New Release! Being Mrs. Bennet Excerpt and Giveaway

New Release! Being Mrs. Bennet Excerpt and Giveaway

I can’t believe Being Mrs. Bennet is finally finished! This book took me forever to write and more drafts than I can count. I lost the ending – the entire ending! – at least three times. Don’t ask me how. So many times I almost walked away from this tale, yet I always came back and slowly, very slowly, it finally materialized as a full-fledged, honest to goodness novel.

I am EXCEEDINGLY happy to see it in print.

Today I’d like to share an excerpt from the story and offer a giveaway. Details below. Here’s the blurb:

Can fandom go too far?

Alison Bateman adores Jane Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice. Within the book’s pages she finds escape from everyday strife, that is until she becomes one of its characters. Instead of the beloved heroine of the novel, Alison transforms into her silly and ineffectual mother, Mrs. Bennet. Not one to be idle, she uses her new role to try and curb the unruly behavior of the youngest Bennet daughter, never suspecting the consequences her meddling will have on the romance at the heart of the novel. A story of survival in a fictional universe, Being Mrs. Bennet is a lighthearted take on Austen’s classic tale.

Here’s the excerpt. A bit of context: this is the morning following a ball given by Colonel Forster. At it Alison started a rumor that Wickham has scarlet fever. It wasn’t a well-conceived plan, just something she blurted out in her desperation to keep Lydia away from him. Enjoy!

Sunlight attacked Alison’s eyes far too soon. She dragged herself from bed, stiff, aching, rebelling against the world, and pining once more for Advil. She could not see her way to believing that such acute pain could be anything other than poignant reality. No, this was no coma or similar episode of imagination. It hurt way too much.

Sarah stuffed her into yet another uncomfortable costume, supposedly appropriate for whatever time of day it was. Two o’clock! she exclaimed to herself upon forcing a glance at the decorative clock above the mantel. Never had she slept so late! Alison groaned aloud but submitted to the ordeal of having her hair brushed, pricked, and pinned beneath a lace cap: the Regency equivalent of the ponytail.

Downstairs, she found the entire family breakfasting in far too cheerful spirits. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat gingerly down upon her chair. Lydia was talking so quickly and loudly that it was several minutes before Alison noticed what she was actually saying, rather than the decibel at which it was said.

“An uncle came storming down from Liverpool, traveling with four horses, and snatched Miss King away within the hour. She had not the time to pack all her things, whichwill be sent on after her. La! How I wish I could have seen her face! After lording her conquest over us all these weeks, too! I doubt she should find anyone near so handsome in Liverpool, ten thousand pounds or no!” Lydia shrieked with laughter, which Kitty echoed with less enthusiasm while Mary and Mr. Bennet, peering over his paper, looked on with perseverance. “I shall say that very thing to Wickham when we next see him.”

“You might have to wait some time before being able to so slander Miss King,” Mary quipped, “if Mr. Wickham is under quarantine until the militia departs for Brighton.”

“Nonsense! I do think Mama made too much of nothing. He seemed hale enough to me, and I am sure we will see him in Meryton this very afternoon.”

“See him, you may,” Alison said tartly, “but you may not speak with Mr. Wickham. I forbid you to say so much as good morning to the man.”

“Not speak to Wickham?” Lydia echoed. “You want me to snub the handsomest man in all the regiment? Really, Mama! What has come over you lately?”

“An excellent question, my dear,” Mr. Bennet said, folding the newspaper and setting it aside. “What has come over Mrs. Bennet?” He gazed at her searchingly.

“Nothing has come over me!” she snapped back, knowing such antics were not in her favor but feeling far too irritable to care. “We should all be grateful to Mary King’s uncle! Clearly, he learned something that rendered Mr. Wickham exceedingly undesirable as a husband, else why would he behave so and subject his niece to the stigma of a broken engagement? Let us take it as a lesson well-learned and have nothing more to do with the man.”

A few inchoate protests resounded through the room.

“It would cause a great deal of trouble to cut a gentleman of the militia,” Mr. Bennet said.

“You should speak to Colonel Forster about his lieutenant’s reputation before letting your daughters make fools of themselves over him, or are you afraid of the great deal of trouble it might require to protect your children from a rogue?” Alison fumed in reply, finding gratification in the surprised look on his face.

“Careful, my dear!” he warned sardonically. “Do you wish to render the man irresistible? Stop talking up his charms, and your purpose will be better served.”

“I am in no mood for jokes! The man is dangerous. There is no more to be said on the subject. If you girls know what is good for you,” she went on in spite of herself, “you will stay well away from him.” Oh god! I’m really turning into her! Alison thought with a shudder, declaring aloud, “If nothing else, I will preserve this family from George Wickham. You may not walk to Meryton today, and we shall not be at home if he calls!”

“You heard your mother, girls!” Mr. Bennet declared with both finality and amusement as he rose from the table. “I shall weather the clamor from my library.”

With dismay, Alison watched him leave just as the volume of Lydia and Kitty’s now joint complaints rose to new heights, eventually reaching an apex at which they lingered for no less than an hour. Alison was thoroughly grateful when a visit from Lady Lucas heralded a change in pitch.

“Is it not odd to be without our elder girls on such an occasion, Mrs. Bennet?” questioned their guest in mournful tones. “To discuss a ball without the benefit of dear Mrs. Collins and your Miss Eliza to reflect on the follies of all! How I long to hear their witticisms on the subject! You cannot know the hardship of parting with a child through marriage. Maria will, of course, come home to me soon, but who is to say if I will live to see Charlotte returned to the neighborhood, other than for visits? And there is no knowing when or for how long Lady Catherine will be able to part with Mr. Collins. How kind it was of you to spare Miss Eliza for so long. What tales of Hunsford she will have to tell! I cannot wait to see them! Lady Catherine has been most condescending, and they have dined at Rosings quite regularly.”

So she prattled on. Alison narrowed her eyes at the woman in such a manner that had always shown everyone in a conference room or PTA meeting that she meant business, little affect as it seemed to have in Longbourn’s drawing room. Just as Lady Lucas was delving deeper into the subject of Mr. Collins’s last sermon, Alison interrupted her. “Just because we do not have the company of all our daughters does not mean we are so devoid of conversation to need speak of Hunsford, where they have had very little entertainment at all.”

“No entertainment!” Lady Lucas exclaimed, shocked at such a dismissal. “When they have dined at Rosings Park no less than eight times?”

“It sounds very dull, indeed! Nothing but Lady Catherine’s ill-founded pronouncements and dictates to listen to while we have all the gossip afforded by a ball, including the joint excitements of the militia departing and a potential outbreak of scarlet fever on our hands!”

“And Wickham being free of Mary King,” Lydia added.

“Of which we have heard quite enough. Is not the prospect of infection more noteworthy?”

“I saw Mr. Jones this morning,” Lady Lucas skeptically replied, “and he assured me that Mr. Wickham is perfectly healthy.”

“Well, I am sure that is a relief, but even as a passing concern, the fear of disease must be a more interesting subject than Mr. Collins’s sermons.”

“There is Miss King’s broken engagement.”

“Yes, Lydia. There is little doubt we could discuss Miss King’s deliverance from Wickham’s clutches, had we not already exhausted the topic.”

“You really think Miss King has had such a narrow escape, Mama?” Mary asked.

“Definitely. He was obviously after her ten thousand pounds, which would have disappeared in a hurry had the marriage taken place,” Alison said portentously.

“I do not know why you have taken such a sudden dislike to poor Mr. Wickham, whose praises you were full of when he seemed to favor Lizzy.” Lydia pouted.

“Elizabeth was lucky to be rid of his attentions before they could do any more damage.”

“What damage could dear Miss Eliza have possibly suffered at Mr. Wickham’s hands?” Lady Lucas laughed uncomfortably.

“Her opinion of Mr. Darcy, for one thing, which she has lived to regret,” Alison hastily declared, disliking the direction in which Lady Lucas’s thoughts seemed to be heading.

“Mr. Darcy!” everyone in the room seemed to exclaim at once, followed by a melee of inquiries.

Alison pressed her fingers to her temples, trying to keep the story straight. “They have been much in each other’s company in Kent, and Elizabeth’s letters indicate that she was mistaken in her previous sentiments regarding the man. I do not mean to make any more of it than that. Mr. Darcy’s behavior, though his demeanor is not encouraging, has always been that of a gentleman. Mr. Bingley, whose good nature is beyond doubt, is his close friend and admirer. What do we know of Mr. Wickham but that the respectable Mr. Darcy despises him, and Mary King’s uncle found him a highly objectionable suitor?”

“One should always judge a man by his character, not his charms.”

“Yes. Thank you, Mary,” Alison acknowledged with a sigh.

Lady Lucas stubbornly turned the subject back to Hunsford, and Alison simply tuned her out. She was watching Kitty, who sat gazing thoughtfully by the window, while Lydia sulked ominously in her chair. Sure enough, she resumed her clamor once Lady Lucas departed. Kitty, fortunately, seemed to have abandoned the cause, but as Mary was now thoroughly arguing Alison’s point for her, the din continued undiminished. It was several hours later when Alison sought escape through a back door, only to be waylaid by Mr. Bennet, who finally thought it safe to emerge from his library.

“Finding yourself rather unpopular, are you not, my dear?”

“You might have stood by me, rather than abandoning me to the task.”

“You were the one who decided Mr. Wickham was an unsuitable companion, and after being so encouraging to him previously.”

Alison blushed. “I was mistaken in his character.”

“And since when did the character of an eligible bachelor weigh so high with you?” he persisted.

“Since I realized the potential consequences of allowing our daughters to run rampant!” she said angrily.

“Was it not you who insisted on bringing Lydia out so young? Kitty too, for that matter.”

“I may have made mistakes, but I am at least striving to correct them, rather than hiding in the library all day long. Have you not considered your responsibility, as their father, to safeguard your children’s well-being?”

It was his turn to blush. “No one knows my shortcomings better than I, my dear. Happily, I am of a complacent nature and disinclined to indulge in self-rebuke for long.”

“Perhaps you ought to indulge it, Mr. Bennet. What good is being aware of your flaws if you do not seek to rectify them? Now, if you will excuse me, I am greatly in need of fresh air!” And she flounced off with a satisfying swoosh to her period gown and sought relief in nature, not to return until it was time to dress for dinner.

This giveaway is international. Please leave a comment by July 18th if you wish to enter to win one of two ebooks. The winners will be announced on July 22nd. Tell me what you would do were you to wake up one morning and discover yourself to be Mrs. Bennet.

Or buy the book today at Amazon.com.

As always, thank you so much for reading.

85 Responses to New Release! Being Mrs. Bennet Excerpt and Giveaway

  1. How fortuitous for Alison to be familiar with P&P. What an exciting time the Bennet family will have with an informed Fanny.

  2. Finally…a book on Mrs. Bennet and what a great way to do it! Oh I do hope the ‘new and improved’ Mrs. Bennet continues to harass Mr. Bennet! Thank you for a chance at the giveaway! Congratulations on finally finishing it!

    • Ha ha ha ha! Spoiler alert: Alison never once even considers smelling salts. She does, however, experiment with another period curative.

  3. This sounds like a really fun read. Maybe she’ll bring some sense to her, then again maybe not. Mrs Bennett always seemed happy as she was.

  4. This is a fascinating approach. I greatly enjoyed it. I hope the original Mrs Bennet doesn’t show up too quickly and undo all Alison’s work. If the Mrs Bennets (canon and faux) start switching in and out, that could be quite hysterical. Well, the real Mrs Bennet would have hysterics over Alison’s changes and quickly confuse everyone by strongly denying that SHE had actually imposed them herself.

  5. I like the way she put Mr. Bennet on the spot. Just cuz he thinks her is more intelligent, it doesn’t mean he is right.

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. What a fun premise, I’m looking forward to find out what Allison is up to. Congratulations on the release and thanks for the giveaway.

  7. I loved the excerpt especially when she let Mr Bennet know that it’s not enough to be aware of one’s flaws. If I found myself as Mrs Bennet, I would certainly let him have a piece of my mind.

  8. Full Disclosure: These “moving back in time” stories usually leave me a little cold …

    But this one seems full of life. I’ll be watching for it.

  9. Wow, what a clever twist! I love the preview above. It’s entertaining to watch her try to declare a change of sentiments about Wickham without anything to justify the change. I’m really curious how it will affect Elizabeth and Darcy. And whether the change is permanent or whether she’ll go back to modern times, and what it’d be like for the real Mrs. Bennet to take back her role. I’d love to read it!

  10. I would probably go nuts with five girls! But I think Alison definitely shakes up the house! I love the idea behind this book!

    • Thank you. Turns out Alison has five girls of her own, so no stress there. Can you guess their names?

  11. Well! I can’t wait to see what happens in this story. What a twist to wake up as one on the anti-heroines. Whew. I’m cringing at what must come about with her disturbing the ‘time-line.’ What a bee’s nest. Seriously, what an awesome idea, Alexa.

  12. Heavens… how to go forward with the knowledge that she has of the story? She would have to tread carefully because she cannot explain her knowing events that have not happened yet. What fun. I find this fascinating.

    What would I do if I were to wake up and find myself Mrs. Bennet?

    Well… First… I’d kiss Mr. Bennett senseless until I had his attention and full cooperation.

    Second, I’d hug Mary tightly and tell her that I loved her as I gently took her Fordyces away and explained that she and Mr. Bennet need to spend more time together in his book room reading different books and expanding her knowledge base.

    Next… I’d shut down Lydia and Kitty from being out. I feel certain Kitty would comply, eventually. However, I have no doubts that Lydia would be a problem. I think I would show Miss Lydia just what my mother showed me when I dared to rebel or sass her.

    Next, I’d have Mr. Bennet and Sir William to check the merchants and alert Colonel Forster of any problems with Wickham.

    I’d then sic Lady Lucas on the women of the town as well as the merchants to alert them to watch their girls and protect them from the militia [specifically one Mr. Wickham].

    I’d write a letter to my brother Gardiner and thank him for being so good to Jane and Lizzy. His influence on them is what makes them who and what they are. I appreciate his wife being a better mother to them than I had been. I’d also apologize for my bad behavior in the past.

    With Lizzy already in Hunsford… I’d have to wait and deal with her when she returned. I would need to apologize to her for past slights and unkind words. Dang! It wasn’t even me… but it needs to be done.

    Jane… again, I’d have to wait out the details. It would all hinge of Mr. Darcy notifying Bingley that Jane was in London.

    OK… now… how to shut down my sister Philips and her troublesome influence on the girls [Lydia] and her penchant for gossip?

    Have I left anyone out?

    • Wow! I think you’ve thought about this more than me ?. We have similar thoughts on Mr. Bennet. I’m really looking firward to receiving feedback on that aspect of the book.

      What would you do with Miss Bingley?

      • Miss Bingley… well she is not my daughter… however, if I were ever in her presence and she gave a look of disdain or made a face or even rolled her eyes… I’d call her on it and demand that she explain her look. I would not let her in my house to disrespect us… I might have to remind her that our home is the home of a landed gentleman… and that all my daughters were gentlewomen. I’d hate to do it… but I’d call her a tradesman’s daughter in a heart beat if she treated us with disrespect. I simply would not allow it.

    • Impressive! Those actions would be the making of the Bennet girls and save them from the evil fast approaching down the pike. Hope the family don’t decide to have you sent to Bedlam or exorcised, as clearly some alien thing has taken possession of the Mrs Bennet they have long known.

  13. I would lock up Lydia first of all! 🙂 I love the idea for this book. I can’t wait to read it. Love Mrs B.

  14. I agree this a most interesting excerpt you’ve teased us with. Be looking forward to reading more.

    • Excellent! I love exploring well outside the box and pushing the boundaries of this genre. Good luck!

  15. AS being Mrs. Bennet I would first treat all my daughters the same and not belittle one (Elizabeth) and tell the other one she is beautiful. She would also learn to keep Lydia in line and notlet her out of the schoolroom until she is able to act much more like a young lady rather than a spoiled child. She also needs to take Catherine to the doctor to see why she is always coughing. Involving Mary, she need to pay more attention to her and give her praise when she does something well and also give her piano lessons. All the girls needed schooling which none of them received but what ther father gave them. Mrs. Bennet needed to spend more time to devotion and love to Mr. Bennet and above all she needed to quit gossiping! In other words she needed much refining!!!!!

    • We should have addressed that cough. Poor Kitty. Nevertheless, Alison definitely shakes up the household. Hope you approve!

  16. if i should wake as Mrs Bennet, changes would be made! i would maybe use a strategy of taking Lydia and Kitty along on visits to all the Mrs. of the regiment. you know there must be some, living in one room with their husband, two kids and maybe another soldier lodging with them to share costs. and she’s cooking and doing laundry for all of them, not going to balls or promenading up and down the High street!

    i would also write Lizzy and Jane to tell them the dirt everyone now knows about Wickham.

    i don’t know what i would do about Bingley and jane. maybe demand Mr bennet write a stern letter telling him off for leading her on. though really, i prefer she meet a man with a firmer backbone rather than fixing them.

    • That’s a great idea about the regiment wives! Love it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t occur to Alison. She devised her own means. Good luck!

  17. Oh goodness! I’m happy that Alison as Mrs Bennet is trying to keep the girls from Wickham. But I’m worried about what effect this apparently has on Elizabeth and Darcy. Please promise me they get their HEA.

  18. Congratulations on your new book, Alexa! Thank you for a chance to win a copy 🙂

    As Mrs. Bennett I would first have a hot, sweet cup of tea made to calm my nerves before facing the day.

  19. I would like to return Ludia to the schoolroom to learn better manners and to use her brain to think ahead.

  20. Oh my! Will Mr. Bennet finally trouble himself to take an interest in his daughters welfare? Good for Mrs. Bennet! But will her vocal expression of her change of opinion of Mr. Wickham’s character cause her more trouble than she realizes?

  21. Alison is stirring up the pot, erm, plot! Looking forward to reading your story.very enjoyable excerpt.

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