Tag Archive | Elizabeth Bennet

Excerpt from My New Novel!

Here’s an excerpt from my latest (almost complete) Work in Progress, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue.  Mr. Darcy has just returned to Meryton and encounters Elizabeth on the road to Longbourn….

Elizabeth blinked rapidly. “You were coming to visit Longbourn?”
Why did she sound so incredulous? “Well…yes. I am not well acquainted with many of the other families in the neighborhood,” Darcy replied.
A ghost of her pert smile appeared on her lips. “I would not think you inclined to socialize at all. Did you not find country society confined and unvarying?”
Oh Good Lord! Had he said that? His anxiety in Elizabeth’s presence had undoubtedly caused him to say many foolish things the previous autumn. If only he could go back in time and slap himself!
“It is true that one might not find as great a variety of people here as in the city, but I find myself growing weary of the society in London as well.” Perhaps such a statement might mitigate any lingering bad feelings he had engendered.
“I would imagine so.” The smile was gone, in favor of a more contemplative look. Darcy wished he might provoke the expression again.
“May I accompany you to Longbourn?” He asked.
Elizabeth’s voice was all politeness, but she did not smile. “Of course. Everyone will be very surprised to see you!”
And hopefully pleased, Darcy thought. However, Elizabeth’s welcome was not as warm as he might have hoped. Perhaps she felt distressed to see him when she was now betrothed to another. Darcy took his horse’s reins, and the beast followed them as they walked down the lane.
Despite his unease, Darcy noticed how the exercise had brought out the color in Elizabeth’s complexion. Her cheeks were a delicate rosy hue, and her eyes were shining brightly in the afternoon sunshine. If only he could reach out and touch her cheek! Would her skin be as soft as he imagined? Or if he could stroke one of those delicate curls. He could easily imagine the silky texture under his fingertips.
Darcy averted his eyes and attempted to turn his thoughts to safer subjects. However, neither his body nor his mind seemed inclined to obey his better judgment. He might as well surrender to his desires and imagine taking her to bed. His whole body responded to that thought; Darcy suppressed a groan.
Elizabeth looked at him oddly. Had he made a noise? Good God! Not yet five minutes in her company and already I am making a fool of myself! Say something! “Ah…You are looking particularly good today, Miss Elizabeth,” he said. “Quite lovely.”
She gave him a blank stare. Did she not expect compliments from him? Then her lips twisted in an ironic smile. “I thought you found me tolerable, but not pretty enough to tempt you.”
What? “I beg your pardon?”
Elizabeth’s eyes were fixed on the road ahead. “At the Meryton Assembly, it was the reason you gave for declining to dance with me when Mr. Bingley suggested it.”
“Who told you I said that?” He demanded.
“No one. I overheard you.” The tone of her voice was cool, but she had to be angry.
Good Lord! Darcy rubbed his jaw. All he remembered from that evening was irritation at Bingley for dragging them to the provincial hell and annoyance that Bingley’s sister would not cease importuning him. Being in a foul mood, he might have said something cutting, but he did not recall voicing an opinion about Elizabeth. Now he wished he could go back in time and shoot himself. It would save a lot of trouble.
“I-I must apologize. I was in a particularly ill humor that evening or I would not have said something so patently false. I beg you to accept my apology.” Sweat dampened his collar and the front of his shirt. He tugged at his cravat where it seemed to be choking him.
Elizabeth turned her head to regard him, eyebrows raised in surprise. Had she believed him incapable of apologizing? But her eyes turned back to the road before he could decipher her expression. “Of course. It is of no matter.” Her voice was still frustratingly indifferent. Darcy would have preferred her to yell at him.
Damnation! Does she believe I am lying now and only seek to flatter her vanity? It would be a bitter irony indeed that the most beautiful woman of his acquaintance would think he only tolerated her.
Silence had prevailed for a minute or more; Darcy needed to say something. “I do find you quite lovely.”
Elizabeth’s gaze turned on him, one eyebrow raised. Blast! She does not understand me at all. “Believe me. I do not indulge in idle flattery.” Oh, he was making a hash of this! She would believe him incapable of conducting a simple conversation with a woman.
And she would be quite correct.
Elizabeth tugged her pelisse so it covered more of her bodice. The early spring days were still quite cool. “You have now determined I am handsome enough to tempt you?”
The words hung in the air between them, suggesting meanings Darcy was certain Elizabeth had not intended.
“That is—I mean— ” She blushed quite becomingly. “You would be tempted to dance with me now?”
“Indeed,” Darcy responded quickly. “If you recall, I asked you to dance at the Netherfield ball.”
“Yes, I remember.” Her voice was soft. Was it a good memory for her?


Why Mr. Darcy is Such an Appealing Romantic Hero

Okay, so I’ve been trying to figure out what makes Mr. Darcy stand out in the crowd of romantic heroes. Among Austen’s leading men he’s definitely the biggest star. Other romantic heroes from Austen’s period and from ours just don’t have the same powerful grip on our imagination. So, what sets him apart from other romantic heroes? Here are some of thoughts:

1. He is steadfast – he doesn’t give up on her, even after she turns him down.
2. He is willing to overlook her family — yeah, it takes him a while to get there, but he must love her an awful lot to put up with Mrs. Bennet, Lydia and Wickham. Talk about difficult in-laws…
3. He likes her intelligence – This is a biggie. He does think she has fine eyes, but what he really likes is her wit, cleverness, lively conversation. Wouldn’t every woman like to be appreciated for her brain?
4. He values her backbone – One of the first things he notices about her is that she stands up to him. I always assume most women treat him like Miss Bingley, fawning over him and agreeing with everything he says. Darcy likes Elizabeth because she’s her own person.
5. He defends her to other people – Isn’t this a female fantasy? A guy who will tell other people (including catty women) you’re beautiful and smart when they’re criticizing you.
6. He fixes problems for her — Yeah she generally takes care of her own issues, but she can’t fix the Lydia/Wickham thing. He wades into the scandal for her sake without even asking for any credit.
7. He’s played by Colin Firth (and that other guy who’s kind of cute too).

But the biggest reason of all: He is willing to change his behavior for her. He admits he was wrong and tries to be a better person so he can deserve her.

I think this is the characteristic that sets Darcy apart from most other romantic heroes. Yes, many of them change and make sacrifices for their loved ones, but few make the kind of deep alterations to their character that Darcy does. Deciding you’ll give up your womanizing and gambling for her sake just doesn’t compare. He essentially starts as a selfish character and evolves into one whose primary consideration is the happiness of the woman he loves. Who wouldn’t love that guy?

Okay, so that’s my take. What does everyone else think?

Some of My Favorite Things (in an Austen Variation)

As I write my next P&P variation, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I like in my Jane Austen variations – and, naturally, what I don’t like.

One of the things I look for in all my books is passion, emotion, true feelings. In life it might not be realistic to believe that two people must be together to be happy, but I love to see that premise in my novels. So, I look for these extremes of emotion in my Austen variations as well. If the characters aren’t feeling like this is one of the most important moments in their lives, why should I care?

However, in order to have extreme emotions (or an interesting plot), you need conflict; bad things need to happen to your protagonists. They can’t be happy – particularly at the beginning. I’ve read P&P sequels (taking place after the original book) in which Darcy and Elizabeth are happy most of the time. They have sex, they go to the beach, they laugh. I would love to be those people. I do not want to read about them. It’s boring.

Another thing I look for in my P&P variations is being true to the characters. I love to see variations which put the characters I recognize and love into new and interesting situations. That’s my idea of a great book – even if the situation is a bit farfetched.

Now, of course, my idea of true to the characters might not be someone else’s. I don’t mind me some sex scenes. I believe Darcy and Elizabeth would have a passionate relationship. I believe they might anticipate their marriage vows (there’s evidence lots of people did back then – particularly when engaged) under certain circumstances.

However, I can’t see Miss Bingley slipping into Darcy’s bed in the hopes of seducing or compromising him. She’s a harpy, but that’s not her style. She’s as interested in preserving her virtue and reputation as any other well-bred woman. I can’t picture Colonel Fitzwilliam becoming a letch who Darcy has to protect Elizabeth from. There’s nothing to suggest that interpretation of the character in the original text. I have a hard time imagining Jane becoming the protective head of the household after her father dies and defending a fragile Elizabeth. When did they both have a personality transplant? Mr. Collins may be a vain idiot, but would he become an evil villain? It doesn’t seem to be in his nature – plus he’s a dim bulb.

Now, maybe some readers can overlook these things. There are some improbabilities I don’t mind if they’re explained well. But for me this kind of radical reinterpretation of the characters makes it hard for me to stay in the world of the novel and enjoy it.

There are, of course, other things I like and don’t like about variations. But that’s enough for now. I’d love to hear others’ opinions. What are your favorite things about Austen variations?