Darcy has been bewitched by Elizabeth Bennet since he met her in Hertfordshire. He can no longer fight this overwhelming attraction and must admit he is hopelessly in love.
During Elizabeth’s visit to Kent she has been forced to endure the company of the difficult and disapproving Mr. Darcy, but she has enjoyed making the acquaintance of his affable cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Finally resolved, Darcy arrives at Hunsford Parsonage prepared to propose—only to discover that Elizabeth has just accepted a proposal from the Colonel, Darcy’s dearest friend in the world.
As he watches the couple prepare for a lifetime together, Darcy vows never to speak of what is in his heart. Elizabeth has reason to dislike Darcy, but finds that he haunts her thoughts and stirs her emotions in strange ways.
Can Darcy and Elizabeth find their happily ever after?
By the author of The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, an Amazon Regency Romance Bestseller.
Today I welcome author Victoria Kincaid, author of Pride and Proposals: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. She offers her thoughts on how she came to Jane Austen Fan Fiction as someone with a Ph.D. in English Literature. That is followed by an excerpt of her book, plus an international giveaway! Enjoy all that Victoria has brought us today, and good luck to those who enter the contest!
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So Laura asked me the question, “You have a Ph.D. in English literature, did you focus a lot on Austen?” The answer, ironically enough, is: no, not really at all. In my Ph.D. program, my specialty was drama, especially 20th century drama and gender issues. My dissertation was about cross-dressing in 20th century plays and films (M. Butterfly, La Cage Aux Folles, The Crying Game, Victor/Victoria, Tootsie, etc.). On the face of it, this wouldn’t seem like great preparation for writing Jane Austen fan fiction; after all, she didn’t write plays and there’s no cross-dressing in her novels. However, it was excellent preparation for thinking about the way that gender roles have an impact on depictions of characters.
One of the things I found fascinating about cross-dressing is that how it brings gender roles to the foreground. When a man dresses as a woman, it really makes the audience think, “Is that how a woman would behave?” or “Why are certain behaviors ‘female’ and others ‘male’?” In some ways, Austen’s novels do the same thing. I’m not saying that Austen had a feminist agenda where she set out to “educate” readers about women’s rights. But she tells her stories from the female perspective (a radical choice for the era) and uses that unique perspective to illustrate differences in male and female behavior.
One important characteristic for some of Austen’s heroines is believing in their own convictions and refusing to be swayed by other people’s opinions. This is the lesson Anne Elliot must learn and is Fanny Price’s most redeeming feature. Elizabeth Bennet might, arguably, take her belief in her own convictions too far, but her independence of thought allows her to refuse two suitors who expect her to accept them because of her limited economic options.
The result of Austen’s decision to depict independent-minded women is that it emphasizes the time period’s gender issues (just like cross-dressing – see, there is a connection!). Anne, Fanny, and Elizabeth may be holding out for “true love,” but they are also standing up to a system which gives women limited choices. They are placed in difficult economic positions which could be solved (or at least appear to be solved) by marriage, and yet they refuse to make the practical choice. The story of Charlotte Lucas was probably very typical of the time period, but it wasn’t the novel that Austen was interested in writing. By refusing to make the obvious choice—the one everyone expects them to make—these heroines, and Austen herself, emphasize how limited women’s choices were. Obviously none of these characters would be in this particular position if they were men.
Today, of course, women don’t face nearly so many barriers and so it’s easier for authors to write realistic, independent female characters. But I still find myself drawn to Austen, not just because she’s brilliant at depicting character (of all kinds), but also because she manages to make her female characters so strong and interesting despite—or because of—the limitations they experienced.
Pride and Proposals Excerpt
Chapter 3, Part II
Miss Bingley tittered uncertainly. “They seem well-matched,” she said. Miss Bingley apparently labored under a delusion that Elizabeth’s betrothal would bring her closer to achieving Darcy’s regard.
“Yes.” Darcy employed a familiar strategy; if he said little to Miss Bingley, she would sometimes quit his company due to a dearth of conversation.
“Such happenings in town since last I saw you!” Miss Bingley continued, apparently not requiring a conversational partner. “I hope we shall be seated near each other at dinner.”
Darcy was spared the necessity of a reply by another knock at the door. Everyone in the entrance hall turned to view the new arrival. The butler opened the door to admit ... Mrs. Bennet.
Darcy’s eyebrows rose as Caroline Bingley’s mouth fell open. Jane Bennet hurried forward to take her mother’s hand. “Mama, I thought you were too unwell to join us after the long carriage ride.”
“I feel a vast deal better after taking a little wine back at my brother’s house. And I just had to see everyone again! Oh! Colonel Fitzwilliam! It is so good to see you. Let me give you a kiss!” Richard smiled and allowed himself to be kissed by his future mother. “And Jane and Lizzy, oh, you girls look just lovely tonight!”
Bingley, Jane, and the Gardiners gave her their patient attention as Mrs. Bennet exclaimed rapturously about the entrance hall’s marble floor and the wainscoting on the walls.
A few moments later, Elizabeth approached Darcy and Caroline Bingley. His treacherous heart gave a leap of excitement, but Elizabeth’s regard was fixed on Caroline. “Miss Bingley,” she said with a smile, “my mother’s unexpected arrival necessitates that Richard must make some adjustments to the seating arrangements, and we thought to put her next to you. Since so few people in London are known to my mother, I thought she would find a familiar face at dinner to be of comfort. My uncle will sit on your other side. I believe you have met him.”
Miss Bingley’s mouth opened as she sought an acceptable means to decline this “honor.” She gaped for several moments. “Yes, of course,” she said finally. Her expression suggested she would prefer to contract a disfiguring skin disease.
“You are the soul of generosity.” Elizabeth smiled sweetly at Miss Bingley, who glared back but did not reply.
Darcy masked his inappropriate laughter with a cough. Elizabeth’s eyes briefly met his, and she smiled conspiratorially. He allowed himself a brief smile in return. Perhaps her good opinion of him was not irretrievably lost. But it hardly mattered. His hopes lay scattered in shards at his feet. Nevertheless, besotted as he was, Darcy still cared what she thought of him.
Richard’s butler ushered the guests into an elegant drawing room where they could enjoy refreshments before dinner. Seating herself on a loveseat, Elizabeth smiled an invitation for Richard to join her, where, in Darcy’s opinion, they sat far too close for propriety’s sake. However, there was no denying they both appeared very happy.
Perhaps Elizabeth truly was in love with his cousin.
Ah, yes, here was a new idea with which he could torture himself. Excellent.
Although they had not known each other long when they had become engaged, Richard had later confessed to Darcy how he had formed a strong attachment to Elizabeth from almost the first moment of their acquaintance. Did Elizabeth return some measure of his affection? The thought drove the knife a little deeper into Darcy’s heart. Somehow their betrothal was easier to tolerate if he imagined that she primarily sought a secure future, while the thought that she cared for Richard …
Elizabeth’s heart should have been mine! She has commanded mine for months.
None of this signifies, he reminded himself. It was done. Richard and Elizabeth would marry. Darcy would see them for holidays and occasional visits—and somehow learn to bear it. What she felt for his cousin and when—these questions were of no consequence.
She could not be Darcy’s, and that was the end of it.
Darcy’s thoughts were too agitated to participate in ordinary conversation. Turning away from the room at large, he stared through the nearby window to the street outside, wishing he could simply open the window sash and dive out. Somehow the situation had managed to go from uncomfortable to intolerable in a mere quarter of an hour.
The darkened window reflected Elizabeth and Richard, in close proximity to each other on the loveseat, laughing and talking with the Gardiners. Darcy hurriedly switched his gaze to Bingley and Jane Bennet, who were having a low-voiced discussion near the doorway. Miss Bennet wore her customary sweet smile, while Bingley grinned widely. They seemed so happy it made his teeth hurt. Damnation! He wanted to gaze upon someone who was as miserable as he was. Where was Lady Catherine when he needed her?
Although, Darcy considered, Caroline Bingley’s face at dinner might suffice.
Darcy had anticipated Bingley’s attachment to Jane Bennet would be slight and short-lived. Bingley’s misery had demonstrated how badly Darcy had misjudged. Now he was forced to realize he may have been wrong about Miss Bennet’s affections as well.
And he had been wildly mistaken about Elizabeth’s opinions of him.
Good God, had he ever really known the people surrounding him? Perhaps Lady Catherine de Bourgh was in reality a sweet gentle soul and Mr. Collins a genius!
GIVEAWAY: Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid
Ends 7/3/2015 at 12am EST
Two winners: US Domestic - Paperback
International - eBook
Ends 7/3/2015 at 12am EST
Two winners: US Domestic - Paperback
International - eBook
About Victoria Kincaid
Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.
She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, two children who are learning how much fun Austen’s characters can be, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice.
Connect with Victoria