“I have heard much of your master’s fine person,” said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; “it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.”
Mrs. Reynolds’s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master.
“Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?”
Elizabeth coloured, and said — “A little.”
“And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma’am?”
“Yes, very handsome.”
The sun is shining today in the Pacific Northwest, and consequently I am quite distracted and have bloggers malaise! The temperatures are in low 80’s! I am in raptures to say the least, enjoying one of the 10 – 20 days of clear skies and warm weather that we will receive in a year. If any of you use Google Earth and have looked up your homes from a satellite view, this is a day that those geeks who take the photos jump around like monkeys to get clear pictures to update the database! Real Estate types are also busy today, snapping photos of all of their home listings to plaster on their web sites to trick out-of-towners into thinking this is usual weather in the Pacific Northwest! I know, I know; — I am as cynical as Jane Austen’s character Mr. Palmer to be sure!
My neighborhood in the country turns into another world when the sun shines. Imagine, I actually need my sun glasses to see outside. As I walked to my car to run errands, a swallowtail butterfly fluttered across my path and almost collided with me. He was drunk on the sunshine too! I live quite close to a lake, and the road that I travel to the market skirts the shore past a public beach (so to speak) where boaters can launch their jet skis (argh) and swimmers can brave the cold water. The view to the distant Mt. Pilchuck with its patches of lingering snow is quite lovely, when we can see it. Being the eternal optimist, I bought fudge cicles to stock up for the weekend, and stopped by the beach on my way back and enjoyed one while looking at the view. There were scads of teenagers on the rocky beach sitting on towels and chairs trying to get a one day tan, hip-hop music blasting from a boom box and the roar of jet skis from the water.
As I walk back to my car, I hear a young female voice say “Mr. Darcy“! Ok, that got my attention. I look over and two young ladies have paperback novels planted across their view, the covers read Pride and Prejudice! Oh this is lovely. More laughs and squeals from one of the readers. This got my curiosity up and I stop in my tracks. Pride and Prejudice was never this LOL when I read it as a teenager in high school. Do the young ones now understand Austen’s nuances earlier? I had to ask. The ladies were obliging, and told me that they were reading it together as a summer assignment, and they had already seen the movies. Which movies I asked? “Oh the old one with Colin Firth and the one with Keira Knightley.” I nod in acknowledgement and left them to enjoy their Austen.
Back in the car and driving home, I scowl a bit when reflecting on her mention of the ‘old’ Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Old? God’s nightshirt, I say to myself! Then it dawns on me, it has been thirteen years since the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice aired in the UK, and twelve since it aired in the US, and those young ladies were in the cradle then, so yes, it was ‘old’ to them. Phew, I’m not an old woman after all, well at least only in their eyes.
Did you know that there are over 20 sequels or spinoffs of Pride and Prejudice in print with Darcy in the title! It is quite staggering. One can only assume that publishers insist authors include his name for recognition value. It must work, because the recent winner of the Jane Austen Regency World award for best new fiction was Me and Mr. Darcy. This week I was contacted by author Gwyn Cready about her new romance novel Seducing Mr. Darcy to be released in July, so there are more in the queue. Our fascination with him never seems to wane, nor in those actors who have been lucky enough to portray him. Check out my post on Disco Dancing Darcy on my co-blog, Jane Austen Today. One just never knows where Darcy will pop up; on the beach, or in an Abba musical!
Cheers to all, and enjoy the summer weather, Laurel Ann
*Illustration by Chris Duke, “Portrait of Mr. Darcy”, Franklin Library, Franklin Center, Penn, (1980) pp. 242