Wednesday 28 February 2024



Today, we are thrilled to host author Jayne Bamber as our esteemed guest blogger. Jayne is here to present her latest release, a delightful fusion where the worlds of Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park collide. In her new work, titled A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings the Bertrams and Crawfords find themselves entangled in the bustling village of Meryton. The Bertram family faces upheaval, while the Crawfords seek new adventures. Amidst the backdrop of matchmaking schemes and societal intrigue, Jayne weaves a narrative that promises to enthrall readers of Austen-inspired fiction.We're privileged to offer you an exclusive excerpt from the book, so scroll down as Jayne Bamber shares a glimpse into her intriguing new story. MGxx


Its wonderful to be back at My Jane Austen Book Club! I am so excited to share another excerpt from my new release, A QuickSuccession of Busy Nothings which blends the worlds of Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park.

I tend to have a soft spot for Austen villains – I’ve managed to reform Caroline, Lady Catherine, and even Wickham in previous novels. And what delightful villains to enjoy in Mansfield Park! I imagine Mary Crawford as a sort of evil twin of Elizabeth Bennet. She has the same sense of humor and charm, she is likeable and even loveable among her friends, and she has strong convictions. It was no great stretch to imagine the two as cousins, exchanging irreverent repartee.

The two have very different views of marriage, however. While Lizzy’s mother is obsessed with it, canon Lizzy is not playing the game as so many young ladies are. She refuses multiple proposals, recognizes that Wickham is not a viable prospect, and laughs off Charlotte’s advice for securing a husband. She is too busy being authentically herself to care if she is attracting a mate, which in turn happens to attract a splendidly eligible gentleman – and still she holds to her ideals of what love should be.

Mary, on the other hand, is playing the game with everything she’s got. She wields the same sparkling wit as Elizabeth, but with the intention of using her arts and allurements to her advantage at every turn. To her, marriage is about status and security, and after all her maneuvering, she is duly rewarded by falling for a man whose prospects are far less than she desires.

In A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings, Mary is shown to have her reasons for being so mercenary, and her scheming is a flaw she wishes to overcome after witnessing the same behavior in Lady Susan Vernon, whom I have reimagined as Mr. and Miss Bingley’s aunt. Today I am sharing an excerpt of Mary’s first reaction to Lady Susan at Bingley’s London home just before they all depart for Meryton, where the Bertrams have taken residence at Purvis Lodge near Longbourn…. Enjoy reading!




 Lady Susan Vernon was already holding court in the drawing room. She had all the appearance of a woman who must have been pretty at sixteen and even prettier ten years later; twenty years had been kinder still, for her radiant beauty was augmented by the poise of confidence and experience. The lady was seated in a most becoming pose between her niece and nephew, clasping hands with each of them as she spoke with two other gentlemen seated opposite.

Mary stopped in the corridor and Henry halted beside her. She made a subtle gesture in the turning of her head toward the man beside Mr. Darcy. She had seen him the day before, departing Mr. Bingley’s house just as she had returned from calling on her friend Mrs. Fraser; knowing Henry to have been within the house at the time, she expected him to relay something useful about the almost-handsome stranger clad all in black.

“That is Richard Fitzwilliam, the second son of the earl of Matlock, and Darcy’s favorite cousin,” Henry said, keeping his voice low enough that they would not be heard. “He is a recent widower – she was the heiress to an estate that he has not the fortune to fix up – I understand it was long mismanaged by his mother-in-law. I should think him easily purchased with a dowry like yours, if you take a fancy to him, though I suspect Darcy invited him to Netherfield with us for the sake of diverting Miss Bingley’s other interests.

Mary instantly supposed it best to allow Miss Bingley some distraction, if indeed she could be detached from her ambition to become the next mistress of Pemberley. That would suit Mary’s purposes far better, for she had yet to decide whether Mr. Bingley or Mr. Darcy would please her best, and she suspected Miss Bingley might present an obstacle either way. 

“A sad widower will do for a tradesman’s daughter who has seen a few seasons pass,” Mary whispered. “But he is too dreary to be handsome.”

“That he is,” Henry agreed. “I understand his mother-in-law is something of a gorgon; he has fled to London and allowed her to haunt the house he has inherited.” Henry made a droll face, as if he might say more, but his attention had been captured by laughter at the end of the corridor; Lady Susan had said something to amuse the whole room.

After taking a few steps toward the drawing room, Henry snapped his head back to Mary, who had warily pursued him. “I have heard Lady Susan possesses a sort of captivating deceit – it shall be most amusing to detect it,” he said, all innocence.

“You worry me, dear brother,” Mary gasped.

They had drifted near enough the drawing room by now that Lady Susan became aware of them and looked in their direction with an amiable expression. “What a pleasing fraternal pose,” she said warmly. “I hope I shall discover you to be the Crawfords of whom I have heard such praise.” She extended a beckoning hand to them, and Henry was drawn in at once. 

“This is Mr. Henry Crawford of Everingham in Norfolk, and his sister Miss Mary Crawford,” Bingley said. “Allow me to present my aunt, Lady Susan Vernon.”

Henry offered her a very gallant bow, his fascination instantly overshadowing Mary’s presence at his side. “Enchanted,” he said. “I have heard much of you.”

The lady appeared astonished at his statement. “From my niece and nephew, do you mean? I am sure I cannot imagine there should be anything of note to be said of a widow such as myself – I have exchanged one happy situation of quiet country life for the prospect of another, as dear Charlie has been so kind as to invite me to travel with you all to Hertfordshire.”

“Delightful,” Henry replied. 

“I cannot say what delights I could have any right to expect,” she said, fluttering her lashes in a very demure affectation. “I understand my other niece Mrs. Hurst is not well enough to travel at present, poor creature, and so in her stead I have offered my assistance as a chaperone and hostess for my nephew.”

Mary observed a fleeting look of jealous mortification on Miss Bingley’s face; she seemed to feel Mary’s gaze and looked that way. For a minute the two women shared a look that conveyed their mutual apprehension, but Miss Bingley did not allow their mutual understanding to linger. She turned away, chin up, and resumed her haughty indifference. 

Lady Susan was still commanding the attention of the rest of the party. “How proud your parents would have been,” she said to Mr. Bingley, though Henry remained her first object. “I know my poor late sister would have been delighted to see Charlie managing an estate, even a rented one. In this respect, Mr. Crawford, you may imagine what pleasure I feel, but beyond this – of course, I am pleased that my nephew has such amiable friends, and I am grateful to have had such a warm and welcoming reception…. But beyond this, I beg you not attribute any motives to me – certainly the frivolities of youth can hold little appeal when contrasted with the wholesome coziness of an intimate family gathering.”

Mary was nearly moved to respect the cunning creature’s talent for pretty falsehoods. She endured a great many of them throughout dinner as Lady Susan lamented the antics of her intractable young daughter, the devastating loss of her much older husband, and the many cruelties and slights of his relations. For her own family she was heavy with syrupy praise, and spoke at length of her humble gratification at the prospect of such a happy and rustic reunion.

It was no surprise to Mary that Mr. Bingley should be taken in by his relation, for he was of an open and artless disposition – and of course, he had been accustomed, as the brother of such a sister, to hearing every manner of disingenuous mendacity. Neither was it a great shock that Henry seemed ready to revise his previous bias against the lady – it was all too predictable, albeit disappointing. Mary had cherished some particular hopes for her brother as they made ready to visit Hertfordshire – these plans pertained especially to her eldest cousin, for Henry had always admired her, and gentle Jane would undoubtedly suit him far better than the type of woman that usually attracted Henry’s notice.

It was disappointing, but not surprising to Mary that her brother should succumb so easily to Lady Susan’s arts and allurements, especially after his interest in Maria Bertram at Mansfield Park. His game there had been transparent enough, and might have ended in disaster if they had not taken their leave when they did. Lady Susan’s abilities were considerable; she was far more formidable than the former Miss Bertram. And like the new Mrs. Rushworth, Lady Susan might hold Henry in her thrall for as long as she chose it – in other words, until a safer choice could be made. 

Mary had no desire to face such a challenge. It would be complicated enough selecting the superior prospect between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley while residing in the vicinity of Edmund Bertram. Certainly she would not be tempted to yield her position regarding the latter, and his unpalatable choice of vocation. She wished no further encumbrance as she assessed the gentlemen of her party, for Mr. Bingley’s engaging manners were just what she liked, even if his wit was not as quick as her own, while the taciturn Mr. Darcy’s fortune and connections could not be discounted solely because of his dour disposition, which might be improved by a lively and witty wife. 

Such was the turn of Mary’s mind for the remainder of the evening. Lady Susan continued to discreetly direct her allure toward Henry while maintaining the illusion of a virtuous widow. Mary was obliged to divert so great a share of her attention to preventing her brother from making a ninny of himself that she was unable to exert her full powers of pleasing on her quarry. 

Knowing she could not carry on so feebly once she arrived in a county where she had so many pretty cousins, Mary resolved she must leave Henry to his own devices and hope for the best – she might implore Jane or Elizabeth to detach him from the notorious minx. For herself, she was most determined to induce Mr. Bingley to show her a degree of preference beyond the eager affability he bestowed upon all, and to somehow manage to tempt Mr. Darcy out of his perpetual state of stony silence. She would have him smiling, and Mr. Bingley fairly drooling – and Edmund Bertram would certainly repine his wretched decision to take orders. 

She retired that evening with the hard-won satisfaction of having privately convinced herself, through the acute observation of her companions, that she was quite capable of out-maneuvering the combined efforts of every female to be found at Netherfield, Longbourn, and Purvis Lodge. Just for good measure, she reminded Henry to have her harp sent on to Netherfield in all haste.



The worlds of Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park collide when the Bertrams and Crawfords come to Meryton….

The Bertram family of Mansfield Park is forced to retrench and retreat to Purvis Lodge when the baronet’s heir, Tom Bertram, bankrupts the family with his extravagant spending and expensive debauchery. Oblivious to their ruin, their new neighbor Mrs. Bennet finds an agreeable friend in the indolent Lady Bertram, and hastily forms designs on the two Bertram sons for her daughters.

Mary and Henry Crawford leave Mansfield Parsonage for the Mayfair home of their friend Charles Bingley, and soon convince him to rent Netherfield Park and travel there with a large party of friends as well as his wily, widowed aunt, Lady Susan Vernon. Once again, Mrs. Bennet is overjoyed at the influx of eligible bachelors for her girls. 

Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are delighted to be reunited with their Crawford cousins, who shall in turn be reunited with the Bertrams. The bonds of the two eldest Bennet daughters and their cousins Mary and Henry Crawford are put to the test over the course of a summer filled with more fine society than Meryton has ever seen!

Mrs. Bennet has it all planned out, but hers are not the only matchmaking maneuvers being made in Meryton - the matrimony-obsessed matron has met her match in Lady Susan Vernon, a masterful manipulator who is infinitely Mrs. Bennet’s superior in subtlety, and who brings out the schemer in Mary Crawford. Even Mr. Bennet is tempted to a little light trickery of his own when Mr. Collins comes to town.

Fitzwilliam Darcy wishes only to lift the spirits of his broken-hearted sister Georgiana and his bereaved cousin Richard, and in his efforts to cheer them he becomes embroiled in schemes, rescues, and is even compelled to participate in a theatrical production because it pleases the ones he loves - including the bewitching Elizabeth Bennet. Conflicting desires not only consume his mind, but begin to surround him as his companions at Netherfield all form opposing plans of their own, which threaten to keep any of them from a clear path to Happily Ever After….

                  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jayne Bamber is a life-long Austen fan, and a total sucker for costume dramas. Jayne read her first Austen variation as a teenager and has spent more than a decade devouring as many of them as she can. This of course has led her to the ultimate conclusion of her addiction, writing one herself.

Jayne’s favorite Austen work is Sense and Sensibility, though Sanditon is a strong second. Despite her love for Pride and Prejudice, Jayne realizes that she is no Lizzy Bennet, and is in fact growing up to be Mrs. Bennet more and more each day.

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