To Prologue or Not to Prologue

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Here’s an excerpt from my current work-in-progress, Simply Beautiful (working title). I cannot decide if it’s the opening chapter or the prologue. I’m leaning toward the latter. Enjoy!

Excerpt (First Draft)

Mr. Thomas Bennet raked his fingers through his hair, and a dark strand flopped onto his brow. He caught it with his other hand and pushed it back in place. He gazed at his small child. The girl was eight years old, and she held her hands to her mouth as she cried. Tears streamed down her angelic face, creating pearly streaks against her skin. Her anguished sobs filled the air.

“Mama! Mama! Jane!”

The sound of his child crying ate away at Mr. Bennet’s heart, but the reason behind her tears was what caused him the most pain. A young man in the prime of his life, the distraught gentleman now called himself a widower and a single father of a motherless child. His wife, the late Mrs. Francis Bennet née Gardiner, and his firstborn child, Jane, both perished in a carriage accident little more than a fortnight past.

Such pain he had never known filled his world. His had not been an extensive family. An only child, he lost his own parents to a carriage accident little more than a decade prior. He had steeled himself against the ensuing pain as best as he could, for it was what was expected of him. Though his sadness was insurmountable, he’d held back his tears and done so with great fervor because that’s what grown men did: they didn’t cry.

It seemed that a world without his parents had come upon him in an instant. And yet, it was not enough time for him to truly grieve their loss, for, despite Bennet’s carefree ways, he’d been thrust into a position of power as master of Longbourn, where people depended on him for their livelihoods.

A sense of guilt had also compounded his suppressed grief—guilt that he had not taken his role as the future master of Longbourn more seriously when he should have by learning what he needed to know from his father. Guilt that he, therefore, had been a disappointment to his father in choosing the gaieties of youth and caprice over the responsibilities of an only son and future heir.

Faced with the daunting undertaking of managing an estate, another more life-altering task awaited him mere months on the heels of his parents’ deaths—a forced marriage to a young woman from the nearby town of Merton who was with child. Although she was respectable enough, she was by no means the woman his parents would have chosen for him, owing to her family’s roots in trade. Her father was an attorney, and her mother was the daughter of an attorney, too, from a neighboring county.

Miss Gardiner was a great beauty, however. What did lineage have to do with anything when the prospect of courting a beautiful woman was at stake for a young man sowing his wild oats? It was the only way he could describe his fascination with Miss Gardiner, for she was not an intelligent young woman – not by anyone’s standards, whereas he was a man of sense and education, an Oxford man who walked among some of the pillars of society’s elites. How great his love was for her was hard to say and, indeed, wholly irrelevant. His actions charted his choice in life from almost the moment he first danced with her.

“Mama! Mama! Jane!” the child cried out once more.

Mr. Bennet stroked his daughter’s soft cheek and wiped away a tear with his thumb. “Hush… do not cry, my darling child. I know my little angel is sad that Mama is not here to tuck you in bed and your dearest Jane is not here to snuggle next to you. They are both at rest, though they are surely smiling at you as we speak and are very proud of you. I am proud of you, too, for being so strong.”

Mr. Bennet then leaned over and kissed his daughter’s forehead.

“I don’t want to be strong. I want my mama and Jane,” the little girl replied.

“I know, my dear. I know.”

Her small nose crinkled as she sniffled. “Will you stay with me tonight, Papa?”

“If that is what you want, my little angel.”

Mr. Bennet took off his coat and sat down on the bed next to his daughter.

She threw herself into her father’s arms and clung to him. “Promise you won’t leave me, too.”

A sharp pang tugged Bennet’s heartstrings as he took her tiny hand in his and stroked it softly until her eyelids grew heavy, and she drifted off to a peaceful sleep. He stroked her hair gently until he was sure that she was sleeping soundly, then he leaned over and kissed her on the forehead, whispered that he loved her more than anything in the world, and, with a heavy heart, he left the room.

No, Thomas Bennet had not cried when he lost his beloved parents in a carriage accident more than a decade ago. He had not cried when he lost his young wife and firstborn daughter two weeks prior. Though he had managed successfully to hold back the tears for so long, the well of sorrow had not been deep enough to contain his grief. And, as the carriage pulled away from Pemberley manor in the early pre-dawn hours with the recently widowed young man, its sole passenger, all he could do was cry.

How’s that for an introduction to my newest Darcy and Elizabeth romance? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below.

Speaking of Darcy and Elizabeth romances, my new Pride and Prejudice variations book bundle is titled, For You to Love, and it is available exclusively on Amazon.

Available soon on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read it for free for a limited time only before it is available worldwide everywhere eBooks are sold.

Click and discover what’s in store!

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22 Responses to To Prologue or Not to Prologue

  1. I like it! It has me intrigued, so a prologue, as long as the lead up to the prologue is told a some point. I look forward to seeing how Mr. Bennet’s life goes, if they reconcile? Lizzy’s feelings about Mr. Bennet? How Lizzy is different growing up at Pemberley (I assume) vs in Longbourne, and so on & so on….I like it! Can’t wait to read the full novel! 🙂

    • I don’t envision any meaningful roles for the Bingleys. Spoiler Alert: Darcy will let Netherfield Park. 😉 Thanks, Ann!

  2. Wow. i can see why your post is title to prologue or not to prologue. I’ve read very few stories that protray Thomas Bennett before he sought permanent sanctuary in his library, so it wold be fascinating to read more of how his character changes with this variation.

    On the other hand as a prologue, so much has already changed with this one incident that you want to see ow it affects the development of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship. Especially with the pain of knowing that her mother and sister died at or near Pemberley. Would she evere want to return there? .

  3. This should definatly be a prolugue …I love them and epilogues ….but this definatly is the as they say the prequel of the story

  4. This should be a prologue. for sure. It was certainly powerful. I nearly teared up myself. I’ll have to do a tissue alert on my review. Ha!

    NOW! I had to read that last paragraph three times. What the heck? Did Bennet just leave his daughter at Pemberley? How did he know anyone at Pemberley? He was an Oxford man. The Darcy men are usually depicted as Cambridge alumni. Goodness, I can’t wait to read this. Blessings on the completion of all your work.

    • Thanks so much! I appreciate your kind words. Hmm. Your insightful comment about Oxford/Cambridge has caused me to rethink the Darcy/Bennet past. Both the elder Mr. Darcy and Lady Anne are alive in the story, so lots of possibilities. I hope you’ll love how the story unfolds. 🙂

    • These were my thoughts as well.

      We’re schools a pipeline? Did going to Eton mean you went on to Cambridge while another school went on to Oxford? What were the factors, besides being a ‘legacy’ that determined the choice between Oxford and Cambridge.

      Perhaps they both went to Eton, but different Colleges; the visit being part of their continued friendship?

    • Thanks, Cindie! Being reared under the same roof will certainly alter ODC’s dynamic. I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt. I hope you’ll love the story. 🙂

      • Ooh!! Major information/disclosure!

        But my mind immediately went to, “won’t they feel like siblings? A somewhat ‘creepy’ thing to think about having to overcome.

        • Good point! Wickham/Georgiana vibes—maybe. Just kidding. The age differences, along with Darcy being away at school most of the time, will be factors that preclude any sibling-type attachment. Thanks so much, Stavis. 🙂

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