It’s a Quest Anniversary & a Jane Austen £10 Note Giveaway!

A year ago today, 11th October, I began posting regular instalments of A Quest for Mr Darcy.

The book was published in June of this year, and I have been touched, delighted and humbled by the lovely response to the story, so thank you to everyone who followed along during the six months of weekly postings, encouraging me along the way, and to all those who have since read it and shared their thoughts on it.

By way of celebration, I am honouring one of the things that has most surprised (and then touched) me about this story: how much I enjoyed writing Bingley’s younger twin sisters, Olivia and Viola, and by the response to them from readers. Bringing original characters into a story peopled with those we have all loved for so many years is a daunting prospect, so I thank each and every one who has ever told me they enjoyed the twins and their antics!

As we’re talking twins, there have to be two things to give away. Some of you may recall I was in Winchester on the anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing back in July, where I attended the presentation of the new £10 note. It was a real treat to be able to hold one of the notes and see up close how very pretty they are!

It was released into general circulation in the UK on 14th September, and by sheer good fortune, I happened to be in the country attending the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath. Only a few select banks across the country had been sent the notes for this first day of release, and I had no idea Bath was one of them until I saw a local news report from Milsom Street! Recognising the ATM the reporter stood beside, I prodded my friends into action, and we were soon each holding one of these little pieces of history in our hands!

One was never going to be enough, however, and soon I had in my possession a little pile of freshly minted, never been in circulation, immaculate £10 notes!

I donated my first £10 to the Jane Austen House Museum and their ‘Bring Jane Home‘ campaign when we visited there the following week.

I have also passed some of these unused and very special notes to a few friends who would not likely come across one in the foreseeable future. However, I have two left over from that early raid on the cash machine, and I’m now going to give them away to two readers of my Blog!

All you have to do to enter a draw to win one of them is leave a comment below as to why you want one! 😀

Oh, and you can find out why I gave Bingley three younger half-sisters (the hint came from  Jane Austen herself, within the pages of Pride & Prejudice) at this link which announced the start of the story last year!


NB: Giveaway will run for 4 days, closing at midnight UK time on Sunday, 15th October 2017. Two winners will be drawn randomly and announced here on the Blog. Unclaimed prizes will be re-drawn if not claimed within 48 hours.


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Giveaway Winner Announced!

Huge thanks to author, J B Grantham, for visiting my Blog and for letting me interview her about her upcoming release, Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley.

The draw for her fabulous giveaway ended at midnight UK time on Monday.

There were lots of fascinating entries over who would be the ‘friend’ of choice from any of Jane Austen’s characters. Unsurprisingly, Elizabeth Bennet was the most popular, but there were some inspiring choices, with excellent reasonings behind them, from the more traditional: Jane Bennet, Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot, to the intriguing: Mr Bennet, Mrs Gardiner, Anne de Bourgh and more! Many thanks to everyone who took the time to leave such thoughtful comments. ❤

And now to announce the lucky winner of the gorgeous prizes:

Leah Pruett, it’s YOU! 😀

An email is on its way to you; congratulations, and thank you for stopping by to participate.

Thank you again to all those who took part! Both Julia and I had fun exchanging ideas with you all!

Don’t forget to pre-order this absolutely gorgeous and original book, out on 1st October!

Pre-order through this link, to save £5 on the release price! Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley

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Interview and Giveaway with Author J B Grantham!

I am delighted to bring you a fascinating post today from a dear friend, along with a gorgeous giveaway!

Please welcome J B Grantham, author of Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley, due to be released on 1st October 2017. The book will provide the reader with an opportunity to ‘walk’ the grounds of Pemberley guided by its Master, none other than Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy himself, as he invites you to discover its beauty and secrets.

Julia very kindly agreed to be interviewed for my Blog and so, without further delay, here is our conversation!


First of all, thank you so much, Cass, for inviting me to visit your gorgeous blog. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk to your readers about my new book and all things Pemberley.

Since my very first meeting with Cass, which – very appropriately – took place in Winchester, we’ve been discovering various common interests and obsessions. Apart from Jane Austen (obsession, obviously), we share a love for Harry Potter (also obsession, of course), English history and countryside, themed jewellery and – quite perplexingly – the size of asparagus in different parts of the world (I won’t attempt an explanation of how this came about, but one has to tell it like it is)!

I was also privileged and delighted to attend a launch party at 4 Sydney Place, Bath for Cass’s book, co-written with her friend, Ada Bright, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, and it remains one of my favourite memories of attending a Jane-Austen-inspired event. 

The invitation to visit Cass’ blog could not have been met with more enthusiasm – I am very happy to be here and very grateful for such thoughtful questions.

And I am grateful to you for joining me here, Julia! Now, tell us a little about how Jane Austen first came into your life and your first encounter with Mr Darcy!

It was a long time ago, in what I refer to sometimes as ‘my previous life’. In that life, I was a medical doctor and a lecturer at a medical university in Russia. I’d worked on my PhD in gastroenterology and lived in happy (or, should I say, unhappy) ignorance of Pemberley, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. This continued until, by some absolute miracle, one of the Russian TV channels purchased and broadcast the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It was shown over 6 weeks, one episode a week, and I just couldn’t wait for each instalment.

I must say, Jane Austen was not particularly known in the Soviet Union and, subsequently, Russia. Although it is very different now, the ideological bosses of the Soviet era did not see her books as political enough. Her characters didn’t suffer at the hands of ruling classes, their dreams and aspirations were too domestic, they were far from revolutionary, and the endings were too happy. Austen’s sharp tongue and merciless satire were, of course, lost on those who made decisions about what the ‘masses’ should read.

I worked at a university, but no one in my department had read Pride and Prejudice or any other of Jane Austen’s books. Of course, I could not rest until I found the book in a Russian translation. One of the old professors had an ancient edition, and I read it in one sitting. With most of my female colleagues becoming enchanted with and bewildered by Mr Darcy, my favourite character was Elizabeth – then and ever since. So much so that, when the opportunity arose for me to come to England to do some research in my field of medicine, I accepted it only because it was the country of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Bennet.

That’s fascinating, Julia. I’m so pleased you eventually discovered the pleasures of Jane Austen’s world. What, then, gave you the inspiration to create your gorgeous book, Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley?

I spent many years in the UK before I had a chance to visit Lyme Park, which for me always has been Pemberley. During the years when I couldn’t visit, I was searching the bookshops and then, later, the Internet, for an illustrated book about the property. I searched and searched and couldn’t find anything apart from a National Trust paperback. I bought it, of course; but it did not satisfy my desire to see more of the place. That is why, after my first visit to Pemberley a few years ago, I started drafting this book so that everyone could learn more about this beautiful place, especially people who live far away and cannot easily come and visit Lyme Park.

I’m so happy you made that decision! The book is beautifully illustrated, but who created the drawings, and can you tell us a bit about the process?

All the images, apart from those clearly mentioned in the notes, are my own work. The process is very long and not straightforward. It starts with pencils and watercolours, of course. Then I use scissors for various cut-outs, combine pictures together, scan them and edit further on a graphics tablet. Each image is re-scanned and re-edited many times, which is why it took me over three years to complete the book. And I am still trying to change some of the images!

As for the photographs from the BBC 1995 adaptation, they are copyrighted to the BBC, so I purchased licences for each of them. It is a detailed process – you need to list the title you are using them in, the page number, even the size, but I felt it was the right thing to do.

Your dedication and hard work has resulted in a delightful book!

It is clear you have a deep love for, and knowledge of, Lyme Park in Cheshire, (the National Trust managed property which stood in for the exterior and grounds of Pemberley in the iconic BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice). How did you research the ‘Pemberley estate’?

I tried to read everything I could. As I said – it wasn’t much. Visiting Lyme Park and talking to its wonderful guides was a great source of information, but it still felt not enough, and then one day I just hit lucky! I discovered a reprinted book from 1917, published originally in New York, The House of Lyme: from its foundation to the end of the eighteenth century, by the Lady Newton. It is a thick tome, and, of course, I was writing about Pemberley, not the history of the Lyme Park estate, but I used several details from the book in the Guide, such as the first names of both Mr Darcy’s grandfather and his father.

I cherish this book so much that my very first Jane Austen Literacy Foundation bookplate went into it.

I am pledging 10% of the book’s profits to the Foundation, which raises money for literacy projects in Jane Austen’s name, and I am very happy to support a worthy cause so close to my heart.

That’s a wonderful gesture, Julia.

Now, can you share what your favourite part of the grounds is, the place where you like to sit and just take everything in?

In the grounds of Pemberley I usually walk and walk – there is so much to take in before dark. But, when my legs give up under me, my favourite place to sit is, undoubtedly, the covered top terrace of the rose garden.

It is important to mention that some constructions at Lyme Park were added later than Pride and Prejudice’s timeline. However, they featured in the TV adaptation and are there now for every visitor to see. To deal with this dilemma, I marked with an asterisk all the places that did not exist in 1814 (when Mr Darcy was writing his guide book), but are there now.

It is an inevitable challenge when writing this sort of book – a fusion of fantasy and reality – but my aim was to do justice to a place I love and, as much as possible, to enable the reader to separate the reality from fiction should they wish to. That is why the names of real people – architects and craftsmen – are highlighted in bold italic, while fictional characters are not highlighted in this way. In other words, I took all precautions to keep the fantasy alive while staying true to facts.

And you’ve done a wonderful job!

You have a beautiful garden of your own. Did any part of it inspire aspects of your book – the illustrations of the individual blooms, for example?

It is rather the other way around, in that I always have Pemberley in mind when I work in my garden – not that it is anywhere near it in scale or grandeur, but one always can dream. For example, ever since I noticed small islands of daisies growing in the lawns of Pemberley, I started leaving them to grow in my lawn – daisies, white clover – these little patches of flowers look great on the lawn and attract hundreds of bees, and the idea came to me from Pemberley.

I’ll tell you another amazing story about our garden and Lyme Park. Our house is quite old, with one wall dating back to 1800, and there is a plaque built into the outside chimney depicting an arm holding a banner.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered these severed arms with a banner can be found in abundance at Lyme House! How astonished I was to discover this was the ‘Augmentation of Honour’ of the Legh family, an honour bestowed on the family in 1575 by Queen Elizabeth I, in recognition of a courageous rescue of the Black Prince standard by a Legh family ancestor, Thomas Danyers.

How this symbol found its way onto the chimney of our house is a mystery I am currently trying to decipher.


Wow, that’s fascinating, Julia, and what a wonderful potential connection to a place that has become so significant to you! Thank you so much for coming along to share some of the background behind your love of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the inspiration behind the gorgeous and innovative Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley.

I’m proud to say I was asked to write a review for inclusion in the book, and I highly recommend it, not only to fans of Pride and Prejudice, but anyone who loves history, English landscapes, stately homes and stunning gardens.

About the Author

J B Grantham is a wife, mother, medical doctor, PhD, university lecturer, businesswoman, training consultant, video producer, an aspiring author of children’s fiction, a Harry Potter fanatic, Jane Austen enthusiast, the mother of cats (two), ducks (multiple) and a pheasant, a Facebook blogger with a great following (thank you, guys!), a Creative Director of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation (we are all volunteers there), a writer and illustrator of Jane Austen-inspired travel fiction.

About the Book and its Specifications

Sumptuously presented, and doing full justice to the stunning place it describes, this book is the first and only of its kind. It is only available as a hardback, wrapped in a smooth dustcover with gold emboss. Inside, the book is printed on high quality silky paper with full colour paintings adorning every page. Hand-drawn maps guide you around Mr Darcy’s extensive estate and perfectly imagine every detail as if you were walking the garden paths beside your generous (and handsome!) host.

From the author:

“When I brought my specifications to the printers their reply was: ‘Sounds like a nice book with every high priced print process known to man and the most expensive paper you can buy.’ That scared me a little, but I had to stick to it to do justice to the beautiful place this book is about.”


– hardback, landscape, 28×21 cm

– Dust cover with gold emboss

– Satin paper

– Full colour throughout

– 108 pages, with illustrations on every page

Because the book will be expensive to print, pre-orders will be fulfilled first. There may then be some available for general sale.

How to Order Your Copy

You can pre-order to save money and secure your copy.

Why pre-order?

Firstly, this way you secure your copy. The book is a limited edition and the number of copies produced will be strongly determined by the number of pre-orders we receive.

Secondly, there is a special introductory price on pre-orders, saving £5 off the regular price of the book.

The book will be released on 1st October 2017, and you will not be charged until the date of release.

It is coming to in October at RRP £25 + p&p

Pre-order at for £20 + p&p only

The Jane Austen Literacy Foundation

J B Grantham is delighted to be supporting the Jane Austen Literary Foundation, a registered not-for-profit organisation. The Foundation was created in honour of Jane Austen, to improve global literacy rates by raising money to fund reading and writing resources for communities in need across the world, by Caroline Jane Knight, Jane Austen’s fifth great niece, who has also kindly written the Foreword for the book.


Julia is offering a fabulous giveaway for one lucky winner! It’s open internationally, is absolutely unique and cannot be replicated or purchased in any shops because it is completely handmade by talented artists.

This is what you could win:

  • An A5 portrait of Mr Darcy by an amazing artist, E Tarnovski;
  • A Jane Austen silhouette badge;
  • Four Jane Austen books pendants (they can be worn as individual pendants, or as part of a necklace or a charm bracelet) – all by talented young artist, Alyona.

To enter, please leave a comment below answering the following question from Julia:

“If you could choose a friend amongst Jane Austen’s characters (only a friend), who would it be and why?”

Good luck everyone!

NB: The giveaway will run until midnight UK time on Monday, 4th September 2017, and the winner will be announced here on the Blog. If the prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a further draw will be made.

Where to find J B Grantham

Connect with J B Grantham on Facebook:

Follow the Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley Facebook Page:

Follow Julia’s Blog Looking for Elizabeth:



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Giveaway Winner Announced at Last!

I am so sorry to be so late in announcing the winner of the latest giveaway here on my Blog! The draw ended back on 19th July, but I was travelling until yesterday and am only now back at my desk and able to make the announcement.

And the winner of the Jane Austen prize bundle, along with a copy of A Quest for Mr Darcy, is:


Cristina, please email me at cassandra {dot} grafton {at} gmail {dot} com with your choice of eBook or paperback and your address so I can get your winnings off to you. 😀

(If the prize remains unclaimed by midnight UK time on Thursday, 3rd August, a new drawing will take place.)

Thank you to everyone who shared what they would be doing on 18th July to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing. I’ll be back to report on my experiences in Winchester, from statue unveilings, exhibitions, floral tributes and more, very soon!





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A Quest for Mr Darcy – now in paperback!!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

THE BEAST* IS BOUND!! But there’s no need to fear cruelty to animals! It simply means that Quest is now a paperback book! Flex those wrist muscles, readers! It’s a whopping 762 pages of story, and for those who prefer … Continue reading

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Giveaway Winners Announced & First Sighting of the ‘Beast’!

Anyone who read along as I rushed to get chapters of A Quest for Mr Darcy up on time will recall my inability to spot all the typos in each post, so you’re probably wondering if I’ve slipped up again in the heading to this one!

I haven’t! 😉 There were so many lovely, beautifully explained responses in the Comments, and such a variety of characters chosen, I decided to giveaway TWO Brilliant Uncirculated £2 Coins (I wish I had more to spare! You all deserve one!)

There were 22 entries (Anji abstained, as she already has the coin), and my trusty assistant (aka my husband, Julian) did the honours before he went to work and picked two numbers. The winners are:

  • Julie R
  • Lynn Bischoff

Please contact me on cassandra {dot} grafton {@} gmail {dot} com, or via Facebook Messenger if we are connected there, with your address so I can get the presentation pack off to you!

(If a prize remains unclaimed within 3 days, a new name will be picked!)

Congratulations to Julie and Lynn, and thank you SO much to everyone who took the time to leave a comment. ❤

The ‘Beast’!

Again, as many of you know, A Quest for Mr Darcy ended up much longer than I had anticipated… about a whole book-length longer! Sigh.

Despite lopping over 10,000 redundant words from the manuscript during editing, it still remained a whopping 190,000 words long in the end. As it lumbered its way to and fro across the world between Switzerland and my lovely team of proof readers, it became affectionately known as ‘the Beast’. I’m hoping they were only referring to its size, of course! 😉

Well, the paperback proof copy has finally arrived with me! As you can see from the photos, it’s quite a hefty tome. There are a few tweaks to be made to the cover and interior, but I’m hoping it will be published within the next two weeks – I’ll announce it here when it’s available, and no doubt I will find something to offer as a giveaway, too! 😀


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Round up of Giveaways still Running, a New One and a Sale!

Canada has just celebrated its 150th Anniversary, and there’s a big holiday pending in the US this week too, so it seemed time to celebrate!


Two of the giveaways have now closed, but thank you to everyone who entered by leaving comments at Diary of an Eccentric and Austenesque Reviews. Huge thanks to Anna and Meredith for hosting these! ❤ ❤

Two giveaways are still running, however!

There’s an exclusive outtake from the Prologue of A Quest for Mr Darcy over at Claudine’s lovely blog, Just Jane 1813, and you can read it and enter the giveaway here. Closing date for entries is 5th July.

The lovely Janet Taylor has written a beautiful and eloquent review of the book over at More Agreeably Engaged, which you can read here, and there is a further giveaway to enter. Closing date: 6th July.


In other news, the paperback is still under preparation and will be out sometime in July. I will announce it here as soon as it’s live! (Remember the accompanying health warning: make sure you have a wrist rest. On a more positive note, as my husband says, at least it will make a useful doorstop once you’re done reading!)


On 7th July, it will be the first anniversary of the release of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen (co-written with the lovely cover designer of Quest, Ada Bright)! This title is now available in Kindle Unlimited AND for the coming week is also on sale at $2.99!

If you haven’t yet read of Jane Austen’s adventures in contemporary Bath during the Festival honouring her name, now is your chance! 😉

Further exciting news about the book and the sequel will be coming in the following weeks over on our Blog at Tabby Cow.


I seem to have a spare presentation pack of the Brilliant Uncirculated £2 Coin featuring Jane Austen! What can you do in the circumstances? Oh yes! Give it away!

To enter the draw, just leave a comment revealing your favourite Austen character – from any novel – and why! The draw will be open for 72 hours, so a winner will be chosen on Wednesday morning UK time!

Happy Holidays to those celebrating, and good luck in the various giveaways to everyone!


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Giveaways Galore!

Monday can be a bit of a flat day, as days of the week go, so I thought I’d do a round up of what’s on offer around the release of A Quest for Mr Darcy (or ‘Quest’, as I lazily refer to it lately!) 😉

There are two giveaways still running and open for entries and all include the chance to win a copy of Quest (eBook or paperback – though the paperback is not yet out) along with a selection of Jane Austen themed goodies (the ‘goodies’ are different for each giveaway!) All giveaways are open internationally.

Entry is as easy as leaving a comment on the relevant blog post, and you can find the first here at Diary of an Eccentric, where you can also read an excerpt from the story. Closing date for entries is Thursday, 29th June.

The second can be found here at Austenesque Reviews, where I am interviewed by the lovely Meredith about the inspirations behind the story and a few other things besides. Closing date for entries is Friday, 30th June.

That’s not all, however! There will be two new giveaways coming up this week, the first on Wednesday at Just Jane 1813, where you can read an outtake from the Prologue, and the second on Friday at More Agreeably Engaged.

Good luck to everyone who enters!

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Giveaway Winners Announced on Book Release Day!

I’m delighted to announce the two winners of the giveaway which ran from Monday to Wednesday here on my Blog – for a special edition Brilliant Uncirculated £2 Coin in a presentation pack!

The responses were amazing, with some wonderful quotes shared from both Jane Austen’s letters and her works.

All those who left a quote on the Blog had their names entered into a hat for the draw, and the lovely Joan Mossop of St Mary’s Hall B&B in Alton did the honours this morning in selecting two numbers.

Congratulations therefore go to:

  • JoEllen
  • deborahanne2

Please email me on cassandra {dot} grafton {at} gmail {dot} com and let me have a mailing address for you!

(Should any prize remain unclaimed by midnight UK time this coming Saturday (24th June), a further drawing will take place.)

I’m also pleased to say it’s finally release day for A Quest for Mr Darcy. The eBook is now available in all the usual online stores – links below! (The paperback is coming. Just waiting on the interior from the formatters).

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway. There is currently one running over at Diary of an Eccentric, where there is an excerpt from the novel and a chance to win a free book and some Jane Austen goodies. You can find it here.

I am also being interviewed on Austenesque Reviews tomorrow, where there will be a further chance to enter to win a giveaway of a copy of the book and more goodies!

Links to Buy


Nook Store

Kobo Store

Apple iBooks

I am donating 10% of all eBook profits to the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation set up by Jane Austen’s (five times) great neice, who grew up at Chawton House, to fund literacy projects in Jane Austen’s name.


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A Quest for Mr Darcy – an Update and a Giveaway

I’m happy to say A Quest for Mr Darcy will be released in eBook format on Thursday, 22nd June, with the paperback coming soon after. ❤  It is still available for pre-order, and the links are below.

I’ll be visiting two blogs this week, Diary of an Eccentric on Wednesday and Austenesque Reviews on Friday, and there will be opportunities to win copies of the book and some Jane Austen themed goodies!

However, in the meantime, I thought I’d offer a little gift here on my Blog! You have doubtless heard about Jane Austen being featured on the new £10 note coming into general circulation later this year. In addition, the Royal Mint is releasing a new £2 coin which will also feature Jane Austen.

Although this will soon be in general circulation, I have two special edition Brilliant Uncirculated Coins in a presentation pack to GIVE AWAY!

All you need to do to enter to win one of the two coins on offer is tell me your favourite Jane Austen quote (from any novel or her letters)! The closing date for entries will be midnight UK time on Wednesday, 21st June.

In the meantime, pre-order links for A Quest for Mr Darcy are below. It is available for pre-order in the Apple Book Store too, but I don’t have a link!

Kobo Store

B&N Nook Store


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