Posts Tagged ‘mistress of netherfield’

Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Julia Winter to the blog today to celebrate the release of her new Pride and Prejudice variation, Mistress of Netherfield. Julia is here to share an excerpt, and there’s a giveaway as well. Please give her a warm welcome!

Mrs Goulding was a careful hostess. Whilst her guests had dined, servants had spread the small tables in the drawing room with bowls of fruit and shelled nuts, and glasses of ratafia and orgeat, and between them were piled several editions of La Belle Assemblée, the Ladies’ Monthly Museum and the Lady’s Magazine to give direction should the conversation flag. Some ladies brought from their reticules small items of “work”—purses they were netting, or handkerchiefs and a small array of silks for embroidery—so they could claim the virtue of hands as busy as their tongues were likely to be. Elizabeth was fond of embroidery, but not of doing it in public where every lady present would be casting critical eyes over her stitching. She reconciled herself to an hour of inconsequential social chit-chat.

She had reckoned without the Netherfield ladies. Miss Bingley, ensconced on the largest sofa with her sister on one side of her and Mrs Goulding on the other, opened by complimenting her hostess on her dinner, and then, with such brazen impudence that even Elizabeth stared, went on an offensive General Wellesley might envy.

“I was much struck by the Marquess of Lansdowne’s dinner just before we left Town. He had the gentlemen take in the ladies in order of precedence. It is quite the newest fashion, rather than have all the ladies process in together and leave the gentlemen to find their own places when they follow. Such a civilised and decorous way of proceeding, do you not think, Louisa?”

“Just so, my dear.” Mrs Hurst spoke with less conviction. She appeared to find her bracelets fascinating, and her chin quivered.

“One can then be certain of ensuring that each gentleman and lady has the most appropriate company and it quite encourages the harmony and tranquillity of the evening. One is so often imposed upon by the most unsuitable people otherwise. Have you thought of instituting the practice here, Mrs Goulding? You could lead the way, you know, in bringing Meryton’s customs up to date. It would give your little dinners the stamp of the highest fashion!”

Mrs Goulding was rather pink in the face. “I prefer to give my guests precedence, Miss Bingley, and follow them in to dinner. It is perhaps, old fashioned to show them honour this way—”

“Oh, it is of little account here in the country, I dare say. But in Town, of course, it would never do to be behind the latest fashion.” Miss Bingley glanced around. She must have noted, as did Elizabeth, that every eye was upon her. She had the audacity to pat her hostess on the knee, a familiarity that Mrs Goulding’s friends of many years standing would not think of claiming. “It is quite understandable that you have not the means here to know how to go on, ma’am. I beg you do not trouble yourself over the matter. Dinner was delightful!”

Elizabeth put a bright eagerness into her tone. “You attended a dinner hosted by a marquess, Miss Bingley? How wonderful an experience that must have been! Do tell us about it. We will insist on every last detail, will we not, ladies? For we are all agog to know how such eminent and fashionable people go on.”

One or two covert smiles, and many nods. Some ladies were quite genuine; Jane, for one. The expression on Charlotte’s face, as with others, held the same challenging humour Elizabeth felt herself.

Just for the instant, Miss Bingley froze. The smile never slipped, but her eyes narrowed as she met Elizabeth’s gaze. “I attend many dinners, Miss Eliza. I assure you that the marquess, while doing everything in the most fashionable and convenient way, is not alone in this. Most of our circle are quite comme il faut with society’s best practices.”

“Indeed?” Elizabeth smiled. “Well, I have no doubt the Morning Post had a brave account of the evening. It usually does, does it not? How exciting it must be to read an account of such a fashionable gathering and find one’s name listed there for all to see! I expect Papa still has a copy in his study. He is a sad hoarder of newspapers, Miss Bingley. He complains that if he does not hide them, his daughters whisk them away to make fire spills and curl papers!”

Miss Bingley’s smile became fixed. Her eyes glittered. Her sister looked much as a rabbit would when faced with a fox.

Mrs Goulding caught Elizabeth’s eye, smiled, and shook her head slightly. Being far more polite and forgiving than Elizabeth could ever be, she complimented the Netherfield ladies on their gowns, and turned the conversation neatly onto fashion and the strictures of La Belle Assemblée in relation to the number of flounces appropriate for a ball gown in the latest Russian fashion.

Elizabeth sat back in her seat, prepared to let the topic of marquesses and precedence pass. Miss Bingley spared her a look that was part distrust, she thought, but mostly hearty dislike. Elizabeth, with a glance at Jane, forbore to return it in kind. Jane did not deserve to have her acquaintance with Mr Bingley soured by her own sister’s failure to cease baiting the newcomers, no matter how deserving they were of scorn for their pretension. Besides, Mrs Hurst looked miserably apprehensive, twisting her fingers in the skirt of her gown.

Elizabeth accepted a glass of orgeat from the maidservant, and caught Mrs Hurst’s gaze. She, poor lady, started, when Elizabeth smiled at her. “Tell me, Mrs Hurst,” she said, seeing how both the Bingley women stiffened, “You are more au fait with London than we are. Is it true that Princess Charlotte has been seen wearing lace-edged drawers that showed below her hemline? Was it very shocking?”

Mrs Hurst stared, but the tension ebbed away into a buzz of chatter about royalty’s penchant for wearing lacy pantalettes. And after a moment, Mrs Hurst gave Elizabeth a tentative smile in return.

Elizabeth took a sip from her glass. Excellent. Jane was saved, that night at least, from the consequences of her sister’s sharp tongue. Sometimes doing the pretty was its own reward.

About Mistress of Netherfield

It is a truth universally acknowledged that on escaping an unhappy marriage, a young widow will be delighted to remove to the dower house and lease the marital abode to a single man in possession of a good fortune, provided he looks elsewhere to fulfil his want of a wife.

Five years after being forced into an unwanted marriage at the age of sixteen, and freed six months later by the death of her abusive husband, Elizabeth Grayson (née Bennet) has finally found a measure of peace. The inheritor of her husband’s estate, Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is now a wealthy young widow, independent and self-reliant. With an eye always on improving her four sisters’ woefully small dowries and providing for her mother, who will be homeless when her father dies, Elizabeth is pleased to lease out Netherfield to the Bingley family, making her home in the dower house in Meryton and vowing that she will never remarry.

Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire is rich and well connected, but reserved in company with anybody outside the very few he counts as friends. Towards those friends, he is loyal and steadfast, the staunchest of supporters. So when a young man comes to him with a tale of the clandestine marriage and mysterious death of Darcy’s old schoolfriend, James Grayson, and begs Darcy’s help to investigate the widow’s role, Darcy agrees. Visiting Charles Bingley, the new tenant of Netherfield, Darcy is very soon torn between his loyalty to his dead friend, and his burgeoning attraction to the widow.

Throw two unprincipled rogues and an elopement into the confines of Meryton, and how will Darcy’s dilemma over Elizabeth ever be resolved? And is she willing to put aside her misgivings, and trust again?

(British English spelling and grammar used throughout).

Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon (U.K.) | Goodreads (release date June 28, 2021)

About the Author

Once Julia was a communications specialist with several UK government departments. These days she’s thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. She lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.

Contact Julia: Email  |  Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook


Between June 21 and July 3, enter this Rafflecopter for the chance of a first prize of a copy of Mr Darcy’s Hunsford letter (complete with seal, and tied in red ribbon) and a copy of the eBook, or one of two second prizes of an eBook of Mistress of Netherfield. Good luck!

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

Read Full Post »