Saturday 8 July 2023

A Far Better Prospect by MJ Stratton - Except and Giveaway

MJ Stratton is visiting the blog today with a book which focuses on one of Jane Austen’s secondary characters; Mrs Hurst, formerly Miss Louisa Bingley, sister of Charles Bingley from Pride & Prejudice

We don’t see a huge amount of Mrs Hurst in P&P, and what we see isn’t necessarily to her advantage, although we have met her through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, so there is scope for her to be different to our perception. This is the heroine of A Far Better Prospect. Let’s look at the blurb and then I will hand over to M  Stratton for an except from the book and a giveaway opportunity.

Book cover: A Far Better Prospect by MJ Stratton - picture shows a woman in regency dress walking through a flower garden
Book Description 

Louisa Bingley had never defied her mother in her life, until she found something she wished to fight for. In love with a man with close ties to trade, Louisa refuses to give him up when her mother demands it.

But Mrs. Bingley is not to be reckoned with and through despicable means manages to force her daughter into a much more ‘appropriate’ marriage to a gentleman named Mr. Hurst.

Married to a man she does not love, the newly wed Louisa Hurst must learn to navigate her husband's expectations and demands while still holding on to the threads of herself. Through all of this she must also survive the malice of her younger sister Caroline, a responsibility thrust most unwillingly upon her.

Convinced contentment in life is all that she can expect, Louisa finds herself quite unexpectedly free to pursue her own happiness. But does she dare take the chance at allowing herself to feel again?

Along with Jane and Lizzy and all our favorites, Louisa Hurst gets her own happy ending in this Pride and Prejudice Vagary.

Excerpt from A Far Better Prospect

This excerpt begins right after Louisa’s marriage. She is about to get a taste of her husband’s complete lack of consideration for her.

* * * 

Book cover: A Far Better Prospect by MJ Stratton - picture shows a woman in regency dress walking through a flower garden
            The rest of the journey to London was much the same; they traveled most of the day and stopped at different inns at night. Five days after leaving Scarborough, they arrived in London. 

The carriage pulled to a stop in front of an elegant house on Wimpole Street. Mr. Hurst exited the carriage and turned to hand her down. He tucked her arm in his and they climbed the steps to the entrance. The door swung open and a liveried man bowed as they entered. 

“Welcome home, sir,” the man intoned. 

“Thank you, Brisby,” Mr. Hurst said. He handed his hat and gloves to Brisby, who Louisa assumed was the butler.

Mr. Hurst did not introduce Louisa to the man. In fact, Louisa was somewhat chagrined to realize that none of the servants were gathered to be introduced to their mistress. She kept her peace, certain that it was simply an oversight. She was proven wrong when Brisby met her eyes inquisitively. It was clear to Louisa in an instant that the butler had no idea who she was. Hurst seemed to pick up on the tension and finally said something.

“Oh, Brisby,” he said dispassionately. “This is Mrs. Hurst. We were married almost a week ago.”

Brisby’s eyebrows shot up before an expressionless mask fell over his countenance. “Congratulations, sir,” he said tonelessly. “Would you like me to assemble the servants?”

“Do not bother,” Hurst said. “We will be departing for Bath in a week or so. Perhaps just introduce Mrs. Moore.”

Louisa was dismayed. Not only had her husband failed to inform his household that they would have a mistress, but he was not going to introduce her to them! Only this Mrs. Moore he had mentioned would be told. It was altogether unusual, to say the least. 

Brisby, the well-trained servant that he appeared to be, showed no reaction.

“Well, come this way, Louisa,” Hurst said. “I will show you to your room.”

Given the fact that the household was apparently unaware of her, Louisa doubted her chambers were fit to inhabit. Brisby seemed to agree.

“Perhaps you would care to repair to the sitting room for some refreshment first,” he said. “Mrs. Potter has prepared your favorites, in honor of your return.”

The thought of food easily swayed her husband. Hurst agreed and changed direction, leading Louisa to a room that overlooked the street. In a short time, tea and refreshments arrived and Louisa set about serving her husband before she settled into a comfortable chair with her own cup. A pleasant breeze drifted through the window as she drank.

Mr. Hurst followed his usual pattern and ate with much enthusiasm. After he was done, he leaned back in the chair and folded his hands over his rotund stomach.

“After I show you your chambers, you may occupy yourself however you see fit for the remainder of the day,” he directed her. “I have some things I wish to accomplish in my study. Dinner is served at seven each night. I expect you to be in the sitting room by six thirty each evening so that we might go to dinner together.”

Louisa nodded silently before venturing to speak. “Who is Mrs. Moore?” she asked timidly.

“She is the housekeeper,” Hurst replied. “You may arrange meals and a maid for yourself with her help. There is no need for you to do much else, since we are to depart for Bath shortly.”

Louisa nodded again. When her husband rose a moment later, she followed suit. They exited the room and walked toward a staircase leading to the upper floors. The pair climbed the stairs together and walked down the hall. Several servants carrying white cloths bustled past them and into a door off to the side.

Mr. Hurst stopped outside a pair of doors and reached out to open them. “Here are your chambers,” he said. “The sitting room is through there.”

He did not walk Louisa into her chambers, but left her there at the door and departed without another word. Silently, Louisa went the rest of the way into her room. The windows were open and a cool breeze blew the curtains gently. Despite the fresh air, Louisa could detect the musty smell hanging about of a little used room. The maids in the hall made sense; the household had been entirely unprepared for her presence. It was obvious that the servants had made good use of the time Louisa and Mr. Hurst had spent in the sitting room.

The room was comfortable, though sadly out of date in its decor and furnishings. There was a large bed at one end and a good-sized fireplace dominated one wall, with two comfortable looking chairs stationed in front of it. The windows boasted a view of the back garden, which was bursting with fragrant blooms; their scent floating pleasantly through the window helped to freshen the air.

There was another small room that was clearly meant to be a dressing room, though there was more space than Louisa’s belongings could fill. Overall, her chambers were nice, and Louisa was pleased to call the space her own.

A short while later, a stern-looking lady bustled into the room with a maid in tow.

“I am Mrs. Moore,” she said. “I am terribly sorry that you were not greeted properly when you arrived.”

“Think nothing of it,” Louisa said calmly. It would do no good to anger the lady, after all. 

Mrs. Moore seemed pleased with her response. “This is Milly,” she said, indicating the maid. “She is a good candidate for lady’s maid, if you approve of her.”

“Thank you,” Louisa replied. “We shall give it a go and see how we get along. Now, perhaps we might discuss meals for the next few days?”

Milly dipped a curtsey and moved to unpack Louisa’s trunks while Mrs. Moore and Louisa discussed meals. Before the two left, Louisa instructed the maid to return at six to prepare for dinner. 

Louisa spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering the house. She found an excellent library amid her explorations and chose a few books to take back to her rooms. The gardens proved to be as delightful as Louisa had anticipated and there was a quaint little parlor at the back of the house that she could claim for her personal use. She returned to her room pleased with all that she had seen. 

Milly arrived promptly at six to help her dress for dinner. The gown Louisa chose was newer, having been purchased for her season. It was a pale rose color and accented her complexion nicely. Milly proved adept at styling hair and arranged Louisa’s in a most flattering way.

Louisa arrived in the sitting room promptly at six thirty. Mr. Hurst was already there.

“You are late,” he said testily.

“On the contrary,” Louisa replied. “I am right on time. It is just six thirty now.”

“If you keep me waiting, you are late,” Hurst retorted. “You must learn your place here. Your entire existence is to please me and do my bidding. If you cannot do so, then what purpose do you serve?”

Louisa had never felt more like property than she did in that moment. She knew, of course, that when a man married a woman, she became his in every way, but she had never expected to feel so much like a piece of furniture. Instead of retorting like she wished to, she swallowed and said meekly, “I understand. Please forgive my tardiness. I shall do better in the future.” As she uttered those words, she felt a little more of herself die.

* * *

Oh my days, poor Louisa! Mr Hurst seems horrible! However, the blurb has hinted that he will be a problem of the past for Louisa before long. That must be a nice power for an author to have, killing off unkind characters :) 

Author Bio

MJ Stratton is a long-time lover of Jane Austen and her works, having been introduced to Pride and Prejudice by a much beloved aunt at the age of 16. The subsequent discovery of Austenesque fiction sealed her fate. After beta reading and editing for others for nearly a decade, MJ started publishing her own work in 2022. MJ balances being a wife and mother with writing, gardening, sewing, and many other favorite pastimes. She lives with her husband and four children in the small, rural town where she grew up.

Book cover: A Far Better Prospect by MJ Stratton - picture shows a woman in regency dress walking through a flower garden
Buy Links

A Far Better Prospect is available to pre-order for Kindle now – it releases on 11 July.

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

Giveaway Time

MJ Stratton is giving away 3 ebooks of A Far Better Prospect over this blog tour. Please use the linked rafflecopter to enter. You will need to have a Facebook login to enter.


Note about comments:  If would like common on the blog post and you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

* * *

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

Subscribe to Babblings of a Bookworm

If you'd like to be friends on Goodreads then please invite me - just say that you visit my blog when it asks why you'd like to be friends with me.




  1. Poor Louisa! (I never thought I would say that!) Thank goodness Mr Hurst doesn’t appear to be around for long. What with him and Caroline it would be a miserable existence indeed. Glynis

    1. I know, I felt the same reading this excerpt. Louisa isn't very likeable in P&P but of course we only see one side of her and not at her best.

  2. Carole in Canada9 July 2023 at 13:39

    Oh, I hope Louisa doesn't have to put up with him for long! The reality of the times is certainly conveyed in this excerpt! I look forward to reading it! I am not on Facebook.

    1. Being a woman back certainly had some serious drawbacks!

  3. Via the contact form:

    I agree with the others above about Louisa and hope that we will see some joy come back into her life. ~ Glory

    1. Yes, me too. Thanks for contacting me to comment, Glory!


If you're not logged in to Google please leave your name in your comment or it will post as anonymous. Thanks! - Ceri