I’m thrilled to welcome Abigail Reynolds, the author of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, to my blog today! Enjoy her guest post and check out my review of the book HERE. Details on the giveaway will be at the end of this post.
Pride & Prejudice & Me
My name is Abigail, and I’m a Pride & Prejudice addict. I first read it when I was thirteen and making a valiant effort to read all the classics on my mother’s bookshelf. I thought it was great, especially compared to Proust, Joyce, Milton, and some of the other authors who were just a wee bit over my adolescent head, though I’d never have admitted it at the time. I could understand the plot and I liked the characters. It was my first experience of classic literature that was fun to read. A couple of years later when I read it again in high school, I realized it was funny, too. It went on my comfort-food reading list. It had a happy ending, likeable characters, lots of wit, and no suffering, or so I innocently thought. There was something of a Jane Austen cult among my friends at college, and we had wonderful times talking about Pride & Prejudice.
Fast forward twenty years and more than a dozen re-readings to the dawn of the internet. I missed those late-night college discussions of Austen, so I was delighted to discover the Republic of Pemberley (www.pemberley.com), one of the very first Austen websites. I plunged into on-line discussions of Pride & Prejudice and other literature. Unfortunately, the website closed down for one week a year, leaving me in acute Austen withdrawal. In desperation, I found my way to a section of the site where they had archived Austen-related fiction by members (since discontinued). Fiction about Austen characters was better than no Austen, after all, and I discovered that I really enjoyed the stories. I read every bit that was available, something that was actually possible back in 2001, before the great explosion of Jane Austen fan fiction. Then I was in trouble again. No more stories. I impatiently waited for people to write new chapters of their stories, but that wasn’t enough. The only solution was to write some myself.
I started by trying to fix things. The misunderstandings between Darcy and Elizabeth always made me want to tear my hair out, so I decided to fix one of them. I started with the scene at the Lambton Inn where my two favorite characters part, each believing the other one never wants to see them again. In my new all-powerful writer persona, I made them both get off their high horses and admit their feelings to each other. “Ha!” I told them. “See how much easier life can be when you just communicate with each other?” With a great deal of trepidation, I posted the first chapter of From Lambton to Longbourn online, expecting everyone to hate it.
To my utter delight, people liked it and asked for more. More Lizzy and Darcy? No problem for me! I could write about those two all day long. I spent several delightful months finishing the story and sharing it with interested readers. Then I finished it, and decided that was that. Writing had been fun, but very time-consuming, and my family and job wanted more of me.
Unfortunately, no one had warned me that writing was even more addictive than Pride & Prejudice. I lasted all of two weeks before I gave in to overwhelming temptation and started writing Conquering Mr. Darcy. By then I was already involved in researching Regency life to make my stories more authentic and discovering all sorts of juicy tidbits. For example, one eye-opener was that while today we differentiate between pre-marital and post-marital sex, in the Regency the great divide was between pre-engagement and post-engagement sex and sexual contact, because the engagement was a legally binding contract, while the wedding was just the formality of the church’s blessing. As long as an engaged couple was reasonably discreet and went off into the shrubbery to do whatever they did, everyone would look the other way. That opened up a lot of dramatic possibilities!
Learning the history has added new depth to Pride & Prejudice for me. Every time I read a chapter or two, I discover something new that I’d missed before. That’s what I love about Austen now – all the different layers she writes on. It inspires me to more and more explorations of her original story. Lucky for me, she also leaves a lot of room for fleshing out her characters in my variations on her original. There is no end of possibilities for plot changes in Pride & Prejudice, and it’s a privilege to spend more time in the world Austen created.
Thanks for inviting me, and I hope you enjoy reading Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World!
In this sexy Jane Austen sequel, Elizabeth Bennet accepts Mr. Darcy’s first marriage proposal, answering the “What if…?” question fans everywhere have pondered
” I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”
Famous last words indeed! Elizabeth Bennet’s furious response to Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal has resonated for generations of readers. But what if she had never said it? Would she have learned to recognize Mr. Darcy’s admirable qualities on her own? Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy follows Elizabeth and Darcy as they struggle to find their way through the maze of their prejudices after Elizabeth, against her better judgment, agrees to marry Darcy instead of refusing his proposal.
Two of the most beloved characters in English literature explore the meaning of true love in a tumultuous and passionate attempt to make a success of their marriage.
About the Author
Abigail Reynolds is a physician and a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast. She began writing The Pemberley Variations series in 2001, and encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking “What if…?” She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit http://pemberleyvariations.com/
Giveaway time! The wonderful Danielle from Sourcebooks has generously offered up two copies of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World to some of my lucky readers! US and Canada only. Just leave a comment with your email address to enter! Ends January 25, 2010.