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Hello, dear readers! After I hosted Catherine Lodge a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the release of her new Pride and Prejudice variation, some of you contacted me to ask when the ebook would be available on Amazon. Catherine and her team worked tirelessly to clear up the issues with Amazon related to the theft of her work, and I am delighted to say that it is now available! Here are the details:

We all know that in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy is proud and prejudiced because he is a wealthy landowner who believes himself above his company; and that Elizabeth Bennet can afford to be proud and prejudiced because she believes she has the freedom to make choices for herself.

But what if Mr Darcy is the second son, sent to sea at a young age? What if Elizabeth is trapped by circumstances, with an ill father on one side and an understandably desperate mother on the other?

Meet Captain Darcy of the Royal Navy, a successful frigate captain, with ample prize-money and a sister he needs to provide for while he is at sea. Meet Elizabeth Bennet, who needs a husband and is trying to resign herself to Mr Collins, the worst “least worst alternative” in the history of literature.

Check out Fair Stands the Wind on Goodreads | Amazon (paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Noble

Stay tuned for my review. Congrats, Catherine, on the release!

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Catherine Lodge is visiting Diary of an Eccentric for the first time today as part of the blog tour for her latest release, Fair Stands the Wind, a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She is here to talk about young boys going to sea during Austen’s time. Please give her a warm welcome!

So if you haven’t read the book when I posted it in parts – good on you, you can buy it and come to it with a mind clear of presuppositions – you should know that Captain Darcy was sent to sea at the age of nine.

What!!!! I hear the cry arise from the throats of the crowd of tender-hearted JAFFers reading this post, how the heck did that happen?

Well, surprisingly enough it wasn’t at all uncommon. The precise title or method of enrolment varied slightly over the period of the novel, but basically it boiled down, as so many things did in Georgian England, to who you knew.

If you had a family friend or relative with influence, you could get your lad sent to sea, either as a volunteer or as a captain’s servant depending on the date. They were paid, but less than two pounds a month, and they would be expected to supply their own uniforms, books, instruments (sextants, etc.) and weapons. They’d also be expected to bring some money with them to pay their mess bills – officers were expected to buy their own meals so they weren’t reduced to eating the same as the common seamen, and to buy their own liquor. Since the water was usually disgusting after a few days out of port, everyone drank like a fish.

Each youngster would have a “sea daddy,” an experienced seaman whose job it was to make sure they could hang their hammocks and could master the usual tasks of the sea – knotting, splicing, handing, reefing and steering, repairing their own clothes, etc. – usually in return for the youngster’s rum ration. There would also be a schoolmaster whose job it was to teach them the mathematics of navigation. Other than that, in most ships, the midshipmen and not-quite-midshipmen messed together in an area, deep in the bowels of the ship called the cockpit and left to bring themselves up. Since you couldn’t get a promotion unless you had proof of six years at sea and could pass the exams, it wasn’t unusual to find midshipmen in their 50s and boys in their teens all jammed into together.

Very young boys might be put under the watchful eye of the Gunner’s wife, since warrant officers such as the Gunner were allowed to bring their wives along. She would make sure they ate, didn’t get too drunk and were turned out smartly. Corporal punishment was more or less expected, although midshipmen were caned rather than flogged.

Every man and boy on the ship belonged to a “watch” – depending on the size of the ship there would be two or three watches. Midshipmen were expected to stand their watches on duty like the adults, and were used as messengers, etc. They were also expected to go up into the rigging and supervise the sailors aloft when the sails were being reefed – i.e. shortened in heavy weather. Hence another name for Midshipmen was “reefers.” Each duty period was 4 hours, but in an emergency or in bad weather everyone was on duty until things were safe. This often meant having to get up at 0400 to stand your watch. Gradually, the longer a young man was at sea, and the more trustworthy and skilled he could prove himself, the more responsibility he would be given.

Now, although it isn’t pointed out in the books, even on blockade duty – essentially keeping the French Navy from leaving their ports – you didn’t stay at sea for years at a time. A Midshipman might be on shore for a few months on a regular basis but, depending on the Captain who accepted you on board as a “young gentleman,” your shore trips might be shorter or longer. In any event, if you were paid off from your ship to await another one you weren’t paid at all. Better hope the family are interested in seeing you at home. Of course, if you were on the West Indies station, you might not come back at all due to Yellow Fever and malaria.

At last, once you were or appeared to be nineteen, you could sit the examination for Lieutenant – they were notoriously difficult and notoriously capricious, you went before a Board who could ask you anything about life at sea – hypothetical questions about what orders you would give in an unusual situation were a favourite. You might be lucky and get your uncle’s best friend, or you might get your father’s worst enemy. All you could do is keep taking the exams until you passed, if you ever did.

And once you’d passed – you had to try and get a ship to serve in. You could spend years as a “passed midshipman,” waiting for a position on board ship where you’d have to start at the bottom of the pile, seniority being based on the date of your first commission to a ship.

Every midshipman’s dream was to be a frigate captain. Frigates were the greyhounds of the navy – if greyhounds had bad tempers and great big teeth. They were fast and they could fight, carrying between 26 and 32 guns. By comparison Nelson’s flagship Victory carried 104. They were used for escorting convoys, taking messages and independent cruising to prey on enemy shipping. They could work further inshore and could maneuver better than the bigger ships. So long as they didn’t pick a fight with a ship very much bigger than themselves, they had an excellent chance of coming out on top. Captaining a frigate was a man’s best chance for glory, prize money and, alas, death.

But… If you want to find out what happened to Captain Darcy, you’re going to have to read the book – always assuming Amazon does the decent thing and publishes it!

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About Fair Stands the Wind

We all know that in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy is proud and prejudiced because he is a wealthy landowner who believes himself above his company; and that Elizabeth Bennet can afford to be proud and prejudiced because she believes she has the freedom to make choices for herself.

But what if Mr Darcy is the second son, sent to sea at a young age? What if Elizabeth is trapped by circumstances, with an ill father on one side and an understandably desperate mother on the other?

Meet Captain Darcy of the Royal Navy, a successful frigate captain, with ample prize-money and a sister he needs to provide for while he is at sea. Meet Elizabeth Bennet, who needs a husband and is trying to resign herself to Mr Collins, the worst “least worst alternative” in the history of literature.

Check out Fair Stands the Wind on Goodreads | Amazon (paperback only, Kindle hopefully coming soon) | Barnes & Noble

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About the Author

Catherine Lodge

Catherine Lodge is a semi-retired lawyer and lecturer, living in Yorkshire–a part of the UK even more beautiful than Derbyshire. One of five daughters, although by birth order regrettably the Jane, she found 19th Century literature early in her teens and never looked back–even if that meant her school essays kept coming back with “archaic!” written in the margin next to some of her favourite words. She still thinks that “bruited” is a much nicer word than “rumoured.”

After years of drafting leases and pleadings, she finally started to write for fun in her forties and has never stopped since. Much of this will never see the light of day, having been fed to the digital equivalent of a roaring bonfire, but Fair Stands the Wind is the first book she thinks worthy of public attention.

She spends her day fixing computer problems for friends and family, singing in her local choir, and avoiding the ironing.

Connect with Catherine on Facebook | Email: catherinelodgebooks@gmail.com

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Giveaway

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, where 8 ebook copies of Fair Stands the Wind are up for grabs!

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Fair Stands the Wind by Catherine Lodge. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

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08/30   Babblings of a Bookworm

08/31   My Vices and Weaknesses

09/01   Austenesque Reviews

09/02   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

09/03   Darcyholic Diversions

09/04   Half Agony, Half Hope

09/05   Of Pens and Pages

09/06   Diary of an Eccentric

09/07   From Pemberley to Milton

09/08    So little time…

09/09   My Love for Jane Austen

09/10   Margie’s Must Reads

09/11   My Jane Austen Book Club

09/12   Just Jane 1813

Thank you, Catherine, for being my guest today. Best of luck with the book!

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