June 1--Kara Louise
June 3--Becky Thumann
June 5--Sharon Lathan
June 8--Gayle Mills
June 10--Jan Ashe
June 12--Shannon Winslow
June 15--Karen Wasylowski
June 19--Krista Bagley
June 22--Stephanie Hamm
June 26--Laurel Ann Nattress
June 29--Pam Dixon
July 3--Jennifer Petkus
July 6--Karen Aminada
July 10--Marilyn Brant
July 13--Meredith Esparanza
July 17--Lori Smith
July 24--Barbara Tiller Cole: Christmas in July
July 27--Amy Pacifico Cecil
July 31--Maria Grace
August 3--Wendi S.
And Many more to come!
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For this Darcyholic, the Master of Pemberley
was the Gateway Drug!
You’ve heard the slang term, I’m sure… such and such is the gateway drug to the ‘hard stuff.’ Well, for me, Mr. Darcy was the literary substance that introduced me to a whole new fascinating world – the plane of existence known as Austenaddiction.
Let me preface my statement by admitting that my first casual encounter with Jane Austen’s men was actually with the dashing fellows from Sense and Sensibility – sort of like sipping half a beer at one’s first college kegger. Specifically, it was the S&S movie directed by Ang Lee and featuring one of my favorite actresses (Emma Thompson) and a new face (Kate Winslet). I loved the movie, which inspired me to casually breeze through the book. So I had a pleasant little flirtation with Edward Ferrars, John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, and when it was over, I decided I’d read another Jane Austen book. And why not the most famous one of all — Pride and Prejudice?
There I was, innocently imbibing Mr. Darcy as he entered the Meryton Assembly:
Oooh, (I whisper to my reading self) a fine looking mystery man with a noble mien, and ten thousand a year (ten thousand of what, I’m not exactly sure, but it sounds impressive). This guy must be the love interest. He’ll ask Miss Elizabeth to dance next, and then he’ll ask to see her again and … *thud* — I drop my glass. He said what?! Jerk!
Now, I was hooked in a whole different way. Intent on knowing how the authoress planned to redeem the Great Snot from the North of England, I ordered myself another metaphorical drink and dove back into the story. But the transformation didn’t seem to be happening like I expected. I devoured some more addicting prose, laughed at the interchanges between Elizabeth and Darcy at Netherfield. And when the terse, proud Mr. Darcy proposed at Hunsford, even with the narrator’s foreshadowing, the way that it actually went down surprised me almost as much as it did Elizabeth Bennet:
Oooh, a proud, haughty man with a secret crush on our very own protagonist puts his heart on his sleeve with his ardent declaration of love and … She said what?! Headstrong, obstinate girl!
Furiously, I kept reading for my next hit of the taciturn Mr. D, sad that he seemed to all but disappear from the novel! When Elizabeth and Darcy found each other at Pemberley in a bit of slightly contrived serendipity, I was seriously jonesing for some angst relief, and it appeared I might finally get it. But just when I was about to put my Darcy and Lizzy cocktail to my lips and guzzle it down, stupid-head Lydia spilled it all over me by running off with the nefarious Wickham!
It took FOREVER for Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth to get it right, but when they did, it was the perfect high. Sometime after that first reading, I found the BBC version of P&P, the one with Colin Firth, and that little gem finished me off. I was smitten, obsessed, infatuated. I was forever in literary love with Mr. Darcy.
To be honest, the first time I read P&P, I only saw the love story. It was about the third read-through that I began to see the changes in English society that were being illustrated, Miss Austen’s commentary on class structure, the tale of good and bad manners, and the growth of Elizabeth Bennet from a girl who’s a little too sure of herself into a ‘woman worthy of being pleased.’
So if Sense & Sensibility was my first exposure to Austen, why do I consider Darcy the gateway drug to Darcyholicism? Because I believe I must date my Austenaddiction from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley. Meeting Mr. Darcy was the start of a journey that led me two places: One was the high-flying world of Jane Austen canon: Digging frantically through the prose in search of a witty interchange in Emma, watching with trepidation while Mary Crawford injects her sweet venom into Edmund Bertram, waiting for the bliss that is at last evoked by Captain Wentworth’s Letter.
The other place was the fast-lane of Jane Austen fandom: a seemingly infinite supply of Darcy in every flavor imaginable — Regency, modern, English, not-English, businessman, farmer, musician, romantic, stoic, angry, devastatingly unhappy, arrogant, loyal, dependable, sweet and solicitous — Jane Austen fanfiction had it all. I devoured tons of stories for about three years, and then my own blend of Darcy began speaking to me and I wrote him into a little on-line story called “D-Day: D is for...”
And that’s how I became a Darcyholic.
Karen is a Jane Austen uber-fan, and the author of two award-winning Austen-inspired novels: 1932 (published in 2010) is an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice set during the Great Depression, and the recently published Find Wonder in All Things is a modern romance inspired by Persuasion. Both books are available in print, Kindle and Nook formats from Meryton Press. You can learn more about her books and her writing at her author’s blog or on her facebook page. Karen lives in a quiet Southern town, like the ones she writes about, with her husband, son and daughter.