I am very pleased for hosting Don Jacobson once more, and to reintroduce him to all of you. Don is a great author who has such an amazing mind that I cannot even imagine how all his ideas go around his brain and imagination without spilling out every five seconds. Don is back with his latest book on the The Bennet Wardrobe Series and I cannot be more excited. If you do not know what this series is about, let me try to describe it a bit: characters of our beloved Pride and Prejudice plus great new characters, time-travelling, strong family link, love and love and more love!
Do you understand what I mean? 😉 I am leaving you now with the blurb of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion:
“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.” Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.
Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.
Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.
In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.
The Pilgrim explores questions of love, loss, pain, worry, and perseverance. All of these are brought to bear as one of the silliest girls in England grows into the Dowager Countess.
This 151,000-word novel is the seventh, and next-to-last, volume in the Bennet Wardrobe Series. Each book along the way has revealed more about how the mysterious Wardrobe has led Miss Austen’s Bennets to learn that which they need in order to take part in its ultimate mission.
Lydia is pretty changed here, don’t you think? The fault is Don’s!
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he began publishing The Bennet Wardrobe Series —
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (2016)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (2016)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (2017)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (2017)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (2018)
The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament (2018)
The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion (2019)
Jacobson is also part of the collective effort behind the publication of the upcoming North and South anthology, Falling for Mr. Thornton: Tales of North and South due out in the Fall of 2019.
Other Austenesque Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” (2016) and “The Maid and The Footman” (2016) “Lessers and Betters” offers readers the paired novellas in one volume to allow a better appreciation of the “Upstairs-Downstairs” mentality that drives the stories.
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.
He is a member of JASNA. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective.
He lives in the Las Vegas, Nevada area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear. Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.
His other passion is cycling. Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills). He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days). Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).
The Darcys and Lydia have repaired to Selkirk to attend the Matlock Harvest Ball some two weeks hence. As the guests arrive, they gather in the Great Parlor. Lydia has entered late, hoping to remain inconspicuous. There is, however, one guest, of great significance, who desires to make her acquaintance.
The Countess took Lydia’s arm and led her toward the gathering at the room’s center, the crowds parting like the sea beneath Moses’ staff. At the end of the void rested a pair of chairs. In one sat Richard’s father, the Earl. In the other, though, reposed a man who, even sans regalia was clearly one of the leading men in the entire realm.
As the two ladies approached, he fixed Lydia with a hard stare and planted his cane vertically between his feet before clasping his hands atop its head to lever himself up to a standing position.
Lady Fitzwilliam at his nod initiated the British tradition, “My Lord, may I present to you Mrs. Lydia Wickham of Longbourn and Pemberley. Mrs. Wickham, may I present to you the Marquess of Anglesey, Lord Henry Paget. You may know of him, by his ancient title, as the Earl of Uxbridge.[i]
“My Lord, Mrs. Wickham is the widow of Captain George Wickham of the 33rd.”
Anglesey nodded, “My condolences on your loss, madam. As the Duke said, Wickham saved us all.”
Lydia felt Richard arrive by her side. His presence comforted her, although she was quite taken with the handsome, if older, aristocrat standing before her.
Then the Master of Uxbridge snapped, genially, but ordered, none-the-less, “I fear that I am still uncomfortable on my feet for too long.
“Matlock, get yourself off. I would speak with Mrs. Wickham, but I need to sit. As yours is the only other seat up for bids, I declare the auction closed! Mrs. Wickham will join me. Only those of us who have marched to the drum need be here right now for a bit of private conversation. General…you may stay.
“The rest of you: begone.
“Maybe Miss Darcy might turn her mind to some lighter Scottish airs.”
Lydia smiled her thanks at the Earl of Matlock who grinned back at her as if he was in possession of some great secret.
The Marquess adjusted his seat, grimacing as he was forced to reach down to slide his right boot into alignment with his missing knee. Four years after that June afternoon and his stump was still bothering him. Lingering pain aside, he was proud of his fully-articulated prosthetic limb. With the knee joint unlocked and pantaloons—the modern styles were much to his taste—draped outside of his boot uppers, he could sit in company without anyone being forced to notice his amputation.
Three pairs of eyes were riveted by his bluff yet comfortable demeanor, awaiting whatever pronouncement he would make.
“You know, Mrs. Wickham,” the great man intoned, “I have made it a study of mine to explore what makes men behave bravely. Those musings also, I am convinced, allow me to comprehend what turns their bowels to water.
“You have offered up an interesting conundrum. You see, men would have it that they are the sole repositories of courage, ignoring, of course, Queens Judith and Boadicea. All too often, these self-same deep thinkers seek to ascribe the success of our greatest monarch, Elizabeth, to Drake or Exeter or Salisbury rather than to her political genius and ability to make the people believe in her cause.
“You, my good woman, have reminded me, no all of us, through your selfless act of saving General Fitzwilliam that resolve is neither defined by the color of the uniform nor whether a uniform is worn at all.
“Brave acts may be committed by the young or the very old. Here you are, a lady of but three-and-twenty, yet you acted without fear.
“You have also shown that one can do one’s duty without reference to the body within which the bravest of hearts resides.
“You have destroyed the myth that only men can commit daring acts and reverse the flow of history.”
By this point, Lydia was blushing fiercely, and she averted her eyes as Paget’s praise flowed deeply around her.
She made to demur, saying, “My Lord, I would wish that you would temper your compliments. They are undeserved by me. I acted without thinking, not heroically, like you who sat in the line of fire [that June] afternoon. I honestly can remember little of what happened on St. Peter’s Field this past August.”
The Marquess stopped her by grasping her right hand.
“Enough of that, Mrs. Wickham.
“I am no hero. Oh, perhaps an argument can be made that I behaved like one because I did not flee the moment the Tyrant’s le brutal fired. But, remember that young Fitzwilliam along with the Duke was equally exposed. Both stayed in their place.
“However, I repeat…I am no hero because I sat on my horse and watched my cavalry troopers get ground up between the lines. That image of all those beautiful men vanishing into the smoke and never returning will haunt me to the end of my life.
“I am no hero. I sat and watched…watched men like your husband…long may his name rest upon the lips of Britons far and wide…put down that French dog once and for all.
“T’was hot work at Hougoumont, madam, and George Wickham did his duty without flinching, knowing that t’was his portion to hold that end of the line.
“Me? At Waterloo, I was unmoving, atop my beast, when the ball took my leg.
“You, in Manchester, showed that you were a queen defending her realm: regnant and glorious, shaped by Lord knows what forces.
“You say you acted without thinking. The greatest of champions act without thinking and, in those unconscious moments, show the depths of their character.
“But, whether reasoned or not, your actions saved my comrade-in-arms, my dearest warrior friend and brother, Richard Fitzwilliam.
“Your modesty does you credit, but do not debase your achievement. Like your sister, Mrs. Benton, you bear scars honorably earned.
“Just as King Harry said before Agincourt…
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day:[ii]
“And you, Mrs. Wickham will quietly bear up under the scrutiny of those who have no idea what it means to feel the ground tremble beneath the hooves of heavy cavalry. Yet, every year on the anniversary of Peterloo, you will nod to Mrs. Benton and then take a moment to reflect on all that you gained, not lost, on that August day in your youth.”
Scanning the chamber, Lord Anglesey pronounced what was the equivalent of a Red Judge’s decision,“I would have it known that I heartily approve of Mrs. Wickham. Her late husband saved the nation. His widow saved one of our greatest paladins.”
The Marquess stood, leaning heavily upon his Malacca cane. After bending to lock his knee, he extended his left hand to Lydia to help her gain her feet gracefully. Paget, still one of the most handsome men in the kingdom, rapped his wooden leg with his stick, the drum-like sound echoing across the parlor.
He continued, “Just as you ignore my leg, I would have you look at the whole woman standing beside me. She should be held up as an example to your daughters…and your sons…for she has shown that the willingness to sacrifice is not limited to one sex.
“Here is a promise made before all of you assembled here.
“Pon my honor, Mrs. Lydia Wickham will be welcome at any Paget home anywhere in the realm. Our bed and board shall be her bed and board. If she were not already honored by His Royal Highness with a widow’s annuity, I would enhance her dowry.
“If Mrs. Wickham so wishes it, and if the Countess of Matlock and Mesdames Bingley and Darcy countenance this next, my wife, the Marchioness, will sponsor her when she makes her curtsey before the Queen.
“In all of this, I will not be gainsaid.
“Oh, and Mrs. Wickham,” at this he speared Fitzwilliam with an icy stare that bespoke of get on with this, man, “our hospitality is not contingent upon the presence of any slow-witted, addlepated man in your party.”
Richard looked astonished at the Marquess’ outspoken declaration.
Lydia blushed again.
[i]Henry William Paget (1768-1854) was Earl of Uxbridge when a bounding French cannon ball struck his right leg near the end of the Battle of Waterloo. He had been in command of Wellington’s cavalry, much as Major General Richard Fitzwilliam was leading the Allies’ massed infantry squares. Uxbridge was elevated to Marquess of Anglesey (1st) upon his survival and served a long career in the Army (ultimately as Field Marshal) and the Government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Paget,_1st_Marquess_of_Anglesey
I am very intrigued to know much more about this book. Not only what comes next, because we already know what is the next name of Mrs Wickham but also I am very intrigued of her brave character and what she has done. I think Don may have redeemed Lydia of any youth folly she committed.
Blog Tour Schedule
I am closing the tour but do not miss great posts, reviews and much more.
25th of September From Pemberley to Milton
26th of September So Little Time…
27th of September Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
28th of September My Love for Jane Austen
30th of September Babblings of a Bookworm
1st of October Diary of an Eccentric
2nd of October More Agreeably Engaged
3rd of October My Vices and Weaknesses
Interested on this book? You could buy it, among other, on:
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Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion to four lucky winner. Just clikc the link below and follow instructions.