One of my favorite things about Austen in August is discovering new authors and stories to add to my own reading list. Throughout the two weeks, I glean recommendations from your guest posts and from the comments on posts, vlogs and Twitter telling me all about your own favorites, and books or authors I must look into.
But on top of all that, the wall-to-wall Austen action helps Austen writers to find me, and ask how they can become a part of this big ol' Austen family we've created here. And I love that. Even when the timeline is tight and we're running out of August, whenever that happens, I always try to squeeze said authors in -- not only because I want to know more about their books and their interpretations, but because I don't want you to miss out on finding out about them!
So, to that end, today we welcome a new member to our Austenesque family here on Austen in August, in the form of one Ginger Monette. Ginger's Great War-era retelling is coming out this September, and to give you a taste, I've got a little feature of it, complete with book trailer, blurb, teaser excerpt, and a mini-Q&A.
Click through to check it all out, and maybe add a new JAFF book to your to-read list!
Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes
by Ginger Monette
Elizabeth quickened her pace to the overlook, anxious to read the letter from Jane. She settled in her favourite spot, leaning against a sprawling oak with a magnificent view of the canal below. Lieutenant Bingley had been back in Boulogne for nearly a week, so surely there would be news.
Scanning the letter Elizabeth squealed in delight. A wedding—next week! And Jane begged that she come. So soon? Oh, but did Charles have to ask Darcy to stand up with him? Elizabeth grunted. Could she not go anywhere and be away from the man? Even the wedding date was chosen to coincide with the captain's meeting in Boulogne to ensure his presence. Why in the world would Charles, who must have plenty of friends, pick sour-grapes Darcy?
Could The Yank be right? Could the captain's time in the trenches and his losses at the Somme have profoundly affected him? She often heard horror stories of things soldiers had seen and experienced that left them numb. She huffed under her breath. Certainly that was not the case with Captain Darcy. He was stone cold by nature with an impenetrable heart—no—he told her once he loved her. And that first day she nursed him, he kindly consoled her about her mother and sister. There must be something beating in that broad chest of his. What difference did it make? She shook off the thoughts as she refolded Jane's letter. Darcy had ruined her family, and she wanted nothing to do with him.
She raised her chin and gazed over the distant meadow. The morning sun shimmering off the water in canal below and the quaint windmill on the adjacent rise beckoned her. She had never ventured down the face of the bluff to the canal, but she had plenty of time today, and the May weather was glorious.
Inching her way down, she steadied herself on rocks and branches protruding here and there, nearly losing her balance on the loose embankment. Finally reaching the bottom, she started towards the waterway. Rounding a knoll, she squinted into the sun at a tall silhouette of a Tommy peering down the canal through field glasses. Whatever he saw must have been intriguing, as he surveyed the horizon for quite some time. Nearing him, she opened her mouth to call out a greeting when a stick snapped under her foot. In one deft motion, the soldier whirled around and levelled his revolver at her.
“Don't shoot!” Elizabeth cried, pleading her hands in surrender. It was Captain Darcy.
Her heart pounding, she bit back, “Perhaps I could ask the same of you.”
“That is not the point.” He reached out and grabbed her arm above the elbow, nearly shaking it in rage. “A lady has no business out here alone. There are men roaming about who have no thought for their future and would be only too happy to ravage an attractive woman such as yourself.”
She jerked her arm away. “I appreciate your concern, but I am quite capable of looking after myself. But it is nice to know you now consider me attractive as there was a time I wasn't handsome enough to tempt you...”
What inspired you to catapult Darcy and Lizzy forward from the early 1800’s to the early 1900’s?
A: Downton Abbey! Julian Fellows’ creations have numerous similarities with Jane Austen’s characters: a house full of girls with no heir, an entailed estate, a landowner living in a grand house, a crotchety female matriarch, and high society characters falling in love with, well, those not so high society. It was remarkable to me how little British culture had changed in 100 years. I could see Darcy dining with the Crawleys with little change in decorum. Besides, the turbulence of the Western Front seemed a fitting and colorful setting for a romance between two characters known for clashing. And so a plot was born.
Anything else you would like readers to know about Darcy’s Hope?
A: As you can guess, historical accuracy was important to me. And although I tried to keep the romance between Darcy and Lizzy the story’s primary focus, I hope readers will finish Darcy’s Hope with a taste of life at a field hospital near the Front.
Readers may also be interested to know that the chateau-turned-field-hospital in my story is based on one that actually existed, even down to the swans in the water feature! The Messines Ridge blast and Darcy’s “going over the top” at the Battle of the Somme were actual events. Also, that chaplains really did occasionally assist in the operating room, and the two outlandish stories told by the colorful Scotsman are true as well.
But most of all I hope readers will love the story!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
1916. World War I has turned French chateaux into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth Bennet's life in tatters.
Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!
But when an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until he arrives....
Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved, and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”
But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy.
With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent? Darcy can only hope….
* Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes is stand-alone PG-13 story but will continue in Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey, due for release in late 2016. In the sequel, readers will experience the full resolution of the mystery, and our beloved couple’s love will face a tragic test at the manor belonging to the descendants of George & Emma Knightley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her three children, Ginger Monette learned all the grammar and punctuation rules she missed in school. She also fell in love with history while reading good historical fiction to her children. That was her surprising first step to becoming an author....
"When I was in college, my dream was to work in the marketing department of a large consumer-oriented products company. Instead, I ended up working as a hotel sales director, an office manager for wholesale furniture fabric company, and then homeschooling my children. When they got a little older, I began working at a homeschool educational consignment store. When my boss loaned me her two DVD versions of Pride and Prejudice, I was hooked. If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would one day write a novel, I would have laughed aloud. Now I am knee-deep in writing Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey, a Pride & Prejudice adaptation set against the turbulent backdrop of World War I."
Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs—and is fascinated by World War I.
To learn about Ginger's latest projects or to contact her, visit her website at www.gmonette.wix.com/author or her "Ginger Monette Author" Facebook page.
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