What’s a Pride and Prejudice sequel without a healthy measure of family drama inherent in the unequal alliance between our dear couple?
In my upcoming release, Dearest, Loveliest Elizabeth: Pride and Prejudice Continues, not everyone is as happy about the Darcys’ marriage as they ought to be. All the usual suspects are present plus a couple more. Hidden agendas and secrets waiting to be told abound.
One might think of Lady Catherine de Bourgh as being the greatest source of vexations for the young lovers. Think again. Take Lydia, for instance. I’ve often wondered what would happen if Lydia found out that her dear Wickham had planned to elope with Miss Georgiana Darcy. As evidenced in canon, Lydia is not very reliable when it comes to keeping secrets. Here’s a classic example:
“Well, I was so frightened I did not know what to do, for my uncle was to give me away; and if we were beyond the hour, we could not be married all day. But, luckily, he came back again in ten minutes’ time, and then we all set out. However, I recollected afterwards that if he had been prevented going, the wedding need not be put off, for Mr. Darcy might have done as well.”
“Mr. Darcy!” repeated Elizabeth, in utter amazement.
“Oh, yes!–he was to come there with Wickham, you know. But gracious me! I quite forgot! I ought not to have said a word about it. I promised them so faithfully! What will Wickham say? It was to be such a secret!”
“If it was to be secret,” said Jane, “say not another word on the subject. You may depend upon my seeking no further.”
“Oh! Certainly,” said Elizabeth, though burning with curiosity, “we will ask you no questions.”
“Thank you,” said Lydia, “for if you did, I should certainly tell you all, and then Wickham would be angry.”
On such encouragement to ask, Elizabeth was forced to put it out of her power by running away.
What a pivotal moment that was in the story! It also caused me to consider what would happen if Lydia Wickham arrived uninvited at Pemberley, intent on causing mischief at the behest of her dear husband, who is forbidden to come there himself?
Here is an excerpt from Dearest, Loveliest Elizabeth in which Lydia takes it upon herself to enlighten Georgiana on the earliest days of Elizabeth’s acquaintance with Mr. Darcy.
Lydia, Georgiana, Mary, and Kitty were walking about the lanes when Lydia impatiently seized Georgiana’s arm. “Come, Georgiana, let us walk ahead of the others, for I should like my fair share of your attention.”
Despite feeling the young woman’s rudeness toward the others, Georgiana silently consented. When they were a few paces ahead of the others, Lydia said, “My sisters, Mary and Kitty, had the pleasure of making your acquaintance at Lizzy’s wedding. I should have liked to have been there, and I would have been there too had Lizzy prevailed upon Darcy to make the proper arrangements, which I am certain he would have done, given everything else he did for me and my dear Wickham.”
“I beg your pardon,” cried Georgiana.
“Oh, I should not have said a word, for that is meant to be a great secret. Pray, forget I said anything.”
Georgiana’s countenance clouded a bit, but she said nothing.
Lydia said, “It is a fine morning for a walk, is it not?”
“Indeed, it is.”
“I always enjoyed walking with my sisters when we were all at Longbourn. Hardly a day went by, weather permitting, that we did not venture to Meryton. Do you ever walk to Lambton?”
“I am afraid I do not. Even if I wished it, my brother would never hear of such a thing.”
“I suppose it is very far when I am forced to think of it. Meryton is a very easy distance from my father’s estate. And, as I said, my sisters and I so enjoyed walking there—Lizzy especially, for she has always been an excellent walker. Did you know that on one of our walks to Meryton we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Wickham for the first time?”
Georgiana’s voice cracked a little. “I did not.”
“Indeed. How fortunate we thought ourselves at the time, although I am forced to confess that he only noticed Lizzy and she likewise took note of him. He was her favorite beau for the longest time, but then a Miss Mary King—who went away to Liverpool once she inherited a small fortune—stole him away from Lizzy. That freckled thing—what Wickham admired about her I can scarcely imagine. However, as I said, she went away, which delighted all the other ladies in Meryton exceedingly and no one more than me, for I became the happy woman upon whom he lavished all his adoration from then on, and the rest, as they say, is history.” Lydia shrugged. “I say ‘as they say’ although, for the life of me, I have not a clue who they are.”
Georgiana did not utter anything in reply. Her mind was frantically engaged in thought on the implications of Lydia’s speech. She wondered if her brother knew of Elizabeth’s early fondness for George Wickham. If perchance he did then how did he endure it?
Lydia tugged at Georgiana’s sleeve to reclaim her attention. “Why does your brother not allow my Wickham to visit Pemberley? We are all family, are we not?”
“No doubt my brother has what he supposes is a valid reason.”
“I’ll tell you his reason. It is because Darcy is so very mean. Why, you would think he would welcome both of us with open arms, given that he paid for my own wedding and Wickham’s commission.” Lydia slapped her hand over her mouth. “Oh,” she cried, “there I go again, telling the world what is meant to be a secret, but I trust I may depend on you not to tell another living soul, and I shall endeavor to do the same.”
“You may depend on it,” Georgiana said tentatively, not entirely convinced she would keep her word. Why would my brother do such a thing?
“Well, as I was saying, not only is Darcy mean-spirited when it comes to my Wickham, I fear he is exceedingly jealous, for everyone liked my Wickham best when we made his acquaintance in Hertfordshire, and not a single one of us could tolerate Darcy—not even Lizzy.” Lydia huffed. “La! Especially not Lizzy!” she exclaimed. “She hated him the most. Of course, one would never know that now. The two of them forgave each other. Oh, if only they were half as magnanimous where my darling Wickham is concerned.”
Georgiana pursed her lips in puzzlement. “I find it hard to believe that my brother and Elizabeth were ever at odds.”
Lydia’s mouth gaped. “You need not take my word for it,” she said in the face of Georgiana’s skepticism. “Ask Mary, for she never lies. She always tells the truth.” The young ladies turned to see what had become of the others. Kitty walked along with her arms crossed and her expression aggrieved. Mary trailed behind, heedless to her surroundings with her head buried in a book.
“Oh, Mary!” Lydia cried. “Why are you reading on such a perfect day as this and at Pemberley of all places?”
Mary looked up at her sister inquisitively.
“Hurry and join us, for I want you to tell Georgiana how Darcy and Elizabeth really felt about each other when they first met.”
Have your share in the conversation. Which do you think has the potential to wreak the most havoc on the Darcys: Lydia’s loose lips or Lady Catherine’s cunningly concealed contempt?
It’s giveaway time! Dearest, Loveliest Elizabeth is available for pre-order on iBooks, Nook, and Kobo. Its release date is November 30, 2015. Comment for a chance to win a Smashwords eBook edition that can be read on the platform of your choice, including your Kindle. One winner will be chosen on Tuesday, November 24th.