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Five Daughters Out at Once by Jayne Bamber ~ Excerpt and Giveaway

Hello Dear Janeites, it is a pleasure to be back at A Novel Sentiment to share more details of my new release, Five Daughters Out At Once.


Available on Kindle April 7th


Those of you following my blog tour will know that this Pride & Prejudice variation sees the orphaned Bennet sisters taken in by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who has rented Netherfield after a fire at Rosings Park. Mr. Darcy and his sister Georgiana, as well as their cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam also take up temporary residence there, and later in the tale, Lady Catherine will be hosting a house party that features a wide cast of characters from the pages of other Jane Austen novels.


Each of the five daughters has their own unique experience at Netherfield, but Lydia’s journey to HEA might be the most surprising of all. Shaped by the tragedy of losing both parents, Lydia’s formative years have been influenced by her sister Elizabeth enough to make her fond of reading – especially novels. With this as a common interest, as well as their respective ages, she and Georgiana Darcy are fast friends. The excerpt I am sharing today picks up as the house party begins – not quite seventeen yet, the two young ladies are not present for the introduction of Lady Catherine’s guests, but they are certainly capable of entertaining themselves….


***

“This is my greatest secret,” Georgiana said, her cheeks pink but her posture triumphant. She held the papers close to her chest until she had crossed back to the sofa and sat down beside Lydia once more. Once seated, she carefully laid the pages in her lap and untied the ribbon with slow deliberation; Lydia suppressed her impulse to reach for the pages at once, and waited for her friend to speak.

“I have only two chapters – two very short chapters – but I have never been so well pleased with myself. What do you think, Lydia? I am writing a novel!” Georgiana handed the bundle of papers over to Lydia as though it were her greatest treasure.

“How wonderful,” Lydia cried, examining the pages with alacrity. “The Three Sisters – is that the title?”

“Yes – it is about three tragic orphans who are sent to the country to live with a frightening widowed aunt and a benevolent spinster cousin.”

Lydia made a droll face at her friend. “Where might you have gotten such a notion?”

Georgiana giggled, momentarily hiding her face in her hands – finally she peered back over at Lydia. “I hope you think it a compliment.”

“But why only three?” Lydia smiled archly at her friend.

“Well – oh dear! Mary does not strike me as especially romantic, and Kitty is so very like Jane that I have combined them to form the beautiful Cassandra, the eldest sister, who is kind and diffident. The second is Isabel, who is witty and bold; the third is Laura, both loveliest and liveliest.”

Lydia sputtered with indecorous laughter. “Tell me more of them,” she said, glancing through the pages.

“Cassandra is favored by Aunt Augusta, Isabel is often in league with Cousin Marianne about some manner of mischief, and they are all of them often scolding young Laura for her novel-mania. It is the greatest lament of the whole family that there should be such a want of gentlemen to amuse them – there is only the vicar, who is a dreadful bore and very ill-featured. That is all I have written, but I mean to write more – as you may have guessed, I mean to make something of a study of all the new houseguests here at Netherfield, and find a hero for all of my heroines.”

“And they shall have happy endings, I hope!”

Georgiana smiled fondly at her pages as she took them back from Lydia. “They shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.”

“That is just what I like,” Lydia replied. “Only, perhaps they ought to have more than a little trouble. Can you not imagine them in a few fearfully gothic scenes? Perhaps the vicar is really a terrible villain indeed.”

“I had imagined him rather too foolish to be very fearsome, but I suppose it is possible there may be some evil scheme afoot,” Georgiana mused.

Lydia leaned back into the plush sofa, twirling a lock of loose hair as she considered. “An abduction, perhaps? We must think on it. Oh! I hope you do not object – it is your story, after all.”

“I should like all the help I can get,” Georgiana replied. “Perhaps we might commence directly? We shall not be wanted until supper.”

Lydia agreed at once, and Georgiana carried her papers to the large wooden table in the center of the room, where she sat down and availed herself of the inkwell – she began a new page and scrawled a few notes upon it. Lydia pursued her, perching on the edge of the table as she stared abstractedly out the window. “I only require a moment to consider – to recollect recent events rationally, you know – I should not like my imagination to run away with me.”

Georgiana nudged her playfully. “Indulge your imagination in every possible flight, for I mean to chiefly exercise my powers of observation. We shall combine these, and the result may be a fine thing indeed. Oh! I am so glad I have told you my great secret – I was rather afraid you would think it a misguided pursuit. Whether from pride, ignorance, or fashion, novels are often decried and dismissed as silly or insipid. I am sure I could not bear to be so undervalued, which is why I have kept it a great secret.”

“No indeed, you know that we are of one mind on the matter,” Lydia cried. “I could never slight a performance which has only genius, wit, and taste to recommend it – nothing gives me such unaffected pleasure as a novel, and I do not care who knows it! Nor shall I endure your being so ashamed, Georgie. We shall make a very good job of our collaboration; it will be entirely beyond reproach. Though perhaps I presume too much in my own contribution, I am sure it shall display the greatest powers of the mind and the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor, and the best-chosen language.” Lydia held her chin up high; behind her, there came some raucous, unexpected applause.

Georgiana dropped her pen and gave a soft cry of surprise; Lydia spun around, still seated atop the table, to turn her gaze from the window to the doorway. There was a gentleman there, observing them with a look of high humor. He seemed to be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it. Lydia could not determine whether he was laughing at them or flirting with them, but she was so pleased by his appearance that she prepared to make herself agreeable, no matter what he had meant by such an intrusion.

“I wonder at your approval, sir – surely you understand, if you have been spying on us, that I have spoken in defense of novels - but I know that gentlemen never read such things.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid,” the stranger replied. “I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days, my hair standing on end the whole time. I am proud when I reflect on it, and I think it must establish me in your good opinion.”

“I am glad to hear it, and now I shall never be ashamed of liking Udolpho myself,” Lydia replied. “But I really thought young men despised novels amazingly.”

“It may well suggest amazement if they do, for they read nearly as many as women. I myself have read hundreds and hundreds,” their new friend said with a wide smile. “If we proceed to particulars, and engage in the never-ceasing inquiry of ‘Have you read this?’ and ‘Have you read that?’ I shall soon leave you as far behind me as – what shall I say? – I want an appropriate simile – as far as your friend Emily herself left poor Valancourt when she went with her aunt into Italy.”

“I am sure we could do no such thing,” Georgiana said. “We have not even been introduced.”

“Yes – and we are very busy at present,” Lydia added with a bright smile that she hoped might delay his departure a little longer.

The gentleman peered over his shoulder, into the corridor behind him, and then turned back to them and stepped fully into the room. “It appears I have been left behind. Lady Catherine was obliging us all with a tour of the house, and I heard your laughter – I thought it perhaps one of the chief attractions of the place – but I suppose the great lady would rather dazzle her guests with some other pleasing view. Now they are all moved on, and nobody remains who might properly introduce us.”

Lydia laughed heartily, glancing down at her friend, who seemed not to know what to make of this newcomer’s nonsense. “My sisters and your aunt have quite abandoned this poor young fellow,” she whispered to Georgiana. “We might have been banished ourselves, but I cannot imagine being forgotten entirely.”

There was a decided twinkle of mischief in the gentleman’s eyes. “You mean to give me such hints that I might guess your identity – I might unravel the mystery of Netherfield – but there can be little cause for such haste. I mean to remain a fortnight at least.”

“What – in the library?”

“Perhaps. Are you fond of reading?”

“I prefer novels, but I sometimes read poetry and plays, and things of that sort. But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. My sister Lizzy has tried to make it otherwise, but history tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs – the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books.”

“Yes,” the gentleman cried, “we have already established how well you value the liveliest effusions of wit and humor – but this also gives me some hope that I shall find myself a welcome interloper whenever I visit the library.” He gave a roguish waggle of his eyebrows, but something drew his attention back to the corridor.

“Henry!” a lady’s voice called out, just beyond what Lydia could see out in the hall.

“Good day to you both – but my sister has come in all her villainous state to abduct me directly – with any luck I shall break free of her clutches and meet you both at supper.” The young man dipped into an exaggerated bow and made a pantomime of being dragged away as he sidled out the doorway.

Lydia bit her lip as she let out a breathy laugh. “Henry,” she mused aloud.

“I believe our Laura has encountered a promising hero indeed,” Georgiana observed, scribbling down her notes with tremendous animation.


Georgiana and Lydia will be serving up a novel within a novel, and I will be serving up one last excerpt and giveaway tomorrow!


Rafflecopter:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/01b2829a9/

Book on Amazon/Kindle:
Five Daughters Out at Once: A Pride & Prejudice Variation - Kindle edition by Bamber, Jayne. Romance Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Jayne Bamber on Audible:
Jayne Bamber – Audio Books, Best Sellers, Author Bio | Audible.com

2 comments on "Five Daughters Out at Once by Jayne Bamber ~ Excerpt and Giveaway"
  1. Cute excerpt! It sounds like it’s going to be a fun house party! More ideas for Georgiana’s book, perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for another excerpt.I wonder if Lydia will co-author this book with Georgiana? It is good to see such a Lydia, esp patterning herself with Lizzy when it comes to reading

    ReplyDelete

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