L.L. Diamond

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Welcome back and are you ready for chapter 2? If you haven’t read Chapter 1, then please hop on over to Austen Variations and check that out here. If you’re ready for Chapter 2, let’s join the Montfords for dinner and after 🙂

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Chapter 2

“Nicholas, Lizzybeth, should you like to join me in my study?”

“Really, Hugh, this is hardly appropriate,” said Grandmamma in the same tone and fashion she used every evening when her grandfather invited her to his study.

Her grandfather was undeterred. “If Amelia enjoyed chess, I would request her presence, but neither of you take pleasure in the game, so I leave you to your pursuits. Do not forget that Lizzybeth has joined you some evenings.” He neglected to mention that those occasions were rare, but he was good about not raising her grandmother’s hackles. 

Grandmamma gave a low growl while she stood. “Very well. I suppose we shall be spending the day together tomorrow shopping so I can have no reason to object to an hour or so with you tonight.”

He only nodded in her grandmother’s direction with a small slip of a smile, barely discernible unless you knew him. “I am pleased you see the matter from my perspective, my dear.”

Elizabeth took his arm while she bit her cheek to keep from laughing or grinning. Her grandmother and grandfather always bickered when it came to her joining the men for talk and brandy, not that her grandmother knew Grandpapa gave her brandy. He occasionally slipped as he had this afternoon, but he always followed with his claim to have misspoken. Her grandmother could not have fallen for his falsehood, could she? She was not usually so easily deceived.

Upon reaching his study, Elizabeth plunked down in her usual chair and tucked her feet under her while Nicholas sat on the small settee and spread his long arms across the back. He had been a thin but tall child and remained so until last year. Now, he had shed the last of his boyish face and appeared much more a man of five and twenty years than the youthful boy she had once known.

“So, are you to search for a wife this season?”

He scrubbed his face with his hand. “Grandmamma is relentless. She started speaking of young ladies last season, and her insistence has only grown.”

“You are the future of the Richmond earldom, Son. We want to ensure that future is secure.” Grandpapa handed Nicholas a glass of brandy, then one to Elizabeth. “If you had a younger brother, we could delay matters to your schedule, but we have suffered too much loss amongst our own children. We fear—”

“I understand your position. I do, but I have yet to meet a lady who can hold an acceptable conversation without falling into a discussion of fashion or the state of the roads. Is it so terrible to want more than an acceptable match?”

“No. Of course it is not.” Elizabeth leaned against the arm of her chair. She would hug Nicholas if she could, but he would never accept her coddling him. Not that she could. He was far too tall with his over six-foot height, and he was also a grown man. Besides being five years her senior, he had not shown an inkling of allowing such an embrace since his parents were killed in a carriage accident ten years ago. While as good natured as ever, Nicholas seemed to wall a part of himself off after his parents’ deaths, which pained her to see. “Do anything rather than marry without affection.”

Her grandfather set a hand on Nicholas’s shoulder. “I agree with your cousin, but would you take a turn about the library so I can speak to Lizzybeth?”

“What? Why?” At a dip of Grandpapa’s chin, Nicholas stood with a grumble. “I do not understand why I must leave for you to speak to Lizzy. Precious little happens in this household without my knowledge.”

Her grandfather neglected to react to his grandson’s protests. He simply patted his shoulder. “Never you mind. Just do as I ask.”

Elizabeth grinned at Nicholas’s sour expression and gave a small wave while he closed the door behind him. “What do you want to ask that you do not want Nicholas to know?”

“I desire the identity of Janey’s suitor. If Nicholas is acquainted with the gentleman, he may conduct his own enquiries, which I would prefer not to happen.”

She nodded and sighed. “I do not know if I would call Mr. Bingley a suitor—”

“Bingley you said?” Her grandfather blinked several times, and his forehead creased.

“Yes, Mr. Charles Bingley. Do you know him?”

“I am not personally acquainted with him, but I know of him. Your grandmother detests his sisters.”

Elizabeth laughed and covered her mouth to keep from choking while she swallowed. “I cannot find fault with her feelings for those ladies, but Grandmamma and I often share similarities of opinion on most matters.”

“Except for the idea of ladies drinking brandy.” One corner of his lips curved upward.

“And who is to blame for that? Besides, she surely knows I drink with you and Nicholas in the evenings.” 

“Hush, child. Your grandmother would have my guts for garters if she ever had proof. You notice I never offer you more than wine or sherry when Amelia is with us, do you not?” 

That had not escaped her attention. “Amelia would not tell our secret.”

“No, but with how close she is to your grandmother, I feel it unfair to expect her to keep the confidence.”

She pursed her lips. “But you feel no such qualms of Nicholas?”

“If I did not offer you brandy, Nicholas would. I consider him as much a conspirator as I do you.” With a smile, she took another sip of her drink while Grandpapa peeked through the door to summon Nicholas.

“Well? Has all been settled to your satisfaction, Grandpapa? I enjoy the library, but I am able to spend all day every day in its confines should I wish.”

“We have finished our conversation.”

Nicholas looked back and forth between them. “Did you discover the name of this mysterious suitor?”

 She sighed and relaxed into her chair. “I would not call him a suitor. He has shown Jane a prodigious amount of attention, but he took possession of Netherfield at Michaelmas. While Jane likes him a great deal, I cannot be certain of his intentions. His sister mentioned the possibility of him being matched with a friend’s younger sister. While I do not believe her claim, I cannot discount the possibility.”

Her grandfather furrowed his brow. “Interesting, indeed. Do not fret. I shall know how to act.”

“I am not reassured. Mama will never forgive me if I am responsible for ruining her hopes.”

“If the gentleman is unworthy, then you should not face any wrath,” said Nicholas.

“After the debacle with Mr. Collins, I am tempted to keep you with us.” Her grandfather sat in his favourite chair while he groused.

“You know Papa would never allow—”

“Oh, he would. I would give him no choice in the matter.” Before she could enquire further, he held up a hand. “Do not ask me for particulars. Just trust that I shall do what is best for your happiness.”

“I knew I should not have told you.” She set her glass on the side table and crossed her arms over her chest. Why were they so obstinate? She could manage Mama.

“Yes, you should have told us,” said Nicholas. “He cannot simply marry you off to any gentleman, cleric, militiaman, or tradesman who believes you worthy. You deserve to find someone who loves you. I would not have you wed without affection either, Lils.”

“You have not called me Lils in years.” Surely, her mouth was agape.

“An oversight on my part, I am certain. I use the name often enough in my head, but I have supposed of late that you have far too many nicknames for one young lady. Perhaps I began addressing you as Amelia does to make things simpler.” He cleared his throat. “Pardon me. I believe I require some air.”

As soon as he departed the room, she turned to her grandfather. “What have I said?”

“He has not called you ‘Lils’ since after his parents died. Once you returned to Longbourn, he began addressing you as Lizzy.”

“When I visited that Easter, he had changed so. I hardly recognized him.” He had seemed to grow up overnight. The transformation saddened her.

“He appeared much the same.”

“But he was not as open as he was before.”

“No,” said Grandpapa with a sigh. “He has been the same in some ways but different in others. Despite his young age, he had responsibilities thrust upon him after Arthur died. I had not intended to burden him, but I fear I made a mistake in trusting what he could manage at his age and after such a tragedy. An error I shall not make again. My grandchildren will be protected.”

“Grandpapa, we are well and loved. We could ask for little that you have not provided.”

“Do not think I am unaware of what occurs at Longbourn. Your father locks himself away in his library and allows his wife to do as she pleases. Your mother, God rest her soul, would be heartbroken to know what he has become.” Her grandfather had not stepped foot in Longbourn for years. How could he know so much of what occurs within its walls?

“Oft times I wonder if he married Mama for no other reason than to break the entail.”

“Why else would he marry a lady he held no affection for? If the babe had survived, then I doubt he would have spared a second glance for Fanny Gardiner, but the poor boy was born too early. You were too young to remember, but when we received word of Sophie’s early confinement, we travelled from Yorkshire without stopping other than to swap horses at the inns. When we arrived, your father had locked himself in his library, bereft, while Hill managed the household. She ensured you and Jane were fed and cared for and found a wet nurse for the babe. Sophie was laid out and prepared for burial. Your father, however, was inconsolable. He refused to emerge from that blasted library. He drank port and whiskey and mourned your mother the only way he understood. As soon as the babe died, we put him in your mother’s arms and had the bodies taken to Richmond where they are interred in the chapel. You would not remember much, but you and Janey spent almost two years with us after their death.

“Hill, meanwhile, refused to buy your father more liquor unless he ate and managed to keep him from drinking himself into an early grave. According to her, about a year after Sophie died, he requested a bath and a shave and gradually began to pull himself together. No one is sure why he proposed to Fanny Gardiner, but your mother and I believe he wished to have you and Janey with him, so he wed Fanny to care for you. Foolishly, we allowed your return.”

“You knew how Mama behaves towards me before you asked, did you not?”

He sat with his elbows upon his knees, turning his glass in his hands, while he nodded. “Your grandmother corresponds frequently with Mrs. Hill. We have debated over the years whether it was prudent to bring you and Janey to live with us, yet we considered how Sophie would feel. Would she wish us to raise you ourselves? She loved your father with her whole heart, and we thought she would want you to remain with him.”

“You let her love for Papa guide you.” It was the only explanation that made sense.

“Yes, but your mother would want you to marry for love—as she did. I shall not allow that woman he has wed to foist some unworthy gentleman upon you. At least your father kept his word and never mentioned yours and Janey’s fortunes. His wife’s avarice would know no bounds if she knew.”

“My fortune?” No one had mentioned a word of a fortune. Why had she never been told? All these years, it was assumed the five Bennet ladies had no more than Mrs. Bennet’s five thousand pounds to sustain them after her father’s death.

At her question, her grandfather’s eyes flared. “He never told you?” He ran his fingers through his greying hair. “I suppose that was a wise decision. Janey is too soft-hearted and would have mentioned it in front of Mrs. Bennet at some point.”

“And after Mama insisted her daughters receive their share, she would not stop until she told the entire neighbourhood.” Her grandfather was correct. As much as she loved Jane, she thought too well of everyone. She would never believe Mama unworthy of complete trust. “Mama would consider me undeserving of such a sum.” Her grandparents knew what happened at Longbourn without her, so what point was there in hiding it?

“Lizzybeth, pray, remember. That woman is not your mother. Allow us to now act as we should have so long ago. Your mother’s fortune of thirty thousand pounds was split between the two of you, and I have added to that sum over the years. You each have the same fortune as your mother, and I control the funds. Regardless of what your father or Mrs. Bennet claim, you cannot wed without my approval—neither can Janey for that matter.”

“Would you withhold consent from Mr. Bingley?”

He shook his head with a grim countenance. “I am unsure. I should like to see him court her before I decide. Nicholas and I shall pay a call to the Gardiner’s home on the morrow. She should spend Christmastide with us. If Mr. Bingley is a worthy young man, he will call upon her here.”

“Miss Bingley does not know of our connexion to you. She would have pushed her brother in Jane’s direction if she had heard word of it.” That lady would surely consider the granddaughter of an earl appropriate for her brother, would she not?

Grandpapa’s shoulders jerked with a silent chuckle. “If she has her sights on who I believe, the young lady is the granddaughter of an earl as well and boasts a fortune to match yours. Not only that, but Miss Bingley also has her sights on the young lady’s brother.

“I do know that when your father brought Sophie to Longbourn as a new bride, they enjoyed keeping her connexions a secret. They found the assumptions of the neighbourhood amusing. To this day, I do not believe anyone has heard word of us. Your father drank too heavily to receive condolences, so when people came to the door, Hill told them a relative paid for the funeral in their home county.”

“Well, I have never heard mention of the Earl of Richmond or your surname in Meryton, and Papa told us to never tell anyone of you or Grandmamma.” She could only imagine how entertained her father would be by hiding his late wife’s heritage. He truly found humour in the oddest of things.

He exhaled heavily and shook his head. “I have to believe that after your mother died, it was his way of protecting you and your future. He is unwilling to control his wife so he controls the information she can use to make his life miserable. The amusement he derives would be an added inducement.”

Elizabeth downed the last sip of her brandy. “I beg you. No more.” Fanny Bennet was the only mother she had ever known—that she could remember, anyway. Her father was not perfect, and neither was Mama, but they were all she knew. More than ever, her heart yearned for some remembrance of her mother, but she had been three when her mother died giving birth to her brother. No matter how hard she tried, naught of her mother remained in her memory. All of this was too much. She wanted nothing more than to bury her head in her pillow and not awaken until morning.

“If you would like more brandy, I can make your excuses to your grandmother.”

“You would give me a second glass?” He never offered her more than the small serving he doled out when they first sat down. At his lift of the decanter, she held up a hand. “I should spend some time with Amelia and Grandmamma first. Perhaps when I retire.”

“I shall have Nicholas bring you a glass.”

With a nod, she stood. “Thank you.”


She turned back to him just before opening the door. “Yes?”

“Forgive me for speaking so freely. Your grandmother and I have considered bringing you and Janey to live with us many times over the years, but I never felt the urgency to do so then as I do now. We shall never prevent you from writing your father or your younger sisters, and your father will have the ability to visit you at Richmond House or Castle—”

“Papa will not stand for it. He will demand our return.”

“After your mother’s death, he signed documents making me guardian of you and Janey. I allowed him to take you when he married Fanny Gardiner, but according to the law, you both are still my wards.”

“How is that possible? Papa is not dead.”

“We thought, at the time, he would drink himself to death. With the right documents and the aid of a solicitor, the Court of Chancery made me your guardians. Janey will do as she is told, but you are more forthright, just like your mother. I want you to understand I am doing what I believe to be best.”

Elizabeth walked forward, kissed her grandfather’s cheek, and lifted on her toes so she could hug him. “I have always trusted you, Grandpapa.”

“I love you, my sweet girl.”

“I love you, too.” Her eyes burned, and she buried her face into his shoulder, inhaling the sweet peppermint scent that she associated with him. How could such a simple odour provide such comfort? After one last kiss to his cheek, she dabbed her eyes with the back of her hand.

“You are tired. Retire. I shall make your excuses to your grandmother.”

“I do not want to disappoint her.”

“Do not worry. I shall speak with her after Amelia retires. She will understand.”

She slipped from the study and made her way to her chambers. When she entered, Tate curtseyed and began unfastening the back of her gown. “How was your evening, miss?”

“Lovely. It is good to be with my grandparents again.”

“I can imagine. It has been a long time—over a year now by my recollection.”

“Too long.” Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder. “You are here early. I do not usually retire until later.”

“If you’ll forgive me for saying it, I noticed the dark circles under your eyes when I dressed you for dinner. I thought you might retire earlier than is your wont.”

Tate made quick work of readying her for the night, then curtseyed and departed through the servants’ door a moment before a light knock came from her sitting room. Elizabeth hurried through and opened the door just enough for Nicholas to squeeze through.

“Grandpapa asked me to bring you this,” he said, handing her the promised glass of brandy.

“Thank you.” She glanced to the glass he held in his other hand. “Are you joining me?”

“I thought you may wish for company. I should also like to hear more about this proposal of marriage.” He sat on the sofa and crossed his ankle over his knee. “Was Mr. Collins on one knee?”

“Good Lord, Nicholas. I told Mama he had nothing to tell me which I needed to hear, but she insisted. Even after I refused, she demanded I accept him. If Papa had not told me I would be a stranger to Mama if I refused and a stranger to him if I accepted, I would have cried. The man is every bit ridiculous.” She sat beside him and pulled her legs under her. “His first night at Longbourn, he read Fordyce’s sermons to the family and spoke of his patroness, Lady Catherine, and the cost of the windows and the chimneys and the chamber pots at Rosings Park…Oh! At the ball two nights ago, he approached Mr. Darcy and introduced himself—”

Her cousin jumped a little. “Did you say Darcy?” Ugh! She had not meant to mention him by name—ever.

“Yes, he was a guest of the neighbour letting Netherfield.”

Nicholas’s eyes went wide, and he straightened. “Tell me this gentleman Janey is so enamoured of is not Charles Bingley.”

“What—?” She had been afraid he would deduce who the gentlemen was if he knew enough, and she was right.

“Good Lord. I wondered when you mentioned the sisters, but the income you stated, a newly leased estate, Darcy being a guest, all of it makes sense.” He took a sip of his drink, baring his teeth when he swallowed. “Lizzy, we cannot allow Janey to marry him.”

“Why on earth not?” Her grandfather’s grim visage upon learning Mr. Bingley’s identity was not reassuring, but now Nicholas? What could he possibly know?

“Bingley is a friendly and cheerful man, but he is also spineless. I cannot imagine him changing his small clothes without his sisters’ permission. Miss Bingley likely tells his valet what he is to wear each day, how to cut his hair, how snug to fit his breeches. No, Janey would be marrying a child in the guise of an adult. She deserves better.”

Elizabeth watched the fire for a moment, the flames winding up to points and disappearing into the smoke. “Mama will be quite put out.” Mama would be livid and blame her, yet she did no more than tell her family Mr. Bingley’s name. She was not preventing him from proposing.

“You told Grandpapa of this, did you not?”

“Yes, he asked you to leave us for that purpose.” She should not have mentioned Mr. Darcy’s name! She could slap herself for letting the name slip, not that it would be of any aid now.

Nicholas downed the last of his brandy and rose. “Forgive me. I should speak to my grandfather.” With his glass in hand, he peeked out the door before disappearing through.

She sagged into the corner of the settee and sipped her brandy. Mayhap remaining with her grandparents, Amelia, and Nicholas would be best. Obviously, Mama was too fearful of what would happen to her should Papa die, making her far too eager to marry her daughters to men of questionable worth—if Nicholas and her grandfather were to be believed. She sighed, set her glass on the table, and rose to go to bed. Enough for tonight. She would worry about it on the morrow.

Chapter 3 is up at Austen Variations on Wednesday of next week! I hope you’ll join me! In the meantime, don’t forget to preorder your copy! Release day is December 14th!!

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving if you’re in that part of the world. In the tradition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Austen Variations is having its Deck the Shelves in the Closet book sale. Don’t miss out! Titles are included from authors: Diana BirchallJack Caldwell, Nicole Clarkston, L. L. Diamond, Amy D’Orazio, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Lucy Marin, Christina Morland, Anngela Schroeder, Joana Starnes, and Shannon Winslow.

Click here to go to the book sale!

And we also have the winners of The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror audiobook celebration giveaway! Congratulations DarcyBennet, Glory, and buturot!

Lastly!! Tune in on Wednesday at Austen Variations! I will start posting preview chapters of my next book: An Endeavour to be Worthy!

See you Wednesday!

Hi there! Guess what’s live on Amazon and Audible! If you’ve been anticipating this audiobook, I have too 🙂 I’m so excited for you to hear the amazing voice talents of Joanna Lee bring Ellie and her Fitzwilliam Darcy to life. I just love Joanna’s interpretation! If you can’t wait to hear it for yourself, then you can get it at Audible or Amazon. I have the  links for the Audible markets: Audible USAudible UK,  Audible Fr,  Audible De.

Sample : The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror

I hope you enjoyed Joanna’s narration!

Now, to celebrate, I’m giving away 3 audiobook codes! Just leave me a comment below to enter the drawing 🙂

The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror is live and getting rave reviews! I couldn’t be more happy with its reception, and I’d like to thank those who read and reviewed. It’s been amazing to get such positive and glowing feedback. Thank you again!

Now, to announce the winners of the giveaway! Congratulations to


Laura J

Sarah P

SA and TC

I’ve sent everyone an email, so please respond if you haven’t already to let me know whether you want the audiobook code when it becomes available or the Kindle!

Now, if you haven’t read The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, get out there and read it! 🙂

The season in Regency England was not just balls and Almacks. The theatre in Regency times was an important place for those who spent the season in London, and those who ventured to the theatre did not attend to simply watch a play. They dressed to the nines and sat in long carriage lines to also see who was in attendance as well as to be seen. In fact, the practice was so common that when Charles Garnier planned the Paris Opera House (1861-1875), he had mirrors placed throughout the lobby because he felt the only performance of the night did not play out on the stage. The spectators were as much a part of the nightly performance as the actors.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to learn about Theatre in Regency England, here is your chance. I’ve compiled these totally random facts that you may or may not wish to know.

♥ In the 18th and early 19th century, a night’s programme at the theatre included a five act play, followed by a farcical afterpiece, which were often pantomimes. The later entertainment was popular since it could be enjoyed by those who arrived late and were admitted at half price.
Wiltshire, John. The Cambridge Edition of Mansfield Park, Cambridge University Press (2005). Pg. 677.

♥ The male nobility who kept their alternative lives away from prying eyes made exceptions for the theater. Cyprians often came face to face with wives and other relations of their male sponsors at the theatre and the opera.
Wilson, Ben. The Making of Victorian Values, Decency & Dissent in Britain: 1789-1837 . The Penguin Press (2007). Pg. 197.

♥ Actors were not much better than servants in the eyes of society, and actresses were nearly prostitutes. A gentleman or aristocrat could set up an actress as his mistress, but heaven forbid, a lady enter into a relationship with an actor! In fact, the Prince Regent’s first mistress was Mary Robinson, an actress at the Theatre Royal. She caused a big stink when he ended the affair because he didn’t pay her the annuity expected at the end of the situation. Instead, she held letters he’d written her for ransom, demanding £5,000 for their return.
Martin, Joanna. Wives and Daughters. Hambledon Continuum (2004). Pg. 39.

♥ There were hundreds of candles that lit the auditorium and the stage during the intermissions as well as the performances (The theatres couldn’t be dimmed during the performance. It was too hazardous and would have been a time-consuming job!). The theatre employed candle trimmers and snuffers to monitor and tend to the candles. If a candle was trimmed too soon the trimmer risked knocking lit candles down and starting fires, but if they were trimmed too late, the audience would complain of hot wax dripping on them from above. (Ouch!)
Kelly, Ian . Beau Brummell, The Ultimate Man of Style . Free Press (2006). Pg. 167.

♥ Renting a subscription box or owning a box was a sign of your social status and fashionable position. Only the most affluent purchased boxes by the season; however, as prices rose, some patrons chose to share a box and others rented their boxes out for individual performances.
Rendell, Jane. The Pursuit of Pleasure: Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London . Rutgers University Press (2002). Pg. 116.

♥ Shakespeare’s plays were tremendously popular but the actors performed in modern dress rather than the characteristic doublet and hose of the 16th century.
Tapley, Jane. Contrib to Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine. Issue: 17. Pg. 23.

♥ On 24 February 1809, the Theatre Royal burned down and did not reopen until 10 October 1812. The play performed that evening was Hamlet. While the Theatre Royal was being rebuilt, the Drury Lane Company used the Lyceum.

♥ Prior to the Drury Lane Company using the Lyceum, the building hosted a circus produced by Philip Astley, a chapel, and the first London exhibition of Madame Tussaud’s wax sculptures.

♥ Famous courtesan Harriet Wilson had a box at the Opera every Tuesday and Sunday night and a box at the theatre from Thursday to Saturday. Her box was used to flaunt her “attractions” and were for the purpose of soliciting and meeting possible “protectors.”
Kelly, Ian . Beau Brummell, The Ultimate Man of Style . Free Press (2006). Pg. 170.

♥ James Hadfield made an assassination attempt against George III on 15 May 1800 at the Theatre Royal. As the king was announced and God Save the King was played, Hadfield fired two pistol shots from the pit toward the King who stood in the royal box. The performers subdued Hadfield, who had reportedly missed by inches. The King appeared unfazed and requested the play continue as planned.

♥ A spouting club was a meeting of apprentices and mechanics who rehearsed characters, and formed recruits for the strolling companies.
Grose, Captain (Francis).  Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811 edition. Ikon Classics (2004)

♥ Fruit sellers sold their wares throughout the performances, and some had other trades on the side. Members of the audience and people in the boxes conducted business transactions. Theater staff, personal messengers, and footmen couriered gossip, orders for carriages, money, love notes and bills of exchange between patrons for much of the evening.
Kelly, Ian . Beau Brummell, The Ultimate Man of Style . Free Press (2006). Pg. 167.

♥ It was normal and accepted not only for the audience to arrive exceedingly late (sometimes as much as an hour and a half) but also for them talk throughout the entire performance.
Murray, Venetia. An Elegant Madness. Penguin Books (1998). Pg. 220.

So, was Regency Theatre what you expected, better or worse? I find the more I read of it, the more surprised I am by some of the scandals.

Good morning! I’m at work formatting the paperback for The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, so I’m posting a short I wrote for Persuasion: Behind the Scenes. I will be posting the next chapter of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror on Wednesday at Austen Variations. If you have not read the first three, click the links for Chapters 1 & 2 and Chapter 3. If you have yet to preorder, what are you waiting for? Click here for that!!!

“Sir Walter, his two daughters, and Mrs Clay, were the earliest of all their party at the rooms in the evening; and as Lady Dalrymple must be waited for, they took their station by one of the fires in the Octagon Room. But hardly were they so settled, when the door opened again, and Captain Wentworth walked in alone.”

Upon his entrance to the concert hall, Captain Wentworth paused to survey his surroundings. The gallery was opulent, as was expected, and the many people in attendance were all dressed in their finest, gathered in their respective groups while they likely discussed the performance ahead.

As he began his advance further into the room, his eyes lit upon Anne, who stood with her father and her sister near the far corner. She must have noticed him when he walked through the entry since she continued to observe him as he made his way through the crowd.

Would she attempt to speak with him? If she tried, would her father allow the conversation?

His gut twisted with anxiety as he drew nearer. A small bow should suffice as an acknowledgement, should it not? If Anne wished to speak with him, she would have to approach him. He would not harm her relationship with her family—not that they were worthy of Anne. She was far superior a creature!

Captain Wentworth drew close and she took a small step forward. She was indeed approaching him! He halted when he heard her sweet voice beckon, “How do you do?” He indicated he was well, and when he was acknowledged by Sir Walter and Miss Elliot, he bowed.

Between them both, they swiftly covered all of the niceties of polite discourse: the weather, Bath, and the concert ahead. As their conversation flagged, he began to despair. Could this be all they had to say to one another? Lyme! Of course, he should mention Lyme!

“I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme. I am afraid you must have suffered from the shock, and the more from its not overpowering you at the time.” Pleasure soared within him as they spoke of their shared experiences, progressing from Louisa Musgrove’s unfortunate accident to her betrothal to Captain Benwick.

Something within Anne’s eyes was disturbed upon the mention of the upcoming nuptials. He had witnessed many emotions cross her face, and had catalogued each within his memory, and this appeared almost a sadness. Could she believe he harboured an attachment to Louisa? Despite the resentment he had carried within his heart for all of these years, he could not allow her to be so affected by a mistaken notion.

“…A man like him, in his situation! with a heart pierced, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville was a very superior creature, and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not.”

There! He had given a hint of his innermost thoughts and feelings, but would she understand?

The shadow lifted, but she pressed forward and lengthened their discussion. His keen ears registered the low tones of Sir Walter and Miss Elliot behind Anne, but he paid them no heed. While he maintained Anne’s attention, he would not be distracted by their inane prattle.

“I should very much like to see Lyme again,” said Anne.

How she surprised him! Would she wish to return for the sights, or because the location held memories of him? Oh, how he wished it were the latter!

“…One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering, which was by no means the case at Lyme…”

Could she feel the same in regards to her past with him? If only…

Sir Walter and Miss Elliot gave him a start when with haste, they ripped Anne from him to meet Lady Dalrymple. Captain Wentworth had not even heard her announced, yet when he turned, Sir Walter and Miss Elliot were greeting the newcomer with a condescension not often seen from the baronet and his eldest daughter.

Anne glanced back to him, but in all politeness, could not escape her present situation. Her attention returned to her party, and he ventured on to the Concert Room with the hopes he might be afforded the opportunity to speak with her again before the end of the evening.

Patiently he waited, revisiting their conversation; her words dissected and examined for any glimpse of affection for him. When she entered the Concert Room, he observed her with great care. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks glowed. Her expression was easily discernible to him. She was happy—exceedingly happy.

Her vibrant eyes searched the room and a small wrinkle knit her brow. Could she be seeking him? If that be the case, he could die a happy man!

His heart soared and then just as swiftly plummeted when she was seated beside none other than Mr. Elliot: Mr. Elliot from Lyme, Mr. Elliot from the teashop, Mr. Elliot who would inherit her father’s title, Mr. Elliot who Sir Walter was certain to deem more worthy than a wealthy sea captain with no connexions of significance.

With envy, his gaze remained on his beloved throughout the entirety of the first act. Mr. Elliot showed Anne every attention allowable during the performance, and the two began to speak near the end of the act.

Captain Wentworth’s agony became more and more acute as Anne’s smiles and kindness were directed at Mr. Elliot rather than himself, and he seethed with jealousy as he followed them to the Octagon Room.

He sulked in the periphery, watching Anne as she took tea with her party. It was then that he heard the whispers from behind.

“I hear Sir Walter has welcomed Mr. Elliot with open arms.”

“There will soon be an Elliot wedding. I am certain of it!”

His eyes darted back to Anne as his hands clenched at his sides. He could not remain and watch as she was courted by another! Visions of her marrying Mr. Elliot flooded his mind, followed by one of her holding a child, Mr. Elliot protectively at her side.

Blast! He was too late!

Upon the Elliot’s return to the concert hall, Captain Wentworth took a seat near the back, yet he could not abide to spend the next hour in abject misery. It was not to be borne! He rose and made his way to her.

“I must wish you a good night; I must be going. I should return home as soon as can be managed.“

“Is not this song worth staying for?”

“No!” he replied impressively, “there is nothing worth my staying for;” and he departed directly.

With a set jaw and unsettled mind, his feet carried him with purpose in the direction of the Croft’s, yet he had no idea of his surroundings since he could not cease the tormenting thoughts of Anne.

When he had first laid eyes upon her in Charles Musgrove’s cottage at Uppercross, his stubborn anger had shoved aside the overwhelming urge to take her in his arms, and he had allowed it, a part of him wanting to prove that he had not pined for her during those past eight years.

Rather than ascertain if she had longed for him as he had her, he paid Louisa Musgrove attention that he would not have bestowed under normal circumstances. What a wretched mistake! Now, he would pay dearly for his bitterness of spirit—dearly indeed.

Captain Wentworth halted and looked about in order to discern his location. He took a deep breath in an attempt to steady himself and not lose his composure there on the pavement.

The time had come to relegate Anne to the past and look to the future—to live his life. He would have no choice but to endure her presence on occasion as he concluded his business in Bath, and he would do so with equanimity. Then, he would depart and leave her to her life, because he could not bear to play the part of a spectator as she wed Mr. Elliot.

With any luck, he would be far from Bath when her engagement was announced. He would never lay eyes on Anne Elliot again.

Good morning! It’s the start of another week, and we’re that much closer to the release of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror! The preorder is now available on Amazon, so I hope you’ve clicked on the link and reserved your copy. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out the first two chapters, I have those posted at Austen Variations!

I’m so excited for you to read what I have been stressing over. Today, we’re going to look at places in the story, most importantly Pemberley. Everyone has their own Pemberley, particularly when you travel to England and tour both Lyme Park and Chatsworth. Some love Lyme Park (Pemberley 1995) and find Chatsworth (Pemberley 2005) more of a showplace than a home (which it was), and some enjoy Chatsworth more.

Personally, I enjoyed the grounds of Lyme Park, but as an artist, I was really drawn to Chatsworth. Yes, a great deal of the tour are the rooms they decked out for royalty, but I like to think of there being a part that is more homey. I certainly wanted to curl up with a book in the library, even if I could only view it from the doorway.

Since Ellie is an art restorer, I did choose to model Pemberley after Chatsworth. When she is first introduced to the great house, she walks into an opulent Great Hall inspired by the Great Hall at Chatsworth and if you look, you’ll find other references that resemble Chatsworth–the cascade, the fountain, the Canova sculptures (like in the sculpture gallery). It was very easy seeing Ellie as an artist being overwhelmed and awed by a Pemberley so grand, yet so in need of lots of work.

Great Hall at Chatsworth
Photo by eHeritage on Pexels.com

I’ve mentioned the Palais Garnier in Paris more than once during the story, and of course, the ballroom is similar, but at the same time, not. In the foyer of the great opera house, there are mirrors lining the wall, giving the feeling that the show is as much about the audience as it is what happens on the stage. Even in Regency times, people went to the theatre to see and be seen. The Hall of Mirrors in Versailles gives a similar feeling. That same sense is what was supposed to be conveyed by this ballroom. However, in my mind, there is one mirror that is larger than the rest, and despite its age, is immaculate. No black in the mirror itself that comes with age, no layer of dust on the frame. Of course, Oliver will assume there is some on the top because how could a 250 year old mirror in a long abandoned house not be dirty? Then Ellie gets a good look at it, and the rest is in the book 😉

If you want to see more of my inspiration for The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, check out the Pinterest inspiration page.

Preorder The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror by clicking below! Release day is Sept. 22nd!

If you haven’t preordered The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, you can do that here!!!

One thing I’ve had with editing and proofreading modern or in this case a story with a modern character that takes place in England is questions about slang. I think most JAFF readers are familiar with the -or vs. -our differences (color vs. colour, honor, vs. honour) but there are other spelling differences (traveled vs. travelled, jewelry vs. jewellery, focused vs. focussed) and the -ed vs. -t past tenses (learned vs. learnt). But what about the slang!! That can be the fun part, so let’s go through some of the fun British slang words/phrases and a few just every day British things that you may not be familiar with.

Mental – In most places if you call someone or say something is mental, it’s really offensive. I always heard it used more in terms of things or something that has happened than people, but I have heard someone saying “I must be going mental.” It’s like saying something is crazy or I must be going crazy.”

Barmy – Also can mean mad or crazy.

Bollocks – It can mean a gentleman’s testicles, but in MDM, it’s like saying “Crap!” or “Blast!”

Take the Mick out of – Is to tease or ridicule.

Takeaway – Takeout from a restaurant

Cuppa – cup of tea

Fit – Good looking. I had a friend say my husband is a “fitty.” She was horribly embarrassed when she realised he was my fitty.

Bloke – guy, man

CV – resume

Ribena – So, not slang to start off. Ribena is black current juice. It’s often sold in concentrate like squash and you add water. You can also buy it in juice boxes for school lunches.

Mr. Kipling’s – These are different little cakes and such. They remind me of Little Debbies.

Hobnobs – Are like a flat oatmeal cookie. You can get them with a layer of chocolate on them too.

Victoria Sponge – YUM!!! A double layer vanilla sponge cake with clotted cream and raspberry or strawberry jam between the layers and dusted in powdered sugar.

NHS – National Health Service.

Paracetamol – Acetaminophen/Tylenol

Lovely – So, not slang or something unusual, but one thing an American friend of mine and I noticed when we were both living in England was that prior to living there, we both always used “lovely” sarcastically. It came up in the car ride from picking her up at the Epping tube station to Cambridge. We then spent the day taking turns laughing when the other would use it as a compliment. We went to Wimpole and one of us would breathe “Lovely” at a room or a painting and the other would laugh.

Hope everyone enjoyed my little glossary/fun fact sheet for Mr. Darcy’s Mirror! If you haven’t preordered it yet, what are you waiting for? Preorder it now!!

And if you haven’t read my free short story The Stagecoach, make sure you sign up for my mailing list and claim your free copy!

September 22nd is the release day of The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, so I’m gearing up for a release! Ellie Gardiner is an art restorer starting her first real job at Pemberley of modern day. She obviously would know a lot about art, but how much of that knowledge is right on the tip of her tongue. When she finds herself in 1811, she has a few discussions about art. How would she not? So let’s talk about a few of the artists who are mentioned.

John Constable (1776-1837) was an English landscape artist famous for his scenes of his home county of Suffolk. While he only sold about 20 paintings during his lifetime, he is now considered one of the great British landscape artists. His most famous work is The Hay Wain, Dedham Vale, and many of you may know Wivenhoe Park from a book cover here or there.

William Marlow (1740-1813) was an English landscape artist famous for his marine scenes and etchings. Mr. Bennet has Marlow’s View of Legate Street from Ludgate Hill. Originally from Southwark in London, Marlow started with the Incorporated Society of Artists. He showed his work there, at the Free Society of Artists, and the Royal Academy. Due to licensing, I do not have an image of Mr. Bennet’s etching for you. I do have it saved on Pinterest.

Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was an exceptionally skilled Venetian sculptor. By 1800, Canova had patrons from France, England, Russia, Poland, Austria and Holland and also sculpted for several royal families, being one of the most celebrated artists on the continent. Have you seen the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth? If you’ve watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy looks at several of Chatsworth’s amazing Canovas in that movie. Of course, Pemberley wouldn’t be Pemberley of the future…or the past without Canovas so Fitzwilliam has several from his father’s association with Mr. Canova himself.

There are more artists, but I won’t list them all today 🙂 I’m prepping the preorder for The Peculiarity of Mr. Darcy’s Mirror, so hopefully, you can preorder it soon! In the meantime, for my latest news and fun content, sign up for my mailing list here.



Photo of Canova’s Perseus Courtesy of The Met and CC0

Photos of Flatford, Wivenhoe Park, and The Hay Wain taken by the author.

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