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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Sophie Turner back to Diary of an Eccentric to talk about creating a digital version of the first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. What a fantastic project, and I am so excited to have her as my guest. Please give her a warm welcome!

Thank you so much, Anna, for having me back here at Diary of an Eccentric to talk about my special project, to create a digital edition of Pride and Prejudice that’s been restored back to the Egerton 1813 digital edition, save errors. In order to do this, I had to go through line by line three times, comparing my version to the original. I had of course read Pride and Prejudice many times, but reading it that closely three times over was a whole different depth of study for me!

And in reading, there were some things that stood out to me as not quite explained, or odd. Some were things I’d noticed before, but others emerged fresh, as the mysteries of Pride and Prejudice. Here are five of them, mysteries both large and small:

  1. Who IS Miss Watson?

“Mama,” cried Lydia, “my aunt says that Colonel Forster and Captain Carter do not go so often to Miss Watson’s as they did when they first came; she sees them now very often standing in Clarke’s library.”

The fact that Miss Watson is unmarried makes it seem less likely that she is established in some sort of reputable trade in Meryton, but let us give her the benefit of the doubt for a moment and say she is. What sort of reputable trade could a woman be running that would prompt military men to visit her so often? The only answers that came to mind for me were a coffee house or a circulating library. A fabric shop might have been visited by men, but not with frequency, unless it was one of those fabric shops with a less than reputable side business. It would have been strange for any woman, married or not, to be running a coffee house. Yet the fact that they are now to be seen very often standing in Clarke’s library seems to indicate that Clarke has a circulating library, although he could also be an acquaintance in town of theirs with a private library, I suppose. The answer to the mystery that’s most favourable to Miss Watson’s reputation is that there are two competing circulating libraries—not out of the realm of possibility in a market town, I suppose—and they have changed their custom over to Clarke’s.

The alternative is that Miss Watson is not, in fact, established in a reputable trade and is instead a harlot. Which means there is a tremendous degree of vulgarity in Lydia’s comment, to be speaking about such a thing, but even more in her aunt, to have told her young nieces of it.

  1. How did all of these people end up in Hertfordshire together?

“You know of course that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Anne Darcy were sisters; consequently that she is aunt to the present Mr. Darcy.”

So let’s see here: Mr. Bingley happens to take a house there. He happens to be good friends with Mr. Darcy, who goes with him to see the place. And Mr. Darcy’s aunt just happens to have taken on a rector who just happens to be the cousin who is to inherit Longbourn. That’s a whole lot of coincidences lining up to get the plot going.

The answer to this one, of course, is that our dear author was the puppet master, pulling the necessary strings, but when you take a step back and think about it, it’s probably the most unrealistic aspect of the novel.

  1. Why does Elizabeth speak so frankly to Darcy about the Collinses?

Elizabeth made no answer. She was afraid of talking longer of his friend; and, having nothing else to say, was now determined to leave the trouble of finding a subject to him.

He took the hint, and soon began with, “This seems a very comfortable house. Lady Catherine, I believe, did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford.”

“I believe she did—and I am sure she could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful object.”

“Mr. Collins appears very fortunate in his choice of a wife.”

“Yes, indeed; his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few sensible women who would have accepted him, or have made him happy if they had. My friend has an excellent understanding—though I am not certain that I consider her marrying Mr. Collins as the wisest thing she ever did. She seems perfectly happy, however, and in a prudential light, it is certainly a very good match for her.”

So wait a minute here. Charlotte is her close friend, she doesn’t even like Darcy, and yet she is spilling her exact thoughts about the Collinses’ marriage to him with absolutely no prompting? There’s a degree of intimacy in what she shares that maybe indicates that deep down, she at the least understands that he’s trustworthy.

And from Darcy’s perspective, the fact that she would speak on such a topic to him could certainly have made him think she was treating him with a degree of intimacy that indicated she was open to the further intimacy of being his wife. I think this conversation here does more to prompt his proposal than anything else Elizabeth does.

  1. Is there a hermit living on the grounds at Longbourn?

“Go, my dear,” cried her mother, “and shew her ladyship about the different walks. I think she will be pleased with the hermitage.”

Whaaaaat? This is one I definitely hadn’t noticed before I embarked on this project. In those days a hermitage was a legitimate home for a hermit, built by the landowner, who would then recruit someone to live in it. It was a show of wealth, where the landowner basically had a “pet” human living on their grounds! (The television show Regency House Party even featured one.)

The Hermitage at Frogmore

There are decided oddities here, assuming that the hermitage belonged to Longbourn (perhaps it was part of a neighboring estate). Even if there was no longer a hermit living there, or it instead contained a tableau intended to make it look like the hermit had just stepped out without there being an actual hermit, which was sometimes done, it means that at some point there was money to create the structure itself, and hermitages could be quite elaborate, albeit small. Did Longbourn bring in more money, in a previous generation? Or is this a case of financial extravagance by the current Bennets?

  1. Where does the rumour about Elizabeth’s engagement come from?

Lady Catherine it appeared, had actually taken the trouble of this journey from Rosings, for the sole purpose of breaking off her supposed engagement with Mr. Darcy. It was a rational scheme to be sure! but from what the report of their engagement could originate, Elizabeth was at a loss to imagine; till she recollected that his being the intimate friend of Bingley, and her being the sister of Jane, was enough, at a time when the expectation of one wedding, made every body eager for another, to supply the idea. She had not herself forgotten to feel that the marriage of her sister must bring them more frequently together. And her neighbours at Lucas Lodge, therefore, (for through their communication with the Collinses, the report she concluded had reached lady Catherine) had only set that down, as almost certain and immediate, which she had looked forward to as possible, at some future time.

On its face, the explanation makes sense, and Mr. Collins’s letter to Mr. Bennet seems to confirm it. But there is no reason to assume Mr. Darcy’s character has been redeemed in the neighbourhood, so why would they be wishing to pair Elizabeth off with him? On the basis of one dance way back at the Netherfield Ball, they will pair her with a gentleman who has ten thousand a year? After all, even Jane has difficulty believing that she intends to marry him, and Jane is the only one who gave him the benefit of the doubt all along.

I think it far more likely that Charlotte had a hand in this. After all, she was Team Elizabeth & Darcy before even Elizabeth was Team Elizabeth & Darcy. It could have been innocent—she could have, in reading from her family about Jane’s betrothal to Bingley, let slip some comment that made Mr. Collins believe a betrothal between Elizabeth and Darcy was rumoured, rather than Charlotte’s own speculation. Or she could have, either over irritation with Lady Catherine or intention to try to provide some movement in what she saw as a courtship by Darcy, intentionally kicked the hornet’s nest.

Even if Elizabeth’s initial conjecture is true, Charlotte certainly had a hand in informing her husband of it, so regardless of exactly what her role was, I think she decidedly moved things along!

What do you think about my conjectures? Have you wondered about these or other mysteries of Pride and Prejudice? Let us know in the comments.

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About Pride and Prejudice (Annotated and Restored to the 1813 Egerton First Edition)

The novel needs no introduction. But readers may not have realised that we have been losing “Pride and Prejudice” over the years, particularly digitally. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have eroded significantly from the 1813 Egerton first edition, and many digital copies suffer from poor formatting.

In 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, her “darling Child” has been painstakingly restored to the three-volume 1813 first edition. Adjustments have only been made where there were errors in the 1813 text, and are noted in detailed annotations at the end of the novel.

Please enjoy this beloved story, restored to Jane Austen’s original voice.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Feedbooks (coming soon)

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About the Author

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.

She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.

Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.

She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon.

Connect with Sophie on Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

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Giveaway

Sophie is kindly offering one ebook copy of Pride and Prejudice to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and answer Sophie’s question at the end of her guest post. This giveaway will close on Sunday, September 10, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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July 27 / My Vices and Weaknesses/ Guest Post & Giveaway

July 28 / Austenesque Reviews/Book Excerpt & Giveaway

July 29 / My Love for Jane Austen/ Guest Post & Giveaway

August 3 /Just Jane 1813 / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway

September 4 / Diary of an Eccentric/ Guest Post & Giveaway

September 5 / Laughing with Lizzie / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

September 6 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Book Review & Giveaway

September 12 / Margie’s Must Reads /Book Review & Giveaway

September 14 / More Agreeably Engaged /Guest Post & Giveaway

September 15 / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway

Thank you, Sophie, for taking on such a meaningful project and for being my guest today!

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Source: Review copy from author
Rating:★★★★☆

It was too late to make any improvements as a lover, but he could improve himself as a brother, and as a man. He could become a man who would have been worthy of Elizabeth. There might not be any promise of happiness in that, but there would be satisfaction, at least, in correcting his ways, in better doing his duty. That was all he had to live for, now.

(from Mistress)

Sophie Turner’s newest novel, Mistress, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which Mr. Bennet dies of a heart attack the morning after the Netherfield ball and Elizabeth does what she is expected to do to save her family: marry Mr. Collins. When news of Mr. Bennet’s death reaches London, Mr. Bingley rushes back to Longbourn to be with Jane, severing ties with Mr. Darcy upon learning of the scheme with his sister to keep him and the eldest Bennet daughter apart. Upon learning of Elizabeth’s marriage, Darcy is devastated and vows to change his proud and arrogant ways.

Fast forward three years, and Elizabeth is a widow just out of mourning. She and Darcy are reacquainted at Netherfield during a house party thrown by the Bingleys. Darcy’s love for Elizabeth is just as strong as it was the last time he saw her, and Elizabeth notices right away that Darcy is a changed man. However, Elizabeth’s marriage was more than simply unhappy, and she is haunted by the horrible memories, so much so that she has vowed never to marry again. Can Darcy convince Elizabeth that everything about marriage is better with someone who loves and respect you?

Mistress was a thoroughly enjoyable novel from start to finish. My heart hurt for both Elizabeth and Darcy, but I loved watching them reconnect as people who had been through so much, understand pain and longing, and desire to look toward the future. How they go about that was very well done; Turner made it feel true to the characters and their current situation. There were several very detailed, steamy scenes, but they were crucial to the plot and well written. Aside from Elizabeth and Darcy’s story, I enjoyed the heart-to-heart conversations between Elizabeth and Jane and the changes to their younger sisters. I also loved that Bingley was a stronger character in this variation, and his desire to protect Elizabeth was admirable. Most of all, I loved seeing Elizabeth taking charge of Longbourn — and of her fate. This was my first time reading a Pride and Prejudice variation by Turner, but it won’t be the last!

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About Mistress

One night, to decide his entire life’s happiness.

Chastened by Charles Bingley following Mr. Bennet’s untimely death, Fitzwilliam Darcy determines he will offer marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, but she marries another.

Years later, a widowed Elizabeth is mistress of Longbourn, and has vowed she will never marry again. A house party at Netherfield brings them back together, but Darcy will have to win more than her heart if he is to have any chance at making her mistress of Pemberley.

Readers of Sophie Turner’s more chaste Constant Love series should be aware that this novel contains decidedly adult content at certain parts of the story.

Check out Mistress on GoodreadsAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Check out the Spotify playlist for Mistress

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About the Author

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.

She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.

Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.

She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon.

Connect with Sophie on Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon

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Giveaway

Sophie is generously offering two ebook copies of Mistress to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address, and let me know what intrigues you most about this book. This giveaway will close on Friday, March 31, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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March 18/My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post & Giveaway
March 19/Of Pens & Pages/Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway
March 20/Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review & Giveaway
March 21/More Agreeably Engaged/Author Spotlight & Giveaway
March 22/A Lady’s Imagination/Guest Post & Giveaway
March 23/Just Jane 1813/Guest Post & Giveaway
March 24/Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
March 25/My Love for Jane Austen/Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 26/My Vices and Weaknesses/Book Review & Giveaway
March 27/So Little Time…/Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 28/Babblings of a Bookworm/Guest Post & Giveaway
March 29/From Pemberley to Milton/Vignette Post & Giveaway

Disclosure: I received Mistress from the author for review.

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