I’ve always wondered what would have happened in Pride and Prejudice if Jane Bennet had been a little more proactive—particularly when she was in London and Miss Bingley was concealing her presence from her brother. After all, things might have gone quite differently if Jane had taken matters into her own hands. That is the premise of When Jane Got Angry, my Pride and Prejudice novella, which is now available as an audiobook narrated by the wonderful Stevie Zimmerman.
Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the book—and be sure to check out the giveaway information after the excerpt!
When Mr. Bingley abruptly left Hertfordshire, Jane Bennet’s heart was broken. Since arriving in London to visit her aunt and uncle, Jane has been hoping to encounter Mr. Bingley; however, it becomes clear that his sister is keeping them apart.
But what would happen if she took matters into her own hands? Defying social convention, she sets out to alert Mr. Bingley to her presence in London, hoping to rekindle the sparks of their relationship.
Bingley is thrilled to encounter Jane and renew their acquaintance, but his sister has told him several lies about the Bennets—and his best friend, Mr. Darcy, still opposes any relationship. As Jane and Bingley sort through this web of deceit, they both find it difficult to maintain their customary equanimity.
However, they also discover that sometimes good things happen when Jane gets angry.
Caroline Bingley is not my friend, Jane Bennet realized about five minutes into the woman’s visit at the Gardiners’ house. It was a startling realization. A disheartening one.
Jane had called upon Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst at the Hursts’ house on Grosvenor Square not long after her arrival in London. With the reasonable expectation of a prompt return call, she had waited at home every morning for a fortnight, but Miss Bingley had not appeared until more than a month had passed. Even this slight Jane might have ignored if Miss Bingley had appeared at all pleased to continue the acquaintance—or at least penitent about her lateness—but the other woman had given only scant and insincere apologies.
Although she should have been attending to the conversation, Jane instead was hearing the echoes of many conversations with her sister Elizabeth warning against believing in Miss Bingley’s regard. Jane struggled not to fidget in her chair as she recalled Lizzy’s words.
Belatedly she realized the conversation had faltered to a stop. I must speak. But, heavens, what had Miss Bingley and Aunt Gardiner been discussing? Jane’s memory was entirely blank. “We are enjoying very fine weather,” she said hastily. Trite but unexceptionable.
Aunt Gardiner blinked in surprise. Miss Bingley pursed her lips. “What has that to do with the fashion for long sleeves?” she sniffed.
Jane shifted in her chair. “Er…well…it is pleasant to wear long sleeves in fine weather.” The palms of her hands were growing quite moist. What a terrible explanation!
Miss Bingley shrugged disdainfully. “If you would call it ‘fine.’ It rained three days ago and ruined my slippers.”
Aunt Gardiner gave Jane a sidelong glance as if to say, “This is your friend?”
Jane raised her eyebrows in response, hoping to convey, “I may have been mistaken.”
“It has been quite sunny and warm for the past two days,” Aunt Gardiner pointed out. “Particularly for February.”
Miss Bingley flicked a bit of dust from her skirt. “Yes, unseasonably warm. One does not know whether to wear wool or linen or cotton. It is most disconcerting.”
Her aunt rolled her eyes at Jane, who hid a smile. Was it even worth the effort of a polite conversation if a woman could complain about warm and sunny weather in February?
Maggie, the Gardiners’ maid, set down a tea tray laden with biscuits on the drawing room table. Aunt Gardiner poured a cup and passed it to Miss Bingley, who took a tiny sip as if she expected they might have substituted dishwater for tea.
Oh, good grief. Gracechurch Street might not be Grosvenor Square, but the Gardiners were hardly beggars in the streets. Even Maggie gave the visitor a scornful glance as she slipped from the room.
Jane supposed she should share the maid’s disdain, but she could barely summon the energy for it. Every aloof look from Miss Bingley weighed on her, as if every time the other woman glanced at her, Jane grew smaller and more insignificant—until she was in danger of disappearing altogether. She had believed in Miss Bingley’s friendship, thinking her sincere, if a bit arrogant.
Miss Bingley had been the one to solicit Jane’s company in Hertfordshire and treat her as the most intimate of friends. The complete alteration in the other woman’s demeanor was incomprehensible. Had Jane unwittingly given offense?
No. Lizzy warned me. This is through no fault of mine. It was painfully clear her sister had been correct about Miss Bingley’s lack of regard.
Her chest was hollow and achy; her eyes burned. Jane had not only lost a friendship, but she also had lost faith in her own discernment. What other errors in judgment have I committed?
Had Jane been wrong about Mr. Bingley’s regard for her? She had hoped that an acquaintance with Miss Bingley would allow her to see the woman’s brother once more. However, if Miss Bingley is not my friend, I may never see Mr. Bingley again. The realization bore down on Jane, pinning her to her chair like an enormous weight.
She tried to assemble a smile despite finding it difficult to breathe. Jane had slowly lost all hope of Mr. Bingley after he left Netherfield, but her arrival in London had rekindled those dormant embers. Now Miss Bingley’s disdain snuffed them out as completely as if they had been doused with water.
The chances were never very good. Any hopes likely were in vain. This reminder did nothing to ease her breathing.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY. I am giving away a free audiobook copy of When Jane Got Angry for a winner randomly chosen from those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EST, Tuesday, August 20. The winners will be announced the weekend of September 1. Good Luck!