Of all the scenes in all the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ adaptations, ‘The Look’ at Pemberley is, hands down, the one I love best.
But the piano scene at Rosings is a close second, followed by the gentlemen’s first visit at the Parsonage.
It was the last two scenes that inspired ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’. I’ve been drawn to write love triangle scenarios before – what better way, after all, to torture Darcy for being a self-centred sanctimonious prig and not proposing to Elizabeth while he had the chance? But this time the Rosings and Hunsford scenes simply goaded me into writing the worst triangle of all. What if his rival was not some secondary new character that nobody really cared about – that Darcy didn’t care about? What if his rival was his dearest, closest friend?
Around this time last summer, while my family was climbing up Langdale Pike in the Lake District, my idea of fun was very different. There I was, in the garden of a gorgeous old coaching inn, with a glass of lime-and-soda, pen and plenty of paper – and the story started to take shape.
Then I went home, and set it aside. It’s always tempting to punish Mr. Darcy in some pretty harsh ways for his excessive pride and his misjudgements, but I thought that making him learn that the love of his life is engaged to his dearest cousin is probably a step to far! And what of the dear Colonel? We love him very nearly as much as we love Darcy, so how can we bear to see him lose the girl in the end – as surely he must? How to ensure that the close connection between the cousins doesn’t get irretrievably damaged in the process? How to bring about a happily ever after’ for everyone?
So I started writing another story instead and got a few chapters down, that owed a lot to Deborah Fortin’s knowledge of horses and side-saddle riding. Thanks ever so much for the info, Debbie, that story will be written one day. But not yet. It just didn’t want to be written. But ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’ really did.
The main reason is that, fraught as it might be in the first half, ‘The Unthinkable Triangle’, with its premise of Elizabeth’s engagement to Colonel Fitzwilliam, presented terribly appealing opportunities for her and Mr. Darcy to spend more time together than they ever did. Because, in everybody’s eyes, they were almost related – they were as good as cousins. So, along with Jane, Elizabeth can accept Georgiana’s invitation to spend time at the Darcys’ townhouse. She can get to know Darcy, if not at his most intimate, then certainly at his least formal. She can learn to see him for what he truly is: a good man, an affectionate brother, a considerate master. Someone who would be a tower of strength in times of dire trouble. Someone for whom reserve is but a mask he wears to strangers. Someone who would preserve the woman he loves from every evil. And thus she can discover at long last there is nothing she wants more than to be that woman.
An excerpt from the first chapter is now up at the Writers’ Block and if you’d like to have a peek, you can find it here. More excerpts will be available on various stops on the blog tour, but for now what do you think of these two short quotes?
“What have you against my engagement?” Fitzwilliam queried. “You may not approve of Elizabeth, but I pray matters would mend between the two of you. Will you not try, for my sake, to accept her?”
From his deepest hell, Darcy wished he could beg for mercy – for an end to the cruel torture. Yet he could not, for it would only bring a different hell, where all the sores would be laid into the open.
“Elizabeth, you must leave me room to hope! Or, as God is my witness, by this time tomorrow I will have carried you off to Gretna Green and damn the consequences!”
So, are you intrigued or plain terrified? Are you willing to take this roller-coaster ride with me?
‘The Unthinkable Triangle’ will be released soon after the Jane Austen Festival, on the 23rd of September. In the meantime, please leave a comment for the chance to read it for free as soon as it’s released. The international Giveaway is open until midnight (BST) on Wednesday 23 Sept 2015 and includes a paperback and two e-copies. Good luck and see you soon!