Is The Darcy Saga inspired solely by the 2005 movie, the novel by Jane Austen, or both?
A – Both. I am unabashedly a fan of the movie. Major fan! I did see this version (as well as the 1995 version) before reading the novel. My initiation to the world of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice was cinema rather than literary. However, when it comes to writing The Darcy Saga, the classic novel and the movie are my inspirations.
Did I read the novel before I began to write?
A – The short answer is a resounding YES. I purchased a copy immediately, two copies as it happened because my daughter needed Pride and Prejudice for her high school AP Literature class. Throughout the winter of 2005-2006, we read the novel together. In essence, I took the class with her! I learned a great deal from my daughter’s literature teacher. Writing was far from my mind at that time, but I was fascinated by the story, as well as the time period. I turned to the internet, reading uncounted numbers of essays, reams of fan fiction, and other books that related to Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, and the Regency Era. I joined a few Austen discussion forums, both reading the varied opinions and engaging in the discourse. All this for months before I wrote a word. My study of Jane Austen and the Regency from every angle is ongoing and contributes to the scenes, images, and conversations that swirl through my head as I write.
Why do I choose to focus on the 2005 movie for my vision of Lizzy and Darcy’s life together?
A – I am a visual, emotive person. Even when I read a novel, I automatically create the scene in my mind’s eye, much as a film rolls and unveils the vivid detail. For me, this ability to visualize a story adds to the magic, and transports me into that other world. Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice masterpiece transported me and captured my heart. I still think it is brilliant! The costumes, the music, the cinematography, the drama, the passion, the humor, the language, the actors, the gritty atmosphere – all if it is phenomenal in my opinion. Few movies have touched me to this degree. I was inspired by the movie, continue to be so, and therefore choose to embrace it as my primary focus.
Did I like the 1995 miniseries?
A – Yes, I liked it. I did not love it. Some of that is probably timing since I saw it after seeing the movie. The truth is, I prefer a story with sparkle, excitement, action, and passion. I want to be touched in some way, and see wild chemistry between the star-crossed lovers. The miniseries, while excellently done and having far more time to tell Austen’s story fully, fell flat and did not stir my insides. I appreciate all the various adaptations of Austen novels, and can clinically point out the pros and cons. Some simply move me more than others, for reasons I can’t always explain. Frankly, I believe that is the beauty of cinema: There is something for every person.
Why do I prefer Matthew Macfadyen over Colin Firth?
A – I know what kind of man makes my heart race and Matthew is that kind of man. He has a presence on screen that screams strength, confidence, sexuality, manliness, vulnerability, and shyness, all rolled into one handsome package. As Mr. Darcy, he was sublime. Colin Firth is amazing, and I admire his talent immensely, but he has never appealed to me in that melting, fluttering stomach way.
Do I think one version is closer to Austen’s novel than the other?
A – To a certain degree, this depends upon one’s definition of “closer.” Few can argue that the 1995 miniseries is closer to the book insofar as bringing more to life on screen because it is 6+ hours long! More of the subplots and characters could be shown to a greater degree simply because there was time to do so. Truncating a novel – any novel – into 2 hours means adapting on a larger scale, so certain elements and/or scenes must be sacrificed. Due to this, capturing the tone and essence becomes the focus, rather than directly translating each scene. Therefore, while some aspects from the novel were lost in the movie, in my opinion the movie brilliantly and succinctly told the major themes of Austen’s novel.
Do I think one version nailed the characters while the other failed?
A – Every adaptation has pros and cons. Each brings different interpretations to the screen. The key word here is “interpretation.” There is no ONE interpretation of the characters since no two people are ever going to perceive them the same way. Everyone reads a book and uniquely imagines the characters based on their own personality and life experiences. A brief perusal of any Jane Austen discussion forum will clearly reveal the wealth of differing opinions. That is why I don’t think either version can claim to be the “right” one. Honestly, those who claim they have the definitive interpretation, and criticize authors like myself (or talented screenwriters and directors) for getting it wrong because we don’t line up with their opinion, are arrogant fools.
Why do I call my sequel series a “saga”?
A – The name began as a humorous jest since I had so many chapters with no end in sight! Over time, I realized the name was perfect. I am writing about a family as they travel the course of life. That is what a saga is all about! It isn’t about one conflict or drama with the resolution being the end.
Is there a plot? What is the plot?
A – Yes, there is a plot, absolutely! Remember that a “plot” is defined as: the storyline, theme, plan, and sequence of events in a literary work. When critics bash The Darcy Saga novels for not having a “plot” they are revealing their own ignorance. Now, I concur that novels most commonly do have a single, or maybe several, conflict/resolution plot lines. In those books, The End is indeed The End. However, to say this is what ALL novels MUST have in order to have a “plot” denies the plethora of novels and stories written down through the ages which do not follow that narrow definition. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of novels have been written with a saga-style theme wherein the plot is about the passage of time and how life events affect the characters. Fantasy and Sci-Fi novels are famous for this extensive type of story-telling, but certainly not exclusive.
What are the themes of my plot?
A – My series is about following the Darcys, and the other characters (some from Pride and Prejudice and others of my own creation), as they travel through life. It is about the history of the Regency Era and how people would realistically live in the day to day and month to month. It is about the highs and lows that each of us experience as we move through the present and into the future, only placed into a world some two-hundred years ago.
How has the plot changed over the course of the books?
A – The pace has increased, for one thing. The first three novels cover one year of the Darcys’ marriage. Action and trauma rear up here and there, but largely the story flows in a relaxed manner, and focuses almost exclusively on Darcy and Lizzy. It is written so that the reader is the proverbial fly-on-the-wall fortunate to ride along during the day-to-day. Gradually the other characters slip in with their own tales gaining emphasis. The fourth and fifth novels cover more time, with increased drama and interwoven stories.
Where do the ideas for my novels come from?
A – It seems to be a combination of ideas sprung from the extensive research I do and other ideas that magically materialize. I never really know when something is going to literally flash through my brain. Dreams have lead to a wealth of great scenes. I have also stumbled across really interesting historical facts that I just HAVE to write in, leading to some fabulous stuff.
What are my views on marriage for Mr. and Mrs. Darcy?
A – I am recounting a marriage in the purest embodiment of a union based on commitment, equality, passion, friendship, honesty, love, and so on. I strive to answer the timeless question of happily ever after, and how two individual people meld into one soul. I desire to give hope that true love does exist, and that marriage can be a wonderful, blessed relationship. I have given them the happiness I imagine Jane Austen wanted for them.
Do I believe in happily ever after?
A – I do indeed! I know from experience that life is not easy, and marriage is not hearts and roses day in and day out. Nevertheless, I also know from experience that marital happiness, affinity, bonding, and passionate love can survive and flourish. I have well over thirty years of marriage to prove it! The question really should be: Why does one NOT believe in happily ever after?
Do I write Lizzy and Darcy as too happy and idyllic?
A – Maybe, but why not? First, I truly believe a couple can live in general harmony without constant bickering, being miserable, or bored within a few months time. Conflict and arguing are a natural way of life, especially with the one you are closest too – and I do show this with the Darcys – but it does not have to be the norm, nor is it a foregone conclusion to a marriage. I prefer to write a couple who grow stronger after conflict, who resolve their issues together, and who communicate and respect each other’s opinion.
How do I define “love”?
A – Love is a feeling, but not primarily. As the Bible teaches, love is about reaching beyond the emotions of the moment to the deeper foundations. Commitment to the person you love, no matter what emotion you are experiencing at the time, is a key factor. Love is unconditional and selfless. Humans are inherently selfish creatures. But we also divinely have the infinite capacity to open our hearts to others and share of ourselves. We are wired to need that connection. To lose oneself, to sacrifice our desires and comforts, to give in order to please the one we love, is the greatest blessing and joy.
Why did I write Mr. Darcy as a virgin?
A – Surprisingly, this choice was not due to my Christian faith. I am a realist, and know very well that the odds of a man of 28 – in any century – still being a virgin are minimal. Minimal, however, does not mean impossible, a fact I can assure of based on personal connections, ‘nuff said! I cannot fathom the Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s creation being a rake with a history of wild sexual exploits and illegitimate children scattered all over England, but that does not mean he had to be completely inexperienced. He could have “practiced” prior to his marriage to Lizzy without being an immoral degenerate! What I reject is the idea that a man has to lose his virtue in order to become a man. I also reject the idea that in order to be a worthy husband, a man mustfirst attain his sexual knowledge from brothels or illicit liaisons.
Am I a Christian? And do I bring those beliefs into my novels?
A – Yes, I am a Christian, born-again and spirit-filled! My relationship with God is central to who I am as a person, so naturally some of that will spill into my writing. This is definitely a major reason why I have presented the marriage of Darcy and Lizzy as I have. I believe in God’s plan for marriage, believe that His ideal is to be the goal, and believe that He can fulfill His promise. I do not, however, write a purely “Christian” novel. I do not preach about Jesus in a direct way. Rather, it is Biblical themes of faith, conviction, commitment, honesty, respect, etc. that I can apply to my characters and the situations they encounter.
Why have I chosen to take the reader into the bedroom of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy?
A – My vision, from the very beginning, was to explore and recount the marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet as thoroughly as possible. Doing so meant including the physical aspects of their relationship. Intimacy and sexual satisfaction between a married couple are vital, critical portions of a successful marriage. This is where true, complete bonding occurs, and it is in these moments of utter nakedness – literal and figurative – that a couple share their deepest thoughts. Opening the bedroom door and entering the privacy of their sanctuary was necessary to fulfill my vision.
Does that mean my novels are erotica?
A – No, not even close. I do not relate the intricate, fine details of their assignations in a pornographic way. Darcy makes love to his wife. Lizzy makes love to her husband. The sexual act between a married couple is a beautiful celebration of love and commitment. If written carefully, this can be communicated. I believe I have accomplished this. Additionally, I am saddened by those who label the beautiful relationship between Darcy and Lizzy as “smut, porn” and other such offensive words. Opinions and tastes in reading material vary, I appreciate that, so peeking into the bedroom may not be one’s preference. Fair enough. Yet to diminish the intimate relationship between married people in such terms speaks more to the critic’s tragic, Puritanical attitudes than to my writing.
Are the novels heavily proportioned on their marital relations?
A – As important as I deem passion in a healthy relationship, the Darcy Saga involves far more than romantic episodes. The newlywed Darcys do not even consummate their marriage until the third chapter of the first novel, well over forty pages into the book. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy does cover numerous romantic interludes, but I honestly don’t think this unrealistic for newlyweds. I sure hope not! In every novel the bedroom interludes are spaced with a multitude of happenings, and the number of romantic scenes decrease as time moves on. Not that I think a passionately in love couple make love less often, or with waning enthusiasm, but simply because their relationship became well established, and I had lots of other topics to write about!
I grew so weary of the outrageously exaggerated claims of “sex on every page” that I methodically went through every page of the first four novels for the precise statistics. These statistics can be read on the informational page for each novel. I proved mathematically that the claims from some are blatantly false and purposefully designed to sabotage my novels by turning potential readers away.
What is my goal in writing a bedroom scene?
A – My goal has always been to focus on the emotion that is attached to the sexual act. I presume my readers know the mechanics and body-part names, so I have no need to get too specific. Whether Lizzy and Darcy are caught up in sheer animal lust, feeling frisky and silly, or experiencing a deeply bonding lovemaking session, my goal is for the reader to appreciate the interlude for what it signifies – that is, the exceptional relationship these two people possess. I do not add bedroom scenes for gratuitous titillation, but to convey the amazing love, marital affinity, and supreme happiness that Lizzy and Darcy have found with each other. Hopefully, this depiction of a passionate and fulfilled marriage will instill faith that it can happen for the reader.
Should an Austen novel have sex in it?
A – Whether Jane Austen would have written a sex scene if she had been at liberty to do so is unknown. I am not Jane Austen. I am writing a Lathan novel, not an Austen novel. I do have the liberty of writing a sex scene. If a reader wants an Austen novel…. pick up an Austen novel. If you want something different, then pick up a novel by me or any of the hundreds of writers within the Austen literary genre. Bear in mind that there may well be sex in it… or zombies or vampires even!
Do I write like Jane Austen?
A – Sorry to be rude, but this is an asinine question. Of course I do not write like Jane Austen! I am not Austen, and no other pastiche or fan-fiction author is either. Anyone who claims that have captured Austen’s voice is a liar, or a pompous egomaniac. My opinion is that no one can ever write like another author, let alone Jane Austen. Every artist is unique in how they create their art. I could try to perfectly capture Austen’s style, voice, and nuance, but I would fail. Worse yet, in trying to do so, the writing would be forced and unnatural; it would sound false and not flow. I must write in the manner pleasing and natural for me. Additionally, I am writing for a modern audience who may not grasp an older style of literature, but still love the story from the movies or simply love a nice Regency historical romance. I want to appeal to everyone, and present a story enjoyable to read.
What do I think about Jane Austen fan fiction? Would Jane Austen approve?
A – I love the whole concept of fan fiction! I think it is fantastic that lovers of Austen have a way to express their devotion by writing stories that, in turn, delight other lovers of Austen when they read them. Through fan fiction, Austen’s legacy continues to flourish. I am confident that Jane would be pleased to learn her humble writings have inspired so many generations of readers, after she recovered from the shock!
Do I agree with the opinion that fan fiction isn’t “real literature” and just a cheap rip-off of another author’s work?
A – I cannot speak on the heart and skill of every writer of fan fiction, but most of the ones I know are highly talented authors who write Austen literature reverently and out of love. In every case, whether writing a modern spin or a sequel or variation, they are inspired by Austen and write as an homage to her. However, once inspiration takes hold, it is then entirely on the author’s shoulders to write a story that is unique and excellently wrought. Rare is the person who writes a whole novel without talent, sacrifice, dedication, artistry, and hard work. To not recognize and respect this is erroneous and unkind. As for the not “real literature” claims, again those who say this are displaying their ignorance of literature. Suffice to say, there are long lists of writers, many who won Pulitzers and other literary awards, who are in the strict definition of the word, fan fiction writers. Don’t believe me? Click to this link: I’m done explaining why fanfic is okay.
Do I agree that a writer must follow Austen precisely in tone, style, characterization, etc. in order to validly write in the genre?
A – As I said before, no writer can capture another writer’s voice. It is simply impossible. Characterization is tricky, since this depends totally on the interpretation. How I view Lizzy Bennet is not going to be the same as someone else, at least not exactly. Then you add in the plot variances of the contemporary story or, as in my case, a story where the characters are moving into their future, and it then wholly depends on how the author imagines them handling the situations. Even if we could universally agree on the interpretation, our own voice comes through as we write our individual stories. Logically, mathematically, it is impossible to adhere to the canon of Austen, otherwise we would be writing the same book!
What kind of sequel to Pride and Prejudice do I think Jane Austen would have written?
A – I really have no idea! Of course, neither does anyone else, do they? She probably would not relate their bedroom activities, but I do think she would want them to be happy. Clearly she saw a difference in the marriages of people like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet compared to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. She was not against marriage, and the epilogue she gave us for Pride and Prejudice reveals her desire for her characters to be content. Her books were about the normal aspects of life during the times, with the drama rather sedate. She wrote of misunderstands, meddling individuals, societal mores, and romantic entanglements. There were few kidnappings, wild horse chases, or life threatening situations in her books, so I doubt her sequel would be all that different from mine in essence.
When did I start writing?
A – Other than in college creative writing classes (which I got all As in), I hadn’t written anything more intense than a letter for years. I saw the movie in November 2005, and after months of absorbing everything Austen I could find, I sat down before my computer to put the scenes in my head onto digital paper. I can’t remember the precise date, but it was somewhere in February 2006. More on this can be read here: About Sharon
What is my favorite aspect of writing?
A – My favorite is the research. I have always adored history, so delving into a past world is marvelous. Secondly, it is the language. I am crazy about vocabulary and a well-written page. I prefer reading a book that makes me think, that draws me in with vivid descriptions, and that captures me as if I am standing right there. The thrill in accomplishing this with my words is incredible. Thirdly, it is pleasing the fans of this timeless love story who never tire of journeying with the Darcys.
How much research do I do for my novels?
A – An incredible amount. I had to learn about the Regency, everything from the clothing, furnishings, money, manners, etc. I had to study England – a country I have never been to – from every aspect imaginable, 200 years ago. In my novels the era, history, landscape, economy, society, lifestyle, inventions, etc. are as important a character as the people running about. Then there is the language. I take inordinate pains to carefully word each sentence in an elegant, intelligent manner that is also easy to read. I cannot research every single word, but I vigorously employ a dozen vocabulary sources to be as authentic as possible and avoid anachronisms.
Once upon a time, when a newbie published author, negative reviews devastated me. Over time my skin thickened, as the saying goes, primarily due to the laughable criticisms dominating the “reviews” left by readers (and in some cases, non-readers). Why people feel the need to exaggerate, outright lie, and personally insult is beyond my comprehension. Based on the examples below from actual comments left on Amazon, other online booksellers, and emails sent directly to me, my conclusion is these are hateful, miserable people. I pray for them. My pity for them does not erase my hilarity at the nonsensical claims, however. So let’s have fun!
I am a avid Austin Fan…. This book is not for a true Austin fan…
Yes, I see… a BIG fan. These are merely two of probably two or three dozens of such misspellings of Jane Austen’s name, as I am being rebuked for writing a book sure to “make Austin roll in her grave.” Yes, that is another quote. At least I know how to spell her name!
Darcy a virgin? Please … do your research. Men of that era and class behaved in any way they pleased. Darcy certainly is a proud man, servant girls or the ladies procured by the valets to see to a gentleman’s needs would be used and looked down upon appropriately. Twentieth/ first century values are inappropriate for the 1800’s.
Sounds to me like she is inserting 21st century immoral values onto Mr. Darcy. Frankly, her version of Austen’s beloved hero sounds more like Wickham or Willoughby. Criticize me all you want, but I don’t know of any lover of Austen who imagines Mr. Darcy assaulting and using women for sex, with his valet helping to “procure” them, and then tossing them aside like garbage. This is appalling.
Words, words, words. In other words, there was too many words. I didn’t need so many explanations of places, rooms, countries, clothing, people, or what was thought by whom or what might be thought by the main characters. Show me, don’t tell me. Let the reader have their own imagination….
Yeah, those pesky “words” in a novel always mess me up. Apparently she wanted a picture book. Or a book with blank pages so she could make up the story herself? If only I knew of a way to “show” the scenery, people, internal thoughts in a book without using stupid words!
I am happy to watch the films rather than reread the books and I liked Pride/Prejudice, the very explicit gay version of the classic. I found Darcy and Bingley having an affair far more likely than anything in this book. I could not imagine the characters saying or thinking any of this author’s silly ideas….
Let me get this straight: Darcy and Bingley being homosexual is “more likely” and easier to “imagine” than Darcy and Lizzy being married? Ooo-kaaay.
This has all the hallmarks of fanfiction written by someone who wanted things to be their way…
Yeah, how crazy is that? To write a novel my way? What was I thinking?
….All it’s good for is to show me exactly what I shouldn’t do in my own writing….
Exactly. Don’t write your book your way. Just copy/paste someone else. All the best writers do that.
This was clearly written by an amateur with no knowledge of the time period and no respect for austen’s work. A violinist in a pub? Mr. Darcy BLUSHING? Really?….
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43: “Their eyes (Mr. Darcy and Lizzy) instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush.” So, yes, really. As for the violinist: um… yeah… musicians, minstrels, entertainment… found in public rooms… look it up. I also have enough respect for Miss Austen to capitalize her surname.
I really hesitated to write a review for this book because I think Ms. Lathan is very talented…
And then she trashed the book and gave it one star. What a sweetheart.
A larger question is: what amateur edited this book? Because I’m inclined to think the editor has not a shred of knowledge regarding Ms. Austen’s work… none at all or he/she would not have let this book get a anywhere near a print press….
If truly curious, she could have opened to the front-matter of the book where the information on award-winning publishing house Sourcebooks Inc. is given.No amateurs worked on this book, in any step along the way. Both the editor, Deb Werksman, and copyeditor for all my novels, Gretchen Stelter, are consummate professionals with decades of experience, degrees in literature, English, and the Regency period, and a specialized focus on Jane Austen literature (and Georgette Heyer) with hundreds of publications to their credit. Look them up, then I dare you to take them to task.
I have no idea who told this woman that she could write but being a daughter of a English Lit. Professor, I am telling you this person has never read the orginal at ALL….
Oh yeah! Well… my dad was a fireman, so… wait, what? Furthermore, daddy or mommy professor would be very disappointed to see “a” rather than “an” before the word English, and that you can’t spell “original.”
Austen’s novel was a period based piece…
Wrong. It was a contemporary novel, Austen writing of her contemporary world. We read it as a “period” novel of the past, which is very different than Austen would have viewed her writing.
…and I would expect any follow-up to that wonderful novel to keep with the time period…
The “time period” as in the Regency Era of England? Yeah, I did that.
…Keeping with the time period not only in the storyline, but also in the authors line…
I am not precisely clear on what “in the authors line” (no apostrophe *sigh) means, but assuming the point is that I should somehow write exactly like Austen, this expectation is impossible. It is now 200+ years since Austen wrote her novels. I can only write a historical novel for my contemporary reading audience.
…Jane Austen would never have written of the intimate details of the petting and touching that occurs in a marriage…
Indeed, she could not have, (or at least, chose not to) because 200 years ago that would have been scandalous. Additionally, as an unmarried woman, the details of intimacy in marriage were unfamiliar to her.
…In the days of Pride and Prejudice it was very improper to share those details with family (sisters, brothers…) much less the entire reading audience…
Not all authors of the period showed such restraint, even if improper. It is ludicrous to claim that close confidantes (male and female) never shared personal matters. This is a nonsense assertion. There is plenty of evidence (letters, journals) which prove otherwise.
….I was very, very disappointed in this book. I wanted more fire and vigor out of Lizzy and Darcy’s marriage….
Hasn’t your main complaint been the “fire and vigor” aspects of my novel? If no one ever talked to each other confidently, and all Austenesque novels should only follow the rigid storyline rules imposed by the “time period”, what manner of fire and vigor is acceptable?
It Lapp a plot and skilled writing. Yep, she would know.
I took the recommendation from a friend a little over a year ago who was a devote Jane Austen fan. She is well educated and not the type to fall for fan fiction.
Only uneducated people “fall for fan fiction”? How incredibly insulting this is to the hundreds of thousands of people who read fan-fiction of all genres. Pulitzer Prize winners Geraldine Brooks, Michael Chabon, Jane Smiley, and Stephen Sondheim (to name a very few) might argue that assertion. Nobel Laureates Jose Saramago and J.M. Coetzee would be very offended. Fan-fic haters, read this: HERE
I beg you… read Pride and Prejudice. Pretty please? Darcy does not come walking across a misty field with his shirt hanging open and proposes to Elizabeth. Sorry to crush your dreams, but it just didn’t happen….
Neither did Mr. Darcy take a bath or dive into a pond and stride all sexy-like across the lawn to Elizabeth as he did in the 1995 adaptation by Andrew Davies. Sorry to crush your dreams.
Please, don’t waste your time or trouble, and certainly not your money on this.
From a person who bought ALL of my novels and left 1-star reviews for ALL of them!
The ‘author’ plainly states at the prologue that she hadn’t read P&P until she saw the above mentioned movie. Now, that should give you a first impression of the quality of her writing, since she had no experience with classical authors while she was growing up.
Comments like this are so incredibly stupid. Not having read Pride and Prejudice in the past, as I admit, does not mean I haven’t read tons and tons of novels, classic and otherwise. Making this claim on my life is insulting and presumptuous. Nor do I appreciate “author” being in quotes; that is simply rude. Don’t like my novels, fine, but due respect for the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written and gotten published is simple common curtesy.
In fact, she admits that she hadn’t even read the original “Pride and Prejudice” before writing this. It’s all based on the (awful) Keira Knightly sequel. Um, WHAT? Who writes a sequel without knowing the original? (read on…)
The author tells us that she started writing it immediately she left the movie theatre after seeing Keira Keithley and Matthew Macfadyen. She adds that “I have since read the novel”…
These are two examples of a common, blatant lie placed into critical reviews. That is not what I have ever said. Read the FAQs above and the story of my publishing journey: About Sharon
There really is no conflict. Without a conflict, there is no plot. The book is simply a day by day accounting of the first few months of marriage for the Darcys…
From the OED: Plot – Also called storyline; plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, short story.” Do you see the word “conflict” in there? Serial stories are akin to episodic television. Plotting is created differently, but it is still a plot! I explore this misrepresentation further in the above FAQs.
After Darcy and Elizabeth got married, they had sex. I know that, it goes without saying. However, I am not really interested in knowing what exactly they did in the bedroom….
Then why did you buy the book? The sensual contents of my novels are clearly noted. Why read it? Just because YOU don’t want a sexy read is not MY fault. So why criticize and give a low rating because you were too lazy or stupid to carefully peruse the details of a book before buying?
I could say much about the lack of plot, the cloying sentiments, the pages and pages of sex scenes, but I skipped most of it, sometimes entire chapters at a time. How does one comment on what they did not read? Skipping might also explain why she missed the plot.
Worst book ever read…. Worst EVER? Really?
The robbery scene at the end seems to be added in a desperate attempt to actually have something — “anything” — happen in the book.
Complain that “nothing” happens in the book, then, when I have something happen, that is a bad thing too? Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
I was inordinately upset that I read the entire book which Mrs. Darcy was pregnant during and she didnt have the baby at the end. That was the best part of the book or at least the only thing that kept me reading it. If you are like me and feel the need to read an entire series even when it is so/so PLEASE stop yourself at the previous book and read something else. I was so angry I can’t even express it and now feel obligated to read the next one just to find out if she had a boy or girl…
THEY HAVE A BOY! Two minutes checking the Cast of Characters on my website would have spared the trauma. But now you know, so won’t be forced to read the whole horrid novel to find out. Of course, why the curiosity about characters in a series you hate is beyond my comprehension. Seek help.
I’m glad I got it as a freebie. I’d be upset if I’d paid for it…
So upset you would have to give it 1-star and write a scathing review… oh wait, you did that and it was free. You poor dear.
I ached for more tales of my beloved characters. I hoped for the best but expected little, knowing no modern writer could do the piece justice. After all, if Austen felt there was more to tell wouldn’t she have written it herself?
Maybe Austen would have, if she hadn’t died so young. We shall never know. That said, the fault is your’s for being so sure that Austen didn’t want a sequel, and that no modern writer could do it justice, yet still buying my book. Why read it at all? Why give ME a 1-star review when pre-determined to hate a “modern writer”?
Because I am currently penning a Regency fiction, I try not to judge writers like Sharon Lathan too harshly… You must allow me to tell you how vehemently I loathe this trashy fanfic… Thank you for indulging my opinion…
You’re welcome. Feel better now? If using words like “loathe” and “trashy” are your idea of not judging harshly, may those who review your novel not be as restrained. Good luck with your novel! I am sure it will be a masterpiece.
I was beyond disappointed in this book, (Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy) there were none of the banter and strong characters you find in Jane Austin’s P&P. (I LOVE when Austen’s name is spelled wrong while lecturing me!) Miss Lathan needs to read the original before writing about beloved characters she does not know or understand. Elizabeth and Darcy are both strong and confident people in their own right and I cannot imagine they would change so much once married. The constant admission of love and feeling when cannot live without the other do not remind me of Elizabeth and Darcy. Could not get thru more than 30 pages of the novel…
Whoa! 30 whole pages! They haven’t even consummated their marriage by page 30! What an imbecile! LOL!!
If I hear about them being ‘locked together in sweet harmony’ again, I swear I’ll scream…
I only wrote that phrase once, so unless she was reading it over and over and over and over… and over…
I can’t even fathom how this piece of drivel found a publisher, but anyone with half a brain will demand a refund…
Bravo! She manages to insult me, everyone at Sourcebooks, and all the readers who liked the book in one sentence. What a delightful person she must be to hang around with.
NOTE: The vast majority of the criticisms earning those so-unappreciated 1-2 star reviews fall into two categories:
1) I don’t write like Jane Austen
2) There is too much sex
As to #1 : I am not Jane Austen, as shocking as that is to hear. Expecting me or any Austenesque author to write exactly or even remotely like Jane Austen is utterly ridiculous. Besides, if it was so easy to emulate Jane Austen to a T, what would that say about her brilliance and uniqueness as a writer? There would be hundreds of Austen-clone novels flooding the market indistinguishable from the original. Seems to me expecting JAFF authors to “write like Austen” is a round-about way of saying she isn’t all that special.
As for #2 : I have written a series about a married couple, who are in love and make love. Therefore, I include sexual content. Don’t want to read a sensual version of Darcy and Lizzy, move along. I discuss both of these topics in a bit more depth in the above FAQs. On the website pages devoted to the first four novels of The Darcy Saga there is a section on the “Sensuality Statistics” for those who are interested in the truth to counter the outrageous claims.
I have never arrogantly boasted that I am an expert in all matters from the Regency. I do not have a degree in Jane Austen, if such a thing exists. I am a highly educated registered nurse and an avid reader, but I am not a language scholar or master historian.
What I am is a FICTION WRITER. I do my very best to tell a story set in a world 200 years ago. I cannot time-travel to Regency England so must rely on what facts I can uncover, as well as that special artist’s gift called the imagination. I only have so many hours in a day and spend a great portion of those hours on research. I am not penning a historical treatise, nor has this American been so fortunate as to visit England. I have limited resources at my fingertips and use them extensively to create a world both precise and approachable. Most shockingly of all, I am NOT JANE AUSTEN!
That long introduction is to make it clear that I am writing a series of historical romance novels based on and inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for a modern readership. I write in a style and with language I feel is appropriate for the era, as well as being comfortable for all readers. I strive incredibly hard to be historically accurate, and if I get something wrong — and I certainly have — no one is angrier about it than me. I also know, thankfully, that my actual errors are few — VERY FEW! In some cases I have chosen a not-precise word or phrase purposely for effect. Other times I am employing a technique called “creative license” that distinguishes a fictional novel.
Due to the above, it irritates me when “reviewers” specifically attack my novels for being historically inaccurate. In probably 90% of the cases, no examples of my egregious errors are given, leading me to believe they are being vague because they have no idea what they are talking about, want to feel superior, and/or are intentionally using a broad brush designed to make me (and my editors) look bad.
…this book has anachronisms and errors galore…
…the inaccuracies are ridiculous to the extreme…
…just a little bit of knowledge of the Regency Era would go a long way in this book…
…the author of this book seems to have done no background research of the era…
…didn’t bother to have a historically accurate cover and the story is more of the 21st c then the 19th…
…a writer with little regard for the niceties of Regency history, culture, and society…
In a tiny minority, an example is given. A teeny sliver of those catch an error, whether intentional (as in certain word choices) or honestly done because I am not perfect. For the remainder, this section is to set the record straight.
“Darcy is a virgin? Gimme a break. Men had sex and plenty of it, before marriage. Get over it….”
This comment, and ones similar to it, are so ludicrous I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. First off, there is a bizarre irony in being blasted in one breath for not having Mr. Darcy a rake with loads of mistresses and ready entry into bordellos all throughout England, and in the next breath being slammed for giving he and Elizabeth a healthy marital sex life. In other words, to people like this, it is acceptable and preferable for him to have a high libido and randy lifestyle before marriage, but not after. Wow.
The second remarkable aspect to this comment, and ones like it, is the broadly sweeping “fact” of a private, personal activity that must, absolutely pertain to every man in all of England during the entire Georgian and Regency Eras. As I said above, I don’t have a time machine, but apparently others do and have used it to travel back and interview the entire male populous, thus knowing for 100% certainty that ALL men “had sex and plenty of it before marriage.”
“She uses phrases like “electric” to describe the sex. Umm… hello, there was no electricity back then!”
From the OED – Electric: 1640s, first used in English by physician Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), apparently coined as Modern Latin electricus (literally “resembling amber”) by English physicist William Gilbert (1540-1603) in treatise “De Magnete” (1600). From Greek elektron “amber” (Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus).
Originally electric described substances which attract other substances when rubbed. From 1630s: “giving off electricity when rubbed.” The meaning “charged with electricity” is from 1670s. Figurative sense is attested by 1793.
Electric light is from 1767.
Electrician (n.) 1751, “scientist concerned with electricity;” electrical (adj.)
Meaning “relating to electricity, run by electricity” is from 1746.
Electricity has existed since God created the universe. What did not happen until later was the technological capability to harness electricity into a usable form.
Now, to be fair, it is unclear when electric came into common speech as a feeling, although “giving off electricity when rubbed” as an adjective from 1630 implies this usage. In my opinion, the bigger question in regards to electric (as well as similar questionable dated words) is why does it matter? If so critical of a fictional work that one small word trips you up, save your angst and only read contemporary novels.
“The fountain pen was metal not glass and not really established until 1827.”
If I had mentioned a “fountain pen” anywhere in the Darcy Saga, then I would have erred by some 8 or 9 years. Since this reader comment is from Loving Mr. Darcy, I presume this refers to the steel-tip pens on page 99:
Rather than quills, the handles were of clear hued glass: red, blue, purple, and green. The tips were made of steel. Darcy leaned forward, eager as a child with a new toy. “These are very new, Elizabeth. Mark my words, some day quills will be obsolete. The steel tips can be cleaned of dried ink, last nearly forever, and write with varying scripts depending on the size. Truly amazing. I have used them a time or two. My solicitor refuses to use a quill. Anyway, these are yours, and I have purchased a set for myself with carved wooden handles.
A dip pen or nib pen consisted of a metal nib with capillary channels, mounted on a handle made of wood, bone, metal, glass, and plastic. Some pens are made entirely of glass. Generally speaking, dip pens have no ink reservoir (that would be a “fountain pen”) therefore the user has to recharge the ink from an ink bowl or bottle. The first steel pen is said to have been made in 1803, although Daniel Defoe mentions a “steel pen” in a 1724 letter. By 1822 steel tips were being mass produced.
“The pram was not invented until 1841.”
The oldest surviving example of a wheeled infant carrier dates to 1733. The Duke of Devonshire asked William Kent to build a means of transport that would carry his children. Kent obliged by constructing a shell shaped basket on wheels that the children could sit in. This was richly decorated and meant to be pulled by a goat or small pony. It can be seen on display at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire (my Pemberley).
Benjamin Potter Crandall sold baby carriages in America in the 1830s which have been described as the “first baby carriages manufactured in America.” Other references to “wheeled devices” for infant/child transport, as well as paintings depicting such devices, are myriad and date way into the past.
Perambulator (n.) 1610s, “one who perambulates,” Latin form from perambulate. Sense of “baby carriage” is first recorded 1856; often colloquially shortened to pram.
In Loving Mr. Darcy a “perambulator” is purchased for the first Darcy child. Yes, I chose to use that word. It is a term I knew would be familiar and is appropriately British. Baby carriages DID exist (i.e. HAD been invented) and if not common, were not out of the realm of possibility. Creative license and terminology a reader would understand.
“The rocking horse was made fashionable by Queen Victoria in 1850.”
The glider-style rocking/hobby horse did rise in popularity later in the 1800s (although I found nothing that ties this to Queen Victoria).
The rocking horse itself has been around for far longer. The term “rocking-horse” is first recorded 1724. “Hobby Horse” is from the late 13c., hobyn, “small horse, pony,” …later a “mock horse used in the Morris dance,” and c.1550 “child’s toy riding horse,” are precursors of the rocking variety that became very popular in the 18th c. The earliest cradle-style rocking horse still existing belonged to King Charles I of England c1610.
Would the Darcys have found a glider-style horse in 1818? Not likely, I shall admit. Did it work for Darcy’s love of “new things”? Yeah, it did! Would people only have an item after it becomes “fashionable”? I can’t see why.
I was extremely bothered by the lines in the book stating that Elizabeth was so used to all of the foreign foods that the Pemberley cook makes that she finds the traditional food at Longbourn quaint. The woman hasn’t even be married a year, and it is highly historically inaccurate for the Pemberley cook to be providing such varied meals at this time in the eighteenth century.
The two passages in Loving Mr. Darcy, the novel with this criticism, referred to are noted below. They occur during the same scene at Longbourn, but with several sentences and one whole paragraph in between.
Mrs. Langton, Pemberley’s cook, was the type of leader who without a doubt was the admiral of her kitchen. Nonetheless, she was also a wise manager in that she recognized that her underlings could, upon occasion, actually teach her something. In fact, in order to please the palates of the Darcys, she searched far and wide for any culinary edification, including the hiring of staff from various nationalities. Therefore, in addition to the standard English cuisines, the kitchen created French, German, Spanish, and even Indian masterpieces. It had taken Lizzy quite some effort to grow accustomed to the varying spices and develop the taste for exotic preparations.
The cook at Longbourn, however, was rooted in conventional English dietary fare. Unoriginal, perhaps, but Darcy had been pleasantly surprised to discover that he was a remarkable cook. The food served at Longbourn may not be colorful, but it was superb.
Lizzy was famished again, and a quick survey of the laden table showed no foodstuffs currently incompatible with her stomach. She hesitated a fraction of a second, already biting into a juicy slice of turkey before everyone was seated. Darcy, sitting beside her, smiled but cautioned, “Careful, dearest. You know what happens if you eat too hastily.” Luckily, his fears came to naught, Lizzy ingesting without incidence.
Point 1: I did not say the food at Longbourn was “quaint” or that Lizzy thought this. In fact, I praised the Longbourn cook and noted the food was “superb” in Mr. Darcy’s opinion.
Point 2: I didn’t say Lizzy was “so used to all of the foreign foods” that she somehow no longer wanted traditional food. I honestly am unsure how this reader came to that conclusion, unless her concerns over a turbulent pregnancy stomach (the second passage) confused her.
Point 3: As for the “highly historically inaccurate” assertion regarding such varied meals: Wrong! I opted not to write the Pemberley cook as a French chef, but I easily could have. Chefs to the aristocracy in France were plentiful, and out of jobs, after the Revolution. Employing a French chef was a major coup for a wealthy English household. Prior to that, French cuisine (as arguably the best in Europe) as well as other “foreign” recipes were sought as a sign of prestige and wealth. The English empire was widespread with the resulting infusion of foreign cultures affecting many areas, food only one.
Lastly, the story takes place in the 19th century, not the 18th.
“1816 is a full 13 years before the term anemia was even coined, much less a diagnosis a doctor would make after being in India for decades.”
From the OED: anemia (n.) 1824, from French medical term anaemia (1761), Modern Latin, from Greek anaimia “lack of blood,” from anaimos “bloodless,” from an- “without” + haima or emia “blood”.
“Anaemia: lack of sufficient red blood cells, sometimes caused by iron deficiency and worsened by the medical practice of bleeding patients for virtually every condition.” This definition comes from at least five pre-19th century text books I could cite. In literally hundreds of sources medical, literature, and other, the terms “anaemia” or “anemia” are found. This claim is simply ludicrous.
As for Dr. Darcy not able to make that diagnosis? Please!
This lengthy rant between the blue bars is from one reader regarding the “errors” in Loving Mr. Darcy:
Could Elizabeth Bennett actually have talked about a “negative attitude”
Yes. Negative, as in “expressing negation” is from c.1500; “a negative statement” is from 1560s; “a negative quality” is from 1640s. Attitude, 1660s, via French attitude (17c.), meaning “disposition, tendency of mind, posture.”
…or about “organic” produce?
I used this word once, referring to a banana peel as being “organic” and thus edible for the ducks and fish, not that it was devoid of pesticides. The only other usage is in this passage, when Lizzy inhales the fresh air and says, “It reminds me of our home. Growing things, organic and wild, and the workaday life of unpretentious folk. I have always adored simplicity and raw nature.”
Organic: Sense of “from organized living beings” is first recorded 1778.
Amusingly, the crowd invited to the Pemberley Festival, and other groups, were referred to as “folks.”
Folk, or the Old English folc for “common people, laity; men; people, nation, tribe; multitude; troop, army.” I wasn’t tending to be humorous, but glad she was amused!
Surprisingly, to hear that, scattered across the countryside, there were pubs offering meals;
Pleasantly surprised, I hope, and now educated as to the reality of what a pub – as in short for “public house” – was for travelers in Europe: a place to rest, be refreshed, and find food and drink.
I was even more surprised to learn that there were, in every small town, including Meryton, baby shops selling baby clothes, baby toys, and baby gear — including snuglis and strollers! And don’t forget the toy store Darcy visits, to buy a rocking horse!
Did clothes, furniture, feeders, linens, toys, rattles, teething rings, and other items designed and manufactured to fulfill the special needs of infants and children exist during the Regency? YES, and had for centuries.
Were there specialty toy stores or child-centric stores “in every small town” in England? Probably not in every town, but I never said there were. If I want to place one in fictional Meryton, I have the freedom to do so without it being the slightest bit beyond the realm of possibility.
“Noah’s Ark” was a toy store opened in High Holborn, London, in 1760, to give one example. The large department stores from the period carried such specialty products. The Pantheon Bazaar in London, for instance, was famed for carrying unique, special products for children.
I have a very big book titled “Yesterday’s Children: The Antiques and History of Childcare” by Sally Kevill-Davies. Between drawings and paintings, surviving examples, and historical writings, just about every infant-related object we use today has been around in some form for centuries. Slings made from cloth (or “snuglis” – a term I did NOT use) have been employed by cultures across the globe for millennia.
Then, when exploring the Pemberley cave, “lights” appear in the hands of the men– and no one says they are torches, or lanterns, so obviously the battery flashlight was also invented by then.
He (Darcy) bent to light the Argand oil lamp he had brought along, Richard lighting his as well. The men disappeared into the black entrance, descending a short distance with the sporadic flash of their lamps visible as they moved about.
Richard stood with both lamps in his hands, casting wavering illumination about the room.
Argand lamp: an oil lamp producing a light output of 6 to 10 candela, invented and patented in 1780 by Aimé Argand. Aside from the improvement in brightness, the more complete combustion of the wick and oil required much less frequent trimming of the wick.
Also, Darcy and Lizzy travel all over the countryside on their treks, doing what appears to be at least sixty or more miles a day — in a carriage? Drawn by horses? Does the author have any idea of how far and fast actual horses can travel, drawing a carriage, luggage, and servants? Obviously bionic horses.
Darcy rented a cabriolet, the newest carriage model from France, similar to a barouche but much lighter and swifter with a folding canvas calash hood and rear window.
Derbyshire, north to south is approximately 40 miles, east to west at widest part is less than 30 miles. The Darcys traveled maybe a third of Derbyshire (being generous) in small increments over a week or more. Do the math. And yes I know how fast horse drawn carriages can travel. I question whether you do since there would be no need for bionic horses, as cool as that would be!
“You wouldn’t wear sapphires to a wedding.”
This was so odd to me I almost ignored it. But, for the sake of being fair, I did a bit more research on top of the oodles and oodles of research I’ve already done on wedding traditions during the Regency and surrounding decades. I found NOTHING on sapphires being taboo or considered tacky for a wedding. In fact, sapphire was a popular gemstone, and had been for ages. Additionally, in the romantic “REGARD” acrostic rings of the era, a sapphire was used to symbolize an S.
“Oil lamps were not used indoors in Jane Austen’s era. Sorry, but the detailed descriptions of the cleverly placed oil lamps throughout Pemberley were annoyingly inaccurate.”
I’m not sure why this would be the case since “lamps” fueled by all sorts of oils have been the main source of light for thousands of years. Before the candle, in fact.
As noted above, the Argand lamp became a standard style well before 1800. Taking it even a step further, in 1792 the first commercial use of gas lighting began when William Murdoch used coal gas for lighting his house in Redruth, Cornwall.
A “thermolampe” using gas distilled from wood was patented in 1799, and German inventor Freidrich Winzer patented coal gas lighting in 1804. So why would an oil lamp universally not be used?
“Ladies and gentlemen separated immediately after dinner to allow the gentlemen to smoke and drink for a short time before rejoining the ladies in the drawing (short for WITHdrawing, as in the ladies would withdraw) room. Although the author seems to have figured this out by the mid-way point of the book, she was apparently unaware of it in the beginning, and never went back to re-edit.”
I cannot fathom a logical reason why during the first half of the book (Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy), when the only two people dining were Darcy and Elizabeth, they would withdraw to separate chambers after dinner. To do what? Stare at the walls for the requisite separation time? And what is that time, exactly? A half-hour? One hour? Writing such behavior would have been ludicrous, in my opinion. Not an oversight at all, as is obvious when they had guests (mid-way point of the book, as it happened) and the sexes did separate after dinner. Viola!
I am also amazed that “experts” like this critic believe the separating was a law or something. A legality so strictly imposed that, apparently, the Withdrawing Police would appear! Can one be 100% certain that groups always spent a time apart? That maybe, even once, something different was done?
“No one would ever talk about a pregnancy in public except in the most veiled terms (If you recall, Mr. Collins announces Charlotte’s pregnancy in a letter, calling it the impending arrival of “an olive branch”). No one would ever dream of announcing it in public, especially in mixed company.”
First, pointing to Mr. Collins as the poster-boy for proper manners and language is not the wisest choice. Just saying!
Second, Darcy and Elizabeth announce her pregnancy to the Bennets… at Longbourn. Hardly “mixed company.”
Third, according to numerous sources including the books I own on the era, pregnancy during these decades was not a social taboo. Pregnant women kept active, wore clothes with no attempt to hide their condition, traveled extensively, maintained their social schedules, were allowed at Court, and obtained pre-natal care from skilled physicians who specialized in obstetrics (called an accoucheur).
Fourth, whenever I read or hear “no one” and “ever” and other such all-encompassing absolutisms, I am torn between laughing hysterically or screaming in frustration. Does anyone seriously believe that everyone, in the entire breadth of England, behaved/spoke/thought/dreamt precisely the same and according to the “rules” every moment of every day, year after year, no matter where they were or who they were with?
Dr. Darcy is a treat, although were he real he would know there are no lions in India!
I certainly do agree that Dr. Darcy is a treat, thank you. Sadly he is not real, but if he were George would inform this reader that Asiatic lions (also called Indian lions) once existed all over India. In the present time, lions are primarily found only in Gujarat (which is in India).
And just in case it comes up, Asiatic lions are one of five large cat species in India, the others being: Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard.
First, let me make an important point. Elizabeth’s father is a social equal to Mr. Darcy, they are both untitled landed gentility. Mr. Bennet’s estate is much smaller, but at 2000 a year, far from penniless as the author likes to repeat. In current dollars he is worth about $400,000 a year. There is some difference between Darcy and Elizabeth’s mothers, Mrs. Darcy (nee Fitzwilliam) being the daughter of an earl and Mrs. Bennett (nee Gardiner) being the daughter of a successful attorney. Mrs. Bennett did not have a poor upbringing as is evidenced by her dowry of £5000 (about a million current u.s. dollars, which was her portion, split between at least 3 siblings and the lion’s share would have gone to her brother. The problem was not poverty, but that Longbourn was entailed (thus Mr. Bennett’s money and estate goes to Mr. Collins), and there were 5 daughters to split Mrs. Bennett’s fortune between. As Elizabeth rightly told Lady Catherine, she did not quit the sphere in which she came from. So enough of that nonsense.
I used the word “penniless” once in the entire Darcy Saga, in Loving Mr. Darcy, in reference to the rumors, not facts, circulating in Society about Elizabeth and the Bennet (NOT Bennett with 2 Ts) family. As for the rest, I am not sure if this reader is chastising me or Jane Austen, as it was not me who wrote the plot point outlined above.
May I please advise the author ‘steel’ was not invented in the early 1800’s.
When I first read this sentence, my immediate interpretation was that the “reviewer” was chiding me for mentioning steel because she believes it didn’t exist in the 1800s. This is so unbelievably ignorant I honestly couldn’t conceive of anyone above the age of 3 not knowing steel has been around for thousands of years. I am still not 100% sure what her point is when the only mention of steel in Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy occurs twice:
Darcy and his steward were secreted in his study all afternoon dealing with one of Darcy’s more complicated and sensitive investments with a German steel manufacturer.
Somehow he had managed to conclude the arrangements with the steel company in Germany, but he would be hard pressed to articulate how it had transpired.
Neither passage says anything about the invention of steel. In fact, considering the topic is a manufacturer of steel, the implication is quite the opposite. Therefore, while still somewhat unsure of her point, I must conclude that she is less educated than a 3 year old.
To quote from WorldofSteel.org
13th century BC, the Invention of steel. Early blacksmiths discovered that iron became harder and stronger when left in charcoal furnaces.
3rd century BC, Wootz steel was born in ancient India when craftsmen of southern India used crucibles to smelt wrought iron with charcoal to produce ‘wootz’ steel – a material that is still admired today.<
Roman Era, with war comes progress as Imperial armies, including those of China, Greece, Persia and Rome, were eager for strong, durable weapons and armour. The Romans learned how to temper work-hardened steel to reduce its brittleness.
Need I go on? This nitpick is so preposterous, I cannot comprehend how anyone would believe anything else this 1-star reviewer wrote! Heck, even Wikipedia can be trusted on this fact.
Billiards is a game played with three balls – you were describing snooker, an entirely different game, invented by soldiers in India in the Victorian period.
In Loving Mr. Darcy, in the “Billiards” chapter, I never mention the number of balls or define the tournament rules for winning, nor did I describe precise plays. For good reason (read on). In A Season of Courtship when Mr. Darcy is playing his solo game of billiards, I write this:
“The chalked end of the stick hit the white ball…. as the cue ball bashed into the triangle of red balls…. one red ball dropped into a corner pocket and three other slowly rolled into favorable positions.”
So, at most four red balls and one white ball are noted. And he IS playing alone, just for the sake of distraction and practice, so maybe he loaded the table with 40 balls to make it challenging!
The Facts: Billiards had multiple variations. In 1807, E. White’s A Practical Treatise on the Game of Billiards is published, the first English book on the game. In White’s book: “The game at billiards is played by two or four people with ivory balls upon a table…. (he goes on to note the wide variances in size and construction of the table) …Either two, three, four, five, or six balls are employed, according to the particular game.”
The British Cycoldaedia of the Arts, Sciences, History… published in 1838 notes under the “billiards” entry: “The rules for the different games of billiards are too numerous to be given here.”
Hoyle’s Rules for Playing Fashionable Games, 1830 edition, devoted 12 pages to the most popular billiard games (not all varieties) including pool, a many ball version of the game.
As an American who barely knows how to play US pool, I wasn’t about to describe a billiard game in detail.
Darts is a working class game played in Pubs. Darcy would not have had a dartboard. People of Darcy’s class ( or the Bennetts) would never even have set foot inside a Public House as they are working-class establishments. Public houses are distinct from Inns (where travellers could sleep and eat) even though they both have ‘public bars’.
It drives me crazy when absolutes are used in conjunction with human behavior and choices. Claims like this one are truly so asinine that I struggle paying any heed for a rebuttal. Unfortunately, since there are those who persist in proclaiming “facts” of how all humans in this time period acted, and that certain activities were apparently regulated by the authorities….
#1: I uncovered no laws on the old English books against having a dartboard in one’s house. Nor were there laws on whom was permitted to step foot into any type of establishment.
#2: Even IF such strict laws had existed, with severe penalties in place, people break laws. If they NEVER did, then we would have no need for jails and policemen, right?
The Facts on Pubs: Inns, taverns, alehouses, pubs, coffeehouses, and so on were somewhat interchangeable terms for the various types of gathering-together establishments. There were no business-license standards or municipal laws that said a “public house” must have specific distinctions from an “inn” for instance. The typical public house, “pub” for short, may have been largely patronized by the so-called working-class, but again, this was not a law or an absolute. Traveling for the upper classes had greatly increased, so nicer establishments flourished to cater to this need, coaching inns and the like often built onto existing public establishments. However, this does not mean that elite 5-star accommodations for weary travelers and even wearier horses could be found nicely spaced apart. If one needed shelter, food, a visit to the loo, or a rest for their horses, then the nearest pub would have to do.
On a local level, gentlemen often sought manly interaction away from home (and away from the wives) for drinking, sporting games, smoking cigars, and so on. In London, wealthy gentlemen had the “clubs” to gather together. Did they only go to White’s or Brook’s? (Hint: The answer is no.) Pubs and coffeehouses also provided such activity for men, yes even in London, not to mention gambling clubs like Crockford’s, as well as brothels and bordellos. It all depended upon the individual man and what types of entertainment he desired. Outside of London, fancy clubs were rarer. If a man wanted to interact with other men, his choices were perhaps a bit limited. Men were left to gather at their homes or at a community locale of some kind.
Bottom line: Whether a gentleman chose to mingle with the working class would be up to him, not some enforceable law. In Pride and Prejudice the upper classes, including Mr. Darcy, mingled with the common folk at the Meryton Assembly, for instance. Since this specific criticism is directed at The Darcy Saga, take note that Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley are not rubbing elbows with the dreaded “working class” anyway. The public house in Meryton I created is described thusly–
The gentlemen of Meryton and the surrounding areas, when not gathering for smaller private socializations in their homes, met informally at the two pubs or the lone coffeehouse for gaming and to discuss politics and business. A large, red brick building located on the main street and annexed to the Ox Horn pub was humorously and pretentiously called the Reading Room, due to the cozy parlor in the rear dedicated to gentlemen’s intellectual concourse while smoking imported cigars and drinking fine liquors. However, it was the billiard room that drew the largest crowds most days.
The Facts on Darts: The game of darts evolved from the sport of archery, with those teaching archery shortening the arrows and getting students to throw them at the bottom of empty wine barrels. The game was very popular amongst sailors—those long boring voyages—and soldiers for similar reasons. The transition to pub game was the consequence of soldiers and sailors bringing the game inside drinking establishments to have fun and show off their skills.
Henry VIII is reported to have been an avid fan and was given an ornate set by Anne Boleyn. The game remained popular within the army, and as the British Empire spread so did the sport, most notably flourishing in America.
So, in The Darcy Saga, Colonel Fitzwilliam, a soldier, is fond of and quite skilled at darts. Make sense so far? In turn, the game (known to be a popular one) is played with Darcy, who happens to be very bad at it (*snark alert* probably because he isn’t allowed by law to enter a pub and practice). Nevertheless, because he loves his cousin he has a dartboard in his game room. What a nice guy!
Bonfire Night – not ‘Guy Fawkes Day’- that is an Americanism, is also a working class custom – it is not something the upper classes would have joined in at all. In fact, during the 18th and 19th centuries there a was a movement to ban it as it is essentially an anti-Catholic celebration and could become very rowdy and violent. No upper-class person would have considered it at all in planning a wedding.
As for the name, there are numerous references and historical descriptions calling November 5 “Guy Fawkes Day” and since it has never been of importance to Americans, claiming the term an Americanism is pure hooey (a real Americanism, by the way.)
A letter from 14 year old Margaret Alice of Chiswick, England, dated 1891 says: “I am writing to tell you all about Guy Fawkes Day, because the little boys and girls in America do not have a Guy Fawkes Day.”
According to A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day by J. A. Sharpe (just one reference), the decades from 1790 to 1830 were especially patriotic ones, for obvious reasons. Plays such as Guy Fawkes, or the Fifth of November and Harlequin and Guy Fawkes were performed at the Royal Haymarket Theatre and Covent Gardens, very upper crust theaters.
The “ban” spoken of never happened. Awareness of the anti-Catholic sentiment within Guy Fawkes Day activities and sermons did aid in the cause of Catholic equality, and finally the “Act for the Relief of his Majesty’s Roman Catholic Subjects” in 1829. This act in no way halted or banned Guy Fawkes remembrances.
November 5 was a serious observance for English citizens, especially those of the upper class, as a reminder of the king’s deliverance and preservation of the aristocracy. The sermons I mentioned in A Season of Courtship were required reading in the Anglican Church on November 5. In essence, observing the date included mandatory church attendance, although this was not closely followed past the 18th century. The “thanksgiving prayer” was in the Book of Common Prayer from 1606 until it was abolished in 1859.
Between a solemn church observance and the ofttimes rowdy bonfire night escapades, I can imagine not wishing to schedule a wedding for November 5th or 6th. That said, in all honesty, I tossed the Guy Fawkes comment in merely for fun.
England is not a very hot country. Nobody would be complaining about the heat in October or May – we have a few weeks of (sometimes) hottish, weather in July and August. Autumn ( not Fall) is on the whole, a short wet, season –usually characterised by fog and frosts in the morning. Nobody would ever dream of going on a picnic at this time of the year, let alone sitting on a blanket on the wet grass. It does usually snow all over the country in winter –not just the North.
Again we have the “nobody” absolutes in here. As Lizzy teased Mr. Darcy on their honeymoon, “Oh? Did a law pass of which I am unaware that we can only enjoy our meals outdoors in the spring or summer?”
As for the weather, all I can say is that in my nearly 60 years living in many different places throughout the United States, I have seen some wild weather variations. Furthermore, I’m a fiction writer so if I want it to be “unseasonably warm” in October to fit a scene, I’m going to do it.
FALL – Per the OED: sense of “autumn” (now only in U.S. but formerly common in England) is by 1660s, short for fall of the leaf (1540s).
From Wikipedia: The alternative word fall for the season traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, with the Old English fiæll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates. The term came to denote the season in 16th century England, a contraction of Middle English expressions like “fall of the leaf” and “fall of the year.” While the term fall gradually became obsolete in Britain, it became the more common term in North America.
Our wildlife does not include chipmunks, porcupines or skunks – most people in the 19th century would not even know what they were. We also do not have ‘blue-jays’.
I confess, she got me on the chipmunks and bluejays. Missed checking on those two! As for porcupines and skunks, from A Season of Courtship, in the scene with Lizzy and Matty Beller—
He (Matty) cut the dried flowers, laughing as the petals fell onto his head, and Lizzy used the excuse of brushing them away to make his coarse hair stick up in wild spikes.
“Now you look just like a porcupine! No, wait, a hedgehog! Or maybe a skunk with these white petals,” and so on she teased, to his delight.
Admittedly, I didn’t research whether hedgehogs or porcupines were in England either. However, Lizzy wasn’t seeing those animals but was teasing Matty that he looked like them. I tend to think that a well-read woman such as Elizabeth Bennet had surely seen drawings of the animals.
Bottom line, it is meant as a fun interlude between two friends. If all a reader can focus on is that skunks aren’t in England, then they are not attempting to enjoy the story but are striving to criticize. Period.
The flowering season for daffodils (and other spring-flowering plants you mention flowering on the Pemberley patio at Christmas) is in Spring –not Christmas. Rhododendrons typically flower at Easter here.
From In the Arms of Mr. Darcy:
“Rhododendrons, hellebore, jasmine, camellia, and cyclamen, as well as potted iris and daffodils sheltered on the terrace, fought to shine through the frosty quilt with varying degrees of colorful success.”
The Facts: All of these plants do have late autumn to winter blooming varieties, or bloom late in the year normally. Also note that I specified the daffodils and iris were potted and sheltered, and in the process of dying. A last ditch effort by the superb Pemberley groundsmen to provide a bit of color outside the window.
We do not have ‘berry patches’ or ‘vines’– most berries – blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries ripen in late summer. Blackberries are a bit later, but those left on the brambles after mid September are hard, sour and inedible.
Well, all I can say is that after looking (again) on over a dozen sites on blackberry harvesting in the UK, well into October is normal. And even if the pickings are slim, it does not mean it is utterly impossible to find a few stragglers that are edible!
“Vine” is a standard term, as far as I could discern from the OED and other dictionaries for “places where berries grow” or “the long thing berries grow off of”— and a simple Google search on wild blackberries in the UK resulted in numerous references to vines as the unpruned plant grows freely.
I could have used “bramble” or “hedgerow” or “verge” or “branch” or “stem” or…. well, any of a dozen words describing a wildly growing berry bush. I’m okay with using terms that 99% of my readers will understand.
Apples too are not still on the trees in October, nor are the wild ones ( crabs) worth eating as they are small hard and sour.
Considering apples are a MAJOR part of autumn harvest festivals and Christmas celebrations (wassail, anyone?), the claim that no apples can be found on a tree by October is pure rubbish.
From Campaign for Real Farming in the UK: “October marks the peak of the British apple season. Apples that ripen in this month are of a firmer texture than those that have come before and the only ones that will store for a lengthy period.” This is the peak month for apple harvesting, but apple trees come in hundreds of varieties with perfect ripeness occurring throughout the year. Today there are several dozen varieties of very late season apples grown in the UK, many of which have been around for well over 200 years. In 1990, October 21 was designated “Apple Day” by Common Ground (link below) and has nearly become a national UK celebration.
On crab apples: According to Woodland Trust, a wildlife protection organization in the UK: “With their terrifically tart and tangy flavour, crab apples are a favourite foraged food.”
Every website resource I went to from the UK states clearly that while indeed crab apples are tart, they are perfectly edible. As with true apples, there are hundreds of varieties of crab apples, some a bit less tangy than others, and the harvest time can run into very late fall to winter (just like true apples).
English gentlemen did not use rifles –they still don’t –for hunting – rifles were for common soldiers. They used ( and still do) shotguns.
If this is the case then there are about a hundred websites on rifle hunting in the UK that got it ALL wrong!
In this I am a bit of an expert, my husband even more so as an avid hunter and firearms enthusiast. Rest assured, this claim is preposterous. Besides, if the Americans hunted with a Kentucky long rifle (created in the 1730s in Lancaster, Pennsylvania) and Darcy owned one… it would probably fire and kill an animal in England too.
They also stick to very rigid hunting seasons. This is also true of fishing – trout are not fished from October to May – even Isaac Walton of The Compleat Angler (1653) talks of the ‘closed season in fishing’.
On Hunting: When it comes to hunting of any type during this period, the distinction between sport and hunting for food must be recognized. Indeed, the animal(s) killed would be eaten, so the sport vs. providing aspect of the hunt overlapped. Nevertheless, hunting was a pastime greatly enjoyed by most men of this era, and some women. As a sport, there were hunting rules and seasons depending upon the type of game. The established laws were complicated, but in general they applied to fox hunting and the shooting of certain birds. The season for both of these categories extended from October to March, giving gentlemen landowners plenty of time to engage in the recreation while providing tasty meals for their families.
When it came to hunting on one’s land for deer or boar, for instance, it was essentially open season, as long as the estate gamekeeper gave the go-ahead. It was his job to ensure game animals were not killed indiscriminately until depleted.
On Fishing: Not a single one of the ten copies of The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton that I searched on Google books had the phrase “closed season in fishing” or “closed season” or “season in fishing” or even the word “closed.” Odd. Furthermore, all NINE (9) uses of the word “season” and THREE (3) uses of the word “seasons” pertained to months of the year or climate/environmental specifics when certain species of fish were breeding or at their most edible.
A ‘sheriff’ would not have been called to investigate a murder, or any crime. A sheriff in England is a ceremonial position or sometimes they act as agent of the magistrates court.
I have since researched law authorities in British history more thoroughly, and admit that the sheriff in Belper (In the Arms of Mr. Darcy) would probably be titled a constable.
However, in the early 1800s sheriffs still existed, were not ceremonial, and depending on the situation had extensive legal authority. The sheriff was a position fast waning, but the regulated system of justice strengthening in London had not extended to all municipalities beyond the city’s boundaries. In small villages and towns, such as Belper, the carry overs from older systems remained.
Between the green dividers is a long rant email from a UK resident taking me to task over Alexander’s christening in In the Arms of Mr. Darcy was. . . interesting, to say the least. Let me note at the outset that on top of researching as exhaustively as possible, the passages in my novels and the responses to these criticisms draw heavily from the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer. Here are two online references:
The Book of Common Prayer, 1829
Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 1883
The description of Alexander’s Christening was painful to read. Firstly, if he was only 4 weeks old, Elizabeth would not have been present. Women at that time were not allowed into Church until they had been through a religious ceremony called ‘Churching’ – a service of thanksgiving and ritual purification after childbirth which usually took place about 6 weeks after the birth. Children were either christened immediately after birth if there was a concern about their health – which the mother would not attend –or when they were a few months old –which the mother would then be able to be present.
In all my research into Regency Era Anglican customs, christening, birth procedures, and so on, I never saw a single reference to “churching” women after birth. Not saying it isn’t true—as I now know it is—just saying I never ran across it. Why? Maybe I didn’t dig deep enough. OR, maybe because it wasn’t as important as this reader seems to think.
The Facts: In the Anglican Church “churching of women” was a blessing of thanksgiving offered to women, dating way back to Henry VIII and a carryover from Catholic customs. It was not an intensive, time-consuming mandatory ritual of cleansing or purification. According to the Book of Common Prayer, a newly delivered woman could come to the church at any time or any day to receive the blessing. Who is to say Lizzy did not do this?
Furthermore, I could find nothing, not even in the annotated version of the Book of Common Prayer, saying a woman was “not allowed” in the church until they were “churched,” nor that it prohibited her from being present at the baptism. It is clearly stated that the infant’s baptism/christening should take place as soon as possible, even if that means having it done at home. Infant mortality was too common to wait months.
Secondly, the word ‘chapel’ : In England the word either means: a private, specially built place of worship in a large house; a private, specially constructed annex to a parish church – with a separate altar; a Methodist church. The word is not interchangeable with ‘church’.
This is, with all due respect, absolutely absurd, and an erroneous critique in how I used the word “chapel” in my novels. First, as she states herself, a chapel is a place of worship. Indeed, the briefest Google search of Church of England (Anglican) places of worship in history will uncover hundreds of “______ Chapel” names that are parish places of worship, many still in existence today.
Refer to this 1842 published book titled: “Lists of Chapels Belonging to the Church of England” with nearly 150 pages of complete documentation on the “Places of Public Worship” known as “chapels”.
In the Darcy Saga I have named the small, private place of worship for the Darcy family “Pemberley Chapel” which is precisely appropriate.
According to the OED, “chapel” has a French derivation dating to the 13th century, the meaning and use of which “extended in most European languages to include ‘any sanctuary’.”
Bottom line here is that a chapel IS a place of worship, that is, A CHURCH. Just as a cathedral is a CHURCH on a much grander scale but still a church. Depending upon the sentence formation, the words ARE interchangeable. The buildings where Methodists and others not of the Anglican faith were called Non-conformist churches.
Christenings take place after the normal Sunday service in church. In the Anglican Church ( Church of England), this has a very rigid format – the words of the preist and the responses of the congregation are written down in the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ – as is the Sacrament of Baptism that would follow. It is a solemn ceremony that has remained unchanged since the Reformation. There is very little deviation from the words on the page. I actually found it quite offensive to have my religion and its sacraments bastardised in this way.
Oh boy. In the Book of Common Prayer itself (which was revised many times and had different versions in play throughout the country) and the annotated version, it states: “…that it is most convenient that Baptism should not be administered but upon Sundays and other Holydays…” with further elaboration that this was due to the presence of the congregation to “testify the receiving of them that be newly baptized.” In other words, it was a matter of being convenient and sensible, not a strict mandate. Otherwise the Book would not add, “Nevertheless, if necessity so require, they may be Baptized upon any other day.”
That clarified, the baptism of Alexander DID occur on a Sunday! As for “bastardizing” – WOW. I took great pains to follow the wording of the ceremony precisely as detailed in the Book of Common Prayer, stressed multiple times how important the baptism was to the Darcys, and devoted a whole chapter to it! I’d bet money this is far more than any other author has ever done in a novel. Yet that is deemed an offense and bastardization. Unbelievable.
There would have been very little singing – a psalm may have been sung by the congregation, but it was more like chanting and any real songs would have been provided by the choir. They may have been accompanied by the ‘church band’ or an organ- but never a piano. Instrumental accompaniments were slowly replaced by organs throught the 19th century. Also, Wesley hymns would never have been sung in an Anglican church at that time as he was a Methodist and non-conformist. They were hated by the Church of England, the ‘establishment’ and the upper classes.
The Facts: Partially true on the hymns, but not completely. One reference: Music for Church Choirs
The Evangelical Movement was widespread and in full sway, and had been for decades. While it is true that the Anglican orthodoxy frowned upon much of this quite severely, people of all classes were affected by the personal spirituality preached by the Methodists and others.
Another terrific article, which also touches on the Guy Fawkes issue, is: Church Furnishing in 19th Century England by James Bettley.
Church of England priests are usually either vicars or rectors ( depending on their funding) they MAY be called ‘parsons’ but never ‘Pastor’. In England a pastor is a lay-preacher in the Methodist church.
As a non-UK resident I can’t comment on what terms are normally used today. I can only look at references, particularly those from the past to decide if the ONE time I used the word “pastor” in the whole of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, and regarding the baptism, is appropriate–
“…it was also critical to perform the rite at the parish church where the parents were members and by the pastor who ministered to them.”
Pastor, meaning a shepherd looking over his flock, is in the Bible. In my mind, this trumps everything.
Pastor is also in the Annotated Book of Common Prayer 8 times, 5 of which are specific to a church position.
According to Anglican Priest Tony Harwood-Jones, pastor is not a formal title in the Anglican Communion, but is quite suitable for any priest who has pastoral responsibilities in a congregation. A search for “pastor” on The Church of England website yielded over 250 results, here two quotes of thousands:
“The Canons of the Church of England state that the diocesan bishop is ‘the chief pastor of all that are within his diocese, as well laity as clergy, and their father in God’.”
“Both the 1662 Ordinal and the Common Worship Ordination Services understand bishops to be the successors of the Apostles as pastors of Christ’s flock.”
OK – I used “OK” once, in Dr. George Darcy’s journal, and “okay” once as coming from one of the bandits in Loving Mr. Darcy. Etymology on either OK or okay is all over the place, but I will admit that the earliest concrete reference appears to be in the 1830s. Ya got me!
Ranch – Used once… “Bingley honestly was pleased with the Hasberry ranch.” …in Loving Mr. Darcy. OED says: 1808, “country house,” from American Spanish rancho “small farm, group of farm huts.” An Americanism then. Got me again!
A cart track through the woods would not be called a “trail.”
OED says: trail meaning “path or track worn in wilderness” is attested from 1807.
Cute – cute (adj.) 1731, “clever,” shortening of acute; informal sense of “pretty” is 1834. I used it and I don’t care because it was funny!
Mosey – mosey (v.) 1829, American English slang, of unknown origin, perhaps related to British dialectal mose about meaning to “go around in a dull, stupid way.”
Crush – crush (n.) Sense of “person one is infatuated with” is first recorded 1884, U.S. slang; to have a crush on (someone) is by 1903. Again, yes I used it and I don’t care because it was adorable.
A long commentary was sent to me by email (to be sure I read it) on the meanings of the words parlour and manor, and that using either in my novels was era inappropriate. It’s not worth repeating, to be honest, as it made my head hurt. Let me sum up these word “errors” by turning to the novels of Jane Austen–
Parlour — Appears 10 times in Pride and Prejudice, 9 times in Emma, 7 times in Sense and Sensibility, and 7 times in Mansfield Park, all referring to a reception/entertaining room for guests in an upper class house.
Manor — Appears twice in Pride and Prejudice: “…shoot as many as you please on Mr. Bennet’s manor.” and “Mr. Bingley…. was now provided with a… manor.” Lower case manor is written one time in both Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion, both referring to a country home itself, not as part of the title.
“Dear Jane” by Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Mr. Darcy writes a letter of appreciation to his ultimate creator, Jane Austen
First, allow me to extend my apologies for the informality of the above address. The intimacy of the salutation is uncomfortable I assure you. I preferred “Miss Austen” as the proper format for a married gentlemen composing a missive to an unmarried lady who is not kin. Doing otherwise is a breach of protocol I have never committed.
My beloved wife, however, has conveyed to me with all the elements of command she possesses – and since you are familiar with the former Miss Bennet then you comprehend my meaning – that “Dear Jane” is allowable in this express instance. Frankly, I was rather taken aback by her leniency. My wife has a moderate jealous streak, a fact proven during a particular unpleasant, albeit humorous, episode while on holiday in Greater Yarmouth. This is probably not a surprise to discover, since you originally created her character, delightfully flawed as it is.
As I suspected, writing the sentences above annoyed Mrs. Darcy, who was, of course, standing over my shoulder to “assist” me in this letter’s wording. She has now exited the room. Indeed, that was the plan so as to gain the privacy I deem essential to convey my thoughts onto parchment. Yet, despite the conscious maneuver, it is difficult not to seek her out for immediate reconciliation. I shall resist the urge, despite the stab of pain in my heart, until the task at hand is satisfactorily completed.
Fortunately, I am highly adept at softening my adored wife’s temper. I call upon those arts of persuasion gifted to me by you, presumably, although I appreciate that subsequent pens have enhanced my attributes beyond what you undoubtedly imagined.
Revealed within that last statement is a far allotment of arrogance and pride, I do confess. Those attributes when taken to extremes are most unattractive and dangerous, as I know all too well. I have tempered my arrogance and pride over the course of time, but the traits remain to a certain degree. This is especially true in regards to the relationship I share with Mrs. Darcy.
This latter topic brings me, finally, to the main point of this letter. It may be interpreted from the previous paragraphs that along with the informal salutation, writing this letter was the result of Mrs. Darcy’s superb arts of persuasion. I shall never deny her powers are as effective upon me as mine are upon her, however, in this instance it would be an error in assumption. In point of fact, I am pleased to apply my ink saturated steel-tipped pen to parchment and endeavor to express my deepest, sincerest thanks to the artist who created the story of my life.
In our case, the trials and tribulations … prejudices and prideful attitudes … mysteries and misunderstanding … were abounding, albeit necessary for an enthralling tale designed to provoke readers. Indeed, I applaud you for weaving a tale with literary brilliance rivaling the greatest masters of storytelling.
Nevertheless, my appreciation for how you chose to conclude my story is tenfold what I have ever attained from a finely wrought tale of adventure or intrigue. Novels of woe or doom may titillate upon occasion, yet I judge none satisfy the reader as profoundly as those that end upon the classic supposition that the characters went on to live “happily ever after.”
Dear lady authoress, I can attest my immense satisfaction in the ending granted me. As undeserving as I am, the reward of my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth’s love is an immeasurable honor. I am forever humbled and grateful.
Furthermore, to my unending amazement, generations of readers gratified by our intriguing romance and felicitous resolution were eventually left wanting. They succumbed to the stirrings of discontentment that often roil within a reader’s breast when we realize we are no longer as gratified as we initially supposed when reaching The End.
Curious minds begin to muse upon what hidden tales might have transpired in the months subsequent to the conclusion. Others ask, how might the altering of a tiny moment change the pathway to the favorable ending? Still other inquisitive readers wonder about the thoughts and actions of favorite characters left unwritten while the plot focused elsewhere. Most common of all, a captivated reader simply wishes the story had not ended and longs for more.
To the delight of all, a plethora of talented authors have bravely taken the quill from your hand, as it were. They have dipped deeply into the inkwell, etching upon the paper page their vision of the rest of the story.
Thanks to these intrepid souls, my precious wife and I have not been left to dwell in the dark abyss of vague imaginings. We have been given lives abundantly lived in a host of ways, although in my opinion, none of the offerings are as fulfilling as the evolution and joyous consummation of our marriage in true felicity.
In conclusion, Dear Jane, although I delight in teasing my wife – she who has so thoroughly delighted in teasing me since the earliest days of our acquaintance and has taught me the pleasure in such frivolity – writing this letter to you is not a challenge, a chore, or displeasing proposition. Rather it is an honor, providing me the opportunity to extend my humble appreciation for creating us in the first place.
Your servant, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Master of Pemberley
Darcy Comes to a Valentine’s Day Decision
Occurring in February of 1816,
a troubled Mr. Darcy attempts to forget Elizabeth Bennet.
Darcy resisted the urge to slam the door behind him, opting instead to collapsed against it and vent his frustration with a loud moan.
“What a horrendous afternoon,” he muttered. He ran a hand through his hair before grasping the knot of his cravat and tugging. Futilely, as it turned out. “Damn! Samuel would choose today to bind me with some new fangled tying technique,” he muttered with slightly increased volume and irritation.
As if my cravat is the deciding factor in whether a woman will find me appealing. Stupidity!
He pushed away from the door with a grunt and crossed directly to the sidebar. Something strong was needed to scorch the taste of tea and repugnance from the back of his throat.
“What a horrendous afternoon,” he repeated, this time with a growl. “What was I thinking?”
The question was rhetorical so he felt no need to answer himself. Thankfully. Have I so unraveled that I now resort to talking aloud? He clamped his lips shut before the answer slipped out audibly.
He finished the glass, finally feeling a measure of calm even though his neckcloth was still choking him. I did try, he mused while refilling the tumbler. Ruminating over the past several months, he could honestly avow he had given the matter an astronomical amount of thought and explored all reasonable options.
After the hell that had been the Christmas season where Elizabeth Bennet invaded his every waking moment and crept into his dreams, Darcy had been desperate for anything to divert his attention. Sir William Cole’s annual Twelfth Night Masquerade Ball was normally an agony of socializing he avoided like the plague no matter how persuasive his Aunt Madeline’s pleas. This year, he had agreed to accompany Lord and Lady Matlock when the first sentence of his aunt’s rehearsed entreaty had passed her lips.
Who am I kidding? Agreed is an understatement. To his astonishment, he had practically leapt across the room to pen his acceptance to the invitation. Perhaps for one night his traitorous brain would be too distracted and exhausted to conjure images of her.
Hoping for nothing more than a temporary respite, a surprised Darcy had enjoyed the ball far more than any previous year. Even more amazing, the primary reason for his enjoyment was due to the presence of Miss Amy Griffin.
Darcy had not seen the youngest daughter of Sir Allen Griffin of Alveston Hall in Derby for more than four years. She had grown, as young ladies are wont to do, into a lovely young woman. He had felt an instant attraction, which was shocking for several reason, although it took him the entire evening to understand why.
In his roughly ten years attending an assortment of social gatherings, Darcy could count on one, maybe two hands if being generous, the number of women who had stirred the remotest interest, let alone a significant attraction. The only woman in all those years to affect him intensely was the very woman he wanted desperately to forget. He had begun to fear his unrelenting brooding over Miss Bennet would thwart such sentiments ever arising for another. Sensing an allurement toward Miss Amy, he came as close to giddy as he had since a child!
Until, as the evening at the Masque progressed, he perceived why she appealed to him. Amy Griffin didn’t look like Elizabeth Bennet, but she bore striking similarities in temperament. Her figure was lithe, as was Elizabeth’s, and laughter as filled with verve.
Initially chagrinned, Darcy swiftly viewed the situation from a fresh light. Perhaps, he had wondered, the inner voice almost a prayer, my infatuation with Miss Elizabeth was merely based on the type of woman who appeals to me. She was a preparation for meeting Miss Griffin.
The prospect had thrilled him. Amy Griffin, after all, was the daughter of a Knight and granddaughter of a Count. She was out in Society and sought by several suitors he was aware of, largely due to her dowry but also for the lady herself. All in all, she was far more acceptable than Elizabeth Bennet for a man of his rank and circumstances.
If that same internal voice told him none of those things mattered, he ignored it. Assuring himself the problem was solved, Darcy figuratively girded his loins and for over a month pretended he wasn’t waging an internal war between logic and rational facts over the perceived enemy that was emotion and wild impulse. Careful not to declare a formal arrangement, Darcy had called upon Miss Griffin six times since the Twelfth Night Masque. Six honestly pleasant times, as she was a charming woman and he sincerely liked Sir Allen Griffin. Six times he pretended nothing was amiss and that the attraction felt at the ball was growing.
Apparently, practical tactics were no good when it came to matters of the heart.
Today, again dwelling at the inn in Derby, he visited Alveston Hall for the seventh time. He had sat in the parlor across from Miss Amy, sipping tea and nibbling on sweet cakes while struggling to keep up his end of the conversation. A difficult endeavor when the frivolous discourse triggered memories of the challenging debates with Elizabeth Bennet. Fact was, the infernal comparisons to Elizabeth were a steady barrage kept at bay only by years of harsh regulation over his emotions. Arrogantly confident in his self-mastery and performance as the attentive suitor, Darcy felt it all abruptly shatter when she casually mentioned it was Valentine’s Day. Thank God he hadn’t been chewing or swallowing at that exact moment! It required every particle of his splintered discipline not to bolt from his chair to run for the nearest exit.
How could I have been so dense to not note the date? And why did I instantly envision Elizabeth Bennet?
In those moments of sheer panic, while Amy Griffin fluttered her lashes and leaned forward so as to afford a provocative view of her bosom, Darcy had finally admitted defeat. It defied everything he believed to be sensible but after a handful of social encounters, he knew there was no future with Amy Griffin.
A knock on the door of his room interrupted his thoughts, and since they were veering into areas he wasn’t fully prepared to embrace, he welcomed the interruption. It was a servant of the inn delivering the post. Darcy lifted a brow in surprise. He had left London a mere six days past, with plans of only one or two weeks tops in Derby.
“After today, I can’t return to Town soon enough,” he mumbled while rifling through the letters.
There were three in all and as soon as he saw the familiar scrawl and seal of his Aunt Catherine, the special delivery made sense. Mrs. Smyth, his housekeeper at Darcy House in London, would automatically assume that any correspondence from the great and noble Lady Catherine de Bourgh to be of the utmost, critical importance. Darcy grunting, hardly agreeing with the sentiment, but considering the timeliness in impeding his thoughts from dwelling on Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, superb figure, lush chocolate hair especially as it fell in a tousled cascade down the creamy skin of her long neck, flushed cheeks, warm hands, brilliant smile, intoxicating lavender scent…
He shook his head violently, inhaled deeply, and ripped open the envelope. God! Please be a long letter droning on about the boring activities of your corgis or how your tenants fawned over you when you last condescended to visit them! He started reading while still standing in the middle of the room. Ah! Excellent! Mr. Collins! Yes, talk of him will do!
How wrong could a man be?
It started off well enough. Several sentences about the horrible substitute reverend she had endured while Mr. Collins was away – Could he truly be worse than the sniveling Collins must be as a preacher? – followed by a whole paragraph detailing the report she had written to the archbishop – I’m sure he loved that!
Then she turned to the subject of Mr. Collins recent marriage, beginning with claiming responsibility for his matrimonial state. She went on to write that it was she who encouraged him to seek a wife and listed all the various reasons, one of which was the logic in picking from amongst the Bennet daughters.
All the blood drained from Darcy’s face, numb fingers allowing the parchment pieces to fall onto the floor. He couldn’t breathe and the pain slamming through his chest was excruciating. The modest guest room faded away, his wide eyes staring into the past.
He had been there, at the Netherfield Ball, his gaze following Elizabeth Bennet everywhere she went no matter how hard he had tried to stop himself. Anger born from jealousy he refused to acknowledge had noted every one of the men who danced with or even talked to her. He had wanted to strangle every last damn one of them! So naturally he had noticed the pathetic Mr. Collins dogging her steps and dancing too close to her. Although somewhat amusing at the time, only a fool would miss Collins’ interest in her. Darcy was not a fool, so he also noticed Elizabeth’s obvious dislike of the man. Another point of amusement at the time. Darcy had not been nearly as irritated at Collins as he had other, handsomer gentlemen attending to Elizabeth during the ball. Of course, he had refused to acknowledge any of those sentiments and would have vociferously proclaimed not the minutest interest in Miss Bennet, or her future, if anyone had asked him. Nevertheless, false denials aside, the possibility of her accepting Collins as a possible match had never crossed his mind.
Might she have changed her opinion of the man? Suddenly it wasn’t himself he envisioned in loving, passionate moments with Elizabeth. He felt truly ill and stumbled to the nearest chair. Could she have married Collins?
Darcy shuddered and again tore at the constricting neckcloth, even managed to loosen it a bit more, not that it helped. A tiny part of his brain not throbbing with pain admitted that his aunt’s logic in regards to Collins marrying a Bennet daughter was sound.
And aren’t you the King of Logic? The thought was laced with bitter irony. Look where logic had gotten him. The woman I love may well be married and beyond my reach.
Darcy snatched the papers off the floor. He had to know. It may well kill him, but he had to know. Rapidly he scanned the sentences. His aunt’s words had never in his life elicited such a welter of emotions. In a matter of minutes he ran the gamut from despair to relief.
It was Charlotte Lucas who married the imbecile! Darcy let loose a whoop of joy. What had happened with Collins’ plan to marry a Bennet daughter he didn’t know or care. He, Darcy of Pemberley, had far more to offer Elizabeth Bennet than Collins… or any man in Hertfordshire for that matter. Granted, her interactions with him hadn’t precisely fallen under what anyone would consider courtship-like behavior, but she had enjoyed debating with him and had consented to dance with him once. Surely that meant something! At least she remained unattached.
How can I be sure of that? Enough time has passed for another man to have won her hand. That potential hit Darcy square in the chest. Then, as the pain seared his heart, the unconscious thought of just seconds before blared anew.
The woman I love…
Love. The word above them all that he had flatly rejected regarding Elizabeth Bennet. Yet there it was in the open. Love… and it was beautiful. The pain disappeared entirely and in its place a warm rush that left him strangely weak and strong. The fight was gone. The search was over. The debates were done.
“I love Elizabeth Bennet,” he whispered. The warmth spread deeper into his bones.
“I love Elizabeth Bennet.” Spoken this time in his normal tones, voice firm and confident, he did not feel at all silly for talking into an empty room. As the warmth of happiness settled into his belly, Darcy permitted the emotions to wash over him.
He jumped up from the chair invigorated. God, please let her not be promised or married to another! Haste was the key. Plans would be made once back in London. For now he merely wanted to leave Derby immediately and get closer to Hertfordshire.
Closer to her.
He smiled brightly and started gathering his belongings. And, yes, he was whistling.
An Interview with the Darcys
An intrepid young reporter for the Derby Chronicle travels to Pemberley
for an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy for a human interest article.
The young, bespectacled lady bobbed a proper curtsy to the impeccably attired butler, her voice quavering slightly as she introduced herself, “Miss Austen of the Derby Chronicle. I have an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.”
Mr. Travers inclined his head. “Indeed. They are expecting you, Miss Austen. Follow me.”
He led the way across the enormous, two-storey vaulted foyer and ascended the marble, plushly carpeted staircase at a stately pace. She followed, managing to keep her head from whipping side-to-side but unsuccessful in controlling her eyes. They constantly swiveled in a vain attempt to canvas the wealth of wonders lining the ornate walls. Yet even their insatiable curiosity ceased upon entering the parlor where Mr. Darcy stood waiting.
The rumors did not do him justice. As he crossed the room with the grace and power of a stalking lion, she called upon every ounce of professionalism to prevent her mouth dropping open. A lion, or perhaps a bear, her mind amended as the height and breadth of his body assaulted her senses when he drew close.
He paused and inclined his head in respect. “Miss Austen,” he greeted, smiling softly. His resonant baritone befitted his masculine physique, yet was velvety smooth and warm. “Welcome to Pemberley. Mrs. Darcy is otherwise engaged but will join us in a moment. Please refresh yourself. If I may be forgiven in boasting, my cook is a genius and her gooseberry tarts are the finest in all of England.”
He guided her to a comfortable settee, before which sat a long marble table whereupon a footman and maid were already serving tea and tarts. Waiting until she was settled, Mr. Darcy sat onto a sofa across from both the settee and the low, linen draped tea table. He crossed his long legs and folded his hands onto his lap, dominating the space even in his casual repose.
Willing the nervous tremors in her hands to subside, Miss Austen opened a case and removed the lap-sized secretaire. Just as she prepared to dip her quill into the inkwell, Mr. Darcy suddenly leaned forward, shattering her tentatively regained composure.
“This is an incredibly compact secretaire. How extraordinary! Inkwell and quill drawer integrated, a clip for the parchment sheets, and carved from weightless balsa. Now, if you used steel nip pens, you would not need to stow accessories to keep your quills sharp.”
“So it is true what they say.” She flushed at his quizzically raised brow and intense, blue-eyed gaze. “That you are fascinated by unique inventions?”
He laughed, sitting back and re-crossing his legs. “Indeed. Too much so, perhaps. My wife teases that I shall one day lose all track of time while investigating how some bizarre instrument operates and perish from starvation. Of course, I haven’t missed a meal as yet, so doubt she has ought to worry about.”
“Aside from steel-tipped pens, what other marvels have captured your particular attention?”
He swept his hand toward a high ebony carved table near the window. Positioned precisely in the middle sat a tall, shiny, brass-tubed instrument. “That is a kaleidoscope I purchased directly from Sir Brewster. One of his original designs, in fact. I have several miniature musical boxes, although two are in a hopeless state of disassembly, hence why Mrs. Darcy refuses to allow me to even touch her Recordon and Jundon cylinder music box.”
“Did you disassemble the kaleidoscope as well?”
“I comprehend how it works so am able to restrain myself. With an effort, mind you,” he added with a humorous lilt. “In all truth, I do not usually take items apart. Learning of them is sufficient the majority of the time. We live in an exciting age, Miss Austen. Marvels of ingenuity are springing upon us every day.”
“Such as?” She pushed her spectacles up her nose, scribbling furiously upon the paper page.
“Have you seen a hot-air balloon? No? It would be a thrilling event to report on, Miss Austen. I am sure your readers would be dazzled by your description. Mrs. Darcy and I were fortunate to witness a launch while vacationing in Great Yarmouth this past summer. It was incredible.”
His voice took on a dreamy quality that made Miss Austen smile.
“You must forgive my husband, Miss Austen. He tends to lose all regulation when faced with something fascinating or provocative. Contrary to popular opinion, he is quite the daredevil. I must be on alert in order to rein him in.”
Darcy rose with a broad grin. Miss Austen turned to the speaker, who was obviously Mrs. Darcy. She was a slim woman and fairly tall, although dwarfed by her towering spouse. Her dark brown hair was fashionably styled, jeweled pins restraining the thick tresses from escaping to tumble down her long neck. She wore a teasing smile upon her impish face. Her gay tone and sunny disposition instantly put the reporter at ease.
“Have you needed to rein him in frequently then, Mrs. Darcy?”
The Mistress of Pemberley laughed, laying one hand lightly onto Mr. Darcy’s forearm. “Oh my yes! Thankfully the balloon was well into the sky so leaping into the basket was not a possibility, but I nearly called in reinforcements to prevent him jumping onto the trick horses we had for the festival!” She glanced to her spouse, who was smiling but also pink-cheeked at her teasing. “See, he is not nearly as fierce as people presume.” Returning her gaze to the bemused reporter, she spoke sincerely, “I apologize, Miss Austen, for not greeting when you arrived, but I was putting the baby to sleep.”
“Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, on the birth of your firstborn. I am pleased that all proceeded well.” All three resumed their seats, Mrs. Darcy sitting near her husband and expressing no outward signs of having recently gone through the ordeal of childbirth. In fact, she was radiant.
“Thank you, Miss Austen. Yes, life has been promising and joyous. We are thankful that difficulties have been few.”
“Aside from tumbles down ravines, duels, poachers, mill fires, murder at an inn, and attacks from bandits, you mean?”
Mr. Darcy scowled as a dark cloud passed over his handsome features.
Mrs. Darcy, on the other hand, laughed gaily with only a hint of a tremor. “Even the most blessed life is fraught with the occasional mishap. Fortunately we have weathered difficulties since the very beginning of our relationship, thus learning how to deal with the travails tossed in our path.”
“Really? Such as?” The reporter asked, quill poised over the paper and avidly listening.
“It is far too lengthy to recount here, I am afraid. Why, it is enough drama for a novel!”
“Hmmm, how interesting. Perhaps I should contact my cousin. She aspires to be a novelist.”
“Oh, I do not think….”
“A woman novelist?” Mrs. Darcy interrupted her husband, leaning forward. “How extraordinary. Does she write romantic stories with prideful crossed lovers and prejudiced attitudes?”
“Indeed! Her name is Jane Austen and I think your tale may be just what she is looking for.”
An Interview with Miss Georgiana Darcy
Miss Austen, the young reporter for the Derby Chronicle,
again travels to Pemberley, this time for an interview with Georgiana Darcy.
“Welcome again to Pemberley, Miss Austen.”
The young, bespectacled lady bobbed a curtsy and nearly dropped her secretaire in the process. How could I forget the impact this gentleman has on me? It certainly did not help when the gentleman in question stooped to steady the bulky wooden case under her arm and brushed against her arm.
“Tha… Thank you, Mr. Darcy. It is an honor to be allowed a second visit.”
Mr. Darcy straightened. “Our pleasure, Miss Austen. Your article on Mrs. Darcy and myself for the Derby Chronicle was surprisingly accurate. No embellishments or untruths. That alone is a feat amongst journalists in this day, no offense intended.”
She nodded, not noting his teasing tone or playful smile as she pushed the glasses further up her long nose. “None taken, Sir. Rest assured, I promise to employ the same ethics with my article on Miss Darcy.”
“Indeed, I am confident. Mrs. Darcy requested I ask if your cousin, the hopeful novelist, was intrigued by our story? Honestly, I believe it unlikely that a common tale of romance, albeit with heavy doses of pride and prejudice, would be of interest to anyone. My wife assures me females delight in such tales.”
“Mrs. Darcy is correct, and my cousin was fascinated by the idea. Of course, she is barely eighteen and fanciful dreams of writing novels are primarily that: fanciful dreams.”
Mr. Darcy laughed, the resonant sound filling the air and making her smile. “Perhaps, but I wish that other Miss Austen the best. Follow me and I shall take you to the chamber where Miss Darcy awaits her interview.”
He turned toward the grand staircase at the far end of the enormous vaulted foyer. The reporter trailed behind his tall body with head whipping once again from side-to-side at the beauty around her. This time, however, her eyes continually returned to the Master of Pemberley himself, a reality both pleasant and somewhat embarrassing! It was frankly a relief to finish the flurry of introductions and be left alone with the lady.
“I anticipated our interview taking place in the parlor, Miss Darcy,” Miss Austen began while opening the case and removing her secretaire. “Why the music room?”
“This has always been my favorite room in the manor, for a host of reasons. Music soothes my soul thus I am most comfortable here.”
Miss Austen nodded, utilizing the distraction of setting up her lap desk and inkwell to study the woman sitting serenely across from her. The clinical descriptions clicking through her brain to later be elaborated upon. Blonde hair, blue eyes, lovely symmetrical face, svelte, graceful, calm, quiet, intelligent expression, faint blush, humorous smile, age some five years younger than me…
“Let’s start with your childhood,” she began, quill poised above the spread parchment. “What was it like?”
“Unremarkable, I’m afraid.”
“Surely there must be something exciting?”
“Nothing that one would write about.” Miss Darcy’s matter-of-fact tone confirmed her belief in the statement. “As the younger sister to a far more important man, my activities are hardly noteworthy.”
“Rather like a secondary character in a novel?”
“Quite so!” she agreed with a musical chuckle. “Fortunately, I was content to remain in the background and be inconsequential. My presence was largely unnoticed, most of the time, and I rarely had any words of import to add to the conversation. My cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam, long ago affectionately dubbed me his ‘little mouse’ for being so quiet.”
“You speak in past tense, Miss Darcy. Does that mean your part, so to speak, grew exciting? Maybe earning you a first name and pivotal plot point?”
Miss Darcy blushed and ducked her head. “Perhaps, although some of the excitement I could have done without.”
“Such as…?” The reporter’s brows lifted and body unconsciously leaned forward.
“Oh, only the typical mischiefs of foolish young women experiencing first love. Surely you know of what I speak, Miss Austen?”
“Now, now. This interview is about you, Miss Darcy. My nonsensical exploits are not the topic!” She wagged her finger, the two women laughing as if long friends. “I am intrigued by your allusions, especially since I heard not a whisper of scandal or past lovers while conducting my research. Could your life until recently truly have been so boring? How disappointing!”
“Years of quiet living here at Pemberley and in London, playing music and studying, isn’t much to write about, I grant you. Hmmm…” Miss Darcy tapped her chin, the expression on her face suddenly mischievous. “What if I were to tell you that my actions played a large part in bringing my brother and Mrs. Darcy together?”
“Ah!” Miss Austen’s eyes brightened as the puzzle pieces connected. “The ‘innocent relative deceived by the family friend’ that the Darcys spoke of while recounting their tale? My cousin Jane was very intrigued by that twist and has been spinning a dozen scenarios.”
“Well, I shall tell you a few details of the nefarious villain in my tale. Perhaps your cousin will be inspired with abundant scenarios to be used in her future novels.”
“Oh, I am sure they will!”
“Afterwards, I can recount my most recent adventures while touring the Continent, if you have time?” Georgiana chuckled at the reporter’s enthusiastic nod, the rapid scribbling on the parchment unceasing. “Travels through France and Switzerland, crossing the Alps, art and culture in Italy, and finally Paris, the City of Love…” She paused, staring dreamily at the small ring on her finger. “Paris is where the greatest of my adventures occurred.”
Miss Austen shook her head and laid her quill aside. “I must say, you have surprised me, Miss Darcy. I was expecting a shy, meek woman with nothing to tell. I was prepared to elaborate lavishly in my article!”
“People change. Indeed, even secondary characters can develop a voice and personality. Sometimes enough for their own novel, complete with a happy ending.”
“Everyone deserves a happy ending, I believe,” Miss Austen stated firmly.
Smiling happily, Miss Darcy’s shining eyes drifted to the pianoforte. “I daresay, Miss Austen, I must agree wholeheartedly.”
An Interview with Sebastian Butler, Viscount Nell
Miss Austen, the young reporter for the Derby Chronicle,
makes her third journey to Pemberley to interview Mr. Sebastian Butler.
There were easily two-hundred identical cushioned chairs spanning the width of the majestic Pemberley ballroom floor. Yet there remained ample space for a broad aisle in the middle, as well as on either side. The raised platform at the distal end was decorated with colorful flowers in ornate vases spaced symmetrically between glass-encased lamps glowing softly. Normally a stage where a dozen minstrels gathered to play music for the dancers, the spacious area held only two pianos and one large harp.
Miss Austen absorbed as much as possible, mentally jotting notes, as she kept up with the brisk pace of the tall footman. He escorted her down the left aisle toward a concealed door at the far corner. A single knock was answered by a strong voice within, and the liveried servant opened the door into a small chamber cramped with an array of musical instruments and accessories. Later she would take the time to examine the fascinating objects more fully, but the effusive welcome from the man she had come to interview captured all her attention.
“Miss Austen! What a tremendous delight to finally meet you!” Mr. Sebastian Butler bowed fluidly. Then he deftly clasped onto her hand, lifted it for a glancing kiss, and laughed when she started in surprise. “A French greeting. I have dwelt in Paris for too long, perhaps?”
“No, no! Not at all.”
“Much better than a curt German bow, I always say. Please, sit Miss Austen. Be comfortable. The tea shall be here any moment. After the long ride from Derby, traversing the endless corridors of Pemberley, and then the entire length of the ballroom, I daresay refreshments are in order.”
She opened the case containing her secretaire while he spoke, the paper already in place and quill dipping into the inkwell. “Every mile and step was worth it, I assure you, Lord Nell.”
“Please,” he interjected when she paused to push her spectacles further up her nose, “Mr. Butler is fine. I do not yet wear my curtesy title comfortably and frankly prefer informality.”
“As you wish, Mr. Butler. Comfort is helpful when interviewing.” Forcing her gaze away from his glittering grey eyes and handsome face, she cleared her throat. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Butler. I have long hoped for the opportunity to interview you for the Derby Chronicle.”
“The pleasure is entirely mine, Miss Austen. I am delighted and completely at my leisure. My wife and her brother speak highly of you, and insisted that I accept your request for an interview. Not that the request was one I had any intention of denying, you understand?”
“Thank you, although under the circumstances, with your concert scheduled for this evening, I would have accepted a later date. Should you not be practicing or engaged in a ritualistic calming measure?”
Sebastian’s gay laughter, she noted, touched his entire face. “Oh no! I know our pieces by heart, and, to my wife’s annoyance, am never nervous before a performance. Indeed, speaking with you is a welcome distraction from watching her fuss over perfectly coiffed hair in between pacing a hole in the carpet.”
A knock forestalled further comment. The same footman entered balancing a silver tea service. As soon as he sat it upon the low table between their chairs, Miss Austen set the secretaire aside and bent toward the table.
“Be that as it may, I do thank you for your time. Allow me to repay in this small measure.” The reporter commenced pouring the tea, her voice shifting into a professional tone. “When I interviewed Miss Darcy… that is, Mrs. Butler, as she now is… she spoke of you richly, and in detail. Nevertheless, for this article I will be asking questions from your point of view, so to speak. How do you like your tea?”
“Pick my brain as you wish, although I fear you have me at a distinct disadvantage in knowing so much about me already. Whatever shall we talk about then?” He winked, then gestured playfully at the steaming cup of tea. “I suppose how I like my tea is a logical place to start. Hopefully it isn’t too disappointing to learn that I am not particular. More often than not the tea cup is forgotten on the corner of the piano, only to be drank cold hours later. However, since that is unlikely to happen today, a small spoon of sugar only is preferred.”
Cups in hand and initial sips concluded, Miss Austen drew the portable desk back onto her lap. Pen poised, she began the serious queries. “May I inquire as to the health of your family, Mr. Butler? I understand you have an abundance of sisters. Perhaps you could tell a little about them?”
“My family is quite well, Miss Austen. Thank you for asking. A favor, if I may? On the off chance my father, the Earl of Essenton, does reads this, be sure to use my title. It will appease him and an obedient child must always strive to please their parents, should they not?” He laughed, the slight edge barely detectable and not dimming the gaiety in his eyes.
An intriguing hint of a drama there, the reporter thought, making a quick note on the paper to delve deeper, if the interview allowed. Alas, he was speaking warmly of his sisters, giving her no opportunity to address the topic presently.
“I have five younger sisters, which is an ‘abundance’ indeed! My life has never been boring, that is for sure. I adore them and consider myself blessed to have been surrounded by loving siblings, each of whom are incredible women and the joy of my youth. Of course, now that I have extended such praise publicly, they shall use it to their advantage, finding some way to finagle favors from me.”
He paused to chuckle and sip his tea. Miss Austen glanced up from her deck, noting how his grey eyes softened and momentarily grew distant.
“One negative to my travels of late is that I miss them,” he explained, perceiving her unasked question. “Adele and Reine, the youngest of my sisters, are at our home in Staffordshire. Clarisse is now the Duchess of Tichbourne, so our paths rarely cross. My sisters nearest to me in age, Guinevere, who is Lady Rycroft, and Vivienne, who married my dearest friend Adrien, the Marquis de Marcov, are in France. That is fortunate, as my wife and I are able to visit with them frequently.”
“And I imagine the postal service is kept busy with correspondence.”
“Indeed they are! Between the six of us, and our mother, I daresay we pay enough for at least two mail carriers’ yearly wages.”
“Moving on to the topic of music–”
“My favorite topic, after my wife, of course.”
For a moment she thought he was jesting. After all, the rumors of his passion for music and years of study abroad were widely known. Indeed, his grey eyes were merry and gleaming with the sparkle she was beginning to suspect a permanent fixture. Nevertheless, even to her —innocent as she was in affairs of the heart— there was an absolute seriousness within the stormy-sky depths that revealed the truth of his words. Clearly his passionate love for music was not as great as his passionate love for the former Georgiana Darcy.
More intrigued than ever, she echoed in agreement, “Of course. Before we discuss Lady Nell, and we will, may I ask about your childhood? When you first learning to play an instrument, what was it that attracted you to music?”
Sebastian crossed his legs and released a contemplative sound. “Hmmm… Now that is an interesting question.” He stared into his teacup for a spell before continuing in a bemused tone. “Perhaps some artists can pinpoint the precise moment when they discovered an aptitude for a particular art. I cannot. My earliest memories are of listening to my mother play the harpsichord. I assume it was she who first sat me on her lap and placed my fingers upon the keys. It certainly would not have been my father! Yet the truth is that I have no clear memory of learning to play. It as if I was born with an innate love of music and embedded skill for playing instruments.”
Abruptly he leaned forward, his face so intent that Miss Austen’s fingers jerked and the quill left a small splatter of ink.
“Forgive me, Miss Austen, for sounding arrogant. I do not account myself superior or particularly special. I can name dozens of others who are far more talented than I, including my wife. It is a gift to be sure, but one granted to me and not of my devising, although I do work hard to perfect my skill.”
“As an accomplished musician and composer, are there any pieces of music that you have a particular fondness for?”
“I know this will sound cliché and an obligatory response designed to curry favor, but the honest truth is that I am fondest of the compositions created in collaboration with or inspired by my wife. How could I not be? However, fondness for a piece of music is subtly different from saying what are my favorite pieces to play. The latter refers more to the skill required to perform or to the satisfaction engendered when mastering a complex, moving composition. In that case I prefer the works of Beethoven, especially his sonatas and most recent works, as well as Mozart, Franz Danzi, Cherubini, Hummel…”
He trailed off, laughing and shaking his head. “As you can see, my taste is eclectic, and that is a dangerous question to ask of a musician unless you wish to be here all day whilst I bore you to tears listing names impossible to spell and pronounce! Next question then, Miss Austen!
“I apologize if you find this question to be overly personal and impertinent, but I did warn you. What was the first thought that went through your head when you finally admitted to yourself that you had fallen in love with Miss Georgiana Darcy? I have heard her thoughts and version of the tale. Now I want to hear yours.”
“Oh my! You are hitting me with some tough ones!” He paused, still smiling but not as widely. “I stupidly denied my feelings for several weeks,” he murmured, staring again into his tea cup, “not fully recognizing that my sentiments were shifting from ones of friendship to love. Not a great span of time, in the end, but when one is struggling with the emotions, it feels an eternity. To my dismay, the first thoughts when I admitted my love for her were ones of despair. I was sure she did not return my affection, for one, and was furthermore convinced she loved another.”
At this his face paled. He gulped the cooling tea with a hand trembling faintly. “Forgive me, but the memory is not a pleasant one.”
Remembering her job as a reporter, Miss Austen shoved aside her pity, and asked another pointed question. “In your whirlwind romance, with its many ups and downs, what was the hardest moment for you to bear?”
Lord Nell hesitated. When he replied his words were halting and voice hoarse. “Without a doubt it was seeing her with Baron… another gentleman vying for her affection. Fortunately, I was not subjected to witnessing them together too often. That was a blessing or I am sure I would have gone mad. I nearly did lose all shreds of my sanity at the de Valday gala in Paris when she… No, I cannot speak of it! That is why I had to leave Paris and why I… I am sorry, Miss Austen, but may we change the subject?”
Sensing she would get nothing further, and overcome with sympathy, she relented. “Of course. What is your opinion of novelists, Mr. Butler, er, that is, Lord Nell?”
He cleared his throat, drained the teacup, and answered with his typical musical gaiety. “Oh, I love an enticing novel and applaud writers who weave stories! Their genius is similar to a composer, is it not? Both are art forms designed to entertain or induce emotion in those who listen, or those who read. This should always be appreciated and encouraged. My wife and I read the popular novels together, taking turns picking the book. I am fond of Walter Scott and Defoe, while her favorites are Fanny Burney. We recently read Frankenstein and…” he grinned and lowered his voice, “…she pretended to be shocked and horrified, but I know that she loved it.”
Miss Austen laughed. “You may tell her that I also loved it. Last question, Lord Nell. I know you have a performance approaching–”
“You are staying, are you not?”
“I would not miss the opportunity to hear the famous Lord and Lady Nell perform. Heaven forbid! I am honored to be attending.”
“And will be taking notes?”
“Absolutely! So, mindful of the upcoming musicale, if you were able to perform with any musician at any venue, who and where would it be? And what song would you choose?”
“Performing with Lady Nell is my greatest joy, truly it is. I would not reject a chance to play in Vienna with Mozart, were he alive, or with Herr Beethoven once again. Yet neither they or any other would eclipse the pleasure of sitting beside my wife, on stage or in the privacy of our chambers. As for which song, well, that would be the songs we wrote for each other on our wedding day, particularly the one I first sang for her alone that night.”
He flushed and shifted in the chair. Then he shrugged. “If I were naughty like my grandmother, the Marchioness of Warrow, I would frankly illuminate as to why I choose that song. But, I am a gentleman so will leave the reasons up to your imagination!”
A Musical Contribution to the Ball
The Darcys of Pemberley welcome two renowned artists
to perform for their guests during a grand Christmas ball.
Asking any longtime resident of Derbyshire to name the premiere social event of the county would yield a swift, unwavering response: The Twelfth Night Masquerade Ball hosted by Sir William Cole of Melcourt Hall. After four decades without fail, it was not merely the cap to the Christmas season but THE event of the year. Every citizen of the shire coveted an invitation, and with the eldest son of Sir William promising to continue the annual spectacular, it was unlikely to be supplanted anytime soon.
Secure in the honoring of traditions, the Coles were unconcerned over the social celebrations hosted by the Darcys of Pemberley. Quite the contrary! The Pemberley Summer Festival, re-instituted by Elizabeth Darcy during her first year of marriage to Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, was already an anticipated celebration of near mythic proportions. Additional entertainments were greeted with universal delight, no one happier than Sir William Cole himself. Generational friends of the Darcy family, observing the renewal of old traditions after years of grief shrouding the grand manor house came close to bringing a tear to the old curmudgeon’s eyes.
This year, for the first time, the Darcys were hosting an extravaganza ball a handful of weeks before Christmas. Not a soul considered it a slight to the Coles or feared it would dampen the enthusiasm for next month’s Masque.
Yet, even the Coles had to admit that for this one winter alone, the Darcys may score higher points in the entertainment category.
Fitzwilliam Darcy stood in a secluded alcove on the second story of Pemberley Manor, staring out the window at a seemingly endless line of carriages advancing up the torch-illuminated gravel drive toward the brightly lit portico. Strains of music drifted from the ballroom, the dancing already underway even as guests continued to arrive.
“I believe we have outdone ourselves with this one.” Elizabeth Darcy spoke softly from behind his left shoulder.
Darcy turned his head to smile at his wife. “You have outdone yourself,” he corrected, “as you always do, Mrs. Darcy. I am merely showing up at the proper time. Rather unfair I share in the glory when I do absolutely nothing.” Elizabeth opened her mouth, most certainly to argue the truth of his statement, but he diverted with a question. “How is she?”
“Nervous, of course.” Elizabeth took the lead, answered her husband’s concerned question instead of rebutting his claim of doing nothing. “She is a Darcy after all and therefore being the focus of attention is not a pleasantly anticipated situation.” She chuckled, joining him in the alcove but looking upward into his handsome face and not out the window. “I should ask the same of you, my love. How are you holding up under the imminent requirement to deliver an introductory speech while hundreds of eyes are trained upon you? If Georgiana faints from the stress, her strong husband can catch her. I fear I cannot promise the same if you faint.”
Darcy grunted and shook his head. “Tease. I have never fainted in my life and shan’t now, my dread of public speaking notwithstanding. You are safe. A bolstering kiss is appreciated, however.”
She complied, lifting on her tiptoes to deliver a brief peck to his lips. “That must suffice for now,” she teased when he leaned in for a deeper kiss. Ignoring the immediate childish pout, she peered through the glass. “It appears we are welcoming all of Derbyshire this time around, based on the number of carriages. They wind all the way to the bridge!”
“It isn’t every day renowned musicians from Paris and beyond perform a concerto in Derbyshire. Freely, no less. It may be my own sister and her husband, but I certainly intend to boast of the triumph.”
“The fame of Pemberley benefits from another Darcy of unique, incredible talent.”
“Indeed. And I doubt it shall be the last.” Darcy inhaled deeply and straightened his jacket. “Come, Mrs. Darcy. I suppose we should descend and steer all our guests into the ballroom.” A quick glance outside revealed the line of carriages finally coming to an end. “I know Sebastian is ready and an extended delay will only increase Georgiana’s trembling.”
Sooner than he expected considering the multitude of people, the assembled guests were settled into the rows of chairs covering half of the massive ballroom. The steady rumble of hundreds of voices fell to near silence when Mr. Darcy entered the ballroom from a side door and crossed until standing by the grand piano on a raised dais near the orchestra. Despite his wife’s jest based on his typical discomfort in addressing large crowds, he felt scant anxiety. Pride and delight overcame his natural reticence. Thus with a warm smile of welcome and firm voice he launched into his prepared introduction.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Darcy and I wish to again thank you for your presence tonight at Pemberley for this special occasion. Three years ago my sister was married. She and her husband relocated to Paris, commencing their study at the Conservatoire de Musica. After completing their formal education, they traveled abroad for performances and further study with many of the greatest composers and musicians in Europe. Now, they are home and tonight we are the fortunate recipients of their combined talents at composition and musical performance. Please, join me in welcoming the Viscount and Viscountess of Nell.”
He swept his arm toward the far wall where two wide double doors were opened in unison by two footman. Applause rose to the glittering chandeliers, greeting the handsome couple that appeared arm in arm. For the span of several heartbeats they paused at the threshold, the dramatic entrance obviously a clever maneuver instigated by the Viscount rather than the Viscountess.
Body relaxed, Sebastian Butler, the Viscount Nell, basked in the accolades. Blonde curled shone gold under the overhead lights, his crooked smile dazzling and grey eyes twinkling. Young as he was, Sebastian was clearly a person unaffected with bashfulness or stage-fright. The statuesque woman at his side, whom all knew as Georgiana Darcy, gracefully hid the hasty step she had started to make, but her rosy cheeks and demure smile revealed her uneasiness. Blue eyes shyly peeked at the mass of people staring back at her, the hand on her husband’s arm pinching the fabric between tight fingers.
Sebastian moved into the room, setting a measured pace. For Georgiana, traversing the chamber toward the makeshift stage was equal parts terrifying and thrilling. The confidence of her husband – he who did not possess a single cell of nervousness – calmed her to a degree. So did his softly whispered words of assurance and steady press of his hand lying atop hers, which now clenched his forearm. The smiling faces of her her family and close acquaintance, all of whom sat closest to the platform, aided the loosening of her internal knots.
“Inhale deeply and then exhale,” Sebastian instructed as they stepped onto the stage. “You shall be phenomenal as you always are. The Butlers together and creating beautiful music.”
Georgiana looked upward into his eyes. In those seconds before turning to bow to the assembly, she discerned the love, hints of desire, and joy perpetually present. Above all, she beheld his supreme faith in her capabilities. Taken all together, it was enough to quell the rush of panic and dim the voice inside her head screaming that she had forgotten every note and lyric. It was enough to avoid total paralysis preventing her limbs from functioning as they assumed their places on the wooden bench with fingers resting on the black and white keys.
And then, the trepidations disappeared. Playing the piano with her husband was as natural as breathing. Dressed in formal attire inside an echoing ballroom with a hundred plus onlookers was no different than being alone in their private chambers sitting at the small pianoforte they frequently utilized when inspiration struck.
As evidenced by the hearty applause and raucous cheers, the hour of concerto of music and singing was universally enjoyed. Shouts of “Bravo!” rang out, the admiration showing little sign of decreasing until Mr. and Mrs. Darcy ascended the stage.
“Pemberley shall henceforth boast that it was here the famous Lord and Lady Nell performed their first concert on English soil,” Darcy boomed, his resonant baritone piercing through the clapping and bringing it to a gradual end.
Turning to Sebastian and Georgiana, Darcy continued in the same strong tone, “As a token of our gratitude, both for the entertainment and for the bragging rights,” he paused for the inevitable laughter, “Mrs. Darcy and myself have a special gift we wish to bestow as an eternal reminder of this day and our esteem.”
He gestured to Colonel Fitzwilliam and Dr. George Darcy. The two men rose and grabbed onto a table standing off to one side of the stage. A white linen was draped over the entire surface, hiding something underneath. They carried it to where Georgiana and Sebastian now stood beside Darcy and Elizabeth.
“A year ago Mrs. Darcy and I journeyed to Austria where Lord and Lady Nell were residing. While there, I secretly copied one of their compositions, a particular one that I not only personally love, but it is also one of their first joint collaborations. Enlisting the services of a skilled craftsman, we now present this gift to Lord and Lady Nell.”
With a dramatic flourish Darcy removed the cloth, revealing a gleaming wood and glass cylinder musical box. He lifted the lid and with a twist of the handle tinkling music poured forth. The crystalline notes of the alternating simple and complex sonata awed the crowd and brought tears to the eyes of Georgiana and Sebastian.
By universal agreement, the concerto was the highlight of the Pemberley Ball, and the holiday season as a whole. As the fame of Sebastian and Georgiana grew in the years to follow, Darcy did indeed boast of his association with brotherly pride. Guests of Pemberley were often treated to virtuoso performances, a gathering inevitable whenever the world traveling musicians were visiting.
The music box remained at Whistlenell Hall, the ancestral estate of the Essenton earldom, inhabiting a place of prominence in the main parlor. Future generations of Butlers would crank the handle and listen to the sweet tune written by two famed ancestors while in the bloom of their love.
Jane Austen is widely considered one of the greatest British authors of all time.
As unfathomable as it is to believe, there have been Austen critics over the centuries, even up to the present day. The number of non-fans have always been few compared to the overwhelming multitudes who acclaim Austen for the remarkable nature of her literary art. Her brilliant, witty, elegantly crafted fiction is hailed as marking the evolution from 18th century neo-classic literature to 19th century romanticism.
Yet, as illustrious as her work is generally agreed to be, her personal and publishing lives were far from glamorous or extraordinary, even by the standards of the era.
Jane’s father was Reverend George Austen, an Oxford-educated clergyman of a modest rectory in the village of Stevenson in Hampshire. Her mother was Cassandra Leigh Austen, born of the minor gentry so of a higher social rank than her husband. Married in 1764, Mrs. Austen embraced the simple domestic life of a clergyman’s wife, while also mingling with the gentry class and teaching her children the propriety of the day. Reverend Austen also held numerous ties to fashionable society, the extended family network allowing the Austen children to learn of politics and culture beyond their immediate circle.
Jane was born on December 16, 1775. She was the seventh child of the eight in total blessed to the Austen family. They were born in the following order: James, George, Edward, Henry, Cassandra, Francis, Jane, and Charles.
By all accounts, the Austen siblings were close and her childhood was a happy one. Jane was closest to her sister Cassandra, the only other Austen daughter. When Jane was 7 years old, she and Cassandra were sent to a school in Oxford, but only a few short months later became ill with typhus and returned to Steventon. Two years later in 1785, when Jane was 9 years old, the sisters briefly attended Abbey School for girls located in Reading. Otherwise, they received no formal education. The extravagance and cost was not considered necessary for women in those days. Nonetheless, she would be taught better than most ladies of the time by her father and the wealth of books he owned in his extensive library.
The Stevenson parsonage doubled as a private boarding school, Reverend Austen supplementing his income as a clergyman by tutoring children in the community. He also tenant-farmed the family’s land, enjoying decent financial security, if far from rich.
It is highly unlikely that her parents ever expected her to become a published author, careers for women not common, but they did encourage their children to express themselves. For amusement the Austen siblings would write and perform plays and charades. An adolescent Jane wrote a number of poems, short stories, family skits, jokes, verses, and other prose. These early scribblings dating from 1787 to 1793 are often referred to as her “juvenilia” and have survived in three manuscript notebooks later published as Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third. In her late teens and early twenties, she began writing the preliminary novels that would earn her fame.
Very little in the way of clear details are known of Jane’s personal life. The bulk of her letters were either lost or destroyed after her death. Apparently she loved the country with long walks and her many friends. Dancing was an activity frequently enjoyed, but it seems that overall she led the quiet life of a clergyman’s daughter.
Jane’s romantic entanglements, although the stuff of speculation and movie productions, are largely a mystery.
There are several stories of failed romantic relationships during her young adulthood years, but few that can be pinpointed exactly and the details tend to contradict. The only relationship fairly well substantiated is with Tom Lefroy in 1795 when Jane was just 20 years old. In letters written to her sister Cassandra, Jane speaks of their friendship and budding romance, even admitting she was falling in love. Alas, young Tom Lefroy was dependent upon family for his education to become a barrister, and a match with a lady who had no dowry or strong social connections was not advantageous. His family intervened, sending Tom away from the area. Jane would never see him again.
Although vague on the details, it is generally agreed that she accepted one marriage proposal in her life. This was in 1802 and from Harris Bigg-Wither, the 21-year-old heir of a Hampshire family. One day later she reneged on the agreement for reasons that are unknown. Speculation, of course, is that Jane held no true affection for poor Harris, her momentary lapse in accepting his proposal solely for the security aspects soon overridden by the preference to marry for love. Or not at all.
The nature of Jane’s stories dealing with love indicate personal knowledge on the subject. It seems clear that love, relationships, and marriage, with all the accompanying emotions and social stigmas attached, weighed heavily on her mind.
The intellectual, creative environment of the Austen household in Stevenson was a stable one until 1801 when Jane was 26 years old. Reverend Austen announced his retirement. He left the rectory in the capable hands of his son James, and moved his wife and two daughters to Bath. Jane was very unhappy in Bath, disliking the busy resort-town atmosphere and confines of living in a growing city. She sorely missed the quiet country life.
In 1805, Reverend Austen passed away, leaving a widow and two daughters with little inheritance. For the next four years the three women were forced to rely on the charity of the Austen sons. There appears to be no hesitation in assisting their mother and sisters, the only difficultly being the modest incomes and personal situations of the Austen sons.
The eldest son, James, as noted previously, was the rector at Steventon. Married twice and with three children by the time Reverend Austen died, his ability to help his mother and sisters surely would have been limited. It is also evident from letters that Jane was not fond of James’ second wife, Mary.
Second son George was reportedly mentally delayed, or perhaps the victim of some other unknown handicap. Little is known of him as the family never spoke of him publicly, and there are no surviving portraits of him. Due to this, the image in the family tree above is a generic portrait from the era with the face blurred. He lived a long life (passing in 1838) in the care of a farming family near Steventon. He apparently had minimal interaction with his siblings or parents.
Fourth son Henry was Jane’s favorite brother and the one most like her. In later years, Henry would be her strongest professional advocate, but in the decades prior, his fortunes were a bit up and down. He joined the militia, then tried banking in London with moderate success until the bank failed in 1815. After this, the by-then widowed Henry settled as a minister in Bentley. During his years in London, Henry and wife Eliza frequently opened their home to the Austen women.
Brother Francis, or Frank, joined the Navy and had a distinguished career. He rose to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet, was praised by Lord Admiral Nelson himself, and eventually achieved a Knighthood. Although often away at sea, Frank and wife Mary, with their many children (eventually eleven), welcomed the Austen women into their home.
Youngest son Charles, the beloved baby of the family, also joined the Navy. While his career was not as distinguished as Frank’s, he earned the rank of Rear-Admiral. Sadly for the family who loved him, Charles spent the bulk of his long life of 75 years on active duty in a variety of far away places, the visits back to England few and brief.
Returning to the widowed Mrs. Austen and two grown daughters Cassandra and Jane, the years after Reverend Austen’s unexpected death were a trial. They moved frequently between Southampton and London, but money was a serious issue. Jane reportedly enjoyed the theatre, art exhibitions, balls, and other activities London offered. Unfortunately, the happiness was fleeting and overshadowed by the looming financial crisis. For the eight years of difficulty, Jane wrote only the rough draft pages of The Watsons.
In 1809, finally, life undertook a positive turn thanks to the third Austen son, Edward.
Early in the 1780’s, Edward was adopted by patrons of Reverend Austen, the rich but childless Thomas and Catherine Knight. Edward Knight was sent on a Grand Tour of Europe and eventually inherited the estate of Godmersham in Kent. The estate included Steventon and a modest cottage called Chawton.
Edward graciously offered Chawton Cottage as a permanent home for his mother and sisters in 1809. The gorgeous Hampshire countryside and lovely cottage rejuvenated 33 year old Jane. Inspiration took hold, her years at Chawton the most productive of her life.
The first foray into launching Jane Austen as a published author was in 1797. Reverend Austen sent a letter of enquiry to Thomas Cadell, a London publisher, regarding First Impressions (later to be Pride and Prejudice) but the letter was returned unopened and declined.
Six years later, in 1803, Henry Austen submitted Susan (later to become Northanger Abbey) to London publisher Benjamin Crosby. This second attempt appeared promising when Crosby bought the copyright for 10£. Unfortunately, he never fulfilled his promise to print it. For years Henry and Jane would fight over the rights to Susan, leaving the battle alone for long periods of time. It would not be until 1816 that Henry was able to finally buy back the rights, giving Jane barely enough time to revise and rename the novel before her death.
Thankfully, her next steps into the world of publishing went smoother. Henry continued to act as her literary agent, this time approaching London publisher Thomas Egerton with the manuscript of Sense and Sensibility. Egerton saw the potential success and happily paid to publish the book. Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was released in October of 1811 to favorable reviews and financial success.
Mr. Egerton next published Pride and Prejudice in January of 1813. Based on the success of Sense and Sensibility, Egerton invested more time and money into the marketing. It paid off, the novel an instant success with both critics and the public. Heady with rave reviews and profit, Egerton hastily accepted Mansfield Park, publishing it in 1814. Reviewers were not as fond of Mansfield Park as the previous two, but readers snapped it up in droves. In fact, Mansfield Park would become her best selling work at that time.
In an effort to increase her potential, Jane left Egerton for a more well-known publisher, John Murray, who also published Lord Byron’s works. Emma was published by Murray, releasing in 1816.
During these busy years, Jane continued to write and live a quiet life at Chawton. These four novels were published without her name attached – only noted as “By a Lady” – and although many knew she was the author, including the Prince Regent himself who was an enormous fan and had Emma dedicated to him, she primarily kept her anonymity.
Tragically, the modest financial gains from book sales thus far would be negated when Henry’s banking ventures failed on 1815. The fortunes of all the Austens were affected, a true financial crisis ensuing. Additionally, Jane’s health began to decline. Yet, despite their combined troubles, Jane did complete Persuasion and began a new novel. Another boon was Henry’s success in requiring the rights to Susan from Benjamin Crosby.
Alas, Jane would never finish the novel she began during a brief period of improved health in January of 1817. Sanditon, like The Watsons begun during the troublesome years at Bath, would forever remain incomplete. Luckily for two centuries and counting of Austen readers, Jane managed to prepare Northanger Abbey (the former Susan, renamed Catherine, before settling on Northanger Abbey) for publication.
Jane Austen died in her sister Cassandra’s arms on July 18, 1817 at the age of 41. It is believed that Addison’s Disease was her cause of death, the treatment of which was impossible at that time. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published posthumously in December of 1817 with a “biographical notice” written by Henry identifying Jane Austen as the author of all her books. Never have any of Jane Austen’s novels been out of print since her death.
Jane Austen never wrote a memoir or sat for an interview or recorded her personal musings on life and romance. Shades of the person and her beliefs can perhaps be gleaned from her work, but even there are mysteries. A Memoir of Jane Austen, written and published in 1869 by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh is the closest we have to a legitimate biography, but the holes exist even in this family-generated reminiscence by second and third-generation ancestors. Facts must be separated from the wild suppositions, which is a challenge.
Her heroines were all strong, intelligent, and witty, and they came from very different backgrounds and circumstances. Yet all sought true love and happiness in an era when women were vulnerable with marriage the sole option in most cases.
Ironically Jane never found true love, or chose to deny it, and perhaps this is to our benefit. Naturally her novels are filled with social commentary, history, morality, ethics, and far more than sheer romance. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that themes of relationship, both familial and marital, were important to her. She has left her legions of readers down through the centuries with the fanciful notion of enduring love amid the realities and hardships of life.
Official Synopsis by Focus Films ~
When a wealthy bachelor and his circle of sophisticated friends take up summer residence in a nearby mansion, the Bennets are abuzz with the hope that potential suitors will be in full supply. But once Lizzy meets up with the darkly handsome and snobbish Mr Darcy, what could seem like a match made in heaven quickly becomes one of the most classic battles of the sexes ever portrayed in literature and on screen.
Sometimes the last person on earth you want to be with is the one person you can’t be without.
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Jane Austen
Screenwriter: Deborah Moggach
Music: Dario Marianelli
Cinematography: Roman Osin
Production Company: Focus Features, Working Title Films
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 5, 2005 in the UK. November 23, 2005 in the USA
Box Office ~
Budget $28 million
USA Gross $38.5 million
Cumulative Worldwide Gross $121.6 million
Awards and Nominations ~
4 Academy Awards including Keira Knightley for Best Actress
6 British BAFTA film awards
2 Golden Globes
Matthew Macfadyen ~ Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Keira Knightley ~ Elizabeth Bennet
Donald Sutherland ~ Mr. Bennet
Brenda Blethyn ~ Mrs. Bennet
Rosamund Pike ~ Jane Bennet
Jena Malone ~ Lydia Bennet
Simon Woods ~ Mr. Charles Bingley
Talulah Riley ~ Mary Bennet
Carey Mulligan ~ Kitty Bennet
Dame Judi Dench ~ Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Tom Hollander ~ Mr. Collins
Rupert Friend ~ Mr. Wickham
Kelly Riley ~ Caroline Bingley
Claudie Blakley ~ Charlotte Collins
Cornelius Booth ~ Colonel Fitzwilliam
Peter Wight ~ Mr. Gardiner
Penelope Wilton ~ Mrs. Gardiner
Tamzin Merchant ~ Georgiana Darcy
Rosamund Stephen ~ Anne de Bourg
Meg Wynn Owen ~ Mrs. Reynolds
Sylvester Morand ~ Sir William Lucas
Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy) has very poor eyesight. In the misty morning shot, director Joe Wright was behind the camera waving a red flag so Macfadyen knew where to walk.
At the beginning of the movie, Elizabeth is reading a novel titled “First Impressions” which was Jane Austen’s original title before she altered it to Pride and Prejudice. In the same scene, the text of the visible pages is readable when paused, and it is the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice only with names changed.
When Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) is reading the letter from Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) and Charlotte (Claudie Blakley) comes and asks her if she is alright, you can clearly see the signature on the letter: Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The actresses who make up the Bennet family (Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Talulah Riley, and Carey Mulligan) went to the Bennet house location, in Kent, before the crew, and played Sardines (similar to Hide and Seek in America) in order to get better acquainted with the house and each other before filming began.
Director Joe Wright managed to cast Dame Judi Dench reportedly by writing her a letter saying “I love it when you play a bitch.”
Jena Malone, who is American, and Donald Sutherland, who is Canadian, are the only non-English cast members in the movie.
This movie is set in 1797, the year that Jane Austen wrote the first draft of Pride and Prejudice. This is unusual, as most movie adaptations set it in 1813 when the novel was revised and finalized.
Emma Thompson did an uncredited and unpaid re-write of the script, receiving a “Special Thanks” credit at the end of this movie. One of the two scenes that Thompson wrote was the scene in which Charlotte Lucas tells Elizabeth Bennet that she will marry Mr. Collins. The other one is the scene in which Elizabeth Bennet tries to tell Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Darcy about Lydia’s elopement with Mr. Wickham. Here, Keira Knightley’s walking in and out of the room was Thompson’s idea, according to Joe Wright’s DVD commentary.
The movie’s U.S. ending was ranked as one of Entertainment Weekly’s greatest movie endings of all time.
All the exterior Pemberley sequences and some of the interior, including the sculpture gallery, were shot at Chatsworth House, property of the Duke of Devonshire. As the house functions as a private home and is also the most visited stately home in England, several of the interior shots could not, however, be done there and were instead shot in Wilton House, Wiltshire.
Pride and Prejudice was the theatrical movie debut of Talulah Riley (Mary Bennet) and Carey Mulligan (Kitty Bennet).
According to the director’s commentary, Tamzin Merchant (Georgiana Darcy) did her own piano playing in this movie.
The scene where Mr. Bingley rehearses proposing to Jane was improvised. Initially, it was supposed to be shorter, but Simon Woods was so good that the scene was lengthened.
The almost-kiss during the rain proposal was unique to Matthew Macfadyen. It came up in his screen test with Keira Knightley due to their chemistry with each other.
Set in the pastoral landscape of Hertfordshire, England, in the small village of Meryton, two wealthy gentlemen arrive to upset the environment and unwittingly change the lives of two young ladies forever.
It is autumn and Mr. Charles Bingley, with his sister Caroline, rent Netherfield Park. Accompanying him is his dear and far richer friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire. Word of the new unmarried, prosperous residents rapidly spreads throughout the quiet community. After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a wealthy man is in need of a wife.
Mrs. Bennet is especially pleased by the news. She is the wife of Mr. Bennet, a country gentleman of modest financial means, and the mother of five daughters of marriageable age. Due to their father’s limited circumstances, their dowries are meager, and without a son to inherit the family estate, Longbourn, it is essential that the daughters secure excellent matches for their future protection and stability. Thus, the prospect of matrimony to one of these wealthy men is critical, at least to Mrs. Bennet!
Paths cross initially at a community assembly dance in Meryton. Sparks of a positive nature fly between Jane, the eldest Bennet daughter, and Mr. Bingley.
Unfortunately, sparks of a decidedly negative bent fly between the stoic and haughty Mr. Darcy and the vivacious second Bennet daughter, Lizzy.
Mr. Darcy’s general air of arrogance and definite lack of social interaction is bad enough, but when Lizzy is gruffly rebuffed when inquiring about dancing, the stage is set for misunderstanding. Then Lizzy overhears him tell Mr. Bingley that she, ‘…is fairly tolerable, I daresay, but not handsome enough to tempt me.’ Vanity is wounded, and Lizzy vows to ‘loathe him for all eternity.’ Undercurrents of interest are clearly evident from both of them, but seeds of discord are too firmly planted.
Further encounters amongst the characters occur over the subsequent weeks. An extended stay at Netherfield when Jane falls ill while visiting prompts Lizzy to walk the three miles in order to nurse her sister back to health. An extended stay throws all four of them together, a fact Caroline Bingley is especially irritated over. Mr. Darcy and Lizzy misunderstand each other profoundly, their conversations frequently bordering on arguments as she challenges his ideals, and he is mesmerized by her intelligence and wit. Mr. Darcy is rapidly falling in love with the unsuitable country lass, his heart aware that she is absolutely perfect for him but his head unable to accept the emotions. Meanwhile, Lizzy increases her dislike of the shyly reserved man with poor social skills that she misinterprets as only arrogant disdain. As the title suggests, mutual pride and prejudices flair and neither are able to overcome their natures and societal proprieties.
Upsetting the mix is Mr. Wickham, a charming soldier who has a mysterious history with Mr. Darcy. Immediately obvious is that the two clearly despising each other. Lizzy boldly asks about their relationship, foolishly believing Mr. Wickham’s version of events. She willfully adds his malicious commentary of Mr. Darcy’s cruelty and jealousy to her reasons for detesting the proud man.
Entering the scene at this same time is a distant cousin, Mr. Collins, a reverend from Kent. As the closest male kin to Mr. Bennet, Mr. Collins is also the heir to Longbourn. He arrives in Hertfordshire with the express purpose of marrying one of the Bennet daughters. This plan is greeting with tremendous delight by Mrs. Bennet, who sees the union as the solution to saving the family from destitution when Mr. Bennet dies. However, when Mr. Collins makes it clear that his ‘particular attention’ is captured by Miss Jane Bennet, she must tell him that they expect an announcement of her engagement (to Mr. Bingley) very soon. Mr. Collins is distressed, but rapidly turns his favor upon Lizzy!
By the time of the Netherfield Ball, hosted by Mr. Bingley and Miss Bingley, emotions are set. Mr. Bingley and Jane are in love, but both are too shy to express themselves openly. Mr. Collins is determined to woo Lizzy, who thinks him utterly ridiculous. Mr. Darcy is determined to make a better impression upon Lizzy, unable to resist his intense attraction for her. Lizzy is still determined to ‘loathe him for all eternity’ and merely wants to dance with Mr. Wickham. The two youngest Bennet daughters, Lydia and Kitty, only want to flirt outrageously with the soldiers and enjoy the spiked punch, behavior adding to the ridicule about the Bennet family and embarrassing Lizzy.
A magnetic attraction is felt by both Lizzy and Mr. Darcy during a slow dance, but tempers emerge when Lizzy challenges Mr. Darcy’s presumed rudeness and flawed character. Mr. Darcy is merely puzzled and frightened of his feelings.
As a result of well-intentioned but inaccurate input from Mr. Darcy, and the bitter machinations of Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley is convinced Jane does not love him as deeply as he loves her. Additionally, it is pointed out that the Bennet family is unsuitable for a man of his station, an argument made by Caroline Bingley and Mr. Darcy, the latter keenly wrestling with these societal expectations within his own tortured soul.
Taken altogether, Bingley reluctantly decides to leave Netherfield. Mr. Darcy is equally as miserable, but believes it necessary to distance himself from Elizabeth Bennet.
Jane is heartbroken and travels to London for a visit with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner to cheer her spirits. She also hopes to reestablish communication with Mr. Bingley, who lives in Town.
Lizzy rejects a marriage proposal from Mr. Collins, to her mother’s screeching dismay. Mr. Collins wastes no time in turning to someone outside of the Bennet family: Lizzy’s dear friend Charlotte Lucas.
Time passes with Jane remaining in London despite having no luck in connecting with the Bingleys. By spring of the following year, a bored Lizzy accepts Charlotte’s invitation to visit. She travels to Kent where the now Charlotte Collins resides with her husband at Hunsford, a small rectory which abuts Rosings Park. Unbeknownst to her, Rev. Collins’s patroness is Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is aunt to Mr. Darcy!
Mr. Darcy’s presence at Rosing, along with his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, is a planned event on his part. Months away have only clarified his love for Lizzy and upon hearing that she was visiting, innocently informed by his aunt, Mr. Darcy hastens to Rosings Park determined to win her hand.
Lizzy is less then pleased to see Mr. Darcy. After a grueling interrogation from his overbearing aunt – which Lizzy deflects with witty ease, earning more of Mr. Darcy’s respect – she is in no mood to be civil. With Colonel Fitzwilliam innocently opening the conversation, she latches onto the opportunity to tease Mr. Darcy about his ‘dreadful’ behavior in Hertfordshire. When he nervously attempts to explain his awkwardness around strangers, she flippantly tells him to ‘practice.’
A few days later, he tries to do just that, bursting in on Lizzy one afternoon. His attempts at conversation fail as he fumbles and makes a fool of himself. A timely return of Charlotte is grabbed onto, Mr. Darcy exiting as abruptly as he entered. Lizzy is baffled and as no answer to Charlotte’s, “What have you done to poor Mr. Darcy?”
Later, while attending church and whispering over Rev. Collins’ awkward sermon, Colonel Fitzwilliam naively tells Lizzy of Darcy’s interference with Mr. Bingley and Jane. He has no clue that the woman in question is her sister. Her anger toward Mr. Darcy escalates.
Mr. Darcy, however, is unaware of the nature of her sentiments, arrogantly believing that any young lady would be thrilled at an offer of marriage to such a wealthy and prestigious man. Giving in to his desire and love, Mr. Darcy comes to a decision.
He seeks her out, surprising with a well-rehearsed but hastily blurted marriage proposal that he believes is being honest. From Lizzy’s point of view, the extended proposal is offensive. His declaration of loving her ‘most ardently’ is met with her wrath, worsened when he proceeds to detail all the reasons why the match is unsuitable and beneath him. Darcy is stunned when she refuses, vehemently. He is utterly shocked when she accuses him of maliciously thwarting her sister’s relationship with Mr. Bingley, and furious when she accuses him of egregiously causing the suffering of Mr. Wickham.
They argue heatedly, rain pouring around them as torrential emotions flash. In no uncertain terms she tells him he is ‘the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry.’ Yet, despite her fury and shouted refusal of his marriage proposal, the two almost kiss. Mr. Darcy gathers himself and leaves her in despair.
Mr. Darcy writes a letter explaining everything. Mr. Wickham, he explains, is a scoundrel long known to his family, who betrayed the memory of Mr. Darcy’s father and seduced his fifteen year old sister. Only a timely intervention by Mr. Darcy saved her from a disastrous elopement with Mr. Wickham, who only wanted her inheritance and to harm Darcy. As for Mr. Bingley and Jane, he confesses that his motives were purely to protect a dear friend from pursuing a relationship with Jane, whose natural reserve translated as lack of interest. With a broken heart, he delivers the sealed letter and immediately leaves Kent… and Lizzy.
Lizzy returns to Longbourn quite depressed and rethinking many of her previous perceptions. Jane eventually returns from London with her aunt and uncle, while the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, prepares to journey to Brighton with friends of the family. Jane never did see Mr. Bingley and although she pretends indifference, it is clear to Lizzy that she still is in love with him. To cheer a gloomy Lizzy, the Gardiners ask her to join them on a trip to the Peak District of Derbyshire. It is late summer when they enter Lambton, the village nearest to Pemberley. Her aunt and uncle wish to tour the great house, a prospect that horrifies Lizzy. Assured that Mr. Darcy is away, and not able to state a reason not to tour Pemberley without revealing what happened at Rosing, Lizzy reluctantly goes along.
After months of musing on all her previous conversations with Mr. Darcy, his declarations of ardent love, and the truths in his letter, Lizzy’s feelings are no longer negative toward him. Touring his grand estate and listening to the stellar accolades about the Master of Pemberley by his devoted housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, leaves Lizzy’s emotions in a whirl. No longer can she deny the socially exalted station that he belongs to, and when confronted by his image in the sculpture gallery, she can no longer deny the effect he has on her sensibilities.
Lizzy is no less staggered than Mr. Darcy when he returns from London early to discover the woman he still desperately loves in his home. Although he has no reason to hope her feelings have changed, he determines to accept the encounter as fated and invites the Gardiners and Lizzy to dine with him and his sister Georgiana the following day.
Hesitant affection and friendship grows as Lizzy observes Mr. Darcy in the familiar comfort of his home. She is moved by the affection he displays toward his younger sister and in his hospitality to strangers. She witnesses a side of him not previously shown. Sadly, any advancing of their courtship is shattered upon receiving a letter from Jane. Flighty Lydia has scandalously run away from Brighton… with Mr. Wickham!
Mr. Darcy is stricken and Lizzy is devastated. Obviously mutually distressed, they part once more. Yet again, their relationship seems doomed. Lizzy rushes home to Longbourn to comfort her distraught mother while Mr. Bennet and Mr. Gardiner search for Lydia in London. Everyone is relieved when Lydia is safely found and Mr. Wickham agrees to marry her, saving all the girls from a ruined reputation.
When the newly married couple visit Longbourn, Lydia accidentally lets it slip that it was in fact Mr. Darcy who personally hunted them down in London and paid for the wedding, Wickham’s commission, and ensured the scandal was minimized. Lizzy is astounded.
Almost a year since the first appearance of Mr. Bingley to Netherfield, rumor circulates that he has returned. Jane feigns disinterest, but Lizzy knows better. One day he shows up at the door, surprising everyone, and with Mr. Darcy in tow! It is an awkward moment, neither Lizzy nor Mr. Darcy able to talk privately and each unsure of what the other’s thoughts or feelings are. So much has occurred between them and although plainly in love, they are afraid to leap to conclusions. Besides, the focus is on Jane, who is finally proposed to by Mr. Bingley. Naturally she says yes!
Lizzy is thrilled for her sister, but saddened by what appears to be an impossible situation with the man she now fully admits she is in love with. Darcy again departs from the woman he loves, filled with despair.
The evening’s celebratory atmosphere is interrupted by a sudden visit from Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who demands to speak to Lizzy. Via the Collins grapevine, rumor has reached her that Mr. Darcy proposed to Lizzy. She claims that Mr. Darcy is engaged to her daughter, a claim Lizzy does not believe for a second as she now knows him to be an honorable man who would never propose to her if promised to another. A harsh scene ensues with Lady Catherine insisting that Lizzy promise she will never become engaged to Mr. Darcy. Lizzy refuses to make such a promise.
Emotions in turmoil, Lizzy is unable to sleep and rises at dawn to walk across the misty moor. Gasping in amazement she sees Mr. Darcy striding toward her, he too unable to sleep, and his feet draw him toward where his heart lies.
His aunt’s conversation with Lizzy, angrily related to him afterwards, restores his hope. Lizzy’s bold refusal to submit to his overbearing aunt is an optimistic glimmer that perhaps her feelings toward him have changed. With complete humility he reasserts his love for her, claiming, “you have bewitched me body and soul, and I love, love, love you.” He states that he never wishes to be parted from her from that day on. As the sun rises Lizzy accepts his proposal.
Consent is granted by Mr. Bennet, and the last scene is of the newlyweds together on a Pemberley balcony. They are content, happy, at peace, and wholly in love.
No wait! There is more!
I have written of their love and life for all to enjoy!