Showing posts with label Mary Bennet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mary Bennet. Show all posts

Monday, 15 February 2021

Death in Highbury by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Death in Highbury by Riana Everly
I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog with her latest Miss Mary Investigates book, Death in Highbury. As the name suggests, Mary Bennet goes to pay Emma Woodhouse a visit. We have a guest post from Riana, and an excerpt of Death in Highbury. There’s a giveaway too! Read on for details.

Book Description

When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.

Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!

Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?

Monday, 30 November 2020

Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke - Excerpt and UK Giveaway

Book promo picture: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke
Today I’m happy to be welcoming a new visitor to the blog, Jennifer Duke. Jennifer has written a Pride & Prejudice-inspired book, called Back to the Bonnet.

This book is a Mary Bennet-focussed book which gives her a secret life, including time travel. Sounds pretty wild! Let’s take a look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Jennifer for an excerpt from Back to the Bonnet. Jennifer is also offering a UK ebook giveaway.

Book Description

“Oh really, Miss Mary!” He lowered his voice and leant closer. “Does convention hold you back? You who deny all conventions of time, twisting it from its proper course?”

Matrimony is not a destiny that attracts plain but clever Miss Mary Bennet.

With her family’s fortunes threatened by their own foolish mistakes, deceptive rogues and the inconvenience of male heirs to her family home, the future looks unstable, even bleak. But Mary possesses a secret weapon . . . a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.

In orchestrating events according to her own inclinations, Mary takes an unconventional route to protect her family from ruin. However, she is unprepared for the dark path down which duty and power will lead her.

Excerpt from Volume One, Chapter Twelve - ‘Sermons & Scandals’

Book cover: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke
    Mr Chamberlayne bowed. Will you do me the honour?”

    Thank you,” I whispered, placing my hand in his. It is most kind of you to ask me when there are so many other women to chuse from.”

    But, my dear, there is no other Miss Mary Bennet.”

    As he led me down the dance, I made a small squeak, unable to hide my surprise.

    What is it? Did I tread on your toe?” he asked, before taking the hands of the lady next to me and turning about with her.

    My sister Lizzy,” I said, when he was opposite me once more. Shes dancing with Mr Darcy.”

    He squinted over at them. What of it?”

    To me, the look shared by Lizzy and Mr Darcy might either betray a mutual desire to partake in a duel or to make straight for Gretna Green. She always said she would never dance with him.”

    Women are always changing their minds about one thing or another,” he said, rolling his eyes. Not at all like men.”

    I glared at him. Lack of obstinacy is hardly a flaw. However, you wont find me being so changeable.”

    Of course not,” he said, smile lines creasing at his eyes. You never change anything, do you?”

I continued in conversation with him at supper and Charlotte came to sit opposite us.

    You surprise me, Miss Mary,” said Chamberlayne. He made to pour me wine but I placed my hand over the glass. I thought you would be an advocate of Mary Wollstonecrafts ideas.

    What I mean is that there are certain roles we adopt in society and certain boundaries within which we navigate that have been established for our own good and to ensure stability.”

    You just want to be careful that a boundary does not become a noose,” he said.

    Whatever do you . . .” my words trailed off as my attention was drawn to Mama who was toasting Janes good fortune with anyone who would clink glasses with her. Her boasts rang out across the room that Jane would soon be engaged to Mr Bingley and that this piece of good fortune would throw the rest of us into the way of other men of wealth. I clutched my cutlery, feeling the heat rise in my cheeks.

    Chamberlayne glanced at her. Can I serve you some chicken, Miss Mary?” he said, spearing a slice from the dish in front of him.

    I ventured to look at Mr Bingley who, thankfully, appeared not to have heard Mama. Mr Darcy, on the other hand, was regarding her with an expression of unconcealed alarm. Lizzy, too, had gone quite red and even whispered to Mama in an attempt to prevent further inappropriate speeches of unfortunate volume.

    I assumed that Lydias cheeks were merely rosy from the amount she had had to drink, rather than from any kind of embarrassment, for she chattered away merrily, holding out her glass to be refilled by an obliging officer.

    It is a most elegant room,” said Charlotte, taking in the high ceilings and fine windows. Mr Bingley has found himself a most charming residence, do not you think?”

    Indeed,” said Chamberlayne, grasping the subject with enthusiasm. Though I admire older buildings. Your house is Elizabethan, is it not, Mary?”

    As I looked up from my plate, I realised that my friends were trying to draw me out of my mortification. It is.”

    A manor built in the traditional E shape, for the queen,” said Charlotte.

    Indeed,” I said, though I like to think of it as an M. It could be an M you know, if seen from another perspective.”

    How whimsical! Is that because of your own name?” asked Chamberlayne.

    No. You see, at the age of six, when a historical book taught me that Queen Elizabeth had had her cousin Mary executed, I considered that, from another angle, the E shape might look like an M. So, in my mind, our house has been M shaped from that time, in solidarity with the unfortunate queen who lost her liberty and her birthright, followed by her head, of course.”

    Chamberlayne laughed. She did try to have Elizabeth assassinated, though.”

    I shrugged.

    When supper was cleared away and people began to get up from their seats and mingle about the room, Mr Bingley tapped his glass with a spoon.

    I should just like to thank you all, once again, for joining me at Netherfield this evening. I for one am having a most agreeable time.” A grin stretched across his face. All there is left for me to wish for is a song. The pianoforte awaits! Whom can we persuade to sing for us?”

    The gathering had quietened to listen to Mr Bingley and the muteness continued in the general tentativeness that is generally felt when no one wishes to push themselves forward as the focus of attention. In the lull, a twittering of laughter could be heard. I looked towards a door which must have led to the small room with the paintings. There was another burst of giggling but louder this time.

    Surely we can prevail upon somebody?” said Mr Bingley.

    Miss Morris, a girl I did not know well, looked frantically about the room, then rushed over to open the door. The doorway framed the room inside like a theatre curtain drawn back to reveal a scene from a licentious play. Mr Denny sat in a too relaxed posture on the chaise longue and Lydia threw her arms about him and kissed him on the lips. Catching sight of their scandalised audience, Mr Denny moved Lydia aside.

    Miss Morris, allow me to explain. I did not know that Miss Lydia was about to—”

    Were meant to be engaged!” wailed Miss Morris as she fled the room to the accompaniment of shocked gasps, piteous comments and accusations.

    Mama had been struck into silence, which was quite something. Papa went white. Lizzy was crying with humiliation and Jane looked close to fainting when Miss Bingley swooped upon her saying, You will get your family out of this house at once. At once, Miss Bennet.”

    Through the doorway I could see the painting of the woman holding the bonnet and the other standing behind. It seemed almost as though they were looking at me, willing me to do something.

    Were going.” Lizzy gripped my arm, frowning at me. Mary, I do not see how you can be smiling at a time like this. We need to leave. Now.”

    Tearing my gaze from the portrait, I looked at Lizzy. Ill get my bonnet.”

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Author Jennifer Duke

Author Bio
 

Jennifer Duke grew up in Basingstoke - a town in Hampshire, England, which Jane Austen visited for shopping and balls when her family lived in the nearby village of Steventon. Loving stories from a very early age and being the second of four sisters, Jennifer delighted in reading stories to her younger siblings.

She went to Bath Spa University to study English Literature with Creative Writing and gained a 2:1, later going on to achieve a distinction for her MA in English Literature at Oxford Brookes University.

She has had many jobs - including coffee barista, trainee English teacher, nursery nurse, nanny, housekeeper and dog walker - but kept returning to writing fiction.

A longstanding love of Jane Austen's novels led to her first published novel Back to the Bonnet.

As well as writing, she is interested in mindfulness, environmental issues and painting. She loves animals, history, art, travel and being out in nature. Currently, she is working on a fantasy novel inspired by ancient art at Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cave in the south of France, a story set 35,000 years ago - a slight change from Regency England! She also has plans to write a post World War Two romance inspired by Jane Eyre.

Back to the Bonnet is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats.

You are cordially invited to sign up to Jennifer Duke’s newsletter via her website homepage or contact page.

Website: jennifer-duke.com / Goodreads page / Twitter: @JenniferEDuke / Facebook: @inkwellies / Youtube: Jennifer Duke - author

Book cover: Back to the Bonnet by Jennifer Duke
Buy Links

Back to the Bonnet is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.   

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada  / Amazon Australia / Add to Goodreads shelf

Giveaway Time!

Jennifer is running an eBook giveaway for UK residents only (or those who buy their ebooks from Amazon UK, due to gifting restrictions): To enter, visit Jennifer’s author website and sign up to the newsletter, which you can do on the homepage or contact page. Include ‘UK’ in the ‘last name’ box; if you are a UK resident, and you will be automatically entered into the giveaway.

A winner will be selected at random on 12th December and contacted shortly afterwards to arrange the receiving of their free eBook.

Even if you are not based in the UK Jennifer would love for you to sign up for the newsletter, so she can keep in touch with you about future giveaways and offers!

Note about comments:  If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

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Monday, 12 October 2020

Death of a Clergyman by Riana Everly - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Death of a Clergyman by Riana Everly
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Riana Everly back to the blog with her latest book, Death of a Clergyman. Name a clergyman we could do without – why yes, Mr Collins does spring to mind! But how did he die? In this case, not naturally. So we have a mystery on our hands. And who is a serious minded person who would be drawn to looking into this mystery? Why, Miss Mary Bennet! I know that this book will already be drawing some of you in with it being a mystery and having a focus on Mary.

Riana has come here today with my favourite type of guest post, where authors are so kind as to share with us some history that they have gleaned from their research, to save us having to research for ourselves. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Riana, for her guest post, an excerpt from Death of a Clergyman and a giveaway for you.

Book Description

Mary Bennet has always been the quiet sister, the studious and contemplative middle child in a busy family of five. She is not interested in balls and parties, and is only slightly bothered by the arrival of the distant cousin who will one day inherit her father’s estate. But then Mr. Collins is found dead, and Mary’s beloved sister Elizabeth is accused of his murder. Mary knows she must learn whatever she can to prove Elizabeth innocent of this most horrible crime, or her sister might be hanged as a murderess!

Alexander Lyons has made a pleasant life for himself in London, far from his home village in Scotland. He investigates missing documents and unfaithful wives, and earns an honest living. Then one day Mr. Darcy walks into his office, begging him to investigate the murder of Mr. Collins and to prove Elizabeth innocent of the crime. It seems like a straightforward enough case, but Alexander did not count on meeting a rather annoying young woman who seems to be in his way at every turn: Mary Bennet. 

As the case grows more and more complicated, Mary and Alexander cannot stop arguing, and discover that each brings new insight into the case. But as they get close to some answers, will they survive the plans of an evildoer in the midst of quiet Meryton?

Friday, 17 July 2020

When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid - Audiobook Giveaway

Audiobook cover: When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid
Today I'm happy to be welcoming Victoria Kincaid back to the blog with a guest post and giveaway of her new release, an audiobook version of When Mary Met the Colonel. You can guess which Mary and which Colonel the title refers to :)

Victoria visited me with this book when it came out (you can read her guest post here) and I also reviewed it. I'm really pleased to see that more Austenesque titles are making their way to audio. It's great that the option is there for people who can't read print for whatever reason. My audio reading has taken a huge hit since lockdown because my commute was my main audio reading time, and I would often solve the dilemma of exercise or reading by taking a lunchtime walk while listening to my audio book! Audio reading can also be an enjoyable way to limit the dent that things like housework makes to your reading time.

Let's look at the blurb and I will hand over to Victoria for an excerpt from When Mary Met the Colonel.

Book cover: When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid

Book Description

Without the beauty and wit of the older Bennet sisters or the liveliness of the younger, Mary is the Bennet sister most often overlooked.  She has resigned herself to a life of loneliness, alleviated only by music and the occasional book of military history.

Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself envying his friends who are marrying wonderful women while he only attracts empty-headed flirts.  He longs for a caring, well-informed woman who will see the man beneath the uniform.

A chance meeting in Longbourn’s garden during Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding breakfast kindles an attraction between Mary and the Colonel.  However, the Colonel cannot act on these feelings since he must wed an heiress. He returns to war, although Mary finds she cannot easily forget him.

Is happily ever after possible after Mary meets the Colonel?

Monday, 25 May 2020

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow - Review

UK Book Cover: The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
UK Cover
Today I’m bringing you my review of Janice Hadlow’s ‘The Other Bennet Sister’, the focus of which is the middle Miss Bennet, Mary. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll move on to my thoughts on this novel.

Book Description:

For fans of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Janice Hadlow's The Other Bennet Sister tells Mary's story...

It is a sad fact of life that if a young woman is unlucky enough to come into the world without expectations, she had better do all she can to ensure she is born beautiful. To be handsome and poor is misfortune enough; but to be both plain and penniless is a hard fate indeed.

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the middle of the five Bennet girls and the plainest of them all, so what hope does she have? Prim and pious, with no redeeming features, she is unloved and seemingly unlovable.

The Other Bennet Sister, though, shows another side to Mary. An introvert in a family of extroverts; a constant disappointment to her mother who values beauty above all else; fearful of her father’s sharp tongue; with little in common with her siblings – is it any wonder she turns to books for both company and guidance? And, if she finds her life lonely or lacking, that she determines to try harder at the one thing she can be: right.

One by one, her sisters marry – Jane and Lizzy for love; Lydia for some semblance of respectability – but Mary, it seems, is destined to remain single and live out her life at Longbourn, at least until her father dies and the house is bequeathed to the reviled Mr Collins.

But when that fateful day finally comes, she slowly discovers that perhaps there is hope for her, after all.

Simultaneously a wonderfully warm homage to Jane Austen and a delightful new story in its own right, Janice Hadlow's The Other Bennet Sister is, at its heart, a life-affirming tale of a young woman finding her place in the world. Witty and uplifting, it will make you feel – and cheer – for Mary as you never have before.

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UK Cover
The Other Bennet Sister - Review

I am not the biggest fan of Mary Bennet, although I do feel sorry for her position, caught between two close sets of sisters. I’ve always imagined that she would have felt quite alone and that the reason she worked so hard on her accomplishments was to have a defined role – Jane was the beautiful one, Elizabeth the clever one, which left Mary to try and distinguish herself another way.

…who having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

And from The Other Bennet Sister:

Learning would rescue her, not just from boredom and frustration, but from the likelihood of making any further sad mistakes.

It’s interesting to speculate on Mary’s perspective, and this is where books like this come in. This is a book in four parts and it’s quite a mighty tome – the best part of 700 pages. Part one looks at childhood and the events of Pride & Prejudice from Mary’s perspective and this was probably my favourite part of the book. Here, Mary is aware of the deficiency of her looks compared with those of her sisters, and it isolates her from them:

She had always been a cautious, watchful girl; now, she thought of little else but the poor impression she must make upon those around her.

I felt that the portrayal of Mary in the P&P part was obviously quite sympathetic to her, as it’s written from Mary’s point of view. I felt it showed Mrs Bennet as being more unkind to Mary than I got a sense of from P&P. Mr Bennet is just as insensitive and neglectful though!

The truth was, she thought bitterly, that there was no one in her immediate society who considered her worthy of attention; and it this was so when she was still young, why should it improve as she grew older?

Once we move past P&P, Mr Bennet has died, the Collinses take possession of Longbourn and Mary struggles to find her place in the world. I felt extremely sorry for her at this point, because at Jane’s home, Miss Bingley is still in residence and basically bullies Mary, and at Pemberley Mary feels like she’s intruding in the family party. She stays for a while at Longbourn and finally ends up with the Gardiners where FINALLY she feels accepted and loved for being herself.

It was as if a great abyss had opened up before Mary, and in it, she saw nothing before her but loneliness. In the space of a moment she understood how fervently she longed for affection.

US Book Cover: The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
US Cover
There were some parts of this story that for me didn’t tie up with Pride & Prejudice. Some details like Sir William Lucas being a baronet rather than a tradesman who was knighted. Mr Collins is different too – firstly, he was shown still acting as a clergyman once he had inherited Longbourn but I think it more likely that he would have revelled in the status upgrade of being a landed gentleman. He is also better-educated than P&P Collins, who had an ‘indifferent education’. I felt quite sad for Mr Collins here, who has started to come to the realisation that his wife doesn’t care for him.  

I didn’t follow some of the facts relating to Lady Catherine either. Here, it is said that Lady Catherine recognises Darcy as titular head of the family but I don’t know why that would be. He is head of the Darcy family, but she is either a de Bourgh or a Fitzwilliam. Also, a character called Mr Ryder is described as her closest relation but I wasn’t clear on how he was related to her, unless he is the son of another Fitzwilliam sister and in that case he wouldn’t be any closer than Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam or one of their siblings. Unless he was an illegitimate child of hers, which doesn’t seem likely!

Going back to the story, I thought Mary’s tale seemed quite a typical story of a person who is completely lacking in self-esteem. If you are a person who has similar issues I think this could cut quite close to the bone for you, and in that, I thought it was well done.

“Mr Wordsworth says elsewhere that nothing of value is to be gained from books. For him, our affections are the only real guide worth following.”
She felt tears begin to well up in her eyes.
“And I’m not sure I have any. Or none strong enough for me to follow with confidence. Perhaps they are too weak – too frozen – to help me find my way.”

Mary benefits hugely by living with the Gardiner family who genuinely love her. They see her for herself and love and value her. She finally finds like she has a place and begins to blossom. And once she has a greater value for herself she begins to find other people who value her too.

You dress as you do because you do not believe you deserve anything better and you wish to communicate that low opinion of yourself to everyone who sees you.

I found the character of Mary frustrating, though – while she learns to put a higher value on herself and becomes less despondent, in other aspects of her life she doesn’t seem to learn at all. She makes some mistakes through not trusting her own judgement – realising immediately that it’s a mistake but does nothing to rectify it, and then when she has a similar feeling in the future she learns nothing from the previous incident and just follows the same pattern. I was pleased to see her seize the moment in order to take the advice that she is trying to live by of being the architect of her own happiness.

In summary, there was a lot to like about this story, such as Mary’s take on the events of P&P and her coming to value herself, but I found I that it was drawn out a bit much for me. I prefer a shorter read. I’d rate it as a 4 star read.

4 star read

* My thanks to Netgalley UK and the publishers of The Other Benent Sister, Pan Macmillan for the review copy.


Book covers: The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Buy Links

You can buy this book in paperback, hardback, ebook or in audio now! 





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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid - Review

Book Cover - When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid
Many years ago, when I first read 'Pride & Prejudice' I really identified with Elizabeth. Although she is more outgoing than me, I felt a kinship with her due to her sense of humour and philosophical attitude, as well as her hasty temper, but like many introverted bookworm types, I also have some level of kinship with Mary. She is definitely an interesting secondary character, and one who has had quite a lonely time of it, with her sisters divided into twosomes. I love to see Mary get a chance to shine in her own right so I was very interested to read this new novella from Victoria Kincaid, ‘When Mary Met the Colonel’.

Monday, 15 February 2016

When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid - Excerpt, Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid
Today I am welcoming author Victoria Kincaid to the blog. Victoria has just released a new novella, a Mary Bennet story called 'When Mary Met the Colonel', and she has been so kind as to drop by here with an excerpt, a very interesting insight into what prompted her to write this story, and a giveaway of a kindle version of the book for one of you. Read on for more details!