I’ll never forget my first introduction to Jane Austen’s books. I was eleven or twelve, and my family was listening to an audiobook of Pride and Prejudice while taking a long road trip. (My parents both have their PhD’s in English Literature; classics on audiobook during all car rides was just how our family rolled). I can remember stopping at a rest station after we’d listened to the first several chapters– I think we were somewhere up through the events of the Netherfield Ball– and commenting to my mom something along the lines of, Wow, this Mr. Darcy is really pretty much of a jerk.
My mother as you’ll probably guess responded with, Just wait. Just wait and you’ll fall in love with him right along with Lizzy.
She was right, of course. Even at twelve, I fell completely in love with Mr. Darcy. I fell in love with all the characters, with everything about Jane Austen’s world. Oddly, though, the character that I felt most connected to in the book wasn’t Lizzy or even Jane. It was Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana. She doesn’t even have a single speaking line in the book– her dialogue is all summarized by the narrator. Yet something about her drew me. Maybe it was her shyness. At twelve, I was very, very shy. Maybe it was her relationship to her much older brother. I have a much older brother, too– thirteen years older, to be exact. Somehow I felt connected to Georgiana, and it was her fate that I wondered about most when I let myself imagine what might have happened after the close of the book. Did she ever overcome her shyness? After her awful experience with Wickham, did she ever find her own happily-ever-after?
When I first started writing Jane Austen inspired fiction, I (of course!) was delighted at the idea of spending more time thinking about Darcy and Lizzy and all the other fabulous cast of characters. But again, it was Georgiana’s character that most captured my imagination. I wanted to write her story, to let myself dream up where life might have taken her, and to give her love and romance of her own.
That’s how Georgiana Darcy’s Diary was born.
I think in many ways the genius and enduring, immortal charm of Jane Austen is her ability to make us care so very much about her characters– even her minor ones. Mr. Darcy and Lizzy and Georgiana, Emma and Mr. Knightly, Fanny and Edward, Anne and Captain Wentworth . . . we fall in love with all of them, and simply don’t want to let them go when the story ends.
Every book I write, I feel so privileged to spend my workday letting my imagination run wild in Jane Austen’s world– and I’m so thrilled now to be a part of the Austen Authors blog, connecting with other authors and readers who love Jane Austen and simply want more.
Since Valentine’s Day is this week, I wanted to come up with a free gift for everyone who visits the blog– something to share with all my fellow lovers of Jane Austen’s works. So with the help of my fabulous husband (who really is nothing like Mr. Darcy, but I’m keeping him anyway!) I’ve designed some Jane Austen themed valentines as a free download. There are two different designs, each with one of my favorite Jane Austen quotes on love.
Feel free to download them, print them out, share them, etc. If you decide to post them on your own blog or website, it would be lovely if you could link back here.