From the Publisher
""Inventive plot lines, credible characters and an engaging style. Add to this an enviable knowledge of the history and culture of the period and a sensitive appreciation of the values and traditions that underlie the novels of Jane Austen, and it is not difficult to understand the popularity of her work."" - Book News
"I love the way that Rebecca Ann Collins has taken the characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and weaves new storylines and characters so seamlessly." - A Bibliophile's Bookshelf
"A fantastic installment in this series, it offered love, mystery, a little action as well as some twists and turns I didn't expect." - My Reading Spot
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the two couples, their families and assorted friends. " - Kylee's Journal
"A marvelous book to curl up with on a rainy day with a hot cup of tea, to sink into a time and place so different from our own and visit people who seem so familiar." - A Curious Statistical Anomaly
"This series is not simply a Jane Austen sequel. It is so much better. It is historical fiction, romance, social history, and comedy all mixed into one. " - Books Like Breathing
"A thoroughly satisfying reading experience for an Austen fan like me." -
"For lover's of Jane Austen or any other historical fiction, this is truly a book well worth reading! " - My Ever Expanding Library
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from the Prologue:
Jessica Courtney could recall very clearly the moment that had changed her life. It had come upon her quite without warning and had caused her to regard very differently the course that her life might take in the following years.
While it did not bring either immediate or unalloyed happiness, Jessica realized that it could have been much worse, and she could have been drawn into a period of self-indulgent depression and complaint about the vicissitudes of life. But, despite her youth, for she was only eighteen years old, being possessed of both sense and sensibility, Jessica determined not to allow herself that dubious luxury.
It was all very well for heroines in popular novels to spend hours, days, months even, surrendering themselves to the melancholy contemplation of what might have been, she thought-they did not have a school to run.
The previous year, 1865, had not been an easy one for any of them, more particularly for members of the family of Mr and Mrs Darcy at Pemberley. Since the beginning of the year, news of the problems, which beset the marriage of their son Julian Darcy and his wife, Josie, had been filtering through to them in letters and whispered conversations. Not everyone was agreed upon who was to blame in the matter, but almost everyone had claimed to know something was amiss.
Jessica's mother, Mrs Emily Courtney, was too deeply involved in her commitments to the hospital at Littleford and her charitable work for the poor of the parish of Kympton to participate in such gossip, but whenever her aunt Caroline Fitzwilliam or their young cousin Lizzie Gardiner visited, they would share their news with her. They had no doubt at all that Julian and Josie were not happy. Jessica had not wished to ask too many questions, lest they thought she was prying. Which was why she had been wholly unprepared for the dramatic news when it came, late one afternoon, that Julian Darcy had arrived from Cambridge at the home of his sister Cassy and Doctor Richard Gardiner, bringing with him his son Anthony and young Lizzie Gardiner, who had been staying with them in Cambridge at the time.
As her aunt Caroline told it, it seemed his wife, Josie, had left their home and had gone to live with a Mr Barrett, who had supposedly promised to publish her book! Incredible as it seemed, that was what Caroline had learned from her brother Richard Gardiner.
"It must be true, Dr Gardiner would not repeat such a story if it were not," thought Jessica. So appalled was she, that she had spent the rest of the evening in a state of shock, unable to speak of the disastrous news to anyone, while the rest of family had expressed consternation and grief.
On the following day, Jessica had gone into the village and met young Lizzie Gardiner at Mrs Hardy's bookshop, whither they had both gone in search of copies of a new novel by Mr Dickens. After making their purchases, they had repaired to a tea shop, where, as they took tea and sampled the shortbread, Lizzie was more forthcoming than Caroline had been.
Her aunt Caroline had been quite critical of Josie, especially of her decision to desert her little boy.
"It is beyond belief that a woman would leave a kind husband and her young child in this way," she had said, but Lizzie, with the advantage of having spent most of Spring in Cambridge with Julian and Josie, seemed to have more understanding of the reasons for her conduct. She knew more also about Mr Barrett, who had been a frequent visitor to the couple's home.
"I do not believe that Josie has done this lightly and only because of wanting to have her book published," she had said, adding, "I could not help feeling that Josie had been lonely and rather neglected by my uncle Julian, whose concentration upon his research work, almost to the exclusion of every other interest, may have left her open to deception by Mr Barrett and his friend Mr Jones, who are both guilty of great duplicity."
Jessica found it easier to ask her cousin the questions that had occupied her mind for some hours.
"And Julian, do you believe he still loves her, Lizzie? Will he have her back, do you think?" she asked.
Lizzie's answer had been unambiguous. "I am certain of it-he never looks at anyone else. He does love her, but is so completely wedded to his work, he has little time to tell her so or to pay any attention to her interests. Poor Josie, she cares little about the strange microscopic creatures he examines in his laboratory and I am convinced she felt she was no longer loved, when the opposite is probably true."
Though Lizzie's explanation would have been more painful for Mr and Mrs Darcy to bear, it made more sense than the notion that Josie, who only a year ago had appeared to be a loving wife and mother, could have been so altered in character as to behave in such an outrageous fashion. Lizzie had also revealed that Josie had left a note for her husband, in which she had declared that she did not love Mr Barrett, but needed the freedom he had offered her from her unhappy marriage.
Jessica had expressed disbelief at this, but this time Lizzie had been sympathetic to her uncle. "I have never seen anyone so distraught as my uncle Julian, when he read it. It was as though he had been struck dumb. He did not say a word against her-it was so sad to see him accept it, as though he believed he deserved it," Lizzie had said as they walked home, leaving Jessica wondering at the reasons behind it all.
Writing in her diary, to which alone she confided her innermost thoughts, she mused:
Poor Josie, what could she have wanted? How much unhappiness must she have suffered to leave her husband and son for a man she did not love? I cannot even begin to comprehend her mind. As for Julian, how wretched must he feel to accept without protest such a situation, and yet he still loves her and would have her back! Love seems such a complicated emotion; I wonder if I shall ever understand it.
The shock and pain this unfortunate episode had inflicted upon Mr and Mrs Darcy, Jessica had seen firsthand. She had gone to Pemberley, to the church where she had promised to help the rector with the choir, and there she had met Mrs Darcy coming away from the rectory, a veil concealing her tear-stained face.
They had embraced without saying a word, but Jessica's warmth and sympathy had drawn Elizabeth out, and she had told her as much as she had learned from her son.