The very first story in the anthology, 'Death of a Batchelor', is by Caitlin Williams, author of 'Ardently' and 'The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet', and we have a focus on her here today with a fangirl post by author of 'Suddenly Mrs Darcy' and 'The Elizabeth Papers', Jenetta James, who is also a contributing author to 'The Darcy Monologues'. To accompany the blog tour there is an international giveaway, with fantastic prizes for two winners.
I'll start by sharing the anthology blurb and then we'll have Jenetta's fangirl post and an interview with Caitlin Williams. If you are not too tired by then, my review of the anthology follows, plus a chance to enter the amazing giveaway!
“You must allow me to tell you...”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?
In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.
* * *
Waltzing with Caitlin Williams
I am truly looking forward to spending my time reading 'Death of a Bachelor' by Caitlin!
* * *
Today Caitlin Williams has dropped by to spend some time with us chatting about ‘Death of a Bachelor,’ as well as her upcoming work…
Caitlin, can you describe yourself with a six-word memoir?
Kent, Mum, Austen, Wine, Writer-lover, Nervous-Wreck
How did you come to be inspired by Miss Austen as both a woman and then, as a writer?
I read all of her books as a teenager; not because I had to for school or anything, but just because I was a literature geek. My friends always joke about how I used to read while walking down the road, and how it was a wonder I never got run over. I think what made me fall in love with Austen in particular was the humour. Yes, there are other writers of her time who dealt with broader topics, or who were perhaps, more romantic, but I still say no one is as funny as Jane. And the older I get, the more I appreciate her subtle humour, and every time I reread one of her books, I find something new to enjoy. They are full of wonders, sometimes well hidden wonders. It takes a few re-readings to unearth all of the gems that Jane gave us in her writing.
This year we're coming up on the 200th anniversary of the publications of Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey. What were you trying to capture in your story, Death of a Bachelor of Jane Austen in The Darcy Monologues?
Austen was a romantic, but she was also pragmatic. I wanted to portray Darcy in a realistic light, and describe the doubts and fears that would have only been natural to a man born of that time. He adores Elizabeth, but taking on a wife also meant taking on her family, and that was a big responsibility. I also wanted to touch on how difficult the subject of marriage was for women, and have Darcy realize what a strong, bold move it was for Elizabeth to turn him down on the first occasion, and to appreciate her courage. I am sure most women would have snapped him up, and she is extraordinary because she doesn’t, even though her future at that time was so uncertain.
Can you offer readers a brief description of your story and tell us why you chose to set your story in the Regency era?
My story deals with Mr Darcy’s thoughts on becoming a married man, and we follow him as he visits Longbourn to call on Elizabeth a few days before their wedding. Their wedding night doesn’t go as planned, but for him it’s a lesson learned – he realizes that some things are out of his control, but that it doesn’t matter - unplanned moments can be just as good as organized delights.
I chose the Regency era because I had snippets of ideas, or scenes, that have been playing around in my head for some time. I don’t have the urge to write a proper sequel to Pride & Prejudice (at the moment) but I do love it when we get glimpses into what their first few days of married life might have been like, and so I ended up using my little ideas for this piece.
The reactions to this upcoming release have been overwhelmingly positive from readers and I think that’s also in response to Mr. Darcy’s tremendous popularity throughout the past two centuries. Why do you believe that modern-day woman still find him so appealing?
It’s because he comes back, and he tries again, and changes for Elizabeth – and there are, of course, his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.
When you think about it, he isn’t actually in Pride and Prejudice very much, it’s really Elizabeth’s story. But that is why I think this anthology will be so popular, it’s all Darcy, all the time!
Did writing this story make you appreciate something about Jane Austen all over again?
Absolutely! Each and every time I write something, I get absorbed by her characters and the little worlds she created in her stories. It is such a skill to be able to create characters such as Mr Collins and Lady Catherine, and have the reader understand who they are and what they are about straight away.
I’m sure we will still be talking about her books and reading them in another 200 years!
What can readers look forward to reading from you in the future and how can readers stay in touch with you?
I hope to have a new book out in the next few months (although my deadlines do keep getting pushed back), it is tentatively titled ‘When We Are Married’ and it will be a Pride and Prejudice variation.
I am on Facebook as Caitlin Williams, and on Twitter as Caitlin@CaitlinCw, and also on Goodreads as Caitlin Williams.
You can also see Caitlin's Amazon pages here: UK / US.
Caitlin Williams is an award-winning author of two novels, Ardently and the best-selling The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, both of which spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.
Confession: I missed the comma and read the previous paragraph as Caitlin daydreams about Mr Darcy playing with dinosaurs!!!! It gave me a giggle :)
* * *My Review of 'The Darcy Monologues'
'Pride & Prejudice' is very much a book written from Elizabeth’s perspective. We get the occasional glimpse into Darcy’s thoughts and feelings, but it’s Lizzy that we journey along with. In ‘The Darcy Monologues’, edited by Christina Boyd, 15 authors take on the task of giving us things from Darcy’s point of view in an anthology of short stories. Some of the stories pick up directly in/after ‘Pride & Prejudice’ while others transport us to another place and time. Here’s a quick rundown of the stories:
‘Death of a Batchelor’ by Caitlin Williams opens the book. Be not afraid, angst-weenies, at the title of this story, nothing bad happens! This story takes a look at the type of thoughts that Darcy may have been having as his marriage with Elizabeth Bennet approaches. Considering the grave doubts he first had, and the struggle he put himself through before proposing to her initially, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suspect that Darcy would have some worries and lingering doubts while doing his best to endure the company of his future mother law and doing the social rounds in the wilds of Hertfordshire. I thought this was a plausible look into what struggles Darcy might have had and I didn’t like him any the less for the idea that he might still have some doubts, intermingled with passionate regard and incredulity at his good fortune in securing the affections of the woman who he at one time despaired of. This was such a fantastic story to start off the anthology with; just so passionate and romantic!
The first story was a tough act to follow, but I also loved, ‘From the Ashes' by J Marie Croft. I’ve read this author’s work previously and I know how fond she is of wordplay and puns, and there was plenty of this in this story. This short story starts many years after the events of P&P with Mr Darcy reminiscing. He thinks back to the time directly after the Hunsford proposal and scornful refusal. Darcy had decided that he needed to put his side of the story across to Miss Bennet, and the letter he writes her is the precursor to the edited version that we have read in ‘Pride & Prejudice’. It is frank, and frankly, hilarious. Ms Croft’s take on Darcy has quite the sense of humour, and speaks so little because he thinks a lot of things that are not prudent to be put into words! It was a change of pace and style which I really enjoyed.
I had high hopes that I would enjoy ‘If Only a Dream’ by Joana Starnes and as ever with this author, I was not disappointed. I was initially a little discombobulated, as this story picks up at just about the same point as the previous story, although this is a variation story rather than an alternate point of view. Darcy is reeling after having his proposal so rudely dismissed, and, having delivered his letter to Miss Bennet he wants nothing more than to leave Kent as soon as possible. However, Lady Catherine tries her hand at a little manipulation, and, betrayed by an over-polished banister and a tumble down stairs, Darcy finds himself unwillingly tied to Kent for a while longer. He wants nothing more than to avoid Elizabeth, and she, having read his letter, has realised how mistaken she has been on a number of points. I think most of us enjoy seeing poor Mr Darcy being made vulnerable, and few do it so well as Joana Starnes. This was a wonderful story!
‘Clandestiny’ by Karalynne Mackrory was a very fun read, picking up at the Netherfield Ball, with Darcy fighting against his attraction to the unsuitable Miss Bennet, and she, fighting with the moldings find themselves unexpectedly having an encounter which brings them to know each other better. Again, this was very romantic, which I love!
Bearing in mind recent film releases, ‘The Beast of Pemberley’ by Melanie Stanford takes us on a timely journey into a fantasy land. Here, the Wizard Wickham has cursed the inhabitants of Pemberley, Lumiere, Cogsworth et al, but the worst affected of them all is Mr Darcy. Knowing that his disfigurement makes him an object of ridicule and pity, the proud Darcy keeps to Pemberley, but he keeps an eye on the local town with the help of his magical mirror, which is how he comes to know and love Elizabeth. She agrees to marry him to pay off her family’s debts, but there is no way she could come to love such a beast.. is there?
We move next to the meeting at Pemberley. Mr Darcy described himself as ‘A Resentful Man’ at Netherfield, but when Elizabeth visits Pemberley and meets with him again, she doesn’t find him to be so. Lory Lilian is known as the ‘Queen of Hot Mush’ and this is a wonderful example of it. So romantic! Be still my beating heart!
‘In Terms of Perfect Composure’ by Susan Adriani is another excellent story, full of romantic yearning. Here, we have Darcy getting some encouragement from the Gardiners to renew his suit, and ending up back in Hertfordshire just in time to catch the end of Lady Catherine’s visit to Elizabeth. Dare he try to talk to her again, when she seems so bent on avoiding him?
‘Without Affection’ by Jan Hahn is the last of the Regency stories, and explores a real danger in those times – the danger of dying in childbirth and how the fear of this could affect a relationship. It’s the type of story that will make you want to give Darcy a shake for how he must be making Elizabeth feel with his selfish behaviour, but at the same time, you have some sympathy for his fears. Rest assured, the desire to slap him will pass!
‘Hot for Teacher’ by Sara Angelini sees Mr Darcy as the principal of a school, Ms Bennet as the art teacher he thinks slightingly of, and George Wickham as his nemesis-slash-literature teacher-slash-resentful half-brother. The Darcy in this story was both obtuse and endearing, and I enjoyed spending time in his head.
“You Don’t Know Me” by Beau North takes us to the early 1960s in the USA. I was a little surprised by this, but I shouldn’t have been, as one of Ms North’s previous works took us to the post WW2 period. One thing I enjoy about such time travel is the chance to pick up some of the flavour of the era, the space race, and disc jockeys trying to push the boundaries of playing ‘black music’.
‘Reason to Hope’ by Jenetta James takes us back a little further, to WW2, and to England. Again, this was a good chance to pick up some of the flavour of the era. Elizabeth in this has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, which can be hard to resolve in time to make us warm to a character in a short story, but I thought Ms James did an excellent job.
We then take another jump in time and place and find ourselves in the old West, and straight into an old fashioned ambush, kidnapping, disguises, brothels, and attempted rescue! ‘Pemberley by Stage’ by Natalie Richards was a very exciting read. There is both pride and prejudice in this tale, though not the sort we are used to.
‘Darcy Strikes Out’ by Sophia Rose moves us to modern day baseball in the US. This is something I know zero about. As is stated in the story, Baseball is generally not a thing loved in the UK, however, though I had very little idea of what was going on at the beginning of the story, which starts at a ball game, I stuck with it and soon found myself in an understandable situation. I thought this story neatly touched on many of the key points of P&P.
‘The Ride Home’ by Ruth Phillips Oakland was my favourite of the ‘other-era’ reads. It was just adorable. Darcy is woken by a drunken Bingley in the middle of the night to drive to pick up Elizabeth, who has had a bad date (with a Mr Collins). Darcy is reluctant to do so, having been turned down without ceremony by her very recently, but being a true gentleman, he does so. We meet a drunken Elizabeth (having turned to martinis as a crutch to see her through her date!) and it turns out that not only is a drunken Elizabeth an affectionate Elizabeth, but she is also an Elizabeth who is very forthcoming with her views, and her secret fears of coming to love somebody who, being rich, may well leave her for supermodel Heidi Klum. Elizabeth is very sweet and funny in this story, and Mr Darcy unfailingly gentlemanly.
‘I, Darcy’ by Karen M Cox pokes a little fun at our Mr Darcy. William Darcy has been named after Fitzwilliam Darcy from the novel ‘Pride & Prejudice’. He is sick of comparisons, and sick of seeing Mr Darcy being held up as the perfect man. As time goes on, and as he gets off on the wrong foot with Lynley, he starts to consider and refine his views, and so does she. As Lynley says, Mr Darcy isn’t perfect – just forgiven. This story, which takes a look at the character of Darcy and of the lessons of P&P was a wonderful way to end the anthology.
This anthology was an excellent collection of stories. You’d definitely need to have read ‘Pride & Prejudice’ at least once to understand some of the stories, particularly some of the Regency-set ones, as they assume knowledge of what is going on. There are some instances of bad language, but not much, and a little sex, but nothing at all graphic. On the whole, I probably enjoyed the Regency stories a little more, as there was just so much romance and yearning.... sigh! I thought the standard of the stories was very high, four and five star stories, definitely. So on balance, it gets a 4½ star rating from me and I’d recommend it.
I’d like to thank Christina Boyd and Claudine from Just Jane 1813 for letting me take part in this blog tour and providing me with a review copy. Also, huge kudos to Claudine for organising the blog tour. There is much, much more to come and I hope you will enjoy following it.
* * *
Blog Tour Giveaway
There are two very special giveaways you can enter, and what makes it even better is that the giveaway is international!
Pride and Prejudice pocketbook (handbag) or a Pride and Prejudice Kindle Fire Case with stand - Pride and Prejudice Book Cover Case for Amazon Kindle Fire 7" and 6" - Kindle Fire / Fire HD / Fire HDX tablet. See picture and covet away! Giveaways are international.
I want both prizes!
Please use the Rafflecopter to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
April 3 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Launch Post & Giveaway
April 10 / Babblings of a Bookworm/ Book Review & Giveaway - You are here!
April 17 / The Reading Frenzy / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 20 / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post & Giveaway
April 24 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway
May 1 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
May 8 / Just Jane 1813 / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 15 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Review & Giveaway
May 22 / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post & Giveaway
May 25 / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
May 29 / More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 / So Little Time / Book Review & Giveaway
June 12 / Diary of an Eccentric/ Book Review & Giveaway
June 19 / Book Lover in Florida / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 26 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
July 3 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Book Review & Giveaway