Chatting with Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins – and a glorious giveaway

Please welcome author Monica Fairview as she stops by to chat with us during her blog tour in celebration of the release of her new novel The Darcy Cousins, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Thank you for having me here on your blog, Laurel Ann. It’s one of my favorite places to visit. 

The Darcy Cousins focuses on Mr. Darcy’s shy and naïve younger sister Georgian’s coming ‘out’ into Regency society and her first experiences with romance. What intrigued you about her situation or personality to continue her story? 

Georgiana is a very secondary character in Pride and Prejudice, and of course we only see her through Elizabeth’s eyes. Elizabeth (as usual) gets it all wrong and expects Georgiana to be arrogant and obnoxious. This is one of the last mistakes she makes in the novel. Georgiana has three roles in Pride and Prejudice. The first is to show the extent of Wickham’s villainy. The second to reveal what a good brother Darcy is, and the third (more minor) that Miss Bingley wasn’t exaggerating when she said that Darcy’s sister is very accomplished. Apart from that, she doesn’t have much to say for herself. I wanted to discover what it was like to be Darcy’s sister, and through her, I wanted to find out who Fitzwilliam Darcy was when he wasn’t admiring Elizabeth. But Georgiana emerged as an independent character, quite able to hold her own in spite of her shyness. I was very glad to see that happening. 

We are also introduced to Clarissa and Frederick Darcy who arrive from America to visit their British cousins and brother Robert Darcy who we met in your first sequel The Other Mr. Darcy. Clarissa and Frederick do not quite conform to the social strictures of polite society in Regency England. I sense a sly wink at American brashness vs. British traditionalism. Is this an Austenesque gentle reproof or is Monica having fun with her story? 

I wonder whose side Jane Austen would take? I have my own theory (not backed by anything concrete, I concede, just an instinct) that of the two sisters, Jane Austen was the closest to Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, while Elinor was like Jane’s sister Cassandra. In some ways, I had that novel in mind when I wrote Georgiana’s and Clarissa’s story, though they are quite different personalities. Other than that, the sly wink is there, of course. I straddle both continents, having been born in one and lived a large part of my life in the other, so I love playing the two cultures against each other. Though the reality is always more complex, as Clarissa’s Puritan background indicates.

Austen’s character Lady Catherine de Bourgh plays a significant role in The Darcy Cousins. I must commend your eye-rolling interpretation of her officious and imposing personality. How did you place yourself in her regal shoes and visualize her dialogue and behavior? 

Eye-rolling? I love that! To be honest, I studied Lady Catherine’s way of speaking until I knew everything she said practically by heart, then I improvised from there. To me understanding Jane Austen’s characters is much like acting. I learn the lines, then I fill in the silences, then I flesh out the characters. I loved playing Lady Catherine. She is such a wonderful character. 

This is your third Regency-era historical novel. Your historical references are quite impressive and really support your characters personalities and their physical environment. What is your process for researching an historical novel? Did you discover anything surprising? 

Apart from studying the characters, I do a lot of initial research because you have to take into account the events that occur during the time period of the novel. I even did my best to research the weather to make sure, for example, that I didn’t have the characters picnicking on a day that was notoriously rainy. I then included any relevant external events in the novel as I mapped it out. As I go along, I am often interrupted by specific things I need to look up though I don’t always end up including them. Yes, there’s always a lot of research involved when I write.

One of your rewards for researching is discovering pieces of information that you didn’t expect. For example, I didn’t know that the famous Turner sunset colors were due to a volcanic eruption that sent particles into the atmosphere and made the sunsets very dramatic. I knew about the volcano, not about Turner. 

If you could plan a tea with Jane Austen, who else would you invite in your soiree and what would you ask her? 

I would love to initiate a dialogue between Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. I would ask Charlotte to explain herself. I never liked her disparaging remarks about Jane Austen. In that context, I’d like Ms. Austen to expand on what she means about the narrow bit of ivory because of course, you have to take everything she says with a grain of salt. I can see her laughing as she wrote that – contrasting what she did with the wide sweep of what was then called “the romance”, which was really the epic. I think there will be “a monstrous deal of stupid quizzing” at that tea party, but I hope there’ll be some very witty conversation, too.  

What is next in your writing career? Do you have another novel in the works? If so, can you give us a brief preview? 

I do have another novel in the works, but it isn’t an Austenesque novel. I can’t say much more since it’s still in the initial stages. I do plan to return soon to the world of Austen, though, since I have a lot of unfinished business there. I have to take care of Clarissa Darcy as well as Frederick, at the very least. And there are other irons in the fire…

Thank you for joining us today Monica. I hope you finish your new novel quickly so you can return to entertain us with the further exploits of Clarissa and Frederick Darcy.

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003

Publishers description: 

A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum…

Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal, Mr. Darcy’s incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning!

And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh encouraged to escape her “keeper” Mrs. Jenkinson, simply…vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man…

About the author: 

Literature professor Monica Fairview loves teaching students the joys of reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized that what she really wanted to do was write.  The author of The Other Mr. Darcy and An Improper Suitor, the American-born Ms. Fairview currently resides in London. For more information, please visit www.monicafairview.com.

GIVEAWAY 

Enter a chance to win one of two copies of The Darcy Cousins by leaving a comment revealing which character in Pride and Prejudice you would like to see featured in a sequel, or any hints for a plot line for Monica to inspire her to write a sequel for her two American Darcy cousins Clarissa and Frederick! Contest ends on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at midnight Pacific time. Winners announced on Saturday, April 24th, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses. Good luck to all.

Cover image courtesy Sourcebooks © 2010; text Monica Fairview & Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com

49 thoughts on “Chatting with Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins – and a glorious giveaway

  1. I know there are several sequels of every kind but I would like to see Jane and Bingley’s children and a sequel on them.

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  2. I know some other people have already done it, but I would love to see a Georgiana sequel, she’s one of my favorite characters!

    I really wish someone would do a prequel of how Mr. and Mrs. Bennet got together, that would be great. (though I’m not sure my nerves can take listening to Mrs. Bennets nerves for an entire book lol)

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  3. Many thanks to Laurel Ann for giving me the chance to answer her very thorough questions, and thank you all for your comments.

    Nancy: Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe addresses those three characters. You might want to check that out.
    Christina S: My first novel, The Other Mr Darcy, deals with Caroline, so your wish is granted.
    Mer: Mr Collins makes several appearances in The Darcy Cousins, and he’s as “dperfectly awful” as usual, maybe worse.
    Velvet: Anne de Bourgh plays a mysterious role in The Darcy Cousins, so you’ll get your heart’s desire there.
    Mystica: Hmm, Jane and Bingley’s children. Sounds like a good idea. My guess is that you’ve been reading a lot of sequels, and you know exactly what’s out there…

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your comments.

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    • Marlyn, there is “Independence of Miss Mary Benett” by Collen McCollough. It was not something I really enjoyed – not much of “independence” was achieved at the end by Mary nor was Mr Darcy’s character intepreted right.
      Not to mention, for most part, Mary spends her time in a cave. It had a somewhat Gothic plot, but not very interesting in my opinion. Luckily, I just loaned this book from our local library…

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  4. I have always wanted to have an in depth sequel to P&P based on Georgiana’s experience! I can not wait to get my hands on this one!

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  5. I’d love for Mary to find a piano teacher who not only opens up her world to music beyond the pedantic but who also slips her books that challenge and provoke her.

    Surely that would bring her closer to her father and HIS past–which must be quite experimental before he chose beauty over temperament.

    (Thanks to Monica and Laurel Ann–I’m so happy to have found you both.)

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  6. How about a sequel for Mary or Kitty? Somehow Col. Filtzwilliam can be included in the sequel, maybe not as romantic interest for Kitty or Mary but as love interest for Kitty’s friend?? Hmm.. sounds interesting.. LOL!

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  7. Col. Filtzwilliam for me! Love his character and would love to see more of him! Thank you so much for doing this contest, hope I am one of the lucky ones!

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  8. Amy, Nae, and Vidya: I agree that Col Fitzwilliam would be a good person to write about.

    Marilyn, Elizabeth and Vidya: there’s something intriguing about Mary, isn’t there? She seems such a misfit. There was a novel about her not too long ago — Laurel Ann will know what it’s called.

    Stephanie M: “The Darcy Cousins” focuses on Georgiana — a lot of the narrative is seen through her eyes. Hope you enjoy it!

    Thanks Patricia — let me know what you think after reading the novel.

    Stephanie M.: I thought of writing a prequel about Mr Bennet, but that would bring us into Georgian times, which is an entirely different ballgame from Regency. I abandoned the idea because of that. But maybe a some point when I’m ready for a change…

    Elizabeth and Katherine — glad you made it here!

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    • Austen alluded to Kitty’s future in chapter 61 of P&P.

      “Kitty, to her very material advantage, spent the chief of her time with her two elder sisters. In society so superior to what she had generally known, her improvement was great. She was not of so ungovernable a temper as Lydia: and, removed from the influence of Lydia’s example, she became, by proper attention and management, less irritable, less ignorant, and less insipid. From the farther disadvantage of Lydia’s society she was of course carefully kept; and though Mrs. Wickham frequently invited her to come and stay with her, with the promise of balls and young men, her father would never consent to her going.”

      I like to think she improved as Austen reveals – but what Austen does not really elaborate upon is what transpired before the improvement. THAT, would make a great story!

      ;-)

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  9. I think I would like to read about Mary or Kitty Bennett, but I thought the suggestion about Colonel Fitzwilliam was interesting. It might also be fun to have a “prequel” that tells the story of how Mr. and Mrs. Bennett met and married!

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    • Hi Jo – yes! Mr. & Mrs. Bennet’s back story has wonderful possibilities. What initially attracted him to her? What was Mrs. Bennet like as a young girl? Is Lydia her mother 20 years earlier, wild and impetuous? Or, was she more tempered and became a harpy because of her husband’s indifference and their financial situation with the entail? Chicken or egg? Did someone close to her fight a duel and the women were turned out into the streets? Many unresolved questions for Mr/Mrs B.

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  10. I have always been intrigued by Maria Lucas. She plays a minor but significant role in P&P, and her relationship with Lydia is an interesting angle too.

    Charlotte Lucas also deserves further investigation. Her back story could be so interesting. When we first meet her she is 27 and near to being on the shelf. What happened before? Did she have a beau that died in the War or was she left at the altar by a cad? “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.”

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  11. In the novels Elizabeth has hardly travelled at all. It would be interesting to see her and Darcy outside of England. Perhaps Elizabeth should see America?

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  12. I love the idea of Mr. & Mrs. Bennett’s back story, but what about Lord & Lady de Bourgh? Was she always so disagreeable? Was it a happy marriage? And what about Darcy’s mother? The way Lady C carries on about the wishes of Darcy’s mother to marry Anne, they must have been close or were they?

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    • Lynn, you tempt me. As I mentioned earlier, prequels would mean different costumes, different dances, different food — and would mean leaving behind the delightful world of Regency England. But I agree these are delightful possibilities. Let me think about it….

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  13. Sorry about the avatar, everyone. Don’t know why I come out as lost in a black hole. Hopefully this should be better!

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  15. The past of Lady Catherine and Darcy’s mom is discussed in the Mr & Mrs Darcy Mystery series by Carrie Bebris…but I do think it could stand alone in its own book.

    I also wonder how Lady Catherine married in the first place…has anyone ever stood up to here besides Elizabeth?

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  16. Oooh, another one for Kitty! I’d love to resd about her :). Or possibly everyone getting together in ten years. The wickhams, the darcys, the bingleys, and mary+kitty and whoever they married, to see the differences in their lives, their perspectives, their children.

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  17. I would like to see a story involving Colonol Fitzwilliam. He was such a good friend to Darcy that it seems fitting to read his story.

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  18. I would like to see one with Margaret Dashwood in it; I’d like to see who she decides to model herself after: Elinor or Marianne?

    Plus, there is quite a lot to write about Margaret Dashwood and I feel like there’s so much potential for her character (:

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  19. I’d be interested in seeing a sequel about Anne Elliott’s older sister Elizabeth (from Persuasion). She is such a nasty and self-centered creature. Perhaps someone would put her in her place?

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    • Well, it was always a puzzle to me to work out why Anne is so different from both her sisters. It would be difficult for me to put her in her place though, because, as you can tell from The Other Mr Darcy, I have a hard time doing that, though maybe Elizabeth realy doesn’t have a single redeeming feature. Now a back story would be intriguing.

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    • Hi Katy, interesting that you should suggest Anne Elliott. Did you know there is a trilogy called Mercy’s Embrace, by Laura Hile that I have just purchased the first in the series, So Rough a Course. I am anxious to read it, but must wait as others are ahead in my queue. Watch for a review in June.

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  20. I also wrote this on another blog-giveaway comment for this book– I would love to see Kitty Bennet fulfill the promise she seemed to be gaining at the end of P&P in her own story.

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  21. Oh, sweet! I may have to hunt this one down when I have a few spare dimes. I find her writing style a lovely balance of contemporary and Austen-esque, and greatly enjoyed The Other Mr Darcy. Thanks for this interview.

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  22. And on the subject of standing up to Lady de Bourgh, I can’t think that her husband possessed much of a spine, or his wife would not have been so set in her overbearing, controlling ways.

    I think it may have already been written, but I’d be interested to see Monica’s idea of Mary’s character and prospects. She needs a little life to temper all that thought and philosophy of hers.

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    • I agree, Sarah-Wynne. Nobody gives him the least bit of importance, so it can’t be a question of her coming into her own after he died.

      Mary has had her story written, notably A Match for Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward and The Independence of Mary Bennet, but really one can’t help thinking there’s hope for her.

      It’s really fasinating how Jane Austen sets up these siblings who are so completely different from each other, isn’t it?

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