on July 29th 2016
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A brisk early November Hyde Park morning is shattered by a child’s scream. How two adults react in those next few desperate moments sets the plot in motion in this “Pride & Prejudice” alternative focusing on twenty-one year old Kitty Bennet.
“Of Fortune’s Reversal” is a novella-length tale based upon an inversion of Mrs. Bennet's exclamation that with one good marriage, the other girls will be thrown in front of rich men. For more than two centuries, the Jane/Bingley: Lizzy/Darcy tetrarchy has been portrayed as the solution to Mary and Kitty's marriage difficulties, not to mention Mrs. Bennet’s housing requirements. But, what if that was not the case?
What if Mr. Bennet dies just as Jane is receiving the Bingley sisters' invitation to dinner?
No rainy day horseback ride. No cold for Jane.
No Elizabeth coming to Netherfield to nurse her elder sister...so no links forged in any way with Bingley (beyond what he felt for Miss Bennet at the Assembly) and Darcy (no fine eyes, no walk around the library, etc).
No Netherfield Ball.
No proposal from Collins because he was already wed to a shrew who convinced him to evict the Bennet women.
So no trip to Hunsford cottage for Lizzy because Charlotte remains a spinster at Lucas Lodge.
Rather, the Bennet women are forced out of Longbourn—the older girls to Gracechurch Street and ultimately taking up employment away from the city. The two younger girls remain in Meryton with their mother, to be sent away to seminary for some much-needed formal education.
But, the death of Thomas Bennet has changed more than the family’s financial fortunes. It has also bent the arc of the P&P universe.
This book is the first book in a JAFF series, which focuses on some of Austen’s supporting characters several years after the events of Pride & Prejudice.
Readers who enjoy variations centered around the supporting characters in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will find themselves journeying down a completely new path in Don Jacobson’s story, Of Fortune’s Reversal: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. With the untimely death of Mr. Bennet before Jane can meet Caroline Bingley at Netherfield, the Bennet ladies find their lives quite altered. Mr. Jacobson shares the story of Kitty Bennet here in his novella, and brings us forward to four years after the events of the original story.
While serving as a governess to Lord and Lady Cecil in London, Kitty Bennet is in a park in London with 7 year-old, Margaret Cecil, the girl in her care, when Kitty is the victim of a very violent act. General Sir Richard Fitzwilliam is also in the park on this same day, as the park is being prepared for the annual Guy Fawkes Day celebration.
Kitty’s instincts lead her to act unexpectedly, and while her efforts are truly commendable, she places herself in grave danger. As a result, Richard Fitzwilliam finds himself compelled to act on her behalf. From this point on, the story focuses on the results of Kitty’s and General Fitzwilliam’s heroic measures.
Mr. Jacobson aims to provide not only a story that veers quite far from Austen’s original story, he also shines some light onto some of the social issues of Austen’s day, such as social mobility, as well as the roles and the indisputable value of the servant class during the Regency era, which will be explored even further in the next book in this series, The Maid and The Footman: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
Mr. Jacobson does a lovely job providing Kitty Bennet with a storyline that is original in its premise, and which demonstrates how the fourth eldest Bennet sister may have grown up to do more than annoy Mrs. Bennet with her coughing fits. She is painted here as a thoughtful and kind young lady who matures in quite an admirable manner as first the result of Mr. Bennet’s early demise, and then subsequently, as a result of this life-altering incident. Her relationship with General Fitzwilliam is depicted in a caring and sensitive manner. Thank you, Mr. Jacobson, for giving Kitty a story that weaves her life into a novella that allows her to shine and serve others in a truly brave way!
The story is heavy at times in its descriptions of the medical details surrounding Kitty’s incident. There are scenes that may make some readers wince a little as they imagine the character as the recipient of these procedures, but these details also make some of the most interesting reading in this story because they demonstrate some of the difficulties and very real concerns that existed in these situations for people living throughout this time period. I found this to be an enjoyable read and I think readers who enjoy variations where Darcy & Elizabeth are not the focus of the story and who like to indulge themselves in a JAFF story that also reads as an intriguing piece of historical fiction will also find themselves happy they picked up this story.
Mr. Jacobson recently visited Just Jane 1813 and shared with my readers a post to introduce the two books in this series, Of Fortune’s Reversal: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Review and The Maid and The Footman: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, which I believe is a fitting introduction to his series.
Don Jacobson is the author of several Pride & Prejudice Variations including “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey,” “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”
He is currently working on Volume II of The Bennet Wardrobe Series: “The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque.” He is a Goodreads author who recently was invited to be part of the Austen Authors group.
Mr. Jacobson is offering a giveaway of an ebook of his novella to one Just Jane 1813 reader. Please leave a comment below this post, and tell us who are some of your favorite supporting characters from Pride & Prejudice. Comments for this giveaway should be made no later than February 28th. The winner will be posted here on March 1, 2017.
Thank you, Mr. Jacobson, for sharing your unique novella with my readers. I look forward to also reviewing The Maid and The Footman: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, at a future date. I’d also like to thank you for sharing an eARC with me in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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