It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.
This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.
Can a grieving groom forget the past and find happiness with the only woman he truly loves?
What do you get when you take Pride and Prejudice and throw in some bawdy humor along with a Fitzwilliam clan that’s as crazy as they come? I’m sure you guessed it; you get Jan Ashton’s new book, Mendacity and Mourning.
Low and behold, what starts out as an unfortunate de Bourgh family affair, becomes a chain of events that threatens to scandalize the entire members of the Darcy, de Bourgh, and Fitzwilliam families. When Mr. Collins misunderstands some very serious and devastating words straight from Lady Catherine’s own mouth, it becomes a truth universally acknowledged from Kent to London and to Meryton, that the meek and sickly cousin of Fitzwilliam Darcy, betrothed to him from their infancy, is indeed quite dead! With the Fitzwilliam family frantically trying to find a way to deflect any hint of a scandal away from them, it is suggested that Darcy visits some of his friends’ estates in the hopes of finding a bride. The plan is that Darcy’s impending nuptials will detract from this sordid family affair.
So what’s a grieving groom to do but travel from one estate to another looking for love in all the wrong places? Naturally, he finds himself attracted to the one “unsuitable” woman of his new acquaintance. Yet, his visit to Netherfield, or Netherland…I just can’t seem to remember, doesn’t unfold in the manner he has planned and before he leaves Meryton, the entire town is filled with different versions of who this Mr. Darcy is, leaving Elizabeth uncertain about the handsome gentleman she was developing some rather fond feelings for herself.
Once Darcy leaves Meryton, he becomes more and more uncertain about his plans. How can ridding Elizabeth Bennet from his heart, and mind, as well as some other unnamed places, be so challenging for a gentleman of his ilk? Well… not exactly! After spending some time at a friend’s estate that’s practically overflowing with “suitable” ladies, he soon finds himself looking for ways to reconnect with Elizabeth. And we know that once he makes her acquaintance again, there’s no stopping him from falling head over heels in love with her. Or is there?
Well, dear readers, aside from my terrible fiction-writing skills, this is why I write book reviews and not full-length novels, LOL! You must now dive in and discover the fates of our dear couple for yourselves, and if you enjoy a JAFF story that turns Pride and Prejudice quite a bit on its side and then back over again, this story is for you. If you enjoy JAFF stories with quite a bit of snark, and yes, some bawdiness, you should find yourself amused and not offended by the humorous dialogue throughout this story.
For JAFF readers who can’t get enough of Colonel Fitzwilliam, you’ll be happy to see that he, and his rather bushy mustache, play significant roles in this story. As he tries to maintain his role as the voice of “reason” while his family struggles to maintain their dignity throughout this crisis, the Colonel peppers the story with lots of great one-liners and digs at Darcy. Be prepared to chuckle in quite a few places, but my greatest suggestion is that you must go into this story not expecting a plot or character development too closely tied to canon.
I think Meryton Press did a nice job editing the online version of this story. For me, it read as a more fluid read in its published version. I also found myself more easily engaged with the characters in this version. I think the front and back covers go together very well with this story, and once readers get into the story, the back cover delivers a few more chuckles for readers. In certain places, the story dragged on a little too long for my tastes, but the overall story came together quite nicely. Altogether, Ms. Ashton has written an original romantic comedy that offers JAFF readers a unique storyline filled with mischief, mayhem, and yes, plenty of mendacity and mourning. That’s an especially impressive feat for a writer who published a popular modern JAFF variation, titled A Searing Acquaintance, earlier last year.
Meet J. L. Ashton
Jan Ashton didn’t meet Jane Austen until she was in her late teens, but in a happy coincidence, she shares a similarity of name with the author and celebrates her birthday on the same day Pride & Prejudice was first published. Sadly, she’s yet to find any Darcy and Elizabeth candles on her cake, but she does own the action figures.
Like so many Austen fans, Jan was an early and avid reader with a vivid imagination and a well-used library card. Her family’s frequent moves around the U.S and abroad encouraged her to think of books and their authors as reliable friends. It took a history degree and another decade or two for her to start imagining variations on Pride & Prejudice, and another decade—filled with career, marriage, kids, and a menagerie of pets—to start writing them. Today, in between writing Austen variations, Jan lives in the Chicago area, eats out far too often with her own Mr. Darcy, and enjoys membership in the local and national chapters of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Mendacity & Mourning is her second book with Meryton Press. She published A Searing Acquaintance in 2016.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Meryton Press is giving away eight eBooks of Mendacity and Mourning to eight lucky winners. To enter, please use the following Rafflecopter:
Giveaway Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mendacity & Mourning by J. L. Ashton. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.
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