Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Variation First Look

Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Variation First Look

Last month, I was one of thousands of determined authors who took part in National Novel Writing Month—otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. During NaNoWriMo, authors aspire to write 50,000 words (the equivalent of a novel) during the month of November. I’ve undertaken and completed this lofty endeavor four years in a row. For me, it wasn’t a matter of if I could write 50,000 words in a month, but whether I could write 50,000 words by November 25th. That way, I’d have everything wrapped up before Thanksgiving.

I have to admit there was a point when I thought I might end up writing past Thanksgiving Day—right up until November 30th. For two to three days during the final week of my self-imposed deadline, it was all I could do to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. Writing several thousand words a day was not an option. Oh, how I berated myself at the time. Little did I know, as I repeatedly succumbed to sleep, that I was simply recharging my muse.

I say that because, in the final days before November 25th, my creativity went into overdrive. I wrote 2,417 words on November 23rd and just over 10,000 words on the 24th, and effectively crossed the 50k mark one day ahead of schedule.

I love the premise of my NaNoWriMo 2015 story. Elizabeth becomes estranged from her Bennet relations largely by her own choosing owing to her sense of right and wrong and her desire to strike her own path. Fate intervenes rendering her increasingly drawn to Darcy. Neither of the two is willing to concede to the growing attraction to the other, and so the story goes.

Despite my fascination with this ‘what-if’ story, I’ve managed not to tinker with it since November, in keeping with my wont to allow a NaNoWriMo story to rest for a month or so before starting the revision phase. That is until now. I’ve skimmed the extremely rough draft, grabbed an intriguing snippet, and cleaned it up a bit for your reading pleasure. Without further ado, here’s a first look at my NaNoWriMo 2015 story: Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

“Oh! I am in love!” exclaimed young Lydia Bennet. “I should not have believed myself capable of falling in love with any man who does not don regimentals, but that is indeed what I have done, for I am so very deeply in love with Mr. Darcy.” She clasped her hands to her chest. “He is my hero, and I can hardly wait for the two of us to be married.”

Her mother replied, “Indeed, your Mr. Darcy is a true knight in shining armor who braved the raging fires that engulfed our beloved Longbourn manor to rescue his ladylove from certain death. You are indeed a lucky young woman, Lydia, to have captured the fancy of such a man.” Here, Mrs. Bennet commenced a familiar refrain. “Oh, he is so tall. He is so handsome, and he has ten thousand pounds a year. What pin money you shall have and what fine gowns and precious jewels you shall own. You are a lucky girl indeed.”

“I know, and do not think I do not remind myself of how fortunate I am every single day.” Lydia then pouted a little. “Although I cannot understand why he has not come to declare his true love for me and offer his hand in marriage. I should very much like to be the first of my sisters to be married. Even though I am the youngest, I am the tallest which must surely count for something.”

Mrs. Bennet shook her head. “I do not understand what is keeping him either, my dear. Perhaps I ought to speak with your father. He will know what is to be done to hurry the young man along. Everyone knows that Mr. Darcy has no choice other than to marry you. Why, I am certain everyone witnessed him carrying you in his arms.”

“Oh! Do speak to Papa, and tell him to make Mr. Darcy come and see me, else I shall have to go to Netherfield Park, and I would much rather not go there because it is so very far.”

“Oh, but we shall all be going to Netherfield soon enough. Do you not remember that you secured Mr. Bingley’s promise to give a ball as soon as your sister Jane was recovered? He cannot have forgotten.”

Elizabeth had been silent throughout most of her mother and sister’s ridiculous speech, but this latest sentiment was completely beyond the pale.

“Mama!” Elizabeth cried with energy. “In the wake of all that has happened, surely you do not expect Mr. Bingley to honor such a commitment.”

“Why, I most certainly do. Why should he not when a ball is just the diversion we all need in light of the unfortunate events of late? It is not every day that a family loses all of its most cherished worldly goods in a fire.”

“That is my point, Mama. This is no time for a celebration.”

“I must beg to differ, Miss Lizzy. Who doesn’t like a ball?”

“But, what of the expense? If I know anything about you, it is that you will want all of your daughters as well as yourself to wear beautiful gowns, and neither of us is in possession of such fineries.”

“Then I must speak to Mrs. Smith at the modiste and arrange for additional credit. What is the expense of another six gowns in view of such a happy occasion as a ball?”

Elizabeth was aghast. Her mother did not care one bit about all the debts she was incurring of late with the local merchants.

“Mind you, Lizzy, if you are so opposed to the idea of a ball then you are welcome to stay here and console yourself all alone. I shall not miss this opportunity and neither shall any of your sisters. Mr. Bingley will surely wish to see Jane, and Mr. Darcy shall be utterly and undeniably in love with Lydia by the time the night is over.”

Elizabeth thought she might appeal to her father to make him see reason and to encourage him to rein in her mother. She found him walking about in the garden. Falling in step with him, she began her ardent petition, but to no avail.

“Papa,” she cried at length, “can you not discern how unsuitable it would be for our family to be seen donning fine gowns and making merriment at a ball when our neighbors have been so generous in the outpouring of their support? They’ve kindly provided food, clothing, and furnishing. They have done everything in their power to assure our creature comforts during our time of need.”

“Lizzy, surely you can see that we shall have no peace if your mother and your sisters do not attend the ball.”

“Peace? Is that the only thing that matters to you? Would you have your own family make a mockery of our neighbors’ benevolence? Surely you know that my younger sisters will display an appalling lack of decorum.”

Seeing that her whole heart was in the subject, Mr. Bennet affectionately replied, “Do not make yourself uneasy, my love. What can any of this mean to you? No doubt you are used to such behavior. It has never bothered you before. In fact, have you and I not made sport of your sisters’ want of propriety? What has gotten into you that you now find them all in some way objectionable?”

“Our family’s diminished circumstances, for one, Papa.”

“So, is that the root of your concern? Are you now ashamed to be associated with your mother and sisters because of our loss of standing among our society owing to our reduced circumstances? I assure you, my Lizzy, this is merely a fleeting impediment.”

MEB One Regret

Again, this is just a rough draft, and I anticipate a fair amount of changes. That said, should Darcy’s reward for rescuing Lydia from a burning building be a lifetime with her by his side? Is there any wonder that Elizabeth is astounded?

42 Responses to Miss Elizabeth Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Variation First Look

  1. Oh, my. Darcy saddled with Lydia…..that is too much; too cruel. It would be worse than him marrying Caroline Bingley. Better if he remains unattached and unmarried for all eternity.

  2. Darcy would either lose ALL of his gentlemanly composure and throttle Lydia or find Wickham and PAY him to compromise that idiot. The thought of them together makes me quite ill.

  3. Oh what possibilities!! I am looking forward to this very interesting variation. Lydia and Mr. Dary, what fun that will be. I also wish only for Darcy and Elizabeth to marry when all is done, but their journey to said destination sounds so intriguing!!

  4. If Mr. Darcy were truly in love with Lydia Bennet of all people, he would have come back to Longbourn as soon as possible. Darcy shouldn’t have to spend the rest of his life with a silly little copy of Mrs. Bennet. Your storyline sounds very interesting. I love reading these P&P variations.

  5. I love this! I don’t mind the angst one bit. I love your comment about recharging your muse. Look forward to reading more of this to find out how Mr. Darcy and Lizzy survive Mrs. Bennet and Lydia, a fire has nothing on those two.

    • Thanks, April. You’re absolutely correct about Mrs. Bennet and Lydia. The Netherfield ball ought to be interesting. Mrs. Bennet might boast of two daughters’ marital prospects–maybe three. 😮

  6. Oh no!!! Please tell me Darcy doesn’t marry Lydia? I’m really sorry but I couldn’t possibly read it if that is the case. Darcy and Elizabeth getting married is non negotiable for me to enjoy a book. Mr Bennet is worse than ever and there are really no words for Mrs Bennet and Lydia! I shall check with interest to see if things are likely to improve. Thanks for the excerpt Pam (even though I will probably have nightmares now!)

    • A few stories I read about Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam really upset me. I like the Colonel, but I didn’t like what happened between them. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but I always want E & D to end up together. Having Darcy and Lydia marry at all would be a waste of Mr. Darcy.

      • I like the colonel as well. For some reason, I am fascinated with the idea of an ‘alliance’ between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Jane. 😮 Guess what! Both of them will be in Kent in this story.

  7. In my mind, it would be necessary for a Mr. Darcy to transform into a Mr. Rochester and lock his first wife in the attic. After all she is a raving lunatic, is she not?

    Mr. Bennet has never won “Parent of the Year” even when he was the only candidate. He is just so lazy and downright neglectful in his management of his family (both wife and daughters) and of his estate. He should have been putting aside money for dowries and reading books on agriculture to increase output of crops and on husbandry for the animals, etc.

    I could imagine Caroline plotting to take Lydia down easily and clapping for her efforts, myself.

    Get on with it, my dear. This we must have more of.

    • Mr. Bennet has never won “Parent of the Year” even when he was the only candidate.

      I love it, Sheila. He’ll really have a challenge now that Longbourn House is destroyed.

  8. Congratulations on the new story. Again, Mrs. B and Lydia show how perfectly senseless they are. They just won’t see that Mr. Darcy would have rescued anyone trapped in the fire. And, if it had been anyone else who had rescued Lydia, such as a servant or neighbor boy, they wouldn’t be saying he had to marry her. I’m with Elizabeth — get as far away from them as possible.

  9. Oh boy. This looks like it will be a terrific story. I anticipate lots of angst. You’d better write this one quickly, so we can jump on it, and find out what happens!

  10. I always thought Caroline would be the worst choice of wife for Darcy, then you go and throw Lydia into the mix. The horrors Darcy must be going through are going to be very interesting I suspect. I very much look forward to reading the rest of this. Happy editing!

  11. I like it when Lydia is married to someone who doesn’t put up with her B.S. or even killing her off; she is a very unlikable character. I have often wanted to take her over my knee and then lock her in the nursery for about five more years with a governess, BUT not a marriage at the expense of a Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth HEA. Angst is fine, Struggle is fine, but if it is not the HEA of F & E, it is not a P & P variation I would buy and I have all of your books. Mr. Bennet has always been a troublesome character for me. Such a total want of proper conduct as befits a father is appalling. He is a weak and self-indulgent man whose care is only for himself instead of the responsibilities he incurred when he married and father children. And remember, he cannot marry her and then later wed her sister if Lydia dies. That was illegal in England until the 20th Century and to try would have been an enormous scandal. ‘Say it ain’t so.’

    • Thanks so much for reading and enjoying my stories! 🙂 Miss Elizabeth Bennet is a D&E HEA story along the lines of Bewitched, Body and Soul meets To Have His Cake. I hope you’ll love it.

  12. You are such a tease. AND what can you possibly be thinking, or should I say what can the Bennets possibly be thinking trying to tie Lydia to Mr. Darcy? Hit the panic button or is this a comedy? I can hardly wait for this fun tale to come about. Looking forward to Spring. Jen Red PS Congrats on your NANO. Every time I’ve tried, I get bogged down and either don’t make the mark or end up throwing out what I wrote. Good for you.

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