During the 2007-2008 school year, I complained to my Advanced Placement Language class about a particular novel, what we would now call Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF). The story, although well written, was historically inaccurate in the situations presented. It was not a true reflection of Austen’s period. As the class was taught to examine the language and the situation to identify the time period of a piece of literature, this novel would have been misleading. Many of the students in the class had been in my honors classes previously, or in my elective classes, such as Journalism. They were accustomed to how I challenged them, and so one student said, “If you know how to do this, do it yourself.” Therefore, I took on the role of fiction writer. I had written much in the academic realm, but not novels. I decided to rewrite Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.
To make a long story short, I self-published the book at a time when self-publishing was not a popular means to see one’s book in print. All I wanted at the time was to answer the challenge presented me…to be a good sport and to teach each of the students to be one in return. I permitted one of class to draw the cover of the book so she might put the experience upon her college application, for she wished to get into art school. When it was finished, I purchased copies for those in the class and quickly forgot about it until my son sent me an email informing me that the book was #8 on the Amazon sales list. Even then, I considered it a fluke. At length, however, Ulysses Press contacted me asking about publishing the book. This was the time when several of the traditional publishers were buying up the rights to JAFF pieces. Ulysses had 4 other Austen-inspired writers, while Sourcebooks scooped up a dozen or more.
In February 2009, Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes was published by Ulysses Press, and my publishing career began. I retired from teaching in 2010, after some 40 years, and have supplemented my retirement with the publication of some 31 novels to date. Yet, Darcy’s Passions remains a favorite for it started me down this path.
Recently, I decided to rerelease Darcy’s Passions with a new cover and a reworking of the story (Gosh, I cannot believe neither the editor or I caught some of those errors found in the first printing!) My contract with Ulysses permits me to self-publish the book. So, please enjoy the scene from Lucas Lodge.
Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes
FITZWILLIAM DARCY loves three things: his sister Georgiana, his ancestral estate, and Elizabeth Bennet. The first two come easily to him. He is a man who recognizes his place in the world, but the third, Elizabeth Bennet, is a woman Society would censure if he chose her for his wife. Can he risk everything he has ever known to love an impossible woman, a woman who has declared him to be “the last man in the world (she) could ever be prevailed upon to marry”?
Revisit Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Discover his soul-searching transformation from proud and arrogant into the world’s most romantic hero. Experience what is missing from Elizabeth Bennet’s tale. Learn something of the truth of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s pride. Return to your favorite scenes from Austen’s classic: Darcy’s rejection of Miss Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly; the Netherfield Ball; his botched first proposal; his discovering Elizabeth at Pemberley; and Darcy’s desperate plan to save Lydia Bennet from George Wickham’s manipulations, all retold through his eyes. Satisfy your craving for Austen’s timeless love story, while defining the turmoil and vulnerability in a man who possesses everything except the one thing that can make him happy.
Lucas Lodge hosted the evening’s entertainment. Again, Darcy found his thoughts in contradictory form. Although an alliance with such a family as were the Bennets was insupportable, over the past few weeks, he had developed an interest in learning more of Elizabeth Bennet. He convinced himself that Miss Elizabeth had become a diversion for his hours of boredom while in company with Bingley’s family. He would never take advantage of Elizabeth Bennet as a former friend had done with Georgiana, for he was a man of honor, a man of scruples; yet, he found his diversion to be an unanticipated pleasure.
As much as Darcy enjoyed Elizabeth Bennet’s vitality, her family appeared less than desirable. Mrs. Bennet’s connections proved poor, having brothers, one a country attorney in Meryton and another in trade. The woman had one goal: Find her five daughters suitable matches, which proved fair warning to Darcy to keep his growing interest in Miss Elizabeth to pure speculation. Mr. Bennet, a well read gentleman with an income of two thousand pounds, took little interest in the activities of his wife and daughters. Jane and Elizabeth Bennet were acceptable, but the three youngest were left to their own frivolities. Having observed the Bennets over a fortnight, Darcy feared Bingley might be choosing poorly if his friend continued to favor Miss Bennet. Needless to say, Darcy would never permit his interest in Elizabeth Bennet to advance.
As the evening at Lucas Lodge progressed, Darcy spied on Elizabeth Bennet’s interactions with Miss Lucas, various militia officers in attendance, Bingley, as well as her elder sister. He noted of late that little escaped her attention. He watched as she complimented Miss Maria on her needlework, causing the girl to blush excessively from pleasure rather than shame. He observed Elizabeth reining in her mother’s exuberance. Elizabeth, evidently, took delight in Bingley’s attentions to her sister, but she did not suspect Darcy’s growing interest in her.
His desire to know more of her advanced throughout the evening, and as a means to converse with her, he eavesdropped on her conversations with others. Therefore, when Darcy came near her, although he showed no intention of speaking, Elizabeth playfully confronted him. “Did you not think, Mr. Darcy, that I expressed myself uncommonly well just now when I was teasing Colonel Forster to host a ball at Meryton?”
Flustered momentarily that she took note of his attention, Darcy fought to recover his composure. “Yours is a subject which always makes a lady energetic.” He knew he should walk on, but the need to remain a few moments in her court claimed him.
“You are severe on us,” she replied. Darcy quickly assimilated the double meaning to her words. She still waited for the apology he owed her for his conduct at the assembly.
Miss Lucas attempted to divert Elizabeth. “It will be her turn soon to be teased. I am going to open the instrument, Eliza, and you know what follows.”
Miss Elizabeth good-naturedly lamented, “You are a very strange creature by way of a friend–always wanting me to play and sing before anyone and everybody! If my vanity took a musical turn, you would be invaluable; but as it is, I would really rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers.” The insult, coated in sweetness, found no offense on his part. Instead, he searched the depths of her eyes. Yet, Miss Lucas persevered, and Elizabeth added, “If you insist, dear Charlotte, it must be so.” And gravely glancing at Darcy, she said, “There is a very fine old saying, which everyone here is, of course, familiar–‘Keep your breath to cool your porridge, and I shall keep mine to swell my song.’”
She curtsied and walked to the instrument. The mocked sincerity with which she spoke was not lost on Darcy; and although her use of a common colloquialism should offer him an affront, he counted it something new to learn of Elizabeth Bennet. As casually as he could, he circled the room and took up a position where he could enjoy Elizabeth’s musical turn, as well as take full advantage of observing her profile. Her performance delighted him. He found closing his eyes permitted him to enjoy it even more. Her singing was excellent, and although her performance on the pianoforte lacked faithfulness to the notes, her joy for life captivated him.
Regretfully, she chose to end her performance even though others beseeched her to continue. Mary, the plainest Bennet sister, succeeded Elizabeth at the instrument; Mary applied herself more completely than did Elizabeth to her practice and sought the gathering’s appreciation, but Darcy felt if her sister spent more time in cultivating her taste rather than diligence in her application, she too might achieve Elizabeth’s easy and unaffected manner.
The younger sisters, desiring their share of attention, interrupted Mary’s performance and demanded the girl play Scottish and Irish airs, more suitable for dancing with the officers. Darcy, having moved away from the instrument after Elizabeth’s performance, looked on in disgust. He preferred an evening of conversation and, particularly, a chance to converse with Elizabeth Bennet. Engrossed in his thoughts, Sir William Lucas’s approach took him unawares. “What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing. I consider it one of the first refinements of polished societies.”
In blunt tones, Darcy responded, “Certainly, sir. It also has the advantage of being in vogue among the less polished societies; every savage can dance.”
To Darcy’s dismay, his reserve did little to deter Sir William’s conversation; the man spoke of Bingley’s affability, complimented Darcy’s dancing at the assembly, inquired into how often Darcy danced at St. James, and made queries of Darcy’s house in Town. Distracted by this babble, he did not realize at that instant Elizabeth moved toward them, and Sir William, struck with the notion of doing a very gallant thing, called out to her, “My dear Miss Eliza, why are you not dancing? Mr. Darcy, you must allow me to present this young lady as a very desirable partner. You cannot refuse to dance, I am certain, when so much beauty is before you.” Sir William took her hand and attempted to give it to Darcy.
Taken by surprise at this sudden turn of events, Darcy sought the advantage. The possibility of holding Elizabeth’s hand uncharacteristically warmed him with an unfamiliar sensation. Although he was not unwilling to receive her hand, Elizabeth instantly withdrew. “Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat you not to suppose I moved this way in order to beg for a partner.”
“Miss Bennet, you would do me a great honor if you allow us to dance,” Darcy responded gravely.
However, Miss Elizabeth would not agree; even Sir William’s entreaties could not persuade her. “You excel so much in the dance, Miss Eliza. It is cruel to deny me the happiness of seeing you; and though this gentleman dislikes the amusement, he can hold no objection, I am certain, to oblige us for one half- hour.”
“Mr. Darcy is all politeness,” said Elizabeth, smiling. Yet, she continued her refusal and walked away.
Her briskness should have offended him, but it did not. In fact, he still considered Miss Elizabeth as Miss Bingley approached. “I can guess the subject of your reverie, Mr. Darcy,” she whispered in his ear.
Without turning his head or removing his eyes from the figure of Elizabeth Bennet, he responded, “I should imagine not.”
Not to be deferred, Caroline continued, adding her usual censure of the gathering, “You are considering how insupportable it would be to pass many evenings in this manner– in such society; and, indeed, I am quite of your opinion. I was never more annoyed. The insipidity–the nothingness and yet the self-importance! What would I give to hear your strictures!”
Imagine her surprise when he said rather distractedly, “Your conjecture is totally in error. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.”
Miss Bingley registered his unhinged attention. With an underlying layer of urgency, she asked, “What lady creates such pleasure for you, Mr. Darcy? Is it someone I know?” Caroline obviously hoped he meant the reference for her.
Darcy replied with resolve, “Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”
Miss Bingley’s countenance betrayed her thoughts. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet! I am all astonishment. How long has she been a favorite? Pray tell when I am to wish you joy.” And although she continued to discredit Miss Elizabeth, he never changed his focus.
The next morning as the Bingley party slept, Darcy partook of the grounds on foot rather than on horseback. He had spent an uneasy night; whenever he sought rest, a pair of fine eyes and an enigmatic smile haunted his dreams.
Despite his best efforts, he wondered how Elizabeth’s sentiments were to be read. Her flirtations of late had increased. Before she forgave him, clearly, though, he should apologize for the assembly. He knew her to be a responsive person, one who would excuse his folly for not choosing to dance when they first met. Yet, on the other hand, a most disagreeable manner formed Darcy’s opinion of the Bennets. Only the two eldest Bennets possessed any sense of propriety, and though he took an apparent liking for Miss Elizabeth, his determination not to fall for her remained important. She would not make him a suitable wife; she did not fit his criteria of what the mistress of Pemberley should be. He understood he should not encourage her interest; it would not be honorable. Why did he question his motives? He knew what he should do in regard to his growing interest in Elizabeth Bennet, but what his mind told him to do and what his heart bade him do became two different pathways.
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Now for the GIVEAWAY. I have two eBook copies of Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Thursday, April 27, 2017.