Today I welcome Jann Rowland to Just Jane 1813, where we have the second stop in Jann’s blog tour for his latest book, “Shadows Over Longbourn.” As we planned this blog tour, I asked Jann to share with my Just Jane 1813 readers a guest post about the Longbourn estate since it plays a central role in the story’s plot and is an important place of our character’s lives.
I love what Jann has brought here to share with my readers today because I enjoy learning how JAFF authors envision the various locations in the fictional town of Meryton, to suit the needs of their stories. I believe Jann has done a wonderful job describing his vision for Longbourn, and its location in the vicinity of Meryton. He also describes the locations from his book, “Obsession.”
This is a post that readers who have already read Jann’s book will also enjoy, so please sit back and enjoy Jann’s guest post.
Journey to Longbourn
When Claudine asked me to write a post concerning Longbourn, I looked at the JASNA article entitled “The Probable Location of ‘Longbourn’ in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,” I was amazed at some of the similarities in the well-researched and discussed article, when compared with my own poor and sometimes spotty attempts to determine exactly where Longbourn and Meryton lay. I had never read the article before and only recently have I given the matter a whole lot of thought, as, in some of my earlier novels, the precise location did not matter so much. Much of the action largely took place at one of the two estates (though I will admit I did not research the small valley with a stream for Darcy and Elizabeth’s horseback outing in Acting on Faith nearly as carefully as I should have).
As some of my later novels began relying on geography a little more (starting with Implacable Resentment, as I recall), I undertook the task of determining where the locations of the major landmarks stood so that I could speak intelligently about the local landmarks, and of equal importance, refrain from contradicting myself. And what I came up with is quite similar in many respects to the JASNA article.
Longbourn, we are told, is twenty-four miles from Gracechurch Street. I did not think that this was an exact distance, and I had assumed that the distance was measured over the meandering of the roads one would need to traverse when travelling. I also assumed that an estimate was being given, much like people today would say “It’s about 200 miles from Calgary to Edmonton.”
In numerous novels, I have suggested that Meryton is not on the main road north to Derbyshire, which is the reason why the Darcy and Fitzwilliam families are not familiar with it to any great extent. In Shadows Over Longbourn, when Darcy journeys from Pemberley to retrieve the Bennet sisters, he follows the main highway, which I assume follows generally the same track of the present day M1, and that he exits it in the vicinity of Luton, continuing on through country roads toward Longbourn.
The JASNA article suggests that Harpenden is the setting for Meryton and that Redbourn is the setting for Longbourn, while Kimpton (sound familiar??!) is the location of Netherfield. My vision of it is similar, however, my geography is slightly different. For starters, since I wished to avoid an actual town, as the setting for Meryton, I chose a location which was somewhere north and west of Harpenden, somewhere in between MacKerye End and Blackmore End.
Where my geography departs from JASNA’s, is the fact that I have Longbourn to the northwest of Meryton, rather than the southwest. I put Longbourn, therefore, in the vicinity of East Hyde, which serves as Longbourn village in my universe. This is explained in Shadows Over Longbourn: Darcy is travelling to retrieve the Bennet sisters, he “. . . left the road on which they traveled and went along a smaller track, which passed through a small village, boasting no more than a church and a few small houses. At the end of this track, they entered through a set of gates into the driveway in front of a modest estate.” Thus, Longbourn itself is a little to the southwest of Longbourn village, both approximately equal distance from Meryton.
As for Netherfield, my geography does agree with the article’s, only I put it a little further to the north and east. Furthermore, the town of Stevenage is mentioned in my recently published book, Obsession, as it is the village in which the detestable Mr. Winston Pearce partakes in society. “He was the owner of an estate situated to the north of Meryton within an easy distance, though it was nearer to Stevenage than Meryton, which meant the Pearces had for generations been members of that town’s society.”
Oakham Mount, an important landmark in my, and many other, JAFF authors’ worlds, sits to the north of Longbourn and Netherfield, and Mr. Pearce’s lands are adjacent to the side of the hill to the north. In my world, Oakham Mount is “heavily forested to the north (and) it was clear on all the other sides . . .” When Mr. Wickham kidnapped Elizabeth during the events of Obsession, he took her to a hunting shack in those woods: “The path they were following had led them north from Longbourn, and it skirted Oakham Mount to the west, passing close to the prominence, and travelling alongside the woods which grew about the base of the hill to the north. They had continued on in this manner for some time before Wickham suddenly turned them into the woods themselves, using a small trail that Elizabeth might have missed had they simply gone past.”
This general sense of geography is borne out in Shadows Over Longbourn in several instances. Whereas it would likely be easier to walk from Netherfield to Meryton, and thence to Longbourn, Elizabeth, as one intimately familiar with the lands in the area and possessed of a hardy constitution, walks along a path which takes her to the north of the town, and allows her an unimpeded view of the manor house, somewhat less than a mile in the distance. Furthermore, when the gentlemen are summoned near the end to the estate, they arrive at the town first (it being slightly closer to Netherfield than the manor), before they proceed to the estate.
One final point I wanted to make concerning this is that the estates of Netherfield and Longbourn, when combined, make an odd-shaped piece of land indeed! I would assume that the estate manor is typically located near the center of the estate, just for ease of administration of the outlying lands. But when Longbourn and Netherfield are combined. Netherfield sits near the center of Netherfield’s lands, and somewhat distant from the furthest reaches of Longbourn estate. Or as Charles Bingley put it, “The land itself will be a little odd in shape, with the furthest reaches of the northwest of Longbourn’s property being several miles from Netherfield, but I think it will be manageable.” For a fine horseman like Mr. Bingley, it was certainly manageable!
As for Longbourn itself, I am tied to it—and to the characters—as tightly as any avid reader of JAFF. It is a happy place in the novel, home to five handsome and active young ladies, who, though not rich, are members of a privileged class. The decision to write the events of the final chapters of Shadows Over Longbourn was difficult and only arrived at when I had considered all the aspects of the story and how it was developing. Actually writing it, was one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken from nothing more than an emotional standpoint!
Thank you, Jann, for joining us today at Just Jane 1813. I loved learning all of these little details, which add to the authentic feel of your story and help us imagine Longbourn’s location, as well as the other locations in this story as well as your book, “Obsession.” I also want to thank all of the wonderful and talented bloggers who joined this book’s blog tour; without your support, hard work and time, this tour wouldn’t have been possible!
Jann has also brought a generous giveaway with him today for my Just Jane 1813 readers. He is offering an ebook of “Shadows Over Longbourn,” so if you haven’t read this story yet, this is a great opportunity to receive a copy of his ebook.
To enter this giveaway, please enter the name of your favorite Jann Rowland book in the comments section below this post, or the name of a book by Jann that you’d like to read in the future. All comments should be submitted by May 9th. The winner will be announced on this blog on May 10, 2016.
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“Shadows Over Longbourn” Book Blurb
The approaching death of Mr. Bennet threatens to leave his five young daughters at the mercy of the vengeful Mr. Thaddeus Collins. But Mr. Bennet plays one final desperate card before he passes, calling on his distant relatives—the Darcys—to provide his children with a home.
Removing themselves to Pemberley after their father’s death, the girls are protected by the estate’s current master, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, who looks after them as conscientiously as he does his own sister.
When chance takes the Bennets and their Darcy relations to the estate leased by Mr. Bingley, little do they know that their father’s thwarting of Mr. Collins has only fanned the flames of his envy and hatred. He is determined to secure a Bennet daughter as a wife for his son, and he will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal.
Elizabeth has become consumed by love for Mr. Darcy, but since he remains oblivious to her feelings, Elizabeth’s desperation forces her to consider going into service as a governess, if only to obtain some distance from the object of her affection. But Mr. Collins has no intention of letting Elizabeth escape his grasp so easily, and everything finally comes to a head when he meets with her in an explosive showdown.
Jann Rowland is a Canadian writer. He enjoys reading and sports, and he also dabbles a little in music, taking pleasure in singing and playing the piano. Though Jann did not start writing until his mid-twenties, writing has grown from a hobby to an all-consuming passion. His interest in Jane Austen stems from his university days when he took a class in which Pride and Prejudice was a part of his required reading. However, his first love is fantasy fiction, which he hopes to pursue writing in the future.
He now lives in Alberta with his wife of more than twenty years and his three children. To connect with Jann, check out the following links:
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/bol2p9
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jann-Rowland/e/B00F0LP374/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Blog Tour Schedule
April 27/ Interview Post & Ebook Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
May 1/Journey to Longbourn Estate & Ebook Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
May 5/ Book Review & Ebook Giveaway at Half Hope, Half Agony
May 26/Book Review & Ebook Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
May 30/ Book Review & Ebook Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
June 2/Bringing Thaddeus Collins to Life & Ebook Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged