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Friday, 14 July 2017

Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza ShearerToday I have the pleasure of welcoming new author Eliza Shearer to the blog. Eliza has written a book described as a 'Persuasion', 'Mansfield Park' and 'Pride & Prejudice' continuation which focuses on Miss Georgiana Darcy after the marriage of her brother. The book is already getting excellent reviews so I'm pleased to be able to bring you some insight into the author's feelings towards Miss Darcy, plus an excerpt to whet your appetite to read the book. In addition, Eliza is offering to give away an ebook of 'Miss Darcy's Beaux' to a commenter on this post. Please read on for more details!


Let's begin with the book blurb:

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s beloved sister Georgiana is now a woman of twenty. After living in the enclosed safety of Pemberley for years, she is sent to London for the season with Lady Catherine de Bourgh as her chaperone. Lady Catherine is determined that her niece shall make a splendid match. But will Georgiana allow her aunt to decide for her? Or will she do as her brother did, and marry for love?

Now I'll hand over to Eliza so she can talk you about Georgiana, a character who doesn't get a single line of direct speech in P&P, and how she looked for her voice.

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How I Learned to Love Georgiana Darcy And Find Her Voice

Timid Georgiana Darcy has always been one of my favourite Jane Austen characters. Georgiana is Mr Darcy's young and amiable little sister, and he cares for her a great deal. In Pride and Prejudice, she not only allows Elizabeth Bennet to see another side to Mr Darcy; Georgiana’s close escape from George Wickham’s clutches looms behind Darcy’s dramatic intervention to find his nemesis and make him marry Lydia Bennet. All in all, Miss Darcy’s role in the story is not insignificant, but she is always in the background, rarely coming to the fore.

From the first time I read Pride and Prejudice, I have wondered about timid Georgiana, her story and her motivations. In the novel, Jane Austen leaves us some clues as to her temper, character and even looks. We know that she is ten years younger than Mr Darcy and very accomplished in all sorts of skills, including playing the piano and the harp, singing, drawing and languages. As to her appearance, Elizabeth describes her as follows:

"Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good-humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle."
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 44  

Above all, Miss Darcy's defining characteristic is that she is painfully shy, partly due to a reserved nature which she shares with Darcy, but also a result of her circumstances. Georgiana is an orphan from a very early age, and her guardians are two grown men, her brother and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who have many other concerns and may not have the empathy and sensitivity required to deal with a quiet young girl, beyond ensuring her formal education, material comfort and general wellbeing.

As a female offspring of the gentry, Georgiana should have been expected to be taken under the wing of other women in her family. However, the only ones we know of in the novel, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, live in Kent, a long way from Pemberley. Bearing in mind that Anne is sickly, and therefore not likely to travel much, it is reasonable to think that most of her relationship with them will be through letters. Georgiana’s loneliness is evident, although she is far from alone.

Georgiana is in constant contact with other women, but they are her social inferiors, and therefore provide scarce opportunities for her to cultivate her social skills. There is the staff at Pemberley, headed by loyal Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper. They would probably include the nursemaid and the governess charged with looking after Georgiana until she is sent away to school, where the teachers would take over her education.

Sending young ladies to schools away from the family home was relatively common among those who could afford it. In Pride and Prejudice, for example, both Louisa and Caroline Bingley enjoy the privilege of a school education. In the case of Georgiana, we don’t know much about her experience in the establishment, other than the fact that from London she is sent off to a cottage in Ramsgate in the company of the infamous Mrs Younge. The rest is history: Younge betrays her employer and young charge and delivers Georgiana into Wickham’s arms. Only Darcy’s intervention at the eleventh hour rescues his little sister from disaster.

Georgiana’s elopement has always interested me. In the context of Regency England, her planned escape with Wickham would have been a great scandal. But that she should accept to marry Mr Darcy’s enemy intrigued me even more. Surely, Georgiana must have been aware of the bad blood between both men. At the same time, Georgiana is a naive enough character to pull it off without the reader feeling affronted by her attitude. In fact, the result is rather the opposite: we see her as the innocent victim of a mean ploy, and if anything, our sympathy for her grows.

What’s clear is that Georgiana would have later understood just how close she was to disgracing herself and her family and that she would have surely felt dismayed at her behaviour. The experience would have had a massive impact on her image of herself, maybe even her perception of her judgement. There is also the issue of Wickham never fully disappearing from her life, on account of his having married Lydia Bennet, Mrs Darcy’s youngest sister. The resulting heartache for young Georgiana, and a well-concealed resentment towards Mrs Wickham, were always a given for me.

Miss Darcy's Beaux is the result of my speculations with regards to the intricate relationships surrounding the Darcy, Bennet, Wickham and de Bourgh families. The potential disagreements and conflicting interests were too juicy to ignore, as was Georgiana's internal battle to overcome her past. I chose to give Georgiana Darcy a voice, and she surprised me by embracing the spotlight and showing her evolution from the scared girl left behind by Wickham to her much more confident self. Even if she will always be a tad reserved, not unlike her brother, Mr Darcy.

* * *

Excerpt from Miss Darcy’s Beaux

Mrs Darcy is with child for the second time, but the pregnancy is not an easy one. Alarmed, Mr and Mrs Bennet, accompanied by two of their daughters, travel to Pemberley to nurse Elizabeth back to good health. Colonel Fitzwilliam sees the visit as providential and encourages Georgiana to accept Lady Catherine’s invitation to join her in London for the season. In Chapter 3 we witness the arrival of Mr and Mrs Bennet, Mrs Bingley and Mrs Wickham at Pemberley, right before Georgiana’s departure. What follows is a fragment of their conversation.

* * * 

“Now tell us, Miss Darcy, how is Mrs Darcy and when can we see her?” Mrs Bingley asked with an anguished look on his face.

I swallowed.

“She is still rather unwell, I'm afraid. Dr Robertson has instructed that Elizabeth may only see a visitor or two a day at the most, as it is essential not to excite her.”

Mrs Bingley put her hand on my arm.

“Miss Darcy, we are all very keen to speak to her, as you would expect, but we understand the physician's orders," she said softly. "Mama, shall you and I go into Elizabeth's sick room today, and Papa and Lydia can see her tomorrow?”

“And why should I have to wait until tomorrow?” Mrs Wickham intervened, with the tone of a four-year-old fighting over a toy. “I'm her sister as well, you know, and I have been married far longer than you, so if anything, I am entitled to go in before you.”

Mrs Bingley stared at her youngest sister in shock but quickly recovered her composure.

“Miss Darcy, have you had the chance to see Mrs Darcy in the last couple of days?” she asked, handing Will to his grandmother.

“Unfortunately not. She has been very feeble and in need of rest, and I did not wish to disturb her.”

“And I understand that you are departing for London soon, are you not? Mr Darcy mentioned it in his most recent letter.”

“Indeed, I am, Mrs Bingley. I am leaving tomorrow.”

“Let Mama visit Elizabeth today with Miss Darcy, and Lydia and I can both go tomorrow,” ruled Mrs Bingley. “I am sure Papa will not mind.”

Mrs Wickham turned to look at me from the first time since her arrival. She had studiously ignored me until then, and her behaviour had suited me fine, but now I was the object of her most unrepressed interest. She observed my curled hair, my face, my nose, my jaw. Her gaze descended to my neck, where it lingered on the diamond cross that sat between my collar bones. She took in my bust, my pale blue muslin dress, my hands, gently folded on my lap as Mrs Annesley always insisted. She continued down the outline of my legs, sketched by the soft fabric, to finish with my brocaded satin slippers. Then she gave me a strange smile, a disconcerting mix of annoyance, indifference and envy.

“Certainly.”

Mrs Bingley coloured deeply but, the matter settled, she didn't say anything.

The conversation moved on to Miss Bennet and Miss Catherine Bennet, who were staying with Mr and Mrs Gardiner in Cheapside. They had been there for a couple of weeks, and they would probably remain in London for the rest of the season. Mrs Bennet, who had been bouncing Will on her knee, immediately intervened.

“I do hope you will see Mary and Kitty in London, Miss Darcy," she said eagerly. "You know that my brother keeps a very elegant house in town, don't you? It’s on Gracechurch street, a most respectable address.”

I was aware of that. In fact, I knew the Gardiners rather well, on account of their having visited Pemberley on several occasions. They were a charming couple and had always been agreeable to me.

I would be delighted to visit them in town, even if I didn't find the Misses Bennet particularly interesting. Mary was an educated fool, the worst kind, and had very few charms to recommend her. Kitty was dangerously similar to Lydia, although she'd been reigned in before becoming too wild.
Such was the general understanding, anyway.

“I would be delighted, Mrs Bennet, provided that Lady Catherine de Bourgh approves. I will be staying with her.”

Silence ensued. Mrs Bingley's countenance remained calm, but Mrs Bennet was visibly affected by my words and even Mrs Wickham’s pretty face lost some of its colour. Only Mr Bennet remained oblivious to my remark. If I had ever doubted that my formidable aunt was capable of striking fear in others' hearts, their reactions settled it. I felt a tingle of pleasure before excusing myself to go and find the nurse with Mrs Bennet.

* * *

Georgiana’s story, 'Miss Darcy’s Beaux', is available to buy on Amazon (US, UK and others), Kobo, Nook and CreateSpace. Add to your shelf on Goodreads.

Now let's enjoy an excerpt!


Author Eliza Shearer
About the Author

Eliza Shearer is a long-time an admirer of Jane Austen’s work and writer of Regency fiction and Jane Austen variations. She can often be found enjoying long walks and muddying my petticoats, or re-reading Jane Austen’s novels by the fireside. She is very partial to bread and butter pudding, satin slippers and bonnets and ribbons, but has never cared much for cards. You can find her on Twitter or on her blog.

Giveaway Time

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Beaux by Eliza Shearer
Eliza is offering to give away an ebook of 'Miss Darcy's Beaux' to a commenter on this post, open internationally. You can comment on what intrigues you about Miss Darcy, or how you think Persuasion and Mansfield Park come into this book or whatever else about the book springs to mind. Comment by the end of the day on Friday 21 July to enter and please leave a way for me to contact you just in case you are the lucky winner.

Many thanks to Eliza Shearer for the guest post and giveaway!


30 comments:

  1. I don't think I care for Miss Darcy's view of Mary Bennet, does she think with her past she is superior to the Bennet daughters (obviously to Lydia she is) or does she change her mind on meeting the other two

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    1. It's quite a cold perspective on them, isn't it. As to the substance of her views, I would say that Elizabeth's are probably quite similar but Elizabeth's views are more tolerant and affectionate, whereas these were not. It's interesting that it's followed by a comment that this was the general view; does Miss Darcy know different?

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  2. Hi Ceri and Eliza,

    I think Georgiana must have been extremely lonely as a child. She must have been aware of the animosity between Darcy and Wickham and trusting and loving her brother as she does,I wonder that she was willing to go through with the elopement.
    I guess infatuation with a person closely associated with home,false smiles and flattery,even from such a source,was preferable to a lonely and friendless existence.

    Can't imagine how Georgiana will get on with Lady C as a chaperone!!! She will surely want to match her with the first wealthy man, irrespective of age,that she knows of!
    I hope Georgiana has the backbone to stand up to her and that she has the determination to marry for love like Darcy did.
    An interesting premise,I'm looking forward to reading what befalls Georgiana as she navigated the Ton and its associated perilous waters!

    Many thanks for such an interesting post!
    Cheers for the giveaway! ☺️

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    1. I always think that Georgiana must have been lonely too, Mary. And with her brother so busy with picking up the reins at Pemberley it must have been hard for him to spend time with her. I think she was probably quite starved for attention and companionship which made her easy prey for Wickham.

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  3. Thank you for this interesting post!
    I always thought about Georgiana's shyness... how could she recover and grow up esconded at Pemberley? But to go to London with aunt Catherine!? Poor poor girl!!!
    Maybe Edmund's brother is in London for the season when Georgie arrives...and perhaps he knows captain Wentworth thanks to the war!
    Can't wait to know more! My email is LorenDushku@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Loren. I have been wondering where the characters from the other books come in too. I can't help but wonder whether Mr Crawford makes an appearance.. and maybe Mr Elliot?

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  4. I also read and enjoyed this novel. Great review. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed it Sheila :)

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  5. Thanks for the excerpt. I also always wondered about how much interaction Georgiana had with Lydia and Wickham now that they are family. jadseah4 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. That's a good point, Darcybennett. I think from P&P we can see that she would have had interaction with Lydia, but I think she would have been protected from having to deal with Wickham.

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  6. Wonderful excerpt. I am quite curious to see where this story goes. Cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

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    1. Thanks Becky. I'm interested to see where it goes too.

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  7. I find this excerpt and can't wait to read it. though from the picture on the book I did not think I would like it, but we will see

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    1. It's surprising isn't it, Lenora, sometimes a book cover will entice us in, and other times it will push us away. I always enjoy having an excerpt to be able to give you a chance to read a bit of the book, like being able to flick through a book in a book shop! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  8. Interesting little tidbits. Georgianna's view of the remaining Bennet daughters is very interesting. I believe 'educated fool' describes Mary very well. I always hoped Mary would grow up a little.

    I wonder at Lydia's assessment of Georgianna. I wonder if she's aware of the near-elopement, or at least her husband's former interest in G. I could almost see Lydia saying to herself, "just what did George see in her??"

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    1. I thought that too, Leah, Lydia seemed to have an attitude going on towards Georgiana, it made me wonder whether she knew of Wickham's past with her. I wouldn't put it past him to tell her!

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  9. Don't include me in the giveaway... as I have already read it and loved the story. I like to think of Georgiana growing up in a vacuum. She had whatever her physical and educations needs required. That was what Darcy did as a good brother should. However, he didn't meet her emotional needs... because that was not what was taught to him. He was young when his mother died and all he had was his father. She needed more and Wickham took advantage of that by supplying the kind, sweet, luring words that would turn her head and her heart. Focusing on a girl's first love, Wickham touched her in an emotional way no one had ever done before. Bless her heart... she never stood a chance against him. Add to that, the influence of her false companion... dang. It was a train wreck waiting to happen.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the story, Jeanne. I agree with you that Georgiana had everything in terms of possessions and education, but was probably lacking on the emotional needs. I think she was absolutely ripe for a fortune hunter to take advantage of her.

      It wouldn't have been surprising if Georgiana had gone to live with relatives when her father died, so you wonder whether there weren't much in the way of relatives or whether her brother chose to keep her and then wasn't able to give her the emotional support she needed either through lack of time or not being aware of what she needed.

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  10. Intriguing excerpt! I've always hoped that the sheltered Miss Darcy will marry for title and money ... and love.

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    1. I think that Georgiana's brother marrying for love really opened the door for her to do likewise.

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  11. I apologize if this is a redundant post....

    I'm looking forward to reading more about Georgiana Darcy! ;)

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    1. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it!

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  12. I look forward to digging into Georgiana's personality. How much like her brother is she, or have you written her like one of the characters of the other books referenced?

    Poor Lizzy to be so sick. How are Lydia and Mrs. Bennet going to keep calm and not upset her?

    Thanks for the opportunity to win. Congratulations on this book.
    Patty Edmisson at gmail dot com

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    1. This is the interesting thing about Georgiana isn't it Patty, an author could take her in any direction as she's such a mystery!

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  13. Congrats on the new book, and thanks for the excerpt! I'm very interested in reading more of Georgiana's story.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Pamh5230(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for commenting Pamela! I hope you enjoy the story when you read it.

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  14. Ceri and Elisa
    This story is intriguing. I wonder how much more confidence Georgiana has when confronting her aunt than I imagine her having when she was younger.

    skamper25 at gmail dot com

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    1. Well I would think that having had the example of an untimid sister in law, Georgiana should have a better chance of standing up to her aunt than she would have had a few years previously.

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  15. Hi, Ceri and Eliza. The excerpt is very interesting! I get the impression that perhaps, like Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Miss Darcy may go through some changes in attitude in the pages of this book. From the phrase "Such was the understanding...", it seems that she hasn't met Mary or Kitty personally. Since they're relatively close to her age and she hasn't had much exposure to other young ladies, she may find more in common with them than she expects. That's my guess, anyway!

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    1. I hope she does have an attitude adjustment, Debbie, as she seems very proud. I picked up on the phrase you mention, too, very interesting!

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