Oct 052018
 

Kitty Bennet Finds Her Way Into the Future

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

Note: While the Author’s Preface and Prologue impart some important details of the events that proceed this story, it is recommended that readers read The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Adventure and Henry Fitzwilliam’s War prior to reading The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque.

In his wonderfully creative series, where magic and history intertwine, Don Jacobson reveals what becomes of many of Jane Austen’s secondary characters from Pride and Prejudice after the happy double wedding takes place. Mr. Jacobson seeks to find new potential and purpose for these characters, and thanks to The Bennet Wardrobe – a special and mystical time-travel device that allows only those with the Bennet bloodline to travel into the future – Jane Austen’s characters could discover their destinies in future times and possibilities.

That is what happens to Kitty Bennet – often overlooked and possessing the distinguishing characteristic of being a frequent cougher, Kitty finds her destiny in a future time period. Quite unexpectedly she makes accidental use of The Bennet Wardrobe and it takes her to the year 1886. An overwhelming and startling change for sure, especially when poor Kitty didn’t even know time travel was possible!

This installment in the series follows the course of Kitty’s life from when she arrives in 1886 through the year 1892. The sequence of events Kitty faces are challenging, illuminating, and at times horrendously appalling. My heart broke and wept for Kitty during these darker points in this story, and my sympathies were fully engaged when we learn about Kitty’s buried anxieties and mental views. But then there were other moments where I found myself amazed by and applauding Kitty’s resiliency and strength. I’ve read a few sequels that flesh out Kitty’s character, but it is in this story that see the greatest transformation take place. While the new time period broadens her horizons and increases her wealth and options, Kitty undergoes am internal metamorphosis of sorts that is shows immeasurable growth and new understanding.

There are many historical figures and interesting cross-overs to explore in this book – such as encounters with Sherlock Holmes, Sigmund Freud, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I especially enjoyed seeing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters interact with Don Jacobson’s (his Sherlock was spot on!) However, my most favorite parts of the story-line were those that concerned Kitty and Henry Fitzwilliam. Knowing a little bit of their history (or should I say future?), I enjoyed seeing the development of their interactions together. I liked Henry a lot and found him everything admirable and honorable, and I loved how forthright and sincere Kitty was towards Henry. I also appreciated how Kitty wasn’t interested in flirting or marriage any time soon. Both these characters experience impossible hardships and tragic losses in this story, but their journey through these circumstances is wonderfully rewarding to witness.

And while I do appreciate all the interesting tie-ins to historical events and figures included in this epic adventure, I found myself wanting more time with just Kitty and Henry and exploring their individual thoughts and reflections. But I understand that when combined with the other elements of the the story – the setting, the family background, the historical tie-ins, the new characters – there is only so much page time available allotted for each component.

The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque is a compelling and captivating continuation of The Bennet Wardrobe series. Don Jacobson is not afraid to show some darker and grimmer realities of life (which departs a little from Jane Austen’s style, of course), and I appreciate how sensitively yet truthfully he treats these realities. I am very much looking forward to seeing more of adventures of The Five Families in the rest of this series, and I cannot wait to see where (or when) the Bennet Wardrobe takes us next!

Warning: There are a few mentions of sexual assault and violence, and a few brief scenes where they are described (briefly and not graphically).

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GIVEAWAY TIME

Thanks to Don Jacobson I have one Audible Audibobook code for his series to give away to ONE lucky winner! The audiobook for The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque is scheduled to release soon, so the winner can opt to select that audiobook or one of these other options from this series that are all available in audiobook as well as ebook.

  

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Don!
  • This giveaway ends October 12th.
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  26 Responses to “The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Époque – Don Jacobson + GIVEAWAY!!!”

  1.  

    I haven’t actually read any of these books. My preference is for stories about Darcy and Elizabeth. I have read a couple of excerpts from the three books and I have them on my list so I may read them in the future.
    Thank you for such a good review Meredith.

    •  

      Hi Glynnis,
      One of the aspects of Astenesque fiction that attracted me was how the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth react to and grow as a result of their interaction with the secondary characters. The Bennet Wardrobe stories gives each of the secondary characters a chance to grow into three-dimensional persons. Look forward to your reviews of the books.

  2.  

    Thanks for the review. I loved The Keeper and have the rest of the books in the series on my wishlist. This one sounds great and I am looking forward to the characters interacting with Sherlock as I am also a fan of this character.

    •  

      DB…thank you for your gracious comment. The Exile is a critical component in the entire Bennet Wardrobe Universe.

  3.  

    I enjoyed reading your review, Meredith. Your thoughts and feelings were similar to my own. I am amazed at the author’s talent in writing these wonderful tales about The Five Families and the Bennet Wardrobe. I loved reading of Kitty’s growth and her new strength. As you said so aptly, “Kitty undergoes an internal metamorphosis.” Thank you, Meredith!

  4.  

    Lovely review Meredith and one series I absolutely love. Mr. Jacobson’s ability to take all these elements and weave them together is truly imaginative and absorbing. Please do not enter me into the giveaway.

    •  

      CC…you are an integral part…playing the role of willing Beta reader…of the Bennet Wardrobe. Thank you so much for your support and your vocab pointers. Note: in “The Avenger” I use “teenager!”

  5.  

    Yes, more time with the lovely Kitty and Henry would never go amiss. I’ve been enjoying this unique series.

    Please do not enter me in the giveaway, Meredith!

    •  

      I am so happy you have found these to be a worthwhile contribution to the Austenesque universe! I am digging deeply for the inner truth driving the Wardrobe and each of our characters.

  6.  

    What a fascinating premise!! I haven’t yet read this series, but I think I’m going to have to add them to my ever-teetering TBR list! 🙂 Thanks for your wonderful review, Meredith!

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    •  

      One could argue that you could do the #Audible versions of “The Keeper,” “Henry Fitzwilliam’s War,” “The Exile, Part 1,” and “Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess.” That would save you from the fate of Charles-Valentin Alkan who reputedly died under a bookcase which he had pulled down. That myth was debunked…he had collapsed in his kitchen pulling down a heavy coat rack. Being from Chicago, I might argue that we know cold weather can kill you. Dying under a bookcase seems so prosaic.

  7.  

    I’m going to try this again, I was having server problems last night. :/ I have been looking forward to your review of this one, Meredith. And it was a great review.

    I have been so taken with this series and find the Bennet Wardrobe world that Mr Jacobson has built to be an experience in reading that I haven’t had in a very long time, and I’ve been really taken by, as I said, and able to get taken up with these stories. But, I’m a couple books ahead of you now, and I have to agree with you that we don’t get enough page time devoted to Kitty and Henry’s life together. It all has to ‘be believed to be so,’ as the story arc marches on.

    I can also understand your comment about the historical tie-ins, and I will add the pop-culture and literary culture referenced (not always) in the footnotes. Unless I was compelled to know right then, I’ve left the footnotes to explore in a second reading, because I was losing the momentum of the story. Often reading the footnotes didn’t enlighten me at all and would just be something I’d want to research later. Other times it went right over my head as I have not enjoyed a classical education.

    There’s a deeper philosophy within his total story arc, which I’m hoping will be revealed by the end of the series, at least to my satisfaction. It feels like I’m reading something from a brilliant historian, (he teaches history) and as such, making the history of the different times the individual stories take place relative (smart teaching) to us, because we’re so invested in the characters we believe we know like family members. I wish I could take his history and writing courses. Although I’m looking for that satisfying conclusion to the mystery of the Wardrobe’s purpose, I believe I’ll come to the end not wanting it to end.

    •  

      Dear Michelle…Miss Sloane in Lizzy B…your ongoing support has meant much to me as I have been writing the Bennet Wardrobe Stories.

      I do seek to create a universe in which the characters of the stories could logically exist. I have modeled my work to embrace the believability of Rowling and Clarke. Yes, there is time travel…but as I have noted, it is not really in the Dr. Who mold where the Doctor pops into the phone booth with the companion and jumps out again…and again…and again.

      I appreciate your comment about my endnotes…I realize that some may find them off-putting. I plead two reasons for these citations (other than my author’s insanity). 1) As an historian, footnoting is in my blood. If I research something, I need to offer attribution. End notes at least allow the reader of a print book to utterly ignore them. An e-book reader can also ignore them…or scroll over the note to have it come up for a quick review. AND 2) I want my readers to know that what they are seeing that seems to be fact-based was not made up…that it actually is appropriate for time and place. Plus, they give me an opportunity to expound on stuff. I am an inveterate button-pusher, stone-turner. It is my conceit, I guess, to fill up the back of a book with citations and so on.

      Now…as I have been writing the Bennet Wardrobe stories, the Universe in which it resides has been revealing more of itself to me. The power of the Wardrobe is now strong enough where it is becoming its own character…working hand-in-hand with the Guides (the first appearance came in the Epilogue of Exile Part 1).

      I have discerned that it is driven by love…but not simply the four loves described by C.S. Lewis (Storge, Philia, Eros, Agape), but also two others that are proactive activities rather than being conditions.

      The Fifth Love I have dubbed (and have Mrs. Bennet articulating) is Exagoras Agapis–the Love Which Redeems. This love drives us (like Darcy) to change, to become the best versions of ourselves.

      The Sixth Love was first articulated by Reinhold Niebuhr–and that is Agapis Synotchi–the Love which Forgives. There is much forgiveness within all of the Wardrobe stories. Mary learns to forgive herself in Keeper. Kitty in Exile. Thomas and Fanny in Avenger.

      These two loves become critical focal points for exploration in the book underway right now–“The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and A Father’s Lament.”

      Sadly, the arc will end…but there are other stories to be told. The story of the meeting of Madelyn Anne Darcy (Lizzy and Darcy’s daughter) and Thomas Johnson…whose parentage will be told later…will appear in “A Thornhill Christmas,” a novella which is my next project.

      I have to take breaks between the main novels. The Lydia book will likely release in Spring 2019. I am also toying with a Jacques and Maggie Story in the Lessers and Betters Series. Of course, there is the possibility of Kitty and the General and Annie and Henry Wilson saving Britain from the evils of the Holy Alliance. Never can tell.

  8.  

    I enjoy listening to Audible books. I need to listen to more Austenesque ones.

  9.  

    Currently the earlier books in the series..The Keeper and Henry Fitzwilliam’s War are available on Audible. We are doing the dance with Audible on The Exile, Part 1. Check out Lessers and Betters, too!

  10.  

    How fun!! I adore Don’s books. Here’s hoping for a win on the giveaway!

    •  

      Thank you Sharon. We are trying to clear #Audible’s standards right now on this book. I am also deep in the writing of the “Thomas” book.

  11.  

    Sharon…thank you so much. Appreciate your ongoing support and reviews! Feedback makes it worthwhile! Good luck.

  12.  

    A very detailed and excellent review, Meredith. I haven’t started on a series yet as I prefer the series to be completed first before dwelling into it. It looks to me that this series has deep and lengthy subjects which I am not fond of reading. But I’ll give it a chance when all the books are published.

    •  

      Hi there…The entire series of main novels should be completed (fingers and toes crossed) by late 2018/early 2019. The underlying theme is the development of each of the secondary characters (Mary, Kitty, Thomas/Fanny, and Lydia) to realize their potentials in order to fulfill a greater purpose. By this point in the series, the Wardrobe itself is being to act like a character…we learn more about the guides…we are seeing that which forms each character…and we are learning what powers the Wardrobe and the Universe…Lewis’ 4 Loves and the 5th and 6th loves (although #6 does come from Niebuhr) which I articulate.

  13.  

    I have to admit that I love a male Jane Austen admirer. I am fascinated with time travel stories so this is a perfect mix for me!

    Excellent review, as always, Meredith. Thank you, Don, for the giveaway opportunity and congrats on your series!

    •  

      LJ-Thank you. I am about 90,000 words into “The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and A Father’s Lament” which will explore (see the Epilogue in “The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn”) Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s life from 1947 to 1952 as they seek to eradicate a particular evil. I do try, BTW, to compose my work with as much of an androgynous mind as possible. I hope to avoid Woolf’s “shadow of ‘I’ ” on the page.

  14.  

    Love this series! I definitely look forward to reading this newest volume.

    •  

      What will be fun is to read and listen at the same time. I hope you have tasted Amanda Berry’s performance in both The Keeper and Henry Fitzwilliam’s War.

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