Hello all! I am proud to welcome Leslie Diamond to the desk of Interests of a Jane Austen Girl, I was so very privileged to be gifted a copy of her lastest book, “Agony and Hope” it took me a little to get started on the book, but once I was in it, it went quickly through the plot, and my oh my did I get the shock of my life with one line, “Elizabeth Bennet is dead.” I think my jaw and heart dropped with that one line! Without further ado, I will go straight to my review before any of you die of annoyance.
“I have endured the deepest agony, only to be shown a hope so bright I cannot but yearn for it.”
Fitzwilliam Darcy is mourning the love he lost—a love that was never allowed to bloom. What will become of him when Georgiana is wed, and he is left by himself? He cannot give away a heart not his own. Must he remain in this mournful existence, anticipating the nights to come, where in his dreams, he can finally be with Elizabeth, a spectre of his once living, breathing beloved. When a surprise visitor brings unexpected news, his hope is breathed back to life. Will he finally obtain his deepest desires? Will Fitzwilliam Darcy be able to leave behind the agony of the past and hope for the future he once thought impossible?
Due to circumstances beyond her control, Elizabeth Bennet’s family is irrevocably altered. Her father is dead, Lydia is missing, and her mother and remaining sisters are to be relegated to a life of poverty. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s behaviour at Pemberley indicates he still loves her, but too much has happened. She can never hope for him to once again make the offer of his hand. Elizabeth’s sole option is to abandon the life she once led and start anew. But what happens when her path once again crosses with the love she thought lost to her? Will Elizabeth choose to protect him with the one option available to her or will she put aside the agony of the past and choose hope?
Another new book lay ready on my desk, and my oh my was I shocked beyond comprehension with just one line, “Elizabeth Bennet is dead.” I think my jaw dropped right there and then! But thinking of how Leslie writes in her earlier works, something more had to lay beneath this shocking statement! Poor Darcy and his broken heart! But not long after, a thin and ragged Jane Bennet turns up at Darcy House. Jane reveals that Elizabeth is sick and therefore alive!! I nearly screamed out loud in delight!
I was nearly sick while reading at where the two eldest Bennet girls had lived in St. Giles, which at this time in the Regency is one of the worst neighbourhoods in London! And the image of Elizabeth being ill, thin and ragged nearly broke my and Darcy’s heart at that point! Many heartbreaking scenes went past, where I was nearly in tears.
Leslie’s way of writing Darcy, Georgiana, Jane and Elizabeth were heartfelt, so well written, they became real, and it felt like I was in the rooms, gardens and estates along with them. The heartfelt scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth were SO sweet and romantic, and the more mature Georgiana was a pleasure to get to know. I was though a little surprised at the Persuasion reference, “I never considered you had loved longer and when all hope had been lost. If I had allowed myself to truly acknowledge your pain, I never would have survived. I would have had no will to go on.” see what I mean? That is Persuasion through and through!
One other point I HAVE to comment on is the proposal, gosh it was beautiful, and there is no hint of the toe-curling proposal from Darcy, but just sweetness and happiness, since both Elizabeth and Darcy is so ready to belong to each other at this point! I had to use my handkerchief during that scene. It was perfect!
But soon after, the trio travels to Derbyshire, to a small estate called Drayton, and the emotional stress at this point was nearly unbearable! I was so hopeful for a HEA, and yet there was a bit left of the book. But if I am to wager, I will guess that Leslie will give us a most satisfying HEA for the ending – and I was right. I am already looking forward to her next book.
Remember to leave your emails so I can reach you if you win so Leslie can send you the audiobook code for either US/UK
L. L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends, and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she has spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans until she vowed to follow her husband to the ends of the earth as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, England, and now Missouri have all been called home along the way.
Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolor is her medium of choice with one of her watercolors featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!
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.
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.
Hello hello All and welcome back to Interestsofajaneaustengirl, and this time around I am pleased to welcome back an author, who now a days have returned several times to my blog, to present new books, and where I have reviewed. But I will let Jayne herself present her new book.
Hello Dear Janeites, it is a pleasure to be back at Interests Of A Jane Austen Girlto share more details of my new release, Five Daughters Out At Once.
This tale deviates from canon before the story has even begun – the story opens with Mr. Bingley electing not to rent Netherfield, as the village of Meryton is only just out of mourning for several inhabitants who were lost in a fire at the assembly rooms. Among the victims was Mr. Bennet, though after a year Mrs. Bennet and her girls have yet to be thrown in the hedgerows by the conspicuously missing Mr. Collins. Mrs. Bennet has pinned her hopes on the rumors of wealthy gentlemen settling at Netherfield, with a regiment of the militia soon to follow, though this tale will soon take an unexpected twist…
There was a tap on the door of what Elizabeth Bennet still considered to be her father’s study, though it had been over a year since he had last sat in the chair she now occupied. Elizabeth felt her body go rigid as she prepared to receive her share of her mother’s solicitude; the house had been in uproar all day, for the monthly assemblies were to resume tonight, and Mrs. Bennet insisted that all five of her daughters would be in attendance.
It was a pleasant surprise for Elizabeth when her older sister Jane peeked into the room, lingering in the doorway for a moment before she slipped inside and carefully closed the door. Elizabeth set down her pen, smiling wistfully as Jane placed a small vase of daisies on the great oak desk and then sat down on her favorite shabby old chair, her messy blonde hair glowing like a halo in the sunlight that poured in from the wide front windows. “I hope I do not interrupt you, Lizzy.”
Elizabeth attempted a playful roll of her eyes. “You do, but it does not follow that the interruption is an unpleasant one. In truth, I quite need some distraction. It is rent day, and I have been at it since dawn.”
Jane sighed and slumped back against her chair, a gesture Elizabeth unconsciously mimicked. “Oh, yes – I had forgotten. I hope the tenants have not given you too much trouble.”
“No more than usual,” Elizabeth replied. This was the fifth quarter day that had passed since she had assumed this duty of her father’s; even when tempered by Jane’s sweetness, Elizabeth’s approach to estate matters was apparently more vigorous than Mr. Bennet’s had ever been, and the tenant farmers and other laborers at Longbourn had not all welcomed the change. “Mr. Perkins has still not forgiven us the iniquitous crime of being female, though I daresay he shall miss me if Mr. Collins ever appears to claim what is his; surely he would expect Mr. Perkins to pay his rent in full and on time.”
“Pray do not speak of it, Lizzy!”
Elizabeth offered her sister a thin smile. For over a year now, the six women at Longbourn had lived with the prospect of eviction constantly hanging over their heads; after the fire they had written to their late father’s cousin and heir, and in thirteen months they had heard nary a word from the stranger who might at any time he chose completely upend their lives. In the time that Jane and Elizabeth had spent shouldering their father’s responsibilities and holding their shattered family together, the looming spectre of Mr. Collins had grown more distant in their minds – recalling the threat so bluntly was jarring, especially on a day that already promised enough distress.
But it was not the mention of Mr. Collins that bothered Jane – she crossed the room and looked down at the account book. She had always been better at sums than Elizabeth, though Mary was showing such progress that she might surpass them both in time. Jane was certainly the brains of the household finance, though her natural reserve often obliged Elizabeth to enforce their budgetary restrictions. “Poor Mrs. Perkins – I know it is so hard for her, but they only paid half at Midsummer.”
“Yes, but look here,” Elizabeth said, her hand smearing through fresh ink as she pointed out a few hastily scribbled figures. “The field that Charlotte sold us to pay Maria’s dowry will bring in more than enough extra to cover it. Mrs. Perkins says they will send for her nephew to help with the harvest. If we can make it another year, the returns shall be well worth it.”
“And Mr. Perkins agreed to try the new techniques you wish to implement?”
“He took the book I brought over to loan him, though there was a brief moment when I thought he should like to throw it at me,” Elizabeth said with a rueful laugh.
“Surely not!” Jane shook her head and laughed gently, making a few corrections to the columns in the ledger as Elizabeth recounted what she had collected, placed the funds in the lock-box, and returned the key to its hiding place. “You must warn Mamma about her spending again.”
This remark was punctuated by some shouts from upstairs – their mother was calling for their faithful housekeeper Mrs. Hill, and by the sound of the commotion that followed, Elizabeth presumed that preparations for the evening were well underway. The ensuing shrieks about gloves made Jane wince, before smiling wryly at Elizabeth. “Mary picked the last of the blackberries today – Mamma must be beside herself.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Poor Mary! Her stained fingers may disgrace us all – I am sure Lydia had expected all the pleasure of that distinction.” The two sisters shared a knowing look – they had managed to curtail their mother’s spending somewhat, but they could not dissuade her from allowing their youngest sister, who was only fifteen, from having her share of society now that the family was out of mourning.
“Poor Lydia,” Jane sighed. “I am sure she would not be so wild if we had not been so very dull here this past year – of course it was right and proper that we should be thus – but I daresay you could not have countenanced such restrictions at her age, either.”
“No, I suppose not,” Elizabeth admitted, her smile beginning to sour. “I can scarcely countenance what this evening shall bring.” She realized her mistake at once, for Jane knitted her brow, her expression collapsing into thinly veiled despair. “Oh, Jane! I am so sorry – I know it must be a thousand times harder for you.”
Jane forced a smile but did not meet her sister’s eye. Elizabeth knew the loss of Sir Peter Mowbray still haunted Jane – they would have been married just a fortnight after the fire, had he survived it, and what a splendid love match it would have been. The heartbreak of all five daughters in the family, at the loss of their father, had only been one half of Jane’s misery at the time, and though her natural serenity belied an inner strength she had poured into their household work, the pain still showed in her eyes. That Jane must shed her mourning greys and don new finery with the rest of the sisters as they all returned to the newly restored scene of such tragedy to make merry tonight was the height of injustice, in Elizabeth’s mind.
And yet, for all the time she spent buried in estate matters, she could well understand her mother’s desperation. Elizabeth knew it was unlikely they should get away with staying at Longbourn forever – every quarter that passed, every little sum she tucked away for their future was a small miracle. The support of all the village, too, was something to be marveled at – sympathy and long-standing acquaintance and respect had garnered the Bennet women a modicum of tolerance and cooperation for uncommon, even unlawful sort of existence at Longbourn, but always buried just below the surface was a broad awareness that it could not last.
Jane let out a shaky breath, her fingers softly curling around Elizabeth’s. “Oh Lizzy, I am not ready. I am sure I shall be looking out for Peter every moment, tonight, but I know Mamma quite depends upon me – I cannot let her down.”
There had been a time when Elizabeth had laughed at her mother’s fits of nerves and matrimonial obsession, but she could do so no longer, with their situation so precarious. “Perhaps it shall be a fine thing, after all, for Lydia to be coming out so young. You are still the prettiest of us, Jane, but I am sure Lydia and Kitty shall do well. Let us pin our hopes on them, in that quarter, for Heaven knows you and I do enough already – I cannot bear to think of you forcing yourself to… to….” Elizabeth sighed and shook her head in frustration.
“Bear it we must,” Jane said with practiced resignation. “Even Mamma says she would remarry if she could – if she had not been scarred from her burns, a woman not yet forty might find a handsome widower. If she could think of such a thing after more than twenty years with Papa, surely it must be terribly selfish of me to balk at the idea of… Mamma says Netherfield is to be let at last, you know. A large party of gentlemen, according to Mrs. Long – she expects them to be in attendance tonight. And Mrs. Goulding said that there is to be a regiment of the militia coming to quarter here next month.”
“So much the better for Kitty and Lydia,” Elizabeth replied, arching an eyebrow at Jane. “Surely they shall not disappoint Mamma’s hopes; perhaps it will be enough.”
In the end, Mrs. Bennet’s hopes were utterly dashed indeed, though not by any of her daughters. Both reports were proven false almost as soon as the ladies arrived at the assembly that evening. After all her dear girls had suffered, and as bravely as they had rallied their spirits to rejoin society, the thin hope Mrs. Bennet had come to view as their last chance was cruelly torn away when the truth of the matter began to circulate. Both the gentlemen who had toured Netherfield, and Colonel Forster’s regiment, had heard the sad history of Meryton and resolved to settle elsewhere.
The widow supposed it would be thus with any other prospects for her daughters; she scarcely had time to repeat her lamentations to anyone at the assembly who would hear them, before the realization sank in fully, shook her to her core, and triggered a fit of hysterics from which she did not recover. Tragedy had once again struck in Meryton, and the five bereaved Bennet sisters were not the only ladies in the village to believe they should never dance again.
Surely things will be getting better soon, right? Stay tuned for more excerpts and more chances to enter the giveaway!
As many of you may remember, Jayne has written several Austen related variations so far, including “Madness in Meryton” which I reviewed here on Interest of a Jane Austen girl in July of 2020! So I thought you could all do with a little look back into a Jayne Bamber book, according to my opinion 😃 Enjoy! And if you don’t need the reminder, then you are all welcome to skip to the end, and hope to see you next time!
My Review of “Madness in Meryton”
In this JAFF variation, P&P meets Groundhog Day. On Market Day in Meryton, the most peculiar thing happens to Elizabeth Bennet, the light strikes the middle of the square, which is weird in itself on a cloudless day. Elizabeth buys a necklace during the market Day.
Next morning another peculiar thing happens, namely that Elizabeth wakes in bed with Mary, even if she went to bed alongside Jane. And when she goes into her room, Jane remarks that she is looking forward to Market Day. Only Market Day was the day before! During the day, Elizabeth tries to change several small things, which makes the day more pleasant.
I was dumbfounded by the plot at this point and wondered what Jayne was up to with this plot since it was a little mad.
After a pleasant day, with minor annoyances during the day, and foolishness from her family, Elizabeth goes to bed with Jane again. And yet again she woke up with Mary and her elbow in her face, – and yet again it is Market Day, and Elizabeth decides to have a bit of fun of her family, including Mr Collins, which makes quite a bit of trouble.
Soon Darcy and Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam is included in the returning market day. Several characters run amok during the repeated day, and several unforeseen events take place. Truly madness, in the best sense! And add Wickham, Miss Bingley and Georgiana Darcy into the mix.
The time loop in the story was brilliantly plotted and executed as well, but what madness this plot let me through! Absolutely loved the idea of how the repeated day could lead to different outcomes, – and what madness it leads to!
And of course, Darcy and Elizabeth are dancing around each other. They fall in love, during this repeated day… but will it be a Happily Ever After? I will let you, dear readers decide that.
My original post of this was to be full of my earlier opinions and reviews of Jayne’s works alongside of the new book presentation, but this way seemed better. So I’ll wish you all good luck in the giveaway, and hope you buy the latest book of Jayne Bamber’s. So for now, I’ll be saying “See you soon.”
Hello all, now again from my desk comes a presentation of a new book. This book is from yet another returning author; Riana Everly. In the passing months, Riana has been writing murder mysteries within the world of Austen. The first was, “The death of a clergyman.” which is still waiting on my desk, alongside several others. pulls an embarrassed face This time it is Highbury’s turn to have a murder, and luckily, Mary is on hand to investigate.
When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.
Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!
Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?
Piano Music in history;
Riana and I have several interests in common, one of them is Music, so Riana has written about music, and piano duets especially, which is also a common element in this book. I will leave you all in Riana’s capable musical hands. Welcome back, Riana!
Thanks so much, Sophia, for letting me visit your lovely blog today. I always enjoy stopping by here to chat about what I’m up to and what I’ve been writing. Today I want to talk a bit about my newest release, Death in Highbury: An Emma Mystery, and more specifically, piano duets.
How does an Austen-inspired mystery relate to piano duets? Let me explain. In the first mystery in this series, Mary Bennet stayed at home to solve the mystery of her cousin Mr. Collins’ death. Now, in her second adventure, she is in Highbury, Surrey, the setting for Jane Austen’s Emma.
Mary stays with Emma Woodhouse, and soon meets the rest of Highbury society, including Jane Fairfax. Jane is a gifted musician and has recently been given a fine pianoforte, and when she learns that Mary plays as well, Jane invites Mary over to play duets with her.
The first known duets for two people at one keyboard date from around 1600, but the musical form did not become popular until the late 18th century. For one thing, the close physical proximity of the players was deemed to be inappropriate, and for another, women’s wide skirts made sitting next to each other a challenge. But young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and his sister played duets in public in London in 1764-5, and later wrote four sonatas for one piano, four hands.
But the piano duet wasn’t just for performing musicians. Before the age of audio recording, the only way to hear music was either to go to a concert or to play it yourself at home. Arrangements of popular songs were often found in people’s personal sheet music collections, and arrangements of grander pieces, like symphonies, were also sought after. Music was widely performed at home by both serious proficient pianists and competent amateurs.
So what would Mary and Jane Fairfax have played? They might have sat down to work through the Mozart sonatas. They also might have played through Muzio Clementi’s sonatas. Clementi (1752-1832) was an Italian-born composer who lived much of his life in England. Although his fame reached far beyond England’s borders during his lifetime, his popularity has waned a bit over the last 100 years or so. Still, his music is always melodic and charming and most young piano students have played his sonatinas.
Here is his Sonata No.2 in C major for piano duet.
And here is the first page of Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano Four Hands, Op. 6 (1796-97). If you play at all, you can how this is approachable for a competent amateur. It does get more difficult, but it’s certainly something Mary and Jane could play with enjoyment for both themselves and anyone listening.
I personally think this sounds fascinating, since I do not play, I am more of a writer and singer myself. But I have grown up in a classical home, so I grew up on Mozart, Vivaldi and a mix of Disney and other children genre music, later on in my teens and early twenties Beethoven, Mozart, John Williams, Silvestri, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and several others, became the most listened to genre for me, and I do enjoy it and I personally love music.
They had arrived at the top of the stairs and Emma gave a sharp knock at the door, which was answered almost at once. The small party was invited in by the serving girl and led through a very small vestibule to a cosy sitting room, made even cosier by the presence of an imposing pianoforte that occupied much of the room. It was a beautiful instrument, quite incongruous in this small and unprepossessing space.
The room, to Mary’s surprise, was quite full of company. Mrs. Bates sat at her knitting by the window, where the light was best, and Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax had risen from their seats at a small table near the quiet dark fireplace, in the company of none other than Frank Churchill! Once more, Mary observed the flitter of glances between Miss Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley, Miss Fairfax, and Mr. Churchill, that told of a tale far more complicated and involved than any of the parties to it seemed to acknowledge. In contrast, Harriet Smith’s expression was wistful and innocent, and she seemed quite apart in so many ways from the subtle undercurrents that suffused the small parlour.
Sounding embarrassed to break the moment of silence that ensued, Harriet handed the basket to Miss Bates. “Mrs. Goddard had extra food, some pies and preserves, and hoped you might help us by taking them before they turn.”
“How very kind, so obliging!” Miss Bates turned her nervous smile on the young visitor. “Yes, very kind indeed! Mother has been at her baking today, for all that she enjoys the activity so much, even if it is not what ladies ought to do, but it is a source of pleasure for her. Mr. and Mrs. Elton were by, so good of them to visit and talk of poor Mr. Abdy. I knew him when he worked for Father, of course, although that was many years ago and I had not spoken to him much after Father died and he went to live with his sons, but Mother was not able to go to the kitchens to bake. So kind of Mrs. Goddard to think of us. Let us see… oh, fruit tarts! Lovely. So lovely. Perhaps we can set them out with tea. Tea! Yes, please, let me see about calling for tea.”
“Miss Bennet,” Frank Churchill turned his smile upon her once more. “I could not keep myself away from the joy of hearing you at the keyboard. I do hope you do not mind. I have been helping Miss Fairfax sort through her music. Here is a set of marches by Mr. Beethoven, or this by Mr. Kozeluch, or look here, some sonatas by Mr. Mozart. Ladies, I rely on you to tell me which to set out.”
The morning passed quickly; Mary enjoyed Miss Fairfax’s quiet company and strove to match the other’s considerable skill at the keyboard, and the musical results were not unpleasing. The clock chimed noon, and then one, and at last, having played many notes and consumed several pieces of fruitcake and lavender biscuits, Mary and the rest of the party from Hartfield took their leave.
“Thank you, Miss Bennet, for lending me your skills,” Miss Fairfax said as they departed. “I would be very pleased should you wish to return tomorrow if you have time before the ball, or the day after.”
This pleased Mary. “If I am still in town, the pleasure would be my own.” She dropped a curtsey to her hosts and thanked Miss Bates and Mrs. Bates and followed her new friends down the stairs to the street.
Now, time for the giveaway!! Yay!
I am giving away five eBooks worldwide over the course of this blog tour, chosen randomly from people who enter. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter link or widget. If you don’t like Rafflecopter, you can still enter. Just send me an email (email@example.com) saying so, and I’ll add your name to the list for the draw. The giveaway will close at 12am EST on February 27, 2021.
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
So, that is it for this time around! I am working or reading as fast as possible through several books still, but I do promise at some point, I hope soon I will present my reviews for Riana’s two murder mysteries, and a few others. So, therefore for now, I will say, see you soon, dear readers.