“I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child, I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.”
Such are the words our dear Mr. Darcy used when describing himself in Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice, and such are the words included in the opening pages of Gravity: Shades of Mr. Darcy.
I also added words to the following effect: “…what if the thought of Mr. Darcy being a selfish man, who is at first driven by wealth and privilege, is not your idea of how an honorable gentleman ought to be? If so, Gravity, likely, is not your cup of tea.”
In this fictional story, the premise is just as in real life, the way a person is, in the beginning, is not necessarily the way a person is later on as life-changing events unfold.
When reading my books, it must come as no surprise when I include a Jane Austen quote as the epigraph. Imagine how delighted I was when I came across these words mere days before Gravity was published:
“What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?”
How serendipitous. Who better than my all-time favorite foil, Colonel Fitzwilliam, to pose a question of a similar vein to Mr. Darcy? Here’s an excerpt from the scene in which the colonel calls out his cousin:
Gravity: Shades of Mr. Darcy, Chapter 23 Excerpt
Not only was the colonel direct, but he was also persistent. “So that is the story you are going with.”
“That is rather callous – even coming from you.”
“I am callous? What does that say about you? I say you are one of the most heartless people I know and let us not forget, selfish.”
“Heartless, Cousin. You, of all people, would accuse me of being heartless?”
“Anyone who had a heart would listen to its beckoning, not silence it with a cloak of greed. Greed and selfishness.”
Darcy’s restraint and the colonel’s gregarious nature had often complemented each other. But sometimes the latter went too far. For Darcy, this was one of those times. “How dare you?” Darcy demanded.
“How dare I? How dare you?” Colonel Fitzwilliam countered with energy. “I warned you not to invite Miss Bennet into your home, knowing how much she affected you—knowing how likely you were to increase her expectations by exposing her to a life, the likes of which will never be hers, in spite of her manifold attractions. Say what you will, but I strongly suspect that both of your hearts were engaged. In fact, having spoken with your sister, I do not doubt it one bit.
“Now that the damaging effect of broken-heartedness has taken hold of you, my question is, what do you intend to do about it? Wallow in pain and misery and regret for the rest of your days and subject our cousin Anne to the same fate when you finally decide the time has come to satisfy the wishes of others and actually marry her?”
Colonel Fitzwilliam sat upright in his chair. “Before you put forward some justification, I ask you, when is enough, enough?”
“I do not know, Cousin. Why don’t you tell me?” Darcy angrily replied.
The colonel threw up his hands. “There is no reason at all for you to take offense.”
“I am not taking offense. You asked me a question, and I am simply asking the same question of you in return. How does that suggest I am taking offense?”
“Because, Darcy, you know very well that as a second son, I am not entitled to my family’s wealth unless something dire happens to my brother, and I can honestly say I would never want access to my family’s fortune if it meant something happening to the viscount. But you have no such limitations. Not only do you own Pemberley and half of Derbyshire, but you also have ten thousand pounds a year.
“Again, I ask you, when is enough, enough?”
Darcy rarely relied on anyone’s counsel besides his own. However, if anyone could make him question what he was about, it was his cousin. Perhaps as a consequence of the colonel being the older of the two, Darcy always looked up to him. The colonel’s being a second son and Darcy’s being the heir to a vast fortune meant nothing to a little boy tagging along behind an older cousin when the two of them were children. Indeed, Colonel Fitzwilliam was more than a cousin to Darcy but somewhat akin to an older brother—an only brother.
Darcy was certain Richard regarded him as a brother as well, despite Richard’s having an older brother of his own: the viscount. Between the viscount and his cousin, Richard was much closer to the latter.
Having given his cousin’s unanswered question some thought, Darcy said, “It is not so much as I am unable to make a distinction between enough being enough as it is my obligation to marry Anne, even if Rosings were a mere cottage. Even if Anne were impoverished, it would be my obligation to marry her.”
The colonel scoffed at this notion. “Yet, somehow, I do believe that were Anne indeed impoverished, you would find a way to escape your so-called obligation.”
“You have no basis for such an assertion.”
“Knowing you the way I do, I would say for certain I have a strong basis.”
“I refuse to debate this matter any further,” said Darcy, pushing his chair away from his desk and standing.
“I shall take that as my invitation to go. But before I do, I leave you with this one last question: “What is all the money in the world without the woman who owns your heart by your side?”
Indeed. What say you? Comment to enter the giveaway below!
By the way, Gravity was my 2018 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. Once again, it’s NaNoWriMo time – that wondrous time of year when writers around the world undertake the mission of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. I am happy to announce that this year, I passed the fifty-thousand-word mark in eleven days!
The working title of this year’s project is Most Ardently, Most Unknowingly in Love. One only needs to see the working-cover to have a good idea of what this story is about. Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet have a risqué encounter at the start of the story which defines the story’s premise and is the catalyst for a host of provocations to come. In such a titillating tale as this, a forced marriage must surely be expected. However, the altar bound parties are not who immediately come to mind.
Hmm. I wonder which Jane Austen quote I will find that typifies this particular tale.
What’s a new release without a giveaway? Comment for a chance to win an ebook edition of Gravity. Plus, a $5 Amazon gift card (only available from Amazon.com) is also up for grabs. Only one winner will be selected. The giveaway contest ends on Tuesday, November 19th. Hurry!
Here’s my way of expressing my heartfelt appreciation to the tons of ardent fans who sent me such wonderfully uplifting words during the time I needed uplifting most.