Sunday, October 15, 2017

And the winner is...Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage

The live draw for an answered question and a hardbound copy of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage, has taken place and what a lovely draw it was. Thank you, Caroline Jane Knight, for answering two questions, not just one, of the questions left for you by the visitors to my blog. It was great hearing you talk about your ancestral home too. 

The winner of the Hardback copy,
 Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight

Clansi Rogers

Congratulations, Clansi. I hope you were able to hear your question answered. If not, go to the Austen Heritage Facebook page. You can still watch the video of the draw and hear your
question answered.  I will need you to email me
at jbtaylor12 at gmail dot com and send me
your mailing address. I will then get the address to Caroline
so she can mail you your book!
Once again, congratulations. 
I loved your question and the answer to it!

Caroline decided to answer another question and the draw was;

 Luthien84

Congratulations! You not only got your question answered, but Caroline is sending you a paperback copy of her book. Please check the link above for the video that answers your question. You will also need to email me your shipping address
so your book can be sent to you.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a question for Caroline. There were some excellent questions. Maybe they are all answered in the book! If you would like to get the book and read it for yourself, it may be purchased at Amazon 
or directly from the Austen Heritage Facebook page.

Thank you again to everyone for stopping by and especially to Caroline Jane Knight for being my guest and for allowing my readers to ask you a question. It was so lovely having you visit.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Giveaway of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight

Available on Amazon
It is an honor to host Caroline Jane Knight at More Agreeably Engaged today. I have had the great pleasure of visiting with Caroline on a couple of occasions and found her to be a lovely and personable woman, who is highly intelligent. Not only was it easy to chat with her, she made me feel comfortable. That is a trait that I admire as I will admit to being extremely nervous before our first visit. I mean, she is Jane Austen's fifth great-niece! :)  Caroline immediately put me at ease. Her warmth and caring was evident and her love of family history, strong. She is real and I am privileged to have visited with her. 

The stories Caroline shares of Chawton House and Jane Austen are fascinating! I could listen for hours and not tire of the knowledge gleaned from hearing about the lives of the Austen and Knight families. I felt it a privilege to have Caroline Jane Knight, personally, tell me some of those stories and some of her history. Now she has published a book that tells much more. How wonderful for any Janeite, or any person, for that matter, to learn first hand some of the family traditions that Jane Austen experienced, the books she read, and the family book plates passed down. What a heritage you have, Caroline. Thank you for writing about it and giving us the inside stories that you lived.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage is the memoir of Caroline Jane Knight. In it she talks about growing up in Chawton House, her family home. The fame of Jane Austen and her novels also had an effect on Caroline. It changed her life in many ways, one of which was to found The Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.  If you are not familiar with it, follow the link and learn about the wonderful things the foundation is doing to spread literacy across the globe. I would think Jane Austen proud of her great-niece. 

I invite you to take a few minutes, get to know Caroline Jane Knight, ask her a question that you would like answered, and take part in her giveaway. It is a special one so be sure to read more about it later on in the post.

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Caroline Jane Knight shares more than Jane Austen’s name and DNA. As a direct descendant of Jane’s brother, Edward Knight, Caroline is the last of the Austen Knight family to grow up at Chawton House on the estate where Jane Austen lived and enjoyed the most productive period of her writing career. Caroline explored the same places around Chawton House and its grounds as Jane did, dined at the same table in the same dining room, read in the same library and shared the same dream of independence.

Caroline’s early life was filled with the delights of living in a sixteenth-century English manor, the good cheer of family gatherings and centuries-old Christmas traditions in the Great Hall of Chawton House, the beauty of a country life, and the joys of helping her Granny bake cakes and serve Jane Austen devotees in the Chawton House tea room. But when she was seventeen, Caroline and her family were forced to leave the home her family had lived in for centuries. Heartbroken, but determined to leave all things Austen behind her, Caroline eventually carved out a highly successful career in business.

Caroline moved to Australia in 2008 to become CEO of DemoPlus, Australia’s largest sampling and demonstration agency. In 2010 Caroline joined the board of Life Education Victoria. In 2012, Caroline was a finalist in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards and the same year was made an honourary life fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

But the 2013 bi-centennial celebrations of the publishing of Pride & Prejudice started a chain of events in Caroline’s life that took her back to her roots and inspired her to launch the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation to increase literacy rates in the world’s poorest communities.

Caroline has recently published her memoir Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage to share her memories of Chawton House as her family home and how her fifth great-aunt Jane Austen’s phenomenal rise to global fame has changed her life today.

Caroline now lives in a leafy village on the outskirts of Melbourne with her husband, dogs and chickens.


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Austen Heritage - Website
Austen Heritage - Facebook (@CarolineJaneKnight)
The Jane Austen Literacy Foundation

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~ 15% of the profits from the sale of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage is donated to the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation ~

Audiobook
Purchase a Signed Copy at Austen Heritage




















Thank you, Caroline, for visiting with me and my readers today. I cannot wait to tell them what you have in store for them so guess I will 'get to it'.

Dear Readers, Caroline Jane Knight has kindly suggested that each of you ask her one question. It can be any question...about her new book, her family heritage, Jane Austen, the literacy foundation, or something about Caroline herself. I know she loves dogs, so you can ask her about her dogs! :) What would you like to know? Leave your question in the comments below. You have until Saturday, the 14th of October at 4 P. M. Central Time, to ask your question. At that time, the question session will close. At 4 P. M. Central Time on Sunday, the 15th of October, Caroline will draw the winning question live on her Austen Heritage Facebook page. Once the winning question has been drawn, she will then answer your question live. Won't that be fun?! I think it is pretty neat and I am anxious to know what the winning question will be and hear the answer. The question that is drawn, gets another bonus for the 'asker'! The writer of the chosen question gets a hardback copy of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage by Caroline Jane Knight and it will be signed by Caroline Jane Knight, personally to the winner. That is so awesome! Thank you, Caroline, for sharing such a fantastic opportunity and giveaway for my readers. I know they appreciate it as much as I do. 

Remember to leave your question in the comments below. Go to Austen Heritage Facebook on Sunday, the 15th of October at 4 PM Central Time, for the live draw and hear the question answered by Caroline Jane Knight. Good luck to each of you. The giveaway is international!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Could Write a Book...Karen M Cox

It is my pleasure to spotlight the release, I Could Write a Book, by Karen M Cox. This Emma based novel sounds delightful. I'm looking forward to learning more about this George Knightley and Emma Woodhouse of the 1970's. Thank you Karen, for sharing an excerpt and your talent with us. Best Wishes for your new release. 

Dear Readers, don't forget to participate in the Rafflecopter Giveaway. There are a few days left to sign up for the fabulous giveaways. Thank you to Claudine Pepe for organizing this blog tour and allowing me to participate. A special thanks to Karen for sharing the excerpt with us. I enjoyed departing your train at Donwell Abbey! It is quite a pleasant place.

Book Description

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…”

Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village two hundred years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.

I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered and predictable, if a bit confining.

Her friend George Knightley is a man of the world who has come home to fulfill his destiny: run his father’s thriving law practice and oversee the sprawling Donwell Farms, his family legacy in Central Kentucky horse country.

Since childhood, George’s and Emma’s lives have meshed and separated time and again. But now they’re adults with grown-up challenges and obligations. As Emma orchestrates life in quaint Highbury, George becomes less amused with her antics and struggles with a growing attraction to the young woman she’s become.

Rich with humor, poignancy and the camaraderie of life in a small, Southern town, I Could Write a Book is a coming of age romance with side helpings of self-discovery, friendship, and finding true love in the most unlikely places.

Book Excerpt

Thank you, Janet, for helping me wrap up the blog tour for I Could Write a Book.
Let’s depart the blog tour train at the most pleasant place I can imagine.
Donwell Abbey is sometimes considered a secondary “character” in Austen’s Emma. It marks the place in the novel where Emma really becomes aware of just how fine a man Mr. Knightley is. So, of course, the Donwell horse farm in I Could Write a Book had to be impressive, elegant, and beautiful—like the man who waited for Emma there.
There’s a strawberry-picking outing today, upscale Kentucky Bluegrass style.
Welcome to Donwell Farms…



June 5, 1976
The last time I had visited Donwell Farm was the Christmas party where Jack and Izzy had announced she was expecting Henry. To my shame, it had been that long ago. George was always stopping by the house on Hartfield Road, or the Randalls’ place if he saw I was there, and yet I hadn’t visited with him at his townhouse or his family home in a very long time. We were friends, close enough to not need formal invitations, but I was always so busy, with school, with Daddy, with my sillier activities. I hadn’t made time for him, even to check on how he was doing since his break up with Julianne. And that negligence had to change.
“I have such fond memories of Donwell.” Daddy’s eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “I thought it might be a rather lonely place with Gary and Joanne being gone, but…” He leaned over to look out between Mary Jo and me, sitting in the front seats. “Today, it looks busy and happy. I’m glad I came with you.”
His words made me pay attention to the front grounds as we drove The Lane (and it was officially called “The Lane,” marked with a street sign and everything). Fruit orchards lay about the grounds to each side; the drive itself was lined with cedars, oaks, and maples in a way that suggested they’d been there forever. Closer to the house, the landscaping became more formal, well-trimmed boxwoods outlined the circular drive. In the center of that circle, now filled with parked cars, there was a carefully tended rose garden. The house itself looked as if it had grown there of its own volition over the generations. Our house on Hartfield Road was a two-story Georgian-style, almost antebellum-looking, with its tall Doric columns and porches on both floors. In contrast, Donwell Farms mansion was rambling and massive: rich, red brick with white trim and green shutters; long, generous windows and a decorative spire—much like the ones that adorned Churchill Downs. It was a stark reminder that George’s family wasn’t just rich or steeped in tradition, like my own—the Knightleys combined money, family, and tradition into a genteel sort of wealth that was becoming more and more rare. Jack Knightley had his faults, I mused, but they were minor in comparison to what he brought to the Woodhouse family. He was good to Izzy and the children, and he had generations of class and elegance behind him that would give Henry and Taylor, and any new Knightleys that might come along, a legacy to be proud of.
I pulled up in the circle and saw George Knightley, Esquire, Master of All He Surveyed, standing at the door, waiting for us. Butterflies floated from my stomach into my chest and up into my throat. What can I say? He was a compelling sight. I’d have to be blind not to notice. He wore khaki pants and a polo shirt in a sky-blue that I knew would bring out the blue in his eyes. I stopped the car and got out to get Daddy’s wheelchair from the trunk, and George pushed off the door frame, walking down the steps with a big smile.
I waved at him. “Good morrow, Professor! Don’t worry about our carriage here. I’ll move it as soon as I get Daddy inside.”
“Leave it, Emma Kate,” he said. “The others can drive around it, or I’ll get Benton to move it, if need be.” He lifted the wheelchair out of the trunk and expertly opened it.
“I brought the chair in case he got tired or wanted to explore the grounds some more. He’s been doing really well with the cane for short distances though.” I shut the trunk.
“Good thinking. Good morning, John.”
“Hello, my boy, hello. Beautiful day for a picnic. Perfect for young people to scamper around outside.”
“Indeed, it is.” George wheeled the chair to the open car door, where Mary Jo was helping Daddy stand. “Hello, Mary Jo, how are you this fine morning?”
“I’m well, Mr. Knightley, thank you.”
“Oh, we’re not at the office today. I think you can call me George, won’t you please?”
“Of—of course.” She blushed. “You have a lovely home. George.”
“Thank you. Let’s go in this way.” He led them around to the side entrance and muscled the wheelchair up and over the lower door threshold. “Almost everyone is here. They’re out in the back yard, walking toward the strawberry patch. Except for Nina. She’s on the veranda. I’ve got a place set up for you there too, John, or you can go inside, if you’d rather.”
“I’ll sit with my sister-in-law. We can catch up. I don’t get to see Nina nearly as much as I used to when the girls were smaller. Before she married.”
“Good enough,” George said.

***

How ’bout that George Knightley? I dare say he’s “good enough” for me!

Karen M Cox’s Links





Author Biography


Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of novels accented with romance and history, including 1932 and its companion ebook novella The Journey Home, and the novels Find Wonder in All Things and Undeceived. She also contributed a short story, “Northanger Revisited 2015”, to the anthology, Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer, and a story titled, “I, Darcy” to The Darcy Monologues.
Karen was born in Everett WA, which was the result of coming into the world as the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee and New York State before finally settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at the age of eleven. She lives in a quiet little town with her husband, where she works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter.


Connect with Karen:
Website: www.karenmcox.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/karenmcox
Visit with Karen on several of the usual social media haunts such as Facebook, (karenmcox1932), Twitter (@karenmcox1932), Pinterest (karenmc1932), Instagram (karenmcox1932), and Tumblr (karenmcox).


If you would like bits of authorly goodness in your inbox once a month (updates, sales, book recommendations, etc.) sign up for News & Muse Letter
Karen loves to hear from readers, so don’t be shy. Contact her through social media, her website, or online sites like Amazon and Goodreads.

Purchase Links



Kindle Universal Link: getBook.at/ICouldWriteaBook



Blog Tour Schedule


Laughing with Lizzie / September 6 / Launch Post/Dating Game / Giveaway
So little time… / September 7 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway
Book Lover in Florida / September 8 / Guest post / Giveaway
Austenesque Reviews / September 15 / Book Review/ Giveaway
My Love for Jane Austen / September 16 / Guest Post / Giveaway
Granny Loves to Read  / September 17 / Book Review / Giveaway
My Jane Austen Book Club / September 18/ Guest Post/Mr. Knightley / Giveaway
Just Jane 1813 / September 19 / Author Interview / Giveaway
Sophia’s Sofa Chat / September 21 / An Interview with Karen M Cox on Goodreads
Babblings of a Bookworm/ / September 22 / Book Review/ Giveaway
Silver Petticoat Review / September 23/ Guest Post/ Giveaway
From Pemberley to Milton / September 25 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway
Margie’s Must Reads / September 27 / Book Review / Giveaway
My Vices and Weaknesses / September 30 / Book Review / Giveaway
Diary of an Eccentric / October 2 / Book Review / Giveaway
More Agreeably Engaged / October 4 / Book Excerpt / Giveaway


Giveaways


Karen Cox has set up a Rafflecopter for two winners. One winner will receive The Tea Pack: JA mug, Mr Knightley & Emma teas from Bingley’s teas, and a set of Jane Austen coasters. The second winner will receive a Jewelry Pack, which contains a Little Emma charm on a necklace, Regency cameo earrings, Emma Bangle Bracelet, and a Jewelry Roll.  These giveaways are open internationally.













The giveaway ends on October 7th and the winners will be announced through the Rafflecopter widget on participating blogs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, Karen for visiting and letting More Agreeably Engaged wrap up your busy and successful blog tour. It's been great having you stop by and give us a delightful excerpt to read and enjoy. Your giveaway is awesome! There will be two lucky winners! :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Miss Darcy's Beaux...Eliza Shearer

It is with pleasure that I welcome to More Agreeable Engaged, Eliza Shearer. This is her first visit to my blog and I'm thrilled to have her stop by. She shares an excerpt with us today and I'm sure you will enjoy reading it. She also brings some interesting info about Servants in Regency England. There are two links below that give more information should you want to read more.

Please join me in welcoming Eliza Shearer.

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Below are the two links mentioned above.




7 Things that Jane Austen Novels Teach Us About Servants and their Masters in Regency England

Jane Austen lived at a time where servants were numerous and pervasive. Most of her characters employ people to run their homes and tend to their needs, and footmen, housekeepers, maids, and manservants are a constant background presence in Austen’s novels.

In some cases, Jane Austen mentions servants in passing, to add depth to her descriptions. However, in many instances, she uses servants to deliver information, advance or alter the course of the story or to highlight the positive or negative traits of other characters.

At all events, Jane Austen also had very definite ideas as to the role of servants, how they should behave and the kind of relationship that one ought to have with them. Here are some of the common themes we find in her novels:

1) Having servants is a mark of gentility

Austen’s novels cover a broad spectrum of financial circumstances, but even the most impoverished families in them can just about manage to have servants. In Emma, the Bates ladies have a single servant, Patty. In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price’s parents employ two girls: Rebecca, “the upper servant,” and Sally, “an attendant girl” of “inferior appearance.”

Not having at least a maid to help around the house is a shameful evidence of near-destitution. Only Mrs Smith of Persuasion, as a “poor, infirm, helpless widow” with no friends and very little money, is “unable to afford herself the comfort of a servant,” although it is understood that she used to have several before her husband died.


2) The number of servants is a reflection of personal wealth

No surprises here: the richer the masters, the higher the number of staff working in a home. Stately homes such as Pemberley or Mansfield Park would have commanded a small army of servants to keep them ticking like clockwork. Contrast that to Longbourn, where there is a housekeeper, butler, cook, maid, and scullery maid to serve a household of seven. 

Austen often uses the reduction in the number of servants to indicate a change for the worse in the circumstances of her heroines. In Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwood sisters and their mother have to make do with “two maids and a man” when they move to Devonshire. In Persuasion, a strong argument in favour of the Elliots’ move to Bath is that they will require fewer servants. And we have already seen what happens to Mrs Smith, who has lost her fortune to the extent that she can't even have a maid. 

3) Servants are expected to be invisible

In the Regency, servants were expected not to be seen, nor heard. It sounds strange to our XXI century sensitivities, but even the kindest and most observant Austen characters fail to notice them. In Persuasion, this is Anne Elliot’s reaction when Mrs Smith talks to her about Nurse Rooke:

“Did you observe the woman who opened the door to you, when you called yesterday?”
“No.  Was it not Mrs. Speed, as usual, or the maid?  I observed no-one in particular.”
“It was my friend, Mrs. Rooke – Nurse Rooke, who, by the by, had a great curiosity to see you, and was delighted to be in the way to let you in.”

Persuasion, Chapter 21

Anne is not nasty or self-absorbed, quite the opposite, but she is just a woman of her time. A servant is “no-one in particular,” someone who is expected to open doors and deliver letters without further thought given to them. 

4) Servants expose their masters to gossip

Servants were a notorious source of information on their masters. Anything the family did or discussed was at risk of being talked about. In the case of Pride and Prejudice, Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper, “had evidently great pleasure in talking of her master and his sister.” She only has praise to give on Mr Darcy, but it’s likely that, had her opinions been negative, she would have shared them as well.

The only way for masters and mistresses to avoid the scrutiny of their servants was to be particularly careful about their communications. However, such things were difficult at times of high drama. In Pride and Prejudice, upon returning to Longbourn from Hunsford, Elizabeth despairs when she hears that the news of Lydia’s escape with Wickham has not been handled with discretion:

“Oh! Jane,” cried Elizabeth, “was there a servant belonging to it (the house) who did not know the whole story before the end of the day?”

Pride and Prejudice, chapter 47

Elizabeth’s concern is justified, because she knows that, once the servants have the details of the story, the town gossips won’t be long to follow suit. 

5) Servants’ chat is not to be trusted

Because of their tendency to gossip, servants’ chat isn’t always reliable and can lead to serious misunderstandings. Austen uses this device very effectively in Sense and Sensibility, when a servant unwittingly causes a fair deal of despair to the Dashwood ladies with an apparently harmless piece of news:

Their (the Dashwoods) man-servant had been sent one morning to Exeter on business; and when, as he waited at table, he had satisfied the inquiries of his mistress as to the event of his errand, this was his voluntary communication--

‘I suppose, you know, ma’am, that Mr. Ferrars is married.’

Sense and Sensibility, chapter 47

The shock of the family is groundless, but Austen uses the servant’s words to add suspense, move the story forward and show Lucy Steele’s maliciousness.

6) One should not be too friendly towards the servants

Members of the gentry were expected to know their place. Only a handful of characters in Austen’s novels are friendly towards servants or those tending to their needs, and in all cases, their behaviour is carefully weaved into the story to show character traits, such as their self-interest or their loneliness.

For example, in Mansfield Park, when the family visits Sotherton, Mrs Norris is immediately drawn to the servants. She chats with them, asks them questions and shows interest in their work, and in return she receives cream cheese and pheasants' eggs for her home.  Her selfish behaviour results in  Julia Bertram having to stay with Mrs Rushworth and ultimately in Henry Crawford and Maria Bertram being unchaperoned for quite some time.


Mrs Smith of Persuasion is also very friendly with the woman who nurses her. In her case, however, loneliness rather than self-interest is her sole motivation. Of course, Mrs Smith also finds out about Mr Elliot’s supposed engagement with Anne thanks to her friend, another instance of servant interactions acting as plot devices.

7) Masters have a responsibility towards their servants

Former servants unable to work due to their advanced age or poor health were wholly dependant on the willingness of their families to support them. But being in service did not always sit well with marrying or having children, which meant that old servants were at risk of ending up living in squalor. A way to make up for a life of dedication was to leave faithful servants with a small annuity that would help them enjoy their old age in dignity.

But not everyone liked annuities. In Sense and Sensibility, Fanny Dashwood explains why she rather despises the notion:

“An annuity is a very serious business; it comes over and over every year, and there is no getting rid of it. (...) my mother was clogged with the payment of three to old superannuated servants by my father's will, and it is amazing how disagreeable she found it. Twice every year these annuities were to be paid; and then there was the trouble of getting it to them; and then one of them was said to have died, and afterwards it turned out to be no such thing. My mother was quite sick of it.”

Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 2

Compare Mrs Dashwood’s attitude with that of kind Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. His sense of responsibility towards an old servant who has “fallen into misfortune” leads him to “visit him in a spunging-house, where he was confined for debt.” There, he finds Eliza, his disgraced sister-in-law and former love, who is dying of consumption, and whose little girl he takes into his care. 

Some masters chose to keep elderly servants on, with much lighter or less taxing duties. In my novel Miss Darcy’s Beaux, Mr Darcy Senior engages Nanny Fraser, the old nursery maid that once looked after Lady Anne to supervise Georgiana’s playtime, which is often shared with young Wickham. Below is an extract of chapter 2, where Georgiana reminiscences the long summer afternoons spent playing with Wickham. We also get a glimpse of infamous Mrs Youngue. Enjoy!


Miss Darcy’s Beaux

Chapter 2

The following morning I breakfasted alone. I was informed that my brother had had to leave early after receiving an urgent notice from Mr Harvey, the estate keeper, and that Elizabeth was convalescing in her room. I was eager to see her, but it was still early. Looking out of the window I saw that the sun was out and the ground was dry, so I fetched my warmest shawl and stepped outside.
It was a bright, mild day in late February. The grounds at Pemberley had not looked as inviting in months. The winter frost was giving way to patches of green, and tiny buds were visible everywhere. I first thought of heading west towards the formal garden, but the pull of the morning sun was strong, and I headed eastwards, towards the majestic willows that grew by the stream, imposing in the barren landscape. Here and there, I could see timid dashes of colour. Where there had been snowdrops, there were primroses, their beautiful blooms opening as if they were as starved of sunlight as I was after a long winter confined in the house. The nests that had shown such industriousness in the summer and spring had been empty for months, but would soon have new occupiers.
The sun was getting stronger by the minute, and I realised I didn't have a parasol with me. I hadn't thought I would need one this early in the day. Mrs Younge's words resonated unwelcome in my thoughts. ‘Your porcelain skin is your best asset, Miss Darcy, and you should make sure it remains so,’ she used to say. She was extremely vigilant when it came to my complexion; unfortunately, she was much less concerned about my virtue. I blushed in spite of myself. The disgraceful event was safely in my past, at least.
My walk led me to the pond where, as a little girl, Wickham had taken me on tadpole hunts. I remembered the long summers together, his playfulness, his attentiveness, the way he had of combing his hair back with his fingers. Wickham was fond of telling me stories. According to him, the tadpoles were an army of disguised soldiers, ready to defend Pemberley from a terrible dragon that hid behind the hills.  He used to say that the minute the beast attacked us, Mr Tiddles the cat would become a white horse, and his trusty pocket knife would turn into a majestic sword, ready for action. As he said this, his arm would be up in the air, waving an invisible weapon, and his eyes would sparkle, eager for the fight.
I sighed. The stories came when my brother was in the study, learning the ropes of estate management.  From an early age, my father had been eager to educate his son and heir in the affairs that in due course would become his responsibility, and my brother had applied himself to the task, his conscientiousness and sense of duty as much a part of him as his dark hair. But away from the house, things were different for Wickham and me. In those long afternoons, if the weather was good, we were allowed to play outside under the supervision of Nanny Fraser, the Pemberley nursemaid. Wickham would walk by her side, his charm oozing from his every pore. We'd reach the pond, the poor woman quite out of breath as she was getting into old age; after all, Nanny Fraser had cared for Mama and her brother and sister when they were little. Wickham, ever the gentleman, would then guide her towards a lonely bench in the perfect shady spot, overlooking the house, and say ‘Nanny Fraser, won't you sit down?  We've had a fair bit of exercise. I'll play with Georgiana right there. I'll look after her, don't you worry.’  The old nursemaid would grumble a bit, saying that she just needed to get her breath back, and take a seat, insisting that she would be with us in a few minutes, but invariably she would be snoring after a short while.
As soon as Nanny Fraser was asleep, Wickham would take my hand and drag me to the pond. He taught me to put my hands in the water slowly, fingers gently touching, so as not to scare the tadpoles, then bring the edges of the palms swiftly together around an unsuspecting victim. Then came the hard bit, lifting the cage with the tadpole inside and enough water to keep it from wriggling out. Wickham often had to help me, and he would do so by covering my pudgy child hands with his.
As a young girl, I was in awe of Wickham, just as I was in awe of my brother for entirely different reasons. Where Wickham was stories and laughs, Fitzwilliam was concern and sternness. I loved my brother dearly, he was my picture of a perfect gentleman, but I was in love with Wickham even before I even knew what romance was. What followed, the folly of a fifteen-year-old girl eager to escape the sheltered world she had always lived in with the man she had always adored, came close to disgracing me forever. Thankfully, our idiotic plans had not come to fruition. Only just.
I felt the familiar jolt deep inside of me. It was weaker every time, but it was still there. I sighed again. The future that we might have shared, I could imagine, but I would never experience. And now Wickham was married to Lydia, Elizabeth’s sister.


About Miss Darcy’s Beaux

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s beloved sister Georgiana is now a woman of twenty. After living in the enclosed safety of Pemberley for years, she is sent to London for the season with Lady Catherine de Bourgh as her chaperone. Lady Catherine is determined that her niece shall make a splendid match. But will Georgiana allow her domineering aunt to decide for her? Or will she do as her brother did, and marry for love? 

Miss Darcy’s Beaux is available on Amazon | Kobo | Nook | CreateSpace | GoodReads.


About Eliza Shearer

Eliza Shearer is a long-time an admirer of Jane Austen's work and the author of Miss Darcy’s Beaux, the first volume in her Austeniana series. She can often be found enjoying long walks and muddying her petticoats, or re-reading Jane Austen's novels by the fireside. She is very partial to bread and butter pudding, satin slippers and bonnets and ribbons, but has never cared much for cards. You can find her on Twitter @Eliza_Shearer_ or at https://elizashearerblog.wordpress.com.  


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What a lovely excerpt that you shared with us, Ms. Shearer. It was sweet and telling. Thank you. I'm eager to read more of your story. I am hearing good things about your book and I wish you the best. It was an honor to have you visit today and I hope you will come back in the future.

I also enjoyed your text on servants and masters. That has always been a topic of fascination to me. It seems that some have the best of relationships and others the worst. I'm sure sometimes it has more to do with the master but can also have much to do with a whether a servant is trustworthy or not.  Thank you for giving us some things to ponder and for also including the links to more information on the subject. 

Now, happy Readers, there is a giveaway Eliza Shearer is giving away one eBook of Miss Darcy's Beaux, and the giveaway is international. Have your share in the conversation to be entered. Have you ever wondered about this interesting relationship between above stairs and below stairs? If so, what are your thoughts? When you comment, make sure I have your contact info should you be the winner. Giveaway will end at 11:59 P. M. on the 2nd of October. Good luck to all.