Welcome back to the desk of Interests of a Jane Austen Girl, today on my table is the new P&P variation, “Mistress of Netherfield” it’s written by Julia Winther and I’m quite happy with this new book and variation, many good plot devices, more fleshed out characters and turns and twists to keep us readers on our toes until the last page.
Come with me through the review, author bio, blurb and giveaway of this new and wonderful book.
About The Book
It is a truth universally acknowledged that on escaping an unhappy marriage, a young widow will be delighted to remove to the dower house and lease the marital abode to a single man in possession of a good fortune, provided he looks elsewhere to fulfil his want of a wife.
Five years after being forced into an unwanted marriage at the age of sixteen, and freed six months later by the death of her abusive husband, Elizabeth Grayson (née Bennet) has finally found a measure of peace. The inheritor of her husband’s estate, Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is now a wealthy young widow, independent and self-reliant. With an eye always on improving her four sisters’ woefully small dowries and providing for her mother, who will be homeless when her father dies, Elizabeth is pleased to lease out Netherfield to the Bingley family, making her home in the dower house in Meryton and vowing that she will never remarry.
Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire is rich and well connected, but reserved in company with anybody outside the very few he counts as friends. Towards those friends, he is loyal and steadfast, the staunchest of supporters. So when a young man comes to him with a tale of the clandestine marriage and mysterious death of Darcy’s old schoolfriend, James Grayson, and begs Darcy’s help to investigate the widow’s role, Darcy agrees. Visiting Charles Bingley, the new tenant of Netherfield, Darcy is very soon torn between his loyalty to his dead friend, and his burgeoning attraction to the widow.
Throw two unprincipled rogues and an elopement into the confines of Meryton, and how will Darcy’s dilemma over Elizabeth ever be resolved? And is she willing to put aside her misgivings, and trust again?
At Longbourn, just before Elizabeth meets Wickham at the Phillipses’ house:
Mr Collins came immediately to join Elizabeth and Mary, plumping himself down in the nearest chair and dragging it closer while still seated in it, to the great detriment of the polished floorboards.
“My dear cousins, I cannot tell you with what anticipation I view this evening’s engagement. What could be more congenial, than an evening spent with family and friends? It is precisely the sort of harmless entertainment, you know, that Lady Catherine must approve.”
“My aunt will be pleased to know it, sir.” Elizabeth noted Mr Collins’s examining her and returned his gaze with a direct one of her own.
He frowned. “Cousin Elizabeth, your respected mother told me that you are, in fact, a widow?”
“I am, sir.”
His frown deepened. “You do not look like one.”
“Indeed? And is there some particular characteristic of widowhood in which I am deficient?”
He opened and closed his mouth more than once with all the elegance of one of her father’s carp in the fishpond. “You do not dress as one, cousin. That is what I mean.”
“I am sure my mother told you that my husband is more than four years dead. Did you expect me to be in bombazine and crepe? I put off my mourning over two years ago.”
He made an odd “haaa-ing” sound and ducked his head, grimacing. “I meant only that you dress as would any young girl—as cousin Mary here does. There is little distinction…”
Mary glanced up from her book to observe that “Lizzy has better taste in dress than I. And prettier dresses.”
“I am barely one and twenty, Mr Collins, so do not dress in the more matronly styles and colours chosen by, say, my mother. Is my gown inappropriate?”
He gestured dumbly to his head, and it was not until she quirked an eyebrow at him that he squeaked out an outraged, “You wear no cap!”
“I do not.” Elizabeth caught Mary’s fleeting glance and they exchanged faint smiles. Mary’s views on Elizabeth’s heresy when it came to societal expectations of married women’s dress were well understood between them.
“But my dear cousin… the impropriety… good heavens, you cannot understand… so unconventional behaviour… my fear is that a gentleman may be misled about your status—”
“That does not concern me, Mr Collins.”
“But that is the effect of… of…” He prescribed a circle about his own head with one hand to explain his discomposure. He huffed out another of those odd “haaa-ing” sounds, that she realised was intended as an indulgent chuckle. “You are greatly charming, and so obviously an innocent when it comes to a man’s thoughts and intentions… The expectations of society are there for your protection, my dear, dear cousin. You must see that this is so!”
Elizabeth, who was so far from innocence as to a man’s intentions and deeds that Mr Collins’s inane words cut to the bone, allowed her tone to freeze like the breath of a winter wind. “How I dress is for me to decide. One’s intentions, deeds and morality are not determined by whether or not one wears a lace cap. And in truth, this is a rather improper discussion.”
“I am a clergyman, dear Elizabeth—”
“Sir, we are only just met. Please do not use my given name with such freedom.”
He deflated a trifle, even his pomposity pricked by her coldness. “It is my duty to speak out about those derelictions when I see them, and I flatter myself I do it with delicacy! I merely point out, cousin, that it is more seemly to follow society’s dictates on this matter. It is for the protection of innocence and modesty, and to show her respectability and decorum, that a married woman covers her hair.”
This assertion had Mary nodding agreement.
“I am sure, my dear cousin, that Lady Catherine would agree with me—”
Elizabeth smiled. “And I am sure that the great lady you have described so minutely would never be so rag-mannered as to offer her opinion on a matter that is so clearly none of her concern.”
Mr Collins gaped at her, one of her father’s carp caught in the fisherman’s landing net gulping in the unfamiliar air.
Elizabeth softened her tone. The noddy was not worth her ire and she would pay him the compliment that he was in earnest; an innocent who saw matters in simplistic terms, rather than a man attempting some ridiculous exercise of an authority he did not possess. “Come, we shall not quarrel. I assure you I followed every convention when I was first widowed with regard to the wearing of mourning and the curtailment of my participation in society. We may agree my lack of a widow’s cap now, some four years later, is… unconventional, as you termed it. I intend no deception regarding my status when it comes to gentlemen, and it is purely a personal preference that is a matter for me to decide, is it not?”
He drew his hand over his brow, with another of those odd, rather high-pitched “Haa!”s that this time clearly denoted a discomforted attempt to laugh. “You are perfectly charming, my dear cousin…”
“Well, we are agreed then, and shall be friends henceforth. Oh here is Mama, and the girls at last. John Coachman is waiting at the door, I believe, Mama. We should leave, or we will be late.” Elizabeth cast her gaze over her two sisters. Lydia’s decolletage was a little too daring for an evening at their aunt’s—or anywhere, really—and she and Kitty had evidently spent hours curling their hair and pinching their cheeks hard to make them rosy. “Armed for battle, I see, Lyddie.”
Lydia did not even pretend not to understand her. She pulled Elizabeth up and towards the door. “Officers, Lizzy! The officers will be there! Come, you laggard, I do not wish to be late.” Her blue eyes met Elizabeth’s, wide and bright with life and laughter. “After all, I have a campaign to win!”
After a horrible marriage of scandal, young Elizabeth Grayson are determined not to marry again, and live quietly at her dowager house, Nether House in Meryton. Enter the Bingley’s and Darcy, in the company of one young man undercover, to discover how his brother died. Was the death an accident? Murder? Or something else? Read and find out!
I was quite surprised at Elizabeth’s personality in this story, but taking into account how young she was when she was forced to marry, I certainly understood and pitied her to an extent. Though I was also very happy to see Charlotte as a more dominant character in this story for a time.
As I read and starting learning the different characters stories and personalities, I couldn’t get over Darcy and his innate sense of pride, I wanted to hit the back of his head SO many times, hehe sorry not funny but omg the man is an utter idiot, though later an adorable idiot 😉🥰 And the young man undercover, just plain horrible, annoying and very much in need of a good kick up his arrogant ***!
But how Julia hit Elizabeth’s sense of humour! Omg just brilliant, several times when Miss Bingley and Lizzie is fencing with words, you almost feel bad for Miss Bingley because she has absolutely no idea of who she is up against! Laughed so much at those scenes! They were spot on! Quite a surprise was the Hurst couple and their role in this lovely read! They were a lot more fleshed out than any other author have done in quite a while! So likeable!
Wickham is as always a horrible person and you want to kick him up his *** and throw him out the window and then some! But this time around he not only pisses off Darcy but also a wealthier and more knowledgeable Elizabeth- and I can almost promise he will get what is coming to him! Thank god for rubbish aka Wickham! So Julia hit just the right note with him as well!
Now is the question if Elizabeth and Darcy will end up together or not… ?? Oh, I will not reveal that, but I’m hopeful that you will discover that for yourself when you read the book.
Between 21 June and 3 July, enter this Rafflecoptor for the chance of a first prize of a copy of Mr Darcy’s Hunsford letter (complete with seal, and tied in red ribbon) and a copy of the eBook, or one of two second prizes of an ecopy of Mistress of Netherfield.
Enter the giveaway here;
Once Julia was a communications specialist with several UK government departments. These days she’s thankfully free of all that, and writing full time. She lives in the depths of the Nottinghamshire countryside with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo, who’s supported by Mavis the Assistant Editor, a Yorkie-Bichon cross with a bark several times bigger than she is but with no opinion whatsoever on the placement of semi-colons.
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