Thursday, 17 November 2016


A new great blog tour premieres today  at My Jane Austen Book Club.  Joana Starnes is here to present her latest Pride and Prejudice tale: Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter. Enjoy her wondeful guest post and... may I wish you good luck in the giveaway contest?  

Thank you, Maria Grazia, for your kind welcome at My Jane Austen Book Club today to launch the blog tour for my latest book, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter, with an invitation to Netherfield.

Why Netherfield, we might ask? Why would Mr and Mrs Darcy invite their guests to Netherfield Park, rather than Pemberley or the Darcy townhouse? That is because in this variation they begin their married life at Netherfield, and much sooner than in the original novel. As the title might suggest, Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter is an early-marriage scenario. Elizabeth accepts Mr Darcy’s first proposal on account of her father’s condition. While she is visiting in Kent an express arrives to let her know that her father had suffered an attack. She learns of this not from the express itself, but from Mr Darcy, who was notified in irregular circumstances and rides out in great haste to find Elizabeth on her stroll through Rosings’ woods with Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Have you ever wondered if Elizabeth would have been as violently opposed to Mr Darcy had she not learned of his role in ruining her sister’s happiness? I am inclined to think that this knowledge was the deal-breaker in the Hunsford proposal and it carried far more weight than Darcy’s arrogance and Wickham’s malice. She would have still refused him, of course. Elizabeth Bennet would not accept a man who speaks of their union as a degradation in the midst of his proposal. But what if Mr Darcy came to propose before his cousin had the chance to make damaging disclosures? What if he offered marriage without offending her, at a time when she felt obliged to ensure her family’s safety, should her father pass away? What if the Hunsford proposal was something like this?

“Collins burst upon my aunt at breakfast. He read your express and hastened to come up to ask for leave of absence without even troubling himself to find and notify you first. I had no notion till this morning that Longbourn was entailed upon him, nor how devoid of Christian charity he is. This vile excuse of a man of the cloth would cast you into the hedgerows as soon as he has the chance, the unmitigated– ” The forceful rant broke off and the gentleman drew the deepest breath before resuming, just as forcefully. “I will not have it, Elizabeth! To the best of my abilities, I will not have it.”

The shock caused by the display of temper in a man of such cool and uniform reserve greatly surpassed that of the declaration and of hearing herself addressed by her Christian name. Before she could collect herself enough to request clarification, Mr Darcy spoke again, still prey to the greatest agitation.

“I know this is wretched timing, but it must be said. I would have found a way of speaking to you this evening, were it not for–… I should have spoken days, weeks ago. No matter!”

His right hand cut through the air as he abruptly put an end to his second rant – more words than she had heard him speak in hours. And then his hand found hers, as did the other, to clasp them both between their chests, brought close again with one determined step.

A new great blog tour premieres today at My Jane Austen Book Club. I'm really glad to welcome back Joana Starne as
“For all the poor timing, you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you, Elizabeth. Marry me. As soon as it can be arranged. If we are wed before–… That is, if the worst should happen…” He broke off again and released one of her hands to nervously run his fingers through his hair. “Damnation! How can this be said? I hate giving you pain in the midst of my proposal, but if we were to marry before you have to go into mourning, then you would not be left unprotected for goodness knows how long and I would have the right to keep Collins at bay. He might still stake his claims as soon as he could, the wretched scoundrel, but you would not be at the mercy of strangers before I am allowed to ensure your welfare. Can you see my meaning and not judge me for importuning you at such a trying time?” (Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter – Chapter 1)

The premise of my latest Pride and Prejudice variation is that out of duty to her family, Elizabeth accepts him. And, once the ever-resourceful Mr Darcy had procured the special licence in record time, they are married in Longbourn Church. Thoughtful, considerate and very much in love despite his overbearing manner, Mr Darcy asks Mr Bingley to transfer the lease of Netherfield to him, and the newlyweds settle there at first, so that Elizabeth could be near her father while his condition is uncertain.

Pride and Prejudice 1995 - BBC photo
The wedding breakfast at the nearby Red Lion was a blur as well. Smiles. Words, too many. Words of surprise, good wishes – some genuine, others barely concealing envy. Plates of food brought to her, which she could not touch. A small glass of wine she could not touch either. And all the while, Mr Darcy’s gloved hand in the small of her back. Protectively? Possessively? She could not tell which, but it was always there.

Still there when he bade adieu to the small party gathered at the door to see them off. She weakly echoed some of his words of thanks to their well-wishers and then she was escorted to the carriage – handed in – more smiles, waves, and they were on their way. To Netherfield. To start their married life there, together. (Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter – Chapter 6)

In some ways, I think this is to their advantage. Netherfield is neutral ground and in surroundings comfortably familiar to Elizabeth. She can begin to adjust to the changes in her life without the added burden of scrutiny and coldness from new acquaintances and new servants, as would have been the case at Pemberley or the Darcy townhouse. They can start to learn how to live together without hurtful or mortifying interference from his family or hers (well, not much of it anyway).

So please picture them at the Netherfield of your choice.

There is not much I can tell you about Netherfield 1995 (Edgcote Hall, near Banbury, in Oxfordshire). It is still a private home, as it was at the time of the filming. All I know is that it lies quiet and undisturbed in exquisitely peaceful countryside, far from traffic and the madding crowd..

And now, over 20 years later, only the die-hard fanatics still travel down the narrow track for a glimpse of its tranquil beauty HERE.

By comparison, Netherfield 2005 is on a far more beaten track. Known as Basildon Park in real life, Netherfield 2005 is a National Trust property that has featured in many other period dramas over the years, most recently in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Downton Abbey.

Sometimes the life of a house is as full of twists and turns as an angsty novel that follows a beleaguered heroine from riches to rags and back again. Basildon Park in Berkshire has such an adventurous history. An eminently Regency house, it was built in the late 1700s for Sir Francis Sykes, an East India Company nabob. It changed hands many times in the following centuries. One of its owners was another Sir Francis, a gentleman with a fondness for gambling, who fought a duel over seducing an officer’s wife, yet died not on the field of honour but of smallpox in Germany, where he had fled to escape his creditors. In late Georgian times it was purchased by a most successful businessman and Liberal MP, James Morrison, a man of excellent taste and a discerning art collector who filled Basildon with pictorial gems.

In the 20th century its fate was not rosy at all. It was in turn purchased for development, used as an army convalescent home in WWI and then requisitioned in WWII, when British and American troops practised tank warfare in the grounds and completed training for D-Day. Afterwards it was used as a base for officers in charge of prisoners of war billeted in the huts in the woods, and then for housing the workers constructing a nuclear research facility nearby. It might have sunk into further and further decline after that, but fortunately for Basildon Park, it was purchased and rescued by Lord and Lady Iliffe, who spent many years lovingly bringing an all-but-wrecked shell back to its former beauty and glory.

To fans of Pride & Prejudice 2005, Basildon Park is Netherfield, with its warm Bath stone glowing in the sunlight, and the gravelled drive where Mr Darcy helped Lizzy into the carriage, then his fingers clenched and unclenched into that adorable O – M – G, I held herhand!’ 

There is the beautiful ballroom where they danced as though alone in the world; the room where Lizzy was shown in when she came to look after her sister; the octagon room, where Miss Bingley lorded over everyone.

Pride and Prejudice 2005

In Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter Miss Bingley is nowhere near Netherfield when the newlyweds come to settle there, and in their different ways both Mr and Mrs Darcy are rather pleased about it:

The sweeping stone staircase once negotiated, they walked through the door still held open by the footman, into a vast and empty entrance hall that compounded the general air of a house barely readied for habitation. Even more so when the footman promptly left them with a deep bow, his steps echoing ominously in the otherwise very silent hall. It had been very different the last time Elizabeth had set foot in there in November for the Netherfield ball. There had been bustle then, crowds of people, voices. Countless voices mingling with strains of music. And just there, on that very spot, Miss Bingley had stood in the receiving line alongside her equally supercilious sister, to welcome their brother’s guests arriving for the ball. The thought of Miss Bingley made Elizabeth burst into an ill-timed and very nervous giggle. And since she was looking at anything in the room but him, she failed to notice that her new husband’s fairly tense countenance lightened considerably at the sound.

“What amuses you so?” he quietly asked, drawing Elizabeth’s full attention.

It was probably unseemly to share her thoughts, but difficult not to, now that he had heard her giggling to herself like a mad thing, Elizabeth mused, so she daringly owned, “I was thinking of what Miss Bingley might say if she were here now.”

A smile overspread his countenance. “I am deeply relieved she is not. Thrilled that you are,” he replied slowly, deliberately. (Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter – Chapter 6)

Poor Miss Bingley! Predictably, no one wants her around, least of all Mr Darcy on his honeymoon. I hope you’ll find the Darcys had a promising start. If you would like to see what happens next, please leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy – the giveaway is available internationally.

Many thanks again, Maria Grazia, for having me as your guest today, it’s always such a pleasure to visit ‘My Jane Austen Book Club’!

Joana Starnes

About the Book

When Colonel Fitzwilliam’s disclosures are interrupted by the bearer of distressing news from Longbourn, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is compelled to consider an offer she would have otherwise dismissed out of hand. An offer of marriage from the all-too-proud Mr Darcy.

Yet how is she to live with a husband she hardly knows and does not love? Would she be trapped in a marriage of convenience while events conspire to divide them? Or would love grow as, day by day and hour after hour, she learns to understand the man she married, before she loses his trust and his heart?

About the Author

Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. A medical graduate, in more recent years she has developed an unrelated but enduring fascination with Georgian Britain in general and the works of Jane Austen in particular, as well as with the remarkable and flamboyant set of people who have given the Regency Period its charm and sparkle.

Joana Starnes is the author of:

* 'From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley', a 'Pride & Prejudice' sequel
* 'The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice & Persuasion'
* 'The Second Chance', a 'Pride & Prejudice' ~ 'Sense & Sensibility' variation
* 'The Falmouth Connection', a 'Pride & Prejudice' variation where Jane Austen's beloved characters are compelled to leave their tame and reasonably peaceful lives in the south of England and travel to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril, where few - if any! - are what they seem to be...
* 'The Unthinkable Triangle', a 'Pride & Prejudice' variation that dwells on the most uncomfortable love-triangle of them all. What if Mr. Darcy's rival for Miss Bennet's hand and heart is none other than his dearest, closest friend? And how can they all find their 'happily-ever-after'?
*'Miss Darcy's Companion' - a variation that explores what might have happened if the warm-hearted Miss Elizabeth Bennet were employed instead of the scheming Mrs Younge.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter Blog Tour continues as follows:

November 18/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
November 19/ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 20/ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt's Guide to Life/Guest Post & Giveaway
November 21/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 22/ Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway
November 23/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review & Giveaway
November 24/ Happy Thanksgiving
November 25/ So Little Time... So Much to Read/ Excerpt & Giveaway
November 26Just Jane 1813/Interview with Joana Starnes & Giveaway
November 2 / My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice/ Guest Post & Giveaway
November 28/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Vignette & Giveaway 
December 1/ My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
December 2/ Austenesque Reviews/ Excerpt & Giveaway


Maria said...

Aww.. that quote at the end of this guest post.. *sighs* I already love this Darcy! :)

Just Jane 1813 said...

Ah, yes, that quote is touching, and this story is just beautiful. Thank you, Maria, for hosting this launch and sharing this book with your readers. I hope they love it as much as I have loved it!

Joana Starnes said...

Thank you SO much, Maria and Claudine, for your wonderful words and this amazing blog tour!! Have a lovely day :)

Vesper said...

I expect Caroline Bingley will turn up sometime

Daniela Quadros said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniela Quadros said...

So excited to read this book! Thanks for the giveaway!!! And Congratulations on the new book! :)

Charlotte said...

What a great idea to have the marriage proposal before Elizabeth gets offended. That puts a whole new light in it :) Would love to read this book!

Joana Starnes said...

Oh, she does, Vesper. Like the proverbial bad penny ;)
Thanks for stopping by to read the post and best of luck in the giveaway!

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks, Daniela! Best of luck in the giveaway and I hope you'll like it!

Joana Starnes said...

So glad you think so, Charlotte! I do wonder if, in view of Mr Bennet's illness, Elizabeth would have accepted Darcy anyway, even if she knew he had persuaded Bingley to stay away. But maybe she would have accepted him with the firm intention of making his life a misery :)
Thanks for reading the post and good luck in the giveaway!

Suzan Lauder said...

The premise and plot are appealing, and even more so that Joana wrote them. Thanks, Maria, for having Joana as your guest.

TeaGuide said...

Every so often I come across a JAFF variation that I enjoy even more than the canon original. This may become one of them. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks for the ever so kind words, Suzan! I'm so glad you find the premise appealing :) Thanks for reading and commenting, and all the best!

Joana Starnes said...

Many thanks, Janis, for stopping by to read the post, and for the wonderful comment. Best of luck in the giveaway and I hope you'll like the rest of the story too.

Kate B said...

This is a great premise and the book is wonderfully written. I love your comments and pictures from the movies.
Congrats on the release of this beautiful story. :)

Unknown said...

Interesting premise and blurb, would love to read it, Thanks for the giveaway :)

Anonymous said...

Austen and all her writings and spin offs are my favorite books to read again and again. Thanks for the opportunity and for the FB pages.

Sonja said...

What a gorgeous cover and the pictures were so good. Loved this!

Joana Starnes said...

I'm ever so happy you enjoyed the post and the book, Kate! Many thanks for your wonderful words and your support, much appreciated. Best wishes!

Joana Starnes said...

Lovely to hear it caught your eye, Priscilla :) Good luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part!

Joana Starnes said...

My absolute pleasure, 'Anonymous' :) I hope you like this spin-off too. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment and good luck in the giveaway!

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks, Sonja! Ever so glad you loved the post and the cover! Claudine Pepe from 'Just Jane 1813' has found the best Regency portrait that truly captures the essence of this book. I hope you'll like the story too. Good luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part!

Anji said...

Hi. I'm not entering the giveaway as I've already read this amazing book. The blog post sets the scene very nicely and there's so much more to come. To the eventual winner, you're in for a real treat! To those not so fortunate, this is one book that totally needs to be on your Wish List.

Joana Starnes said...

Oh, Anji, thanks ever so much for this!! I'm over the moon that you liked the book. AND that we could happily wave our bonnets and club badges :)
All the best and have a lovely weekend!

darcybennett said...

Love this type of variation, can't wait to read.

Leah Pruett said...

This variation was one of my favorites to date!! Thanks for hosting the giveaway. hope I get to add this to my collection!!

BeckyC said...

Looking forward to reading another wonderful variation from Joana!

Mary said...

Have heard wonderful things about this book!

Knowing that Joana is a willing participant in the 'let's make Elizabeth suffer' club,only adds to the sheer anticipation at the thought of having this book next on my TBR list.
Was going to 'save' it for Christmas,but I dint think I can wait that long!
Wishing you every success with this book,Joana!
Looking forward to the inevitable highs and lows!

Joana Starnes said...

So glad it's your cup of tea, darcybennet! Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part!

Joana Starnes said...

Wonderful to hear that, Leah, thanks!! An absolute pleasure and I hope you do. Fingers crossed and thanks for reading and commenting :)

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks for the ever so king words, Becky! Best of luck and I hope you'll like MBDD too :)

Joana Starnes said...

...kinD words... :)
Dear oh dear...

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks so much for stopping by to read the post, Mary, for the wonderful comment and the lovely wishes!! I hope you'll like MBDD and that you won't need too many tissues :)
All the best!

ArmyGirl said...

This book has my interest so piqued. Joana always makes me miss hours of sleep. I love your blog as I always have a look so I know what to read.

Joana Starnes said...

I should apologise for the missed sleep, ArmyGirl :) but I'm so glad that Mr B's Dutiful Daughter has piqued your interest. I hope you'll like it. Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part!

NovElla said...

I loved reading about the real houses featured in the movies. That was interesting. I’m looking forward to this book!

Joana Starnes said...

I'm so glad you liked the post, NovElla :) Those houses are so beautiful and they have such a fascinating history of their own. Hope you'll like the book. Many thanks for taking part in the giveaway and best of luck! Do check out the other blog tour posts, they come with giveaways too.

BookLuver88 said...

I think this might be your best one yet!.

Joana Starnes said...

So happy you think so, BookLuver88 :) Thanks for that, and for stopping by to read the post!