on December 1, 2016
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There are two sides to every great story. The tale of how General Sir Richard Fitzwilliam, Baron St. Jean, fell in love with a governess, Kitty Bennet, after she was terribly injured while protecting the Cecil heiress is well known. Now discover how an unbreakable bond between a footman and a maid grew in the face of that same tragedy and a developing international intrigue.
The Maid and The Footman explores the increasing affection between a young lady’s maid and a retired Army sergeant which was as great as any love written about by the immortals. In the Jane Austen universe, the celebrated novels are written from the point-of-view of the landed gentry. Servants are rarely seen except to open doors, serve dinner or fetch smelling salts. The Maid and The Footman asserts that class is an imaginary distinction conferring no better manners on the “haves” and no lesser nobility on the “have-nots” and that the deepest human emotions are universal.
The Maid and The Footman also reveals how Annie Reynolds and Henry Wilson teamed up with General Fitzwilliam to fight the nefarious plot that had penetrated to the heart of the British government after Napoleon’s fall. The hidden motive driving the attack on Kitty Bennet in Hyde Park is gradually revealed. Throughout it all, Annie and Henry circle around one another finding remarkable depths of love in spite of the great forces tossing them about.
The Maid and The Footman is a companion and simultaneous novel to the popular novella Of Fortune’s Reversal. Readers may find that revisiting Of Fortune’s Reversal will make for a broader and more rewarding experience.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reviewing Don Jacobson’s novella, Of Fortune’s Reversal: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, which is a Pride and Prejudice alternate character story that focuses on the lives of Kitty Bennet, General Fitzwilliam, and the aftermath of their lives after Kitty is the victim of a horrendous assault.
This companion book, The Maid & The Footman, explores the storyline from Of Fortune’s Reversal, but from the perspectives of two other characters from this story, Henry Wilson and Annie Reynolds, who both work as servants at Cecil House. The actual storyline of this book begins a few months prior to the events in Of Fortune’s Reversal, which also helps to fill in Henry’s and Annie’s backgrounds in this story. By focusing this story on the servants at Cecil House, Mr. Jacobson offers us a fresh perspective on the daily lives and ongoing struggles of servants during the Regency era.
As the plot unfolds, we come to realize that Henry is hiding a secret that’s forcing him to live with shame and despair; he is suffering from PTSD from the numerous years that he served to protect his nation. As he fights his inner demons, he soon finds himself not only physically attracted to Annie, but also drawn to her compassionate and intuitive nature. Yet he’s too ashamed of his own struggles to feel confident enough to approach her with his feelings. How could she ever reciprocate his feelings for her once she realizes the extent of the battles still raging inside of him?
After Kitty Bennet is assaulted while under Henry’s protection, which is the focus of the storyline in Of Fortune’s Reversal, Henry’s fears become heightened and he soon worries that he will be removed from his employment at Cecil House. But when suspicions arise that there are mounting threats remaining against the Cecil family, Henry, Annie, and General Fitzwilliam become essential players in the ongoing efforts to uncover the conspirators to keep the Cecil family safe from harm.
While I love reading books that focus mainly on Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, I found myself quickly engrossed in Don Jacobsen’s story and became connected to his carefully sketched characters, and the historical backdrop that he created for his readers. He does a lovely job weaving these three elements into a story that has a good blend of intrigue, romance, as well as an alternative perspective of life during the Regency era as told from the perspective of the servants who toiled to provide the members of the gentry class with the plush lifestyle they enjoyed within the very same walls that they shared with their servants.
It’s easy for JAFF stories to get bogged down when authors focus too much on the historical details of this time period at the expense of the developing an engaging plot, but Mr. Jacobson does a nice job making sure that his story stays focused on his characters and the various events they are involved with to overcome the obstacles they are faced with throughout the story. From the very first pages, readers will gain the sense that this story will have a very unique approach as a Pride and Prejudice variation. As someone who has enjoyed the Downton Abbey series, I couldn’t help seeing some parallels within this storyline and drawing some comparisons between Henry’s and Annie’s relationship and John and Anna Bates’ relationship.
I think JAFF readers who are looking for a well-written variation that veers away from Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s relationship and offers a completely different journey for fans of Austen’s work will find themselves happily immersed in this story. Readers will also come to enjoy these explorations of Austen’s own characters, as Mr. Jacobsen tells their stories as never told before in Jane Austen Fan Fiction.
Want to learn more about these companion stories? You can read Don Jacobson’s guest post on Just Jane 1813, where Don discusses his approach to writing these stories and he also shares paired excerpts from both Of Fortune’s Reversal and The Maid and The Footman.
Mr. Jacobson visited Just Jane 1813 in February 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.
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 The Maid and The Footman to one Just Jane 1813 reader. Please leave a comment below this post. Comments for this giveaway should be made no later than May 23rd. The winner will be posted here on May 24, 2017.
Thank you, Mr. Jacobson, for sharing an eARC with me in exchange for a fair and honest review. It’s been a pleasure to read both of these stories!
Tomorrow I look forward to revealing the new cover for Mr. Jacobson’s “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey.” I hope you’ll join us for the reveal!
You can visit Amazon to add both books to your bookshelves.
Both stories are available through KindleUnlimited.
You can also visit Don Jacobson on Goodreads.