|Princess Charlotte of Wales|
I'm glad to welcome Regina Jeffers back to our online club on occasion of the release of her latest book, a Christmas sequel to Pride and Prejudice titled Christmas at Pemberley. More info about the book are below this brilliant, informative guestpost which Regina has granted My Jane Austen Book Club and its readers. Moreover, leaving your comment and your e-mail address you'll get the chance to win a signed copy of Christmas at Pemberley. The giveaway is open internationally and ends on November 15.
Love with an Improper Stranger by Regina Jeffers
In the spring of 1812, George IV’s attempted to pique his daughter’s, Princess Charlotte of Wales, interest in William of Orange. The move would have strengthened England’s alliance with the Netherlands. Orange had lived in exile in England and had received his education at Oxford.
The Prince Regent was well aware of his daughter’s increasing acts of defiance, but he was not aware of the depth of Princess Charlotte’s indiscretions. Charlotte had her first flirtation of note in 1811 (when she was but 15 years of age) with Charles Hesse, who was reportedly the Duke of York’s illegitimate son. Hesse was a young, handsome Hussar captain. Rumors had it that Hesse, who later joined Princess Caroline in Brunswick as an equerry, might have been the lover of both mother and daughter. Caroline had encouraged the relationship. She had once locked her daughter and Hesse in a bedchamber and had told them to amuse themselves. With Caroline’s encouragement, Charlotte had corresponded with Hesse until Charlotte’s friend and confidant, Mercer Elphinstone, advised against continuing the relationship.
|William, Duke of Clarence|
Next, Charlotte’s cousin Captain George FitzClarence (eldest son of the actress Dorothea Jordan and William, Duke of Clarence, the Prince of Wales’s youngest brother) caught the young princess’s eye, but George soon moved with his regiment to Brighton, where he fell in love with Mary Seymour (who was the first to call the Prince Regent “Prinny”). During this time, Charlotte wrote to Mercer regarding Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility saying, “[The book] certainly is interesting, and you feel quite one of the company. I think Marianne and me are very like in disposition. I am not so good, displaying the same imprudence, etc., however very like. I must say it interested me much.”
When the Regent first encouraged his daughter to accept William of Orange, Charlotte was determined to oppose the union. However, a marriage would free her from her father’s control, as well as to provide her with her own household and financial independence. Therefore, in December 1813, Princess Charlotte agreed to the marriage.
Meanwhile, the Princess fell in love with Prince Frederick, the King of Prussia’s nephew. One of her lady companions aided Charlotte in arranging several clandestine meetings with Frederick, and she maintained a secret correspondence with the prince until January 15, 1815, when he informed her that he had fallen for another. Frederick returned Charlotte’s gifts and portrait at that time.
Incensed by Charlotte’s refusal to marry Orange, George IV removed his daughter’s servants and dismissed her lady’s companions. Confined to Cranbourne Lodge, Charlotte was permitted no visitors except Queen Charlotte. In August 1814, Princess Caroline departed England. Charlotte felt deserted. Her depression became quite evident. Queen Charlotte encouraged a resolution to the separation between her eldest son and his daughter.
On Christmas Day 1814, Charlotte turned to her father for affection. During their intimate talks, she provided Prinny with a full accounting of her relationship with Captain Hesse. Charlotte explained how her mother had encouraged Charlotte to write to Hesse. She also spoke of her recent attempts to have Hesse return her letters and of the captain’s refusal to do so. Charlotte confided that she expected Hesse to blackmail her with their correspondence.
|Prince Leopold, third son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld|
The Regent promised to assist his daughter with Hesse. Therefore, expecting a restoration of their connection, Charlotte confided in her father what she knew of Princess Caroline’s many lovers. To protect his daughter’s position in Society and in the line of succession, he suggested that Charlotte renew her engagement to Orange, but she stood firm. However, she did agree to a possible joining to Prince Leopold, third son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. It was after Napoleon’s defeat in June 1815 before Leopold could return to England. They married on 2 May 1816.
Spoiler: So what does all this have to do with my November 8 release of Christmas at Pemberley? Notice that the previous paragraph mentions Christmas Day 1814. Yes, believe it or not, I incorporated Princess Charlotte’s liaison with Hesse into my Christmas tale. How, one might ask, does a writer mix political intrigue with an inspirational romance, a Regency Christmas-theme tale, and a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Not an easy task, but one I hope you will enjoy reading.
Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Christmas Sequel
To bring a renewed sense joy to his wife’s countenance, Fitzwilliam Darcy has secretly invited the Bennets and the Bingleys to spend the Christmastide festive days at Pemberley. But as he and Elizabeth journey to their estate to join the gathered families, a blizzard blankets the English countryside. The Darcys find themselves stranded at a small out-of-the-way inn with another couple preparing for the immediate delivery of their first child, while Pemberley is inundated with friends and relations seeking shelter from the storm.
Without her brother’s strong presence, Georgiana Darcy desperately attempts to manage the chaos surrounding the arrival of six invited guests and eleven unscheduled visitors. But bitter feuds, old jealousies, and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface. Has Lady Catherine returned to Pemberley for forgiveness or revenge? Will the manipulative Caroline Bingley find a soul mate? Shall Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy know happiness?
Written in Regency style and including Austen’s romantic entanglements and sardonic humor, Christmas at Pemberley places Jane Austen’s most beloved characters in an exciting yuletide story that speaks to the love, the family spirit, and the generosity that remain as the heart of Christmas.
Read an excerpt from "Christmas at Pemberley"
Read an excerpt from "Christmas at Pemberley"
“My only care is your own health. Heaven forbid that you should precede me in death,” he said in a taunt. “You cannot expect me to seek husbands for our girls with the same diligence that you demonstrate.”Ignoring his tone, as she was apt to do, Mrs. Bennet whispered, “I had hoped that Mr. Manneville would seek Kitty’s company again today. I fear she has done the man a disservice, and he’ll not forgive her.”Mr. Bennet mockingly said, “You find Mr. Manneville the superior choice, my Dear?”“The man has deep pockets, Mr. Bennet,” she reasoned.“In America,” he reminded her.Mrs. Bennet shrugged off his objections. “Kitty could have a house as grand as Netherfield Park. Would you not want that for your daughter, Mr. Bennet?”“I would want Kitty in a relationship where her husband respected her.” He had thought again of his own marriage’s failure. “Jane and Elizabeth have achieved such happiness, and I have hopes for Mary.”“And of Lydia?” Mrs. Bennet cared best for their youngest daughter.
“You know my opinion of Mr. Wickham,” he warned. “I’ll never understand how Wickham and Lydia can be supported in tolerable independence nor how little of permanent happiness can belong to a couple who were only brought together because their passions were stronger than their virtue.”“Mr. Bennet,” she exclaimed a little too loudly and had to moderate her objection. “You should not speak so despairingly of your own child.”“I speak the truth,” he contended. “I won’t give elegance to misfortune.”Again, Mrs. Bennet disregarded his severity. “And you think this Mr. Winkler a better choice for Kitty?” she asked as she observed how the clergyman leaned closer to say something private to their daughter.“First, it is true Winkler will never have Mr. Darcy’s or Mr. Bingley’s wealth, but he has a secure situation under Mr. Darcy’s watchful eye. Secondly, observe how the man protects our Kitty. He’s quite besotted by our daughter’s charms.”Mrs. Bennet directed her attention to Kitty and the clergyman. “Do you believe Kitty returns the man’s regard?”“Not totally, but the seed’s been planted. It was Winkler that Kitty chased from the drawing room last evening. It was he that she tried to please with her gift to Mr. Darcy’s cottager. He inspires the best in our daughter.” They walked on in silence for a few moments. “Surely, you remember how foolish Kitty and Lydia once were. I often considered them as two of the silliest girls in England. Now that Kitty, to her material advantage, has spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters, her improvement has been great. I always said that Kitty had not so ungovernable a temper as Lydia, and removed from the influence of Lydia’s example, she has become, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. I find myself quite proud of the young lady that our Catherine has become.”His wife’s frown spoke of her disapproving of his disparaging words regarding Lydia’s lack of sense, but she hadn’t argue. They’d had similar conversations on numerous occasions. “Should I encourage the connection? Should Kitty be made aware of Mr. Winkler’s attention? It would please me to have all my girls well settled.”“If you can suppress your enthusiasm until after Mr. Darcy’s return, I suspect that Mr. Winkler will take matters into his own hands. Elizabeth’s husband will have to give his approval to his clergyman taking a wife and having that wife be Kitty,” he cautioned.Mrs. Bennet glanced around for privacy. “Would Mr. Darcy object to Lizzy’s sister living at the Lambton cottage? Would the man’s pride deny Kitty a proper marriage?” she asked incredulously.“I doubt it. However, Mr. Darcy may need to preface their joining. Winkler must be aware that Darcy would prefer to be consulted prior to his approaching Kitty with an offer.” They neared the pond. “And if Elizabeth’s husband does object, you could always steer Kitty into Mr. Manneville’s arms. Who knows? After my demise, when Mr. Collins takes Longbourn, you might discover yourself in the Southern states. I think you’ll find yourself swept away by an American.” Mr. Bennet winked at her.“You bam me as you always do. I have no need of another husband. With five daughters, I shall spend my days in contentment, knowing I have done my best by each of them.” She accepted a seat on a wooden bench to which Mr. Bennet directed her. When he started away to join the couples, Mrs. Bennet caught his arm. “Mr. Bennet, I know we’re often at odds over our daughters, but would you do me the courtesy of explaining your dislike for Mr. Manneville?”It was rare when they spoke honestly to each other–even rarer when he felt empathy for the woman he’d married. “I cannot pretend to know exactly,” he said softly. “Maybe it’s the man’s posturing. Maybe it’s his blatant declaration of his intentions–his descriptions of his wealth. Or . . .” Mr. Bennet turned to watch Manneville glide onto the ice. “Or maybe it’s his attention to Miss Bingley. The woman hurt my Jane, and not once did she apologize or show any contrition. I do not forget.”“Neither do I, Mr. Bennet. Neither do I.”
Regina Jeffers, a public classroom teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of several Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Phantom of Pemberley, and the upcoming The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. She also is a Regency romance author: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, and The First Wives’ Club. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, Jeffers often serves as a consultant in language arts and media literacy. Currently living outside Charlotte, North Carolina, she spends her time with her writing, gardening, and her new grandson.
Twitter – @reginajeffers
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(Books available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Books-a-Million, Joseph Beth, and Ulysses Press.)