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The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn (Bennet Wardrobe Series Book 5)

Narrated by: Amanda Berry
Series: The Bennet Wardrobe , Book 4
Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years, from when I was but a maiden. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr. Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming. T’is only if you confront evil with resolution that you have any hopes of prevailing.” - The Dowager Countess of Matlock (11th)

The countess: an enigma? A mystery? Or a young girl, all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her younger sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education - and quickly - especially after the irregular circumstances that forced the wedding of Lydia Bennet and George Wickham.

How right they were...but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated, was far beyond their ken. For, they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture that had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: the Bennet wardrobe.

After spending 46 years in the future, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to Longbourn’s bookroom at that exact same moment as she left in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of family business. However, she was now a woman of 63 years, some 13 her father’s senior. Time can deal funny cards in the universe created by Jane Austen and the Bennett Wardrobe.

Of course, the Countess is acting to set in motion forces that will shape the future of Britain - and the five families - throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam will help her youngest sister find the love she craved with the unexpected hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all”.

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn is the second part and conclusion of the Bennet Wardrobe volume, chronicling the life of Kitty Bennet in the Wardrobe’s universe. This novel takes listeners on a journey that stretches from the early 19th into the mid 20th centuries.

©2018 Donald P. Jacobson (P)2018 Donald P. Jacobson

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Life Comes Full Circle for a Vivacious Lady!

The Countess Visits Longbourn brings things full circle for the dowager countess who was last seen as a youthful, petulant girl in those parts who stepped into the magical wardrobe and was never seen again. She has lived a lifetime away from family, but in her autumn years, she has work left to be done and now she goes about it with a panache that speaks to the delightful grand dame she has become.

This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed experiencing it in audio format with the engaging Amanda Berry as the series narrator. Her bright clear tone and command of a variety of voices made it an entertaining listen.

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn is the third novel-length installment in the Bennet Wardrobe series. It is part two to The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque. Thus, it doesn't make a good standalone or out of order.

This second part of Kitty's story picks up in the twilight of her life. After the death of her beloved Henry, she has devoted her time to the study of the Wardrobe and its mysteries so that she can use her expertise to go back and help lay the ground work for all that comes before and after her. Kitty takes that step back to where it all began for her- Longbourn.

This is very much a 'bridge' or transitional story to set up for what is to come and establish the explanation for how events of the previous books came to be laid out the way they did. How did the rules get laid down? How did the letters, the funds, and the governing body for the Bennet Trust come to be? It is all here . While, out of necessity, because of what was being put in place, this book got off to a slower start. It laid a lot of series ground work. However, after that was in order, the storyline took off. Kitty, in the role of the Countess of Deauville, becomes the new delight of London Society. She takes this time to guide a soul-searching Wickham and a vivacious Lydia, plays at matchmaker for a certain sergeant and his lady, and puts on a dazzling, glamorous Twelfth Night Ball with a mischievous Harlequin to delight us all. What a lush spectacle that ball was and I was thoroughly entranced by the imagery.

As a side note, I was tickled as before to encounter familiar historical and fictional characters. My favorite encounter was with Bernard Cornwell's character Richard Sharpe. He was a great mentor for Wickham.

All in all, it was a nice appetite whetting story that leaves me intrigued for what is to come. I can't wait for the further adventures of Lydia and other Bennets who encounter the magical time traveling Wardrobe.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.