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Friday, April 20, 2012

50 Shades of Darcy

Welcome Elizabeth Aston!
Hi, Darcyholics!  It is my honor to introduce Elizabeth Aston to you today.  I am honored that she has agreed to post with us.  She is, as I type this, at the London Book Festival and I am grateful that she managed to find time to prepared her post for today in between her busy schedule. 

For those of you who have been a part of the 'Authors in Bloom' Blog Tour, my winner here on my site was Margaret!  Congratulations Margaret!  I will be in touch soon!
Upcoming Guest Posts Are As Follows:
April 24--Lynn Robson
April 27--Veronica (Dark Jane Austen Book Club)
May 1--Matt Duffy
May 4--Susan Adriani
May 8--Annette W.
May 11--Beth Massey
May 15--Erlynn K.
May 18--Rebecca T.
May 22--Candy M. (So Little Time...)
May 25--Karen Cox
May 29--Jan Ashe
June 1--Kara Louise
June 5--Sharon Lathan
June 8--Gayle Mills
June 12--Shannon Winslow
June 15--Karen Wasylowski
June 19--Krista Bagley
June 22--Stephanie Hamm
June 26--Laurel Ann Nattress
And Many more to come!

Comments on Elizabeth’s post will be the monthly drawings here on Darcyholic Diversions.   Entries will be based on comments on blog posts; but additional chances will be given for joining this site, tweeting this post, Joining this site as a member!, sharing this on Facebook or your blog, Friend me on Facebook, clicking 'like’ on Barbara Tiller Cole, Author's Facebook page, Join Darcyholic Diversions Facebook Page or following BarbTCole on Twitter.
Fifty Shades of Darcy

Ha, that got your attention!

Mr Darcy with curled lip and whip behind his back? Mr Darcy…?

Calm down, this blog isn’t going to be full of wicked scenes and suggestions that Darcy was into sado-masochism, bondage or entered into a relationship with a deeply submissive Elizabeth. You may see him that way, and indeed, I feel sure that someone out there is at this very moment writing a book that will indeed be 50 Shades of Mr Darcy. Just to set the record straight, I don’t see him like that, not at all.

So maybe not fifty shades of anything, but Darcy has certainly become a multi-faceted hero in the minds of his readers. Only consider the many – and contradictory - ways Darcy is reinterpreted in films, in fan fic, in sequels and on blog sites like this one. Even so, as a writer of books set in the world of Jane Austen and particularly the world of Pride and Prejudice, one has to take an angle on Darcy, otherwise one would end up trying to write about a man with multiple personality disorder.

Let’s begin with Darcy’s creator and attend to what the author says about her character. We know his age, we know he is an only son with one sister, that he owns Pemberley, which he inherited from his late father, that he is has more than his fair share of pride in his family and his position in society. He’s the son of a great landowner, possesses an income of at least £10,000 a year, and is the grandson of an earl.

He’s rich, handsome, well-connected and has a terrific house. Is Elizabeth impressed? She is not. Did Jane Austen admire handsome, clever men with large fortunes? You bet she did, but you can also bet that she saw straight through the Mr Darcys of her world and out the other side. That’s why we find him so interesting.

Right, that’s Mr D before he’s been humanised by his love for Elizabeth. The book ends happily with a wiser couple, a wedding and the author’s assurance of their future happiness.

Finished. The End. Story over.

No way. We aren’t going to take her word for it. We long to know what happened next and so the shelves are sagging with the weight of books showing Mr Darcy living in various degrees of marital harmony or disharmony at Pemberley with Elizabeth.
How realistic is this?
Would this able, well-educated man really be content to live the life of a country gentleman? To us, it might seem idyllic: plenty of money, an estate to take an interest in, hunting, shooting and fishing in season – and then the comforts of his family and library for his leisure hours. 

 For my part, I never felt a man as clever and energetic as Darcy would be satisfied with this life. When I wrote Mr Darcy's Daughters, I packed Darcy and Elizabeth off to Constantinople on a diplomatic mission. I had my reasons: I didn't want to write about them as main characters, I felt that Jane Austen and said what she wanted to say about them, and their roles centre stage ended with their marriage.

That’s an artistic choice. But there is more to it than that, because I knew a man of Darcy's background would have a strong sense of service bred into him, and I could see him choosing to play an active part in the affairs of the state.

 I decided to set the date of the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy in 1797, the probable date of First Impressions. In which case their courtship and marriage would have taken place against a background of war. England in 1797 was at war with France, had been at war for many years and, with a brief break for the Peace of Amiens, would continue to be so for many more years until Napoleon was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815.

Given his background, it's most likely that Darcy was a Conservative and not a Whig. The Whigs had influence and bags of style, not to mention notoriously loose morals, but what they didn’t have was power because during this time they were in office only very briefly. So the plums and the posts and the positions would have been within the gift of Conservative administrations, and so might well have gone to a man like Darcy.

People have commented that Darcy was too grand to be a diplomat. Far from it, have a quick look at the men sent to serve as ambassadors in Paris at this time – aristocrats every one of them. 

 Mr Darcy in Constantinople in 1817 would have had a delicious title:  Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. And I can see Elizabeth following in the footsteps of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wearing a turban and venturing into the weird and wonderful world of the harem.

That I leave to the reader’s imagination.

For myself, I’d rather think of Mr Darcy scheming among the Ottomans than sitting with his feet up on a sofa at Pemberley. Let him earn his country pleasures – after he has paid his rightful dues to king and country.


  1. This was an entertaining look at Mr. Darcy. Yes, I have always enjoyed the sequels as opportunities to tell me what happened after the Happily Ever After. I loved reading Darcy's Daughters and Writing Jane Austen.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I'm glad to understand your reasoning behind making Mr. Darcy a diplomat in your stories. I've only read "The Darcy Connection," but I enjoyed it and look forward to reading your other books. You are a talented writer, and I admire your work.

  3. I like your approach! I can see Darcy as a diplomat, actually, and Lizzy enjoying the travel and the opportunities to learn (and to laugh).

  4. I love the images that go with your post (and the post of course) - so deliciously evocative.
    Grace x

  5. Glad to see that people like the idea of a busy Mr Darcy being a successful diplomat. I imagine he'd look good in his official uniform:
    A dark blue button-down high-collar jacket with gold oak-leaf embroidery on the chest, cuffs and long tails; white breeches, or dark blue trousers with gold stripes; and a cocked hat with white ostrich plumes.

  6. Dear Elizabeth,

    I discovered the JAFF world very recently and I have not read any of your books but now I am looking forward to doing so. I was born in Brazil and was always surrounded by foreigners one way or the other my entire life (until I moved to the US, that is). Growing up one of the professions I dreamed of was diplomacy but they had to know too much of Economics for my taste and ended up giving up. I am always fascinated to read about other cultures and historical diplomatic missions so you can be sure you've got a new fan! Thanks for I sharing! I can't wait to see what Elizabeth & Darcy in different surroundings!

    Rita Lacerda Watts

    1. I like the exotic location for them to travel to for both business and pleasure. An interesting idea!

      Did all the extras


      ps. And thank you!!!