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Friday, 30 September 2016

Regina Jeffers - Celebrating Christmastide + Excerpt and E-book giveaway of 'Mr Darcy's Present'

Book cover: Mr Darcy's Present by Regina Jeffers
I have the pleasure of welcoming Regina Jeffers to the blog today with a post relating to how the festive season used to be celebrated in history. Regina is also kindly offering an e-book giveaway of her latest book, 'Mr Darcy's Present' to two commenters here. Read on for more details!


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Celebrating Christmastide 

In Mr. Darcy’s Present, Darcy often bemoans the secular elements of the festive season. He is a  bit “stuffy” about the need to purchase so many gifts - not that Darcy objects to being generous with those he loves, but he is slow to abandon the more traditional celebrations. Exactly what is Christmastide?

Christmas Candle
Christmastide (also Christmas or the Christmas season or Twelvetide) is one of the seasons of the liturgical year of most Christian churches. It tends to be defined (with slight variations) as the period from Christmas Eve to the Epiphany. This period is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, as referred to in the Christmas carol of the same name, or Yuletide, as in “Deck the Halls.” In 567, the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany as a sacred and festive season, and established the duty of Advent fasting in preparation for the feast. This was done in order to solve the "administrative problem for the Roman Empire as it tried to coordinate the solar Julian calendar with the lunar calendars of its provinces in the east

Many Protestant churches add an Epiphany season after the Christmas season, extending the celebration of Christmas for forty days until the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas) on 2 February (or a nearby Sunday). In the Missal and Breviary of the Roman rite, since 1970, the Christmas season runs a shorter period, from Christmas Eve to the Baptism of the Lord, which depending on the place and the year can occur between 7 January and 13 January. In the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the season runs from Vespers on 24 December till Compline on 2 February.

A Twelfth Night Celebration
A Twelfth Night Celebration
Within the period that includes Christmastide, several days are marked for celebration, including Christmas Day (December 25), St. Stephen’s Day (December 26), Chidermas (December 28), New Year’s Eve (December 31), New Year’s Day, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and the Solemnity of Mary (January 1), and Twelfth Night Eve (January 5).

In medieval era Christendom, Christmastide "lasted from the Nativity to the Purification.” To this day, the Christian cultures in Western Europe and Latin America extend the season to forty days, ending on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of Mary on 2 February, a feast also known as Candlemas because of the blessing of candles on this day, inspired by the Song of Simeon, which proclaims Jesus as 'a light for revelation to the nations'." Many Churches refer to the period after the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas and up to Candlemas, as Epiphanytide, also called the Epiphany season.

Religious observances remained the foundation of English Christmases of the time. One must remember that in the 16th Century, to prevent subversion, the government banned Christmas celebrations. According to the Jane Austen Centre Magazine, “We have accounts from early 19th Century journals of Christmas days where the writer mentions the holiday but makes absolutely no fuss about it. Likewise, there are records of newspapers, published on December 25th that do not even contain the word Christmas.”

In Chapter 14 of Austen’s Persuasion, we see how the schoolboys’ return home for the holidays is the most important event, not the celebration of Christmas itself. “Immediately surrounding Mrs. Musgrave were the little Harvilles, whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them. On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were trestles and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard in spite of the noise of the others.”

Book cover: Mr Darcy's Present by Regina Jeffers
Book Blurb for Mr. Darcy’s Present: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary: 

The Greatest Present He Would Ever Receive is the Gift of Her Love…

What if Mr. Darcy purchased a gift for Elizabeth Bennet to acknowledge the festive days even though he knows he will never present it to her? What if the gift is posted to the lady by his servants and without his knowledge? What if the enclosed card was meant for another and is more suggestive than a gentleman should share with an unmarried lady? Join Darcy and Elizabeth, for a holiday romp, loaded with delightful twists and turns no one expects, but one in which our favorite couple take a very different path in thwarting George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s elopement. Can a simple book of poetry be Darcy’s means to win Elizabeth’s love? When we care more for another than ourselves, the seeds of love have an opportunity to blossom.

Words of Praise for Mr. Darcy’s Present…
Jeffers takes a familiar story and reinvigorates it with humor, warmth, and wisdom. - Roses and Lilacs Reviews

Excerpt: 

“You sent for me, Papa,” Elizabeth asked.

“Come in, child, and close the door.”

She had spent many afternoons in her father’s study discussing books and enjoying quiet companionship, but Mr. Bennet rarely summoned her to his sanctuary. “Have I done something to displease you?” she inquired in anxious tones, for a frown of disapproval marked his brow.

“In truth, Lizzy,” he said as disquiet crossed his features. “I am not certain what to make of this.” He set a wrapped package upon his desk. She wished to reach for it, but instinct told her to wait for her father’s permission. “It carries your name as the recipient.”

“Mine?” she asked in surprise.

“Yes, child.” He folded his hands upon the desk and leaned forward. “The rider who delivered it said he came from London.”

“From London?” she asked in equal astonishment. “Other than aunt and uncle, I know no one in London.” She eyed the parcel with interest. “Is it not from Uncle Gardiner?”

“I have not inquired of my brother whether he sent the parcel,” Mr. Bennet admitted. “I thought to do so, but customarily Gardiner marks his letters and packages with his initials some place on the back, not as a franking stamp, but so I know it is from him. This package holds no such markings.

Moreover, as the regular post did not deliver it, there is no origination stamp to determine postage costs. In fact, I incurred no charge in receipt of the item other than a coin I presented the rider.”

Elizabeth studied the package as if it would announce its sender. “Then I am at a loss. Should we not open it to discover if there is a card within? From its shape I assume it is a book.”

“A book is a logical guess,” her father said evenly. “But I mean to wait until Christmas morning. The rider said he was told from his employer that this was a gift.”

“Who would send me a fairing?” she said in bewilderment.

“That is what I wish to know,” her father spoke in disapproving tones. “I wish you to think upon it, Elizabeth. Who do you know in London that would recognize your love of reading?”

She could think of only one man who might know something of her preference for reading, for he had assisted her in the library at Netherfield, but surely Mr. Darcy would not send her a presentation, especially after her set down following his proposal. “If it is not from Uncle Gardiner, I know of no one who would send me a present.” Her mind raced for an explanation. “Mayhap Mr. Bingley purchased a gift for Jane and sent it to my care.”

“Even though Bingley appears to be again courting Jane, I doubt he would be so forward. I could inquire of him privately in this matter, but I am hesitant to do so. In truth, I prefer that you and I open this together on Christmas morning. If it is from Gardiner or Bingley or among those we share as a family, the sender will certainly ask of the fairing if it is not acknowledged. If it is something more than your uncle’s goodwill or Bingley’s besotted nature, I do not wish your mother or sisters to know of it. I would prefer to avoid another scene such as the one we experience after your refusal of Mr. Collins.”

Her father’s words stole Elizabeth’s breath away. “You think the gift is from a gentleman? But that cannot be! I have encouraged no one to act so boldly!”

“What of Mr. Wickham?” her father countered. “It is my understanding that Wickham and several other officers are in London.”

“But Lieutenant Wickham would not think to send me a gift,” she argued. “The last time I spoke to him, Mr. Wickham was not happy with my defense of Mr. Darcy.”

“A defense of Mr. Darcy?” Her father’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “I thought you despised the man.”

“Uncle Gardiner spoke of a recent accident involving Mr. Darcy,” she explained. “Mr. Gardiner also chastised me for my flippant remarks regarding the Derbyshire gentleman. He was quite displeased that Aunt and Mr. Wickham participated in gossip.”

“Did you not also gossip?” her father asked skeptically.

“I only listened,” she confessed. “But to prove his point, Uncle Gardiner insisted that I pronounce the ‘good’ I knew of Mr. Darcy.”

Mr. Bennet smiled knowingly. “This news pleases me. Although I, too, found some of Mr. Darcy’s manners strictly reserved, I am aware a man of his consequence in Society often disguises his true self behind a stiff mantle. Moreover, I have noted of late that you appeared too quick to renounce the man and to align yourself with Mr. Wickham. It made me think that perhaps Mr. Darcy had snubbed you with more than his remark at the Meryton assembly.”

Elizabeth dropped her eyes in regret. “I thought my opinions superior, but, I am no longer certain.”

“I am glad of it. As you are the most intelligent of my daughters, it would grieve me to find you giggling after the officers. And as to Mr. Wickham, I cannot say it would bring me joy to have you become the wife of a man who held no other options than to become a member of the highly underpaid militia. From what I have heard, another paid Mr. Wickham to serve in his stead, which indicates that the lieutenant has no land of his own of which to speak. Moreover, you deserve a thinking man, one who would appreciate your finer qualities, not some fellow looking for a woman who will carry more than his children. Therefore, you and I will open the package together. The wait mixed with your curiosity will be your punishment for inadvertently drawing the attention of a reprobate. I will not have you marry Mr. Wickham, Lizzy. So if your heart is set in that quarter, you must think again. Despite your mother’s affinity for gentlemen in red coats, no officer of the militia will claim any of my daughters. If the gift is from a scoundrel, I will return it personally, along with a strong warning never to cross my threshold again.”

“I understand, Papa,” she said obediently.

“Speak to no one of this, child. This must remain our secret.”

Purchase Links:

CreateSpaceAmazon (US)Kindle (US) • KoboNook •

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Giveaway Time!

Regina is kindly offering to give away two e-book copies of 'Mr Darcy's Present' to readers here! To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post. This is open to international entrants who comment before the end of the day on Tuesday 4 October 2016. Please leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the lucky winner.

Thank you so much to Regina for this informative post, entertaining excerpt and giveaway opportunity!



50 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much for visiting, Regina, it was a pleasure to have you :)

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  2. What would 'subversion' entail, that the government was trying to prevent?

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    1. As the year 1645 limped towards its weary close, a war-torn England shivered beneath a thick blanket of snow. A few months earlier, parliament’s New Model Army, led by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, had routed the forces of Charles I at the battle of Naseby. Although that defeat had struck the king’s cause a mortal blow, the royalists still refused to surrender, and the bloody Civil War which had divided the country ever since 1642 continued to rage.

      Under constant pressure from the armies of both sides to supply them with money, clothing and food, few Englishmen and women can have been anticipating a particularly merry Christmas. Yet, for those who lived in the extensive territories which were controlled by the king’s enemies, there was to be no Christmas this year at all – because the traditional festivities had been abolished by order of the two Houses of Parliament sitting at Westminster.

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    2. I am glad that Regina answered this one, Ginna, my answer would have been far less informed!

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  3. Wonderful excerpt. I have been following your blog tour and was thrilled to get a snippet of Elizabeth and the gift. Congratulations, Regina. I am looking forward to reading this.
    Cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

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    1. I always appreciate your support, Becky.

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    2. Thanks for dropping by, Becky!

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  4. I loved this excerpt. I think I like this Mr. Bennet. He seems much stronger in character and not as indolent as most JAFF portray him.
    Do not include me in the drawing as I already own it and am anticipating reading it. I just wanted to comment and wish you much success in the book launch. Blessings

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    1. I am never one to portray Mr. Bennet as "indifferent." He still takes pleasure in the foibles of those such as Mr. Collins, but he appreciates intelligence.

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    2. Thanks for commenting, J W! I hope you enjoy the book when you read it :)

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  5. What an intriguing excerpt!

    Thought it very clever that you explained how it was that Wuckham came to be in the militia,of course there had to be some some underhand factor at play-he could ill afford to enter the militia himself so he was merely covers for someone else! Typical of Wickham!!

    Yes,I agre with others' views regarding Mr B. A very strong minded individual,determined to see his daughters well married,but happily so.

    Can't wait to read if their reactions on Christmas morning!!!

    Best of luck with this book!

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    1. Those who held rank in the militia received that rank based on how much land the family held. Captain Denny in Pride and Prejudice would need either to be the heir of land worth at least £400 per year or actually own land worth at least £200 per year. Although we are given nothing of Denny’s background in Austen’s novel, we are told that George Wickham becomes a lieutenant in the Meryton militia. This is a bit confusing to many who know something of military history, for a lieutenant in the militia would be required to hold land worth £50 per year. To be a junior officer, Wickham must be serving in another's stead.

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Mary, which taught me something that I hadn't known.

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  6. Interesting! I always have to remember that Christmas was so different back then and still is in other countries and cultures. Thanks, Regina!

    Oh, I do love this Mr. Bennet. And didn't he just get a few digs into Elizabeth over her take on Wickham and Darcy. Look forward to reading it.

    Please do not enter me in the giveaway, Ceri!

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    1. I appreciate your following me over here, Sophia, and congrats on winning a copy of the book on Darcyholic Diversions.

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    2. Hi Sophia, thanks for dropping by!

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  7. What a wonderful except. I love this Mr. Bennet, he is using his observation skills for more than amusement. Darcy getting Elizabeth in trouble is always fun. I'm already disappointed, that I'll have to wait for this treat until Christmas.

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    1. The book is available, Kate, and reasonably priced. LOL!

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    2. I know Regina, and by the way all of your books are reasonably priced, which I appreciate a lot. Oh, well, I'll have to have a very early Christmas and read it soon. I don't think I can wait three more months. �� I'll have to read another Christmas story in December.

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    3. Read it twice, Kate. I love doing that. I am rereading one of my favorite series right now.

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    4. You can get into the Christmas spirit early, Kate :)

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  8. What a good father is Mr Bennet in this excerpt. I would love to know what happens next :)

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    1. Mr. Bennet proves a wonderful foil for our dastardly Wickham!

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    2. I always enjoy seeing Mr Bennet being a good dad, Jo's Daughter! I hope you enjoy finding out what happens next.

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  9. Oh I cannot wait to read this book!

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    1. The book is fun and has its HEA, Leah.

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    2. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it, Leah!

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  10. Curling up with a Regina Jeffers' book is one the most enjoyable things I do. Her way with a turn of phrase is a well-practice gift for her readers, increasing the pleasure of reading her books.

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    1. Thanks you, Betty. I will be sending new titles your way soon. LOL!

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Betty!

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  11. patkf2007@hotmail.com

    So exited for this release! The cover is gorgeous. :)

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    1. The cover art is from Victoria Cooper Art. She lives in my home state.

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    2. Hi BookLuver! Thanks for your comment :)

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  12. This book was a 5 star read for me - excellent and not just for the holidays.

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    1. Many thanks, Sheila. I am blessed with loyal fans.

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    2. So glad you enjoyed it so much, Sheila, especially as I know what good taste you have.

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  13. As busy as I am currently, this book somehow caught my notice and I am loving the excerpt. I can't wait to read the rest of the book (hoping I can get it down in Australia)! I love the thought of Elizabeth getting mysterious gifts from a not-suitor and it would be interesting to read further the interactions between Mr Bennet and Elizabeth in the wake of attentions being shown for the former's favourite daughter.

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    1. The book is available on Amazon Kindle in Australia, Angela.
      As to the twists and turns in the story, I love keeping Elizabeth and Darcy apart until they have a better understanding of each other.

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    2. I am glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Angela! Thanks for commenting.

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  14. Love reading about the history of the Christmastide season and am looking forward to this Christmas "present" as well!

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  15. Lovely cover art, Regina! I enjoyed the excerpt as well as the history of the Christmas season.

    Thanks for an opportunity to win a copy!

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    1. The cover art is from Victoria Cooper Art. Turns out she is from my home state.

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    2. Hi Pamela. So glad you enjoyed the post.

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  16. I can't read excepts. I have to read books start to finish, but I can't wait to start this one! I always enjoy your books. Thank you for writing!

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    1. Many thanks, Audrey. This one is a bit "lighter' in tone than some of mine of late.

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    2. I know what you mean, Audrey. I keep saying that I won't read excerpts as I always want to read on, but I am too curious to resist them!

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  17. And thank you for that compliment. I think we many times have the same taste in books.

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