Mar 022018
 

Hi friends!  I’m so excited to share this fun author visit with you today!  Actually, it isn’t quite an author visit, more of a retelling of an incident I had while reading Mark Brownlow’s new book – Cake and Courtship: Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs Book One. We hope you like it!

[Blurry, wavy image and harp music]

The Scene: While her husband (Mr. Bingley) is out of town playing for a band, Meredith Esparza decides to wait up for him and begins reading a new Pride and Prejudice variation from the point-of-view of Mr. Bennet titled, Cake and Courtship. Meredith is only a couple of chapters in when Mr. Bingley returns and they both turn in for the night.

During the night, Meredith begins to dream, and finds herself in what appears to be someone’s personal library.  There are tall shelves lining the walls, heavy with many tomes. In the center of the room there is a desk, covered with stacks of books and documents.  Sitting behind the desk in a comfortable armchair is an older gentleman, wearing glasses and perusing an open book he cradles in his hand.  Half turned away from her, the man is so engrossed with his reading that he doesn’t immediately notice Meredith’s presence in the room.  Since her mind was just filled with Mr. Bennet a few hours before, Meredith suspects that the man before her must be one and the same, but she isn’t sure.

She is curious to know if this man is indeed Mr. Bennet, so Meredith summons her courage and begins a conversation with him…

Meredith:  Excuse me, I am so sorry to disturb you, but are you by any chance Mr. Bennet?

[The older man turns, dipping his head to look over his glasses at Meredith. He raises a single eyebrow, puts his book to one side, then leans back in his chair.]

Mr. Bennet: I am, indeed. You have me at somewhat of a disadvantage, young lady. I presume you are a friend of one of the girls? I really must pay more attention to their dinner conversation. It seems fashions have changed far more quickly than I imagined possible. Your attire is most… [he coughs] …novel. How may I be of service?

Meredith: Er…um…yes, I am somewhat acquainted with your daughters. I have heard so much about the tranquility and comfort of your library and the impressive collection of books you house here, that, as a book lover myself, I could not help wanting to catch a glimpse. Please forgive my boldness.

Mr. Bennet: There is nothing to forgive, dear lady, nothing at all. There can be no higher recommendation of a person’s character than a love of books. Unless, of course, you mean poetry or anything by that Fordyce fellow. Now, where are my manners? Do take a seat. [He motions Meredith to another armchair.]

Let me see if I might guess what would interest you most. Hmm…butterflies? No, I think it unlikely. Beetles, then? Perhaps dragonflies? No? Music!? I have a large collection of tomes that promise mastery of the voice and pianoforte. I bought them for my daughter, Mary. They are a little dusty, mind you.

Anyway, you have the right of it. This is a place of refuge. My books remain admirably silent on the topics of balls and bonnets; I have quite enough of all that in every other room, as you might imagine with five daughters. And now I also find myself plagued by talk of young gentlemen. The officers may keep the peace in Meryton, but they have quite the opposite effect in Longbourn. And there are bachelors not long arrived at Netherfield, too. Have you been to that great house?

Meredith: [Looks longingly at Mr. Bennet’s shelves of books, but decides instead to continue the conversation about the new gentlemen in the neighborhood.] I have not been to Netherfield, sir, but I have heard that there is a new tenant now residing there. Are you acquainted with the gentleman?

Mr. Bennet: Yes, Mr. Bingley is no stranger to me. Unfortunately, that is also true of his sisters. As for his friend, Mr. Darcy, well, Mrs Bennet does not like him, which almost endears him to me. But she is not alone in her opinion. Only Jane has anything pleasant to say about him, though she has something pleasant to say about everyone. My own impression is not yet formed, but I am wary of trusting any man who spends so much time staring stoically out of windows.

We have a Mr. Collins staying with us, too. Have you met him? [Meredith shakes her head.] Pray that you never do. Imagine the most humble, intelligent man of your acquaintance. Now imagine quite the opposite. Though he provides much amusement at dinner; you should see how he eats a boiled potato.

So many bachelors, eh? With all the fuss, I am glad my courting days are over. Though I find they may be less ‘over’ than I believed. You see…well, no, I do not wish to trouble you. But you strike me as an intelligent young woman, and married, too, if I am not mistaken? [Meredith nods.] Perhaps you might be able to help me with a matter?

Meredith: I can easily imagine with so many new bachelors in the neighborhood that there is indeed quite a fuss. What matter do you require help with? I would be happy to aid you in any way.

Mr. Bennet: A gentleman friend of mine has asked for my assistance in winning the heart of an independent young lady of some wealth. My experience of such matters is, well…let us say it lies in a past I do not care to remember, at least not without first indulging in a few more glasses of port. And so I am obliged to learn the rituals once again for his sake. I dare not trouble my family with the matter – there would be no end of silliness. But perhaps you might have some advice on how he should set about the task? Where is my pen? I shall take notes!

Meredith: [Chuckles at the idea of Mr. Bennet asking her for courtship advice.] Ah, well. Perhaps you could tell me a little bit more about this gentleman friend of yours first. What is his situation? How well acquainted is he with the young lady?

Mr. Bennet: Ah, therein lies our problem. He is not acquainted with this lady at all. [Meredith’s eyes widen] Quite…you might well consider him foolish in his hopes and affections, but we are all fools in love, no?

John has spent the last years overseas, untouched by English society, so lacks connections or the confidence of a large estate. I wonder if he lacks sense, too, given his belief that I may be able to help him. But there is a history with his family. [Mr. Bennet grows quiet for a moment, his pen-free hand half-reaching toward the port and sponge cake on his desk.]

My friend is amiable enough. Rather like Mr. Bingley, but with fewer exclamation marks in his conversation. The estate near Gloucester suffers from the family’s absence and John is more painter than landowner. But I am fond of him. How do you think he might best impress a young lady? Wealth? Position? Character? Perhaps the way he ties his cravat?

[Meredith is about to answer when there is a knock at the library door.]

Unknown Person: Mr. Bennet! Mr. Bennet!

Mr. Bennet: A moment, please! Ah, it seems Mr. Collins has lost none of his impeccable timing. Is there to be no peace? You know, this pen gives me an idea. What with John and Mr. Bingley, the girls and all that is going on, perhaps I should record the events of Longbourn for posterity. Now, what should I call my efforts? [His eyes rest momentarily on the cake by his side.] Anyway, you had best make yourself scarce before Mr. Collins comes in. [Mr. Bennet looks about the room.] Hello? Young lady? How uncommonly strange…

[A strong jolt startles Meredith awake. It appears that the idea of encountering Mr. Collins was so unpleasant that she accidentally woke herself up from sleep as if in a nightmare. Sorely disappointed that she cannot continue her conversation with Mr. Bennet and ask more about this newcomer John and his affairs of the heart, Meredith decides to seek the answers to satisfy her curiosity immediately… Grabbing her handy book light, Meredith settles back into bed with Cake and Courtship: Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs Book One, despite the fact that it is 3:30 in the morning.]

What do you think of Mr. Bennet?  I cannot wait to see more of Pride and Prejudice from his point-of-view!  And what about John? A new eligible man in the neighborhood – what kind of stir will that cause? Or not cause as his heart seems to be already engaged!  

My sincere thanks to Mark Brownlow for his brilliant responses in this character interview!  It was so much fun for me to work on this together!

~~~

Connect with Mark

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Author Bio

Mark Brownlow is a British-born writer living in Vienna, Austria. His debut novel, Cake and Courtship, is a Regency romance narrated by Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet. He has also written a novella, The Lovesick Maid: a cozy mystery set in Jane Austen’s fictional village of Hunsford. You can find Mark at LostOpinions.com, where he is known for his reimagining of classic literature as emails. When not writing or teaching, he watches costume drama and football (though not at the same time).

 ~~~

GIVEAWAY TIME!

In conjunction with his visit to my blog, Mark is giving away a prize to one lucky reader – the winner can choose either a paperback copy of Cake and Courtship: Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs Book One OR a box of Viennese chocolates! This may be a hard decision!! Look how lovely those boxes look!

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Mark!!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Mark!
  • This giveaway ends March 9th!

To learn more about Mark Brownlow and his new release: Cake and Courtship: Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs Book One visit any of the other stops on his tour!

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  69 Responses to “Interview + Giveaway with Author Mark Brownlow!!!”

  1.  

    That was great! Mark has really captured the whimsical wit of Mr. Bennet. “Now imagine quite the opposite!” ROFL! Bravo to you both! I have read (and really enjoyed) Cake & Courtship so don’t enter me in the draw, but I encourage everyone else to enter!

  2.  

    Unlike Lona, I have not read this book nor heard of this author until very recently. I am curious as to who John is, and in which rich, independent young lady is he interested. Georgiana? Caroline? Neither really fit the description.

    I found your dream most amusing, Meredith. Somehow I have never found myself inserted in any JAFF dream although I do have dreams in which I appear. Mr. Bingley was not awakened by the book light at 3 AM? I can’t read I in bed…it is not a comfortable position for me.

    A book from Mr. Bennet’s POV would be interesting to read. Thanks for the chance. I would take the book over chocolates.

    •  

      Ah, young Mr Barton has fallen in love with an elusive lady from Bath – also a new character. Though I think he would like Georgiana…

    •  

      I’m glad you enjoyed my dream, Sheila! No, Mr. Bingley is perfectly fine with the book light, I use it all the time since I typically wake before him but don’t want to leave the bed! 🙂

  3.  

    What an entertaining post. Loved your discussion with Mr Bennet and laughed out loud when just the thought of encountering Mr. Collins brought the interlude to an end.

  4.  

    Not read a Mr Bennet POV story so that will be different for me – added it to my very long wish list

    •  

      Your comment made me look at my TBR pile, Vesper, and I realized I really must read more or else raise my ceiling so the stack can grow…

  5.  

    What a fun post, Meredith and Mark. I laughed out loud when Mr. Collins’s arrival awakened you from your dream. Clever indeed! Thank you for sharing such a delightful read this morning. The book sounds like it will be much fun to read. Congratulations, Mark. You do present quite a delectable choice for your giveaway, “Cake” with Mr. Bennet or chocolates. How could one go wrong? 🙂

  6.  

    I enjoyed this fun post! I became a fan of Mark’s after reading his Jane Austen-inspired email inboxes on Twitter (you can find them on his website). They’re so clever, I laughed out loud. Please don’t enter me in the drawing, because I already have this e-book. It’s a fun read, and I’m looking forward to Book Two.

    •  

      Thanks, Nancy! But you can always choose the chocolates (which I’m sort of hoping nobody does, because then, well, someone else will have to eat them, cough.)

  7.  

    This delightful novel sounds unique and very special. How creative and wonderful. Thanks for this lovely feature and giveaway.

  8.  

    Great and imaginative post! I love the concept of this book, and the subtitle “A tale of love, regret and nerve tonic” is wonderfully delicious. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  9.  

    Wonderful interview! I could easily picture Meredith transported to Mr. Bennet’s library and waking up because she did not want to meet Mr. Collins. I would enjoyed hearing her impressions of the odious man, though. It will be fun to see how Mr. Bennet responds to lessons on courtship. Thank you for the giveaway.

    •  

      Thanks! I find Mr Collins a real treat in P&P: odious and hilarious at the same time.

    •  

      LOL! Maybe in a future dream I will encounter Mr. Collins! 😉 I love the idea of Mr. Bennet getting himself embroiled in courtship affairs. Can’t wait to see how he does!

  10.  

    That was a fun read! I do wish you could have met Mr. Collins though! Love Mr. Bennet and his dry wit!
    Thanks for the giveaway. I’d love to win a copy of the book!

  11.  

    I love Mr. Bennet as portrayed in the 1995 video version of P&P. He is my favorite! I’d also like to read more about John and which young lady he is interested in! Even though I own over 10000 ebooks I’d love another book, especially in the JAFF genre!

  12.  

    I adore Mr. Bennet and his library! That’s a tough choice between the book and the chocolate, though….

  13.  

    So cute! It’s still somewhat of a novelty to see new male authors join the JAFF world, and very welcome too. Any new author deserves a chance of course. This sounds like a lot of fun.

  14.  

    Entertaining post. Had me laughing out loud with Bennet’s remarks about Collins. Thanks for the giveaway.

  15.  

    Hi Meredith! I’ve enjoyed so much with your “dream”!.Stay in Mr Bennet ‘ s library must be the cup of tea of every lover of books 😉
    And having conversation with him can be very pleasant if you can catch his sense of humour and fine irony (and I think most of Austen fans are smart and brilliant LOL).
    Congrats to Mark for giving a new perspective of P&P from Mr Bennet ‘s point of view. It must be a really interesting reading!.
    Thanks for the giveaway Mark and I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Greetings from Spain!
    P.S: Meredith, I don’t wonder you waked up so fast when hearing Mr Collins coming across your way! What a nightmare! LOL

  16.  

    That was a fabulous interview! Very cleverly done, and I hope you are not too tired. I do love Mr. Bennet’s responses, and I believe he is quite perturbed with the prospect of giving such advise! Looking forward to finding out more! Again, thank you for a chance at the giveaway!

    •  

      Meredith was a joy to work with on this – the whole setup was her idea!

    •  

      Thanks for your kind words, Carole and your lovely words too, Mark!! It was such a pleasure to do this post together! I was worried because I’m terribly creative when it comes to writing ideas, but the ideas seemed to flow pretty naturally and Mark did a fantastic job of leading me and making sure I didn’t go off track! 😉

  17.  

    I enjoyed that Meredith. I love the idea of this book. I have to admit that Mr. Bennett is one of my favorite characters in P&P and I love the idea of him playing matchmaker when he’s made such a hash of his own marriage. Would love to win this book and the best of luck to Mark with it.

  18.  

    I am so looking forward to hearing more from Mr. Bennet. On my reading list.

  19.  

    Meredith and Mark – I love the interaction and I’m always fond of retellings from another’s point of view. thanks for the giveaway. –Leslie

    •  

      Thanks, Leslie. We had a lot of laughs writing it.

    •  

      Me too, Leslie! It isn’t often you see books that spotlight Mr. Bennet! I’m really excited to spend more time with him! So glad you enjoyed our post! I had such a blast working together with Mark on it!

  20.  

    What a great post Meredith. I really enjoyed your ‘dream’ and I imagine you were relieved to wake without having to meet Mr Collins.
    I do wonder who John is as well as the young heiress and am quite intrigued by reading Mr Bennet’s POV. I do hope he comes down on Darcy’s side.

    •  

      Thank you, Glynis! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 😉 I was sorry to leave Mr. Bennet, but not sorry to avoid an encounter with Mr. Collins! 😉 It will be interesting to see what happens with John!

  21.  

    Love the post! What a clever way of introducing Mr. Bennet’s memoirs. I’m looking forward to reading his views of what happens and who this new character is and how he plays a role in the story.

  22.  

    How fantastic to have had a conversation with Mr Bennet! I can see why Lizzie cares for him so deeply. Would love to read more about his pov, the book sounds great 🙂

  23.  

    Wow, a POV from the family patriarch! This has got to be good!! Thanks for sharing!

  24.  

    Oh that was so much fun. How did Mr. Bennet’s library compare with yours, Meredith? All I know is, I’m envious of both. Of course, you’ve not been to THAT Netherfield, but you’ve got one of your own, haven’t you. Like many others, I was laughing out loud at some of Mr. Bennet’s comments: “you should see how he eats a boiled potato”!

    It’s only with this upcoming book that I’ve found out that it’s Mr. Brownlow who’s responsible for the Austenesque “email inboxes” that have been floating around in social media for some time now. They’re fantastic and I hope he carries on producing more of them.

    Looking forward to reading a Mr. Bennet POV as there aren’t that many of them around.

    •  

      Hi Anji. Glad you like the inboxes. I did Mr Bennet’s for the tour and I’m working on a couple of others – am re-reading Northanger Abbey for that very purpose as we speak…

    •  

      Great question, Anji! 😉 I would say his library is larger for sure and I believe his collection is more numerous than mine, but perhaps mine are better organized? 😉 True! I have not been to THAT Netherfield and seen THAT Mr. Bingley. 😉 Thanks for your lovely visit, my friend!

  25.  

    what a wonderful conversation with Mr. Bennet!

    denise

  26.  

    Hahaha I would so love to have Mr. Bennet as my dad! Good Luck with your book, it’s one that I would definitely like to add into my Jane Austen collection.

    Infact, the other day in my jane Austen class, we were having a discussion on all austen retellings and I think I’ll talk about this in my next class.

  27.  

    Thank you and I am truly excited to read this book – Mr Bennet has always been one of my favorite characters and I always believed he was underdeveloped. And of course Lizzie is his favorite, which means he has the best taste ever! Good luck with the book 🙂

  28.  

    What a tasteful interview and prizes!!!

  29.  

    Chocolates are so tempting but paperback would be first choice! I look forward to Mr Bennet’s POV.

  30.  

    This sounds so interesting! Always wanted to know p and p from Mr Bennet’s perspective.

  31.  

    The interview is entertaining. Thank you for sharing an imaginative piece, Mark and Meredith. I am eager to learn more of the story from Mr Bennet’s point of view.

    As tempting as a box of Viennese chocolate sounds, I would love to win the paperback copy of Cake & Courtship. An author (though she will rename nameless here) shipped some chocolates to me from overseas some years ago but it melted away due to the hot weather in my country. So I prefer not to receive chocolates to avoid this mess.

    •  

      Yes, one of the few advantages of the cold Viennese winter is not having to worry about keeping food cool. We have the opposite problem – if we leave bottles to cool outside and forget, they freeze and explode.

  32.  

    What an exciting opportunity to meet Mr. Bennet! He seems in good spirits!

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