Monica has brought us a guest post and excerpt from 'Mr Darcy's Pride and Joy' to enjoy today, and she's also offering to give away an e-book copy of the book to a commenter here (or a copy of another of the books in the series, in case you need to catch up). Read on for more details!
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I’ve always thought that one of the fascinating aspects of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is that, not only does she present us with one of the most enduring romantic stories since Shakespeare, but she also provides us with an extended cast of characters as well. The way she manages to introduce so many characters in what is actually a relatively short novel – compared, say, to Charles Dickens -- is nothing short of awe-inspiring. How could we ever forget Mr. Collins’ obnoxious compliments to the ladies? Or Lady Catherine’s ironic statements about playing the piano? I love the minor characters, too, whether it’s Mrs. Reynolds showing Elizabeth and the Gardiners around Pemberley or the pale Anne de Bourgh with her hovering companion arranging her shawls for her.
Since I enjoy this part of her writing so much, I’ve been realizing more and more that the scenes I really have fun with in my own novels are what I think of as “gathering scenes”, where many different characters come together and interact. Anyone who reads my novels know I have a quirky sense of humor (at least, I hope you’ve noticed!), so often these scenes can prove embarrassing or downright disastrous to those who are part of the scene. Mr. Darcy’s Pride and Joy is no exception, though perhaps this time round I don’t have as many of those scenes, since the progression of the story doesn’t really allow it. I thought today I’d like to share one of them with you.
This scene occurs in the second half of the novel, when Mr. Darcy is holding a House Party at Pemberley. Lady and Lord Matlock have been trying to arrange a marriage between a friend of theirs, the Duke of Bolton, and Georgiana, but haven’t succeeded so far. As you can see in the following excerpt, they don’t give up easily.
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It was not long before other guests began to arrive. Two carriages approached the house at the same time. Darcy recognized the Matlock crest at once and braced himself for the encounter, but he did not know the coat of arms on the other. He did not have long to wait to discover the identity of the new arrival. As he waited in the drawing room with the Bingleys, Elizabeth and Georgiana, old Timmons the butler appeared and made a resonant announcement.
“His Grace the Duke of Bolton.”
Darcy bit back a curse just as the duke strode through the doorway, followed by Lord and Lady Matlock. The pronouncement struck panic in Georgiana’s heart.
“We need not stand on formalities, Darcy,” said the Duke, dismissing Darcy’s bow with a wave of his hand and turning to look around him. He spotted Elizabeth and went quickly towards her. “Well, well, my dear,” he said, taking up her hand and kissing it extravagantly, “they said you were pretty, but you exceed my expectations. Brunettes are all the rage this year, and you have such handsome eyes and—” He ran his eyes over her form appreciatively.
Georgiana’s blood ran cold as the Duke’s eyes ran over Miss Bennet. So this was the man her aunt and uncle thought would be suitable for her? He must be at least seventy if he was a day. She muffled an inappropriate nervous titter that threatened to escape her.
“Your Grace,” said Darcy, coldly. “I believe you are mistaken. You are speaking to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”
“Ah,” said the duke, his eyes lingering on Elizabeth. “Pity.” He turned to Lord Matlock questioningly.
“This,” said Darcy emphatically, “is my sister, Miss Georgiana Darcy.”
Lord Matlock was all ingratiating smiles. “She is very pretty, is she not, your Grace?”
“Well, well,” said the Duke, taking up his quizzing glass to examine her. “Not precisely the latest fashion in looks, but you will do. Charming, I’m sure, Miss Darcy.”
“Curtsey to his Grace, Georgiana,” commanded Lady Matlock, her smile a perfect imitation of her husband’s.
Georgiana gave a deep curtsey, her eyes cast down. The Duke took up her gloved hand and kissed it. She felt the dampness of his lips even through the glove. Her brother might not like the attention Elizabeth was receiving, but Georgiana was not pleased to be the object of the duke’s scrutiny either. She felt like a heifer being sold in a market place. Moreover, the man himself repelled her. He had pale blue eyes, a bulbous red nose with a pink mole perched on it and a large liver spot on his left cheek. Next to him, her uncle looked positively young and handsome. Only two things could be said for him. He was tall rather than portly, and he was in possession of all his teeth.
“We were not expecting you, you Grace,” said Darcy.
“It was meant to be a surprise,” said Lady Matlock, a calculating look in her eyes. “We knew if we informed you, you would stand on too much ceremony.”
She was right about that. Where were they supposed to put the Duke? Georgiana wished she had paid more attention to the requirements of a duke, but she had not thought he would visit them. She caught sight of Mrs. Reynolds hovering in the doorway, looking flustered. They did not have a room remaining that would be appropriate for him, not without moving several people out.
“I could stay at the local inn, if there is one,” offered the Duke, with obvious insincerity. More than likely, he expected some of the other guests would be sent off to the inn.
“Nonsense,” said Lady Matlock. “You are our guest and we would regard that as nothing short of an insult.”
Georgiana looked towards William, who was clearly battling with trying to keep his anger under control. She wondered how Pemberley had somehow become the collective property of the Fitzwilliams as well as the Darcys. She knew it would not be long before he would snap at his aunt and uncle. He looked towards Elizabeth, who gave a little shake of her head, and reined in his temper for her sake.
“Welcome to Pemberley, your Grace,” he said, forcing the words out with a choked effort.
“If you insist, then, of course I would be delighted to accept your hospitality,” said the duke, magnanimously. “It appears I have happened upon a large house party.”
“Indeed, your Grace,” said Georgiana, annoyed at such an obvious falsehood. Did he think they were dim-witted?
“Perhaps not quite the kind of party you are accustomed to, your Grace,” said Darcy, making a point.
“I am sure you will find it quite dull.”
“I am already entertained enough,” said the duke, looking at both Elizabeth and Georgiana, though his gaze seemed to linger more on Elizabeth.
“Good, good,” said Lord Matlock, heartily, rubbing his hands. “We are all agreed.”
“Yes,” said Lady Matlock. “I am glad you have come round to seeing things our way, Darcy,” she said, putting a finger to her nose in a gesture of conspiracy. “But we shall speak more of it later.”
“We shall indeed,” said Darcy, bowing so stiffly he looked like he had injured his back. He signaled to Mrs. Reynolds and a flurry of footmen appeared to escort the duke and Lord and Lady Matlock away and up the stairs.
“I should kick him out onto his skinny behind,” said Darcy, with intense frustration, as soon as they were outside the hearing range.
“Now, now, Mr. Darcy,” said Elizabeth, with a chuckle. “The house party has only just begun. We still have a long way to go. Besides, etiquette demands that you do not throw out a duke onto his behind. It would be considered uncivil. You should throw him out onto his head.”
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A Jane Austen “what-if” novel.
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are engaged at last, and Mr. Darcy is preparing to take out a special license to get married quickly. But, just when everything seems to be going just right, he encounters opposition from an unexpected quarter. Then, when his engagement is announced – to someone else – Elizabeth, understandably, begins to doubt his sincerity.
Perhaps their love is doomed after all…
Find out more in this third part of the Darcy Novels series.
Monica Fairview is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's wit. She loves to laugh, and she is convinced that her cats can understand everything she says. She is the author of several Austenesque novels: two traditional Jane Austen sequels, one post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek Jane Austen spin-off, one multi-author novel THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring Mr. Darcy’s rakish brother Theo, and now the trilogy, THE DARCY NOVELS. She has also written a Regency Christmas novel, A VERY MERRY CHASE, which was published as part of The Regency Quintet anthology and will be coming out soon on Amazon.
Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, in the days when it was faded and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood.
(if, like me, you were completely distracted by the exciting thought that Monica once lived in the house where North and South was written, and Mr Thornton first imagined, you can read more about Monica's remembrances of living in the house, and more about the house itself here - Ceri)
Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims. She has lived in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Massachusetts. By some quirk of fate, she now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area, within a stone's throw of Jane Austen's picnic spot in EMMA, Box Hill. She loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.
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I'm thrilled to announce it! Finally, Mr. Darcy's Pride and Joy is now available on most major platforms.
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Urgh! I do not think much of the Matlocks, or their creepy ducal friend. Thankfully, it seems as though Darcy feels the same, so hopefully his ladies will be kept safe. I am intrigued by the part of the blurb which says that Darcy's engagement to somebody else is announced; I wonder if this is the work of the Matlocks too!
Monica is kindly offering an e-book giveaway to accompany this post. There is an e-book up for grabs of 'Mr Darcy's Pride and Joy' OR an earlier book in the series, in case you need to catch up. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day on Monday 15 August. This is open to international entrants. Please leave a way for me to contact you in your post so that I can let you know if you are a winner.
Thank you so much to Monica for coming by with this guest post and excerpt, and for offering a giveaway!