Minerva Price married late in life, long after such felicitation was expected for her. The marriage was happy, but short. After only six years she was left a widow.
The arrangement of her late husband’s affairs added to her sorrows – home, capital and income were left to the children of his previous marriage. Against the inclination of their callous hearts they allowed their step-mother a year in her home. But without income, the comfort it afforded the penurious widow was scant.
Minnie’s small circle of acquaintance was oblivious to her plight. She gave no hint, in her daily round of social calls and charitable works, of the struggles she endured in the privacy of her home.
Then she received a call from a gentleman, a former acquaintance of her late husband, who brought news of a business enterprise likely to yield substantial returns. Minnie’s step-children knew nothing of it and had no claim on it. The prize was hers, but to lay hold of it would mean entering the mysteries of the mercantile world, and even further hardships.
Will Minerva save herself from penury and destitution?
The Widow’s Mite is my new novel, out this week.
The book is set in the present day, I must make that clear. This is not a Regency novel nor overtly Jane Austen related. But much about its style, character and plot are Austenesque. How can I help it? When I read her novels so often, when I enjoy her microcosmic settings, her preoccupation with female characters and her delightful rendering of social occasions. They are what I love to read and so, naturally, they are what I write.
Poor widow ladies and penurious spinsters crop up in many Jane Austen novels: Mrs Bates in Emma. Mrs Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Mrs Smith in Persuasion. This is not surprising when you consider that after her father’s death Jane, her mother and sister faced financial difficulty.
Legacy is a frequent theme and plot device in Jane Austen’s novels too. Mr Bennet’s estate is entailed so his daughters must marry well. Mr Dashwood is unable to provide for his second wife and daughters because of some aspect of inheritance law. Mrs Ferrars uses her Will to control her sons. Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill must keep their engagement secret for fear of Mrs Churchill disinheriting Frank. Willoughby is disinherited by his aunt, causing him to abandon Marianne.
The machinations of the business world play a more underlying role in Jane Austen’s novels but they are there. While some – like Mr Darcy and Mr Knightley – have inherited wealth, this will have been variously invested in business stocks to provide more. Sir Thomas has his plantations in Antigua. Other gentlemen often have ‘business’ to attend to. Mr Weston is in business although we never find out its nature. Mr Cole and Mr Gardiner have made their money through trade and done thoroughly well from it.
The Widow’s Mite is set in a small town and features a tight-knit group of female characters, all single. The plot is peppered with evening gatherings, coffee mornings and genteel trips to places of scenic and historical interest. If that isn’t reminiscent of Jane Austen’s novels, I don’t know what is! Only the setting is twenty-first century.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the book and an invitation to purchase a copy at a discounted, introductory price.
The Widow’s Mite is being launched this week and is for sale on Amazon at the discounted introductory price of 99c/p for a very limited time only.
The Widow’s Mite is the second in the Widows series. It reads perfectly well as a standalone but if you’d like the chance to win a FREE copy of the first book in the Widows series, The Hoarder’s Widow please comment below.
Minnie Price and her friends are enjoying an excursion to Derbyshire.
The final day of their holiday brought them to Chatsworth where they were to enjoy a full guided tour of the house in the morning and an accompanied walk round the gardens in the afternoon. They walked through a succession of state rooms, libraries and galleries admiring artworks and furniture, Minnie’s neck aching as she looked up to the gorgeously painted ceilings and magnificent chandeliers. Their guide was a dapperly dressed man with a dome-like forehead and owlish spectacles. He regaled them with dates, historical details and stories of the various Dukes as they trod the thickly carpeted corridors, but evoked more interest when he spoke of the house’s use by a film crew for an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. Amy bore with this line of discussion for a while before bringing him back to the point. Had or had not the fifth Duke married his long-term mistress, she wanted to know, and was it the third or fourth son of the seventh Duke who had been assassinated by Irish nationalists. The guide responded patiently at the same time as skipping with considerable agility round the group, herding them forward or holding them back, debarring them from private rooms and reminding them on no account to touch the artifacts.
At last they arrived back at the grand entrance hall, the O’Keefe’s representative stepped forward to offer a few words of thanks and they were dismissed in the direction of the Orangery for refreshments.
‘I must say I am looking forward to the gardens,’ Gwen said, when they had settled themselves at a table. She wrestled with a sachet of mayonnaise for her salad and cast a knowing eye through the ornately framed windows to scan the skies. ‘It looks as though the weather will hold. They were the main reason I wanted Viola to come with us, really. She adores plants.’
‘Her loss was my gain,’ Gloria remarked, tucking in to her steak and kidney pie. ‘I have enjoyed myself, even though there have been no romantic encounters.’
‘So have I,’ Amy said. ‘Derbyshire has so much interesting history.’
‘Not to mention the scenery,’ Minnie offered. ‘Even so, I shall be glad to get home to my little dog, Dolly.’
Gloria poured tea from their communal tea pot. ‘You’ve been on the phone to her every day,’ she laughed, ‘and five days isn’t very long. When I did my Caribbean cruise I was away from Sooty for a whole month.’
‘I think cats are different,’ Gwen said. ‘Much more independent. And Dolly has abandonment issues, from her previous owners.’
Minnie put her sandwich down and dropped her hands to her lap. She stared at them hard. Small hands, she had, for a woman above the average height, the nails short and unvarnished, her fingers unadorned apart from her wedding band. She gulped and swallowed, and blinked very hard but was unable to prevent a tear from dropping onto her paper napkin. The sudden deluge of misery was overwhelming; the idea of poor Dolly thinking she had been deserted for the second time, the cold, empty house, Peter’s ashes tossed anyhow on some scrubby patch of soil. She found herself filled with longing to hold Dolly’s thin, trembling little body in her arms, to breathe in her warm, doggy scent. Conversation round the table faltered and then stopped altogether.
Gwen put her hand on Minnie’s arm. ‘Are you alright, dear?’
‘Was it something I said?’ Gloria hissed.
Amy made sympathetic crooning noises.
‘Oh, you know,’ Minnie said at last. ‘I’m just having one of those moments. I’m just being silly.’
‘I used to have those,’ Gloria said glibly. ‘I found shopping was the only comfort.’
The Hoarder’s Widow is available to buy or to read for free for members of Kindle Unlimited. Alternatively, comment below to win your own digital copy.
Leave a comment below to be entered into a draw for one ebook copy of The Hoarder’s Widow
The contest closes at midnight EST on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Winners will be announced on Sunday, March 15, 2020.