Today I am hosting a cover reveal for Don Jacobson’s soon-to-be-released novella, “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (Volume II, Part 2 of the Bennet Wardrobe.)” I have had the pleasure of hosting multiple cover reveals for Mr. Jacobson and I must commend him for selecting such beautiful covers for his books. His collaboration with Janet Taylor from More Agreeably Engaged has proven to be a fabulous pairing!
If you haven’t read any of the books form this series, I highly recommend them for JAFF readers looking for a really unique time-travel story based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. If you’re new to this series, this is another great time to step into this story.
Please join me in welcoming Don Jacobson to Just Jane 1813 as he shares some background with my readers about this new story …
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn
(Volume II, Part 2 of the Bennet Wardrobe) by Don Jacobson
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn is the second part and conclusion of the Bennet Wardrobe Volume chronicling the life of Kitty Bennet in the Wardrobe’s Universe. This novel takes readers on a journey that stretches from the early-19th into the mid-20th Centuries. This novel is over 89,000 words in length.
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque is Part 1.
“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years, from when I was but a maiden. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming. T’is only if you confront evil with resolution that you have any hopes of prevailing.” The Dowager Countess of Matlock (11th)
The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all grown up?
Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her younger sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that the adolescent Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly—especially after the irregular circumstances that forced the wedding of Lydia Bennet and George Wickham.
How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated, was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture that had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.
After spending 46 years in the future, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to Longbourn’s bookroom at that exact same moment as she left in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business. However, she was now a woman of 63 years, some thirteen her father’s senior. Time can deal funny cards in the Universe created by Jane Austen and the Wardrobe.
Of course, the Countess is acting to set in motion forces that will shape the future of Britain—and the Five Families—throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam will help Lydia Wickham find the love she craves with the unexpected hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”
The Countess Visits Longbourn offers insights into the touching reunion between Kitty Fitzwilliam and her father, Thomas Bennet. Readers will also learn how the mysterious Founder’s Letters were set in motion along with the purpose behind the Bennet Family Trust. New characters, some ancestors of those introduced in Part One of The Exile, will come onto the stage to illuminate a deeper understanding of the shaping of the character of George Wickham—the Hero of Hougoumont Woods at the Battle of Waterloo.
And, foundations are laid for the final three books of the series…The Avenger, The Pilgrim, and The Grail.
The Bennet Wardrobe Series is best read in order. The current Volumes of the Bennet Wardrobe (in order) are:
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey (Volume 1) (novel)
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War (e-book novella)
The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque (Volume 2, Part 1) (novel)
Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess (novella)
The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (Volume 2, Part 2) (novel)
As Joana Starnes, author of The Falmouth Connection and many other powerful Pride and Prejudice variations, noted after reading The Countess Visits Longbourn:
“Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new installment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.”
Don has also brought an excerpt for us to enjoy:
Stepping from inside the Wardrobe, Kitty gazed across the Longbourn library. T’was less timeworn than when she previously had seen it during last year’s visit to attend Uncle Edward’s centenary memorial service in the cemetery behind Longbourn Chapel. Papa stood there just as he had the day she left Home forty-six years ago. Nothing had changed.
The Rules were correct. The cycle is completed with a return to the same instant of departure!
In what she now realized had become a habitual move, the Countess smoothed the front of her cream-colored Egyptian cotton suit, easing wrinkles both real and imaginary. Then she addressed her father.
Upon the sound of her voice, the change in his demeanor was surprising. Where he had casually stood looking away but with his head dipped, his backbone suddenly straightened and his head rose in instant alertness. He did not turn, but his right hand did grasp the back of the chair behind his desk revealing that his knees threatened to give way. Kitty realized that, even though her Papa did not confirm her appearance with his hazel eyes, t’was clear that he knew that the Kitty who had exited the Wardrobe was significantly different from the one who had stood arguing with him just moments before.
Moving across the room, Kitty came to his side and gently clasped his free hand in hers. Thomas closed his eyes at her touch, inhaled deeply and tipped his head to the side, a wistful smile curling his lips.
He broke the silence, his Hertfordshire accent that colored the “r’s” that rolled deeply off the back of his tongue, and addressed Kitty for the first time in moments—for him; nearly half a century for her, “Ah, daughter…roses over cut grass…if my nose has not been led astray. T’is not far off of your mother’s preferred scent. You have softened it, though, from the pure essence of rosa floribunda your Mama favors. French, is it not?”
Kitty leaned in and lightly kissed his slightly bewhiskered cheek. Then she replied, “As usual, you are correct. I see that you are, as always, content to avoid Mr. Hill’s less than steady hand, choosing bristles over blood.
“Come, dearest Papa, behold your daughter. It is I, Kitty.”
Thomas did not turn to regard her. Instead he riposted, “I tarry only because I fear that I will apprehend far too many changes in my darling girl; alterations in your countenance and bearing for which I am unprepared. I would rather remember you as you were for a few more seconds.
“The past two days have shown me both sides of the Wardrobe. Today it is you, and from the sound of your voice, you have aged somewhat from when you left.
“Yesterday it was the arrival of another dear one, although this was a person from my past.”
“You mean my Uncle Edward…not Gardiner…but your brother Mr. Benton,[i]” Kitty interrupted.
Her father spun to confront this deepest Bennet secret…only a bit less so than the function of the Wardrobe itself…tripping as it was from the lady’s lips. Kitty continued, “Papa, you know there are no secrets from the Keepers of the Wardrobe.
“In my time, I am Keeper. I know of Uncle Edward, and I am in possession of particulars about his future that I will not reveal to you because you have already put your plan into motion.
“However, I have done exactly as he will do.”
The shock of her revelation quickly wore off, giving Thomas the opportunity to catalog his daughter. What he saw was a distinguished lady clad in unusual raiment. Kitty’s genial attitude gave her somewhat elderly countenance a youthful firmness; softening wrinkles into smile lines and suggesting a degree of playfulness. Ringlets of alabaster hair crowned her head. He recalled his grandmother, who, as she gracefully aged, transitioned from lengthy blondish tresses to a shorter coiffure of snowy-white.
Looking at this lady who bears herself so regally, yet with an insouciance that portends an active impertinence, I am instantly reminded of Colonel Fitzwilliam’s mother, the Countess of Matlock. That fine lady is fully aware of her position in the ton, yet she is bored by the pretentions of those ‘worthies,’ and so finds pleasure in good conversation with those who otherwise would be scorned in First Circle parlors.
Yet, this was surely Kitty, his fourth daughter, his Catherine Marie. Her unique china blue Bennet Eyes would have confirmed her place in his heart in an instant.
Regaining his composure, Bennet solemnly nodded as if confirming everything he had supposed. He released her fingers and extended his hand toward the two leather chairs adjacent his desk. Kitty returned his head bob and retreated to one chair, carefully stepping around Lizzy’s stool. She lowered herself into the seat, perching genteelly on the edge before settling back into the cushion. In the process, her skirt rode up along her silk-stockinged legs, offering Bennet an eyeful of Bennet-Fitzwilliam limbs.
Slightly embarrassed at her father’s severe glance, the Countess brushed her hands along her thighs. Feeling a bit like a schoolgirl caught out by the vicar for the first time in over four decades, Kitty smoothed and tugged her skirt down as far below her knees as was sartorially possible. She could not let the humorous potential of this assault on Papa’s Eighteenth Century sensibilities pass.
She laughed as the blood suffused his face, “Papa. I am a woman of sixty-three summers. I seriously doubt if my display of these well-seasoned gams will endanger the Bennet family in any manner if we are interrupted. T’is been forty six years since I was one of the silliest girls in all of England.
“In fact my grand-daughters lament the fact that I insist that classics like this suit,” at this she swept her hand from collar to waist, “will never fall out of style. They are of the conviction that I am hopelessly old-fashioned and persist in embarrassing them whenever their friends are in my company.
“Mademoiselle Gabrielle is the world’s greatest modiste, although Madame Lanvin might argue the point. Coco persists that class not flash will prevail.”
Mr. Bennet started to chuckle at Kitty’s homily. What parent could not recognize the absolute truth of a child’s discomfort when confronted with the vagaries of adult behavior? He also recalled Miss Bingley’s pathetic efforts to attract Darcy’s eye with turbans and feathers and outrageous colors.
Yet, he still did not sit across from Kitty for fear of observing more of his daughter, certainly his elder now after her time in the Wardrobe, than would be either socially or Biblically proper.
Seeing this, Kitty added to spare his sensibilities, “But, perhaps, Papa, you would be more comfortable if I drape a blanket across my legs. I forgot that I have just dropped into mid-December dressed for a summer outing to patisserie Villet. There is a distinct chill in the air.”
Recognizing the wisdom of her idea, Thomas went to the bench seat below the French windows and pulled a lamb’s wool spread from the storage space beneath. Once Kitty had adjusted the coverlet, he dropped into his chair with a sigh.
She smiled as she ran her hands over the softness now shielding her lap.
“You know, Papa, when I was a little girl, this was always my favorite blanket. I’d be shivering, and you would leave whatever room we were in, go to the Library, bring it out and wrap me up in it.
“And every time you would nuzzle me and say something like…”
Thomas cut her off and completed her thought with a thickened voice, “My little Kitty-Kate, snug as a bug in a rug.”
Then, with unshed tears glistening on his lashes, Bennet reached across the gap to grasp her aged hands in his younger ones.
“Oh my sweet girl, what happened to you?”
[i] See both The Bennet Wardrobe: Origins and The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey for more on the Rev. Edward Bennet/Benton.
Without further ado, here is the cover for The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn ...
Isn’t it just a stunning beauty? I can’t wait to get my hands on this story!
About the Author
Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary. The Exile (Parts 1 and 2) is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. The series has grown to include two full novels (with three more planned) and several novellas. Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books Of Fortune’s Reversal and The Maid and The Footman.
Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, and Research Writing.
He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).
He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Miss Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear. Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.
WORKS BY DON JACOBSON:
THE BENNET WARDROBE STORIES
Miss Bennet’s First Christmas
The Bennet Wardrobe: Origins
The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey
Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
The Exile (Pt. 1): Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque
OTHER PRIDE AND PREJUDICE VARIATIONS
Lessers and Betters Stories
Of Fortune’s Reversal
The Maid and The Footman
He is a member of the Jane Austen Society of Puget Sound (JASNA) and lives just east of Seattle with his wife, Pam, and their rather assertive four and twenty-pound cat, Bear. Besides JAFF, Don also enjoys cooking, dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.
IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!
Mr. Jacobson is once again offering a giveaway for my readers; an eBook of “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (Volume II, Part 2 of the Bennet Wardrobe)”. This eBook giveaway is also open to international readers.
To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and let us know your thoughts on the newly released cover. Comments for this giveaway should be made no later than February 1st. The winner will be posted here on February 2, 2018.
Thank you, Mr. Jacobson, for once again sharing this lovely giveaway with my readers and for inviting me to host this cover reveal at Just Jane 1813!
You can visit Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author Page on release day to buy this story.