Hello! Happy spring time!
I would like to introduce you to a new author here in the blog: KC Cowan. I have not read yet her book but I am intrigued to see how Mary Bennet is able to secure her happiness. Let me tell you a bit more…
Either ignored or ridiculed by her family, Mary Bennet desires only happiness.
Poor Miss Bennet—with three sisters married, she will no doubt be left “on the shelf” unless she takes steps to secure her own happiness. So, with the arrival of Mr. Yarby, a handsome new rector for Longbourn chapel, Mary decides to use her Biblical knowledge to win his heart.
Meanwhile, her recently widowed fatherfinds himself falling for the older sister of his new reverend. But Mr. Bennet is officially in mourning for his late wife—what a scandalous situation! Unfortunately, Longbourn’s heir, Mr. Collins, has the antennae for a scandal and makes blackmail threats.
Will an overheard conversation between the Yarby siblings break Mary’s heart? Or will it impel her to a desperate act that threatens everyone’s hopes for lasting love?
What do you think? I do not really like whatever Mr. Colling is going to do.
I want to know what the siblings say in that conversation…
Let me introduce KC Cowan. Welcome!
KC Cowan spent her professional life working in the media as a news reporter in Portland, Oregon for KGW-TV, KPAM-AM and KXL-AM radio, and as original host and story producer for a weekly arts program on Oregon Public Television. She is co-author of the fantasy series: Journey to Wizards’ Keep, The Hunt for Winter, and Everfire. The Hunt for Winter and Everfire were both awarded First Place OZMA citations from Chanticleer International Book Awards for fantasy writing.
KC is also the author of two other books: “The Riches of a City” – the story of Portland, Oregon, and “They Ain’t Called Saints for Nothing!” in collaboration with artist Chris Haberman, a tongue-in-cheek look at saints. She is married and lives in Tucson, Arizona.
KC Cowan has definitely very different genres she enjoys to write and I am always amazed about that. Apparently the vignette she is sharing today shows a scene that KC wishes she had written 😉
Amelia returned to the parsonage after her walk with Mr. Bennet. Robert was out making parish calls, so she had the cottage to herself. After consulting with their cook on that evening’s menu, she ordered tea and went into the rear parlor—her favorite room in the house. French doors looked out into the back garden where she had already found a great source of happiness in planting flowers. When they bloomed, they would surround the paved area where she hoped to enjoy more time in the warmer weather—reading or doing needle work. It was a bit of a splurge to purchase the flower seeds and young rose bushes and she knew it would have been far more practical to spend the money on additional seeds for the vegetable garden, but Amelia adored flowers. It made her feel rich to have fresh flowers in her home.
Ellen brought in tea and Amelia poured herself a cup before sitting in one of the newly reupholstered chairs. Running her hand over the fine fabric, she reflected once more upon the generosity of Mr. Bennet. Although she would never have spoken of it, she had been slightly dismayed at how dirty and dingy the parsonage had seemed to her upon first inspection. However, because it was Robert’s first full parish and they were both so grateful for the living, she had vowed to endure the somewhat shabby furnishings, wall papers, and rugs until they had set aside enough from Robert’s salary to slowly replace things, bit by bit. To then have Mr. Bennet provide them with enough of a budget to virtually makeover the entire place was more than she could have ever expected!
As she gazed around the cozy parlor, Amelia truly thought no home could ever bring her more happiness. Well, Longbourn house would be even a grander improvement from the parsonage, but of course, she could have no expectation of ever living there! She and Robert could look forward to many dinners invitations, and with Mary Bennet becoming a closer friend, she might indeed find herself spending more time at Longbourn. She looked forward to it. Longbourn was a beautifully furnished house, to be sure—though not one that overtly displayed wealth. Mr. Bennet’s income was not grand but she could see that furnishings had been chosen over the years with great care and consideration.
Sipping her tea, Amelia allowed herself to daydream about how she might improve it, were the house hers. Some of the old draperies might go, she reflected, as they had clearly seen better days, though they were not shabby by any means. And the dining room might be improved upon with wallpaper that was brighter and more colorful. She smiled and shook her head—it was silly to even imagine she might one day make any choices for Longbourn! Mr. Bennet was so newly single after losing his wife. And he might prefer to remain alone in that single state, as his marriage had been less than fully happy. From what Amelia had gathered from talks with Mary and some other gossip she had heard in Meryton, Mrs. Bennet had not been a good match for her husband.
He married her for her looks and youth, you know, a shopkeeper had said to Amelia. So certain was he she would provide him with sons. Instead, she lost her looks from birthing five daughters and that’s when Mr. Bennet discovered just what he was married to! No great conversation to be had from her—unless the topic was herself or getting those girls married.
But Amelia was certain there must have been some affection underneath it all. She had come across Mr. Bennet standing by his wife’s new grave and his sorrow was apparent to her even from a distance. That unexpected meeting led to the first walk together of what was now becoming a near-daily occurrence. Not only did Amelia enjoy the out of doors, she had quickly discovered how genial and intelligent Mr. Bennet’s discourse was. They had discussed poetry, philosophy, even religion. She never felt she was being lectured to, however—Mr. Bennet would offer an opinion and then eagerly ask for hers. She felt quite equal to him as they spoke and every encounter only improved her opinion of him. She felt he might be a man with whom she could be happy. The very idea was a revelation to her.
After losing her husband, Amelia was certain love should never enter her life again. She was now three and thirty, and childless. She had no fortune to attract a gentleman into her life. In addition, although she had loved her husband, she often felt very unequal in the marriage. He had tended to dominate matters of how their household was run. He was not cruel, though, just…determined to have his way in all things. As she looked back on it, his death was both sad, and a bit of a release.
However, now she had this lovely home to manage as she pleased and was making friends in Meryton. Her life felt more filled with purpose than she could recall having in some time. If her brother were to marry, however, she knew she would have to give way to the new bride’s tastes and style. Such a thought made her a bit apprehensive. She should hate above all things to begin to feel unwelcome in her own home! Perhaps she should begin to think of finding someone to marry again. Mary had mentioned the Meryton butcher as a likely suitor, but Amelia sought a more intellectual partner. Someone more similar to…well, Mr. Bennet.
He was only a walking companion to her. But perhaps—just perhaps—more might be possible?
It feels a bit strange to read somebody falling in love with Mr. Bennet when he is a widower, don´t you think? However, I would like to read their conversations.
Did I write I want to know what they talk about and what they discuss? Enjoy this excerpt! I find it quite endearing 🙂
“Mrs. Withers is here, sir.”
Mr. Bennet happily set aside his work for the unplanned visitor. “Thank you, Hill. Please send her right in.” He smiled and rose as the lady entered. “Good day to you, Mrs. Withers. Have you come to see Mary? I believe she is out just now, calling on neighbors.”
“Forgive me for intruding on your work, Mr. Bennet, I came to see you. I shan’t take but a minute of your time.”
“Not at all, I was just doing some estate work. You make a most pleasant distraction, I assure you. Please have a seat.” He motioned to the chair next to the window opposite his desk. Amelia sat with her reticule perched on her lap. “Would you care for some tea?” he asked.
“Oh no, I don’t wish to be any trouble.”
“No trouble at all!” Mr. Bennet went to the bell cord and gave it a firm yank. When Mrs. Hill arrived, he ordered tea.
“Shall I set up in the parlor, sir?” she asked.
“Would you prefer that, Mrs. Withers?” Mr. Bennet asked his guest.
“Here is fine. I feel so at ease in this cozy room—it must be all the books.”
Mrs. Hill nodded and departed.
Mr. Bennet moved from behind his desk to the chair next to Mrs. Withers. “Would you care to borrow anything from my library? I should be most happy to oblige. Though the collection is not very extensive, I am quite proud of it. I would rather spend money on books than almost anything, I believe.”
“In that, you are very like your daughter Mary,” Amelia said. “A bookstore is always her first choice on any visit to Meryton.”
Mr. Bennet’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh—I suppose we do have that in common. I never much thought about it, to own the truth.”
“Have you never offered her a book to read and then discussed it with her later? I believe she would be very flattered.”
Mr. Bennet was a bit flummoxed at the thought. “No. No, I have not done so. The thought never—” He broke off and shook his head. “May I make a small confession, Mrs. Withers? I fear I have not been the most attentive of fathers to my daughters. The only one who showed much wit was Elizabeth. The rest I rather lumped together as silly girls without any great intellect. Mrs. Bennet oft accused me of always giving Lizzy the preference, and I confess she was right. But even Lizzy aside, I let my wife deal with the girls for the most part. How could I have missed what a great reader Mary is? I feel heartily ashamed of myself for my lack of fatherly interest and affection.”
Mrs. Hill arrived with the tea, and conversation halted for a time as she served. Once they were alone, they drank silently before Mrs. Withers ventured, “Regrets are a funny thing, Mr. Bennet. Sometimes they come and you know there is nothing you can do to change the situation; the opportunity has passed, and you must live with that knowledge. But other times—” She paused, seeming to choose her words carefully. “Other times, there is yet the chance to take a different path.”
She sipped her tea, waiting for him to respond, but he could think of nothing to say. After a moment, she continued, “It is surely not too late for you to give Mary the attention you neglected to give before. And, if I may be so bold, it may help her to blossom a bit.”
“Do you truly think so?” His expression conveyed his doubt.
“I do. Life can be hard for a middle child. I saw it oft in families in our last parish. Parents seem to leave them on their own, for good or ill. I myself am a middle child. I escaped the neglect others do because I was the only girl and, therefore, was singled out for attention in that way.”
“I did not realize you and Mr. Yarby have another sibling. You have never mentioned him.”
“Have I not? Yes, our eldest brother is Phillip, a solicitor in London. We hope he will come for a visit soon. Oh! That reminds me of my purpose in interrupting your day. The improvements are finished, and Robert and I wish to have all of the Bennets over for dinner this Thursday—four o’clock. Does that suit?”
“It does. I can speak for the girls, we have no fixed engagements.”
“Wonderful. Now, let us find a book for you to give to Mary.” She set her tea cup down, rose, and moved to the bookcase where she began to scan the titles. “Have you many novels? I am trying to encourage your daughter to read fewer books of a serious and weighty nature.”
Mr. Bennet moved to join her. “I agree; not to reflect poorly on your brother’s profession, but I believe choosing something that is not of a religious bent would be a positive change for her. Ah! Perhaps this—”
Mr. Bennet reached for a book at the same moment Mrs. Withers spied it and also moved to take it. Their hands met and lingered just a bit longer than necessary. Then Mr. Bennet dropped his hand and gave a nervous laugh.
“Pray excuse me, Mrs. Withers, I did not mean—”
“No, I should not have…that is, it is your library after all.”
There was an awkward pause, their eyes holding a gaze warily, before Mr. Bennet turned back to the books and cleared his throat.
“Well, we clearly both had the same idea. This novel is not one of those dreadful gothic tales so popular with young ladies, but a sound, moral story, although I do not believe Mary has ever examined it. Have you read it?” He pulled it out and showed it to her. “Belinda by Maria Edgeworth.”
Mrs. Withers nodded, but he noted she did not move to take the book from his hands. “Oh yes, a very good choice. I believe she will enjoy it.”
“And…do you see anything you would care to borrow?” he said hesitantly. Mr. Bennet was reluctant to see her go quite so soon. He never could discuss books with his wife. This was so…pleasant.
Mrs. Withers turned to study the shelves silently. Her eyes lit up at one title and she pulled it out. “Oh, this one, with your permission. I am so fond of poetry.”
“William Blake,” he said approvingly. “You enjoy poetry of a more romantic nature, Mrs. Withers?” His eyes now sought hers with more assurance. Why had he not noticed before how fine her hazel eyes were? A stray lock of her hair had come loose and it took all his will and concentration not to reach up and tuck it back in place. They stood silently for another long pause before replying.
“Indeed. I feel I am an incurable…romantic, Mr. Bennet,” she murmured.
“Ah,” was the only reply he could manage.
What do you think? Let me know. I feel is it quite “cute” and sweet.
Here you have the link where you could buy this book with Mary and Mr. Bennet as our most important characters.
Do not miss the blog tour, you will have so much more to learn about these original characters and know more about the new ones too.
March 20 From Pemberley to Milton
March 21 Elza Reads
March 22 My Vices and Weaknesses
March 23 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
March 24 Babblings of a Bookworm
March 27 Savvy Verse & Wit
Meryton Press is giving away one ebook copy of The Bennets: Providence & Perception to one person who comments on this post. The giveaway is international and it will end on the 28th of March 2023 at 23:59 CET.
I love the colours of this cover and of course both couples. I would have never imagined Mary wearing that light green, I think it suits her.