on October 21st 2016
Buy on Amazon
Every great love has a beginning.
In Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we meet with perhaps the most sensible, caring relatives a lovelorn young woman could hope for: Mr and Mrs Gardiner. What is their story?
Edward Gardiner has just been refused by the lovely young woman he had intended to make his wife. Heartbroken and eager for a diversion, he accepts an invitation from his brother-in-law, Thomas Bennet, to accompany him along with his two eldest daughters to the north on family business. Gardiner’s pleasure tour is interrupted, however, when his eldest niece falls ill and is unable to travel farther.
Stopping over in the scarcely remarkable village of Lambton, the men decide that Bennet must continue on, while Gardiner and the children remain. The only trouble is that Gardiner has not the least idea how he should care for one ailing niece and another who is ready to drive him to distraction… until he meets with Madeline Fairbanks.
Ms. Clarkston’s introspective story reimagines the early lives of our favorite supporting characters from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Source: I received an eARC of this story from the author for a fair and honest review.
“With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Oftentimes, writers incorporate Austen’s infamous opening line of “Pride and Prejudice” into their stories, which correlates with the intentions and tone of their own writing. In Nicole Clarkston’s latest novel, “The Courtship of Edward Gardiner,” her new JAFF story centers around the last, and often, overlooked sentences in “Pride and Prejudice,” which describes Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s feelings and subsequent relationship with the Gardiners.
Austen scholar, Patricia Meyer Spacks, in her interview with Five Books, noted the importance of Austen’s parting sentence, where she asserts,
“But the last sentence of Pride and Prejudice is about the various people who come to visit at Pemberley, and how they are welcomed. It implies a view of marriage as the centre of a community, of marriage being a community and making a larger community.
It’s a much larger and more romantic but also, in my view, a more moral view of marriage. It’s a view of marriage as a centre expanding outwards that is totally absent at the beginning of the book. It doesn’t recur in any of the other novels.”
With Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner’s courtship as the focus of her story, Mrs. Clarkston develops what this “community” of people may have looked like several years earlier in their lives in this prequel to “Pride and Prejudice,” while also demonstrating how the Gardiners’ courtship may have played a role in developing Jane’s and Elizabeth’s earliest ideas about love, kindness, and companionship.
This story begins in the year 1800, where, a few months after Mr. Gardiner is rejected by the woman he wishes to marry, he sets off on a journey with Mr. Bennet, Jane Bennet, and Elizabeth Bennet, to help Mr. Bennet attend to the needs of his deceased brother’s affairs. Along the journey, Mrs. Clarkston pulls a page from Austen’s book, and young Jane falls ill and requires an extended stay to help her recover. After some arrangements are made, Mr. Bennet and Edward decide to have him stay with the girls at the Lions Head Inn in Lambton, and Mr. Bennet resumes his travels to Sheffield.
Since it’s not completely proper for Edward to nurse his niece on his own, they decide to seek out a local woman to help the family with Jane. Enter here, a young Miss Fairbanks; a well-known lady in the town of Lambton, who, after receiving her father’s permission, takes her place at the Lions Head Inn and works to help restore Jane Bennet to her former good health.
Eventually, Miss Fairbanks notices that her younger sister, Elizabeth, an energetic and inquisitive girl, benefits from the guidance of a well-mannered lady to serve as her informal mentor. Being an astute girl, Elizabeth seeks to emulate some of Miss Fairbank’s manners, which adds not only some humor to the story, but also a bit of foreshadowing. Soon, it’s not only Elizabeth who takes notice of Miss Fairbanks, but also her uncle who comes to feel an attraction and regard for this new acquaintance.
When an unforeseen hail storm strikes the local community, the residents at Pemberley become affected by this shift in the weather, which throws Elizabeth into the path of a rather wealthy and haughty young man. The events of the story unfold in a way that ties together several of our “favorite” characters from “Pride and Prejudice” and allows us to view them as their younger selves. The courtship of Edward Gardiner and Madeline Fairbanks plays a central role in this story, yet the supporting storylines are just as engaging for lovers of “Pride and Prejudice.”
Mrs. Clarkston tells her story in a little over thirty chapters, with an epilogue at the end that serves to bring her own story within the folds of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” As in her other books that I have reviewed, “Northern Rain,” and “Rumours and Recklessness,” her writing style is tight, and her characters are well-developed. She takes the time to include pieces from our characters’ lives and personalities that allow us to explore various possibilities for them in “Pride and Prejudice,” while at the same time writing her own charming alternate character story. I must give her credit for writing this singular story about Aunt and Uncle Gardiner’s courtship, especially since it’s clear from Austen’s story that they both played a rather significant role in Jane and Elizabeth’s lives.
Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don’t ask).
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.
Visit Amazon to add The Courtship of Edward Gardiner to your bookshelf
10/21: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
10/22: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
10/27: Review & Giveaway Savvy Verse & Wit
11/01: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
11/08: Guest Post & Giveaway So little time…
11/10: Review & Giveaway My Kids Led me Back to Pride and Prejudice
11/11: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
11/15: Review & Giveaway at My Vices and Weaknesses
11/17: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
11/26: Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
11/30: Review & Giveaway at Diary of an Eccentric
12/01: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
Ms. Clarkston has generously offered to give one Just Jane 1813 reader the opportunity to win a readers’ choice copy of The Courtship of Edward Gardiner. The giveaway is open to international winners too!
To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this blog post no later than midnight, ET, October 30. The winner will be announced on this blog on October 31, 2016.
I’d like to thank Ms. Clarkston for writing such a lovely prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Rita at From Pemberley to Milton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, and to both of them for this generous giveaway for my readers.