Aug 272018
 

A Hero’s Poignant Backstory

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Audible Code from Author

In continuation of his incredibly inventive and engaging Austenesque time travel/time slip series – The Bennet Wardrobe, Don Jacobson prefaces the next novel installment, The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque, with a novella that introduces a new character and hero – Henry Fitzwiliam. Since there is much to learn and understand about both the Bennet Wardrobe and the Bennet family lineage, I’d recommend reading The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey before reading this book in the series. For those who have not had the pleasure of reading any of the books in this series yet, it focuses on the Bennet family and their specially-crafted wardrobe with mystical properties that allow members of the Bennet blood line to travel into various future times (similar to a Tardis or a certain custom-modified of DeLorean). 🙂

In Henry Fitzwilliam’s War readers encounter Lydia Bennet’s great grandson, Henry, in the year 1883. Lydia is currently they keeper of the Bennet Wardrobe and Henry at the age of twenty-one is eager to “make his mark” and search for “that which would confirm his manhood.” And since he is fortunate to have a time travel devise at his disposal, he takes the advantage of the liberty to travel into the future and search for his destiny there. But as readers of The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey may already know, the time traveler does not get to pick the destination year…the Wardrobe does. And in this case the Wardrobe sends Henry to the year 1915, right in the middle of World War I.

I love learning about characters’ backstories and I am so thankful that Don Jacobson takes such pains to give all his characters a rich and thorough detailed history. And I especially enjoy how some of his characters’ histories become intertwined with other notable figures, as Henry’s does with Theodore Roosevelt! From what I understand, this novella was created to give readers some understanding of Henry’s character make-up and past experiences. I loved seeing Henry’s courage throughout the story – even after facing the horrors of the battlefield and suffering injuries, he keeps his spirit and determination. And I am greatly intrigued by his caretaker (who never reveals her identity to him) and very eager to learn more of her story – who is her husband and what happens with her marriage? There is something significant developing between Henry and this unnamed woman even though twenty years separate them, and this book will leave readers waiting with baited breath for their next encounter.

This novella was a unique reading experience for me because I did not actually read it, I listened to it via the audiobook narrated by Amanda Berry. And it was my very first time ever listening to an audiobook. I very much enjoyed Ms. Berry’s narration with her well-balanced pace and wonderful assortment of accents, tones, and inflections! Having no experience at all with audiobooks I found myself very impressed with the overall quality of the narration. And while I did enjoy the advantages of “hands-free reading” and the ability to walk on the beach while a book was read to me, I am not sure if audiobooks are the right fit for me. This has nothing at all whatsoever to do with either the book or narrator, and more so with the fact that I am more of a visual person/learner and felt myself missing seeing the words before me on a page.

An intriguing new character, an impossible romance, and a search for destiny – Henry Fitzwilliam’s War is an enticing and savory sample of Don Jacobson’s next Wardrobe adventure! Readers who enjoy thoughtful and encompassing tales that combine history, literature, and romance should give The Bennet Wardrobe a try!

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  24 Responses to “Henry Fitzwilliam’s War – Don Jacobson”

  1.  

    Thank you for such a wonderful, thoughtful, and insightful review! I look forward to interacting with the followers of this site.

    A special note: “Henry Fitzwilliam’s War” grew from my need to understand the forces which shaped the young Viscount’s personality…and explain to myself (and then you) why he acted as he did toward Miss Bennet in the early sections of Part 1 of “The Exile.” I intentionally avoided including it (HFW) as, say, Book 1 of “The Exile” because I wanted readers to experience the same sense of disequilibration that Kitty did when she first met Henry in 1886.

    As noted in other venues, the best sequence to read (Listen is coming along) the books of the Bennet Wardrobe is

    The Keeper: Mary Benet’s Extraordinary Journey
    Henry Fitzwilliam’s War
    The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque
    Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess
    The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

    I am currently about 50% through the creation of the next book inthe Series, “The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and A Father’s Lament.” Amanda and I are working on the audio version of the first part of Kitty’s story.

  2.  

    Meredith, you and I have something in common: I have always been a visual learner also. I taught myself to read at 4 years of age, and 58 years later, have never stopped. My mind tends to wander if am listening rather than reading for myself, and I can be 20 minutes down the road and not know a thing I heard. Therefore, I must be the one reading to truly enjoy the experience! This series certainly sounds like a keeper!

    •  

      <> “The Keeper” is the first book in the series! Look forward to your thoughts on the book!

    •  

      I can so relate, Denise! My mind wanders too. I always need to see things in writing to, whether it is making a list, drawing a diagram – it is just easier for me to grasp when I can see it. 🙂

      It is definitely a great series so far, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

  3.  

    What a great wardrobe that is, shame that Mr Darcy doesn’t get to use it also on occasion… Would be great if he traveled to 2018 say this evening for a cup of tea and a chat ;D But seriously this series sounds fun !!

    •  

      All I can say is “stay tuned.”

    •  

      True, Charlotte. LOL! Yes, I would 1. love for something like that to happen in real life and 2. would love to see Darcy’s reaction to life in 2018!!!

      •  

        As I said to Charlotte, stay tuned…although as the series is constructed, Darcy’s role will necessarily be limited. However, If you closely read the end of the Keeper (as well as the scene between Elizabeth and Samuel Bennet…and the Wardrobe) you may see the seeds of possibility for how a non-Bennet may use the cabinet. Perhaps a subsequent novella–still set in the Wardrobe Universe–in the tune of Denise O’Hara’s “Timeless” stories will satisfy your appetite.

  4.  

    I thought this was a great short piece between the larger ones, too.

    •  

      Nicole Clarkston refers to me as “Mr. Novella.” I probably will produce a few others of these to more completely sketch the for of the characters. Much like “Miss Bennet’s First Christmas” and “Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess.”

    •  

      So glad to hear that, Sophia! I was too, because I’m finding reading time very scarce this summer! :/

  5.  

    Ever since I first received Henry Fitzwilliam’s War as a giveaway a little over a year ago, and reading it out of order with the rest of the books, it’s been ‘hook, line, and sinker’ for me as far as this series goes. Your review was descriptive without revealing any spoilers, Meredith. Thank you for that. I agree that Amanda Berry does a lovely narrating job for Don’s works. I loved revisiting the story that I so love, by listening to it like someone retelling a beloved story or reading a book to me in my private quiet times.

    The audio vs physical reading debate aside, (which I could go into-but I won’t) listening to this audio book made me want to go back and reread it for myself. I knew as I listened along that I was missing things I picked up on when I was reading it the first time. One of the chief things among them being the footnotes. And to a lesser degree being able to look up a word immediately on my Kindle app dictionary. If you were only listening to the Wardrobe series book by book, my opinion is that you could easily read/listen to HFW after the next book The Exile.

    I know I said above that I read this one first out of order, and would recommend reading them in order. But this story stands on it’s own too. Don’s world building skills seem to be most excellent in this story, as well as the rest of the series, but though this is a novella it inhabits a nearly complete world all it’s own, due to (as you mentioned,) poignantly compelling ‘impossible romance’ that takes place in a closed smaller world within the bigger one because of Henry’s injury and recovery. You find out later how important the ‘bit players’ from this book are in the next book, and remember there were clues left in this one to the future story from the things that are said here.

    The concept of The Wardrobe Series, having a major fantasy element involved, requires some suspension of disbelief to go along on the ride. Personally here, that requires something more from me, as it is not my genre of first choice. But then, also personally, when I do jump in I do it with abandon. It helps me that The Pride and Prejudice characters and their ‘histories’ and the many many variations I read and love helps that along. It wouldn’t be the same without them at all.

    Thank you again, Meredith. I hope that sometime after reading the next couple of books you can go back and actually read this one in print. I’d like to know if I am alone in my opinions of the Audible vs Kindle versions of this.

    Thanks to Don Jacobson for this amazing series.

    •  

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Michelle! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear them!

      Interesting what you say about the order reading and the differences between reading/listening to this series. I most missed having visuals in the very early part of the book especially with the preface material – luckily I was able to look up all that material on the Amazon sample. I’m so new to audiobooks – is it common to listen to stories you’ve already read or do readers like to listen to brand new books via audiobook?

      Also, I just wanted to double check I understand what you said, there aren’t any footnotes in the audiobook, but there are in the ebook?

      Ooh! I’m hoping I didn’t miss any of the “clues” you mentioned, I will have to find out next month!

      I agree with you about not being one to usually gravitate towards fantasy/time travel reads, but I feel as you do that as long as there is “something more” to draw me in, I’m happy to enjoy the ride!

      •  

        It was very slow accumulating any kind of audio ‘library’ of sorts, since audio books are much more expensive than an e-book. It has most often been books I’ve already read and knew Ilked. Also if you have purchased the e-book, you generally pay a much lower price for the audio. I don’t exclude unread books, though. Recently I decided to enroll in Audible’s Romance package which is like Kindle Unlimited. I don’t know how long I’ll continue with that as romance covers quite a range. But I’ve enjoyed it for a couple of months now, and I have listened to some book series that I have wanted to read but just can’t bring myself to spend the money for even when I really like the author. We all have our budgets, and like many others, when you read a new book every other day (hey, I’m retired) that can be an expensive habit! Anyway, my listening has evolved in the past year or so with increased listening time due to eye fatigue.

      •  

        Meredith…as noted (intentional word use here) in my comment to Anji, the Audio version is necessarily different from the print, and footnotes (or in my books, endnotes) are often a core “nugget” that is lost.

        As an historian, I have an ingrained habit of citing sources. That way folks know that I have not just made stuff up. And even when I play fast and loose with either fact or fiction (making Cardinal Newman older and a Catholic from birth in “The Keeper” and Holmes’ ‘death’ at Reichenbach a few months earlier that in Doyle), I try to account for it in a note.

        For me, though, the notes allow for a deeper explanation of something that, if inserted in the scene, would destroy the narrative flow. For instance, in “The Maid and The Footman” when Annie accepts Henry’s offer, his world resounds with a few cathedral (Westiminster Abbey to be precise) metaphors including “a full peal.” How many readers would know that “a full peal” of Westminster’s bells is rarely performed (Royal Weddings) and requires 5,000 changes over 3 hours? Now they would if they had popped over to the endnote…but if I had stuck that in the story line…you may never have reached the end of the book just three pages on.

        Would they have not cared if they did not know what a “full peal” was? Maybe. However, if they wanted to know, I had the answer for them in that endnote.

        The notes appear in both the print version and the e-book. However, the e-book allows for the reader to simply scroll over the “xlv” and see the full note. No flipping pages required (a huge argument for footnotes…which, I think, hurt the flow as readers bounce from the middle of the page to the bottom). And, even if you end up at the back of the e-book, you can quickly return to your last read point by clicking on the live endnote roman numeral link.

  6.  

    Wonderful review, Meredith! Huge congrats, Don, best wishes and lots of inspiration for many more!

    •  

      Joana…your support has meant the world to me as I have been building the Wardrobe’s Universe. Thank you again!

  7.  

    As you may remember, Meredith, I’m a huge fan of audiobooks. I first joined Audible about seven years ago and now have a rather large collection of audiobooks: sci-fi, fantasy (all of Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire), classics and maybe, just maybe(!), a few Austenesque books that I’ve acquired along the way. In fact, my first forays into this genre were the audios of Pamela Aiden’s trilogy and Amanda Grange’s Mr. Darcy’s Diary. I’m now enrolled into an Audible program here in the UK that gives me 24 credits per year for one flat fee

    I have to drive quite a bit to the various places where I work and once I grew out of listening to pop music stations, I used to listen to various talk radio stations broadcasting news and current affairs. Gradually, I became disenchanted with them, too, and now listen to audiobooks almost exclusively. Unless, of course, a book finishes whilst I’m driving and can’t pull over to switch to a new one. Obviously, one doesn’t fiddle about with a smartphone or iPod when still on the move! I also listen when I’m gardening (takes the drudgery out of weeding!), cooking and decorating. When I’m painting a door or wall, whatever I’m listening to becomes forever associated with that object. My study walls are associated with various stories from Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and a door I painted a few weeks ago is forever linked with The Subsequent Proposal!

    At first, I tried not to duplicate ebooks and audios but I’ve got quite a few duplicates now, as I always gain something new from the audio version that I missed when reading. This particularly applies to the works of our beloved Jane herself. I think I’ve got three audios of P&P, all performed by different people. Seems a little OTT perhaps, but I’ve got three (or is it four?) physical copies and the same in ebooks, so why not? It’s also a slightly surreal experience listening to the audio version of a book I’ve been involved with at the beta stage.

    The performer of an audiobook can make or break it, in my view. There are some brilliant ones and some…..shall we say, not so brilliant? I won’t spend an Audible credit on a book if I don’t like the way that person has performed a previous purchase, no matter how much I want to listen to that book. Let me say, Don’s chosen really well with the two ladies he’s picked to perform his works. One of my recent acquisitions is Lessers and Betters and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into those two stories.

    •  

      What a remarkably comprehensive and insightful consideration of audio performances. The transition of my work to audio was something with which I wrestled. Part of it was the question of the acceptance level for something which was not in the old “books on tape” school; the other part of it was myself asking if I had the time to devote to create a “script” which would offer a compelling version of the book.

      I ultimately decided to proceed…and that was back in April…at the same moment the tour for “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn” was winding down and I was working to bring “Lessers and Betters” together. Not necessarily the brightest move on my part. Oh, yes, lest I forget, my wife and I were in the process of first purchasing and then transitioning to what may be our final home. Yoicks!

      As I have noted in other spots (my Austen Authors posts over the past 3 or 4 months), I quickly discovered (thank you Barbara Rich and Amanda Berry…two great voice pros) that what worked in print would not necessarily work on tape. Parenthetical phrases (my bane, I think), repetitive uses of certain conjunctions (‘but’ being my unfortunate go-to), and unusual type layouts (see the last few pages of “The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey.”) had to be reconsidered and substitutes employed to allow the “live” performance version to offer the same impact as the original print/e-book.

      Each book takes about 6 to 8 weeks to bring to a finished state. The first four are generally occupied with the performer making their recording. Then another two or three for me to review and make alts. Then anther two for the final revised version to be reviewed. The revisions are usually minor because, at this point in the process, the underlying work should be right for narration.

      In this spirit, two words of advice to authors thinking about going to audio: trust your mss and trust your performer.

      In the first, you need to be satisfied with your work. Some writing may not “sound right” when performed. I always told my writing students to read their work aloud to someone who cares about them. If that person begins to look at them quizzically, there is something wrong. Remember that the written word was created to preserve the spoken. Thus, if it sounds odd, it probably is. Either revise it or reconsider the project.

      And, trust your performer. I cannot count the number of emails (for an example, see my 8/15 Austen Authors post on the “Epistolary Form…”) from Amanda and Barbara asking me questions about flow or style. Do not get nit-picky…unless there is something really wrong.

      If there is, you must have the courage to “pull the plug.” As you so accurately noted, some performances are not right and can be off-putting. As you said, if you are dissatisfied with a performer doing Book A…you will probably not purchase that same performer doing Book B.

      What ultimately should be the result is that the author assumes the role of director while the performer becomes the producer. Together they will collaborate to bring a version of the original that should offer a different experience for the person involving themselves with the work.

    •  

      To Anji, I can’t agree more with your statement regarding the performer making or breaking an audio book’s success…..which isn’t brain surgery, I know….but it took me awhile to learn to pay attention to voice talent before buying. Today I still look diligently for a new audio version of a favorite Heyer book I’ve previously bought and been really disappointed in. Yes! Don’s choices have been great.

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