by Suzan Lauder
Also by this author: Then Comes Winter Holiday Anthology
Sir, I am not known to you. I fear you may have concerns regarding some intelligence that recently came to me from your sister…
…a simple letter shatters illusions and turns the world upside down!
On holiday in Ramsgate, Elizabeth Bennet befriends shy, romantic Georgiana Darcy, who shares an adoring description of an ideal elder brother. When Georgiana discloses a secret infatuation with her brother’s “close friend” Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth’s altered perception of both men affects her actions and alliances.
The secret within an anonymous letter from Ramsgate ties Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth together but also separates them. A second missive unlocks the disguise, but Mr. Darcy realizes his true passions too late to assist Elizabeth in her darkest hour. Will the shocking disclosure of a forgotten letter transform his understanding of her heart and lead them to embrace their future?
Letter from Ramsgate is a Pride and Prejudice variation suitable for most audiences (youth and up).
Today, I’m excited to share a special excerpt from Letter from Ramsgate with the readers of Margie’s Must Reads, and I’m grateful to Margie for giving me the opportunity. This scene takes place early on in Letter from Ramsgate, when Mr. Wickham calls on Elizabeth Bennet while she and her Aunt Gardiner are guests at the home of her aunt’s friend Lady Edwina Moore. It’s July 1811, and the canon scenes of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have not begun yet. The artwork featured is The Afternoon Visitor by Frédéric Soulacroix, and I imagine that’s Mr. Wickham charming Lady Edwina and Mrs. Gardiner while we’re Elizabeth, observing.
Mr. Wickham was announced, and he entered the room with a ready smile for each lady as he was introduced. If he was curious about the stifled giggles, he did not reveal it. As he was seated near Elizabeth, Lady Edwina nodded and winked at her. Heat rushed to her face. She hoped Mr. Wickham had not seen her devilish friend.
Polite discourse was undertaken by the foursome for a brief period of time until the older ladies became absorbed in their embroidery, which enabled the couple to talk between themselves.
“Have you enjoyed your stay in Ramsgate?” Elizabeth asked of Mr. Wickham.
“I have. I find the sea air refreshes me. The seaside is much better than town, even if my requirement to keep myself employed suggests I return there.”
“So you live most of the year in London?”
“I do. I understand your people are from Hertfordshire.”
“Yes, my father has a small estate called Longbourn.”
“Are you happy there?”
“Of course. My family is near, with the exception of my Aunt and Uncle Gardiner who live in London. However, since we are not far from town, we see them regularly.”
“Tell me, do you have any brothers or sisters?”
“I am the second of five sisters.”
“Will the eldest inherit?”
“No. The estate is entailed. My sisters and I share a paltry five thousand pounds.”
Mr. Wickham reddened and swallowed. “I assumed with your connection to Lady Edwina…”
“That I had a fortune? It is reasonable; however, our friendship has been of brief duration.”
“You and I have much in common, for I too have little to recommend me. My consequence would be greater had I received the living promised by my godfather, Miss Darcy’s father. To my dismay, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy decided the post was not to be mine and awarded it to another. Since that time, I have been required to support myself in business, which has not been easy.” Resentment characterized his voice, and he spoke loud enough to catch the attention of the other ladies.
Her mind was busy as she weighed this information. The story was incongruous with what she understood of Mr. Darcy’s character and his association with Mr. Wickham. Could she encourage Mr. Wickham to elaborate?
“I thought you and Mr. Darcy were good friends.”
His eyes became sorrowful. “Yes, we were for many years but for this injustice.”
“It seems unfair.”
Lady Edwina spoke. “Was it in the will?”
His countenance flushed once more. “No, madam, the bequest was not formal. But old Mr. Darcy’s intent was known by his son.”
“Perhaps young Mr. Darcy viewed your skills as better suited for business than religion.”
Mr. Wickham shrugged. “You are correct. I am a resourceful man and do well enough to maintain myself in the style of a bachelor.”
Murmurs of admiration were expressed; after which, Lady Edwina asked Aunt Gardiner a question about her needlework.
While the older ladies’ heads were dipped together to compare their embroidery, Mr. Wickham turned to Elizabeth and said in a low voice, “With my debts and love of finer things, I cannot marry where I wish.” His lips curved into a slight smile. “But I should prefer to marry for love, so I must fall in love with an heiress!”
His eyes twinkled, and she laughed. Mr. Wickham’s jovial tone made her certain the statement was made in jest, and the rest of the call was full of so much light-hearted discussion that his odd remark was erased from her mind.
A love for Jane Austen’s novels and Regency and Austenesque romance novels inspired Suzan Lauder to write her own variations, which led her to a passion for Regency era history and costuming, as well as social media book marketing. She cherishes the many friends she’s made as a result of these interests.
Suzan is a member of JASNA, VIRA, RWA (PAN and Beau Monde chapters), and is a registered professional engineer. She enjoys independent travel, design, Pilates, yoga, cycling, sustainability, upcycling, architecture, beta editing, and blogging. Most of the time, a Vancouver Island penthouse loft condominium with a view of the Salish Sea is home. For a few months each winter, Mr. Suze and their two rescue cats accompany her to their tiny Spanish colonial casita in Centro Historico of an industrial city in Mexico.
Letter from Ramsgate is Lauder’s second published novel and comes on the heels of her successful upcycled costuming blog series, the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment. Her latest venture is blogging about her learning experiences while editing Letter from Ramsgate. Suzan’s first novel, Alias Thomas Bennet, is an Austen-inspired Regency romance with a mystery twist. She also contributed a short modern romance, Delivery Boy, to the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter. All Lauder’s published fiction is based on Pride and Prejudice and is available from Meryton Press.
Will be available on Amazon, early October (I will update this when I have a release date)
10/17 Guest Post, Excerpt, GA; My Jane Austen Book Club
10/18 Excerpt, GA; Margie’s Must Reads
10/19 Vignette, GA; Just Jane 1813
10/20 Review; From Pemberley to Milton
10/21 Vignette, GA; Babblings of a Bookworm
10/22 Excerpt, GA; Liz’s Reading Life
10/23 Guest Post or Vignette, GA; From Pemberley to Milton
10/24 Review; Tomorrow is Another Day
10/25 Guest Post, Excerpt, GA; So little time…
10/26 Vignette, GA; Austenesque Reviews
10/27 Review, Excerpt; Half Agony, Half Hope
10/28 Review; Diary of an Eccentric
10/29 Guest Post; A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
10/30 Guest Post or Vignette, GA; More Agreeably Engaged