I am very happy to have author C.P. Odom again with us introducing his latest novel: A Covenant of Marriage. As you may have guessed if you have not followed the tour, which I definitely recommend you to do, he has written a variation of Pride and Prejudice. A really good variation if you let me say it. Let me give you an idea of what this book is about…
A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!
Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.
With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together?
OMG! What is going on? Poor Elizabeth, tied to… or to… or to… It was not simple to be a woman during that era even if what we are reading is fiction, we know that these issues were real though. I can foresee a lot of angst, maybe? Misery? Misunderstandings? Who knows!? Well, Colin knows for sure 🙂
Let Colin (re)introduce himself:
By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.
I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing. One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).
You can follow Colin on:
Colin is eager to leave us without knowing much about what is happening with Elizabeth and the covenant of marriage. However, he is sharing and unwritten piece explaining Lydia’s destiny…
Lydia’s Destination – a Vignette for A Covenant of Marriage
Unwritten events occurring during the timeframe of Chapter 8
Friday, June 18, 1813
London, Bedford Home for the Unfortunate
Lydia Bennet was already dressed in her traveling clothing when she knocked at the door of the director of the Bedford Home for the Unfortunate. This dilapidated building had been her home since late September of the previous year, when George Wickham had abandoned her, leaving her penniless and pregnant. Her days there had not been happy ones, as she grew larger and larger from the life growing within her, watching other girls in a similar situation go into labour, have their babies, and then have to leave the home. Worse, more than five of the unwed mothers had not survived the birth of their children.
She had not had that misfortune, at least. Her delivery had been without incident, and her baby son had entered the world with a healthy cry of outrage at what had happened to him. But now, after two weeks of nursing the infant and being taught the rudiments of how to care for him and for herself, she was going to have to leave this meagre shelter, like the other mothers before her. What might befall her when the doors of the institution closed behind her, she could not imagine.
Mr. Dickerson himself opened the door for her with a practiced smile of mingled concern and good cheer.
“Come in, come in, Miss Lydia. Here, have a seat. Good, good.”
He leaned forward to look at the sleeping baby wrapped in a threadbare blanket who she held in her arms.
“I understand the boy is doing well. He certainly looks healthy. But I truly wish you would allow us to inform your family of your whereabouts and your condition.”
“No!” Lydia said, almost desperately. “I cannot go home! I just . . . cannot!”
“So you have said,” Mr. Dickerson said sadly. “And your uncle and aunt here in town?”
Lydia shook her head, her lips pressed together petulantly.
“And the boy? Many of the young ladies decide to leave their new babies to the care of one of the parish churches or perhaps the Foundling Hospital.”
“You told me that there is a situation for me where I can keep my son.”
“Yes, that is true. You are more fortunate than most of the ladies who seek asylum with us. You have a benefactor who has—”
“My uncle, you mean?” Lydia said, more harshly than she had meant to, and Mr. Dickerson looked at her unhappily.
He did not, however, say anything and continued his explanation. “Your benefactor has . . . connections, it would seem. He has arranged for you to take up residence in Portsmouth, which is a seaport to the south, where you can live among a number of other women who have been widowed by this war with France. A chaise will soon be here take you and your son there. Have you named him yet?”
Lydia turned back a corner of the blanket and looked down at her sleeping son, with a soft and tender expression on her face. “I have decided to call him Stephen. Stephen Bennet, I guess.”
“It will have to be Stephen Oldham, Miss Lydia. As I explained earlier, you will assume the identity of the widow of Sergeant Brendon Oldham, a trooper in the Sixth Dragoons, who was killed fighting the French in Spain.”
“Oh, yes, I had forgotten.”
“Well, it is something you must remember. In reality, Sergeant Oldham did not have a wife, but it is unlikely anyone will ever check the military records. The government pays a small survivor’s pension to the families of the soldiers and sailors killed, but it is quite small. But your benefactor has set things up so that you will not be showing signs of having more money than expected. The rent for your rooms, for example, will be paid by a solicitor, who will also provide you a monthly allowance for your expenses. Here is his address.”
He pushed a small piece of paper across his desk to her and she nodded her understanding.
“The allowance will pay for your food, with some extra for clothing and other expenses. But I warn you that it is not overly generous. You will have to learn not to spend more than you have, since you will not be able get more money until the first of the next month.”
Now it was Lydia’s turn to look unhappy, since she had never before had to do any of this for herself. Dinners were fixed by servants, who drew her bath, attended to her hair and dress, and kept her room cleaned. But that all belonged to her life before she had allowed herself to be deceived and seduced by Wickham.
And she simply could not go home and face her family! It wasn’t her fault! They would not understand! They would blame her and call her foolish and . . .
She bit her lip to stop the litany of familiar excuses from running through her mind. Somewhere, down deep inside, a part of her knew her situation had been of her own doing, but she could not acknowledge that. Not yet . . .
And Mr. Dickerson was continuing to speak.
“. . . these are the kind of things you would have kept from your dead husband. Here is where you were married . . .”
He pushed that paper to join the name and address of the solicitor.
“. . . a locket with a small miniature of your husband, the letter from his lieutenant telling you of his death, the official notification from the government, the . . .”
Dickerson droned on, adding other papers to the pile in front of her until he was through, after which he wrapped everything into an oilskin envelope and tied a string around it. Then he moved on to other topics.
“You have learned enough while here to allow you to take in sewing to add to your income, and we have shown you how to prepare a few simple meals for yourself and later for the boy. There will be several baskets to go in the chaise with you, a few pots and dishes, some bedclothing, the dresses you sewed for yourself in addition to what you brought with you, and some clothing for the boy. Here is a purse for your money, but I caution you to wear that under your clothing, where a pickpocket cannot get at it . . .”
At long last, the man finished and looked at her. He thought she had listened to most of it, but he still knew she did not know everything she needed to know to take up this life she had chosen. But at least she would have a roof over her head, and the baby could nurse while she was learning. It was more than most of the unfortunate girls who passed through his charity had when he had to usher them out into the world.
As he escorted Lydia Oldham outside and assisted her into the chaise with her meagre household possessions, he could not convince himself to be confident about her ability to survive. She was so very young!
What do you think? Does she deserve this? Who is that benefactor? Why can she not go back and deal with the consequences? Will we get to know more in the book? There are many more questions I could write but I will leave you to think them.
Thank you very much, Colin, for being with us today!
What about checking this book and buying it? You could do it on:
This blog tour is about to finish but I highly recommend you to check the previous stops. Have fun!
5th of November A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
6th of November More Agreeably Engaged
7th of November From Pemberley to Milton
8th of November Half Agony, Half Hope
9th of November My Love for Jane Austen
11th of November Diary of an Eccentric
12th of November Darcyholic Diversions
14th of November Margie’s Must Reads
15th of November Austenesque Reviews
16th of November My Jane Austen Book Club
17th of November Babblings of a Bookworm
18th of November My Vices and Weaknesses
19th of November Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
8 ebooks, not one or two, 8 ebooks! Meryton Press is giving away 8 ebooks of A Covenant of Marriage to 8 winners. I hope yo are one of them! Just click the link below and follow the instructions.