceri! Good luck with your release, Julia!

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    1. I am not a big fan of prior marriages either, but this one was (thankfully for poor Elizabeth) brief and some time before the book began, which made it easier.

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  5. Lovely review, Ceri. I can't wait to read it. I won't be participating in the drawing as I am not on any of the social media platforms. I wish Ms Winter all manner of success in the launch of this work. Good luck to all in the drawing. Blessings...

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    1. Hi Jeanne. Thanks for commenting. Julia has said that she can manually enter anybody who doesn't do facebook or twitter to the rafflecopter. Just drop her an email (juliawinterfiction@gmail.com) so she has your email address and she can add you in.

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    2. Thanks for that information, Ceri. Blessings.

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  6. So excited about this one. The paperback is in my Amazon cart already!

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    1. Hope you enjoy it when you read it :)

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  7. The premise is really interesting. Thank you for the review, and congratulations to Julia on the book. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Lucy!

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  8. Wow! This story sounds exciting. I loved the excerpt. I too am not on the social media platforms, but would love my one little chance to win this novel.

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  9. Haven't read this one and since I am not on social media cannot enter to win, sadly.

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    1. Hope you enjoy it when you read it Sheila.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this.Looking forward to reading all of Mr Darcy and Lizzy's interaction in this story. I do concur, how would she ever relinquish the freedom she has (no need to worry about money as well as no one to curtail her activities)

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    1. Absolutely. A financially independent woman is risking a lot to marry again, especially if she he had a bad time the first time around.

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  11. I am now a little more than half way through it. It has its angst and I know I will be sorry to have to put it down before bedtime tonight.

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    1. Although this book is long it's one that kept me reading as I wanted to know what happened next.

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