Maria Bertram's Daughter
Hello fellow readers! I am excited to have Lucy Knight stopping by the blog today. When I was asked if I wanted to be a part of an upcoming blog tour and saw it was something other than Pride & Prejudice (don't get me wrong, I love an Elizabeth and Darcy story), I was delighted! I had a chance to read Maria Bertram's Daughter and I think you are going to love it. I will tell you that I would describe it as a coming of age story more than a romance. However, there is enough of a underlying romance to make even us HEA obsessed readers happy. Leave me a comment and let me know if you enjoy Austen variations that are not strictly E and D stories.
Without further ado... Here is Lucy.
Thank you, Melissa, for hosting me on my blog tour. It’s a pleasure to be here!
I thought your readers might like to know about some of the locations in the book, so I will make a quick tour of England with you all.
Dorothea grows up in the Yorkshire Dales, an area I know well, as I lived there for several years as an adult. Her actual valley is fictional, but several of the places mentioned (e.g. Skipton) are real. From there I took her all the way up to the border with Scotland. I placed her school in an abandoned mill, as I had done some research for another project and knew that there were paper mills on either side of the river. It was a period of some turbulence and sometimes it was advantageous to be on the Scottish side of the river Tweed, sometimes on the English (mainly for tax purposes). I conjectured that the mill left empty might well be leased to a parsimonious schoolmaster looking to make a quick buck providing sub-standard education to girls whose parents or guardians were not very scrupulous. (I also drew on Jane Eyre for this section of the book).
The other locations in Northumberland are entirely from my head, though there is a real village called Netherwitton. (I found it on a map, I’ve never visited it)
When thinking about Henry Crawford’s house in Norfolk, Everingham, I drew on memories of visits to Holkham Hall, in Norfolk, which is an eighteenth-century Palladian style mansion next to the sea. I have no idea what Jane Austen had in mind for Everingham, so I can only hope I haven’t upset any Austen scholars with this choice of location! I love Norfolk, with its huge skies and wildlife-strewn beaches. I imagined Dorothea, so used as she was to hills, being stunned by the landscape.
Then I took Dorothea to Whitby, which I know extremely well as I grew up there. It was an interesting exercise to take it back two centuries in my imagination.
Mansfield Park itself is a composite of many stately homes I have visited in England (a National Trust membership gets you free access to the houses and their grounds and they are great places to take children).
Dorothea is at Everingham and meets, for the first time, Mr Edmund Bertram, the son of Edmund and Fanny.
“Mr Crawford was apparently eager to put his guests at ease. For the first few days, they saw little of him except at dinner. He was much occupied with estate business—he said—and the ladies were left to wander at will through the grounds. To Dorothea’s delight, the park bordered on the coast via a shrubbery walk and a belt of ancient pines. The beach was a perfect, deserted strand of sand and pebbles, haunted by oystercatchers and dunlin. Low tide revealed constellations of rock pools where Dorothea marvelled at the busy lives conducted therein. The gardens, too, both formal and kitchen, were impeccably managed. It was all charming.
On the fourth day, Mr Crawford said he had invited some gentlemen to dine. They were, he said, some splendid fellows he had met at the races in Newmarket who were now staying together at a hunting lodge not far from Everingham with a prospect to renting it in the season.
When the party convened before dinner, Dorothea was surprised by the youthful aspect of the gentlemen. She had divined that they were all young men up at Cambridge together who were either already rich or had prospects of becoming so. (This information had been confided by Mr Crawford over breakfast.) But meeting them, she felt sure that at least one was even younger than she was. He was a pale, short, sickly looking young man with several ineffectually powdered pimples. She felt sorry for him in the hearty crowd, but having been engaged in conversation with him by Mr Crawford—who startled her by announcing him as Mr Edmund Bertram (with a most improper wink to her)—she soon discovered that her pity was wasted on him because the young man had a very high opinion of himself.
“I shall one day inherit the title and estate of Mansfield,” he announced airily after the usual preliminaries, “as my uncle Tom is sure to die without an heir.”
Dorothea spoke softly to cover her unease. “I am acquainted with Sir Thomas Bertram. I believe I may be your…distant cousin.”
She wondered whether young Mr Bertram knew of her alleged parentage but thought the manner of his address to her made it unlikely.
“Oh yes?” said the young man indifferently. “I believe I have heard of my aunt Maria taking in an orphan. That must be you. My family is famous for its benevolence. My aunt Maria is out in society in Harrogate, a very limited style of society I believe, but she never comes to Mansfield. I believe the distance is too great to allow for such exertions.” ”
She could be mistress of Mansfield Park. But is that what she wants?
An unwanted child—conceived in circumstances her mother would rather forget—Dorothea Henrietta Rose grows up solitary and neglected with her dissatisfied mother and unpleasant great-aunt Norris. Raised without the knowledge that her mother is her mother or that their occasional visitor, Sir Thomas Bertram, is her grandfather, she is forbidden ever to set foot in Mansfield Park.
Dorothea hopes for a happier life when sent away to school, but her difficulties are not over. She is obliged to make her way in the world as a governess and, thus, encounters human frailty, hypocrisy, good, and evil in her travels throughout England.
She meets the Crawfords—Henry and Mary (now Lady Drumroth)—and inevitably does the one thing she must not do: unwillingly makes herself known to the inhabitants of Mansfield Park.
About the Author
Lucy Knight grew up in Whitby, North Yorkshire, now a tourist town but until recently a small and historic port which was known for shipbuilding, fishing (including whaling) and having an important Abbey. During her life she has moved around a great deal both in England and on the continent of Europe; she now lives in a tiny hamlet lost in the French countryside with two rescue dogs, two rescue chickens, an unknown number of bees and eight sheep.
Lucy has two children and three grandchildren, all of whom live in England.
Lucy has only recently begun to write historical fiction but she enjoys it so much she can’t stop! Her background is in comedy and drama, so there will always be some jokes and plenty of dialogue.
When she is not writing, Lucy teaches English and French, and she love to take long walks with her dogs during which she revels in the birds, butterflies, trees and flowers which are so abundant in her part of France.
Maria Bertram’s Daughter Blog Tour Schedule
April 11 My Jane Austen Book Club
April 12 So little time…
April 13 Babblings of a Bookworm
April 14 From Pemberley to Milton
April 15 Austenesque Reviews
April 16 The Literary Assistant
April 18 My Vices and Weaknesses
Meryton Press is giving away 6 eBooks of Maria Bertram’s Daughter by Lucy Knight
Thank you to Meryton Press for having me on the tour and for gifting me a copy of
Maria Bertram's Daughter.
All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you for stopping by and happy reading!