A Peculiar Connection: A Pride and Prejudice Alternate Path, by Jan Hahn – A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

A Peculiar Connection by Jan Hahn 2015 x 200It is a pleasure to welcome the author Jan Hahn to Austenprose today. Meryton Press has just published her latest Austenesque novel, A Peculiar Connection.  Hahn has written several very popular Pride and Prejudice-inspired books including The Journey and An Arranged Marriage. Here are a brief preview and excerpt for your enjoyment.

DESCRIPTION (from the publisher)

Will a mysterious note from the past doom the love of Jane Austen’s most beloved couple?

A Peculiar Connection begins near the close of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Bent on preventing the engagement of her nephew to Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh declares that any union between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth would be “a sin against Heaven itself!”  Her shocking revelation, along with a cryptic message written over twenty years earlier, thrusts the couple into a whirlwind of heartbreak and disbelief.

Could a deserted mansion in Derbyshire or a small church hidden in the wood hold the key to solving the puzzle?  And why is Elizabeth inexplicably drawn to the portrait of three young boys in Pemberley’s gallery?

Determined to confirm or refute Lady Catherine’s accusation, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to embark upon a twisted trail into bygone days and family secrets.  All the while, they must endure the exquisite torture of denying the indisputable desire that still hovers between them.

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The Secret Betrothal: A Pride and Prejudice Alternate Path, by Jan Hahn – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd:   The Secret Betrothal by Jan Hahn (2014)

Marriage in Regency times was the rock that built Society’s foundation. Not only was it the most important step in a young woman’s life, but the union could also advance her family’s social standing and wealth. Throughout Jane Austen’s novels, we are shown the maneuverings of families to obtain advantageous alliances for their children, so when we see the secret engagements in Emma and Sense and Sensibility, and their outcome, we know the risk and scandal that can ensue. With this in mind, I am both curious and uneasy by author Jan Hahn’s choice of The Secret Betrothal as a title of her new novel. Furthermore, in this reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, she has boldly chosen to explore what would happen if Elizabeth Bennet entered into one herself! Whatever would possess our favorite Austen heroine to take this risk—and what would Mr. Darcy do to save her from such a folly?

For reasons I shan’t give away here, Elizabeth must keep this betrothal a secret and when she was told she could tell no one, not even her beloved sister, Jane:

“…she felt a chill crawl up her back….Although he lacked fortune, it was due to no failing on his part, and he had the promise of an adequate future awaiting him. But the possibility of waiting two years provoked a sigh from deep within her. He had warned Elizabeth that they must avoid paying close attention to each other when in public so as not to raise talk among the gossips of Meryton. Being a sensible woman, Elizabeth knew that was necessary as talk of matches and mating was primary among Hertfordshire society. Still, it did not set well with her.”  (63)

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An Arranged Marriage, by Jan Hahn – A Review

An Arranged Marriage, by Jan Hahn (2011)Guest review by Christina Boyd

Debut author Jan Hahn’s novel, An Arranged Marriage, begs the question, “can a marriage of convenience ever lead to true love?”  In Hahn’s impressive alteration of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, days after Miss Elizabeth Bennet stringently refuses the proposal of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy at Hunsford, her beloved father dies, leaving the family with meager resources and an estate entailed to their toad-eating cousin, Mr. Collins. Half a year later, as the ladies of Longbourn are packing to make way for the new owner, Mr. Darcy offers for Elizabeth’s hand once again. Despite her passionate dislike and distrust of the man, Elizabeth, with a grievous and bitter heart, accepts his proposal, saving her family from ruination and despair.  Refreshingly narrated from Elizabeth’s keen and often caustic perspective, we are privy to her inner most thoughts as she struggles to conquer her turmoil of the loss of her father; the disgrace of her youngest sister; the humiliation of her eldest sister; the anxiety of nearly losing her home; and of course, the distress from this arranged marriage.  And yet most disconcerting to her psyche is her blossoming passion for the last man in the world she could ever be prevailed upon to marry.

Hahn’s mastery of Regency eloquence, as well as the seamless injections of Austen’s most famous prose, is pitch perfect. Most appreciated is her deft understanding of romance– sans all the tiresome throbbing and moaning one reads so often in many Darcy and Elizabeth adaptations. “His voice was as low and resonant as the diva’s was high and clear, and I thought how lovely it would be to hear such words on his lips if we truly cared for each other. ‘Caro mi ben, credimi almen, senza di te languisce it cor.’ ‘My dear beloved, believe me at least, without you my heart languishes.’ With that last phrase, I turned and found him gazing directly into my eyes as he spoke.” p.80. Without forced melodrama, Hahn spins an intriguing back-story, weaving Darcy’s sister Georgianna, Mrs. Darcy’s new lady’s maid, George Wickham and even Colonel Fitzwilliam through a snare of secrets and deception.  Like Austen, Hahn successfully balances drama and humour.  Even showing the stoic Mr. Darcy to behold a cutting wit in regards to his loose-lipped cousin, “Fitzwilliam? What is he now, an old woman?” p.172

As in Austen’s original, Elizabeth has not yet discovered that Darcy rescued Lydia from disaster, or comprehends that he could still be in-love with her after her headstrong refusal at Hunsford.  His blunders as a new husband and his propensity to hold private matters close, feed her doubts and suspicion.  I found myself holding my breath on more than one honest sparring – hoping and praying they would be able to “endeavor to practice the niceties of polite society.” p.77.   But as they learned to get on, more often I found myself laughing out loud at Elizabeth’s musings. “He smiled and kissed my hand before releasing it. We then retired for the night, each to our separate rooms, and I was even more aware than usual that we lay sleeping with only a wall and an unlocked heart between us.  Did I say heart?  I meant door.  Truly, I did.  Indeed, I meant door.” p.94

I first discovered the writings of “JanH” in February of 2007 on-line at Mrs. Darcy’s Story Site.  In fact, I read this very story in one sitting, into the wee hours of the morning, only to discover to my horror, for some unknown reason, my computer would not scroll past Chapter 12!  Fortunately, some kind soul at the site’s Forum sent me a link so that I could finish the story.  Ever since I have long wished that this talented author would publish her stories in print, so that this confirmed fan-girl could have them in my belonging.  Alas, this whimsical wish has come to fruition.  Congratulations, Jan Hahn! In a demesne of numerous Darcy and Elizabeth books available these days, An Arranged Marriage is at the top of my stacks, ready to be re-read.  Again, and again, wherever the book falls open.  It’s THAT enjoyable!  A must read.  I look forward to reading her next offering, The Journey due out in Fall 2011.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

An Arranged Marriage, by Jan Hahn
Meryton Press (2011)
Trade paperback (232) pages
ISBN: 978-1936009145

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Giveaway Winners Announced for An Arranged Marriage

An Arranged Marriage, by Jan Hahn (2011)52 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of An Arranged Marriage, by Jan Hahn. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Laura Woodside Hartness who left a comment on August 2nd
  • KayDee who left a comment on August 2nd
  • BlogginBB who left a comment on August 3rd

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 17th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

A big thank you to author Jan Hahn for donating the copies of her great new Austen-inspired “what if” story, An Arranged Marriage, and to all who left comments.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

An Arranged Marriage Blog Tour with Author Jan Hahn

An Arranged Marriage, by Jan Hahn (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Jan Hahn on her book blog tour in celebration of the release of An Arranged Marriage, a new Pride and Prejudice “what if” novel just published by Meryton Press.

Thank you, Laurel Ann, for inviting me to post a blog at Austenprose for my first novel, An Arranged Marriage.  I am delighted to be with you and to share my love for Jane Austen with like-minded friends.

The idea of being forced into a marriage of convenience has always fascinated me.  Today, it would seem horrific to imagine a woman spending her life with a man she did not choose, but we know such unions were common in Regency England.  If you were Elizabeth Bennet, however, and if the man was tall, handsome, and rich, would that make you more amenable to such an agreement?  Elizabeth’s views on love and marriage were way ahead of her time.  After all, she dared to challenge convention by refusing two proposals, so what would she choose?

In my story, immediately after Elizabeth refuses Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford, her father dies, leaving Longbourn entailed away and with little money to sustain his widow and daughters.  Six months later, the Bennet family receives a visit from a gentleman with a most unusual offer that promises to save the family from financial and social ruin, and Elizabeth is torn between her sense of duty and her dislike of the man, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

What if Elizabeth and Darcy had never met at Pemberley?  What if she had thrown aside the letter he composed at Rosings? What if she didn’t know that he had been the means of saving one sister while injuring another? How would she react to a proposed match?  And what would ever make her accept Darcy as her husband?

These questions inspired me to write An Arranged Marriage.  I spent a great deal of time considering Elizabeth’s dilemma while soaking in a tub of hot water, which for reasons unknown, inspires creativity in me.  After toweling off, I slipped my feet into Elizabeth’s shoes and conjured up a story that would thrust Lizzy and Darcy together, even though she believed that he was the last man in the world she could ever marry. Continue reading