Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Author Guest Post - Kathryn L Nelson

Today I'm pleased to welcome Kathryn L Nelson, author of Pemberley Manor. Her guest post here today is part of this book's virtual tour, courtesy Danielle of Sourcebooks.

Pemberley Manor, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continued…
By Kathryn L Nelson
Elizabeth Bennet has gotten perhaps more credit than she deserves as a sensible young woman with unflappable principles. She certainly has given herself credit for those attributes. But if we are not so distracted by Darcy’s more flagrant displays of pride and prejudice, we might notice that Miss Elizabeth is perhaps equally likely to err on the side of overconfidence…
"From Kathy Perschmann at Armchair Interviews: Nelson has created an excellent backstory for Darcy, and re-creates the feel of Jane Austen’s witty dialogue and deep characters with great success. If you love Austen, you will most certainly love this story!"
Witty, oh, I do certainly hope so, for I laughed my way through the writing of Pemberley Manor and still do laugh when I pinch myself upon seeing the first edition sitting on my bookshelf. I’m counting the days until I have the new Sourcebooks edition in my hands (April, 2009) with its lovely cover.

For those of us who love Jane Austen, I think it may often be the case that we find ourselves (or someone we love or hate) in her pages. I find in Elizabeth Bennet a resemblance to a very young me. I was never so adept at the witty retort as she, but it was not for lack of enthusiasm. Miss Austen obviously admired that characteristic in Elizabeth too, judging from the letters she wrote. I take comfort in the thought that I might someday benefit, as perhaps Jane did, from time to sit in a quiet room and think sparkling thoughts. Alas, during the three years it took to write Pemberley Manor, there was precious little quiet, so we may never know.

In addition to her love of sarcasm, I find myself identifying with Elizabeth’s foolhardy optimism. Refusing to heed her mother’s wish that she should take the first good offer of marriage that comes along, Elizabeth won’t acknowledge the seriousness of her situation. It’s all very well to say she would rather be a spinster, but she seems to obstinately ignore reality. Wouldn’t it have been a fine and noble thing for our heroine to marry Mr Collins in order to secure the future comfort and security of her mother and her sisters? Of course she assumes that love will come along, and if she had done the noble thing, she would have been more Jane Eyre than Elizabeth Bennet and no one would be laughing.

Miss Elizabeth is also apt to jump to judgments about people without aid of the facts. First she believes Wickham with all of her heart, and then leaps to Darcy’s side, in both cases explaining to Jane that each must be telling the truth. Hmmm. And it was so very pig-headed of her to ignore Miss Caroline Bingley’s warning on the subject….

I’ve attempted to help the young Mrs Darcy mature in Pemberley Manor, as we all must. She won’t, I hope, ever lose her sense of humor, but she may develop the ability to see that there is no harm in reflecting occasionally before leaping to a conclusion, or at least before broadcasting it to all and sundry. Here’s a sample:

The wedding night takes an unfortunate turn and Darcy runs from the Inn, leaving his bride mystified and miserable. After a soul-searching walk, he returns to her.

“Having so recently acquired humility, it remained a novel and rather heady sensation for Mr Darcy. He returned to Elizabeth prepared to comfort and console her, and ready to heap abuse upon himself. If any hope could be allowed to lighten his despair, it sprang from the memory of her forgiveness of his earlier transgressions, and he searched for the words to lead them back to where the day had begun. But if he had learned a good deal about humility, he had not yet acquired any clear understanding of the intricacies of human nature, especially the nature of the woman who was now his wife. She stood before him, her cheeks flaming and her eyes flashing a warning. Had Mr Darcy been blessed with the eloquence of angels, he still would have found ample reason to shy away from the formidable indignation of this fair lady.”

It requires the aid of a very long conversation and a tearful (of course) reconciliation to resolve the evening’s unfortunate beginning.

“…Do not think me so angelic that I do not see your faults, or that I have none of my own. My love is not blind, but it is stronger than you credit. I married you willingly, knowing your faults.” She paused as colour rose to her cheeks. “My own I am just beginning to understand.”

Hope abounds and the honeymoon begins, but we are not to suppose that in so short a time the two lovers have reached a state of permanent marital harmony. I hope you’ll enjoy my meander through the Darcy’s first year of marriage. Let me know. I can take it.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog today.

Thank you for that interesting post, Kathy! Readers, your thoughts / comments are most welcome.
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