Second excerpt from my new book! — 67 Comments

  1. I find it disturbing that the French have invaded and dominated England. It is further disturbing that the conquerors are so vile, but I suppose that is the nature of war. A good story, so far, with the usual angst, but in a different form.

    I am tempted to wait until more is posted and read straight through… these teasers make me anxious.

    Thanks Abigail

    • Sorry to make you anxious! I promise a happy ending – and you’ll get to see that some of the French invaders are quite decent chaps. It’s just the bad ones that stick out. Oh, yes – Captain Renard gets his just deserts, too.

  2. It is really one piece and the first time with a twist like this but I have appreciated it. I m waiting dor more chapter! Thanks Abigail

  3. Elizabeth needs a larger reticule so her pistol fits. Using the reticule as a club would work nicely. Poor Jane. Captain Renard, a French Wickham.

  4. What a wonderful excerpt, thank you, Abigail! Can’t wait to read more of it!!

    I really like the fairytail-like scene of their first encounter amongst the Bluebells, it’s so romantic and I love it, when the main characters have nicknames for each other, King Ludwig of Bavaria always called Sisi his “Titania” in his letters (they were Cousins)

    I absolutely love Bingley speaking his mind, even if it’s only inside the carriage and I’m looking forward to Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s solution concerning Captain Renard, the fox… will he marry her to safe her from him? Currently, I’m reading Outlander and their Problem with the Frenc reminds me a little bit of Jamie and Claire trying to prevent the Battle of Culloden to happen…

    And how will Jane feel if she sees Bingley for the first time without her beautiful long hair? And why is Mary (who belongs to the “rest of the family”) not to be trusted, too? I so long for her to be just a tiny little bit of a heroine, too…in my eyes, she was always the tragic figure, who wasn’t as silly as her mother and younger sisters, she just took a really annoying path in order to be seen and appreciated

    Will Lizzy show Georgiana how to shoot?

    And how the hell will I translate the “th-tonguetwister”?!? 😋😅

    • Oh, dear! I didn’t think about my poor long-suffering translators! I was so proud of myself for actually finding a Regency-appropriate (and family-friendly) th- tonguetwister. 🙂

      Mary’s problem is her strong sense of rectitude, not her loyalty. Would she condone such a lie, even for a good cause? One of the recurring points in the book is that the more people who know a secret, the more endangered it is. We’ve already seen that Bingley can’t keep anything to himself.

      I can assure you on one point – Jane is beautiful even with very short hair. Perhaps even more angelic-looking!

  5. Oh don’t make us wait until January! I know Christmas time is break time, but I’m Jewish and Hanukkah is eight days … does diversity stand for anything when it comes to reading this very challenging story? Seriously, your approach is very interesting as there are many different threads begging to be woven into your fabric. How difficult it must be for Jane to trust that her secret would not be revealed to her own family.You could write an entire book about that! Any story of occupation sounds much line “1984”.

    • LOL, an excellent argument! I’ll see what I can do about the timing.

      One challenge with writing this book has been sticking with the central thread. There are so many different directions I could explore, but I also don’t want to distract from the primary story about Darcy and Elizabeth. Hopefully I’ll strike a reasonable balance!

  6. Thank you Abigail for your wonderful writing. I love the alternative History twist , it really makes for an interesting story. I adored the romance and magic in the bluebell woods. I am eagerly waiting more posts!

  7. Darcy is definitely a spy for the Crown. I loved Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s first meeting. At first I was skeptical about the premise of the book, but now I can’t wait to read more!

  8. Amazing story!
    The puppy’s name fits him I think! Puck is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s characters ! He’ll be a michivous little dog!
    Can’t wait to

  9. Mmm… It seems that the role of Wickham is filled by the French captain. But a P&P without Wickham is not complet. Ramsgate did not take place, but I suspect that Wickham is a real turncoat/traitor and/or busy on the black market and so Darcy hates him just the same.

  10. Oh the bluebell meadow was magical! I was surprised at Elizabeth revealing so much about Jane! To do that, she must trust Darcy on some level that she hasn’t quite realized yet. Yes, as I said in my comment from last week, I think he is a spy/informer. My heart broke for his losses. Now that Bingley knows about Jane, I wonder how long it will be before he meets her! Yes, keep Puck as the puppies name! It is perfect. I can just imagine the trouble he will cause (good and bad).

    Looking forward to next week’s post! As for your next one, I guess it depends on the muse!

    • So glad you liked the bluebell wood! They are so magical. The reason I felt Elizabeth would be comfortable about revealing the truth about Jane is because both Bingley and Darcy had just shown how angry they were about French officers trying to take advantage of women, and Darcy had actually put himself at some risk to stop it. But it was a risk on her part.

  11. In my opinion, Puck, is a perfect name for a mischievous puppy. Love that conversation among the bluebells. I have never come across a field of such so cannot imagine the aroma. How sad that the relationship which began so charmingly is now on rocky ground; with Darcy unable to reveal why and Elizabeth undoable to forgive him his relationship with the French. I like the idea of his being a spy for the British government or what is left of that. Do we know where the monarch is at present? I can’t seem to remember if any of the heads of state went into exile like many French did during The Terror. I can say the tongue twister but it is a matter of slow and steady not rushing through.

    I am loving this tale but Renard is even worse than Wickham in that he dares touch where he should not in front of all the assembly. What a cad! It is his type which deserve to be shot. Where is one of those muff pistols which Elizabeth could hide in her reticle?

    Poor Jane – to have to cut off all her beautiful hair and now Renard is sniffing around Elizabeth. Marry her to protect her sounds like a good solution. Thanks for this chapter. I do appreciate the angst.

    • Sheila, I would really appreciate it if you would stay out of my hard drive! This is a couple of chapters down the line:

      ***When they were by themselves Darcy cleared his throat. “I find myself in a dilemma. There is an item I greatly wish you to have, but it would be improper for me to give you a gift. Would you perhaps be willing to consider it as a sort of permanent loan?”

      Elizabeth drew back slightly. How puzzling! He sounded very serious, not at all as if he planned to flirt with her. “I suppose it would depend on what the item is and why you wish me to have it.”

      “That seems fair.” He reached into his pocket and handed her a small muff pistol with an engraved barrel. “I think you know why I wish you to have it. For the sake of the puppies, if nothing else.”

      She turned it over in her hand, admiring the carved ivory handle. Such a lovely object to be a dangerous weapon! But of course Mr. Darcy would have the best. “I do not know what to say.” Especially as owning pistols was illegal, for him as well as for her. ***

      The question about where King George is will be revealed soon. Many heads of state went into exile when Napoleon invaded; some cut a deal with Napoleon; and then there was the old classic where Napoleon would take their children as hostages to be raised in Paris. For this book, there’s a combination – the king is in captivity in France (not that important, as he’s insane anyway), Princess Charlotte was spirited away to Canada, the Prince Regent tried to cut a deal with the French but was executed after an uprising, and the king’s youngest daughter was married to Napoleon’s already-married brother Jérôme, who was declared George’s heir – this was based on what actually happened in Westphalia. So many stories, so little time!

      • I am laughing. It is rare that I have any idea as to where a story is going but somehow that clue landed in my thoughts…really a minor detail. Love this story and thanks for the info about the royalty.

        So looking forward to having all of this story in my hands so I can read it straight through. Thanks for the comments.

      • Prince Jerome had already been married to Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore(?) in the early 1800s, and divorced eventually.

        • It was a pretty questionable divorce, instigated by Napoleon for the sole purpose of marrying him to a German princess to boost support for his position as the Napoleon-appointed King of Westphalia. Pope Pius refused to grant the divorce, so Napoleon granted it himself. In my alternate history, Napoleon instead marries him to Princess Amelia, the youngest daughter of George III, as part of making him heir to the throne of England. Many people did not recognize his first divorce from Elizabeth Patterson (there was a later, second divorce by the General Assembly of Maryland which was apparently more valid than the ‘because Napoleon said so’ divorce), and therefore viewed his children by the German princess as illegitimate.

    • I’m wondering if Princess Charlotte will survive to become Queen…even temporarily. If so, what will happen to Princess Victoria?

      • Of course, if Princess Charlotte doesn’t die, then perhaps there was no need for the bachelor sons to marry…and have the race to beget heirs.

  12. Excellent. Oh, my. What does Darcy really have to do with the French? Is he acting the spy? And this captain, what a rotten creep. How will Lizzy learn to trust Darcy. Looking forward to the next post.

  13. I loved their first meeting when they could just accept each other at face value. Definitely Puck by the way! I’m still not sure of Darcy’s story but I really hope he and Elizabeth marry to protect her and that he and Bingley can help Jane. (I do love early marriage between ODC) thank you for sharing and I can’t wait for more.

  14. Very exciting AU so to speak. How awful that the French are at hand. I do detect a little hypocrisy on Lizzy’s part since she still even speaks with Lydia and her family have benefited. I can’t wait to find out more about the secretive Darcy. Oh, and poor Jane, no hair! This is such a fun tale. Thanks for sharing. Jen Red

  15. Oh, man, this was just great! Sigh.

    I think seeing Darcy in this way, trying to keep people from being killed unnecessarily, is very true to his Austen character. It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t look for ways to change/improve the situation, but he’d definitely look for ways to do it indirectly, bloodlessly as much as possible. He takes his responsibility for others very seriously. Elizabeth is still pretty young, at a time when things are often viewed in black and white terms, particularly as her teen years have been spent under occupation and trying to dodge unwanted French attention, so she’s got a way to go yet in developing a more, shall we say, mature outlook about the situation in which they all find themselves (even many of the French soldiers). You’ve drawn these characters so carefully, it’s wonderful. I really loved the first meeting in the bluebells–such a poignant memory for Darcy that he will now always ascribe to Elizabeth and a lovely, brief moment apart from their rather harsh reality that Elizabeth will now always associate with Darcy.

    Puck, definitely Puck. ;->

    Please, if at all possible, keep posting through the holidays rather than waiting for January. I looked forward to this Chapter all week and it was so worth it! ;-> Can’t wait for this one to be published. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Thank you! Darcy’s collaboration with the French has been interesting to me personally as I learned more about what happened in other occupied countries. When I started writing, I had a clear reason why he would be collaborating (and still do have it!) but I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that he probably would have done the same even without my special reason. If nothing else, putting up a resistance to the French could lead to Very Bad Things happening to Georgiana, and it’s hard to see Darcy putting his honor as an Englishman ahead of that. I think he’d play a waiting game, well aware that Napoleon’s empire is likely to collapse after his death, and hope to save as many of his countrymen as possible until then.

      Elizabeth does see this very grey situation as black and white, much as she tends to in the beginning of P&P. She has a few lessons to learn along the way.

  16. Their first meeting was very charming; I thoroughly enjoyed it. And by the end of this excerpt, I appreciate Elizabeth’s confusion regarding Darcy.

    I can understand why he would prefer to be back in her pistol sights rather than having to play a part that he obviously abhors. His “alliance” with the French must be for the benefit of his tenants and the people of Derbyshire; otherwise, he would never compromise his beliefs. Lives must be on the line.

    I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    Thank you for this excerpt, Abigail!! Have a wonderful week! 🙂

    Susanne 🙂

    • Thanks, Susanne! It can’t be fun for Darcy to have everyone see him as a traitor, and part of what made the bluebell wood episode magical was that he wasn’t a traitor there. He’s had a rough few years.

  17. Abagail,simply wonderful! I loved it and like others am hooked!

    Oh,the romance of their initial meeting….a dream like state,where they chance to stumble upon the other,in a little piece of heaven occupied solely by them,no misconceptions or prejudicial misgivings,just two people slowly gaining the measure of the other…..written with such finesse…..sigh!

    And yes,the lengths poor Jane was forced to go to,in an effort to remove herself from the advances of this reptilian Captain.

    Like others,I’m hoping for an early marriage for Darcy and Elizabeth,as surely this is the only way to prevent further heartache for the Bennets and any serious consequences for Elizabeth.

    Please continue to post chapters…..we,your devoted readers deserve to read such a fantastic and compelling tale over the festive period!!
    Thank you for such a sweet and beguiling treat!

    • I’ll do my best to keep posting chapters. 🙂 I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! Unfortunately there’s a huge stumbling block between Darcy and Elizabeth in terms of marriage, so it will take them a while to reach their HEA. But it will come!

  18. Curiouser and curiouser! I’m glad this Lizzy is already having doubts about Darcy’s apparent nature. And I definitely enjoyed the twist on their first encounter, that they’re building from good first impressions in the bluebell glade.
    Definitely Puck! I rather think it suits the puppy very well indeed.

  19. I like Puck for the puppy and I have really enjoyed what I have read 🙂

    I have a couple of ideas abour Darcy and the French but I do not think they are very correct… we will see!

  20. Abigail, did you say you were posting the third chapter, or was I deluding myself? If so, is it here and I’m just not seeing it? I can’t find the post that mentioned you’d be posting, sorry….

    • Sorry, this is both chapters. I combined the two chapters into one so I wouldn’t end up with problems around the next post being Chapter 4. I always end up redoing chapter divisions in the end, anyway!

  21. Very intriguing chapter, Abigail! I can’t wait to see what Darcy is really up to. No way is he a traitor. Looking forward to next week’s chapter!

  22. The introduction scene is lovely as I could imagine myself in the forest too surrounded by flowers. Your descriptions are always so vivid! I look forward to more of the story.

  23. I am definitely voting for Puck. I am always amazed at the beauty of a scene that has bluebells in it. What is it about bluebells that is so utterly charming and romantic?

    In some JAFF variations, the Darcy family were from Norman descendants [d’Arcy], fought with Duke William and had aristocratic relations/connections. Will he be thus in this work?

  24. The meeting in the bluebell wood was wonderful. After Ch 1 I was unsure if I could enjoy this story, but now that Darcy and Elizabeth have met, all is well and I expect to enjoy the politics and strategy as well as the romance.

  25. Have any of your visits here to Yorkshire ever taken in the Bolton Abbey estate, Abigail? It’s owned by the Duke of Devonshire, of Chatsworth fame, by the way. There are some lovely walks by the River Wharfe which, at one point, flows through a very narrow channel called The Strid. In the spring, the Strid Woods are simply carpeted with bluebells and it really is a sight to behold. Guess what I’ll be thinking of next time I see it! That scene was just *sigh*.

    Poor Jane, having to hide away in a stable, with a shaved head and painted face, just to protect her from a lecherous Frenchman. I love that Sheila managed to second guess your muff pistol. It was a thought that ocurred to me, too, but I’ve only just been able to catch up and actually, enjoyed reading all of the comments almost as much as the story. I bet Lydia just doesn’t want to think about being deserted when her “husband” eventually returns to France, especially if there are children by then. Like some of the others, I can manage the tongue-twister sloooowly, just! Darcy may be “collaborating” as some including Elizabeth, see it, firstly to protect his sister but maybe also as a spy, judging by what he thinks “Now he could hardly recall when he had not worn a disguise.”

    And I’m also voting for Puck – such a cheeky sounding name.

    • I’ve never made it to Bolton Abbey, sadly. Two years ago I was in the UK at the very tail end of bluebell season, so I got to see a few in the wild, but never had the real bluebell wood experience.

      A muff pistol is a very good solution. There’s a shortage of them in occupied England, though, on account of owning pistols is illegal. Not that it stops Elizabeth, as you saw, but it puts a crimp in running down to the village shop and buying a muff pistol.

      Seems like there’s a consensus for Puck!

  26. “I bet Lydia just doesn’t want to think about being deserted when her “husband” eventually returns to France, especially if there are children by then”.

    Abigail, I hope the “fate” of French soldiers “wives”, is not the same as what happened at the end of WW2(hair cutoff in the Streets etc, mostly done by those who where afraid to do something active when the enemy soldiers where around, but plenty brave as a mob to go after the women after the germans where gone). I usally don’t like the Lydia’s but although she was willing, it was for her familys future that she got “married”.

    • I hope their fate is better than that, too. In my book, those women are in a difficult position to start out with because there are very few young men to be found, and an unmarried woman is just a step away from being an unmarried homeless hungry woman. It would be hard to refuse. It’s sad, though, that the soldiers’ ‘wives’ are punished for what was done by their ‘husbands.’

      In either case, Lydia is unlikely to suffer much since she’ll have a passel of powerful in-laws by then.

  27. I loved the bluebell wood. I am trying to figure out a way to recreate it somehow… I can see Jane shining through to Mr Bingley as she is seen by him in her shed sometime in the future, hair or no hair. And I do hope Elizabeth and Darcy can continue to meet away from the pressures of the French.

    • I’ve grown my own English bluebells (Hyacinthoides nonscripta) so I could discover the scent for myself. My little bluebell patch is nothing like a bluebell wood, but I can close my eyes and imagine it. Some flower bulb companies sell the bulbs in the US, but most of those bulbs have been hybridized with Spanish bluebells and aren’t the same. I got mine from heirloom specialist Old House Gardens ( They’re sold out for the year, but they’ll have them again next year.

      If you’re curious about the scent and don’t want to grow your own, there are a couple of products from England that come very close to the real thing, like the Bluebell Forest line from Lily-Flame. I got mine from John Lewis –

      Yes, I’ve got just a wee bit of a bluebell obsession! 🙂

      • Oh yes, they HAVE to be proper English bluebells, Abigail. So many that we see in gardens,and occasionally in the wild even over here, are either Spanish or hybrids. We’ve got both in our garden but are working hard to get rid of the interlopers. In our back garden, we have a “prettyish kind of little wilderness” to one side of the lawn, with sycamore, oak, a cherry and silver birch trees. We think we may have finally got rid of all the Spanish/hybrids, but only spring will tell. We’ve been buying and planting native plants to replace them, some even from the Fountains Abbey gift shop.

        • It’s sad how much the Spanish ones have interbred with the English bluebells. I ordered some English bluebells from another very reputable bulb company here, and when they came up, they only arched a little and had much less fragrance. They were more like English bluebells than Spanish ones, but I could tell. I pulled them up and gave them to a friend across town to protect my tiny stock of purebreds.

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