Jul 132018
 

The Plain Daughter, The Parson, and The Wardrobe

Rating: 4 out 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Sequel, Minor Character, Time Travel/Time Slip

TIME FRAME: Prologue begins in 1690, Main story occurs between 1811-1819

WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS BOOK:

I’ll be honest, I was a bit hesitant to read being this series as I’m not typically drawn to fantasy/time-travel stories. However, many readers and friends have recommended and praised this series and Mr. Jacobson’s writing, so I decided I should stop hesitating and give it a go!

SYNOPSIS:

The first book in this series introduces readers to a specially-crafted wardrobe with mystical properties that allow members of the Bennet blood line to travel into various future times. Made and gifted to the first Bennet of Longbourn, The Bennet Wardrobe has been utilized, guarded, and kept secret for many generations. With several daughters married, Thomas Bennet looks to the future and decides that Mary should become the next Keeper of The Bennet Wardrobe. Mary, who has no idea about any of the special abilities of The Wardrobe or privileges it can provide is about to have her world dramatically changed…

WHAT I LOVED:

  • Mary Bennet: First and foremost, I love that this story focused on Mary Bennet. I enjoyed how the author used the fact that she was now ‘Miss Bennet’ as an impetus to do some soul-searching and maturing. It was such a rewarding experience to see Mary grow, gain courage, make realizations about her personality and behavior, and blossom into an admirable and worthy heroine. I appreciated how the author drew attention to Mary’s feelings of neglect and pain, and gave cause to her critical and stern demeanor. And I especially enjoyed the pleasing and and heartening relationships Mary started to develop in this book with various members of her family – particularly her relationships with Mr. Bennet and Lydia Bennet.
  • The Wardrobe: What an interesting device and how fun to see it in the hands of the Bennet family! I did enjoy learning more about how this wardrobe became to be in the Bennet’s possession and I loved witnessing some moments in the lives of Bennet ancestors. In addition, the rules of the Wardrobe are interesting – I enjoyed how the time-traveler cannot choose “when” they travel to, and that the Wardrobe “knows” the desires of the traveler and ascertains when or where they need to go.
  • Historical Tie-Ins: Throughout the course of this novel we witness various members of the Bennet family encountering famous historical figures, such as John Adams, Queen Victoria, Mary Shelley, and The Prince Regent. As a music-lover and musician I loved the tie-ins with Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin and am wondering if we will see more of these characters in the next book of the series…
  • Mary’s Love: I enjoyed seeing Mary’s relationship with the mysterious stranger who she cannot help but feel strong affection and attachment towards. I liked that he was serious-natured and focused about his calling, yet light-hearted and playful with Mary. He seemed a perfect fit for Mary.

WHAT I AM AMBIVALENT ABOUT:

  • Multi-Episodic: This first book of the series establishes a lot and covers a lot of ground. And while I greatly enjoyed the action-packed eventfulness of this story, it did sometimes feel a little too fast-paced. And the series of events – while diverse and interesting – sometimes didn’t feel wholly connected under one arc. I did sometimes wish for it to feel a little more unified.

WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:

  • Some Small Quibbles: While some readers may dislike a certain couple marrying, it didn’t bother me. However, I did often wish that some of the romances weren’t so fast-paced – everyone fell in love instantly. Moreover, I did find Mr. Collins character a little too skeevy (shudders), although I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him receive his just desserts. In addition, I could not help but wonder why the Wardrobe wasn’t used more by certain Bennets. Especially those that are fond of reading and exploring (but perhaps that happens in another part of this series).

CONCLUSION:

With The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Adventure Don Jacobson introduces an incredibly inventive and engaging series that  promises to be filled with thrilling action, unforeseen adventures, brushes with history, surprising encounters, and time-traveling Bennets! I cannot wait to see what journeys we embark on next!

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  24 Responses to “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey – Don Jacobson”

  1.  

    Sounds fab. I love time travel. Great review Meredith. This has gone to the top of my TRB pile. Thank you

    •  

      Hi Michelle,
      Thank you for your enthusiasm. As Meredith noted…there are some pitfalls to be discovered in a multi-episodic series. The stories does weave in and out with one-another. For instance, deep within The Keeper, one will find a reference to a letter Mary receives from Lizzy. That served as the impetus for the bridge novella “Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess.” Therein, I explore questions about why Mr. Bennet barred the Bennet daughters from the Longbourn Library while also taking Lizzy’s education in hand. But, I also sought to deepen our understanding of the Elizabeth Bennet who inhabits the Universe created by the Wardrobe…and how her life influenced others.

    •  

      Awesome! That’s great to hear since this is a multi-book series! 🙂

      Ooh! I am excited to hear that there is more Lizzy in the later book of this series!

      •  

        Yes indeed….now that you have read the Keeper, you could turn to “Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess” which explores a period after the First Kitty book and then flies back to that section in the Mary book where Elizabeth and Darcy are touring Europe in 1816.

  2.  

    I like the idea of the wardrobe!. At first I thought it was like Narnia but it seems more a Delorean 😉

    •  

      I also offer a discussion of British Magical Transport in the Prologue section of the book in which (in a mock academic article which emerges from the Wardrobe’s Universe) the author of the article (me) examines how the wardrobe works and puts it on the same plane as Lewis’ Wardrobes, Rowling’s flue network, and Clarke’s King’s Roads. This little piece does explore some of the interior functions of the Wardrobe and how it relates to the Bennets.

    •  

      LOL! Teresa! It is an interesting device and Don definitely put some careful thought into its properties!

  3.  

    This is a well-written review, as yours always are, and it delves into the heart of the book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. As you know, I love this series and I am thrilled that you decided to give it a try. As you continue on your journey, that is The Bennet Wardrobe, you will see more and more things falling into place. I am amazed at Don Jacobson’s ability to write this story with the historical tie-ins, characters from other novels, the growth of each book, and still keep the complete story in his head, knowing where he is headed with all of it! Thanks again for such an insightful review.

    •  

      Aw shucks, Janet! But, readers should also take the time to closely look at the wonderful covers you have created. When readers go to the Amazon page for each of the Wardrobe books (except Henry Fitzwilliam’s War which is only an e-book), they should click on the cover so that they can get a close-up look at the wonderful touches you have added…the rose garland on the front cover (roses are an ongoing theme throughout all of the books), the “hints” on the back cover, and the wreath or partial wreath on the spines. Thank you for your remarkable creativity.

    •  

      Thank you, sweet friend! I so appreciate your kind words and encouragement! I didn’t mention it in my review (I rarely do since my reviews are longish), but I do love seeing all these lovely covers you designed. I love the piano, Mary, the green color, and sheet music score on the back. 🙂

  4.  

    Oooooh, I love time travel and a magical wardrobe sounds right up my alley. I also appreciate P&P variations that give page time to some of the more overlooked characters like Mary.

    Adding this to my TBR list. Thanks for the great review, Meredith!

    Congrats to Don on the publication!

    •  

      Lori J…Thank you for your kudos! The Bennet Wardrobe stories are a work of love. Although I have been preoccupied with some life matters, I am now ready to accelerate the third volume in the Series…”The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament.”

      The Entire Series published to date is as follows:

      “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey” (print and e-book…Audible in August)
      “Henry Fitzwilliam’s War” (an e-novella and Audible)
      “The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque” (e-book, print…Audible in September)
      “Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess” (e-book, print, and Audible)
      “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn” (e-book and print…Audible in October)

      My publication schedule is, I pray, as follows…

      “The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament” (2018)
      “The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion” (2019)

      Look forward to your thoughts on the books!

    •  

      Thanks so much for checking out my review, Lori! If you are fan of time travel stories definitely give this series a try! 🙂

  5.  

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting your review of The Keeper, Meredith. I’m caught up now with the series and and completely hooked, not wanting it to end but also wanting all the loose ends wrapped up, the questions answered, etc. Jacobson is a marvelous writer and his world building is amazing. And frankly, if it didn’t revolve around the beloved characters of Pride & Prejudice I wouldn’t have picked it up, myself. I’m really not into fantasy and overdone time travel genres. But from the beginning I was able to suspend disbelief and move onward…..I have a feeling this is because The Keeper wasn’t the first book I read. I won a copy of Henry Fitzwilliam’s War and read it without realizing I was reading out of order. Wow. I can’t wait until you read that book, Meredith. !!!!!

    Thanks for the review, I hope that and some of the positive responses you are sure to receive will spark others to begin the series and then hang in there and continue….it just gets better and better.

    I so agree how this book believes in Mary and allows her growth in so many areas of her life.

    •  

      Hi Michelle! You have been a mainstay in the Wardrobe’s Universe. In fact, if it t’was not for the good Captain Hemsath and his lady…Mr. and Mrs. Darcy would have had a dreary trip indeed along the Briare Canal in central France during “Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess.” Of course, the loyal Sloane likewise cared for her mistress when he was laid low by her recent misfortune! I appreciate your gracious input!

    •  

      So lovely to see your praise, Michelle! I am glad to hear how this series won you over and continues to be something you are thoroughly enjoying! I am looking forward to the next book too! 🙂

  6.  

    Sounds like an unusual premise for a Jane Austen fan fiction novel, but from reading your review Meredith, it clearly works. I like time travel stories so this sounds like a fun read. Great review too.

    •  

      Thank you, Elaine, for your thoughts here. T’is important to note that the Wardrobe is an instrumentality (much as Lewis’ Wardrobes were) to move the characters to spaces where they can learn that which they need to realize their ultimate potentials as three-dimensional beings. You will not find Bennets flitting around the universe like they were catching the trolley!

    •  

      Thank you for checking out my review, Elaine! I think it is definitely a unique angle! I am looking forward to spending more time with the Wardrobe to learn more about it!

  7.  

    Loved the review! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Meredith, and thanks, Don, for the Wardrobe series! Such an amazing project and so beautifully crafted! Your love of history shines through every page. Thanks for taking us with you on this magical journey. It’s the next best thing to having our own time-machines.

    •  

      Thanks so much for reading my review, Joana! 🙂 I so agree with you about Don’s love of history! I can only imagine how much research went into this series! And I wouldn’t find it too hard to believe that Don enjoyed the researching and brainstorming process! 🙂

      LOL! So true!

  8.  

    Loved your review Meredith. This is the first piece of the puzzle that is The Bennet Wardrobe series. Don has woven an amazing journey that has completely captured my imagination. He has taken the secondary characters of P&P and breathed life into them…and what life each are given! The covers are gorgeous and each have certain references to what is within.

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