It’s with great pleasure I host Joana Starnes here today. She brings us a wonderful post and an EXCERPT from her latest book – The Journey Home to Pemberley! Read all the way to the end to see the fantastic INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY!
Many thanks for hosting me today, Rita, on the blog tour for my latest book, The Journey Home To Pemberley.
Would you and your readers like to go on a short trip, even if it’s just a virtual one? How about starting in the Lake District?
(Kirkstone Pass, Cumbria. Photo J Starnes)
This astounding scenery is what had inspired the writing of the book. Especially the low-lying clouds – they made all the difference. What if they were to bring a storm? And what if that storm would lead our favourite characters to meet again after Hunsford in different circumstances than in canon? What if those circumstances should involve a flash of lightning, a skittish horse that throws his rider, and a remote country inn where the injured rider could receive the best care and attention he could have possibly hoped for?
The inn is not an artistic licence. There is an inn atop the Kirkstone Pass. An inn had stood there for hundreds of years, and it looked like this in times gone by.
The artistic licence for which I hope its Georgian owners might forgive me is suggesting that not many people stayed there in those days. In fact, despite its remote location, it probably was a busy hostelry in Regency times, when Jane Austen’s contemporaries were travelling the whole length and breadth of the country in search of the picturesque. It certainly is very popular now, and that’s no wonder because it offers a wonderfully warm welcome and superb food, and boasts spectacular surroundings. And there’s also a beautiful four-poster suite where Mr Darcy would have been very comfortable indeed.
Nevertheless, in The Journey Home To Pemberley he spends the night in rather more modest comfort, and the inn is pretty much deserted. Apart from him, the only ones sheltering under the old slate roof are the innkeeper, his wife, their servant and… another small party. There were some reasons for that: Elizabeth had to have the freedom to (selflessly and somewhat recklessly) come to tend to Mr Darcy in his feverish and barely conscious state. And when he came to, they had to talk. That is to say, they had to talk in peace, without interruptions – and without the risk of ruined reputations.
Having said that, if there should have been other fashionable travellers staying at the inn, tales might have been carried to town and our dear couple might have been compelled to marry sooner (which would have served them a great deal better). I loved writing an early marriage scenario in Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter, but this book was meant to go in a different direction.
Geographically, the tale eventually went to Cambridge. (I had better not say why in case you’d rather not read spoilers). I thought Cambridge might have given a lovelorn Lizzy plenty of scope to pine for Mr Darcy if she and her family could have taken lodgings on Fitzwilliam Street or visited the Fitzwilliam Museum. But the museum was founded in 1816. I could not discover when Fitzwilliam Street had acquired its current name, but it must have been even later because it’s quite close to the present site of the Fitzwilliam Museum which was opened in 1848. As for Brunch & Lunch at Fitzbillie’s, that was not an option for Elizabeth either 😊.
But, during her stay in the beautiful old city, Elizabeth could still wonder which of the colleges was the one that Mr Darcy had attended.
Top left: Christ’s College; Top right: Queens’ College; Below: King’s College
(Photos J. Starnes)
The next stop on our virtual tour is the coastline around Weymouth. Why Weymouth? Because of a deliciously tempting parallel with a certain boating mishap mentioned in Emma. The trouble was that I have never been to Weymouth, so Google Earth was my best friend for a while as I tried to get the general feel of the area. But the research rabbit-hole is a beautiful thing that lures you for hours and then takes you to unexpected treasure troves. It turns out that John Constable loved that very stretch of coastline, and even took his wife to Dorset on their honeymoon. So, thanks to Wikipedia, here it is: Weymouth Bay just as John Constable saw it, before modern features appeared on the landscape:
John Constable, Weymouth Bay – Bowleaze Cove and Jordon Hill
National Gallery, London (Wikipedia)
So, what about that parallel with the boating mishap in Emma? Would you like to read a short excerpt and find out?
THE JOURNEY HOME TO PEMBERLEY
The day was bright, the waves friendly, but the double-masted schooner was not quite as big a vessel as Elizabeth had imagined it would be. Not that it made her feel unsafe. But the small deck enforced proximity – and, contrary to her expectations, Mr Darcy had chosen to be of the party.
The sails flapped and swelled, catching the wind, as she sat with Meg, Bella and their gregarious friends on the roof of the elevated hatchway that stood amidships, much like a raised dais covered with thick canvas. Beside her, the young ladies chatted, only to break off and squeal in feigned or real panic whenever the sails flapped too loudly or the vessel swayed too much. Steady on their feet and more accustomed to the trials and the delights of sailing, James Monkford and the Lyndhurst brothers took turns in offering words of reassurance in response or, at other times, they merely laughed at the girls’ missish displays, just as fancy took them.
Mr Darcy said nothing as he stood apart by the parapet, staring into the distance, hat in hand, his hair swept back by the wind.
Elizabeth stole another furtive glance at him. What was on his mind just now? Was he as forcibly reminded as she of that distant morning on Winander Mere, when they sat together – ever so close, ever so happy?
Tears welled in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks, and Elizabeth shifted in her seat in an effort to conceal them – although, if Meg or Bella asked, she could easily blame the tears on the wind. But when Darcy suddenly turned towards her to look her fully in the face, she knew he would not believe the feeble excuse for a single moment.
She scrambled to her feet, desperate for privacy. But there was nowhere to go – nowhere to hide, cover her face and let the tears run freely. Through her own misguided choice, there she was, confined aboard this ship. Nowhere to run. All she could do was retreat to the bow, where she might be allowed a few moments to herself and a meagre opportunity to regain her composure. But as she tried to dash past him and make her escape, the ship lurched and swayed more forcefully than ever – lurched so violently that she was flung sideways into the parapet.
A loud chorus of cries erupted from the others, in genuine alarm this time, but Elizabeth barely heard them as Darcy’s arm shot out to catch her. She gasped in shock – not at the belated terror of having so narrowly avoided the danger of going overboard, but at the glorious and devastating closeness. Clasped to his chest, her eyes lost in his. The dark gaze enveloped her, burned into her, scorching the edges of the world, and scorching heat instantly flared from every point of contact with his hard chest – hard as a rock, and just as steady. The only steady certainty in a swaying world.
His firm hold around her waist grew even tighter – a clasp so fierce that she could hardly breathe. Yet this was not the reason why her lungs struggled to do their office. If anything, the aching constriction in her chest only grew worse when he slackened his grip and slowly released her. The fiery embrace gave way to the civil and ever so bland support of his arm under hers, and he wordlessly guided her back to the seat she had so imprudently quitted.
Meg shuffled sideways to make room for her and Bella entreated, “Goodness, Lizzy, do sit! You are shaking like a leaf. Sailing can be a very dangerous business,” she added softly, seeking to make light of the mishap that might have had such frightful consequences. She protectively wrapped her arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders and looked up at her friend’s preserver. “Thank you, and thank goodness for your fast reflexes!” Bella said fervently and shuddered. “Heavens, I dread to think what might have happened!”
Visibly shaken, Meg nodded in agreement and reached for Elizabeth’s hand as if to keep her safely seated, while the others eagerly spoke up to offer sympathy and comfort. The babble of anxious voices nearly drowned out Elizabeth’s when she finally regained the power of speech in sufficient measure as to add her own whispered thanks for Darcy’s timely intervention.
“Think nothing of it. I am glad I could be of service,” he evenly replied, then left her to her friends’ affectionate attentions and retreated to the spot Elizabeth still coveted – at the ship’s bow, away from them all.
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What was Elizabeth doing in Dorset and, more to the point, why was Mr Darcy there? What is the reason for the almost palpable tension between them, and how would they find their way back to each other in every sense of the word?
I hope you’d like to read the book and see our favourite couple reach the end of their journey.
Lyme Park and Chatsworth (Photos J Starnes)
And now it’s GIVEAWAY TIME:
Please enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY for a chance to win:
- one of the 8 Kindle copies of The Journey Home To Pemberley
- or a paperback copy
- or a P&P and Austen-related goodie bag.
The giveaway is international and it ends at midnight EST on 4 Oct 2019. Best of luck, and thanks again, Rita, for hosting me here today!
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About the Author
Joana lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats – physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst – but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination, and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine.
She is the author of eight Austen-inspired novels (From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley; The Subsequent Proposal; The Second Chance; The Falmouth Connection; The Unthinkable Triangle; Miss Darcy’s Companion; Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter and The Darcy Legacy) and one of the contributors to the Quill Ink anthologies (The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know, Rational Creatures and Yuletide). They are all available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback, and some in Audible too: Joana’s Amazon Page.
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