Friday, February 23, 2018

My share in the conversation...The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

It's a pleasure to participate in Don Jacobson's blog tour for his latest book in the The Bennet Wardrobe series, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn. I am sharing my thoughts on the book and Don is sharing an excerpt that you are going to love. I know I did when I read the book.

My review follows the excerpt, but before getting to the review and excerpt, let's take a look at the blurb and learn more about Don.


“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.

Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion 

Author Bio:

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).

 Contact Info:

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Blog Tour Schedule:

Feb. 14 Austenesque Reviews;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 15 My Jane Austen Book Club;  Guest Post, GA
Feb. 17 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
Feb. 19 So little time…  Excerpt, GA
Feb. 20 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl;  Review, GA
Feb. 21 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post, GA
Feb. 23 More Agreeably Engaged;  Review, Excerpt, GA
Feb. 24 Darcyholic Diversions;  Character Interview, GA
Feb. 26 From Pemberley to Milton;  Excerpt
Feb. 28 Just Jane 1813;  Review, GA
Mar. 2  Diary of an Eccentric;  Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
Mar. 3  My Vices and Weaknesses; Author Interview, GA
Mar. 5  Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, GA


This excerpt from Chapter XXVII of “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn,” brings you into a waiting area in the offices of Wilson and Hunters, the Bennet family’s London solicitors. The pas de deux between Laura Jenkinson, the spinster sister-in-law of Mrs. Jenkinson who works as a lady’s companion in Kent, and Sergeant Henry Wilson, late of the South Essex Regiment are the first shots in a relationship that will help shape aspects of the Wardrobe’s Universe.

This excerpt is ©2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Reproduction in any form of this work without the expressed written consent of the creator is prohibited. Published in the United States of America.
Laura Jenkinson settled herself in one of the well-stuffed chairs. The modest waiting area was made cozy by a coal-fed blaze sputtering in the hearth. Never one to leave things to chance, the companion pulled a small folio containing nearly a dozen foolscap quarto sheets from her reticule.[i] She then settled herself in for a wait—long or short. Luckily, Miss J was familiar with the tightly crabbed hand that had copied out the extensive fragment entitled Canto The First. She would have been otherwise utterly out-to-sea as she read the poetry that covered the slightly yellowed fine linen paper.
To this point, she had only briefly noticed the giant footman standing adjacent to the mantle, so placid was he, although not in a bovine nature, but rather akin to a South American jaguar poised upon a branch observing fauna passing unawares underneath. There was a tension which emanated from him, a controlled fury awaiting release, although not born of anger, but rather a potential for unknown action, either for good or not. Beyond that, though, she expected to consign him to blend into the woodwork, as was the nature of her class: servants were seen only when needed.
Yet, he defied this normal practice simply through his presence which overwhelmed her efforts to ignore him: first unconsciously and then with awakened sentiments as she tried to concentrate on the writing spread across the leaves resting in her lap. Even though she kept her head bowed, Laura could not avoid the sense of his thereness. T’was not his massive frame, towering well over six feet nor his near white blond hair above eyes bluer than the skies above the North Sea on a midsummer’s day. His body, broad—impossibly wide—at the shoulders, v’ed down to narrow hips leaving the impression of an inverted arrowhead. His entire being—both physical and spiritual—unsettled her in a manner thoroughly unfamiliar.
He wore a livery with which she was not acquainted: black wool of the finest quality—cashmere, perhaps—and richly dyed, with gold frogging anchoring richly embossed buttons. The device embroidered on his coat’s left breast, a deeply entwined “M and H,” bore testament to his position as a member of a household of note.
His eyes stopped their perpetual perambulation around the room and concentrated on her. She could feel their boring gaze penetrating through the brim of her bonnet as it blinkered her vision. Her inner self trembled under the intensity of that observation, that dissection which was laying her naked before him. Soon the vibrations that had plucked her psyche’s hidden strings manifested themselves in her lightly shaking hands.
This has to stop! He is a footman…a man…no more, no less! And I am his better.
Laura raised her eyes from the poem and shot a potent look toward the servant fully expecting him to avert his attention, ignore her, and allow her to slide back into the anonymity of her position. Instead he refocused his orbs swallowing hers in their depths, further rocking her sensibilities.
The titan cleared his throat. He wished permission to address her, but was aware enough of his lowly status to petition her. She nodded her assent.
In a rolling baritone that annihilated her last defenses he spoke, not as a servant, but as an educated man, “Please forgive my forward behavior. I am aware that you are Mrs. Wickham’s companion. Since it appears that we are to be near one another for some time, I hope you will allow me to introduce myself.”
Given another stuttering nod by the young lady, he slowly continued, “I am Sergeant Henry Wilson, soon to be of Wellesley’s own 33rd, that is infantry, ma’am. I am on detached duty in the service of the House of Deauville. I accompanied my Lady here today for her meeting with your charge.”
She absorbed his military background that explained his powerful presence to her. However, his cultured speech surprised her.
This is a man who has probably spent years dispatching His Majesty’s foes. That he is a Sergeant means that he has survived long enough to be recognized by his commanders. However, he speaks as a man with education. Perhaps there is more to him than a common soldier and footman to be scorned as a creature of the slums.
She quickly and graciously responded. “I am pleased to meet you, Sergeant Wilson. I am Miss Laura Jenkinson, lately from Northumberland where I lived with my brother and his wife. However, fever swept the vicar and his children off, forcing Mrs. Jenkinson and me to find employment. I am now under the protection of young Mr. Hunters and this firm.
“As you may divine, I receive various commissions from the gentleman in exchange for my bed and board. I live at Oakham House.”
Wilson paused as pieces clicked into place.
A preacher’s sister, like dear Miss Smythe. Thankfully when Mr. Smythe passed on, he did not leave her without resources. Me and the other Mersey boys who’d made something of themselves, thanks to his ministry, worked all the bawdy houses and hellholes around the docks until we added another 100 guineas to send the poor lady off to her cousin in Bath with a decent inheritance.
Miss Jenkinson, though, has more steel in her. Not for her the predictable life of a lady’s companion…or a governess: instead she is an operator who takes the unusual and makes it her own.
And, she is all lady, not like that vacant piece of fluff who just flounced past here on her way into that meeting from which both Miss Jenkinson and I have been barred.
He frankly, but not obviously, appraised the lady’s attributes. What he saw was a full-grown woman with medium brown hair—based upon the curls that were escaping from her bonnet’s confines—and an attractive face graced with light brown eyes. A blush of health suffused her cheeks that framed a pert nose above a mouth that may have been characterized by the tabbies of the ton as unfashionably wide. When her lips parted, he could spy white teeth evenly spaced. A gentle dusting of freckles bore testament to her love of the outdoors. Little could be made of her body that was now curled in the chair. However, Wilson recalled watching her approach after she was sent back to wait. He could attest to the fact that she was neither thin nor plump and had the requisite curves in all the right places.
Her loveliness nearly unmanned him. Shaking himself, he asked Miss Jenkinson what she was reading.
Taking the opportunity to regain her composure, Laura happily replied, “This is a wonderful little bit of work by a friend of Mr. Hunters. You may have heard of him, perhaps: Mr. Gordon who is also Lord Byron.
“He has long been a friend of the Hunters family. When Mrs. Hunters, whom I attended during the last year of her life, was failing, Byron, knowing that she loved lyric poems, presented her with a rough draft of the new verses upon which he was working…Childe Burun.[ii]
“Byron is one of those new breed of poets rising in England—the Romantics.”
Wilson nodded and offered back as he, more comfortable now, circled around from his station by the hearth, and settled into a chair, “I myself favor the Romantics…in fact their Founder, Mr. Blake, is someone who has brought me comfort many a cold night on the lines in the Peninsula.
“His words speak to me and remind me of the trials and matching wonders that confront us every day.
He lifted his head and quoted, entrancing Laura with every word,
The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
   Led by the wandering light,
   Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
Appeared like his father, in white.
He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
   And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, through the lonely dale,
   Her little boy weeping sought.[iii]
Laura was astonished at the depths to which the currents of the Sergeant’s soul ran. She could well imagine him as a child alienated from his mother through circumstances beyond his control. How Blake’s words helped him mourn his loss of a mama’s love, she knew not, but that these were the stanzas he was able to quickly quote told the tale.
However, not to be outdone, she challenged back, “Mr. Gordon has yet to fully make his name, so the comparison may be unfair. If, my fine sir, you chose to quote an established poet to me, then I can only respond with Mr. Wordsworth.”
What possessed her to select that poet or those specific verses would cause her to wonder that evening and the countless thousands more of her long and joyous life. Perhaps it was the cant of the universe at that odd moment…or not. The dice with which the gods determine the fates of men and women tumbled out of the cup to her eternal pleasure.

If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake![iv]

The gleam in his eyes told her all. He was as captured as she. Agape exploded throughout her being.
At that exact moment, the door to Mr. Hunter’s office popped open and the Lady, her shroud lifted, strode out with Lydia and Mr. Hunters trailing behind her like two frigates attending the flagship of the fleet, eagerly awaiting their orders. Miss J and Wilson both shot to their feet and turned expectantly.
She and he both felt the Countess’ appraising glance speedily read them far better than any Gypsy fortuneteller. Then the Lady nodded and mumbled mostly for her ears only, “Hmmmpf: as I expected. Besotted!  
“They are utterly lost to us. Liam and Sean were correct. The story was assuredly not apocryphal.”

[i] 6.5” X 8” See accessed 12/11/17.
[ii] Byron retiled the reworked final poem and published it in 1812 as Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
[iii] The Little Boy Found from William Blake, Songs of Innocence (1794). accessed 12/11/17.
[iv] William Wordsworth. Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye. July 13, 1798. (1798).

My review includes some thoughts on the Bennet Wardrobe as a whole, as well as The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn. 

A Book Review, The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson

I love The Bennet Wardrobe Series and have been fascinated with it since reading the first book, The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Don Jacobson is an exceptional writer and his interweaving of history, fictional characters, real-life people, and events is brilliant. He makes it all fit together seamlessly, not contrived nor forced, but realistically, as if his world was truth. It is, isn’t it?

I love that the Wardrobe takes its occupant to a place where he/she needs to go, to become the person that he/she is meant to be, to develop to their full potential. The person of Bennet blood does not have a choice of where to travel. The Wardrobe makes that decision for them.

Don Jacobson’s newest release in The Bennet Wardrobe series is the second part of book two, The Exile, with the continuation of Kitty Bennet’s story. Kitty is now Lady Kate Fitzwilliam, the Dowager Countess of Matlock, and is of an age, forty-six years more than when she first entered the Wardrobe. Kitty is at her beach house in Deauville, making plans to return to Longbourn. After much research, Kitty believes she has discovered the driving force behind the Wardrobe, and that discovery stretched her mind almost beyond what was sanely possible. ‘Without revealing her stunning conclusion’, she must make sure her father has sufficient knowledge to secure the Wardrobe and the future of the Five Families. She can scatter ‘a fistful of breadcrumbs’ without changing any events to come or destroying the purpose of the Wardrobe.

I loved reading about Kitty and her father. Per the Wardrobe rules, Kitty returns to the moment in time when she left. She is now sixty-three, but her father has not aged, thus he is younger than Kitty. It was fun to see her older than Mr. Bennet, yet at times still feeling like the girl of seventeen. How strange that must have been for them both. Lady Kate is now a strong, independent woman of means and influence. She sets some events in motion that give answers to a few things mentioned in earlier books, ah-ha moments. The inception of and the reasons for the Founder’s Letters were excellent and satisfying. There are so many neat things in this story of Kitty and her visit back to the point of her first departure. Those tasty morsels I will leave for the reader to glean themselves.

I loved learning more about Wickham and Lydia. I began to like him and that is quite unusual. Mr. Jacobson teased us well with this inclusion. Now I eagerly wait for Lydia’s book!

There are new characters, relatives of some from P&P and some that are introduced for the first time. There are minor characters from canon that are developed and grow into strong forces of nature, as the author envisions they could and will be.

At the front of each book, Mr. Jacobson gives a dramatis personae, a list of characters and from whence they came. The Gibbons’ Rules of the Wardrobe will follow this list. Next is the Bennets of Longbourn, and it is the family tree, past, present, and future. I enjoy going back and perusing these inclusions as I read each book in the series.

Toward the end of this Bennet history, Kitty travels back to the beach house in Deauville, where her future awaits. It is a touching, yet bittersweet grand finale to the story that is the life of Miss Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of Mr. Thomas Bennet of Longbourn. It leaves us a with a hint and hope for what awaits us in the next book.

I am amazed at the author’s ability to bring to life this universe that is the Bennet Wardrobe. He makes it a reality and keeps the telling of it, flowing smoothly and with ease. I highly recommend this series by Don Jacobson. His stories have depth and a style that move them into a league of their own. They are different from any in this genre I have read in the past. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to encounter this author and his books. Thank you, Don Jacobson.


Don Jacobson is offering a fantastic giveaway of 12 books – 10 eBooks and 2 Paperbacks. Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm glad you stopped by my blog today. Thank you for reading my thoughts on Don's book. Have you read it yet? Have you read any other books in this series? If so, what are your thoughts. I would love to know what you think. Be sure to visit all the other blogs in the tour and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.


  1. Great review Janet, I agree with you on all points. thanks for the giveaway.

  2. I am eagerly anticipating reader reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon! As readers know, I "go to school" on the rev iews finding ways to "Tweak" the books. For instance, Sheila M begged for a "Dramatis Personae" at the front so she could keep track. That appeared in "The Countess Visits..." I do have to go back to the earlier books and add such to the files.

  3. I like the use of names from the original Pride and Prejudice

    1. I do too, Susan. The people Don uses in his books bring them to life and help create the universe that is The Wardrobe.

    2. I really enjoyed creating a new character from Mrs. Jenkinson's this case her deceased husband's younger sister. Laura (Miss J) is another fierce woman much in the spirit of Miss Austen's other powerful female characters!

  4. Thank you for the excerpt and review. I haven't read any of the books yet as I didn't want to start the series until it's complete that way I can read them all in one go.

    1. I hope you will read them soon. I know it is hard to wait between books but these are so good. I'm thankful that I have had to opportunity to read each one. I wouldn't have missed them for the world.

    2. Ah DB...I am going to have to find a way to tempt you to start the series (The Keeper is Volume 1). All I know is that if I am able to keep up my writing schedule, I am abour a quarter of a million words away from the end of the series with Volume 5...sometime in 2019. If I send you a hard copy???

    3. Ok, you have convinced me. I usually don't start a series until it is complete but 2019 does seem so far away and this series sounds so good.

    4. Wonderful! I'm thrilled to hear it!

  5. A Wickham and Lydia sighting and you liked it? How fun! Can't wait. :)

    1. Hard to believe, isn't it, Sophia! lol With Kitty's help, Don does wonders for Wickham.

    2. I think you will discover that both of these characters will grow (on you) through the same powerful force that helped both Darcy and Lizzy grow toward one another.

  6. Great review Janet! Isn't it amazing what Don has done with Lydia and Wickham...all thanks to Kitty! This is one universe I do not want to leave! Love all the details in the cover...wonderful job!

    1. Thanks, Carole. It is amazing! I loved this book so much. I think it may be my favorite to date, although that is a hard choice! I don't want to leave this universe either. I think I'm becoming a believer in solipsism, myself! :) I'm thrilled you love the details in the cover. Thank you. I have so much fun adding each of those details!

    2. You will be in this universe for a while yet with three more main books and perhaps a couple of novellas (although my story about Caroline Bingley's life may take 70,000+ words).

  7. Sounds pretty interesting. I would love to read the whole story.

    1. Thank you for your comments.

      Five books to date. In order:

      The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Story
      Henry Fitzwilliam's War
      The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
      Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
      The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

      Three more main novels between now and 2019 to complete the arc.

  8. HI Teresita. I do so hope you can read the whole story. The books are so good and I am looking forward to the next one. Thanks for stopping by and good luck.

    1. Do not see Teresita's comment.

      Five books to date. In order:

      The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Story
      Henry Fitzwilliam's War
      The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
      Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
      The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

      Three more main novels between now and 2019 to complete the arc.

  9. Replies
    1. I love it when folks label my work a Must Read.
      Five books to date. In order:

      The Keeper: Mary Bennet's Extraordinary Story
      Henry Fitzwilliam's War
      The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
      Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
      The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

      Three more main novels between now and 2019 to complete the arc.

    2. Hi Mary! I'm glad you think so! They are awesome books.

  10. Thank you for the excerpt and review. The pieces are slowly coming together.

    1. HI Eva, glad you stopped by. With each book, we get a few more tidbits besides the main story being told, and each are fascinating.

    2. I hope that everybody thinks the same as you, Eva. I am blending a lot of different threads into the (I hope) tapestry that is the Uniververse of the Bennet Wardrobe.

  11. Janet, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Don's books. It gives a lovely preview of what I can expect when I read The Bennet Wardrobe series.

    The excerpt is fascinating. I am not fond of poetry but I appreciate the efforts to include a few poems into the book. I am thrilled to discover new characters that are introduced to us.

    1. Hi, Sylvia. I'm so happy you stopped by. I hope you get to start reading the books. I have said this many times, but the story line is amazing. I think you will love the books.

      Good luck in the giveaway.

  12. Hi there...I try to add cultural references that will inform the reader of the attachment that characters have with the world in which they exist. The poetry in this instance reveals, I think, a lot about the interior discourse of each of the characters. And, besides, who better than Wordsworth to express undying love!