ANNA: I’m thrilled to be able to introduce one of the upcoming stars! I promise you that you will see more of her in the future! She made her debut in Hope for Mr. Darcy, the first book in the Hope Series Trilogy by Jeanna Ellsworth. It was just published about five weeks ago. You will fall in love with this sweet and lovely girl. Please welcome, Avelina Gardiner!
AVELINA: Thank you so much for hosting me, Ms. Horner. It is tru…truly an honor.
ANNA: You may call me Anna. You must be nervous. Is this your first interview?
AVELINA: Yes, Anna. I am only fourteen, but I will be fifteen this summer! My father said he is planning a day trip to the other side of London to visit the butterfly garden.
ANNA: Oh! I know you of all people would love that! You may never leave! Mr. Gardiner is your father, correct? And you are Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s, or the soon to be Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy’s, niece.
AVELINA: Yes ma’am. Lizzibell, as only her father and I call her, is like a sister to me. She never asks me to go inside before I am ready. And she lets me tell her all about the butterflies I catch and then draw.
ANNA: I understand that drawing, being outdoors, and wildlife, especially insects, are your passions in life. Most young ladies your age would be swooning over officers and the latest fashion plates. But not you, why? Oh dear, did I embarrass you? Well, I certainly do not intend to make you more nervous. How about we share what Miss Elizabeth herself has said about you in Hope for Mr. Darcy.
AVELINA: Oh please do not! I fear it might make me sound peculiar or abnormal.
ANNA: Oh no, in fact, if you are pressing me to come up with adjectives, I would say it makes you sound intriguing, lovely and distinctive — a rare find in the characters of young girls these days.
Elizabeth looked on as her oldest cousin, Avelina, was examining intently the specimen in front of her. She was getting very mature. She still had a young woman’s slim hips and petite shoulders, but her tiny waist hinted at her maturity. Many other fourteen-year-olds did not look quite so feminine. Elizabeth knew Avelina’s height made people assume she was older than she was. But despite her feminine form, her interests were far from ribbons and lace. Asking her to choose between shopping for a new bonnet and polishing her new rock left one feeling foolish for asking—for Avelina would always choose the rock.
She had a thirst for nature like Elizabeth, which endeared her to Elizabeth even more, for her young cousin was always willing to go on long walks. But while Elizabeth simply enjoyed her surroundings and the fresh air and sunshine, Avelina was quite a talented naturalist, diligently studying each rock and insect along the path and illustrating her finds in chalk and pencils.
ANNA: See dearest? It is not so dishonest, is it? May I lift that chin of yours? Truly, you must be very tenderhearted. Yes, I have an excerpt for that too. Sit tight while we share it.
But above all, Avelina was tenderhearted and kind. If Elizabeth were to compare her young cousin to anyone else in the family, she would say that Avelina was very much like her sister Jane, so the young girl held a special place in Elizabeth’s heart.
AVELINA: I do try to be. I am quite good at making a female blunderbus of myself sometimes. May I share a part of Hope for Mr. Darcy?
ANNA: By all means!
AVELINA: Well, this is a section that the widowed Charlotte Collins shared once. She was just beginning to…well, she was in the family way and it was no longer something that she could hide.
Attempting to change the topic to something less strained—as the last few hours had been filled with nothing but strain—Charlotte stood and turned her profile to the side and placed her hand on her lower abdomen. “What do you think, Avelina, do I look like I am in the family way yet?”
Avelina blushed. “I do not know the proper response to that question,” she hesitated. “I do not wish to say the wrong thing. You have a fine figure, Mrs. Collins. The swelling is most becoming.”
They all laughed briefly, and Charlotte sighed. She could never have done this without these ladies.
ANNA: Oh yes, I remember laughing at that section. From what I have heard, you have made quite the impression on several readers. Not many minor characters get a mention in the reviews. It must be quite the shocker.
AVELINA: It may not be obvious, because I prefer rocks and insects, but I do love a good fairy tale and happily ever after. I loved to sit with her sister Jane and her and hear the story of the two wealthy friends and the fair and witty sisters. In Hope for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth got so very ill, and had a special dream while she was ill. This section I will share with you is when Elizabeth had barely had enough strength to travel to London to recover with my family. She still had come to an understanding of her dream and she was missing Mr. Darcy very badly, although she did not admit it to anyone.
Avelina was bent over looking into her glass jar, studying her new specimen intently. Elizabeth came up and placed a hand on her shoulder and said, “So, what kind is it?”
“It is a Painted Lady butterfly, a form of Nymphadilae. A male. You can tell from the markings.”
“He looks like the one you already have,” Jane said.
Avelina looked up and smiled. “He is! Now I have a male and a female. I have found a prince for my princess!”
Elizabeth and Jane took turns asking questions of the very knowledgeable Avelina while Edward tried to calm his two younger brothers. “Can they mate?” Elizabeth asked.
“Absolutely. That is what makes it so exciting! It is so romantic! Just think of it, Elizabeth, after turning down all the other ladies who tried to claim his notice, he has finally found his companion! Can you imagine how ardently he must love and admire her?”
Elizabeth was shocked by Avelina’s wording. “Pardon me, I am fatigued,” she stammered. She quickly turned and went inside. But distancing herself from her innocent cousin’s words did not make them echo in her heart any less.
ANNA: Their story is a beautiful one. And you truly were a source of strength and hope for her when Elizabeth did not have “Hope for Mr. Darcy” to return and renew his addresses. I cannot say more or I might give away spoilers. If I understand it correctly, you make short debuts in Hope for Fitzwilliam and Hope for Georgiana! Is there any chance we can get a sneak peek into Hope for Fitzwilliam?
AVELINA: I was hoping you would say that. I actually brought one with me. It makes me laugh. This takes place after the Darcy’s wedding, a few weeks before Colonel Fitzwilliam — who is in love with the widowed Charlotte Collins — must go to war. This is from Georgiana’s perspective. Colonel Fitzwilliam is such a lady’s man! His flirting is atrocious though, but the look he gives Charlotte Collins should be bottled and sold! I hope to capture it one day in a drawing. Well, I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Hope for Fitzwilliam, the second book in the Hope Series Trilogy, which will be published August 1st!
Richard could be so obnoxious! Georgiana came and pulled Richard away from Avelina. “Ignore my cousin, Avelina,” she instructed. “Do not let him see your pink cheeks, for it only adds fuel to the flame. The man has no scruples when it comes to winning a lady’s affection. He cares not who or how many; the goal is simply to capture and conquer. And I have seen many ladies fall victim. But have no fear; I will let you in on a secret that will assist any lady to resist his unwelcomed advances.” She sent a sly look to her cousin.
“Is that so? And what secret could possibly have such an effect?” the colonel countered.
Georgiana tried not to giggle as she said, “Dear Richard, if you understood the basic definition of a secret, then you would know better than to ask. There is no getting it out of me. You think your charms, generous smiles, and flirtations will work on anyone; but I happen to know they do not.” Richard seemed to flinch slightly at her comment, but she couldn’t back down from her threat now. “Sorry, Cousin. We may share a bloodline, but my loyalty lies with Miss Gardiner.”
When he seemed to have recovered from the verbal spar, Richard made an exaggerated grimace. “What? Are all such family loyalties so easily broken? Dear Georgiana! You wound me!” Then turning to Charlotte and looking intently at her, he added, “No matter. I shall prevail. If I want the attention of a beautiful lady, Mrs. Collins, I can get it, with or without my nearly-seventeen-year-old cousin’s help.” Richard then bowed deeply to Charlotte. “Now, if you ladies will excuse me, I feel the need to explore my masculine side before our shopping spree tomorrow.” He turned back to the Gardiners and said, “I do hope you plan to stay for dinner.”
Mrs. Gardiner giggled, “We would be delighted, thank you. My husband will arrive in an hour, and I have no doubt that he will be most eager to join you with your quest for male-validating activities.”
“Splendid! You may tell Mr. Gardiner that I await him in Darcy’s study. I will begin my mission there, by partaking of a very manly brandy.” Richard looked once more at Charlotte, and then he paraded out with a flirtatious flip of his coattails.
As soon as he left the room, the ladies burst into giggles. Avelina spoke first: “It is just the same with butterflies, you know. Are you aware that a male butterfly has more colorful markings than a female?”
Georgiana laughed. “Really?”
“Oh yes,” Avelina assured her, feigning a serious tone. “The male butterfly’s coloring is so vivid that the female is nearly drugged with the sight of him.”
She stifled another giggle before continuing, “But of course, male butterflies do have one advantage over the gentlemen of our species: they possess no verbal form of communication. Fortunately, most gentlemen know that they should keep their mouths shut if they wish to receive the attention of a female.”
Georgiana laughed and said, “Why, Avelina! I did not even need to tell you my secret!”
ANNA: Oh dear! You made me laugh so hard I have tears in my eyes! You are very insightful! I thought you said Colonel Fitzwilliam was a lady’s man! He did not do a very good job of being charming! In fact…
AVELINA: Yes, he did not know that being himself is the only way to make Charlotte trust him. He will try everything to earn the love that he thinks he will never have. That is what the Hope Series is about. If you are passionate about something or someone, yet it is unrequited, often it feels hopeless and shatters your reserve.
ANNA: Yes, a truer statement could not be said, and yet, ladies and gentlemen, we have heard it from a fourteen year old, whose wisdom far exceeds people twice her age. Unfortunately that is all the time we have time for today. Miss Avelina, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I thank you for being my guest today!
Jeanna Ellsworth is kindly giving away a copy of Hope for Mr. Darcy to one of my readers. The winner will have the choice of a Kindle ebook (open internationally) or a paperback (U.S. only). Please leave a comment with your email address, your book preference, and why my interview with Avelina has made you want to read Hope for Mr. Darcy. This giveaway will close on Sunday, June 12. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post.
Jeanna also would love to interview a reader regarding their love of Austen/JAFF/reading or answer questions about her and her writing on her blog, www.heyladypublications.com, or on www.AustenAuthors.net. If you are interested, please leave a comment or send her a message on Facebook (Jeanna Ellsworth Lake).
© 2016 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.