Just use the links below, find the book you want, purchase, and enjoy. Simple.
Just use the links below, find the book you want, purchase, and enjoy. Simple.
Here, I have put links to each of my books.
You can read a few chapters for free, but remember, the idea is that you then purchase one, or hopefully, all of them. 🙂
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It is no secret that I am a huge Jane Austen fan, but I am also a huge fan of Lucy Worsley.
By day, Lucy is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, but by night she is a prolific and talented writer, with several factual, history filled books to her name.
What Lucy does not know about the regency era you could probably write on a postage stamp.
I have watched and enjoyed all her programs on TV, including ones about the Georgiana’s, the Regency Period and especially her latest offering on Jane Austen, with great interest and enthusiasm.
It seemed very fitting that Lucy should do a program, and then a nationwide tour, to share her knowledge, thoughts and personal views on dear Jane, in this, the 200th anniversary of her death.
I was lucky enough to get front row seats at one of her recent venues, and I was not disappointed.
Lucy’s knowledge was expansive, and she delivered her talk in an articulate and amusing way, using screenshots to inflame our imagination. Indeed, as Jane herself might say, her delivery and execution were perfection itself.
Lucy had us all laughing with her, and at times almost crying with her, as she revealed the ups and downs of Jane’s life.
Afterwards, Lucy had time for photo’s and autographs with all who wanted one.
As you can see in the picture at the start of this post, I wore my Jane Austen T-Shirt, and the picture is great, but in this next picture, you can see the moment when Lucy realised that my phone cover, (being used to take the picture) also has a Jane Austen theme.
Did you know there were eight Austen children in the Stevenson Rectory, six boys and two girls. However, the number of children does not stop there. To make ends meet, her father, the Revd. George Austen, also ran it as a boarding school for the sons of local gentlemen! Apparently Jane was no a stranger to hard work as she helped her mother and sister, both called Cassandra, look after the men and boys.
Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but the journey Lucy takes you on, around all Jane’s former homes, is fascinating.
I highly recommend it.
And if you get a chance to see Lucy live, then grab it with both hands, you will not be disappointed.
Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley, published by Hodder & Stoughton is available at numerous outlets including Amazon and Waterstones.
All rights reserved, including cover photo and book contents.
No part of this book, cover, image or content may be reproduced in any form, or by electronic, mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews,- without permission in writing from the publisher, Martine Jane Roberts
All the characters and events described in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover designed by Jessicaecovers.
To Peggy, who I love more than words can say.
The rider dug his heels into the horse’s flanks, urging him to increase his pace. Moving as one they flew over the uneven terrain.
Unaccustomed to his master riding him with such fierce determination, Odin sporadically bucked his back legs in protest as they raced over the emerald landscape. Finally, as they approached a tall, but shallow hedge, the stallion, foaming at the bit with the exertion of the pace, decided enough was enough. As his rider leaned forward in preparation for the jump, Odin dug his hooves into the ground and promptly stopped.
Darcy, who had resolved to ride until his black mood was exhausted, found himself momentarily airborne, before landing unceremoniously in a heap on the other side of the fence.
Relieved to be rid of his ill-tempered burden, Odin trotted over to a patch of green, winter pasture and lowered his head to sample the long blades, unconcerned with the fate of his rider.
Winded by the fall, Darcy lay on the ground and tried to catch his breath. He could not blame his faithful steed for throwing him. He had ridden Odin hard for almost an hour as he tried to banish a particular image from his mind, and from his memory. The image of George Wickham touching Elizabeth.
As his breathing became easier, the events of the last week played out in his mind.
Darcy had decided it would be prudent for him to also quit Netherfield, leaving only two days after the ball and one day after Mr Bingley. Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her fine eyes were a pleasant distraction, but he could not think of her as a suitable candidate for his affections. As for Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst, it had been easy to persuade them of the necessity to return to Town; he had only to mention the words Charles, Jane Bennet and matrimony in one breath and they too had insisted on following their brother.
Having arrived at Mr Bingley’s London residence, it took the three of them very little time to persuade Charles that Jane Bennet did not love him. Indeed, they pointed out; Miss Bennet had bestowed her serene smile on all who had engaged with her. It had not been reserved for Charles in particular; Caroline delighted in pointing out.
Crestfallen, Charles had to agree with her, Jane’s demeanour had not quickened when in his presence.
However, that was not the only reason Darcy had wanted to leave the shire. Miss Elizabeth Bennet had begun to have an alarming effect on him, discomposing his emotions, and intruding upon his ability to think rationally. He had even begun to look forward to their encounters, however brief or cutting they might be. Therefore, it made sense for him to extract himself from her influence before he made a fool of himself. She was, after all, too far removed from his level in society to be a serious contender as his wife.
Now home, and away from Elizabeth’s charms, Darcy was sure he would soon forget her.
However, he had underestimated the effect the fairer sex could have on a red blooded man in his prime.
Having stayed to dine with Charles and his sisters’, Darcy returned home late that evening. Convinced he could put Elizabeth from his mind, and return to his usual pursuit, he settled down in his favourite armchair with a book and a small brandy.
Thirty minutes later, he was frustrated to find that he had not read a single page, a single paragraph or even a single sentence. Miss Elizabeth Bennet was the only subject on his mind.
He tried to reason with himself. Elizabeth had nothing to recommend her to a man such as he. No connections, no fortune, her inferior birth and her ridiculous family…, and yet…, she seemed to have found a way under his skin and into his heart.
Darcy closed the book and slammed it down on the side table. He rose and paced the floor as he tried to convince himself of her unsuitability. He knew an alliance with her was unthinkable! His family would never accept her, society would never accept her… but… as he thought of never seeing her again, a physical pain made its presence felt in the centre of his chest.
Finally, Darcy realised it was time he stopped deluding himself. He could no longer deny the depth of his feeling for Elizabeth Bennet.
He loved her, ardently.
Angry at his own lack of willpower, Darcy pulled open the library door and bellowed for his butler.
Startled to be summoned in such a manner, Miller hurried to see what was amiss with his master.
“Miller,” Darcy barked, “inform Fletcher to repack my trunks, we are returning to Hertfordshire.”
“And the duration of your stay, sir,” Miller asked in his most professional voice.
“Indefinitely,” Darcy replied, only to hastily change it to “Undetermined.”
A true professional, Miller merely said, “Yes sir.” And then hurried off to do his bidding, while Darcy sat at his desk, dashed off two brief notes.
The first was to his sister, and the other to Mr Bingley, asking his permission to stay at Netherfield Park again, although he gave no explanation as to why he was returning to Hertfordshire so soon after leaving.
Then Darcy rang for a footman and instructed him to deliver them without delay.
Only then, and with his emotions still in turmoil, did Darcy retire to his bed. Self-loathing at his lack of determination and suppressed excitement fought to win the upper hand, but as he slipped into unconsciousness, the latter prevailed.
A gentle grin played on Darcy’s lips as he dreamt of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, smiling…laughing…teasing.
On the journey back to Netherfield, the carriage had passed through the town of Meryton. With skill, the driver navigated through the busy streets, and Darcy looked out of the window, scanning the inhabitant’s faces for the one he hoped to see.
Then, as if in answer to his silent prayer, there was Elizabeth. She was standing outside the bookstore talking to an officer in a red coat. With their faces in profile, Darcy did not recognise him at first.
Then Elizabeth must have disclosed something amusing, for the officer threw back his head and laughed raucously.
Next, as if in slow motion, Darcy watched as the man reached out and stroked Elizabeth’s arm in a familiar way. At that moment, his identity became clear. It was none other than George Wickham!
Elizabeth, who was enjoying an extended morning walk, watched in disbelief as a man appeared from nowhere and landed at her feet.
Startled, she retreated a few steps, then instinct took over, and she rushed to his aid.
“Are you injured, sir?” Elizabeth asked as she knelt by his side.
Only when the man turned towards her, with a familiar scowl on his face, did Elizabeth recognised him.
“Why, Mr Darcy?” Elizabeth exclaimed with surprise, “We understood you had left Hertfordshire and returned to the Town?”
His mood, already black from suffering an undignified parting from his horse, darkened as he realised his demise had been witnessed.
The fact that it was Miss Elizabeth Bennet who had been party to the shambolic event, only deepened his anger and embarrassment.
Brushing off Elizabeth’s attempt to assist him, Darcy replied gruffly,
“Thank you, but I am in no need of assistance.”
Although Elizabeth had no brothers, she understood the concept of male pride and would have forgiven Mr Darcy for his rudeness, had he not been bleeding from a graze on his brow.
Ignoring his black scowl, Elizabeth withdrew a handkerchief from her reticule and as she reached out to dab at the wound said,
“No,” he barked, “I have already stated that I am in no need of assistance, madam. I must ask you to desist.”
Humiliated, Darcy rolled over onto his stomach and tried to stand, however, he could only manage to struggle to his knees. Silently cursing, Darcy wished Elizabeth would leave him to his humiliation and allow him to recover in private.
Managing to regain his breath, he quickly realised the exertion of moving had rewarded him with a thumping in his head and a spell of dizziness. Momentarily defeated, he knew he needed to rest for a while longer before attempting to stand again.
His harsh words did not deter Elizabeth.
On several occasions when visiting her father’s tenants, she had tended to the scraped knees of their children. Neither the child’s verbal protests nor the sight of their bloodied knees or nose had swayed her from her task.
So, sitting back on her heels, Elizabeth watched as Mr Darcy tried again to scramble to his feet, only to fall back onto his hands and knees.
Now, with only one foot resting on the ground, it quickly became apparent that the gentleman was unable to stand under his own volition.
As Darcy paused in this half sitting, half kneeling position, Elizabeth said,
“Sir, while I hate to contradict you, it is obvious to me that you most definitely are in need of assistance. Now, if you could stop being so stubborn for one minute, and take my arm, I am sure we could have you back in the saddle….” Elizabeth’s sentence was left unfinished.
“So far, I have been tolerant of your interference, Madam, but no more. You will kindly desist in your attempts to nurse me and remove yourself from this property.”
When Elizabeth made no move to leave, Darcy added,
“Trespassing is an offence, you know?”
If Elizabeth was shocked or stung by the severity of his address, she did not show it. Instead, she carefully folded the handkerchief and returned it to her purse.
Standing, she brushed the dried leaves from her dress and then paused to look at the dishevelled man kneeling before her. Had she not already experienced several encounters with the proud and unpleasant, Mr Darcy, Elizabeth might have taken offence at his curt words, his brisk tone or even his dark scowl, but she now deemed them to be part of his character, even when one was trying to be helpful towards him.
“Very well, sir, I will leave you to your fate, but not because you order me from this property, but because I choose to leave. Besides, Netherfield Park ended with this boundary fence. You are now on Longbourn property.”
Elizabeth waited until she had her back to Darcy before letting a broad smile graced her lips.
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IT is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
This is the first, and undoubtedly the most famous sentence from Jane Austen’s popular, and much-loved novel, Pride & Prejudice.
It is now 203 years since this magnificent piece of fiction was published, but it is still, if not more, popular than ever. I cannot help but ask why? Is it because we all love a love story, or maybe it’s because we enjoy the lively exchanges between Elizabeth and Darcy. Alternatively, perhaps it is because we all secretly love to see a bad boy turn good? Did Jane purposely write Darcy in this style? Or maybe she underestimated the attraction Darcy’s character would have on the female population?
There have been many visual incarnations of the Fitzwilliam Darcy character over the years, and everyone who has watched one, or all of these productions has their favourite.
My personal introduction to Mr. Darcy was at the tender age of 9, when I first watched the 1940 film version starring, Sir Laurence Olivia.
Sir Laurence Olivier 1940
Unaware of the multitude of inaccuracies in the film, I was nevertheless hooked. I was seduced by the language, the clothes, their manners, and courtesies. I can’t think of anything more romantic than to have a man bow to me and then press a light kiss on my outstretched hand, (sigh). Though for a star-struck child from a working-class family, it was the prospect of a happy ending.
However, today’s generation have a plethora of Darcy’s to choose from. The two most recent, and apparently most popular, are the BBC mini-series starring the delectable Colin Firth, and his now iconic wet shirt scene. And the deliciously handsome, Matthew MacFadyen from the 2005 film version. And although Matthew did not walk out of a lake half undressed, his proposal during a thunderstorm was just as seductive. (Hands up all those who longed for him to kiss Keira Knightley in that scene?)
Colin Firth 1995 Matthew MacFadyen 2005
Before either of these, there was the rich-voiced David Rintoul in the 1980 mini-series, which is for some reason is rarely shown on TV.
We must also include a slightly different incarnation of P & P, and one of my personal favorites, Lost in Austen, which is another TV mini-series set in both modern and the Regency times. It is a must for all Austen fans. Though Elliot Cowen’s Mr. Darcy is the only character that remotely resembles the one Jane invented, it is still very watchable.
David Rintoul 1980 Elliot Cowan (centre) 2008
Finally, an entirely modern day version of our treasured masterpiece in the guise of Bridget Jones Diary. This box office success, and the two sequels, Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason, and Bridget Jones Baby, also starred Colin Firth as a modern-day Mr. Darcy. (Interesting note; Colin Firth portrayed Mr. Darcy 200 years apart in Pride & Prejudice and Bridget Jones).
Colin Firth & Renee Zellweger, Bridget Jones, 2001
These are just a few of the versions available to us.
So, what is it that attracts us to this man? Jane’s initial description of him is rather vague.
‘Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend’
Miss Austen does not describe Darcy as having a thick head of curly hair, or that he possessed piercing blue eyes, yet these are properties we automatically attribute to him.
Undoubtedly she describes him as a gentleman of noble birth, yet he lacks all the social niceties considered essential in the day. He is rude, arrogant, proud, intolerant and over-confident of his self-worth. Having said that, let’s not forget that Jane also tells us that Darcy is tall, handsome, AND incredibly wealthy. OK, the last two items might have some influence on us, but what about Darcy as a person.
Is it because we secretly like the excitement that inevitably comes with a bad boy? Alternatively, it may be that we like to imagine that we could be the one person who could touch his heart, and by doing so, reform him? Or, is it that we cannot resist a challenge?. For me, it is all these reasons.
Jane Austen certainly knew one thing; a good novel had to have four things;
A hero, a villain, and a love story and a happy ending
In fact, all of Jane’s books follow a very similar recipe.
Each novel has a hero.
Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Knightley in Emma, Captain Wentworth in Persuasions, Edward Ferrars in Sense & Sensibility, Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park, and finally Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey.
And the proverbial ‘bad guys.’
George Wickham, Mr. Elton, Mr. William Elliot, Willoughby, Captain Fredrick Tilney, and Henry Crawford.
Thankfully, (spoiler alert) Jane provides us with a happy ending in all her books.
And who could fail to be impressive by how Jane misleads us throughout the book, intertwining the character traits of Darcy and Wickham, making them both appear slightly bad while remaining generally decent. Only later in the story, as their real natures are revealed, do we discover their true worth. Darcy is the good guy with a bad reputation, while Wickham is a scoundrel, with all the appearances of being a good man.
Yet, no other of Jane Austen’s novels have been so reproduced, or are so loved, as her baby, Pride & Prejudice. There are also thousands of spin-off books wrote on the subject every year. These are generally described as ‘What if’s’ or Pride & Prejudice Variations, usually involving some, or all of her characters, and some, or all of the plot lines from Jane’s original story. Indeed, I write them myself. Amazon.com: Martine J Roberts: Kindle Store
So, what is it about this book in particular? It’s Darcy!
Imagine you are seeing or reading Pride & Prejudice for the first time. Initially, Jane gives us permission to dislike Darcy. Indeed, we could do nothing but dislike him. To promote this, Jane made his character rude, cold and aloof, in stark contrast to, Elizabeth and Wickham’s, which are warm, witty, and charming. It is only as the story unfolds that we learn of Darcy’s struggles, especially where Wickham and Georgiana are concerned. Only then, do our hearts begin to soften.
The heavy responsibility of a large estate, a young sister to raise, the friend who turns out to be an enemy, not to mention suffering delusional relatives or the dozens of servants and tenant’s that rely on him. His responsibilities are heavy indeed.
Then, as our budding like of Darcy begins to unfold like a flower, he does the most selfless thing imaginable. In rescuing Lydia, and by default all her sister’s, Darcy bind’s himself to his nemesis forever. With this final act of chivalry, Darcy’s transformation is complete, and our hearts are finally won.
Personally, I liked Darcy just the way he is, gorgeous, rich, and a little bit dangerous. (I loved how he dealt with Mrs. Younge and Wickham).
For whatever reason, you like this novel, I would like to think that Jane was sending a message through the media of her book.
Love can cross any divide; we should never give up hope, and real love is worth the wait.
What do you think?
All productions mentioned in this article are available from a variety of outlet.
Elizabeth’s solitude was soon broken, when Kitty came running down the path, frantically calling her name.
“You are to come at once, Lizzy,” she said breathlessly. “There is such a to-do in the house. Lady Catherine is demanding to see you.”
“Me?” Elizabeth questioned. “Why would Mr Darcy’s aunt come to see me?”
Together they hurried back to the house, and before she had even removed her cloak, Elizabeth could hear raised voices.
“No, I do not want any tea, and I do not want to sit down either. I want to speak to the hussy who has entrapped my nephew. Where is she? I will not leave until the matter is resolved to my complete satisfaction,” she boomed.
Elizabeth opened the door nervously. Standing with her back to her, was a middle-aged woman dressed from head to toe in black, all except for two burnt orange feathers attached to her hat at a precarious angle.
Realising someone had entered behind her, Lady Catherine spun around to confront them. Finally, face to face with the woman who had dashed Anne’s chance of marrying Darcy, she eyed Elizabeth with contempt. Of average height and build, she was not unattractive.
Mr Bennet stepped forward to execute the introductions.
“Lady Catherine, may I present my daughter Eliz …”
“I know who she is, sir, and she can be in no doubt as to whom I am. Miss Bennet, a report of an alarming nature has been relayed to me by my parson, Mr Collins. I have come to hear you declare it a falsehood to my face.”
Elizabeth mentally cursed her interfering cousin, who had obviously run straight to Lady Catherine with the news of her engagement.
“I am at a loss as to what you are referring to, Lady Catherine. Perhaps you could elaborate?”
Elizabeth’s words only fuelled Lady Catherine’s anger, and her voice rose to an even greater level.
“You know perfectly well to what I am referring, young lady. Do not toy with me. I am here to insist you refute the scandalous lie circulating society that you are engaged to my nephew, Darcy!”
“I am afraid she cannot do that, Aunt Catherine,” said a familiar voice.
All eyes turned towards Darcy as he stepped through the garden doors and into the room.
During the stunned silence that followed, Mr Bennet took the opportunity to steer his family out of the room, all except for Elizabeth. He would have liked to stay and watch the impending showdown between Darcy and his aunt, but, on the other hand, he did not relish the prospect of having to join in the debate. Therefore, he also left.
“Explain yourself, Darcy,” said her ladyship.
“It’s quite simple, Aunt. I asked Miss Bennet to marry me, and she has accepted.” Darcy made his way to Elizabeth’s side.
“But you are engaged to Anne,” she expelled with indignation. “I admit the arrangement is of a peculiar nature, but it was the dearest wish of your mother as well as mine.”
“That is not true, as well you know. My supposed engagement to Anne has grown out of your wish to see our two estates united, nothing more.”
“So, after all we have been to you, you now abandon your cousin Anne with no prospect of marriage. You selfish, unfeeling boy, I am ashamed of you.”
Then, trying a different tactic, she softened her tone.
“But come, kiss me and tell me you have changed your mind, and we will say no more of it.”
“But I have not had a change of heart, Lady Catherine,” Darcy replied.
Darcy never acted on impulse, and Lady Catherine knew that. Once he had made a decision, he could never be swayed from his course.
“If you go ahead with this marriage, I will sever all contact with you,” she stated and then turned her back on the young couple.
“I’m sorry you feel like that, Lady Catherine. I have enjoyed many stays at Rosings Park. But, I intend to marry Miss Bennet in three weeks, and nothing you say will prevent it,” Darcy informed her sternly.
Lady Catherine looked thoughtful for a moment and then drew herself up to her full height.
“And is that your final word on the matter?”
“It is,” replied Darcy.
“Very well, I know what must be done.” With that, she swept past them and out of the house.
Elizabeth and Darcy both let out a sigh of relief. A smiled played on her lips before she turned to him and said,
“It appears I am not the only one with relations who are lacking in the social graces.”
He gave her a sideways glance and returned her smiled.