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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Edie Adams Shares A Letter To Jane Austen

Edie Adams Shares A Letter To Jane Austen

 (I am happy to welcome Edie to DarcyholicDiversions!  She will be giving away an eBook of 'The Houseguest' to one lucky commenter.)

A letter to Jane Austen

Dear Jane,

You don’t mind if I call you Jane, do you? Good. Feel free to call me Elizabeth. Or Liz if you prefer. Now, we need to talk.
Are you aware of the craze you incited when you wrote a certain character by the name of Mr. Darcy? Do you know how many women spend their free time dreaming of him, imagining meeting him, and reading about him? No? Well, I should tell you that it’s gotten a little out of hand.
Mr. Darcy has become the one romantic hero almost all women can agree on. He is the ideal other men are compared to and the fantasy no one can live up to. What were you thinking? Sure, he’s smart and cultured. Everybody loves a smart guy. But then you had to go and make him loyal and strong and steadfast. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also incredibly handsome and he’s tall. Did you know I’ve always had a thing for tall guys?
Add to all of that his fancy house in town and a gorgeous, magical, un-mortgaged estate in the country. Were you trying to drive everyone crazy? To taunt us with the perfect guy that will never really exist?
Just to show he’s not too perfect, you make him rude and insulting when we first meet him, Really?
but still loyal and brave. While this may seem like a flaw, it is actually an ingenious plot designed to show us just how great he is. Because as soon as the woman he loves points out his faults, he gets mad (proving he’s hot blooded – which just makes him more attractive) and then he gets reasonable. He learns from the past and from her and becomes worthy of her. Did you hear that, Jane? A man, who has everything going for him and women falling all over him, changes his behavior to make himself worthy of a woman. A woman who, by the way, is considered undeserving of him by society at large and who has rejected him vehemently. He has no guarantee he’ll ever even see her again. Really?
Then, this great catch turned all-around great guy, delivers the grandest of grand gestures and we go from serious like to all out love. What were you trying to accomplish here? Was there a ‘create the perfect man’ contest? (You win, by the way.) Were you playing out your own fantasy? Or was it all just a big cosmic accident and you had no idea how he’d catch on – and still be going strong 200 years later?
Listen, Jane, I don’t want to be rude, I’d like to think we’re friends of a sort, but you really ought to lighten up a bit on the ‘perfect man’ thing. (“There’s something pleasant about his mouth when he speaks.” Seriously? We all know what that’s code for.) You couldn’t make him shorter, or a little chubby, maybe with a bald spot and a missing tooth? Or maybe he could be terrified of spiders and snore like Daffy Duck. Something! Give me something to make him just a little less perfect and a little more resistible. I’m begging you!
I hope you’ll take this under advisement.

Elizabeth Adams

How Elizabeth Adams Found JAFF

I found JAFF completely by accident. It was late summer 2010, and I had a hair appointment where I knew I would be sitting in a chair with foil on my head for an hour. I needed something to read, I was at Target and I saw Sharon Lathan’s first book. I loved the original P&P (who doesn’t?) so I thought I’d give it a try.
I ended up not reading it that day, which turned out to be a good thing because when I finally did read it, I couldn’t stop blushing! I ordered two more online and the next thing I knew, I was scouring the local library for any Darcy-related books. I had never even heard of fan fiction before that, but once I found variations, I was hooked.

Would You Call It an Obsession?

I don’t know if I would go so far as to say “obsession”. He’s definitely my favorite romantic hero, and I do read more JAFF than anything else, but I do enjoy characters that aren’t Darcy. I’ve certainly never almost said the name ‘Darcy’ in an intimate moment and covered it up with the word ‘darling’.
So no, not an obsession. Just a healthy interest. That’s all. Definitely not obsessed.

About “The Houseguest”

The Houseguest is a P&P variation with a completely different plotline. Georgiana comes to visit Darcy at Netherfield for a week and becomes friends with Elizabeth Bennet. They correspond after she goes back to London and Miss Darcy invites Elizabeth to come for a visit while Darcy is away. He comes back unexpectedly and ends up being trapped under the same roof with Elizabeth for three weeks.
I had a ridiculously good time writing it and torturing poor Darcy. It began in autumn of 2010. I had yet to find any JAFF sites, but I had read several published JAFF books, both traditionally and self-published, and while I really enjoyed most of them, I found myself wishing another option was explored or something happened this or that way. My husband kept saying I should write my own and I had always been a decent writer, so I decided to give it a shot.
The characters took on lives of their own and it was out of my control before I knew what was happening. I originally intended the second half to be quite different from what it is, but the characters just wouldn’t cooperate.

The Houseguest” Excerpt

This is from Chapter 7. Elizabeth and Darcy are in the library and she is telling him a story from her childhood. This is the tail end of that story.

“…I told them we would race to the top. If I got to the doll first, they could not take any more of our toys and must behave like gentlemen the rest of their trip. If they got to the top first, we couldn’t tell their mother about any of this. We shook on the deal and they decided horrid Thomas would be the one to race me, since he was taller and had longer limbs.

“I tied my skirts up around my waist and Jane counted us down. When she said go, we both began to climb furiously, but I knew the way better.” She couldn’t hide the air of pride she felt in her accomplishment. “I had climbed that tree hundreds of times and knew exactly where to step. I had made it to the top and was reaching for the doll long before Thomas. He was so angry with me, he reached out to grab the doll from my arms, but I hit him with my elbow.”

She released a sigh.

“Unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell all the way to the ground. His arm was twisted terribly behind his back and he was screaming in pain, and cursing me with words I had never heard. Michael ran for Mr. Hill and the doctor came and declared he had a broken arm.

“They couldn’t set it until our parents returned several hours later, so he was given laudanum and laid in the kitchen crying and writhing in pain. Eventually all was set right, but he ended up having to stay with us another six weeks until the doctor declared he was ready to travel.”

She slumped back into the chair and exhaled loudly. “It was horrible! My mother went on and on about how unladylike my behavior was and said that if I wasn’t so wild, none of this would have happened. As my punishment, whether for climbing or pushing, I don’t know, she made me act as Thomas’s nurse while he stayed with us. I had to bring him tea and give him his medicine. Mother said it would teach me how to take care of a man, which was what I should be doing, instead of keeping my nose in books all day.” She rolled her eyes.

“And did you?”

“Did I what?”

“Learn to take care of a man?” he asked with a smirk and a glint in his eye.

“I hardly think a twelve-year-old boy can be called a man, Mr. Darcy,” she replied with an impish smile.

He let out a deep, rumbling laugh. “No, he cannot, Miss Bennet. He certainly cannot.”

You can see outtakes for The Houseguest and more at www.elizabethadamswrites.wordpress.com. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cassandra Grafton: In Vain I Have Struggled

Cassandra Grafton: In Vain I Have Struggled
Cassandra's title is very appropo to my absence from this blog for too long of a period of time.  Surgery, a job loss, a job search and a new job that has been a bit like jumping on the Bullet Train even though it did not stop for me has keep me absent from Jane Austen Inspired literature for entirely too long.  I am VERY grateful to be back and welcome the very very very patient Cassandra Graton to Darcyholic Diversions today.  Cassandra is offer a set of all 3 volumes of A Fair Prospect, ebook or paperback, open internationally to a lucky commenter!  So don't forget to take the time to comment below her post!  Thanks for all of your notes, calls and emails!  Barbara

Barbara, thank you so much for allowing me to come along and do a post on your website. It is much appreciated. In preparation for my visit, I had a very enjoyable time thinking about Mr Darcy (who wouldn’t?!) and how he has impacted on my life, and I thought I would share some of that with your readers who are, after all, the experts on the matter!
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
I can still remember hearing those words read aloud in a classroom in Shropshire back in the 1970s. It was the moment when I first sat up and took proper notice of Fitzwilliam Darcy, for I think I was almost as shocked as Elizabeth Bennet when I realised he was proposing!
For Jane Austen – and this was my first venture into reading any of her works – had mislead me as surely as she had her heroine into believing Mr Darcy to be a proud and disagreeable man, his behaviour as unlike a suitor as I could ever imagine (this from the lofty experience of fifteen years of age!)
Back in the classroom, the story continued (we each in turn had to read a few pages aloud before we would stop for some teacher-led discussion on what had just transpired), and how thankful was I that it was not my turn during that challenging scene! I listened enraptured as my eyes devoured the corresponding words in the book on my desk, completely bewitched.
I spent the remainder of that day’s classes with my attention in splinters, and as soon as I got home I raced upstairs, threw myself on my bed and continued to read, completing the rest of the story without a pause.  Afterwards, I lay on my bed, the book grasped in my hand in probably a greater state of shock than Lizzy may have felt after reading Darcy’s letter, except I knew one thing that she did not at that moment: I was in love with Mr Darcy.
At the time of my discovery, the only visual interpretation was the 1940 MGM production starring Laurence Olivier as the hero.  I happened across it by chance one Sunday afternoon many years ago, and once I had recovered from the sight of the crinoline-skirted Bennet sisters, I found myself drawn in by the actor’s portrayal. Was it a faithful retelling? It is so long since I saw it, I truly cannot remember – the only thing I do recall with clarity is Mr Darcy himself.
Imagine, therefore, my delight in 1980 when the BBC began to air a new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice! The lead actors were unknown to me – David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie – but the production, despite the stiffness that characterised the studio-based filming in those days, was charming and a pretty faithful adaptation.  I enjoyed it immensely, but I wasn’t overly drawn to Rintoul in the role. He portrayed the stiff and correct Darcy very well, and when he bumped into Elizabeth at Pemberley he was adorable, but somehow he did not have the ability to make me swoon. However, it was a long way from the 1940 film, and I happily purchased the boxed video set and re-watched it over and over.
There was a long gap between productions then; fifteen long years before the BBC delivered what turned out to be the definitive adaptation.
Who will ever forget the first moment they watched the 1995 series of Pride & Prejudice?  I can still perfectly recall the anticipation every Sunday evening as each episode aired, and what a delight it was from the moment the opening credits began. The earlier 1980 production faded from my mind, obliterated by a tidal wave as a half-dressed Mr Darcy plunged into Pemberley’s lake! It ran from the September through to the October of that year, which dovetailed perfectly with the seasons for the book’s opening and closing scenes, and has been enthralling viewers ever since.
It was ten years before another Darcy came along to tug at my heartstrings – and, oh my, did he tug! The 2005 film has its critics, for a variety of reasons. However, I still absolutely love that film, not only for the story, but also the stunning cinematography, beautiful score and the sheer romance of it all.  (It was the official forum for this film that led me to discover Jane Austen on the Internet, through which I have met some wonderful people, many of whom are now personal friends, and this led me to Jane Austen inspired fan fiction and ultimately to writing my first book.)
As a child I was introverted by nature and shy around those I did not know well. Even in adulthood, I often lack the confidence to do anything ‘different’ being uncomfortable doing anything that makes me feel out of my comfort zone – I even hate just the simple act of having my photo taken, especially in front of other people. Therefore, when reflecting on how Mr Darcy had impacted my life, I began to realise that I had, in recent years, done some things that I would never have dreamed I would do back in that classroom in 1978, and I thought I would share three of them with you.
1.  I never in my life saw anything more elegant than their dresses
In 2008, one very dear, and talented, friend made some beautiful Regency dresses for a group of us, and when
we all got together for a few days of Darcy-led indulgence, the time came for everyone to put on their new attire and have photos taken. Thanks to another dear friend making me a rather effective Cosmopolitan, I buried my nerves over this ‘dressing up’ and then posing for photos pretty well, aided by the knowledge I was amongst people I loved and trusted, all of whom were also wearing Regency clothing!

2. Mr Darcy is all politeness
I have never been someone who would even think about going to a Stage Door and speaking to someone famous, no matter how much I admired them.  However, Mr Darcy, as we all know, is a powerful attraction, and in February 2010 I happened to be in Bath celebrating my birthday with my husband when Matthew Macfadyen was on stage at the Theatre Royal in Private Lives. I did manage to pluck up the courage to speak to him, and he signed a drawing of him as Darcy, done by a friend, for me. Furthermore, he responded to a letter I left him at the theatre by signing a picture I had enclosed (drawn by another talented friend), representing we ladies in our Regency dresses.
3.  But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not
If you saw the 2005 film of Pride & Prejudice you will recall that, instead of looking at a portrait of Mr Darcy when she tours Pemberley, Elizabeth actually comes face to face with a marble bust of him in the sculpture gallery (filmed at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire).  For a few years after the film’s release, the Estate kept the bust on display, initially in the sculpture gallery itself, then later as part of various film location exhibitions. When the house opened for the 2010 season, however, it was discovered that the bust had been removed, was at that time stored in one of Chatsworth’s many basements and was unlikely to see the light of day again unless, to quote a member of staff when questioned, “there is enough demand for it”.
What is a Darcyholic to do? Well, for the love of my many friends who had yet to travel to England and have the chance to see this piece of art (yes, I know it’s just a film prop, but this is Mr Darcy!), I leapt – figuratively speaking – into action and set up an online petition to have it reinstated (something else I have never done before, or since). I wrote a long letter to the Chatsworth Estate asking them to reconsider along with the petition, which had gathered 300 signatures from around the world within a week. Radio silence greeted this, but about a month later, when I was least expecting it, a phone call came from Chatsworth. They wanted to reassure me that they had taken the letter and the petition seriously and the delay was merely over making a decision on where to place the bust. It now sits proudly in the Orangery, the gift shop that is adjacent to the sculpture gallery and, several years on, I am delighted to say that it is still there (I know because I check every time the house opens for the new season!)
Pride & Prejudice continues to draw me in. Whenever I am in a second-hand bookshop (which is often!), I seek out and purchase old copies of the book. I even have one that was released to coincide with that first film with Laurence Olivier in!
At home, I still have the old exam paper with the questions on Pride & Prejudice hidden away in a box in the loft, along with my class books containing all my essays and notes. Sometimes, if I am up there looking for something, I will drift towards that dimly-lit corner of the attic and take them out, dusting off the papers and book covers and remembering that first time – the moment when I fell in love with Mr Darcy.
The Regency dresses were all made by a good friend who offers beautifully made items for sale at Pemberley Dreams on Etsy.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/pemberleydreams
Cassandra’s story, A Fair Prospect, a re-telling of Pride & Prejudice, is told across three volumes. Volume I (Disappointed Hopes), Volume II (Darcy’s Dilemma) and Volume III (Desperate Measures) are all available now at the usual online bookstores in paperback and in all eBook formats in the Kindle store or at http://www.smashwords.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Darcyholic Diversions: Mr. Darcy Comes to Dinner with Jack Caldwell

Darcyholic Diversions: Mr. Darcy Comes to Dinner with Jack Caldwell: AUTHOR JACK CALDWELL DISCUSSES HIS LATEST NOVEL, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER (I want to welcome Jack Caldwell back to ...

Mr. Darcy Comes to Dinner with Jack Caldwell

(I want to welcome Jack Caldwell back to Darcyholic Diversions!)
Hello, folks. I’m back. Jack Caldwell here, author of PEMBERLEY RANCH and THE THREE COLONELS. Barbara, the web-mistress of Darcyholic Diversions, invited me back to talk about my latest novel, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER – a Pride & Prejudice farce. Apparently my last appearances have done nothing to wear out my welcome. We’ll see if that holds after this posting.
So, how can I explain MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER – a Pride & Prejudice farce? Well, there is the title. It’s a farce. According to Bing, a farce is “a ridiculous situation in which everything goes wrong or becomes a sham.” Okay, that should do it.
What, that’s not enough? You want plot? All right:
“In this humorous re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s pet cat causes an unfortunate accident to befall the haughty Mr. Darcy, forcing the injured gentleman to reluctantly take up residence at Longbourn—more specifically, in the parlor of Longbourn! In pain, forbidden to leave by his doctors, Mr. Darcy cannot escape the ridiculous antics of the Bennet clan. And when Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh arrive to visit the invalid, chaos, confusion and hilarity ensue! Inspired by the classics of comedy, author Jack Caldwell transforms Austen’s beloved novel into a tour de force of farce. The Regency will never be the same!”
There. Now go out and buy it.
Huh? You want an excerpt? *Sigh* Okay.
To set the scene, Darcy and the Bingleys were invited to dinner at Longbourn the same day Wickham showed up in Meryton. An angry Darcy was distracted and therefore failed to control his rented horse when it was startled by Elizabeth’s pet cat. He fell, broke his leg, and cut his head. Caroline Bingley fainted at the sight of blood on Darcy’s forehead.
We pick up the story after the local apothecary, Mr. Jones, has attended to the injured Darcy:
The soup was taken away, and just as the party began to partake of the next course, Mr. Jones came into the room. Mr. Bennet immediately invited the apothecary to join them to dine. This earned a comment from Mr. Collins about inappropriate condescension of a country squire—what was perhaps acceptable in Hertfordshire would not be tolerated in Kent. Mr. Bennet allowed this insult to pass without comment, and a red-face Mr. Jones took his seat—in Mr. Darcy’s chair, Elizabeth noticed.
With quiet efficiency, a plate appeared before the gentleman while he gave his report. “As you know, Miss Bingley is well. She suffered no ill effects from her swoon. I understand she dines upstairs with her sister?” Assured that his information was correct, Mr. Jones continued, “I advised her to rest once she returns to Netherfield this evening. As for Mr. Darcy, he was not as fortunate. I suspect a fracture of the lower leg—the fibula, to be exact. The discoloration reveals the location of the injury, you see. Very painful, I am sorry to say.”
“Oh, Mr. Jones, how dreadful!” Mrs. Bennet cried. “Shall you be able to save the leg?”
The apothecary was astonished. “Save it? Oh, most certainly, Mrs. Bennet! There are two bones in the lower leg, you see, and the fibula is the minor of the two. I have slapped a splint on it, and given quiet rest, the gentleman shall be as right as rain in a couple of months. Madam, this chicken is excellent!”
“I am glad to hear that the gentleman is on the road to recovery,” said Mr. Bennet. “Mr. Bingley, would your carriage be sufficient to transport your friend back to Netherfield, or shall we use one of my wagons?”
“Transport?” cried the apothecary. “Oh, no, Mr. Bennet! The patient cannot be moved.” This pronouncement was like a thunderbolt in the room.
“What?” returned Mr. Bennet. “What do you mean, he cannot be moved? Certainly you are not saying he must remain here!”
“Mr. Bennet, we cannot take any chances. Moving Mr. Darcy may exacerbate the injury; the bone may shift, endangering the leg! No, Mr. Darcy certainly cannot be moved. It is unthinkable.”
“Oh, my goodness, my nerves!” Mrs. Bennet placed a hand on her heart. “I…I must prepare a room for—”
“Madam,” Mr. Jones cut in, “Mr. Darcy must not be moved at all, even upstairs. He must stay where he is.”
In my parlor?” the good lady cried. The apothecary nodded. Mrs. Bennet bristled. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“Mama,” offered Jane, “at least Mr. Darcy will be comfortable. It is the warmest room in the house, you always said.”
“True, very true,” Mrs. Bennet reluctantly agreed.
“Warmth is important in recovery,” Mr. Jones pointed out. “Would someone please pass the potatoes?”
“This is stuff and nonsense!” Mr. Bennet proclaimed. “Mr. Darcy is not going to spend two months in my parlor!”
“Of course not,” said the apothecary patiently. “He should be able to tolerate a carriage ride in four weeks or so—no longer than six weeks, certainly.”
F-four to six weeks!” Mr. Bennet sputtered.
And off we go.
Some of you movie buffs out there recognize the plot and the title. I admit is “borrowed” it from the masterpiece of farce, The Man Who Came to Dinner, by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The 1942 movie stared Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante, and Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. Now. This instant. You’ll thank me later.
You may wonder why I followed up two dramas like PEMBERLEY RANCH and THE THREE COLONELS with a comedy like MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER. The simple answer is why not? My readers know I have a strange sense of humor. MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER allows me to indulge in that part of my writing.
And why not turn Pride & Prejudice into a farce? The book is a comedy, after all.  Anyone who can read Austen’s biting wit without laughing has no soul.
MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER was a lot of fun to write and I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s available now in from White Soup Press in print and Kindle at Amazon, and in print and Nook from Barnes & Noble.
One last thing: It takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.

About the Author - Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims who now make the upper Midwest their home.
His nickname—The Cajun Cheesehead—came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings—The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles—appear regularly at Austen Authors.
Web site – Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile – http://webpages.charter.net/jvcla25/
Blog – Austen Authors – http://austenauthors.net/

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shannon Winslow: Mr. Darcy Meets Mr. Rochester

Mr. Darcy Meets Mr. Rochester
Thanks, Barbara, for inviting me to guest blog here today. I’m very excited to tell all of you about my newest novel, Return to Longbourn! It’s the sequel to my sequel to Pride and Prejudice. In other words, it follows after The Darcys of Pemberley. Mary Bennet takes center stage in this one. But don’t despair, fellow Darcyholics; you will not be deprived of your hero. I found plenty of excuses for the rest of the family to get involved in the action too!

So you can look forward to seeing Mr. Darcy again. And I cooked up a couple of other interesting gentlemen to keep you entertained between times. First, there’s Mr. Tristan Collins – the surprisingly appealing brother of William Collins, deceased. (If you’re shocked to hear of Mr. Collins’s premature end, imagine how he felt to learn of it! Read previous guest post here.) Then we also have the mysterious Mr. Harrison Farnsworth, master of Netherfield, where Mary is now governess. He unexpectedly developed into a kind of Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre fame.

Today, however, considering where I am, I thought I had better feature Mr. Darcy. So here is a brief, but pivotal scene that takes place early on in the story. The entire family has been gathered to Longbourn upon the sudden death of Mr. Bennet (sad, but true). Now, as Darcy and Elizabeth are about to depart again, Mary takes a last opportunity to make a better connection with her elder sister:

With one more act of reparation, her conscience would be satisfied. Though the Bingleys’ smart carriage had just started off, the Darcys’ equally excellent equipage was not yet made fully ready for departure, so Mary drew Elizabeth aside. “I regret that my obligations have left us with so little time to talk whilst you were here,” she said.
“I regret it as well…”
…“I meant to ask after your children, Lizzy. I trust they are all three well and strong.”
“I thank you, yes!” said Elizabeth, her countenance brightening at the enquiry.
“I am very glad to hear it.”
“They are, thank heaven, fine, healthy boys,” Elizabeth continued. “Bennet is quite the apple of his father’s eye, and it is much the same with Edward and James. You see, Mary, I live in a household of men, and I must make the best of it. Fortunately, I would as soon sit atop a saddle these days as any other place, so I shall stand some chance of keeping up with them as they grow older.” She turned her address to her husband, who had that moment entered the parlor. “There is nothing – or almost nothing – like the thrill of a good ride. Is not that your opinion as well, Mr. Darcy?”
“So I believe I have said on more than one occasion, my dear. Now, if you will make your good-byes, we can be on our way.”
A lingering look passed between the two, and Elizabeth reached out to briefly rest a hand against the side of her husband’s face. Then, seeming to remember herself, she withdrew it again, embraced her sister, and said farewell.
Mary watched them go from the porch, conscious for the first time of a twinge of envy surfacing from somewhere deep within her soul. Never had she craved great wealth and its comfortable trappings; these things did not tempt her to covet her sister’s situation. No, it was that stolen glimpse of tenderness she had seen upon Mr. Darcy’s face when his usual mask of reserve dropped for a moment as he regarded his wife. What must it be like to be looked at in such a way by such a man? Mary could not help but wonder. She could only suppose that it was a thing very much to be prized.
A chill wind penetrated her shawl, reminding Mary where she was. She quickly discarded her musings as profitless, and returned to the house with her jaw firmly set. Tomorrow, at first light, she decided, she would take up her duties at Netherfield again. What must be done might as well be done at once.

“…to be looked at in such a way by such a man.” *sigh* Yes, a thing very much to be prized, indeed.

The incident above may seem minor, but it has a major impact on Mary, causing her to begin questioning her satisfaction with her chosen way of life. She has long since given up any ideas of marriage. Instead, she’s set all her store for gratification in her hard-won accomplishments and her ability to support herself through her work. Then, Mr. Tristan Collins arrives on the scene, stirring long-suppressed emotions. Mary begins to consider the possibility that she may still have a chance for love… if her sister Kitty doesn’t come in ahead of her, that is. Hmm. Sounds like this could get messy.

I had SO much fun writing this book! The story took on a life of its own, galloping off in directions I hadn’t planned or expected – quite a magical experience! I hope you have just as much fun reading Return to Longbourn.

Shannon Winslow, her two sons now grown, devotes much of her time to her diverse interests in music, literature, and the visual arts – writing claiming the lion’s share of her creative energies in recent years. She lives with her husband in the log home they built in the countryside south of Seattle, where she writes and paints in her studio facing Mt. Rainier.

Learn more at Shannon’s website/blog (www.shannonwinslow.com), and follow her on Twitter (as JaneAustenSays..) and on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Darcyholic Diversions: A Darcyholic's Guide to Gentlemanly Etiquette: Mar...

Darcyholic Diversions: A Darcyholic's Guide to Gentlemanly Etiquette: Mar...: A Darcyholic’s G uide to G entlemanly E tiquette By Maria Grace     (I am very happy to have Maria Grace with us ...

A Darcyholic's Guide to Gentlemanly Etiquette: Maria Grace

A Darcyholic’s Guide to Gentlemanly Etiquette
By Maria Grace
 (I am very happy to have Maria Grace with us here at Darcyholic Diversions today.  I have had the gift of not only getting to know her through her writings but getting to know her as an author, but as a very good friend.  I hope you will enjoy her post. And also take time to read my own post which is a part of the Authors In Bloom Blog Tour with a Kindle as the grand prize.  Title is Bloom Where You Are Planted. )
High among Fitzwilliam Darcy’s appeals as a character are his proper behavior and his polite manners. Together, these communicate his respect for others and his respect for himself.  Portraying these properly in my newest book,  All the Appearance of Goodness, was a challenge. I had to dig into a lot of research on the topic and ended up finding it truly fascinating.  I hope you enjoy a brief over view of it as much as I did.

The Regency era was a time of strict etiquette with sometimes complex rules.   A true gentleman would have been able to navigate these with poise and confidence. The task was not for the faint of heart, however. A gentleman had to keep himself under good regulation, lest one ill-timed mishap cast a taint upon his reputation. The established etiquette of the Regency era emphasized class and rank and the proper relations between the genders. Although the rules might appear awkward and restrictive, they did act as a safeguard against misunderstanding and embarrassment for all parties. 

Learning all these rules must have been a challenge for a gentleman or a lady of the period.  They were certainly a challenge for this author to try and learn in order to accurately portray Darcy’s interactions with Elizabeth and her family.


In line with the emphasis on elegance and formality, gentlemen were encouraged to maintain an erect seating posture when sitting or standing. Slouching or leaning back was regarded as slothful unless the individual was infirm in some way.  Similarly, a well-bred man walked upright and moved with grace and ease with an elegance of manners and deportment, responding to any social situation with calm assurance and aplomb.

Extremes of emotion and public outbursts were unacceptable, as was anything pretentious or flamboyant.  A gentleman had to control his features, his physical bodies and his speech when in company.  All forms of vulgarity were unacceptable and to be continually guarded against.  Laughter, too, was moderated in polite company, particularly among women. Men might engage in unrestrained mirth in the company of other men.

Etiquette demanded a gentleman behaved with courteous dignity to acquaintance and stranger alike at all times. Servants were to be kept at a proper distance but without arrogance, pride or aloofness, spoken to with an appropriate degree of civility and without the casual informality with which a person might address an equal. Private business was not discussed in the presence of servants and they were generally ignored at mealtimes. Mocking or belittling servants or their families was deemed undignified and a sign of bad manners.

In the company of ladies, a gentleman would be especially careful to protect her reputation. Since a chaperone would be required for any young, single woman, he would accept their presence as a matter of course.

Moreover, as it was unacceptable to speak to anyone of good breeding without a formal introduction by a third party, a true gentleman would always seek an introduction with any lady he wished to become acquainted with. At a public ball, the Master of Ceremonies would conduct this service to enable gentleman and ladies to dance.  

Gentlemen and ladies of equal rank bowed and curtsied when formally introduced to each other and again when parting. If of unequal rank, the person of lower rank bowed or curtsied. After being introduced, individuals always acknowledged each other in public, ladies with a slight bow of the shoulders, gentlemen with a tip or touch to the hat using the hand farthest away from the lady to raise it.  

If a gentleman met a lady with whom he had a friendship and who signified that she wished to talk, good manners dictated he should turn and walk with her as they conversed. It was not appropriate to make a lady stand talking in the street. If walking with a lady and a flight of stairs was encountered.  Ascending the stairs, he should precede the lady (running, according to one authority); in descending, he followed. 

In a carriage, a gentleman took the seat rear facing. If he for some reason, he found himself alone in a carriage with a lady, he could not sit next to her unless he was her husband, brother, father, or son. A proper gentleman always exited a carriage first so that he may hand the lady down, always taking appropriate care not to step on her dress.

Not surprisingly, good manners required all forms of touching between members of the opposite sex be kept to a minimum. Putting a lady's shawl about her shoulders, or assisting her to mount a horse, enter a carriage  and for a gentleman to take a lady's arm through his to support her while out walking were considered acceptable of courtesy. Shaking hands, though, was not. Only man and women on rather intimate terms shook hands. A gentleman might kiss a lady's hand, but kissing it 'passionately' was inappropriate.

If a gentleman attended a public exhibition or concert in the company of a lady, he would go in first in order to find her a seat, making sure to remove his hat. If in military uniform, a gentleman never wore a sword in the presence of ladies, nor did he smoke in their presence, though the use of snuff was acceptable.  

At a dinner party, a gentleman arrived a quarter of an hour early, dressed appropriately for the event and prepared to make amiable conversation. He would choose his seat in the dining room, appropriate for his rank and status. There was a tacit understanding that seats closest to the hostess should be taken by the highest ranking guests.

Each gentleman would serve himself and his neighbors from the dishes within his reach.  If a dish was required from another part of the table, a manservant would be sent to fetch it. It was not good form to ask a neighbor to pass a dish. It was equally bad manners for the ladies to help themselves. They had to be served both food and wine by the gentlemen nearest them.

During dinner, a gentleman would be expected to entertain the ladies nearest him with engaging conversation. The list of unacceptable topics far outnumbered the acceptable ones. A polite individual did not ask direct personal questions of someone they had just met. To question or even compliment anyone else on the details of their dress might also be regarded as impertinent. Scandal and gossip should be omitted from public conversation. Any references to pregnancy, childbirth, or other natural bodily functions were considered coarse and carefully sidestepped. A man could sometimes discuss his hunters or driving horses in the presence of ladies though it was generally discouraged.  Greater latitudes of conversation were allowed when the genders were segregated, particularly for the men.

To me, it is no wonder why Darcy did not prefer company he did not know well and why he felt awkward in society.  With so many rules and guidelines, it must have felt like a disaster waiting to happen for someone without Bingley’s natural knack for socializing. I loved getting a closer look at what Darcy would have faced and I hope you have too.

A Lady of Distinction   -   Regency Etiquette, the Mirror of Graces (1811). R.L. Shep Publications (1997)
Black, Maggie & Le Faye, Deirdre   -   The Jane Austen Cookbook. Chicago Review Press (1995)
Byrne, Paula   -   Contrib. to Jane Austen in Context. Cambridge University Press (2005)
Day, Malcom   -   Voices from the World of Jane Austen. David & Charles (2006)
Downing, Sarah Jane   -   Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen. Shire Publications (2010)
Jones, Hazel   -   Jane Austen & Marriage . Continuum Books (2009)
Lane, Maggie   -   Jane Austen's World. Carlton Books (2005)
Lane, Maggie   -   Jane Austen and Food. Hambledon (1995)
Laudermilk, Sharon & Hamlin, Teresa L.   -   The Regency Companion. Garland Publishing (1989)
Le Faye, Deirdre   -   Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels. Harry N. Abrams (2002)
Ray, Joan Klingel   -   Jane Austen for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. (2006)
Ross, Josephine   -   Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners. Bloomsbury USA (2006)
Selwyn, David   -   Jane Austen & Leisure. The Hambledon Press (1999)
Trusler, John   -   The Honours of the Table or Rules for Behavior During Meals. Literary-Press (1791)
Vickery, Amanda   -   The Gentleman's Daughter. Yale University Press (1998)

Author bio
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six cats, seven Regency-era fiction projects and notes for eight more writing projects in progress. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

She can be contacted at:

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Book Blurb

What is a young woman to do? One handsome young man has all the goodness, while the other the appearance of it.  How is she to separate the gentleman from the cad?

When Darcy joins his friend, Bingley on a trip to Meryton, the last thing on his mind is finding a wife. Meeting Elizabeth Bennet changes all that, but a rival for his affections appears from a most unlikely quarter. He must overcome his naturally reticent disposition if he is to have a chance of winning her favor.

Elizabeth’s thoughts turn to love and marriage after her sister Mary’s engagement. In a few short weeks, she goes from knowing no eligible young men, to being courted by two. Both are handsome gentleman, but one conceals secrets and the other conceals his regard. Will she determine which is which before she commits to the wrong one?
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