It’s my time to celebrate the release of my new book with everyone here at Austen Authors with an excerpt and a giveaway. But first, how about a little insight on the story’s premise? Like so many Jane Austen fan fiction readers, the idea of Darcy or Elizabeth in alliance with anyone but each other is an abhorrence. That said, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s insistence that her nephew Mr. Darcy and her daughter, Anne, were intended for each other is one of the things that I love most about her ladyship.
In her ladyship’s own words:
“The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended for each other. It was the favorite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family! Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends? To his tacit engagement with Miss de Bourgh? Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and delicacy? Have you not heard me say that from his earliest hours he was destined for his cousin?”
I started wondering, what if the elder Mr. Darcy had a favorite wish of his own? What if his first-born son was promised to Mr. Bennet’s first-born daughter? And thus, the makings of a new Pride and Prejudice variation: By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything.
Mr. Thomas Bennet sat across from his two eldest daughters, his thoughts a mixture of varying sentiments. The day had been decades in the making. What a stroke of luck for his eldest daughter to be introduced as a prospective bride to the future heir of one of the finest estates in Derbyshire. What an advantageous prospect for his entire family. Befriending George Darcy during his days at university had been the wisest thing he had ever done in his life. Unquestionably, nothing he had done since had been as beneficial.
He had decided early in life that the terms of the entail on his father’s estate were not conducive to a happy situation for his own future family unless he could beget a male child to inherit after him. Thus, Bennet was more than pleased to enter such an arrangement.
The fact that the bargain had been struck after a long night of drinking and lamenting their own woes of being the first-born son, or, as in both gentlemen’s cases, the only sons. The terms had been loosely defined. Clearly, Bennet held the less risky hand. Should Darcy’s first-born son and heir to Pemberley, which fortunately was not entailed, remain a single man after comfortably attaining the age of majority, Thomas Bennet would present his eldest daughter, provided she was also unwed, to the young man with considerable hope of a favorable outcome.
Decades had passed with a repetition of that agreement in one form or another in each correspondence. Bennet was wise enough to know there were no guarantees, especially given the temperament of young people of the day. Arranged marriages did take place. However, the last thing in the world he planned to do was encourage a marriage if he suspected his daughter and the young man were not a suitable fit.
Tearing his eyes away from all of nature’s magnificence that stretched before him, beautiful Pemberley Woods, he looked at his daughters again. The two of them were as different as night and day, both in countenance as well as in temperament.
The one thing he could say regarding his eldest daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, was that they made his life at Longbourn infinitely more tolerable. The three daughters who remained behind were by far the silliest girls in all of England. Unwilling to concede any share of the credit for the younger girls’ behavior, he held firm to his belief: like mother, like daughters.
I do not know how I shall endure life at Longbourn without my Jane and my Lizzy.
Indeed, if he could boast of but one of the girls as being his favorite, it would have to be his second-born, Elizabeth. Were it she that he was presenting to young Mr. Darcy as a future bride, Thomas Bennet could quite easily doubt the possibility of a favorable outcome.
Obstinate, headstrong girl is how his wife of over twenty years often described their second-born. Indeed, she could be quite stubborn when she chose to be. However, Elizabeth was also described as the brightest jewel in the country. Having always favored her with his highest esteem, Mr. Bennet was compelled to agree with this portrayal of his second-born, and it had nothing to do with boasting.
There was a quickness about her that his other daughters lacked. A man whom others regarded as having a sardonic wit with an uncanny ability to laugh at those whom he regarded as being ridiculous, he could rightfully say that he and his second daughter were just alike in said regard.
Truth be told, he was not certain his second eldest daughter would ever find a man who was truly worthy of her. She absolutely needed to marry a man whom she deemed her superior. In his estimation, Elizabeth might well become a spinster rather than subject herself to the misery which must surely accompany marriage to a man whom she did not admire and respect.
What a relief that I am not presenting my Lizzy to the heir apparent of Pemberley.
What say you? Do you agree with Mr. Bennet’s musings on how it would be if it were he presenting Elizabeth as a prospective bride to a gentleman she had never laid eyes on? Would she be nearly so amiable to the idea of an arranged marriage as her elder sister Jane?
Comment below for a chance to win a copy of By Reason, by Reflection, by Everything. One signed paperback edition is up for grabs (US mailing address only) and one ebook is up for grabs (international) for a total of two prizes. The giveaway contest ends on Tuesday, August 29, 2017.