Friday 4 March 2022

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson - Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson
Many of you will be familiar with Don Jacobson’s The Bennet Wardrobe series which takes Austen’s Bennet family into the world beyond their time, as the wardrobe can transport them to other points in history. This is now the last installment in the series, The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy. Don has joined us as part of his blog tour for The Grail. He’s brought a guest post, excerpt, and the opportunity to win one of six ebooks.

Let’s look at the blurb, and then I’ll hand over to Don.

Book cover: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson
Book Description

“You must throw away notions of what you want.
Only then will you be free to accept what you need.”

—The Brown Guide to
Fitzwilliam Darcy, 1840

Long has the amazing Bennet Wardrobe involved itself in the affairs of Longbourn. Where before its actions have been cloaked in mystery, its purpose now becomes clear. The fey cabinet has molded the universes to strike a balance that can be achieved only by saving the greatest love story ever told.

Follow the paths taken by Pemberley’s master and mistress after their children are grown. See Elizabeth Darcy struggle to rekindle the love glow that has dimmed after a quarter century. Grasp the unaccountable pain her departure levels upon the entire Derbyshire family. Watch Fitzwilliam Darcy learn that which he must in order to become the best version of himself: worthy of his Elizabeth.

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy closes out the Bennet Wardrobe series.  The disparate threads spun by the remarkable women born to a Hertfordshire couple of insignificant fortune are woven together. These lives have become the tapestry that records the destiny of Jane Austen’s lovers, immortal in any here/now or where/when.

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Guest Post from Don Jacobson, Author of The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy

Being asked to sit on a panel—as I was in 2021—to discuss writing a series is an exciting thing. The honor was grounded in the assumption that you have something important to impart. Heady stuff! Easy to accept and exciting to imagine. But saying that you have written a series and explaining why you wrote a series are two entirely different conversations. The latter demands reflection, a complicated process when you are in the later stages of world-building.

I stepped back to the beginning of the Wardrobe. In the earliest moments of Wardrobe writing (2015), I was looking at a literary genre dominated by nothing but ODC portrayals in hundreds of JAFF novels. Variations of Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility,  and Emma were non-existent.

While P&P was a story for the ages, it was essentially a tale told within tight confines. Lest you think I decry Austen’s close-up style, allow me to note that the Mona Lisa is only 30 by 21 inches. However, I was more of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jette  sort. That masterpiece is composed of millions of dots and is a heady 81 by 121 inches. I wanted to visit a grouping beyond our two favorites: sisters and friends.

I felt that the three younger sisters were plot devices in P&P inserted for context or plot development. Of course, the classic plot device was Colonel Fitzwilliam whose sole purpose was to be an unwitting messenger of Darcy’s perfidy against Jane and Bingley.

Could these young women ever be anything more, or were they condemned to never change no matter how much they aged? Were they fully formed and unable to grow?

I wanted to discover a path for them to become the best versions of themselves.

That, friends, led to the Wardrobe: a device which would allow those of the Bennet bloodline to move to a frame of reference where they could learn that which they needed.

The universe within which the Bennet Wardrobe exists is an analog to the one fashioned by Jane Austen when she composed Pride and Prejudice in the early nineteenth century. Note that I accord Austen the rights to the act of creation. For me, though, this is a far more powerful idea than simply her composition of a fictional environment through which her characters moved—living and breathing persons interacting with each other and their world.

Solipsism—for that is the name of this—avers that the act of writing fiction creates the universe within which the fiction exists as reality. That gave me the license to expand all the characters in Austen’s magisterial novel into three dimensional persons. This also allowed me to insert new characters to add depth to the lives of Mary, Kitty, and Lydia.

Somewhere during the writing of the third volume—The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque—I found lacking that my earliest formulation of the cabinet. It was not just a bus which Bennets could use to move to the future and back. Rather, it had its own objectives for transporting Bennets. In a moment, I no longer was writing three standalone books tied together only by a common theme. Now, I could see the logic behind the characters and why they acted as they did in a series of punctuated episodes across decades and centuries.

Mary becoming the Great Keeper and a zealous defender of the Wardrobe was a logical extension of the iron-jawed woman into whom she had grown. Kitty blossomed into a deeply thoughtful woman who returned to her past to build the support system that served to foster the great design. Lydia was the catalyst for the final denouement, but like Moses, she could never cross into the promised land. Even Thomas and Fanny Bennet showed us that persons of a certain age could find love and become the best versions of themselves and do what all parents must.

The volumes became a biography of the Bennet family after the double weddings. However, it was an arc with a purpose, and a traditional Austenesque one at that. The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy fulfills that objective. Looking back across the previous seven books, we can see the path leading to the eponymous final book. The Wardrobe’s goal was to preserve the greatest love story ever told. Grail is a story that focuses on the great binary. Without the Bennet sisters, though, the Wardrobe could never execute its will upon the universe. With them, though, the wonder that began with a spinster lady bent over her writing desk brings readers—I hope—to a new understanding of the eternal characters and their supporting cast.

Book cover: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson

Chapter 43

The sight of a sleeping Elizabeth made Jane gasp.

“Oh, Lizzy,” she breathed, “how well you look after only one night’s treatment! This is indeed the age of miracles. I do wish I could be here when you awaken, but I fear I must leave you now. The Keeper of this age has insisted that I must return home lest I create temporal currents. I am not pleased with that edict. However, the Countess of Pemberley—yes, one of our later monarchs bestowed upon your family an unentailed earldom!—would not be gainsaid. She is a formidable woman. Even so, I gather she will discover that you are also a force of nature. Lady Pemberley had better watch out for her great-great-grandmother!”

Jane’s heart clenched as she tried to memorize Elizabeth’s features, which were still drawn but now suffused with a delicate blush of health. “Time grows short, Lizzy. Before I leave, a promise: I will stand as mother and grandmother to your children and descendants for as long as I am able.”

Her eyes were now moist with unshed tears. “So, my dearest Elizabeth, revel in this bright new day of wonders. You are not alone. You will find dozens ready to love you. And never forget that I, too, will be praying for you every day. I will write you through the Trust’s auspices…and if I am able, I will bring him to you.”

And with that, the eldest of the Five Roses of Hertfordshire blessed the second sister’s forehead with the softest of kisses and moved to the Wardrobe.

* * *

The door closing behind her shook Eileen from her trance. Seeking to regain her composure, she shot her cuffs and tugged at her jacket’s hem to tighten it around her shoulders. Then her head began to swivel as she stood post. She would know when to call the medical team back. The sound of the Wardrobe would be unmistakable.

“Is she inside?”

“Georgie: have you been taking classes at the Nursery? If so, you have mastered whisper-walking.”

“You must have been daydreaming, Cousin, or perhaps you are out of practice. ’Tis rare for anyone to be able to sneak up on you.”

Pemberley made to step past Matlock, her hand reaching out for the doorknob. She acted as though she was the local liege lord asserting droit du seigneur.

Eileen put the tiniest pressure on that spot in her brain where Rose rested. The splinter lifted herself above the background noise that was their melded personality, and a flash of blue ice altered her mien. “Don’t, Georgie. Simply…do…not. I have twenty years on you.”

Georgiana raised her hands in surrender, a soft smile on her lips, not one of fear but rather in grudging appreciation of another tigress defending a loved one.

Both ladies started when the sound reached them through the oak panel: a thousand bees buzzing and a pop as the room’s air was sucked inward to fill a void carved out by forces beyond comprehension.

* * *

Mistress’s Suite, Pemberley, April 23, 1836

The transition was instantaneous. One moment Jane was standing before the Wardrobe with Elizabeth, then both were gone with a rush of air. In the next instant, Lydia heard the thump of a weight landing inside the cabinet. She muttered a brief prayer for what would be revealed when the doors swung open.

She was sorely disappointed when only one voyager appeared. “Jane, where is Lizzy?”

“She is there and shall remain. She cannot return even if healed.”

Even if healed? Did you leave her there by herself? You did not deign to know whether she would be cured? HOW COULD YOU?

“Lydia, calm yourself and do not allow your inner Mama to run rampant,” Jane replied calmly as she stepped out of the Wardrobe. “In what universe could you imagine me abandoning our Lizzy?”

“Forgive me, dearest. That was unkind. We all have been under considerable strain. My patience is worn to a nub.”

Jane patted her sister’s slumped shoulder. “Lizzy’s death in this here/now was ordained. Even if I were unsure of the outcome, her passage through the Wardrobe could deliver no worse result. I could have simply pushed her into the hands of those awaiting her—which reminds me, I must write a letter to that Keeper to advise her of our arrival in that where/when so there will be a reception committee—and jumped back here. However, I doubt that the Wardrobe would waste its efforts simply for our sister to sleep the cemetery sleep far from here.

“Was she healed when I left? No, Lydia, she still was quite ill—unconscious, in fact. However, I was in a world where doctors wield remedies unimagined by the greatest minds today. What I can tell you is that the Elizabeth I carried was an empty husk when compared to the woman whose cheek I kissed five minutes ago. She has stepped away from the abyss and is beginning her climb to health. More I cannot—no—will not say. Now you must go and break Darcy’s heart. I cannot, for mine is already split in twain.”

* * *

Oh my days, this was a sad excerpt, although hopeful.

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Author Don Jacobson
Author Bio

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years, 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 nonfiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Since then, Meryton Press has re-edited and republished Keeper and the subsequent six volumes in the series. The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy is the eighth and concluding volume. Other Meryton Press books by Jacobson include Lessers and Betters, In Plain Sight, and The Longbourn Quarantine. All his works are also available as audiobooks (Audible).

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in history with a specialty in American foreign relations. As a college instructor, he taught United States history, world history, the history of western civilization, and research writing. He is currently in his third career as an author and is a member of JASNA and the Regency Fiction Writers.

Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the Austenesque world, Jacobson also enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine, and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling. Most days will find him “putting in the miles.” He has ridden several “centuries” (hundred-mile days). He is especially proud of having completed the AIDS Ride–Midwest (five hundred miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-a-Wish Miracle Ride (three hundred miles from Traverse City to Brooklyn, both in Michigan).

When not traveling, Jacobson lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and co-author, Pam—a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize.

Contact Info

Amazon Author’s Page  / Goodreads Site / Austenesque Thoughts newsletter / Author Website / Twitter  (@AustenesqueAuth)


Book cover: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson
Buy Links 

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. The previous books in the Bennet Wardrobe series are also available in audio so I am hopeful in time that this one will be available on audio too.

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf


Giveaway Time

Mertyon Press are generously giving away six ebooks of The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy to accompany the blog tour. To enter, use the rafflecopter linked below.



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

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour Schedule: The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy by Don Jacobson

March 1 So Little Time…

March 2 The Literary Assistant

March 3 From Pemberley to Milton

March 4 Babblings of a Bookworm

March 7 Savvy Verse & Wit

March 9 My Vices and Weaknesses

March 12 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

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  1. Looking forward to all of your comments! What did you think of the excerpt? By the way, it is the shrtest chapter in the entire book. Good luck on the giveaway.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. All the very best with this release, Don!

  2. Enjoyed the excerpt especially the comment "allow your inner Mama to run rampant" as that made me laugh out loud.

    1. I enjoyed that reference too. Whether it just meant inner-mother or inner Mrs Bennet, who knows!

  3. Fascinating to get the thinking behind the creation of the series, Don.

    Looking forward to my turn at this last book.

    1. Hope you enjoy the book when you read it.

  4. Thank you for hosting, Ceri. Good post, Don. This was a tough scene. It was touching and necessary, but still broke my heart. Well done.

  5. Thank you for the excerpt. Saddened by this scene...Heartbroken...


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