~*~*~*~ Mr Darcy’s Reluctant Wife. ~*~*~*~

 

Dear Friends,

As you can see, I have been very busy with my next novel, Mr Darcy’s Reluctant Wife.

It is a sweet story about the journey Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet take to reach their HEA.

However, do not be fooled by my description, everything is not plain sailing for this couple.

Mr Darcy’s Reluctant Wife is available on Amazon at a  special pre-order price.

The official release date is 5th December 2019.

But, as a preview is not available until after the release date, I am posting a few paragraphs of the first chapter here, for my friends and followers.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt, and if so, please tell your friends and family. Remember to order your copy today and take advantage of the special pre-release price.

 

This is the link to Amazon.co.uk.

 

And this is the link to Amazon.com.

 

Chapter One

Mr Darcy sighed as he stood before the assembly room doors. Attending a country dance in rural Hertfordshire did not fill him with any other emotion than dread.
When Charles Bingley, his host and friend, had asked him if he had any plans that evening, he had made no mention of his intention to drag him to the local dance. Yet here he was, about to enter the Meryton Assembly rooms for an evening of tedious country dancing, and inane chatter. What made it worse was that Charles knew he liked to select which social events he attended himself, choosing each with the utmost care and discernment.
All who knew Mr Darcy intimately would agree and forgive him for possessing such a cynical outlook on life. As one of society’s most eligible bachelors, he was invited to every event in the season’s calendar. Yet his experience of society since he had come of age had been one continuous round of ambitious mammas thrusting their simpering daughters at him in the hope of making a match. Rather than engaging him in stimulating conversation, they would display no thoughts of their own, merely repeating phrases they had rehearsed parrot fashion with their mothers. Either that, or they would titter shyly behind their fan at any benign or ridiculous remark he chose to utter.
Upon his father’s death, when he became the sole owner of the Darcy estates, the constant pursuit of his person and wealth had increased expeditiously. Although he had no title of which to boast, Fitzwilliam Darcy was one of the wealthiest and most eligible men in the country.
His father and grandfather had made wise investments during their time as master of Pemberley, seeing the family coffers swell considerably. Yet Darcy had not rested on their laurels. He too had invested wisely, in the production of metals and machinery, farmers and weavers, property and shipping. His investments in land management, both here and abroad, plus his property portfolio, had seen his yearly income rise above ten thousand pounds a year. All this, together with his ancestral home in Derbyshire and a large townhouse situated in London’s Grosvenor Square, made Mr Darcy the focus of every unwed daughter, calculating mother and lonely widow alike.
But the desire to capture the attention of Fitzwilliam Darcy was not restricted to spinsters and widows alone. Many a married lady had swooned over his handsome features, athletic body, and skill in all the social graces. He patronised many charities, never drank too much, or gambled excessively. Neither did he brag about his companions in the bedchamber. And although his silence was guaranteed in this area, one certain wealthy young widow, who had once sworn never to marry again, had let it be known that Fitzwilliam Darcy was a thoughtful, thorough, and exciting lover. Rather than staining Mr Darcy’s character, this widely circulated piece of female gossip had merely made him more desirable. He was the embodiment of the word ‘gentleman’.
Looking over at his companion, Mr Darcy could see by the broad grin on Bingley’s face, that he was not only looking forward to the dance but was as pleased as punch for getting Darcy there too.
Darcy made a mental note to deliver a mild reproof to Bingley for his deception later.
At that moment, Mr Darcy felt a hand slip through his arm and turned to see who had claimed him.
Miss Caroline Bingley, Charles’ unwed sister had fixed her attentions on him, staking a claim on him based on a previous acquaintance of some years.
Caroline Bingley was not unpleasant to look at, with her clear complexion and grey eyes, but she was not what you would call a classic beauty. In contrast to most young ladies that were out at present, Miss Bingley was a trifle too tall for most men, although, alongside Mr Darcy, who could still boast of being four inches her superior, she appeared average height. Her figure was slender, which conformed to the fashion of the day, though some might say it lacked the required number of curves to make her universally appealing to the opposite sex. Having said that, she had many accomplishments that a gentleman would find attractive. She could sing, she sketched, and she played the pianoforte quite well. She spoke French and German and sewed a decent sampler. As well as all this, she walked with an air of confidence, and though always elegantly attired, some of her more flamboyant outfits were not to Mr Darcy’s taste. Burnished copper and deep emerald greens were more widely worn by the dowagers and matrons in society, not unwed females.
“I am sure, Mr Darcy, you are dreading this provincial little soirée as much as I am.”
Darcy moved his head just enough to confirm Miss Bingley’s assumption.
“Sir, would you think me terribly forward if I claimed you as my own?” Caroline Bingley cooed somewhat too close to his ear.
“Miss Bingley?” Darcy replied in a questioning tone as he moved his head away from her face.
“Oh, I meant for this evening only, Mr Darcy, until we return to Netherfield Park.”
Darcy again inclined his head slightly.
“Of course, Miss Bingley. Shall we?” Darcy indicated with his free hand that they should follow Charles, who had already breached the open doorway.
A cloud of vapour escaped through the open doors, a mixture of scented candles and tobacco smoke. Most would have deemed it a not unpleasant smell, but Darcy disliked this growing trend for men to smoke tobacco in the presence of ladies. Much better to confine this habit to that time after dinner when the men partook of a glass of brandy and spent a welcome half hour enjoying the absence of the womenfolk.
The small party of two ladies and three gentlemen entered the Meryton Assembly rooms. Louisa Hurst and her husband Edward had accompanied her sister Caroline to Netherfield Park, eager to give their opinion on this new property their brother had leased.
The group quickly became the focus of attention. A hush slowly spread over the happy revellers, and the musicians ceased to play.
All of Meryton knew that a gentleman from the town had leased Netherfield Park, but few had seen him in the flesh, let alone have the privilege of meeting him. And now, here they all were, come to join the regular participants at Meryton’s weekly dance.
Sir William Lucas was the only resident of Meryton to have spent any length of time in Mr Bingley’s company, mainly because he had acted as his guide when he came to view Netherfield Park. Therefore, it seemed only right that he should be the one to make the necessary introductions, ensuring Mr Bingley and his party were not without acquaintances while staying in the area.
“Ah, Mr Bingley,” Sir William said with an outstretched hand, “we are honoured that you have found the time to come and join us tonight. Mr Darcy, Mr Hurst, ladies,” he said as he bowed his head to acknowledge the party.
The newcomers returned his salute, and then Mr Bingley took the lead.
“How very kind of you to invite us, Sir William. There is nothing I like more than a country dance,” Mr Bingley said while glancing over his shoulder at Darcy. “Though it is an age since I attended one,” he added.
Darcy chose to ignore this pointed remark aimed directly at him.
As they began to move deeper into the room, Mr Bingley had no doubt that his friend was scowling at him most heartily. He could almost feel the heat of Darcy’s displeasure burning into his back. But the truth of the matter could not be denied. Darcy did not like to mix with large crowds or talk to people he had no prior acquaintance with, and as his friend, Charles also felt obliged to refrain from attending many of the balls and soirées he would have otherwise enjoyed.
This is absurd, Darcy thought, as he watched the throng of revellers part before them. It was like the parting of the Red Sea, and Darcy dreaded the moment when the mass of bodies would close in behind them, cutting off his retreat.
“Smile, Mr Darcy, if we are to be thrown to the lions, let us at least do so with a smile.”
Miss Bingley was right, but the smile he offered came across more as a tight-lipped grimace than a friendly grin, and it did not go unnoticed.
Elizabeth Bennet stood with her sister, Jane, their arms linked as they reached up onto their tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the Netherfield party.
“Oh, Lizzy, how grand they look,” said Jane breathlessly.
Elizabeth turned her focus from the red-haired gentleman with a broad smile and stared at the other members of the group.
“Yes, their attire is of the latest fashion, but if you look past their clothes, Jane, I would venture to say that they are not all happy to be here. Look at the second gentleman and his companion.”
Jane turned her full attention to the second couple. The man’s eyebrows were drawn together, and his lips were pulled into a straight line, while the lady, with her superior height, looked down on everyone she glanced at. They looked most ill at ease.
“Could they be unwell?” ventured Jane.
“No, Jane, I do not think them unwell, but I do not think they are pleased to be here either.”
“Oh, hush Lizzy, we do not know that.”
“I expect we are too provincial for the stern-looking gentleman to give us any consequence,” Elizabeth said, then turned her attention to Miss Bingley. “And the lady who clings to him, she looks as if she has walked into the cow barn instead of an assembly.”
“Lizzy!” exclaimed Jane, though she raised her hand to hide her smile.
Elizabeth watched as the latecomers walked past the spot where she stood.
The tall woman, who clung so possessively to the scowling man’s arm, flipped open her fan and waved it frantically in front of her face. Unfortunately, this unexpected action caused the gentleman to jolt his head to one side, lest he receives a blow to the face.
Elizabeth could not help herself, and a ripple of laughter escaped from her upturned mouth.
Darcy’s scowl had grown even deeper with this near miss, and to make matters worse, he heard someone laughing at his misfortune.
Snapping his head to the right, he searched the sea of faces for the source of the laughter.
He did not expect the culprit to be a young woman and an attractive one at that. Instead of delivering a burning glare of contempt as he intended, he found his eyebrows rising in surprise.
The initial fierceness of the man’s glare would have left many a person quaking in their boots, but Elizabeth was not to be cowed and stared back at him defiantly. Then she watched as his expression changed as it registered with him that it was, she who had laughed.
The truth was, she could not help herself. They saunter into the dance way beyond being fashionably late and acting all superior and aloof to their company. And then this happens. It was too funny for words.
Elizabeth returned his gaze, but before this battle of wills could be resolved, something halted Elizabeth’s mirth and caused her to look away.
It was a voice she knew only too well.
“Lizzy, Lizzy, come here, child.”
Elizabeth turned and scanned the room until she located her mother. She stood with Lady Lucas and her eldest daughter Charlotte.
Though Elizabeth was in no hurry to join her mother, she was eager to speak to Charlotte, and so answered the summons with alacrity.
Closing the distance between her mother and herself, Elizabeth’s intention had been to link arms with her friend, and then together they could slip away and observe the proceedings from some secluded spot.
Unfortunately, Mrs Bennet had other ideas. Before Elizabeth could bring her plan to fruition, her mother caught hold of her outstretched hand and propelled her to her side, rather than Charlotte’s.
“Come, Lizzy, Lady Lucas has agreed to introduce us to Mr Bingley and his friends.”
“But Mamma, Charlotte and I were…” Elizabeth began to protest.
“Nonsense. I desire you to do as I ask, Lizzy and let Lady Lucas introduce us to Mr Bingley and the other gentleman. This is a great opportunity for us all, especially Jane.”
Having refused to look away when the gentleman caught her laughing, Elizabeth hardly wanted to now be introduced to him!
Elizabeth turned to Jane with pleading eyes, hoping for her sister to support her, but Jane’s gaze was firmly fixed on the young man with the strawberry blond hair and a warm smile.
“Why must we be paraded about like a prized heifer, Mother? I have no desire to join the queue of simpering misses waiting to be introduced to a man who clearly does not want to be here!”
“You say that now, Lizzy, but you can not be a tomboy all your life. Do you know who that is with Mr Bingley?”
With no time to reply, Elizabeth listened as her mother began to reel off the newcomer’s names.
“Mr Bingley, the gentleman who has leased Netherfield Park, has brought his two sisters with him and a Mr Hurst. He is the rather stout looking gentleman at the back of the group and is married to the elder of Mr Bingley’s two sisters. And the fine-looking gentleman at Mr Bingley’s side . . .”
With her mother’s half-finished sentence left hanging in the air, Elizabeth felt compelled to ask.
“Who is…?”
“That, my dear, is Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley. It is widely reported that he has an annual income of ten thousand pounds a year!” exclaimed an excited Mrs Bennet.
Elizabeth resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
Oh, so that is why he looks so satisfied with himself!
With the Longbourn estate yielding as little as two thousand a year, and with the Bennets considered quite the wealthiest family in the district, it was no wonder that Mr Darcy thought them beneath his notice. The truth of the matter was, had they been poorer, they might have been worthy of his charity, or perhaps if they had been richer, he might have courted them as acquaintances, but as they were neither too poor nor wealthy enough, he was under no obligation to give them any consequence at all.

 

Martine x

The Regency Grand Tour

 

The Grand Tour was the custom of a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by upper class young when they came of age. (21) European gentlemen of sufficient means and rank would take a close family member with them to act as a chaperone. To ensure they suffered no hardship, they would often take their own Valet, Coachman and even a cook with them.

This custom first started around 1660 and continued until approximately the 1840s. Considered a rite of passage for all wealthy young men, the Grand Tour was initially undertaken to enhance their education and improve their language skills.

With nearly unlimited funds, aristocratic connections and no real desire to work, many a young gentleman stayed away from home, touring France, Italy and occasionally Greece for months or even years. Though the main cities to visit were in Italy, being Venice, Rome, Naples and Pompeii.

They would often commission paintings, buy marbles, coins and medals on their travels and have them shipped back home.

The primary value of the Grand Tour lay in its exposure to the cultural legacy, along with the opportunity to forge important connections, (which we know was most desirable in the Regency era) with the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of Europe. In addition, it often provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. To ensure they did not miss anything of worth, they commonly hired a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor.

A popular book, An Account of Some of the Statues, Bas-Reliefs, Drawings, and Pictures in Italy published in 1722 by Jonathan Richardson and his son did much to popularize these trips.

     

The legacy of the Grand Tour lives on to the modern-day, still influencing the destinations that tourists choose to visit today.

Regency Design at its Best: Brighton Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, also known as the Royal Palace of Brighton, and later as Brighton Pavilion, was built as a seaside retreat in 1787 for the then Prince of Wales, the future Prince Regent, (1811-1820) and George IV.1820-1830

It was built in three stages and work was not completed on it until 1823. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic style, prevalent in India at the time.

The Prince of Wales first went Brighton ages 21 in 1783 on a visit to see his uncle, Prince Henry, The Duke of Cumberland. Prince George, who suffered from gout due to his opulent lifestyle, was advised by his physician that living near to the sea, and taking the waters, would improve this painful condition. Unfortunately, his excessive eating, drinking, gambling, and womanising only increased when he was away from the London courtiers who tried to curb his excesses.

Indeed, he often took his mistress, Maria Fitzherbert to stay with him. He is reported to have married Maria in a secret ceremony but it was deemed not valid as she was a catholic.

Initially, Henry Holland, (he designed Carlton House in London for the prince) was commissioned to extend a house, adding a breakfast room, a dining room and a library.

         

Then, in 1801-2, it was extended again, adding a new, larger dining room and an extensive conservatory, all constructed and decorated in the Neo-classical style.

At this time, the Prince Regent also purchased land surrounding the property. During 1803-1808 a grand riding school and stables were built in the Indian style. Designed by William Porden, these stables could accommodate 60 horses.

By now, the Royal Palace dwarfed the Marine Pavilion, the other major building in Brighton.
It was extended for the final time in 1815-1822 by the then famous architect John Nash. He added the distinctive domes and minarets that giving it the Taj Mahal look we can still see today.

Unique for its Indo-Saracenic exterior, it does not disappoint on its interior decoration.

 

The fanciful interior, primarily designed by Fredrick Crace, was aided by a little-known decorative painter, Robert Jones. Jones was heavily influenced by both Chinese and Indian fashions, and this is reflected by him turning away from the mainstream taste of the Neo-classical designs prominent in the Regency era.

Sadly, The Prince Regent, who was by now King George IV, only had seven years in which to enjoy the finished building, dying in 1830 aged 68.

 

 

 

 

*~* End of Summer Book Bonanza*~*

Hello my friends.

Today, I am launching  my **End of Summer Book Bonanza**

For a few days each year I reduce the price of ALL my books.

So, from the 28th August to 03rd September, ALL of my books will be selling for between $1 to $3 off the normal retail price.

Sale applied to eBook format, and will include Mr Darcy’s Proposal, the winner of the 2018 Book Cover of the Year Award.

Here is a list of the sites you can purchase them from.

Apple Books
Barnes & Noble
Playster
Tolino
Scribd
24symbols
OverDrive
Google Play
Bibliotheca
Rakuten Kobo

(Please note, Amazon purchases are NOT included in this promotion)

Books included in the sale are;

Mr Darcy’s Struggle

Darcy to the Rescue

To Love Mr Darcy

Mr Darcy’s Proposal

A Love Most Ardent

 

A few interesting articles!

Dear All,

I have gathered a few articles about Jane Austen and posted links to them below, for your amusement and information. 

1. Disease, dependence and death: The dark reality behind Jane Austen’s pearlescent prose; by Ceri Radford

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/jane-austen-the-austen-girls-helen-amy-books-characters-new-book-pride-and-prejudice-a8945061.html

2. Despite Being a Best-Selling Author, Jane Austen Was Paid Very Little; Emily Alford

https://jezebel.com/despite-being-a-best-selling-author-jane-austen-was-pa-1836954218?fbclid=IwAR0SaK3sBA5M9Mw8J0Te_XTPzMPdiYyA5bOQ7A67Erh-3JDkyvvs_Yiil1E

3. Hampshire home in Jane Austen’s former village is now for sale; by Lisa Walden.

https://www.msn.com/en-ie/money/homes-property/hampshire-home-in-jane-austens-former-village-is-now-for-sale/ar-AAFxths?fbclid=IwAR0xKeuBmatHocThuxq0TsQlKNuPlAVaM-sSq5g9uGcN815RmjIs566A_Gc

4. Sanditon: The Jane Austen masterpiece that never was; by Rupert Christiansen.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/sanditon-jane-austen-masterpiece-never/amp/?fbclid=IwAR0ARkq5I6aGHAUYoco8tZbK4NIbj9lCB08MrqChhmA-LgNBdLGWczWCZkM

5. Did Jane Austen write the first seaside novel?; by Kathryn Sutherland.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/22/austen-at-seaside-new-resorts-novel?fbclid=IwAR2Gf427VSmNaY9qC-ooBhsgiEyJeqmz1IQcDEKDvktAQRZSRf6XmRByreo

Enjoy,

MJR

 

 

 

 

Do you like George or not, THAT is the question!

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In Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen intended George Wickham’s character to be the villain of the story: Yes, Darcy is a proud, arrogant and insufferable snob, but Wickham is definitely the villain:

Now, whether you are watching an adaptation from the original book or indulging in one of the modern-day variations, you either love him or hate him. Or do you?

My opinion differs depending on which of my two favourite adaptations I’m watching. They are the 1995 adaptation from Austen’s original manuscript by Sue Birtwistle and Andrew Davies and the modern-day version, Lost in Austen, by Guy Andrews. I can’t deny that both George’s are handsome, personable and look very nice in a scarlet uniform, but for me that is where the similarity ends. I must, however, give credit to two amazing actors for delivering such different versions of the same character. The 1995 GW was Adrian Lukis and the Lost in Austen actor was Tom Riley. Both were superb as George Wickham.

In the original I find Wickham to be a jealous, selfish cad. He’s a compulsive gambler, a liar and an accomplished despoiler of maidens. Unfortunately there is nothing in his character that I like, which is just as Austen intended.

When Wickham seduces Lydia.

However, in Guy Andrews’s version I find I quite like George. He’s honourable, gallant and insightful, offering assistance and advice wherever he can.

Examples; (Spoiler Alert!)
As the story unfolds we learn that Georgiana has persistently offered her virtue to George. He gently rebuffs her and calls her a sweet child; this obviously dents her pride and infuriates her. In retaliation for his rejection, she informs her brother that George has ravished her, and doting Darcy believes her. Poor George!

After Mrs Bennet ejects Amanda from Longbourn, George instructs her on how to act in society, gives her advice on where to go and what to do. Finally he gives her half his money so that she can buy a suitable gown to visit Jane at Rosings. (Love the fan scene)

He takes pity on Bingley, who is lamenting the loss of Jane to Mr Collins. He stays with him as he drowns his sorrows in the bottom of a bottle and then safely returns him to Pemberley, much to Darcy’s annoyance.

George, coming to the rescue of the ladies.

After Mr Bennet is injured in a sort of duel, it’s George that comes to his rescue. As the injured man lies on the floor bleeding to death, it is George that secures the services of a village woman who has knowledge of stitching wounds. In effect he saves Mr Bennet’s life.

These are not the actions of a villain but a genuinely nice human being, someone you could rely on in a crisis, someone you would be proud to call friend. Oh he is not all sweetness and like though have no fear, George certainly hasn’t lost his edge. There are times when he is more than a little mischievous.

Example; (Spoiler Alert!)
He spreads a rumour that Amanda’s wealth comes from the fish trade and then embellishes it by declaring her father has become a drunken sot and drank it all away. Untrue we know but it has repercussions in the story.

Oh yes, with this George as your friend life would never be dull, interesting and exciting maybe, but never dull. Though it would probably be a good idea to keep your wits about you, just in case;

I find I like the Guy Andrews George very much, almost as much as I like Darcy…..

What do you think?
Martine x

P/s Have you read my latest book yet, I would love to know what you think.

 

 

From Bath to Longbourn

 

On the way home from, Bath, we decided to drive to the house they used as Longbourn during the filming of the 1995 BBC TV series of Pride & Prejudice.

The scene above is of the horses waiting for the couple to emerge from the church after their marriage, as you can see below.

It all looks very picturesque in the TV series, but 24 years have lapsed since this joyful scene was filmed.

Longbourn was recently up for sale, as per my post of July 2018. (I believe it is sold now).

https://martinejaneroberts.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/longbourn-is-up-for-sale/

As I have yet to win the lottery, I will just have to make do with a visit to the outside of the house, and the church where Mr Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennet, and Mr Bingley marries, dear , sweet Jane Bennet.

The outside of Longbourn, or Luckington Court as it is in real life, is where we see Elizabeth returning from her morning walk. You can see the photo I took is from a slightly different angle, and the house is actually more pink in colour. (I have deleted the number plate for reasons of privacy and security)

 

 

The view of the church from the back garden.

The church has a picture in the porch of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth inside during their marriage. (but oddly, not of Jane & Mr Bingley).

The Church.

      

As you can see, the inside of the church has not changed. If you look at the plaque on the back wall, you can see we are in the right place.

Inside the Church

 

It was nice to visit ‘Longbourn’, to picture Lizzy and all the Bennet’s running around trying to sort out the chaos that George Wickham and Lydia inflicted upon them, but it was also slightly sad.

To know that this house, so perfectly suited to a regency family, is now a modern home, with no screeching girls arguing about bonnets, or fashionable young gentlemen paying calls on maidenly misses. Having said that, it was nice to tread in the steps of some of my favourite actors too.

Till next time,

Martine x