The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams

The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin WilliamsThe Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet Genres: Austenesque
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The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.

But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.

The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty-one.  She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart?

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Feeling somewhat triumphant that he had discovered where she hid herself on bad weather days, he brushed past the housekeeper and made for the distant corner of the house she referred to. He threw the door open and Elizabeth was indeed there, bent over a writing desk, bottom lip caught between her teeth in concentration. The aspect of the room faced east and though he imagined light and warmth streamed in on good days, today the room was chilly enough for her to have wrapped a shawl about her shoulders as she worked. The furniture was old, but she seemed to have arranged everything neatly to her satisfaction, whereby she might sit and be comfortable. The writing desk wobbled, despite a book having been placed underneath one of the legs in an effort to keep it stable. Darcy observed that the desk would have been of better use if she’d chopped it up and made a fire of it. How she managed to write an even letter on such a useless piece of furniture he did not know. She looked up at him when he entered with raised brows, but gave him no greeting and looked for him to explain his presence there.

“So this is where you hide, there are much better rooms which might have been made available to you. You need only have asked for your own sitting room and I would have allocated you one of the upstairs parlours.”

“Thank you, I like it here.” She blew on the paper to help dry the ink.

“You have no fire. Why don’t you ask for one?”

 She shrugged and said no more, though she looked cold, and she obviously wished him away. He suddenly understood that he had intruded on her privacy, and without even a knock on the door. He had burst into her sad little haven uninvited.

“I wish to speak to you.”

She turned in her chair to look up at him properly, expecting to be scolded over something. “What have I done now?”

“Nothing I know of, unless there is something you wish to confess to?”

She smiled at his little jest and for a moment all discord was forgotten. “Oh that would be very foolish of me. I think I shall keep my own counsel. I am sorry, about Georgiana, the other day. I truly did not mean for us to get so muddy.”

Surprised by this apology, he nodded. “You should remember that part of your role here is to give good guidance to Georgiana.”

“I know, yes. But she has so little free time, so little fun. I just thought we might get a little better acquainted over the course of a long walk. Do you not think your father’s schedule for her is gruelling? When does she have time to just be a young girl?”

“You would want her to be idle like you?”

“I am not idle.”

He caught her small hands in his and turned them over. Her right thumb and forefinger were stained black with ink. “You write a great many letters, that’s true, but it is not a true occupation.”

            “I like to hear from Jane and Mamma, and my friends at home, and one does not receive letters if one does not take the trouble to write them.”

“This is your home now, and I hope you might begin to treat it as such.” He realised with a start that he was still holding her hands and released them suddenly. She blushed for some reason, and uncomfortable with her nearness, he moved to the fireplace.  

“I am starting to, but it is unsettling, all this talk of Scotland. Am I to go?”

“To Scotland? No, of course not.”

“I did not know.”

Ashamed that he had not spoken to her directly of it, he went back to stand beside the desk again, leaning over her. “You will remain here with my father.”

“Might I go to Town while you are away? I could stay with my Uncle and Aunt Gardiner.”

“No. I think it is too soon after all the talk, and the announcement, for you to return to London, or Hertfordshire for that matter. You’d best remain here and find yourself something to do. I am going to ask Georgiana’s music master to stay on for another hour with you after her lesson ends.” He believed it best to be decisive about the matter. He would have to take charge. She would no doubt do nothing if left to her own devices.

Having delivered this directive, he turned with the intention of quitting the room, but brushed against the wobbly desk, causing a pile of her letters to fall to the floor. They bent to pick them up at the same time. He rescued one that she tried and failed to snatch back from him. He turned it over and saw the return address, and the scratchy, childish male hand it had been written in. “This is from Henry Jones. You correspond with that farmer’s boy?”

“Do not refer to him so, he is my friend.”

“I’ll refer to him how I like, Elizabeth. What are these letters between the two of you? What do you write of?”

“It is my business, they are my letters.”

“How many times have you written him?”

“Just once, to tell him what had become of me and that I was well, and to apologise for any trouble I caused him, and then he wrote back to me.”

“You’ll not write again, Elizabeth. It is not proper. You cannot be corresponding with an unmarried farmer’s boy.”

She looked at the floor and gave no answer.

“Elizabeth. You must give me your word.”     

“Yes, very well. Now may I have my letter?”

“I would be well within my rights to read this, you know, to see what this boy has written to you.” She looked up at him with huge eyes, round with apprehension and he noticed for the first time that they were not brown as he had once assumed, but a very deep green. He felt sure that if he were to read the pages he held they would either make him angry, or she very embarrassed. Was no knowledge better than a revelation that would bring pain to both of them? He handed the letter back and her shoulders sagged in relief. “No more, Elizabeth. It stops. Am I understood?”

She nodded and he left the room, but at the doorway he turned. “And you’ll attend the pianoforte lessons. The devil does indeed make work for idle hands. Make sure yours are busy.”

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Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England, with her family. She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.

Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.

Her debut novel, Ardently, was written as a hobby, usually with her laptop balanced on the kitchen worktop, typing with one hand, a glass of wine in the other, while she also attempted to cook dinner and keep her children from killing each other. The success of Ardently was as much a surprise to her, as it was to anyone else, and she has been thrilled and genuinely thankful for the positive responses and reviews it generated.

Her second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, is a portrait of a much younger Elizabeth, who is thrown into an extraordinary set of circumstances due to the premature death of Mr Bennet, and she hopes you all enjoy it very much.

Facebook: Caitlin Williams

Goodreads Author Page: Caitlin Williams

Goodreads Blog Page: Caitlin Williams

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June 13/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post/“Happy Birthday Fanny Burney & The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet” & Giveaway

June 14/ So Little Time… / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 15/ Just Jane 1813/An Exclusive Interview with Caitlin Williams

June 16/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway

June 17/ Margie’s Must Reads/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 18/ The Calico Critic/Book Review & Giveaway

June 19/ Babblings of a Bookworm/“The Education of a Young Lady” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 20/ Half Agony, Half Hope/Book Review

June 21/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway

June 22/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice /Book Excerpt & Giveaway

June 23/ Liz’s Reading Life / “A Nod and A Wink to Austen” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 24/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review

June 25/ Laughing With Lizzie/ “The Young Master” Guest Post & Giveaway

June 26/ A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/ “A Most Scandalous” Guest Post

 

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Comments

  1. What a wonderful excerpt! The coming of age of Elizabeth Bennet is on top of my wish list and I am really looking forward to reading this book.

  2. Vesper Meikle says:

    Darcy, unbending as always

  3. This must be from early on in the book, I assume. Darcy really sounds unyielding here. It’s good to read that he does change over the course of the book. Looking forward to finding out how that happens.

    Onwards to the next stop!

  4. Ugh, loved the excerpt… but Darcy just drove me crazy with his attitude at the beginning of this novel!

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