Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘the avenger: thomas bennet and a father’s lament’

It’s a pleasure to welcome Don Jacobson back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the latest installment in The Bennet Wardrobe series, The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. Don is here to talk a little about the series, as well as share an excerpt and a giveaway. Please give him a warm welcome!

Historical Context in The Bennet Wardrobe

Jane Austen was a young lady and, later a mature woman, of her times. Like most authors, Austen’s work rose from a clear understanding of the social milieu that had begun to mature by the time the industrialization of Great Britain was entering its second half century at about 1805. As such, Austen was writing for an equally-informed audience, albeit one that was awfully content to cling to the old ways.

Every one of the Canonical books in informed by their own historical contexts. The history was not necessarily overt but was akin to the wash a painter applies to the canvas prior to beginning work.

In Pride and Prejudice, while he is seeking to become a gentleman by purchasing an estate, Bingley, none-the-less, retains ownership of the textile mills because the British Army needed uniforms, tents and other woven goods. Pemberley was a money machine for Darcy because the price of grain was skyrocketing as that same army demanded food. Captain Wentworth ranged the high seas seizing French Warships and Spanish gold. Colonel Fitzwilliam was often off-stage fighting Napoleon’s hordes. The Bertram fortune rooted in sugar grew exponentially as rum was the easiest way to concentrate and transport sugar from the Carib. The British Navy consumed an immense amount of rum…and likewise the general population.  The Methodist Dissent runs throughout the background whenever a young, but sensible, clergyman appears.

As an historian, I habitually seek to establish context to add a deeper layer of understanding to events and personalities. Thus, when I began to compose the Bennet Wardrobe stories, t’was a natural activity to utilize historical references to establish the meaning character motives and actions.

For instance, while I could have had Mary find her own way to grow beyond the moralizing woman, I preferred to have her emerge by reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In the climax of the book, the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 reshaped both Mary and Lydia’s lives

One of my favorite scenes from both The Keeper and The Countess Visits Longbourn has Kitty as an elderly lady addressing Georgiana Darcy in the chocolaterie of two French émigrés. She mentions the Deauville of 1812…a Breton resort that will grow over the next 150 years. Again, a bit of context that resonates throughout the next five books.

Historical personages also can be found throughout the books.  From Pierre-Auguste and Aline Renoir to Sigmund Freud in Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque to Lord Byron, Mary Godwin, and Percy Shelley in Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, those who stood astride the times logically join in our story to help advance the plot and allow the characters to grow.

My most audacious insertion of historical figures appears in the most recent offering, The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. From the United States High Commissioner overseeing the American Zone of Occupation, General Lucius Clay, to the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Winston S. Churchill, key historical figures offer context to forward the deeper—and often noir—themes of the broader story. I have also appropriated a hero of the hidden War, Miss Eileen Nearne, as a love interest in this novel. Finally, a few royal personages play an important role in our little drama.

I also ask my readers to suspend disbelief and accept that the Universe of the Wardrobe is a lose parallel of the reality which we experience. I have adopted Robert A. Heinlein’s concept of solipsism which asserts that the act of writing fiction creates the universe in which the story exists as a reality: essentially, all myth is reality and all reality is myth.

Thus, you will note a few references made by characters to “the biography of the Bennets written by Miss Austen.” I have chosen to treat Pride and Prejudice as a fictionalized account of persons—the Bennet Family, the Darcys, and the Bingleys—who truly existed. This allows Mrs. Bennet to carp about the book in Chapter XXX of The Avenger: 

“That impertinent Miss Austen who wrote of our family certainly did not help my cause in any manner: showing me in just one light, and the worst one, at that.  Of course, she never met me and only drew her portrait based upon second-hand information, probably supplied by jealous mamas of the ton.”

I hope that my readers will allow my slight bending of some closely-held and loved notions about the Canon as The Bennet Wardrobe continues. I look forward to your comments.

****

This excerpt from The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament is © 2018 by Don Jacobson. Any reproduction—either in print or electronic media without the expressed written consent of the author is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

Chapter XVIII

The Boardroom of the Bennet Family Trust, August 3, 1947

Not a single soul in the Board Room, beside the two aristocrats with whom he had broken bread, had ever beheld Bennet in the flesh.

The assembled Bingleys, Gardiners, Fitzwilliams, Bennets, and Darcys collectively gasped. More than one immediately looked toward the Dowager Countess’ portrait of The Founder as if to confirm his identity.

Bennet could recognize the varying and diluted images of his daughters in the countenances of the persons throughout the room. A few seemed to have a touch of his old friend Sir William Lucas’ distinctive brow and nose. Not that he dismissed most out-of-hand, for they were his kith and kin, but they were clearly from lines that had branched away from the Bennet tree after his time. The potency of their connection to him would be filtered through the closeness of his ties to Matlock and Pemberley.

However, there were two ladies who defied this sort of easy classification: one older, obviously the mother, and the other, her daughter from all appearances and clearly just having attained her majority. They stood slightly off to one side of the great room. Each was dressed elegantly, if in an understated manner, complete with hats, and matching clutch handbags. The elder sported a brown fur neck wrap which added a touch of chic even on this unseasonably steamy summer’s day. Her daughter was wearing a suit which was redolent of cotton superfine and reminded Bennet of a military uniform but without all the frippery and frogging so favored in his time. She was also without gloves but sported an impressive diamond betrothal ring on her left hand.

Both seemed to hearken back to a trunk of the family which he had not expected to encounter this far into the future. Unaccountably, they were being accorded a considerable amount of deference; not a single soul presumed to approach them. Matlock and Pemberley, the Earl and Countess, hovered slightly behind the two, acting remarkably like a pair of border collies minding their sheep.

Never being one to allow a lady, let alone two, to be relegated to lonely contemplation along the figurative chair rail, Bennet genially approached the pair and offered, “Good morning. I fear that you must forgive a man of my advanced years for presuming upon you without an introduction. However, I must admit that your appearance here today has somewhat surprised me. You look quite like my old solicitor, the man whose name graces the letterhead downstairs. I am speaking of Mr. Frederick Hunters who would have been my Great Uncle.

“Are you, by chance descended from the Hunters line of the Bennet Family?”

He felt his grandson, the Earl, fly up by his side. The man’s gulp indicated that he feared his Grandfather may have committed a terrible faux pas.

Bennet quickly continued, “Before Lord Matlock flays me, please forgive my forwardness. I am used to country manners, well actually, more like country familiarity…and both those probably have not aged well in the past 150 years. Might I presume upon Earl Fitzwilliam’s graciousness to introduce me properly?” He glanced at his doppelgänger and lifted a brow.

The Earl said nothing until the older lady moved her handbag from its double handheld shield-like post in front of her torso. Giving the man a nod, she said in a melodic voice that was redolent of drawing rooms and racing meets, “Yes, please, Earl Matlock, introduce us to your honored guest.”

Bennet swore that he expected his grandson…he is M, for Heaven’s sake…to run a finger under his all-too-tight collar before he completed this British tradition.

“Ma’am.  Mr. Bennet, may I have the pleasure of introducing you to Mrs. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon of Balmoral, Scotland and her daughter, erm…” he stalled on the second introduction.

The young woman quickly took pity on the older man and stepped forward, thrusting her left hand out, saying, “Thank you, Uncle Thomas. Elizabeth Windsor. Without a doubt you must be Mr. Thomas Bennet of Longbourn Estate in Hertfordshire. Your portrait does not do you justice. T’is truly an honor to meet The Founder.”

Bennet, in his surprise, automatically reached out and shook her proffered digits. Several sharp intakes of breath echoed around the room.

Her mother hid a smile and a small chuckle behind a gloved hand, and then turned to the Countess and said, “I declare, Georgie, it must be something with girls named Elizabeth. If I recall the tale correctly, your Lizzy greeted her German in that manner the first time they met on the sand by the Beach House.”

The Countess, now in her 45th year replied with all of the dignity she could muster, “You have the right of it ma’am. Recall that my daughter was lately a WREN driver while yours in the ATS could lubricate—how do the Americans call it—oh yes, a deuce and a half. I imagine our egalitarian cousins schooled the girls’ manners from time to time!”

Miss Windsor looked at the two before riposting, “Now Mama, Aunt Georgie; you know the world is changing. Just as Mr. Bennet discovered, if we stand on ceremony and privilege, nothing will ever be accomplished.

“And, you did teach me to respect our elders,” she said with a devilish twinkle in her eye, “I doubt if there is anyone here who will stand superior to a man birthed in 1760! And, yes, Mr. Bennet, we are of the Hunters’ line.”

She leaned in toward Bennet and whispered conspiratorially, “Your biography was required reading for all of my generation. Why, I am unsure.”

Bennet found that he enjoyed the young lady’s spirit, reminding him as it did of his own beloved Elizabeth.

Mrs. Bowes-Lyon gently, but firmly, broke up the singular conference saying, “Lord Matlock, I do believe you called this emergency meeting of the board. Might we attend to that? I fear that my daughter and I have other claims on our time this day. Later, we had hoped to rejoin my husband in Scotland. The shooting is particularly good this year.”

****

About The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament

Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages.  

Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But, he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life.

Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs. Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, t’would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness.

Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone

The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe – an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.

Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days

Buy on Amazon

****

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 published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

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-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA 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

As part of the blog tour, Don is generously giving away 4 copies of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament. You must enter through this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

****

12/28 Babblings of a Bookworm Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway

12/29 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl Review, Giveaway

12/30 My Love for Jane Austen Guest Post, Giveaway

01/03 My Vices and Weaknesses Author Interview, Giveaway

01/04 So Little Time… Guest Post, Giveaway

01/05 My life journey Review, Excerpt Giveaway

01/07 More Agreeably Engaged Character Interview, Giveaway

01/08 Diary of an Eccentric Guest Post, Giveaway

01/09 From Pemberley to Milton Excerpt, Giveaway

 

Read Full Post »