F&F – an excerpt

F&F – an excerpt

Do you ever have those moments where it is your turn to speak, but you aren’t sure what to say? As I sat down to write this post, I felt a little like that. Since we last connected, I’ve continued to work on my latest Pride and Prejudice variation.

When writing, I tend to run across interesting little historical tidbits, but they don’t always fall within the Georgian period. For instance, last week I wanted to use a simile that referred to a merry-go-round, but whenever I think of carousels, the scene from Mary Poppins comes to mind. They just feel so very early 20th century to me. I ended up reading all about the evolution of this ride and discovered it’s actually a modified version of a training device that was used to prepare knights for jousting tournaments during the Middle Ages. I seriously considered filling you on this topic because it was interesting, but it’s not very on-topic for a website devoted to the writings, life, and fiction inspired by Jane Austen. Which is why I decided to instead offer you another chapter of my current, unedited, work-in-progress. What do you prefer? Do you enjoy reading excerpts or hearing about topics people researched as they wrote?

As an update, the story is maybe one-third to one-half finished. I was thinking it would be fun to continue on with my little naming routine. If you have any thoughts on a good title that involves two words starting with F and connected by an ampersand, I would love to hear them. Falsehoods & Forgiveness is the best one I have thought of so far, but the readers of JAFF always offer brilliant suggestions. The working title is the unimaginative F&F.

I hope you enjoy:

Chapter 2

England, 1813

 

A soft smile settled on Mr. Bennet’s face as he watched his daughter Elizabeth slip into his study and shut the door without a sound.

“Hiding from your mother, I presume?” he asked. His eyes danced with merriment.

Sheepishly, Elizabeth nodded. “Though it is no more than you yourself are doing,” she added. Her gaze left her father and traveled to the shelf of books. The house was in turmoil, and she longed for an escape. Reading had always brought her comfort, and her father’s study was the only room in the house that guaranteed a quiet retreat for such solitary endeavors.

He chuckled. “We are two peas in a pod, my dear.” He waved to an open seat. “Choose a book and join me. My sanctuary will always have room for one more bibliophile.”

She did as she was bade, settling into the well-worn leather chair and tucking her feet beneath her. Her hand brushed over the book cover. A sense of contentment filled her as her finger tips stopping on the embossed letters of the title. Cuddling up with an excellent book, she could forget the litany of tasks her mother had planned on her behalf.

Mr. Bennet cleared his throat. “Before you start, there is something I’ve been meaning to discuss with you.”

Elizabeth groaned and looked toward the door. “Out of the pan and into the fire,” she muttered, certain her father intended to speak of the very topic that had caused her to flee her mother.

“I received a letter from your uncle. He has been working long hours and thought it would be nice for your aunt to have a visitor—someone to keep her company. I think you should go.”

His approach was unique, but it did not hide his motive. From the very beginning, he had urged her not to befriending Edmund Waters. Considering how absent minded he was and his lack of interest in the family’s social events and callers, Mr. Bennet’s hesitation toward the kind and honorable Edmund had always confused Elizabeth.

Still, she wasn’t sure if she should hug him or scold him. If she was no longer in Hertfordshire, she would be free of her mother’s endless pestering, and all the primping and polishing would end. She could hide in London and avoid, or at least delay, the moment she was dreading. But this was the coward’s way out and solved nothing. In fact, it was entirely unfair of her father to tempt her. She had come to him seeking refuge for an hour or two. As she was on the cusp of finding peace, he reminded her of her greatest anxiety.

Her eyebrows drew together, and she glared at him. “You cannot fool me, Papa. I know what you are up to.” She set the book on the table beside her and folded her arms.

Wide, innocent eyes gazed up at her. “I cannot imagine what you mean, Lizzy. I thought you enjoyed London.”

Elizabeth snorted. “You are just as bad as mama. This isn’t about Uncle Gardiner, nor is it about London. This is about Mr. Waters. While mama tries everything in her power to push us toward the alter, you do your best to keep us apart. You know very well he will be here next week. I cannot leave town when he is expected.”

She couldn’t leave, could she? She bit the edge of her lip.

How had everything changed? Even as the question formed, her mind offered an answer—Jane had left her.

Mr. Bennet wrinkled his brow and pouted. “Really? He’s coming again? Next week, is it?”

Elizabeth laughed. “As if you could forget. Mama has spoken of little else in months.”

He dropped his head, reminding Elizabeth of a guilty puppy being confronted about eating the last biscuit. Her heart softened with pity. She reached across the divide and offered him her hand.

“Why do you dislike him, papa? Is he so bad?”

Mr. Bennet took her offering but refused to lift his head. “He is a fine young man, Lizzy. In fact, he would make an excellent match for any of your younger sisters. The two of you, however, are not suited. He cannot bring you the happiness you deserve.”

She squeezed his hand. “Now, papa, there is little to fear. He hasn’t declared his feelings. We are far from engaged.”

He raised his chin. Small tears glistened along the edges of his eyes. “But if he asked you to marry him, would you refuse?” His voice conveyed the same hopefulness Mrs. Bennet’s had held when she begged her daughter to accept a suit with Mr. Edmund Waters, should he see fit to make such an offer.

It was a question Elizabeth could not answer, for she did not know how she would react. Before her sister Jane had married and embarked on a year-long honeymoon, she had believed she would only marry for the deepest of loves. Without her elder sister’s comfort and companionship, Elizabeth discovered what true loneliness felt like. Fortunately, Edmund had been there to listen and help her pick up the pieces.

Had she known of his desire to deepen their friendship, she might not have leaned on him quite so much. And she certainly wouldn’t have accepted that hug—for it was that simple, innocent act that had set things in motion.

“Any woman would be lucky to have Mr. Waters as a husband,” she said.

This much was true, and she was determined to defend him. After all, it was entirely possible she might one day become Mrs. Waters. Losing Jane had shown her how bleak a future of spinsterhood could be. Edmund was a good man, and she did love him—just not romantically. Yet, many marriages were built on a foundation of friendship, and he would make a remarkable father. As her mother observed, she could do far worse.

Her father slid his hand out of her grasp. The sadness vanished from his eyes, giving way to a flash of anger or frustration. “But he is not your equal, Lizzy. You must see this. He lacks intellectual curiosity and shows limited resourcefulness.”

Offended on Edmund’s behalf, she said, “Now, Papa, that is not fair. He is well educated and very bright.”

“I never said he wasn’t. But being able to learn and seeking knowledge are two very different things.”

It was Elizabeth’s turn to be frustrated. Her father had never been fair to Mr. Waters.

“If you find him lacking, why did you hire him as your steward?”

Mr. Bennet removed his glasses. Slowly, he shook his head. “I didn’t. He came here at the behest of your cousin, Mr. Collins.” He let out a small chuckle. “Apparently, between serving our Lord and his revered patroness, Collins could not find the time to familiarize himself with Longbourn. Mr. Waters is not my steward. In fact, if he is destined to run this estate, he will not do so until I have died.”

Perhaps her father’s prejudice was born of pride. Anyone who reviewed the ledgers and rode the land would notice the copious opportunities to improve the management of Longbourn. Though Edmund was kind, he lacked tact. Had he offended her father by making suggestions about ways to make the land more profitable?

Even if he is blunt, whatever he said did not stop papa from listening to him.

“Yes. Initially, he came here to help Mr. Collins prepare for his future responsibility. But you were so impressed, you also hired him,” she pointed out. Surely, her father valued sound reasoning and insightful suggestions over politeness.

Mr. Bennet groused. “To deal with a few tenant issues, not to be my steward. A few minor jobs. It is hardly the same thing.” He set his glasses down and leaned in toward her. “But this is irrelevant. The world is changing. Factories are popping up everywhere. People are moving to the cities. In times such as these, resourcefulness and the ability to adapt are what matters. You have those skills, Lizzy. And you are too not afraid or foolish to ignore what is happening around you. You don’t want to be saddled with someone who either refuses to see how the world evolves or chooses to ignore it.”

“Are you implying Edmund cannot adapt?” Elizabeth snorted. “You? The man who keeps yourself hidden in your study. Someone who live off the land inherited from your great-great-grandfather, just as past generations have. Your life is devoid of change, yet you fear Edmund cannot keep up with the times?”

“Yes. I am an old man. I was fortunate enough to live as a country squire, to have been born into an era before all these sweeping reforms take hold. My way of life is coming to an end, and I admit, I too would be ill-suited for the future you must face. But you will march forth and embrace change, my dear. People like you will ascend the ranks of society. You deserve a man who can stride alongside you.”

“Papa, you are being dramatic. You know as well as I do that societies and the world at large are always changing. It is the one constant. Even if you had evidence to support your supposition that today’s reforms and shifts are more significant than those faced in the past, trying to predict how someone will react when faced with change is a fool’s errand.”

Mr. Bennet released a sigh. He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger. “I have many shortcomings, Elizabeth, but I am a keen observer, and I have accurately assessed Mr. Waters. I once asked him to share his thoughts on A Vindication of the Rights of Women. He hadn’t read it. When I asked why, he said he knew it was rubbish. It seems he dismissed Mary Wollstonecraft’s arguments whole cloth without even reading them because of the scandals in her personal life.”

“He is not alone in that, Papa. I know very few people who can separate an argument from the person presenting it.”

He jumped to his feet and pointed a finger at her. “Exactly. You know so few people—full-stop. That is why you must go to London. You would understand, would see Mr. Waters’ failings, but for your… your lack of experience. No. My failure to expose you to… to more. Growing up in the country… well, there are only a handful of people here, most of whom share the same ideas and refuse to question anything. There are others out there, Elizabeth, who truly think for themselves. Your mother and I have been remiss in your education. Not your scholarly pursuits, but your worldly knowledge. Before you agree to spend the rest of your life with someone like Waters, I beg you to meet more people your age. Go to your aunt.”

Elizabeth longed to see more of the world and couldn’t deny her father’s logic. Making a major decision based on so few suitors was not ideal.

“But how can I? He is coming with the express purpose of seeing me.”

Her father shook his head. This time his movements were vigorous. “No. While I am certain he is eager to see you again, this visit has been scheduled for months. He has multiple appointments with several of the local landowners. Longbourn is too small to warrant a full time steward. He has always planned to move to a town where he can manage several smaller estates. Should Collins offer him a position as Stewart one day, he’d only accept if he can secure additional work in the region.”

Elizabeth pressed her lips together. Edmund had mentioned none of that to her.

Come now, there is no reason he should have. Her reasoning did little to reduce her irritation.

“But mama….”

“You leave her to me,” her father said.

At his words, a weight was lifted from her shoulders. She smiled. “I suppose I do not need to be here the entire length of his visit. London isn’t so far that I couldn’t return after a brief visit. When do you propose I leave?”

31 Responses to F&F – an excerpt

  1. Sorry took me awhile…had to think on this…

    I though of Friendships & Follies or foibles, Friendships & Falsehoods…

    Other words I though were Finality, Fondness, Favours, Faith/faithfulness, Fidelity, feebleness, felicity/felicitations, fulfilment, fligtiness, fascination& Frivolity forebearance, fancy & fallacy
    fervent & fatal (this one might be good for a vampire story 😉

    Good luck. It had been awhile thus we are all eagerly looking forward to you new book

    • That comment is like a cliff hanger. Now, I simply must know which ones you dislike. All the obvious Jane Austen topics have been covered already, so I tend to pick odd ball ones—which I’m guessing are also less popular. Makes perfect sense. The boiled broccoli is usually the surprise dish at the office potluck and the last to be eaten. 🙂

  2. I enjoy reading excerpts, but I also enjoy reading about fun or quirky things, even if they are not directly related to Jane Austen. Good luck with the WIP!

  3. Oh, my goodness. At last, Bennet has exerted himself on behalf of his favorite. Goodness. You have left me with questions… who did Jane marry? A year-long honeymoon? Good grief, that costs money. Apparently she married someone with means. Mrs. Bennet is up to her old tricks. One thing is for sure… after Bennet described this guy… OMG… he is SOOOO wrong for Lizzy. She is intelligent… she should see that. She did make a good argument in defense of a friend… but not a potential husband. No, No, NO, NOOO!

    As for title ideas… any combination of the following. Not knowing the rest of the story or the tone, it is hard to pick out the words that would fit. There are a lot of ‘F’ words [snicker] but not all of them you can use. Blessings on deciding. As you work on this, the title will jump out at you. Never fear… another ‘F’ word. LOL! Now you have me doing it.

    Fear & Feelings
    Fascinating & Furious
    Freedom & Frustration

    • Ohhh… yes, those are some good f-words! I hope you’re right about a title jumping out. Wouldn’t it be great if a blurb also just sort of jumped out at us as we wrote? I couldn’t imagine wanting to travel for a solid year these days even if I had the means. I suppose with travel being as slow as it used to be, it would take a while to see the world, but maybe I shouldn’t force poor Jane to live out of a trunk for that long. Do you think a Lizzy would be lonely enough to get a little desperate (just enough where she is willing to at least consider this nice and well-educated but not terribly intellectually curious guy) if Jane was gone for only 6 months?

      • Actually, I liked the idea of Jane being gone for a year. It is unique. I’ve not seen it done before and Lizzy needs to know Jane cannot bail her out of this mess… um… disaster her mother is pushing her toward. Also, Mr. Bennet needs to know he can’t send Lizzy to Jane. That works both ways. No, HE needs to move to action on his favorite’s behalf. If Jane were nearby, I think he would default to her. Leave her to a happy honeymoon. I do hope it was a love match.

  4. I enjoy both, and I enjoyed this excerpt. Depending on the content of your story, would ‘Friends & Foes’ or ‘Friends & Foibles’ work?

    • Thanks! I like Friends & Foes but in this one the foe seem to mainly be society’s expectations. Possibly also a lack of trust.

  5. I enjoy both the excerpts and the research topics. I cannot truly say I prefer one or the other. Excerpts are tempting and hold interest until the release. Research gives further insight into the Regency period for those of us who enjoy history. My vote is for both!

    Will this be the book cover? I love it! I am very drawn to paintings/drawings done in the time period vs the modern version of what the Regency society looked like. This scene particularly captures Elizabeth’s thoughts of her loneliness without Jane.

    • Thank you for feedback—that is comforting to know. It offers more options. My research usually takes me off the beaten path, and I learn about something not exactly Regency related, probably because I tend to research the minutia.

      I too like the historical photos. I haven’t yet thought about the cover. Two years ago, I made seven mock covers for Betrothals and Betrayals trying to figure out which one I liked. I wanted to add a photo to my post, so I borrowed was one of those.

      I’m about to go into the TMI zone. I know it’s silly, but I wanted to make a book in each color of the rainbow. At that time I made up this mock cover, I did not yet have a purple book. Sadly, this mock cover shares is the same shade of lavender as the Enmity and Esteem cover, so to use the photo, I’d need to switch to a pink or something. If you count The Taming of Elizabeth, I have covered the basic six colors, but they really don’t make an attractive rainbow. I was thinking I need a set of the pastels, a richer purple, and also a brighter green, blue, and red. My covers and titles are a little bit of an inside practical joke. You see, I buy two copies of each book, so my children will each get a copy of everything I’ve written once they move out. (Yes, I am evil—its one of those white elephant type gifts. They really won’t want them, but will struggle to throw them away.) Anyway, these covers and titles drive my son nuts. He will need to decide if he organizes them alphabetically by title, numerically by release date, or visually by color. Anyway he does it, he will be irritated, which I think is funny.

  6. I’m all over those dives into history. I love what people discover on their research adventures. But excerpts are lovely too. It’s so hard to choose!
    This is going to be a great story, I can tell.
    Can you give us some hints about the main theme so we can come up with title suggestions?
    Friends and Fantasies?
    Feudalism and Fightclub? (Okay, not that one)
    Folly and Finance? (Not that one either)

    • Boy… I am struggling to figure out how to describe the story without giving away spoilers. Let’s see—the following are all definitely key concepts in the plot: finances, fiancées, fortunes, falsehoods, freehold, feelings, and faithfulness/ fidelity (in terms of honoring your commitments and societal duties). The following are also important in the plot but maybe less so than the first list: friendship, fear (in terms of insecurities), frustration, forgiveness, forebears, and fondness. Do any combo of these sound good?

    • Smart move. It’s not at all uncommon to revise earlier chapters once you get further along, and it’s always more fun to read the final. Thank you for the encouragement!

  7. Hi, Cinnamon! I actually like to get a fun fact and always love the excerpts! I always enjoyed your newsletter with its fun facts! As far as names go, I like what you have, if it is full of falsehoods. If not, maybe Fondness and Forgiveness. This excerpt seems to deal with friendships. I look forward to your new book, as always!

    • Thank you! I should try to get back on the ball with those newsletters. I’ve just been so unproductive recently, but I’m starting to get more motivated. Yep, this story will have both sides of our favorite couple engaging in a lot of deception in an effort to shield their loved ones from scandals. You are always so supportive. I appreciate you.

  8. I enjoyed this excerpt very much. But to answer your question, I’m always delighted to learn what my favorite authors discover in their research. You’ve raised my curiosity about knights, carousels and merry-go-rounds. Might I reply simply “Both”?

    • Thank you! Well that’s good because it leaves me more options to write about. It was also kinda interesting that the knights only took up jousting after they went off on the Crusades and witnessed the Arabs and Turks play this game they dubbed “the little war.” It was a game designed to improve their skills in battle. I didn’t really think “war training” all those years ago when I propped up my toddlers on their little mechanical horses.

  9. Oh wow, this sounds so intriguing! Obviously Jane has married someone of wealth. Poor Elizabeth is caught in a tangle. Thank you for the update!

    • Thank you for the kind words! Yes, Jane is married to an even wealthier Bingley. I bet Mrs. Bennet is pleased.

  10. Another book to look forward to! I like the way it starts off varying from canon, leaving plenty of room for original story development. As to your question, I enjoy both, but the research bits are always fascinating.

    • Thank you. I’m glad you enjoy both. I am always torn on sharing excerpts of works in progress. I absolutely love the encouragement and feedback. Okay, okay… maybe love isn’t always the perfect word in terms of all feedback across all platforms. Let’s say, I love the positive feedback and really try to appreciate the negative feedback because it helps me grow and improve. The people who read this blog are always kind. We authors are so lucky. Any constructive feedback is presented in such a helpful, nice way it’s easy to appreciate. The risk with sharing excerpts here is that the chapters tend to change. Like something happens later on, and you think, “hey, it would be great to stick something in the beginning to give readers a clue that this is going to happen.” I should keep to more research for the time being. I’m getting into chapters that might make earlier chapters get revisions. Thanks again for the help!

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