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Monday, August 13, 2012

Cynthia Ingram Hensley: Today's Women and Mr. Darcy

Welcome Cynthia Ingram Hensley (Another of the 27 Authors Participating in the Upcoming Decatur Book Festival) to Darcyholic Diversions...
19 Days to Go till Decatur Book Festival!)
Hi, Darcyholics!  Today, we have Cynthia Ingram Hensley with us.  I was so excited when she registered for the upcoming Decatur Book Festival as it has given me an opportunity to begin to get to know her.  And in 19 days I will get a chance to know her even better.  But today, she is visiting with us here. 

The information on Decatur Book Festival was updated last Wednesday evening this week, so visit the link again and find out all the details as well as where YOU can stay as we are so excited to have 27--yes TWENTY-SEVEN Austen Inspired Authors participating with us!  Here is the link! It included information about a large hotel room block you can take advantage of if you would like to be with us!

I am also announcing initial plans for a Darcyholic Holiday eBook Festival.  More Information to come, but send me an email at barbaratillercole@gmail.com if you are an author and would like to participate!!

Upcoming Guest Posts Are As Follows:
August 15--Colette Saucier
August 17--Regina Jeffers
August 19--KaraLynne Mackrory
August 21--Sally Smith O'Rourke
August 24--Pamela Aidan
August 26--Reposting Decatur Book Festival Author Links!
August 28--Jack Caldwell
August 31--Decatur Book Festival Eve!
September 2--Live from the Decatur Book Festival
September 4--Fun Stories from the DBF
September 7--Jack Caldwell's Experiences at the DBF
September 11--Karen Cox's Experiences at the DBF
September 14--Mary Simonsen
September 18--Amber G.
September 21--Moira B.
November 2--Amy Patterson
November 13--Karen Doornebos
And Many more to come!
Cynthia is giving away a copy of her book, Echoes of Pemberley.   Your comment will enter you into a drawing to win a signed soft cover copy for both US and International (be sure to include a way to get in touch with you in your comment).  Comments count as entries, but additional chances will be given for joining this site, tweeting this post, joining this site as a member via Google Friend Connect (GFC) (See the left hand column on the blog to join!), sharing this on Facebook or your blog, Friend Barbara Tiller Cole on Facebook, clicking 'like’ on Barbara Tiller Cole, Author's Facebook page, Join Darcyholic Diversions Facebook Page or following BarbTCole on Twitter.

Today's Women and Mr. Darcy

                        Hi everyone! I am thrilled to be here on Darcyholic Diversions to share my own thoughts on Mr. Darcy. Like most readers of Jane Austen’s novels, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. I adore each character and how their individual personalities add importance to the story. Think of it, if just one person were to suddenly vanish, so much of the plot would unravel and be lost. Now that is excellence in writing! Since Pride and Prejudice was published, no character has been more talked about than the novel’s iconic hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy. For almost two centuries the brooding, proud, handsome, rich, Mr. Darcy has been making women swoon—myself included.
            After reading and rereading Pride and Prejudice and then watching the various available screen adaptations—BBC’s mini-series, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, being my personal favorite—I began seeking fan fiction. My first Pride and Prejudice sequel was Linda Berdoll’s Mr. Darcy takes a Wife—which I lovedand from there I was hooked. I won’t say I’ve read them all, but I’ve read most. I’ve loved some, liked others, and screamed at a few. For the most part, I have been amazed at how we women can all fantasize about the same man, yet see him so differently. Some authors believe he was really a kind, gentle soul who was simply misunderstood. Others prefer the dark, reserved aristocrat who deemed dancing at the Meryton Assembly a punishment. For myself, I tend to believe he can be found somewhere in-between.
            Ultimately, I believe modern women admire Mr. Darcy not because he is rich (Sorry, Sir Walter, it wasn’t Pemberley that made Elizabeth fall in love with Darcy) nor because he’s handsome (though it certainly doesn’t hurt that he is) but because he’s a true gentleman. Mr. Darcy is what all women dream of: a man who can be depended on by his family and friends, a man of strong character, values, and principles. He’s the kind of man a woman can respect. These are all the qualities which Elizabeth eventually came to regard so highly in our/her Mr. Darcy—not his money or his estate. Is today’s woman so different from Elizabeth in her needs? I should think not. So the question is. How did Jane Austen do the unthinkable? How does a 19th century author pen the perfect leading man so that two centuries later women are still buying her novel…all of her novels.  
            The answer is simple. Women haven’t really changed all that much. In many ways we are still and will always be Elizabeth Bennet. Don’t we all have a couple of unfortunate relatives? Haven’t most of us dated (or possibly married) Wickham before we realized he was wrong, wrong, WRONG? And finally, haven’t most of us girls been caught red-handed checking out a prospective husband’s country estate in Derbyshire. Okay, that last one was just for fun, but you get the point. It goes without saying that women today have more opportunities, equal rights, education and career freedoms than Elizabeth Bennet could even dream of. But do these freedoms lessen our feminine desires? Certainly not! Quite the opposite if bestselling novels such as Outlander and Fifty Shades of Grey are any indicator. Today’s woman still wants, needs a man’s man (cliché but no less true). We want a challenge not an easy victory. Independent, free-thinking Elizabeth Bennet rejected bootlicking Mr. Collins and chose the insufferable Mr. Darcy—despite his many faults. Is it so inconceivable that today’s independent, free-thinking women are still choosing Mr. Darcy?
            Musing Mr. Darcy’s staying power through the ages was in part what inspired me to begin writing. Although I am fascinated by the Regency era and can usually be found with my head ear deep in a Pride and Prejudice sequel of that period, I couldn’t help but wonder of Pemberley and the Darcys in more modern times. It cheered me to think—like my own ancestors and yours—that what Darcy and Elizabeth began so long ago might have continued through generations of children and grandchildren. Maybe there would be a television cater-cornered in one of Pemberley’s family rooms or a telephone hanging on the wall in the kitchen. Possibly, a contemporary Mr. Darcy might dash around Derbyshire in a sports car. Enthralled, I sat down and wrote my first novel, Echoes of Pemberley.
            The challenge for me was to create characters that would symbolize the original cast of Pride and Prejudice, but possess a tad of my own personality in the mix. It was important for my Darcys to have a few distinctive traits that a Darcy–Bennet union might have spawned. For example, my Mr. Darcy (Bennet Darcy) is as taciturn as his Regency grandfather but has a fun dash of Mr. Bennet’s quirky sense of humor. My fresh faced, twentieth-century Georgiana (Catie Darcy) can be a tad snarky but retains all of Georgiana’s innocence. And lastly, for my Elizabeth, I went far out on a limb and introduced a fiery Irishman named Sean Kelly to the story. Since Jane Austen already did such a brilliant job telling how Darcy and Elizabeth fell in love, I decided to take a road less traveled and give the younger Darcy (little sister) a turn at romance. At nineteen, Sean Kelly is every bit as clever and strong-minded as Elizabeth Bennet was. The son of an Irish horse farmer, Sean comes from a large family of five rowdy boys (sound familiar) and would most definitely be more at home in a pub than a drawing room. When Sean Kelly comes to Pemberley to work for the summer, the last thing on his mind is falling in love with a spoiled lass from the shires. Fate, however, most definitely has a sense of humor. Didn’t Elizabeth declare she would never dance with Mr. Darcy? As Elizabeth did so many years ago, Sean soon discovers that first impressions aren’t always what they seem—especially with a Darcy.
             To Jane Austen, 200 years ago you reached into your soul and gave us Mr. Darcy, an enduring, ageless icon. Today’s woman sincerely thanks you. For what would have become of romance novels without Pride and Prejudice


  1. because he’s a true gentleman. Mr. Darcy is what all women dream of: a man who can be depended on by his family and friends, a man of strong character, values, and principles. He’s the kind of man a woman can respect

    Hear, hear!! This means Darcy will be popular for another 200 years, at least.

  2. Not only is Mr Darcy dependable, of strong character, values and principles, but he is also able and willing to face his own foibles (although he has to go through the humiliation of Hunsford first ;) ) and change his stripes. Not because he's in love with Elizabeth, but because he sees the truth in what she says to him. He listens to her.

    Echoes of Pemberley is a marvelous book, Cynthia! I enjoyed the spunky Georgiana and the down-to-earth, yet respectful Sean Kelly (he's the real deal).

    1. Yes, Karen, Elizabeth certainly gave our Mr. Darcy food for thought! Just one of the reasons we love her! Can't wait for Decatur!!

  3. Underneath it all Mr. Darcy is a caring person, even if it doesn't seem like it at first.

    I've read a lot of Austen sequels, too, and I collect them. I think there's a neverending amount of them, especially if you look one up on Amazon and then look at the row of suggested books from other authors.

    The hardcover book pictured (P&P) with a blue spine looks like the Barnes and Noble edition. I have their edition of Emma.


    1. I totally agree, Michelle. It truly shows in his care for his sister and his friend Bingley.

  4. I read this books and Loved it!!!! Thanks for an awesome post!!

    1. Echoes of Pemberley is my first novel, so it’s still surreal to hear someone say they loved the book. Thanks for the comment, Krista…it really made my evening!

  5. This sounds delightful! I have heard of the book but have not seen many giveaways so thank you! I did all the extras.


  6. Cynthia! I sure do appreciate your taking the time to post here at Darcyholic Diversions. Your book sounds fascinating and is on my to be read list. I look forward to meeting you officially in Decatur!


    1. Thank you, Barbara! Just two weeks away! Should be a great weekend...

  7. I agree! I saw the book while browsing the many number of sequels and it stood out. Now reading this and getting to know more of your perspective, I must read this! Thanks :)

  8. This is quite a different take on the Austenesque fiction genre so I'm adding this book to my wish list.

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    1. Thanks so much - Yes, Echoes of Pemberley is a slightly different take, but I truly enjoyed writing a new generation of Darcys! Hope you like them as well!

  9. Very well put, Cynthia. It is remarkable, as you said, how so many women adore Darcy but interpret him differently.

    I'd love to win this book. It sounds great. I don't think I've ever read a story like it, with modern descendents of Darcy and Lizzy.

    monicaperry00 at gmail dot com

    -twitter follower @jaffobsession

  10. Tweeted


  11. "For example, my Mr. Darcy (Bennet Darcy) is as taciturn as his Regency grandfather but has a fun dash of Mr. Bennet’s quirky sense of humor."

    got to love that image!! Your book sounds fun!

  12. sharing this on Facebook (Patricia Finnegan)
    Friend with Barbara Tiller Cole on Facebook,
    'like’ on Barbara Tiller Cole, Author's Facebook page,
    Join Darcyholic Diversions Facebook Page
    following BarbTCole on Twitter.

    I have this on my to be rea dlist I love anything pride and prejudice related

    1. Contact methrough fb or Patkf2007@hotmail.com

  13. This is another book I am adding to my wish list. I need a job so I can support my addiction to books, Jane Austen books!


  14. I like your author page on fb (oh, and my twitter handle is @asoftheday)