Wow! How time flies. I haven’t had a launch of a Jane Austen re-imagining since last December. For a while there, I was the Energizer Bunny, completing a story about every three months. I did write a mystery (Three’s A Crowd, a Patrick Shea Mystery) that has been well received, and I have completed the second installment in that series. But, in the end, I always come back to our favorite couple, dearest loveliest Elizabeth Bennet and the handsome Fitzwilliam Darcy.
I have been working on Darcy Goes to War for about two years. I actually shelved it twice. The reason I did that was because of how seriously I take the subject of World War II. I was born in 1951, six years after the end of the war, and I heard firsthand the stories of my parents’ generation. Two of my uncles flew on bombers, one fought in the Battle of the Bulge, my father’s youngest brother survived the horrors of Omaha Beach on D-Day, and my father’s first cousin, Patrick Faherty, was killed when his ship was sunk off the Carolina coast. Like tens of thousands of women across the country, my mother migrated from Scranton to Washington, D.C. working for the War Department. I wanted to be respectful of their sacrifice and contributions to the war effort. Could I do that while writing a Pride and Prejudice re-imagining?
In Darcy Goes to War, I try to capture the atmosphere of living in wartime England, a country Hitler hoped to bomb into oblivion. Because Britain’s very survival depended upon it, everyone is involved in the war effort. Food is rationed, fats and bone bits are saved, coal is used sparingly, and petrol is severely rationed. Every man, woman, and child must do their “bit,” including Elizabeth Bennet, a lorry driver, and Flight Lieutenant Fitzwilliam Darcy, who is a Royal Air Force pilot flying bombers over Germany. As soon as they meet, it’s “game on.” Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:
As Lizzy made her way to the rear of the pub, Stan’s wife called her over, and Lizzy knew what would happen next. Nancy Corker would tell the officers that here was one of the prettiest girls in Hertfordshire and an excellent dancer as well and wasn’t there a dance coming up a week Saturday at the Helmsley Air Station? Hint. Hint…
Lizzy hated these situations, but because she was twenty-three, unmarried, not bad to look at, and with no serious romantic interest in her life, she was always being singled out by the well-intentioned matrons of Meryton as someone who needed help in finding a date…
“Are you planning to go to the dance, Darcy?” one of the men asked an officer who was more interested in his brew than Lizzy’s prospects for a partner…
“No, I won’t be going to the dance, Rogers,” Darcy finally answered. “I already had that experience the first week I was here—joint American and British effort—passing the baton sort of thing when the station changed hands.”
“Well, sir, we can boast some of the finest looking girls in the county hereabouts, and here’s one to prove it,” Mrs. Corker said, pushing Lizzy forward. “Don’t hide your light under a bushel, dear. All of these men are officers,” she whispered.
“Excuse me. I need to use the…,” Lizzy said, jerking her head in the direction of the loo, but as she squeezed past the chubby matron, she heard the dark-haired officer remark, “Rogers, I shall warn you there is little beauty in the girls who attend these dances, and they aren’t exactly light on their feet. If you do go to the dance, my advice is to wear your jump boots.”
Giveaway News: To celebrate the launch of Darcy Goes to War, I am giving away one paperback copy and one e-book (Kindle or Nook). This giveaway is open worldwide. All you have to do is leave a comment AND your e-mail address by September 16. This is important. In the past, I have had to give a book away to someone else because I had no way to contact the winner. The winners will be announced on September 17.
I just love the poster I used for this cover. If you would like to know more about the World War II poster that inspired it, please visit my blog.