I am very excited to be a part of the Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour today. Amateur sleuth Jane Austen returns in Jane and the Waterloo Map, the thirteenth novel in Stephanie Barron’s delightful Regency-era mystery series. A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of Ms. Barron’s book and other Jane Austen-themed items, will be open to those who join the festivities.
Today I am sharing an excerpt from the novel. I love all things Jane Austen, so I can't wait to check this book out.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 5: In which Jane walks into Town from Knightsbridge, and discovers an acquaintance at Hatchard’s Book Shop.
"I wasted an hour over my needlework in Henry’s parlour, in dutiful expectation of a messenger bearing typeset pages of Emma from Mr. Murray’s establishment. None appeared. As it must be impossible to publish a novel that has not been proofed by the authoress, and as one cannot proof what is never delivered, I suffered extremes of vexation. I intend to quit London for my home in Hampshire in early December, and it seems unlikely that the printer’s work—which I had hoped would be finished—will be even half done.
I set aside my needle and wools, and determined to walk out in the watery sunshine. I was desperate for intelligence of the sort only London could provide. I collected a cloak and my reticule, adjusted my serviceable bonnet in the looking glass, and drew on my warmest gloves. It is no small matter to walk into London from Hans Place, and I meant to go as far as Hatchard’s Book Shop in Piccadilly.
It is less than a mile from Henry’s house to the little village of Knightsbridge, with its cavalry barracks and inns, its watchhouse and pens for straying livestock. Not quite the bustle of Town, but not entirely rural, either—London continues to encroach on the fields all about. A fine square is being laid out, and is to be called Cadogan Place, with a terrace of houses to rival Bath’s Royal Crescent along one side.
I hurried a little as I walked up Sloane Street, anxious that I should not encounter our neighbour from Hans Place, Mrs. Tilson. She is the wife of Henry’s partner, James Tilson, and the mother of a numerous family; a rather tiresome creature in her Evangelical fervour—and unlikely to approve of a gentlewoman on errands abroad without her maid. I had torn Manon from Henry’s care yesterday, however, in undertaking to visit Carlton House; and I did not wish to deprive my brother of his cosseter this morning as well. The opinions of a Mrs. Tilson must be as nothing to me. That my sister Cassandra should probably have shared them, I did not allow myself to acknowledge. There was little to remark, of course, in a stroll to Knightsbridge—but the evils of taverns and militiamen from thence to Hyde Park Gate could not be ignored. I trusted to my advancing age to preserve me from insult.
Knightsbridge was charming at this hour of the morning—a little before noon--with a single forlorn cow lowing despondently in the village enclosure. The smell of warm bread drifted from a baker’s oven.
I turned right along the Brompton Road, my head down to avoid any impertinent or roving eyes; but none were abroad today, and a quarter-hour’s brisk effort brought me safely to Hyde Park tollgate, sitting atop its rise, with a weighing house to one side and a watch house on the other. I nearly bounded up the gravel incline—being by then thoroughly warm and contented, flushed with exercise.
Passing through the gate, I was treated to the usual lively London scene: Gentlemen swaggering around Grosvenor Square en route to Tattersall’s, where the most beautiful and spirited horseflesh is at auction; poor souls hastening into St. George’s Hospital to visit the sick; and all of Piccadilly, with its crush of carriages and mounted horsemen, stretching in a mud-churned expanse before one’s feet.
Hatchard’s Book Shop sits on the right-hand side of Piccadilly, at No. 187, just beyond the lengthy enclosure of Green Park; and it being the finest establishment of its kind in England, a veritable Heaven for any lover of books, I was frequently unequal to the temptation to browse among its wares. In truth, I visited it nearly every day that weather permitted. I was not yet so far sunk in depravity as to actually purchase many volumes, being a firm friend of the Circulating Library; but I dearly loved to caress the boards of fresh publications, feel the weight of their paper and the elegance of their type, and I frequently consulted the newspapers Hatchard’s so obligingly made available to the publick for a trifling fee.
After a buffeting and determined journey along the paving—the crowds of London never cease to amaze—I achieved Hatchard’s. I opened the shop door and made my way through the displays—glorious scent of ink and new leather!—to the pleasant room beyond, where easy chairs and tables were set about the racks holding the latest editions of London papers. I did not trifle with the weekly journals, or the Sunday Observer; The Morning Chronicle and The Morning Post were my objects, as they were every other person’s in the room, save for a gentleman engrossed in a sporting journal and a pair of young ladies turning over the leaves of La Belle Assemblée. I observed the latter to be whispering over the plate of an impossibly tall nymph in swansdown, with rubies to her headdress. They had no notion, of course, what such a costume cost—and if the men in their lives were suitably up to snuff, should never be required to know. Ladies who ordered their clothes for themselves were wiser and thriftier, however.
A copy of the Chronicle slid across the polished reading table, discarded. I snatched it up. The paper was of a notably Whiggish turn. In the past this might have meant a protective tone regarding the Prince and his Set; but of late His Royal Highness had forgot his old friends in the Opposition, and had embraced the current Tory Government as preservers of Royalty, and thus more likely to pay his bills.
I searched the columns with a swift eye. It would be a brief notice, in the section reserved for departures, arrivals, births, engagements and deaths. Not to mention scandals. Elopements did a brisk trade in the Morning Chronicle, while rumours of indecency of every kind were vaguely suggested with elisions and initials.
We are grieved to report that Lady R. V. has quitted her husband and all her friends for a dubious venture in the Barbadoes, where the Rum Trade has lately secured her Interest...A certain Duke’s Fast Frigate made safe harbour with a precious Cargo, of which she was delivered this morning...Viscount W., a familiar of Watier’s Club, was seen to disembark in Calais yesterday morning, having lost thousands in playing at macao...
“Has any new work by the author of Mansfield Park lately appeared?”
I turned, startled, but the question was not directed to me. A gentleman stood by the clerk’s counter, and as he leaned forward in expectation of his answer, I knew his profile: high forehead, blade of a nose, the eyes deeply set. My heart beat erratically and I almost fled Hatchard’s—but Mr. Raphael West stood between me and the safety of Piccadilly.
“I am afraid you will have to wait a few months longer, sir, for the enjoyment of that lady’s wit,” I said smoothly as I walked toward him. “I have it on excellent authority that the printers are sadly behindhand, and publication delayed.”
“Do you know...” He broke off at the sight of my face. “Jane. Miss Austen! I had no notion you were in London. I--”
“Mr. West.” I curtseyed.
He bowed. His countenance had flushed to the roots of his dark hair. He did not meet me with indifference, then. Or was this merely embarrassment at being discovered in the solicitation of a novel? He had not disguised his appreciation for my pen when we first scraped acquaintance, last Christmas at The Vyne."
Wow! I love the sound of this! To learn more about the book, check out the description below along with links to buy the book.
Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery
November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.
However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.
Stephanie Barron was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.
Don't forget to visit each tour stop on the JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP BLOG TOUR. Here's the schedule:
February 02 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 03 Laura's Reviews (Excerpt)
February 04 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
February 05 The Calico Critic (Review)
February 06 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)
February 07 Reflections of a Book Addict (Spotlight)
February 08 Mimi Matthews Blog (Guest Blog)
February 09 Jane Austen’s World (Interview)
February 10 Just Jane 1813 (Review)
February 11 Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)
February 12 History of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Guest Blog)
February 13 My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
February 14 Living Read Girl (Review)
February 14 Austenprose (Review)
February 16 Laura's Reviews (Review)
February 17 Jane Austen in Vermont (Excerpt)
February 18 From Pemberley to Milton (Interview)
February 19 More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
February 20 Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
February 21 A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life (Guest Blog)
February 22 Diary of an Eccentric (Review)
In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016. Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!