In Essentials by Helen Williams – An Introduction

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What do the color blue and butterflies have in common? An odd question, you ask? Yes, it is, especially for the introduction of a new author and new book at Meryton Press. Let me explain. For the cover of Helen Williams’s novel, In Essentials, butterflies and blue are used, and both have significant meaning to the story… hope. The placement of the butterflies is also meaningful. I’ll leave that to you to decipher. When you read the book, it will become clearer.

The life of a butterfly is a message of hope. When the caterpillar spins its cocoon, it goes through a time of loneliness and darkness before it emerges to the light as the beautiful butterfly. In this unique and poignant story, Lizzy and Darcy go through transformations like a butterfly, yet their strength and hope help them soar through the lows to reach the highs of a beautiful life filled with love.

Before I introduce you to the author, Helen Williams, let’s take a look at the full wrapper.

Although not mentioned in the novel as such, the butterflies, the color blue, the black silhouette of Lizzy, are symbolic. The phaeton, which is mentioned, has its special place, one which you will enjoy.

Let’s take a look at the blurb, then I’ll introduce you to Helen Williams, the author.

Blurb

Five months after Darcy’s disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, he discovers that the woman he ardently loves is suffering from a grave illness.

Despite an affliction that has left her altered, Elizabeth Bennet is still the same person in essentials: witty, sanguine, and obstinate. However, her future is uncertain, and she struggles to maintain her equanimity—especially when Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to Netherfield and seems determined to improve her opinion of him. Now she must decide whether she is brave enough to trust him and embrace happiness, however fleeting it might prove to be.

Author Bio

Helen lives in Cambridge, UK where she works for the University of Cambridge. She has been writing as a hobby for around 15 years and has written several novel length stories based on the work of Jane Austen. Helen has Welsh roots so her stories will often include a couple of references to the land of her fathers, in addition to her two other loves – dogs and rugby. In addition to writing, Helen’s hobbies include cooking, hiking, cycling and campaigning for green initiatives. Having been diagnosed with pituitary growths in 2015 and 2020, Helen is also an active member of the Pituitary Foundation and her experiences with chronic illness inspired her latest story.

Learn a bit of Helen’s story in her own words, then read the first excerpt from In Essentials.

From the Author

When I was twenty seven years old, a simple headache changed my life forever. I’ve lived ever since with a chronic illness and have always wanted to use my experiences in a story. For a while I toyed with the idea of a modern Pride and Prejudice, but then one day the idea for In Essentials hit me. So this book is my attempt to share my own health journey, albeit through a Regency-tinted lens.

Whilst I have had no comparable romance in my life (alas!), I have been supported by many people whom I love, and they have seen me through some very difficult years – as Mr Darcy sees Elizabeth through some severe tests of her own. No doubt it seems odd to inflict such suffering on two beloved characters – and I adore Elizabeth and Darcy as much as any Jane Austen reader – but to me, it was satisfying to imagine and write about the devotion, love and bravery they both need to overcome this challenge. None of Jane Austen’s couples reach their happy endings without a few bumps in the road first; I took that concept, added in my chronic illness and In Essentials was the result. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Excerpt – Chapter 6

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”

Elizabeth, feeling all the more than common awkwardness and anxiety of his situation, now forced herself to speak.

“Mr Darcy, whatever my feelings in the matter, it is beyond my power to accept you. You do not know…you have only seen me as I am now…I shall never be a fit wife for any man, let alone one in your situation. I am an invalid. It is uncertain that I should live to see my thirtieth year, and I shall never bear children. Whilst I am honoured by your proposal, I could never consent to become Mrs Darcy—knowing I shall never bring honour to you or your name.”

“I would rather we not speak of honour, Miss Elizabeth. I have asked you to be my wife because I love you and because nothing would make me happier. Might you not consider my proposal on those terms?”

“Very well. On those terms I think you are mistaken. No one could derive happiness from seeing someone they love suffer, being powerless to help. That will be my fate, sir, and I would spare both of us the pain of it. For I should much rather meet my end without being forced to witness the suffering of my loved ones.”

“Your end? Good God, you speak as though it is upon you this very moment! You may live another ten years, if not more—”

“Or a great deal less!”

“Is that not reason enough, therefore, to make the very most of whatever time you have?”

“Yes, and I fully intend to do so! But I had much rather spend my time in peace and simple enjoyments than marry and disappoint you. For someone who used to see so clearly the obstacles to our union, Mr Darcy, you appear wantonly blind to them now. I could not spend a Season in town. I could not host dinners or balls. I could not visit your tenants or entertain your family. I am fit for nothing! And once you realised it, you would very quickly resent your choice.”

“I never would,” Mr Darcy intoned without hesitation in a voice of sincere emotion, and Elizabeth, who had been in full flow, was checked. “You are my choice to be my wife because I love you. Having you beside me would be all the happiness I should ever want from life. I should like nothing more than to spend our days at Pemberley. I do not think there is anyone’s company I would rather have more than yours.”

“Mr Darcy!” Elizabeth protested, much moved. “You do not play fair. I am trying to be sensible—to spare us both the heartache and the pain of disappointment and regret.”

“I think you are afraid, Elizabeth,” he countered, “and I do not blame you for that. The future must indeed feel terrifying and uncertain. But please, do not answer me now. I had not intended to speak to you of my intentions so soon, and I have no intention of pressing you to make a decision.”

“That is to say, you do not accept what I have said to you today as my final word,” Elizabeth retorted.

Mr Darcy smiled ruefully. “I do not wish to doubt you or imply that I question your convictions. Rather, I hope that, with time, you may come to view the matter differently.”

Elizabeth lapsed into thought and stared at the passing scenery. Mr Darcy waited patiently for her to reach a decision.

“Very well,” she conceded at last. “I can make no argument to that, and I should be an ungrateful wretch indeed not to feel the compliment of your persistence.”

“I go to such lengths only for you.”

“When we spoke that night at Netherfield about your stubbornness, I never suspected that one day I would regard it as a virtue.”

They shared a laughing look and, as they were arriving at their destination, began to speak of other things. The air between them might have been awkward, but strangely they both felt more at ease for having finally addressed the subject that had been hanging over them for so long. Elizabeth knew she had much thinking to do, and Mr Darcy was quietly persuaded that his persistence would one day bear fruit.

We would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Do you have any questions for Helen? Do you think Darcy is hopeful? Since he is “quietly persuaded,” I believe he has hope! What about Lizzy? She has much to ponder, indeed.

Giveaway

Meryton Press is giving away two eBooks of In Essentials. Please leave a comment below to be entered. The giveaway is worldwide and will end at midnight, central time on the 17th of October.

The In Essentials Blog Tour begins tomorrow, October 11th. We hope you will follow along, read more excerpts, get a recipe, and learn more about Helen. The Meryton Press Facebook page will have the stops with links each day. See you there.

The links are also included in the blog tour schedule below.

Blog Tour Schedule

October 11 From Pemberley to Milton

October 12 Savvy Verse & Wit

October 13 My Jane Austen Book Club

October 14 My Vices and Weaknesses

October 15 Babblings of a Bookworm

October 16 Donadee’s Corner

There will be more eBooks given away during the blog tour, so be sure to visit each stop.

68 Responses

  1. Glynis
    | Reply

    This is the first I’ve heard of this book but hopefully not the last!
    I love the excerpt, such a devoted Darcy is always a favourite and if he’s prepared to marry and love Elizabeth, fully aware of her situation, I think she should just say yes please!
    This is definitely going on my list!

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      Hi Glynis. We’ve had two memes about it, and one of those was yesterday. You definitely will be hearing more about it! Glad to hear you love the excerpt. I think you will fall for this Darcy all over again. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Glennis! Though if you are at all like me and maintain a very long “to read” list, it may be a while before you enjoy the full story! But I hope it is worth the wait.

  2. DarcyBennett
    | Reply

    Sounds wonderful. Congrats on the release.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      We’re glad to hear you think so! Hope you get to read it soon.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the full story.

  3. Rose
    | Reply

    What a difficult topic!
    I am looking forward to the book, even if it might be painful to read.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      It may have been difficult to write, but Helen does a beautiful job with the story. She is a superb writer and had an excellent editor, Becky Sun. Thank you for stopping by, Rose, and we hope you get to read Helen’s book soon.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      I hope it isn’t too painful a read, though I certainly shed a few tears writing it. But more because I want to see Darcy and Elizabeth happy, and they have to go through some ups and downs to get there.

  4. Suzan Lauder
    | Reply

    The excerpt is quite enticing for readers to want to know more. I’ve read Helen’s work on the boards and loved it, but not this story, so I’m interested to read it. And what a pretty cover!

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      That’s great to hear, Suzan. She is a beautiful writer. We’re happy you like the cover, too. Thank you for commenting and supporting Helen.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Suzan – I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed my other stories, I feel like In Essentials is the best I’ve written so I’m so happy to have it published.

  5. Marie H
    | Reply

    Sounds like a very unique premise, one I don’t believe I’ve read in a variation. I do hope a happy ending is guaranteed. Congratulations on the new debut release!

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      I believe it is a unique premise Marie. I believe the author does mention a happy ending in her last paragraph above the excerpt. I know there is a hint of one in the second paragraph of the post! 🙂 We’re so happy your stopped by and wish you luck in the giveaway.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Marie. A happy ending is guaranteed, though part of my motivation for writing this story was to explore what exactly counts as a “happy ending”. Hopefully if you read the book you’ll agree with my take on it.

  6. Patty Edmisson
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your first release. How exciting! I look forward to reading about this journey ODC must undertake.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      We are glad to hear it, Patty. Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment. Good luck in the giveaway.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Patty – I’m excited to see this story in print, it was a labour of love!

  7. Danielle
    | Reply

    Well I’m hooked now! Wish there was a link to pre-order this.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      Danielle, it will be available for purchase tomorrow if not sooner. Of course, with Amazon, that is not a given, but what we are expecting. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Good luck.

      • Danielle
        | Reply

        Thanks! I’ll look for it. I never expect to win, nor have I, so I end up ordering. I’ve been in a reading rut and I think this book might snap me out of it.

        • Meryton Press
          | Reply

          You’re welcome, Danielle. I hope this book will snap you out of the reading rut!

  8. Eva Edmonds
    | Reply

    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your personal story with us and in a Regency way. I like how honest both Elizabeth and Darcy are; I am curious to see if she accepts him and what does happen. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway and congratulations on this new book.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      We thank you for stopping by and commenting, Eva. It’s good to have you visit.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Eva. I hope that my personal experiences give the story more depth and a flavour of truth (though admittedly I don’t come from Regency England…!) – they do say to write what you know, after all!

  9. Kelly Miller
    | Reply

    Congratulations and best wishes, Helen! I love the cover, front and back, and the premise is intriguing. Great excerpt too! 🙂

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      We’re glad to know you love the cover. I agree with you about the premise. It is intriguing, and the story touches your heartstrings! I shed a few tears when I read it, more than once. Thanks for stopping by and supporting Helen.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Kelly! I’m glad you liked the excerpt and hope you enjoy the complete story if you decide to buy it.

  10. Gayle
    | Reply

    This excerpt is definitely intriguing. I wonder what the health problem is and how the story will resolve. I think it is a plot device that has the potential ability to resonate with may readers.

    I’ll look forward to the books release.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Gayle – I’m glad you’re intrigued. The book includes an author’s note which fully explains the medical side of the story – setting it in Regency times meant that I couldn’t shed much light on the mystery, as they didn’t have the necessary medical knowledge. But you’ll find more information at the end of the book.

  11. Cyndy
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your first release, and on the interesting concept. I don’t think I have seen this one yet. I do hope that ODC will have a happy ending!

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Cyndy. They’ll have a happy ending, though I hope to encourage readers to consider what “happy” really means.

  12. Rebecca L McBrayer
    | Reply

    What a unique premise! Thank you for courageously sharing some of your own journey through Lizzy and Darcy!

    • Jan Hahn
      | Reply

      Congratulations, Helen, on your new release! It sounds different from most variations and quite intriguing. Best wishes on your blog tour.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Rebecca. I was happy to share my experiences through this story, as I really wanted to write a positive portrayal of my condition whilst not shying away from the realities of living with chronic health problems. Hopefully the story resonates with everyone.

  13. C. Kepler
    | Reply

    A wonderful concept to include in an alternate universe for Darcy & Elizabeth. Since it is an all-too-real universe for many who suffer with limitations in their lives, it seems that it should be a fascinating story. Lovely, symbolic cover and I look forward to reading more.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, I am glad you like the symbolism in the cover. And blending the two universes of Pride and Prejudice and chronic illness was really interesting and challenging for me as an author, so I very much hope it has resulted in a satisfying story overall.

  14. J. W. Garrett
    | Reply

    What an interesting concept. I look forward to reading this. Blessings on all your hard work and congratulations on this new launch. I wish you all manner of success.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the story when you read the full book.

  15. Colleen
    | Reply

    This is a very interesting concept. I am fascinated to see how our beloved couple will deal with these issues.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Colleen. The question of how each character would handle such a challenge was the main one which got me thinking about writing this book in the first place, and exploring the reactions etc. was really interesting to write. I hope you enjoy the book.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      We’re so glad you stopped by, Colleen, and hope you get to read the book soon. Good luck in the giveaway.

  16. Buturot
    | Reply

    Congratulations! Thank youfor sharing the background of the story. It is already heart-wrenching to think of what Lizzy might be going through and what the short future lies for both. But I do love Mr. Darcy’s persistence, the optimism and the hope he holds. I can’t wait to read this book.

    On the side note, I do empathize with you on the subject of headaches…..

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you. Persistence and optimism are very important, and a key theme throughout the book. I hope you enjoy the complete story when you read it.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      Mr. Darcy is wonderful in this story. I loved his persistence and outlook too. Lizzy is strong in spite of her illness. I hope you get to read the book soon.

  17. SamH.
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness, I am so used to an Elizabeth who is strong and tries her best to stay in control of her situation. This is such a radically different idea!
    Good luck with the launch!! This is definitely going on my TBR list.

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      It is a unique story and a good one. I hope you get to read it soon. We’re happy you stopped by.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Sam. I hope you enjoy it, even if it is a little different from usual.

  18. Alexandra Rivers
    | Reply

    This is more than an interesting, original take on the story. It’s a way to channel a personal experience into something that touches everyone. Art works that way and I’m looking forward to reading this variation!
    I’m all in for angsty stories but that “you may live another ten years” was like a punch to the gut.
    Good luck with everything!

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      I hope you get to read it soon, Alexandra. I will admit to shedding a few tears when I read this book. It touched me in various ways. It is a good book and one I think you will enjoy. Good luck in the giveaway.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Alexandra. And hopefully this story is not just angst for angsts sake – it is based on real, personal experience so whilst there are some ups and downs, I don’t draw them out for the drama!

  19. Joan
    | Reply

    Oh, I must have a copy even if I have to buy it! Yes, there’s always hope. No matter how long or short their time together, Darcy and Elizabeth should have it!

    • Meryton Press
      | Reply

      Love your comment, Joan, and I agree completely. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Joan. I agree, making the most of what you have is really important!

  20. ForeverHis Kleman
    | Reply

    This sounds like a truly intriguing story. I can think of several scenarios for the conclusion of this book. Guess I’ll have to read it to find out what happens. Thank you Meryton Press for publishing another wonderful story for those of us who are D&E fans to greatly anticipate. And congrats to Helen Williams on launching a new book.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book and it lives up to your expectations.

  21. Linda Gonschior
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your book release, Helen! Such a pretty cover! I have a fondness for butterflies. 🙂

    As Eva said above, it is brave of you to draw on your personal experience for this story. When you write what you truly know, it can be a release, as well as satisfying to pass on knowledge and hope to others in similar situations.

    Of course, we all love a Darcy who is steadfast through any challenge, and an Elizabeth who still thinks beyond her own happiness when replying to a proposal. 😉

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Linda. It was indeed quite cathartic to write this story, and to share my experiences. I hope they resonate with people.

  22. Sheila L. Majczan
    | Reply

    Good luck with this release. I borrowed it from KU.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Sheila.

  23. Betty Madden
    | Reply

    I’m certainly looking forward to this story. And sorry it’s based on such Life experience.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      These things happen, as they say. I’ve been very lucky on the whole and try to focus on the many positives I have in life.

  24. Lois
    | Reply

    I certainly hope Elizabeth’s fate turns out to be better than she expects, but look forward to reading about a steadfast and caring Darcy.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      He’s certainly the perfect man to rely on in a crisis!

  25. Beatrice
    | Reply

    At last! I got a hint of this book at the beginning of the month, but couldn’t find it on Amazon. All I knew other than the author’s name was the title, and that drew me in.
    Very much looking forward to reading it.

  26. Gill Murgatroyd
    | Reply

    This is such a good book!
    Watching Elizabeth’s wit and irrepressible personality through the lens of devastating illness was compelling. Darcy’s love and devotion are a joy to see.

    • Helen W
      | Reply

      Thank you, Gill, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it

  27. Sharon
    | Reply

    What a premise! Can’t wait to read this. Thank you for a giveaway opportunity.

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