Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘book excerpt’

It’s always a pleasure to welcome Don Jacobson to Diary of an Eccentric, and he is here today to celebrate the latest book in The Bennet Wardrobe Series, The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this series, and I hope to get a chance to read the books soon. In the meantime, I loved reading about the newest installment, and I hope you all enjoy Don’s guest post and excerpt as much as I did. Please give him a warm welcome!

****

Broken and Renewed in Greater Glory

“Love does not creep in upon cat’s feet. Nor does it storm about like an early cyclone. Love washes over you, leaving you in wonder and holding the hope of the world in your hands. Love steals your heart, breaks it, and then returns that organ back to you, glorious in its scars as if a kintsugi master has mended every crack with a golden resin. ‘Tis different, but no less beautiful than the unwounded original. Rather ‘tis something to be celebrated for the depth of its lived-in context.”

 Captain George P. Wickham, GCB[i]

The universe within which the Bennet Wardrobe exists is full of surprises. Who would have ever imagined that George Wickham would have become such an astute observer of the most elevating emotion a human can experience: love.

However, that is not the text of today’s guest post. Rather it is the nugget contained within Wickham’s declaration: “…glorious in its scars as if a kintsugi master has mended every crack with a golden resin.”

In 2015, I attended a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar in Santa Fe exploring the influences upon the art of Georgia O’Keefe. O’Keefe was of the school of Modernists who eschewed the older forms of American realism and European Impressionism. They sought to create the new art, the art of the Post-World War I American world, that responded to the broad-shouldered and vital landscape that was the United States from 1919 to 1950. Not for them was the nonsense of Dada, nor the idyllic beauty of late-Monet, but rather the raw and gritty reality of an all-night diner (Nighthawks, Edward Hopper, 1942) or O’Keefe’s skyscrapers (1926-29).

One of the guiding books that helped focus the Modernists was The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (1906). Okakura was an aesthete, a Japanese expatriate who, I believe, mourned the loss of the “old” Japan as Emperor Meiji dragged that country into the 19th Century. I found the philosophies contained in this little volume to be compelling.

The Book of Tea explored the idea of teaism, the Zen of which was exemplified in the complex ritual of making something so simple and so common as a cup of tea. The essential beauty of the process celebrated the perception that the effort to understand the meaning of every step taken in the tea ceremony was, in itself an achievement. Each element involved in the tea ceremony, from the house to the cups, contributed to the overall significance of the ceremony.

The step from tea to people was, for me, small. I became impressed with the idea of kintsugi as being a worthy metaphor for how people grow from their initial firing.

This is a bowl that I repaired using the Japanese art form of kintsugi with urushi lacquer and gold powder.

When is a cup more than a cup? Consider serving tea to a guest. True, you could pull out an old stoneware mug which would serve as a vessel for the hot liquid: not much more meaning to it than something against which to clank your spoon.

However, what if you chose to serve the beverage in one of your mother’s Wedgewood teacups…you know, the ones you have been moving from house-to-house in the years since she died? What recollections would they inspire in you? What stories would you tell your guests?

And, what would those reminiscences inspire within your guest?

Suddenly a simple cup of tea becomes so much more.

And the Japanese understood that.

In the modern-day world, we readily dispose of cracked or damaged items. How often have we swept up the remnants of a victim of the law of gravity? Now imagine yourself in Kyoto. The cherished pieces of your family porcelain would be collected and taken to a kintsugi potter.

This master would reassemble the pieces of the cup, but rather than using invisible glue to hide the cracks to the best of his ability, he highlights each fissure with golden resin. Attention, thus, will be called to its altered state. This cup will assume a place of honor, to be the first offered to a guest rather than relegated to the back of the cupboard to be used only if there is no other available.

Why?

Because the cup has, through its worldly experience, assumed greater meaning. Users would calm themselves and contemplate the significance of the repairs, the cracks, the shape of the mended pieces, and the emotions the meditation engenders in their breasts.

These cups have become what we define now as art.

As I formulated characters throughout the Wardrobe Series, I always looked at where they had been left by Jane Austen and then considered where I wished them to travel in their development: so, too, with Wickham and Lydia. Yet, with both, and particularly Lydia, I felt that they needed to find their lives to be a greater force upon them. Truthfully, they did have a greater distance to overcome.

Art portrait of woman covered in clay

In the quote above, Wickham articulated much of what I had contemplated: that the scars of a lived life make that existence more meaningful.

Eventually, Lydia came to understand this process, painful as it was, with the Stoicism that she had absorbed from Richter. Young Mrs. Wickham began to see that pleasure and pain were necessary parts of life to be experienced instead of avoided. Is that not a radical alteration of the Lydia Bennet who frolicked across the pages of Pride and Prejudice? She looked at her soul and considered the scars lacing across that entity and knew that, like a kintsugi teacup, she had been transformed from her commonly understood meaning as established by Austen (do not ask her opinion of Austen’s biography of the Bennet family) into something more profound.

She had been broken. Her fractured pieces had been bonded back together to create a great lady worthy of her role in the upcoming adventure that is the story of the Bennets in the Wardrobe’s Universe.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on this post. I hope you will enjoy the following excerpt from “The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion.” 

Chapter XXXIII

April 4, 1843, The Beach House at Deauville 

Hauptmann Hans Richter has previously asked Lady Kate Fitzwilliam, the Dowager Countess of Matlock (11th), for permission to court the Widow Wickham. Her assent given, Kitty has asked Lydia to attend her in the library. Lydia is receptive to the tall German but is fearful of the consequences of her attempts to return to her original where/when in 1815. Much of this chapter is devoted to this conversation. However, Kitty also offers Lydia advice rooted in The Book of Tea in this excerpt.

“And, what of Hans? What if we marry? What if we have children? What if…?”

Kitty slid down the smooth leather of the tufted Chesterfield couch and enveloped her tearful sister in a firm hug. She whispered into her hair those comforting nonsensical syllables that resonate with peoples of all nations. Eventually, Lydia calmed.

“The Rule about babes in the future would, I am afraid, apply to any children you conceive now. They would remain in this here/now if you decided to depart.

“As for Hans or any other person, for that matter: I believe…and I have no proof for this supposition which I can reveal…that if he were in close contact with you, probably skin-to-skin…he would transition with you back to your original where/when.

“You need not worry right now for are we not speaking of a quest for undiscovered feelings and not the need for a speedy wedding?

“Do not overthink things, Lydia. Enjoy the process as it presents itself right now.

“All you need to know for the present is that you must not conceive a child because if you tried to transition whilst increasing, you might be anchored here in this time.

“The other alternative—that you and your in vitro infant would be violently separated—is too gruesome to consider.”

Lydia sent a horrified glance at her sister. She immediately walled off the notion of her bloodied corpse tumbling out of the Wardrobe into Mary’s Darcy House chamber. That circumstance was fodder for Mister Karloff’s or Mr. Chaney’s cinematic ruminations, not those of Lydia Wickham.[ii]

The suggestion that she would engage in marital relations without the benefit of a previous visit to the vicar outraged her Regency sensibilities even though they had been blurred by three years in this here/now. She had heard of widows who felt free to dally with gentlemen without concern for their reputations. The wealthiest were legends of the ton, able to entice any of several lovers to their boudoirs. If they avoided the by-blow consequences for these al fresco couplings, they could continue along in such a manner for years until the danger of increasing passed with their changes.

Money cannot buy happiness, I am sure, but it can buy freedom.

She was fully aware of how the old Lydia might have appeared to others. In a jolt to her now-more-mature ego, Mrs. Wickham had discovered the old biography of her family in which a less-than-flattering portrait of her behavior had been painted. She had read, with increasing embarrassment, Miss Austen’s thin-lipped characterization of the youngest Bennet daughter. Lydia was also astonished that this priest’s child, a spinster and a woman outside of her acquaintance, would cast her in such judgmental terms.

‘Tis true that I was high-spirited. My Meryton world was so small, and I followed my natural inclination to fill it with laughter and fun. However, I do understand how it appeared to a prig like Mr. Darcy, a man set on finding fault with everyone and everything.

And poor Jane and Lizzy who knew proper behavior…how mortified they must have been!

Who could have told Miss Austen about the way I acted? And then, only a few very specific instances were related: the Assembly, our visit to Netherfield to look in on Jane, and the Netherfield ball. And who would have left out my goodness, casting me as no better than one of those poor wenches who earned their money on their backs at inns up and down the Great Northern Road?

I know! T’was that prune-faced, dried out old stick Caroline Bingley! She always held me up as the worst of the Bennets and then tattling to Mr. Darcy what he had already observed for himself…as if that would somehow turn him away from Lizzy!

At no point, except for my elopement, which was, I fear, the worst of my sins and one compounded by my innocence and gullibility, would I have ever allowed any man…be he a gentleman or simply posing as one…to truly compromise me. Even my dear Wickham had to wait until our wedding night!

Oh, I am positive that Miss Bingley, that viper, dripped her venom into Miss Austen’s ear, although that lady had long-since relocated to Chawton when Caroline had been dispatched to Bath for her health after her exhibition at Lizzy’s wedding breakfast. They probably had mutual acquaintances in Bath. It matters not.

And she chose to look down that thin nose of hers at me, an honestly married woman?

Yet, all that everyone knew of Lydia was that her morals were not of the highest quality. This bothered the young widow. That concern showed on her face as her brows dropped and her expression darkened at Kitty’s well-intentioned, if not well-worded, gibe.

Kitty realized her error almost immediately.

Kitty levered herself up from the couch, its leather-upholstered seating creaking even beneath her birdlike figure. She patted Lydia’s hand as she passed on her way to one of the bookshelves adjacent to the fireplace. Running her fingers over the spines, she mumbled inarticulately as title-after-title passed her lips—until her nails collided with a well-worn binding. Tilting out a tiny book, Kitty reverently brought it back to the sofa.

After she had repositioned herself in the corner, her fragility supported in the crux between arm and back, she cradled the compact tome between steepled fingers.

“I know your spirit has just been tried, Lydia,” she stated, “and I do apologize for reminding you of what has been but never again will be. Even if you had not become a mother, I can assure you that the young girl of the Year Eleven has been put into the fire, refined like silver, and tested like gold these past seven years.[iii]

“You have shown all the propriety of a great lady, a Countess. You would do all of us proud as the hostess in Matlock House’s parlors and drawing rooms. Those countrified edges that were Miss Bingley’s bane have been worn away by life much as the gravels on the banks of our beloved Mimram.

“Now, I would offer you a gift…actually a loan…of one of my favorite books of philosophy.

“Mr. Kakuzo Okakura was a Japanese gentleman with whom Henry and I became acquainted back before the other war. He wrote a little book…this little book…in which he sought to explain the idea of tea…something we imbibe but never consider that it owns any deeper meaning than simply being a refreshing drink…and its place within Eastern philosophy.

“I will not burden you with my thoughts about teaism, Taoism, or Zen for that would defeat everything the masters tried to teach us. You need to assess for yourself what their wisdom means and how it may apply to your life.

“However, Lydia, The Book of Tea has profoundly influenced a generation of artists—the Modernists—seeking to discover a rationale for their rejection of the older…if you dare to suggest that Papa Pissarro, dear Pierre-Auguste, or even poor Seurat were outdated…modes of expression.

“Perhaps, when you are ready, you may find meaning in Okakura’s words.

“If you would allow me, though, I would suggest that you ignore all exhortations of what others would insist you become. Abandon, also, all thoughts that you may have to shape yourself to fit into your notion of society’s demands.

“Rather, my dear, become like the jujitsu acolyte and mold yourself with a profound void…not an emptiness of self which is a denial of existence, but rather like a pitcher that is not described by the water it can hold but instead by the understanding that its meaning comes from that which it can do.

“You can become that calm and peaceful frame into which others pour their ideas about who you are. Therein, like a remarkable artwork, your greatness will manifest itself through the efforts of those who would seek to fill your blankness/not blankness with meaning. By being the vessel, you will guide their considerations into your own perceived shape rather than the opposite, yours into theirs. And, as you live Dharma, a greater perfection can be achieved when the river both flows through as well as around you.

“Consider one of my favorite quotes from Master Okakura…

One who could make himself a vacuum into which others

might freely enter would become the

master of all situations.

[i] Unpublished mss, The Journals of the Hon. Captain George Percival Wickham, edited and annotated by his Widow. The Bennet Family Trust, London. Entry of February 21, 1815. Vol VI, p. 10-11.

[ii] Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney were renowned performers in the 1930s horror film genre. Their films had been screened at the Beach House after 1940, prints having been lodged in the library, on the sound projector installed by Jean Renoir’s technicians.

[iii] Zechariah 13:9 paraphrased

****

About The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion

“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.”

Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.

Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.

Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.

In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.

Multifaceted and nuanced, The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion, speaks to the verities of life. Once again, Don Jacobson has combined the essence of Pride and Prejudice with an esoteric story line and the universal themes of redemption and forgiveness in this well-crafted narrative.”

Mirta Ines Trupp, author of The Meyersons of Meryton

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.

****

About the Author

Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged 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 non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series

Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South due out in the Fall of 2019.

Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman.” (2016) Lessers and Betters offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear. Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling. Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills). He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days). Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don: Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author’s Page | Goodreads Author’s Page (with blog) | Author Website (with blog) | Twitter (@AustenesqueAuth)

****

Giveaway

Don is generously giving away 4 ebook copies of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion during the blog tour. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

Thank you, Don, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

It’s always a pleasure to have Rose Fairbanks as my guest, and today she comes bearing gifts: an excerpt from her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Courtship at Rosings, and a giveaway! I really enjoyed this sweet Darcy and Elizabeth story, and I hope you all do as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

Hello, readers! It’s always great to be on Diary of an Eccentric, and I regret that it’s been so long since I was last here. Courtship at Rosings was the first JAFF story I ever began. I hammered away at it for an afternoon, the words flying from my fingertips. After a few thousan words, I sat back and read, grimaced, closed the file, and promptly forgot about it for about five years. I stumbled across it earlier this year, and despite the extreme amount of editing needed, the concept intrigued me. It is low-angst, almost fluffy, but lured me in to ask my favorite question regarding Pride and Prejudice, “what if?”

I hope you enjoy this excerpt and participate in the giveaway!

****

“I suppose I would always have viewed you with suspicion. Perhaps I would have imagined you to be a rake. Why else would you take a fancy to a country gentleman’s daughter with no money or connections?”

“Do you truly think so meanly of yourself?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “I do not know that I would persist in that way of thinking. Only it would be one thought which crossed my mind. I would not likely believe you admired me at all. Charlotte has argued the very thing, and I never saw it.”

“Perhaps if I had not attempted to hide it.”

“And what would your open admiration look like?” She arched one brow, a playful smile on her lips.

Darcy assessed her before replying. “I can be a very determined man, Elizabeth. If I openly courted you, then I would not stop until you were mine.”

Elizabeth beamed. “It is too bad you never had the opportunity. Something tells me that would have been a sight to behold.”

“May I begin again?”

“You are leaving for London tomorrow.”

“Yes, and you will be there in a few weeks.”

“I will be staying at Gracechurch Street.” Elizabeth lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. “I know you find my relations unworthy of your notice.”

“I would be pleased to meet them.”

“Would you really?”

“If it would secure your hand, then I would go through any matter of things.”

“I cannot be bought.” Elizabeth pulled away and began to walk off.

Darcy quickly caught up with her. “I do not mean that you can.”

“When I marry, it will be for great love. I will respect my husband. I will not be indebted to him or constantly reminded of the condescension he has shown me by rescuing me from my supposedly low and inferior state.”

Darcy caught Elizabeth’s hand. “Elizabeth, wait. I would be happy to meet them because they are your family and you love them. I wish to please you. I desire to show you that I am not so mean as you first believed and am correcting the faults in my character which you did justly assess. How else could I show you that?”

Elizabeth remained unconvinced and crossed her arms over her chest.

“If you would rather I wait to court you until you return to Longbourn, then I will. If you had hated the idea of my courtship, you would have said so. That can only mean that you are not set against me. I will not quit the field now.”

“And manipulating me into loving you is part of your design?”

“No. I wish to share a life with you and everything that means-all of your relations. You should meet mine as well. Together, we would form a family of equal parts yours and mine.”

“And your relations would approve of this match?”

“I really do not care.”

They were now in view of the parsonage, and Elizabeth saw the curtain of the front sitting room flutter. Discreetly gathering her hand in his, he squeezed it whilst staring into her dark eyes.

“I am yours to command. If you do not wish for me to court you, then tell me so at once. If, however, your feelings have changed, only tell me where and when I may next see you.”

Elizabeth took a long moment before replying. All the while, her heart hammered, and her head pounded. She felt as if she were about to jump off a cliff. “Very well, Mr. Darcy. I accept your offer of courtship. I will see you in a fortnight in London.” She turned and walked to the parsonage without a backward glance.

****

About Courtship at Rosings

A man truly in love is a sight to behold.

Despite Fitzwilliam Darcy’s better judgment, he asks Elizabeth Bennet to marry him. Instead of retreating upon learning her heart, he decides to use everything in his power to woo her.

In Elizabeth’s mind, Darcy has always been haughty and arrogant. When he approaches her with humility and an apology on his lips, she can barely contain her astonishment. When he expresses his love, she is nearly incredulous. Realizing she has misunderstood the man, it only seems right to give their acquaintance another chance—even if that means accepting a courtship.

Of course, it would take a miracle to change Darcy from the last man in the world she would be willing to marry to the conqueror of her heart. Luckily, the Master of Pemberley can be quite the romantic. However, when Darcy goes missing, it will take more than Darcy’s charm to see these two finally united.

Courtship at Rosings is another delightful novella from the author of Mr. Darcy’s Compassion. If you have ever wanted to see Mr. Darcy romance Elizabeth, this book is for you! The perfect length to read before bed, it will ensure sweet dreams and a sigh-worthy experience. Download today!

Universal buy link: books2read.com/u/

****

About the Author

Born in the wrong era, Rose Fairbanks has read nineteenth-century novels since childhood. Although she studied history, her transcript also contains every course in which she could discuss Jane Austen. Never having given up all-nighters for reading, Rose discovered her love for Historical Romance after reading Christi Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke Series.

After a financial downturn and her husband’s unemployment had threatened her ability to stay at home with their special needs child, Rose began writing the kinds of stories she had loved to read for so many years. Now, a best-selling author of Jane Austen-inspired stories, she also writes Regency Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

Having completed a BA in history in 2008, she plans to finish her master’s studies someday. When not reading or writing, Rose runs after her two young children, ignores housework, and profusely thanks her husband for doing all the dishes and laundry. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and Romance Writers of America.

You can connect with Rose on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.

To join her email list for information about new releases and any other news, you can sign up here.

Facebook fans! Join Rose’s reading groups:

Rose’s Reading Garden

Jane Austen Re-Imaginings Series

Christmas with Jane

When Love Blooms Series

Pride and Prejudice and Bluestockings

Loving Elizabeth Series

****

Giveaway

Rose Fairbanks is offering two ebooks of Courtship at Rosings. You must enter through the Rafflecopter link Best of luck!

****

Thank you, Rose, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jennifer Redlarcyzk back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate her newest release, A Taste of Peanut Butter. I can’t get enough of modern Pride and Prejudice variations, and I love peanut butter, desserts, and cooking shows, so I’m very excited about this book! I hope you’ll feel the same way after reading this excerpt. Please give Jennifer a warm welcome!

****

Greetings JAFF lovers! And many thanks to Anna for hosting me and A Taste of Peanut Butter today. In my latest novella, Elizabeth Bennet has a passion for baking and peanut butter happens to be her signature ingredient. In this scene Elizabeth is about to share some of her baked goods with the man who helped her after going through security at the airport. Shall we eavesdrop on their conversation?

Several minutes later, Elizabeth noticed Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome returning with beverages in hand. She could hardly wait to get his reaction when he tasted her baking.

“By the way, I’m William Darcy. And you are?”

“William Darcy?!” She sat up straight with a definite look of mischief written all over her face. “As in Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pride and Prejudice?”

“Yes, Fitzwilliam Alexander Darcy at your service. If you don’t mind, I prefer William.”

“Oh.” She couldn’t help but giggle. “What would you say if I told you my name was Elizabeth Bennet?”

“Well, if you are indeed Elizabeth Bennet, then I guess I’d better say here’s to Jane Austen.” The two of them laughed as they carefully clicked their paper cups and took a drink.

“Honestly, William, my name really is Elizabeth Bennet, but most of my friends call me Liz or Lizzy.”

“If you don’t mind, I quite like Elizabeth. It has such a classic sound.”

“Thank you.” She blushed and gestured to her blue plastic container. ”Please, help yourself. I kind of went on a baking spree before I left home, so there’s plenty to choose from. These three are apple peanut butter, and these two are chocolate chip peanut butter. Then we have peanut butter balls, peanut butter blondies and my latest creation…” She leaned over and whispered in his ear, “Blissful peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake in a cup.” She bit her lip, anxiously waiting to see which treat he would choose.

“You said blissful?” He arched an eyebrow in question.

“I did.” She beamed.

“Then blissful it is!” Within seconds, William took a bite and quietly moaned, delighting in the creamy rich flavour of the cheesecake. “This is incredible!” He licked his lips before taking the last bite followed by a sip of coffee. “You say this is your own creation?”

“That I did. I’m a finalist in the Pemberley Network’s Weekend Bake Off—Another Slice. This is one of my secret weapons. It’s an improved version of the recipe that got me into the contest.

William nearly choked on his coffee when she mentioned the network. “You’re not serious, are you?”

“Why wouldn’t I be serious? I have the letter in my wallet if you need proof.” Elizabeth folded her arms across her chest, appearing very indignant.

“Elizabeth, forgive me, I didn’t mean to insult you. When I heard you speaking with your sister about a bake off, I had no idea that you were…”

“Wait a minute, buster,” she said pointing an angry finger at him. “You mean to tell me that you listened in on my private conversation? The one where my sister warned me about letting a new date taste my cooking? The one about how all my guy friends treat me as their best bud hoping that I’ll cook for their next get together?”

“Yes,” he held up his hands. “I’m guilty as charged, but I swear, I’m nothing like those blokes she was referring to. Please let me explain, nearly everyone in my family cooks, and I.…”

“I’m sorry, but I have to go. Thanks for the coffee, Mr. Darcy. You’re welcome to finish what I baked. Have a nice life!” she said plopping her coffee down in such a way that it splashed all over William’s light coloured Chinos. Grabbing her belongings, Elizabeth walked as fast as she could towards gate C-21, without looking back.

Well it looks like William and Elizabeth are off to a stormy beginning. Any speculations on how our guy might make it up to her. In the meantime how about a slice of Peanut Butter Lover’s Pie, and while you’re at it be sure to leave a comment below for my giveaway of two eBooks. Enjoy!

****

About A Taste of Peanut Butter

Elizabeth Bennet has a passion for baking and peanut butter happens to be her signature ingredient. William Darcy’s family owns Pemberley Network where she is a contestant in their next bake off television series. Will their newly found romance be complicated by a conflict of interest? Find out in A TASTE OF PEANUT BUTTER. This romantic comedy is followed by a short Regency tale called BLAME IT ON THE SQUASH.

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Jennifer is generously offering 2 ebook copies of A Taste of Peanut Butter to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, September 15, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

Hello, dear readers! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Bronwen Chisholm to Diary of an Eccentric for the first time, to celebrate the release of her new Pride and Prejudice variation, Mrs. Collins’ Lover. I hope you are as intrigued by this excerpt as I am! Please give her a warm welcome:

****

Hello Readers! Thank you, Anna, for hosting me today. I am beyond tickled to spend time getting to know you. My favorite part of the JAFF world is the wonderful people you get to meet.

As many of you know, I am releasing my sixth Pride and Prejudice variation … TODAY!! Mrs. Collins’ Lover has been a work of the heart, which means it took much longer than normal. So, without further ado, I will share the blurb and … not quite an excerpt. This is actually a scene which is in the book, but told from a different perspective. Originally, it was included, but had to go during editing.

Elizabeth Bennet was raised with a strong belief and faith in God’s plan for her life. She knew He had a plan, even if the details were hidden from her. But, when placed in an untenable situation, she turned instead to the arms of a man to find brief moments of joy. Finally, when able to realize the happiness which was always intended for her, the weight of her guilt over her past sins convinces her of her unworthiness. Only through reconciliation with the Lover of her soul can she truly fulfill the life He planned for her. But first, she must forgive herself in order to find redemption.

Remember: In order to be redeemed, there must be sin. This story is intended for mature audiences.

Trigger Warning: There are incidents of abuse in this story.

****

Mary Bennet drew her shawl tighter about her as she looked across Longbourn’s fields. There was no sight of her sister and she feared she knew where Lizzy had gone. Releasing a heavy sigh, she began walking toward Oakham Mount, dragging her feet as her mind wandered over what she had observed for the past few days.

With so many visitors to Longbourn due to Jane’s wedding, Mrs. Bennet had decided Lizzy and her husband would have to share a room. No one anticipated the man’s displeasure over the situation. Uncle and Aunt Gardiner always shared a room, even if it was not necessary. Elizabeth had attempted to smooth his ruffled feathers by suggesting she share a room with Jane, but the man demanded she share with Mary instead.

Though surprised by this, Mary had quickly agreed as she missed her older sister dearly. It was not until Lizzy had left in January that Mary realized how much she had done at Longbourn and how they all depended upon her. It was Lizzy who visited the tenants weekly and Lizzy who calmed tempers. Jane might be better at nursing injured feelings, but Lizzy provided the incentive to bring the parties together once more and promote healing. For weeks after her departure to Hunsford, the entire household felt as though it stood on its head.

The previous evening, after the last guest had finally left and everyone began to retire, Mary suggested Elizabeth move into Jane’s room. Her sister had demurred, saying she would be there for only two more nights and she had no desire to move everything now unless it was Mary’s preference. Having no objection, the sisters readied for bed and the candles were extinguished soon after.

Mary lay in silence staring into the night and waiting. About half an hour later, she heard the first soft sniffling. It had been the same every night. When Elizabeth thought Mary was asleep, she would release her tears. Mary had watched her sister during the day, and noticed Jane doing the same. The remainder of their family seemed to avoid the practice as though they did not want to know. Elizabeth was thinner and her eyes had a haunted look. Only when the Netherfield party joined them did she show any signs of her prior self, but even then she was extremely guarded and spoke little.

This morning, Elizabeth had slipped from their room very early. Mary knew her sister’s love of long walks and decided not to say anything, but when Lizzy had not returned in half an hour, she decided she would go out to meet her, hoping to be a buffer should Mr. Collins be displeased as he always seemed to be.

She had not meant to walk the entire way to Oakham Mount. Indeed, she was not normally fond of walking. However, the morning was lovely, and something seemed to spur her forward. She was about to enter the clearing at the top of the mount when she heard the voices. Mary stopped, uncertain what to do, until she realized she could hear what was being said.

“Has he hit you again?”

Mary gasped as Elizabeth responded in the negative. Mr. Collins struck Lizzy? She shook her head as her anger grew toward the man her sister had been forced to marry, before she listened again. She knew it was wrong, but Lizzy would never confess any of this to her otherwise. Their words became muffled and she moved that she might be better able to hear or possibly see them. It was then she realized they shared an intimate embrace.

A hand flew to her mouth as she stared disbelievingly. Elizabeth would never act the harlot. And with Mr. Darcy no less? She turned away, careful not to make a sound, though she doubted they would notice. She knew she should leave; it would be mortifying if they found her there, but she was torn between what she knew of her sister and Lizzy’s actions. After an internal struggle, she finally crept slowly back up the path and hid once more.

“I will not abandon you … rightful Mrs. Darcy … Elizabeth, you were meant to be mine.” Mr. Darcy’s words were muffled by the wind or his attentions to her sister.

“… he never dies? … lost my soul truly is …”

Hearing her sister’s words, realizing Elizabeth knew how wrong her actions were; Mary suddenly felt the impropriety of her own and left as quietly as she could. Once she was far enough from them, she walked quickly to put more distance between her and the couple. She had no desire to see their loving embraces. There was a time she would have taken her sister to task for her actions, but now her heart simply broke for Elizabeth. Married to such a man as Mr. Collins and loved by Mr. Darcy … Mary shook her head. Once she was far enough past the split in the road, she took a seat upon a stile and waited. Her heart was torn and, for the first time in her life, she questioned her convictions.

****

Poor Mary. Known by most JAFF readers as the righteous sister – to be confronted with her sister’s downfall. I think you will be proud of how she handles the situation.

And now, a GIVEAWAY! Just make a comment on this blog (with your email address) and Anna will pick 1 lucky winner to receive an ebook copy of Mrs. Collins’ Lover. The giveaway will be open through Sunday, August 18, 2019. Good luck! And I hope you enjoyed our visit as much as I did. I can’t wait to read your comments.

Bronwen Chisholm

Bronwen Chisholm began her writing career working on suspense romance, but finally became a published author with her Pride and Prejudice variations. She takes great pleasure in searching for potential “plot twists” and finding the way back to a happy ending.

Her love of writing has led her to several writing groups, and she is currently serving as the vice president of the Riverside Writers and organizes the Riverside Young Writers.

For more information, visit her at www.bronwenchisholm.com.

****

Follow the Blog Tour

7/31 Austen Authors

8/9 Babblings of a Bookworm

8/10 Diary of an Eccentric

8/12 From Pemberley to Milton

8/14 More Agreeably Engaged

8/17 My Love for Jane Austen

Read Full Post »

I read Karen M Cox’s Cold War-era Pride and Prejudice spy novel, Undeceived, when it was first released in 2016 and absolutely loved her take on Darcy and Elizabeth as CIA agents. I’m delighted that the novel has been re-released, and I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt with you all today. But first, here’s what I said about Undeceived (which was on my Best of 2016 list) in my review:

I absolutely loved this novel from start to finish. What a unique way to retell Austen’s novel, and it really works! I loved Darcy as the arrogant yet charming spy and Elizabeth as a strong woman determined to get ahead in her career on her own merits, not by her father’s legacy in the agency. Fitzwilliam as MI6 and Charlotte as FBI, not to mention the bumbling agent Bill Collins, were fantastic additions to the cast of characters. The novel was so different that despite keeping the basic plot of Pride and Prejudice, I had no idea how it all would play out.

Please give Karen a warm welcome!

Hello Readers, and thank you to Anna for hosting me on Diary of an Eccentric. Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my re-release of Undeceived: Pride and Prejudice in the Spy Game.

William Darcy, legendary CIA officer, has worn many hats and has worked all over the world. His latest position, as station chief in Prague, ended in disaster. Now, he’s been sent to Budapest… 

Budapest, Hungary

April 1982

“For Darby Kent?” The young messenger tried to wrap his tongue around the English pronunciation of Darcy’s alias as he handed him the envelope.

“Thank you,” he replied in Hungarian and put a forint coin in the kid’s hand. Still, after four months in this country, Darcy had trouble with the Magyar language and kept his small talk to a minimum. His cover as an American businessman consulting with the Hungarian government wasn’t ideal for gathering intelligence, but given his lack of finesse with Hungarian, it was probably a necessity.

The language barrier was one more reason this new assignment made no sense whatsoever.

He slid the letter opener across the flap and retrieved the sealed envelope inside. Lifting the false bottom of his desk drawer, he found his Cardan grille and laid it over a newspaper article planted in the Baltimore Sun society page.

“Smart ass,” he muttered, referring to the Central European station chief’s idea to put the coded message in the society page. The COS took any opportunity to goad him by testing the famous Darcy photographic memory. Now, Darcy would have to remember the content in the article in case someone referred to it. He was sure state security routinely opened his mail. His pencil scratched across the notepad as he wrote down the letters left visible through the Cardan grille card.

Fine Eyes rendezvous at Pied Piper’s gamble. SIP. Dossier to follow.

Finally, they were sending him a translator! Anyone was better than Bill Collins over at the State Department, a bumbling idiot who stuck out like a sore thumb. Everything about that nitwit—his walk, his talk, his manner—screamed American.

Darcy lit the scratch paper with his lighter. He stared into the flame and let the ashes fall into the fireplace until he had to drop them, making sure they burned completely. He washed the soot and pencil lead from his hands and adjusted his tie in the gilded mirror, reminding himself to stay positive. As covers went, this Budapest gig was pretty cushy: a nice flat in the Castle district, access to a phone (wire-tapped but useful for unclassified correspondence), eating establishments and laundry facilities close by, and the best household amenities that Hungary and its “goulash” brand of communism could provide. Even his car—a Zsiguli, a luxury in Budapest—was provided. He certainly had been in worse situations over the years.

He ran a hand over his hair to smooth it and tried on his most devilish grin. Darby Kent was a smooth operator, and Darcy knew how to play the part, almost to perfection.

****

About Undeceived

…if I endeavor to undeceive people as to the rest of his conduct, who will believe me?

Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 40

Elizabeth Bennet, a rookie counterintelligence officer, lands an intriguing first assignment—investigating the CIA’s legendary William Darcy, who is suspected of being a double agent.

Darcy’s charmed existence seems at an end as he fights for his career and struggles against his love for the young woman he doesn’t know is watching his every move.

Elizabeth’s confidence dissolves as nothing is like she planned—and the more she discovers about Darcy, the more she finds herself in an ever-tightening web of danger.

Unexpected twists abound in this suspenseful Cold War era romance inspired by Jane Austen’s classic tale.

Universal Buy Link

****

About the Author

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of five novels accented with history and romance: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, I Could Write a Book, and Son of a Preacher Man, and a novella, The Journey Home, a companion piece to 1932.  She also loves writing short stories and has contributed to four Austen-inspired anthologies: “Northanger Revisited 2015” appears in Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, “I, Darcy” in The Darcy Monologues, “An Honest Man” in Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues, and “A Nominal Mistress” in Rational Creatures.

Karen was born in Everett WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State before settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at the age of eleven. She lives in a quiet little Central Kentucky town with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter.

Channeling Jane Austen’s Emma, Karen has let a plethora of interests lead her to begin many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker—like Elizabeth Bennet.

Connect with Karen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

If you would like bits of authorly goodness in your inbox each month (updates, sales, book recommendations, etc.) sign up for her News & Muse Letter. She loves to hear from readers, so don’t be shy. Contact her through social media, her website, or on-line stores.

A big thank you to Karen for being my guest today! Congratulations on the re-release! I hope my readers will check out Undeceived and love it as much as I did!

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate her latest release, Darcy in Hollywood. I’ve enjoyed editing all of Victoria’s books thus far, but her modern-day Pride and Prejudice variations are especially fun. I hope you enjoy our interview, as well as the excerpt from Darcy in Hollywood. Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

What inspired you to bring Darcy and Elizabeth to Hollywood?

That’s a good question which is always hard to answer since usually the idea for a book has been gestating in my brain for at least a year before I start writing it.  There are a lot of contemporary romances with movie stars as protagonists as well as a number of movies (like Notting Hill).  I really enjoy that subgenre; I think it’s particularly interesting to see the clash between the Hollywood lifestyle and the lives of ordinary people.  I also wanted to write another modern after President Darcy since that one was so much fun, and I thought Hollywood would make a good setting for the P&P story.

How difficult was it to adapt P&P to this setting? Did you find it difficult to insert timely themes, of which there are many throughout the book?

Writing a modern P&P variation is definitely harder than writing one set in the Regency time period because I need to find modern equivalents for the events, places, occupations, etc. that happen in P&P.  I didn’t set out to insert any modern themes in the story—any more than I did with President Darcy.  But they do have a way of creeping in.  The storyline about drug addiction was a natural fit with Hollywood, where so many people struggle with addiction issues, and it helped motivate a lot of character behavior.

Other themes came about in different ways.  I wanted Elizabeth to be committed to a charitable cause so that she would see a contrast between her beliefs and Darcy’s.  Originally I planned to have her become a worker in a nonprofit, but then decided it would be better if she was becoming a doctor.  One of the reasons I had her pick LGBTQ issues as a cause was personal.  My daughter has a friend whose parents disowned them when they came out as nonbinary.  This person is just a sweet, loving human being and that kind of rejection just struck me as so wrong.  That sense of injustice wouldn’t leave me alone, so it ended up as a subplot in the story.

You have a way with humor in your modern variations, from the Bennet family’s business in President Darcy to my favorite in Darcy in Hollywood: Bill Collins and Catherine de Bourgh. I don’t want to spoil it for readers, but oh how I laughed whenever Collins came into the picture…and Catherine’s advice to Darcy…priceless! That being said, what was your favorite scene to write? Do you have a favorite secondary character in your variation?

I always enjoy writing humor in my variations.  I actually think it’s an important part of Pride and Prejudice since Austen herself made humor an integral part of her stories.  With Collins and de Bourgh, in particular, it’s almost impossible to go too far with their characters—which makes them very fun to write.  I can make Collins can be as sycophantic and as stupid as possible, and it still works with the character Austen wrote.  Similarly, Catherine de Bourgh can never be too imperious or oblivious.

The joy of writing a modern novel is that I can think up new contexts for them to display those same character traits.  For instance, in Darcy in Hollywood, Collins becomes Mrs. de Bourgh’s personal assistant who has literally given up his life so he can devote it to hers.  He doesn’t even see his parents at Christmas (they just exchange cards) because de Bourgh needs him to sing carols to her on Christmas day.

This is your second modern P&P variation. Do you have plans to write another? (I sure hope so!) Do you find the moderns more difficult to write? To me, the moderns seem to give more freedom in the plot and characterization. But does that freedom make it harder since you lose the confines of Regency social rules?

Right now I don’t have an idea for another modern variation, but I’m sure another one will occur to me at some point.  Before I wrote President Darcy, I would have said that moderns should be easier to write since the writer doesn’t have to do as much research or worry about period details and period language.  But I would have been wrong.  In fact, Darcy in Hollywood took me longer to write than any book since my first one—and I deleted sixty pages from my drafts of the novel.

Regency-set P&P variations are easier in part because I can start partway through the story and the reader will know what has happened before.  For instance, I could open the book with the proposal at Hunsford, and readers wouldn’t bat an eye.  But in a modern, I’d have to explain how Darcy and Elizabeth met and got to the point where he was making some kind of offer (probably not an offer of marriage so early in their acquaintance). So modern variations end up being longer because I need to include more of the original P&P narrative.

The other thing that makes moderns hard is trying to remain true to Austen’s characters while having their behavior make sense in a modern setting.  A modern mother isn’t likely to want to marry her daughters off like the original Mrs. Bennet.  So I made her into a stage mother instead—someone who’s convinced that Lydia will be a big movie star.  Likewise, Mr. Bennet went from being a fairly well-to-do landowner, to a producer of B-movies.

But I ran into major problems with Darcy in this respect.  I discovered he really didn’t want to be a movie star!  With his personality, he didn’t fit with the Hollywood culture of self-promotion, screaming fans, and glitzy parties. I’d originally seen him as someone who was so proud of his work that he believed he deserved the adulation, but Darcy is too private for that.  So I had rewrite the early parts to make him into a kind of Masterpiece Theatre, classical actor who starred in one movie that made him a heartthrob to teenage girls—much to his embarrassment.  That worked much better for Darcy’s character.

****

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Darcy in Hollywood—right after Darcy nearly hits Elizabeth with his car. Enjoy!

Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation.  “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”

She regarded him through narrowed eyes.  “Yeah, I think it is.  What’s the alternative?  That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car?  Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents.  ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity.  Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”

Why did she have to be so difficult?  He was already putting up with so much doing an indie film.  “That’s not what I meant.  You don’t have to put it that way—”

“I almost got hit by a car.  I can put it however the fuck I want to!”

Darcy was so over this woman. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as he had initially thought. If only he could leave.  But he needed to make sure she wouldn’t talk to the media; another car-related incident would be a disaster for his career.  From now on, I only travel by train or boat.  Pity about her personality; she had fine eyes.

Darcy helped the woman limp to a nearby bench and gently lowered her to the seat.  “Maybe I should call for an ambulance,” he suggested.  He would have preferred to discuss having her sign a nondisclosure agreement, but it seemed a little insensitive.

“Let me sit for a minute.”  Leaning forward, she cradled her head in her hands, providing a good view of the blood matting the hair on the back of her head.  Huh, maybe she wasn’t wrong about the possible concussion.

Darcy settled on the bench beside her despite a desperate desire to cross the street and slip into Building 4, where they were holding the table read.  They won’t start without me, he reminded himself.  But being late wouldn’t impress them with his professionalism.

He took the opportunity to check her for other injuries.  She had a scrape on her right arm and favored her left ankle.  Of course, her clothes were disheveled—and a fashion disaster.  The sleeve of her t-shirt was ripped where she had fallen.

“I can get you a new t-shirt.”

“Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

Her mouth hung open.  “I don’t give a shit about the t-shirt!”

“I don’t think that kind of language is called for.”

“That kind of language?” she echoed and then squinted at him.  “Are you drunk?”

“It’s 7 a.m.”

“Yes, it is.  Are you drunk?  Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

“No,” he said sharply.

“The car was moving rather erratically.”

“I was…trying to work the stereo.  It’s complicated.”

“You almost killed me because you couldn’t work the radio?”

“To be fair, it’s satellite radio.  And I didn’t almost kill you!”

“To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

His jaw clenched so tightly he could grind glass.   “This isn’t a matter of opinion!  You would have been fine if you hadn’t fallen.”

“I also would have been fine if your Ferrari hadn’t come hurtling toward me.”

Darcy didn’t respond; arguing was futile.  After a moment she gave him a sidelong glance.  “You don’t need to babysit me; I can call myself an ambulance if I need one.”

“I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

“Oh!  You don’t want me talking to the press.  Don’t worry.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he lied.  “My primary concern is your well-being.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls you almost run over.”

Darcy stifled a smile.  Under other circumstances, he’d think she was funny.  “I assure you that you’re the first.”

The woman examined the scrape on her arm.  “I accept your apology, by the way.”

“I didn’t apologize.”

Now she turned her blue-green gaze on him.  “I noticed that.  Why didn’t you?  Do you think this is my fault?  That your car had the right of way on the sidewalk?”

Darcy would have apologized—if he had thought of it—but now he couldn’t without losing face.  “I didn’t hit you.  You agreed I didn’t hit you!”  I sound like an idiot insisting on that point.  

“You. Are. Unbelievable.”

Darcy had heard that before but usually in a more complimentary tone.

****

About Darcy in Hollywood

A modern Pride and Prejudice variation.

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Buy on Amazon

****

Giveaway

Victoria is generously offering an ebook copy of Darcy in Hollywood to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Victoria, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

 

Read Full Post »

Hello, dear readers! My guest today is Mirta Ines Trupp, author of The Meyersons of Meryton.  She is here to share an excerpt of her new book, and she has a giveaway for you as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

I am delighted to be here today and greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak about my latest novel, The Meyersons of Meryton.  More than two hundred years after Pride and Prejudice was published, we are witnessing the genre of Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) grow at a remarkable rate. I believe that our beloved author would be flattered by this outpour of admiration and astonished at the level of creativity in the reimagining of her work. As I am a fan of period dramas, an author of historical fiction and an ardent student of Judaica, it wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to come up with this storyline of a Jewish family mingling with Miss Austen’s treasured characters.

In truth, the concept of fan fiction is quite an accepted practice in Judaism. Sages and students alike re-interpret writings in order to explore biblical text and make them more accessible; discover new insights; or even come up with different conclusions or “what-ifs.” These reimagined works are called Midrash. This process invites us to insert ourselves in the canon. It allows us to personalize the story with our own viewpoints, or fantasies, and may even help deliver the moral of the story in a more meaningful manner.

Parodies are also popular in the Jewish community. We see this year in, year out when we celebrate the holidays of Purim and Chanukah. The Internet is flooded with clever and creative spoofs of Top 40 hits that change out the lyrics to teach something about the season, to say something enlightening or inspiring, or to validate our existence as a minority community. These pop culture references, coupled with the headier lessons found in Midrash, were the impetus for writing The Meyersons of Meryton.

There are few noteworthy Jewish characters in the classics. We are inundated with negative stereotypes thanks, in part, to the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Heyer. I wanted to tell another story, one that—hopefully— will entertain and delight the diverse audience of Jane Austen fans.

****

An excerpt from The Meyersons of Meryton, courtesy of Mirta Ines Trupp

“Do you suppose the Meyersons are much like the Romani gypsies in the woods?”

Mr. Bennet chuckled as he smoothed out his paper. “I dare say you will find them to be much like others of our acquaintance.”

As the grand clock struck four, a carriage was heard making its way along the gravel drive. Kitty jumped from her seat and was for the window, only to be stayed by a stern reprimand from her mother. Mary turned from the pianoforte, indignant at her younger sibling’s lack of propriety.

“Continue to act in such a manner, Kitty, and you will forever be treated as a frivolous and irksome child. It would behoove you to look to your elders and attempt to emulate the proper etiquette so becoming in a young lady of quality.”

“Mary, dear, do try to be sociable,” Mrs. Bennet petitioned. “One does not know what sort of people these Meyersons are. Jews or not, I would not have anyone say that they were ill received at Longbourn.”

Kitty, hiding behind an embroidered silk pillow, proceeded to stick her tongue out toward her sister as Hill opened the door and announced the awaited visitors.

“Mr. and Mrs. Meyerson, madam.”

A family of three entered the room. The gentleman bowed and the lady curtsied. A child clung closely to her mama, so much so that she nearly was concealed by the lady’s skirt. The little miss peeked from behind, her large hazel eyes taking in a room full of strangers, and she proceeded to place her thumb into the safe confines of her cherubic mouth.

“You are most welcome,” Mr. Bennet said as he eagerly extended his hand. “Allow me to introduce Mrs. Bennet and my daughters, Jane, the eldest, followed by Elizabeth, Mary and Catherine, or Kitty, as we call her—she is rather too silly yet to be called her proper name.”

Mrs. Bennet, ashamed for her daughter and how the girl’s silliness could reflect on her own maternal talents, silently performed a welcoming curtsey.

“We are grateful for your hospitality, Mrs. Bennet,” said the gentleman as he bowed over her hand. “It is a blessing to be received with such amiability and on such short notice, too! I do hope you will accept our apologies for any inconvenience…”

“Ahem…” the elegant lady murmured.

“Ah, but I am forgetting my manners—Jacob Meyerson, your servant, ma’am.” He extended his hand to his side, before continuing, “My wife, Mrs. Meyerson, and our daughter, Rachel.”

“We are delighted you have arrived safely,” said Mrs. Bennet, and she was surprisingly sincere. Her guests, although quite unknown to her in every conceivable manner, were fashionable and appeared to be exemplary specimens of London society.

“Are you the rabbi? You do not look at all as I expected,” Kitty exclaimed.

“You were expecting a rather exotic fellow with a flowing kaftan and an impressive growth of a beard,” Mr. Meyerson responded amicably with a great bellow of a laugh. “The great Maimonides once said there is no commandment requiring Jews to seek out clothing which would make them stand out as different from what is worn by Gentiles. Therefore, Miss Catherine, as you find my appearance in keeping with Hertfordshire society, it would seem I am in good standing with the great philosopher.”

Mortified, Kitty blushed and retreated to the corner. Mrs. Bennet rolled her eyes at her daughter’s unrefined comportment, although, if she were to be truthful, at least with herself, she would have admitted to sharing the very same thoughts. However, not wanting to appear ignorant or worse yet, unsociable, Mrs. Bennet quickly attempted to make amends.

“May I offer you some refreshment? You must be tired after so long a journey. Ring the bell for tea, Kitty.”

“Tea would be most welcome,” Mrs. Meyerson said with a gentle smile as she took the proffered seat. “Your kind housekeeper showed my maid and the child’s nurse to their rooms, but I would have Rachel stay by my side, at least until she is a bit more acclimated to her surroundings. May I beg your indulgence madam?”

The child had already made herself quite at home, having found a comfortable spot at her father’s feet. Elizabeth stole a glance and observed her mother’s reaction. La! The child had a bit of Lydia’s tenacity. Certainly her mama would recognize the similarities and not request the child be removed. Having spared any discipline towards her youngest daughter, Elizabeth could not think that the mistress of the house would do any less for her guest.

But then her thoughts turned to Mr. Darcy. Had he been in attendance, what would he have decreed? Would he be of the opinion that children were to be seen and not heard?

Her own upbringing differed greatly from what Mr. Darcy had experienced at Pemberley House. Five daughters brought up at home without a governess—Lady Catherine had been scandalized at the notion and, indeed, compared to other families, she and her sisters had been quite at liberty to run amok. It seemed that today would be no different.

Mrs. Bennet gazed uncomfortably at her good rug before smiling at her guest. “But of course little Rachel should stay, Mrs. Meyerson.”

The lady nodded her gratitude to her hostess and then, turning to her husband, she chastised, “Mr. Meyerson! You, sir, have caused Miss Catherine to feel uncomfortable in her own home. How is the young miss expected to know of rabbis and medieval philosophers? If you are going to preach, at least let there be a lesson so that others may benefit from the experience.”

Mr. Meyerson laughed once more and joined his wife on the settee. “I do beg your pardon, Miss Catherine. My wife is quite right.”

“Please do not worry on my account,” Kitty stated. Thinking better of her comments, she added, “It was idle curiosity, nothing more.”

Mrs. Bennet, unaccustomed to such easy behavior between man and wife, had become quite undone. Within moments of making their acquaintance, Mrs. Meyerson chastised and teased her husband and he accepted her admonishments with good humor and grace. Her mouth suddenly dry, Mrs. Bennet found she lacked sufficient conversation and began waving her delicate handkerchief towards her daughter.

 “The bell, Kitty,” was her fervent plea.

****

About The Meyersons of Meryton

When a new family, thought to be associated with the House of Rothschild arrives in Meryton, a chain of events are set in place that threaten the betrothal of Miss Elizabeth Bennet to her beloved Mr. Darcy.

Rabbi Meyerson and family are received at Longbourn. This inconvenience leads to misfortune, for when the rabbi disappears from the quiet market town, Mr. Bennet follows dutifully in his path.

Her father’s sudden departure shadowed by the Wickhams’ unannounced arrival has Elizabeth judging not only her reactions to these tumultuous proceedings but her suitability as the future Mistress of Pemberley. A sensible woman would give her hand in marriage without a second thought. Can Elizabeth say goodbye forever to the one man who has captured her heart?

The Meyersons of Meryton is a Pride and Prejudice variation. The narrative introduces Jewish characters and history to the beloved novel and, although there are some adult themes, this is an inspirational and clean read.

Buy on Amazon

****

About the Author

Mirta Ines Trupp

Mirta is a second generation Argentine; she was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 and immigrated to the United States that same year. Because of the unique fringe benefits provided by her father’s employer- Pan American Airlines- she returned to her native country frequently- growing up with ‘un pie acá, y un pie allá’ (with one foot here and one foot there).

Mirta’s fascination with Jewish history and genealogy, coupled with an obsession for historical period drama, has inspired her to create these unique and enlightening novels. She has been a guest speaker for book clubs, sisterhood events, genealogy societies and philanthropic organizations.

Connect with Mirta on Facebook | Goodreads

****

Giveaway

Mirta is generously offering 5 ebooks to my readers, no geographic restrictions. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, June 30, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thanks, Mirta, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new book!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »