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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Colette Saucier: Mr. Darcy and the 'Utmost Force of Passion'

Welcome Colette Saucier (Another of the 27 Authors Participating in the Upcoming Decatur Book Festival) to Darcyholic Diversions...
17 Days to Go till Decatur Book Festival!)
Hi, Darcyholics!  Today, we have Colette Saucier 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 17 days I will get a chance to know her even better.  Today, however, she is visiting with us here. 

The information on Decatur Book Festival was updated recently, 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 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!
Colette is giving away one copy of Pulse and Prejudice eBook and one copy of All My Tomorrows--US/Canada can choose Paperback but if the winner is International then the prize is an eBook   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.

Mr. Darcy and the 'Utmost Force of Passion'

Much ado has been made over the recent threats that our beloved Pride and Prejudice, as well as other classics, would soon be receiving a “50 Shades of Grey” make-over. My first reaction was to wonder if they planned to rewrite it in first person present tense with terrible prose, ridiculous metaphors, and nonsensical dialog. (Full disclosure:  I have not read 50 Shades of Grey and doubt that I ever shall. I have been unable even to finish the Kindle sample, so I take my opinion from the short portion I did read as well as from the plentiful excerpts available in book reviews.  This seems to be the type of novel one either loves or hates, and I am certain to fall into the latter category.) Hence, my curiosity led me once again to the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to take a peek atone of these Pride and Prejudice, '50 shades' variations, but instead of finding any of that dreadful first person present tense, I realized the text of Miss Austen’s classic had been reprinted in its entirety with a few naughty bits here and there, much as Seth Grahame-Smith did with zombies and martial arts in his “mash-up.”
All of this did raise the question I would like to explore, “Why do some authors of Austenesque novels include romantic scenes of varying levels of sensuality at all?”
Through my own extensive analysis of some ninety minutes, I have divided lovers of Austen literature into five categories. First, we have the purists who believe any variation, adaptation, sequel, or spinoff to be akin to defacing the Mona Lisa. This metaphor never worked for me because, unlike the result of vandalizing a da Vinci, the original classic remains unscathed.  Copies of Gone with the Wind did not spontaneously combust with the release of its sequel. I once tried my hand at painting Café Terrace at Night, but not to worry! Van Gogh’s masterpiece is safe in a museum in the Netherlands despite the atrocity hanging in my office.
Secondly, some Austenites enjoy variations and sequels inspired by Pride and Prejudice but want Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy to remain chaste, many not even allowing for a kiss, as in the original. A subcategory of these will allow consummation of their marriage vows but only behind closed doors.
Next, fans of sequels often allow for certain levels of sensuality as long as the Darcys have taken their marriage vows. The fourth category, in which I classify myself, are those of us who enjoy variations and adaptations that might allow our beloved couple to “anticipate their vows” as long as it is tastefully done. Finally, some lovers of Austen love lovers and enjoy far more explicit love scenes, which bring blushes to the rest of us.
Now we have this new group that defies categorization: Fans of “mash-ups.” I have met some readers who appreciate Austen but also find the introduction of monsters or sex into the original text of Pride and Prejudice to be entertaining. I have also spoken with many people who, much to my chagrin, have only read the “mash-ups” and like them exceedingly. (I back away slowly.)
I cheated with my paranormal novel Pulse and Prejudice by creating both an adaptation and a variation, teetering between categories two and four. The first three volumes follow the plot and style of Pride and Prejudice but from Mr. Darcy’s point of view (and he just happens to be a vampire). The brief moments of physical contact he shares with Elizabeth arise in the context of the paranormal. Then I added a fourth volume – Beyond Pride and Prejudice – which veers from Miss Austen’s original with my story of the weeks leading up to the wedding. As you might have guessed, in this volume, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth “anticipate their vows” with a certain level of sensuality; but as one reader said of my love scenes, “You write it in a sultry way that's not lewd.” (That’s good because my mother-in-law reads them!)
I can only speak to my own motivation in including this in my variation. For one thing, vampires notwithstanding, I strive for historical accuracy; and during the Regency, couples typically enjoyed intimacy after betrothal but before vows. If such were not the case, we should try to learn their trick for having so many eight-pound babies after only six months’ gestation. At that time, engagements were rarely broken; and a man who “cried off” could find himself a social pariah.
Of course, many couples did wait until their wedding night; but for a novel – a love story, a romance – the scheduling of a first romantic interlude denies us spontaneity of emotion. I want that “utmost force of passion” Mr. Darcy feels for Elizabeth, which leads him to risk being ostracized from his friends and family and polluting the shades of Pemberley by marrying her, also to overwhelm his reserve and adherence to propriety as he surrenders to his ardour. To sense a love and desire that overcomes all obstacles of reason and will does not require crude language or vulgarity or a “50 Shades” makeover. And for those who prefer our couple to remain chaste, Miss Austen’s unadulterated Pride and Prejudice will always be there.

Colette is the author of two Pride and Prejudice adaptations – the paranormal Pulse and Prejudice and the contemporary All My Tomorrows – both of which contain scenes of a sensual nature, which are sultry without being lewd.
'All My Tomorrows' on Amazon
Follow Colette on Twitter at @Colette_Saucier


  1. Brava. Nice to get to know you a little better. I wish you all the fun and networking you can handle at the conference.

    1. Thanks, AJ! AAD was rather exhausting, so I hope I can handle Decatur!

  2. What an interesting piece. I can see why for story reasons it can be more romantic for them to anticipate their vows and why Darcy especially might be keen but I always wonder if Elizabeth would have taken such a gamble with her sisters' reputations, especially in versions where Lydia elopes. I think she may have erred on the side of caution myself. Interesting to see an author's view on it!

    1. Thanks, Ceri! Because engagements were taken as almost as strong a commitment as matrimony, the risk to her sisters' reputations would have been minimal, but Miss Austen's Elizabeth might not have been aware of that.

      I did do a full character analysis of Elizabeth for my novel, and I decided to exploit and expand upon some of her characteristics, particularly for my original portion, "Beyond Pride & Prejudice." The original briefly references that she and Jane spent a lot of time in London with the Gardiners, so I emphasized that to make her more sophisticated. I also broadened her intellect through extensive reading, making her a bit of a bluestocking. I thought she would probably have read Mary Wollstonecraft, so she wouldn't have felt guilty for "anticipating her vows."

      Austen's Elizabeth is someone who is curious, adventurous, and not afraid to embrace life. She is the only Bennet daughter interested in seeing the Lakes and the Peak District. I could see her getting carried away in the moment of passion. :)

  3. I'm used to reading the more chaste ones, although I did look at a more explicit one by Linda Berdoll. I recently read Mr. Darcy's Obsession by Abigail Reynolds. It was chaste but from the description on the back cover it sounded like it wouldn't be.


    1. Thanks, Michelle! Abigail's romantic scenes are always tasteful, even the more sensual ones (which is probably why I am such a fan since explicit scenes can make me uncomfortable). I highly recommend "To Conquer Mr. Darcy" - my first "What if?" variation is still my favourite!

      Oh, but read my novel first, of course! ;)

  4. Actually, there is a kiss in Pride & Prejudice, right after Elizabeth accepts the second proposal, but most modern readers don't recognize it. As a single woman, JA couldn't use any of the usual words to describe it - kiss, lips, mouth, touch - which left only descriptions like "He expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do." Regency era readers knew what that meant. In case you have any doubt, look at what follows - Elizabeth is suddenly embarrassed and unable to meet his eyes, and THEN he tells her of his feelings.

    And you're right about intimacy between betrothal and marriage being commonly accepted then. The marriage ceremony then had about the same weight as a christening does now - even if your baby hasn't been christened, it doesn't mean you don't have a baby already. It's a religious blessing on something that's already been done. ;)

    1. Yes, the "missing kiss" is one of the few things that bothered me in the BBC production (the main thing I didn't like was that the one and only time Darcy and Elizabeth meet on the grounds of Rosings, he's on a horse and takes off immediately, whereas in the novel they meet 3 times and walk together!). I think it would have been so romantic to have Colin Firth kiss Elizabeth then. Um, I mean Darcy.

  5. So at what point would it have been ok? After he asked, after it's agreed to by the father or when the settlement was signed? I'm not surprised it was common amongst the lower classes but amongst the gentry too? What situation would a woman find herself in if her intended died and it turned out she was pregnant? And why didn't they tell us facts like this when I was learning history in school, it would have been so much more interesting!

    1. Sorry, Ceri, I replied to you but clicked the wrong reply, so it just posted as a reply to my post.

    2. Just throwing in my own two cents here - it's the public announcement of the engagement that makes a difference, which is why it wasn't okay for Lydia and Wickham. Remember, too, that the Regency was a time of loose sexual morals among the ton, not an age of innocence or of repression like the Victorian age. We tend to think that the upper classes would be more proper, but it was the exact opposite then. The upper classes were particularly noted for their wild ways. The people who wouldn't approve were the middle class, who believed in propriety and were often appalled by the aristocratic excesses.

    3. And intimacy before marriage was completely accepted in the Regency vampire community as well. ;)

  6. Oh, no. It was not "OK." It was just done! Particularly among, as you say, the lower classes but also in the higher classes, the "first circles" to which (as one of the wealthiest men in England) Darcy would belong. You are correct, though, that it was not as common among the gentry, (although remember, even though everyone in Meryton knew Lydia had been sleeping with Wickham, the scandal was quashed once they were married) which is why I emphasized Elizabeth's time in London and her "extensive reading" so she would be more knowledgeable.

    After the engagement, couples would be afforded more time alone, so I can imagine there was some cajoling on the part of the groom!

    Pregnancy resulted quite often, but fortunately engagements were much shorter then since they didn't have big weddings to plan. [They were intimate affairs with few guests (which made getting an invitation to the "exclusive" event more valuable) followed by a wedding breakfast, as all weddings took place before 11:00 am.] I guess the bride counted on the groom remaining healthy until then or trusted the form of birth control he used, but most likely they just got wrapped up in the moment and didn't think at all.

    Too bad you didn't have my husband as a teacher! He is a British historian, and he includes as much sex and violence in his lectures as possible to keep the student interested, which makes his classes very popular.

  7. I'm so excited to be on this list...
    Will prepare an excerpt of my new story to post! An exclusive! =)
    Thank you so much.

  8. Intriguing post. I've read Linda Berdoll's "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" with its explicit yet tastefully written scenes. It was shocking as I was 19 and it was the first JAFF book I'd ever read. After reading 50 Shades (just the first book, my brain stopped functioning 4 chapters into the second), I developed a new appreciation for Berdoll's writing and ability to make sex a part of the story rather than throwing it in for shock value.

    I think, if written well and necessary to the story and characters, sexuality in Austen works. Thus, I look forward to reading your books. I've never read a supernatural JAFF so this could.get.interesting. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Jamie! I hope you will enjoy them! If not, please feel free to let me know your thoughts, privately of course. ;)

      If you were not able to make it through the entire 50 Shades series, you sound much like my daughter who now censors MY reading! How is that for a switch? But she knows what I would not like. I don't mind a love scene if appropriate to the plot and tastefully done.

  9. I must say I find these paranormal twists to the story very intersting. Both books sounds good.
    I did the extras.


    1. Thanks, Margaret! I hope you enjoy them!

  10. Sometimes I prefer a variety so I fall between the third and fourth category. And what enlightening discussion we had. I prefer sensual scenes that are tastefully written for historical fiction and don't mind explicit ones for modern adaptations. If you have read any Regency romances written by modern authors, the scenes are more explicit in nature. So Abigail Reynolds' variations and yours will definitely be my cup of tea.

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    1. Thanks, Luthien! Yes, it sounds like you like our style.

      I know what you mean, though, about some modern Regency romances. There is one author (not of Austenesque) in particular who shocked both my daughter and me. She had our jaws hanging out of our mouths!

  11. Well, I for one was MORE than pleased to read your "teetering" adaptation/variation. Your brooding vampire Darcy definitely gets my blood pumping. I think your rendition is wonderfully written, pleasing both the Austen enthusiast and the hopeless romantic in me. :)

    1. Thank you, Stephanie! The check is in the mail. ;)

      No, you know how pleased I am that you have enjoyed my novels!

  12. I definitely don't mind intimacy or paranormal aspects in P&P stories - no purist here. What I tend to not like is when a variation is written using 90% original Austen text, with other bits thrown in here and there. That was the main problem I had with P&P&Zombies and P&P: Wild and Wanton edition. Plus, I just find zombies really nasty, I don't know what I was thinking lol. I much prefer a more originally crafted story, if that makes sense.

    monicaperry00 at gmail dot com

    -twitter follower @jaffobsession

    1. Thanks, Monica! I completely agree. I hate it when they take all of P&P and just stick bits and pieces here and there. That was really the worse thing about the new 50 Shades make-over!

      Pulse and Prejudice is told primarily from Darcy's point of view, but in the few scenes where my novel overlaps with the original, of course I maintain Austen's dialog (although I do tweak it a bit so Elizabeth is more well-read), but that's it! Everything else is my own.

      That's why I love the "What if" variations so much - they are so original.

      I am on Twitter as well: @Colette_Saucier

  13. Tweeted!


  14. Colette, I make it my business to obtain an exhaustive knowledge of all things Pride and Prejudice. I read everything from Seth Gram-Smith to Enid Wilson to Regina Jeffers, Abigail Reynolds and Jack Caldwell. I have read well over a hundred adaptations/continuations. In all of the time that I've spent in front of a book, I have only come across one title that made me truly angry with the author. I will admit to coming very close to writing her a very disgruntled letter but forced myself not to. You are very safe from my criticism! (Personally I love the paranormal variations)

    As for the sex...I am getting tired of reading about how quickly a mans erection can grow. If it is going to be so embarrassing for so much of the story perhaps our quick witted heroin could actually notice it for once, bring it to his attention that he is not hiding anything (we could indulgently laugh while he squirmed) and move on.

    1. It sounds as though you are as addicted to Austen variations as I!

      I hope that being safe from your criticism means you either have read or will read Pulse and Prejudice, so I should warn you: As he is a vampire, Darcy possesses teeth that grow quite quickly, but I have saved the explicit details on that for the sequel. ;)

    2. I have read it and actually really liked the growing teeth. I thought it was a great variation on the norm. It is really fantastic that there are so many authors out there with fresh ideas. It make my addiction so much more interesting.