Pemberley Ranch Author Jack Caldwell’s Whistle-stop Blog Tour

Pemberley Ranch, by Jack Caldwell (2010)Pemberley Ranch, the latest re-imagining of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice officially hits books stores this week. Transporting Austen’s classic Regency-era romance to the American West of post-Civil War Texas is an intriguing notion that I could not pass up. My co-reviewer Christina Boyd and I were so inspired by the ole Wild West spirit we offered a double-barrel review of Pemberley Ranch for your consideration. As you will read, it was a heart-pounding, rip-roaring, sure-fire page-turner.

Joining us today on the first leg of his whistle-stop blog tour is author Jack Caldwell. I was curious about his take on Mr. Darcy as a romantic icon in any century. Did he see parallels between the Regency gentleman and the American cowboy icon? How do the traits and characteristics from the Regency apply to the American West? Welcome Jack!

FITZWILLIAM DARCY AS A COWBOY? REALLY?

Greetings, everyone. I’m Jack Caldwell, author of Pemberley Ranch, a western-themed re-imagining of Pride & Prejudice. I hope all of you in the United States had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’d like to thank Laurel Ann and Austenprose for this opportunity to talk to you about that great paragon of masculinity, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Esq.

Man, what we guys have to live up to.

Darcy—Jane Austen’s perfect man.  Rich, handsome, honorable, intelligent, generous, reasonable, modest, and romantic. Yet with just enough flaws—pride, lack of liveliness, and incivility—to make him “real” and “fixable.”  Yes, fixable.  Darcy’s far more interesting than Henry Tilney, isn’t he?

Let’s face it, ladies, you do like to civilize us animals.  Whether it is our manners, our dress, or our language, we men are often a life-long “work in progress.” And you ladies don’t have to succeed. If your improvements stick, all the better, but if they don’t, it gives you something to talk about with your girlfriends.

Anyhow, for the reasons above, Austen’s Darcy is one of literature’s great romantic icons. He is made to see his flaws and he labors to improve himself, all in the name of his unrequited love for a woman. Of course, his object cannot resist him—his efforts prove his devotion, and she accepts him.

It helps that Darcy is placed in the English Regency era, a rather romanticized period. The international interest in all things Austen shows that this is not a mere British obsession. Readers world-wide love Darcy and Elizabeth and their Regency world.

There is another romanticized period of time that has caught the attention of the world, and that is the American West in the years between the end of the US Civil War and the turn of the century.  The story of the great migrations of settlers into the wilderness of America has captured the imagination of millions for over a century.  The tales are endless: the miners panning for gold in the mountains, cowboys riding the range, long wagon trains of farmers looking for new land, and soldiers in blue and natives in feathered headdresses conducting epic battles on horseback.  They have become part of the soul of the United States. Americans are often considered “cowboys” by our foreign friends (and enemies), and while it is not always meant to be a compliment, we are proud of that heritage.

Consider the cowboy. Hard-working, honest, soft-spoken, independent, loyal, and competent. He loves quietly but intently. He respects others’ privacy and minds his own business until he, his friends, or his way of life is threatened. Then he is a man of action. He thirsts for justice, and if no one will protect him and his, he will do it, no matter the price.

Sounds like someone we know, doesn’t it?

There are some parallels between the Regency gentleman and the western cowboy, even though Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy would surely consider my William Darcy a brute, and Will would dismiss Fitzwilliam as a dandy.  Both lived in a time of iron-clad rules of propriety and behavior. A man’s word was his bond. Ladies were to be protected and honored (tavern maids and dancehall girls were a different matter). There were rules of courtship. Strong language before ladies and children was condemned. The penalty for breaking those rules was to be labeled by society as “un-gentlemanly” or “a no-good scoundrel.”

Read the works of Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Larry McMurtry.  See the great movies, like Stagecoach, High Noon, Shane, The Outlaw Josie Wales, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. This is the great American mythology. It is how we American see ourselves—independent, self-reliant, honorable, and courageous. We can overcome anything and everything.

It is also how lovers of Austen see Fitzwilliam Darcy. So it is not too far-fetched to see him in a cowboy hat and chaps, is it?

Okay, ladies, you can stop drooling now.

Thank you for taking the time to read this little entry. What do you think? Do you think there are parallels between the Regency and the American West? Who else from Austen’s canon would make a great cowboy?

I want to wish Laurel Ann and all of you the very best during this Christmas Season.

It takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.

Author Jack CaldwellAuthor Bio: 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, and now make the upper Midwest their home. Always a history buff, Jack found and fell in love with Jane Austen in his twenties, struck by her innate understanding of the human condition.

Jack uses his work to share his knowledge of history. Through his characters, he hopes the reader gains a better understanding of what went on before, developing an appreciation for our ancestors’ trials and tribulations. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.

Thanks for joining us today Jack. Happy trails.

Glorious Pemberley Ranch Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one of five copies of Pemberley Ranch by leaving a comment answering Jack’s question regarding cultural parallels between the Regency-era and the American West, or which bothersome character from Pride and Prejudice deserves to be thrown from their horse into a water trough, by midnight Pacific time, Monday, December 13, 2010. Winners announced on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Jack Caldwell’s blog tour

  • 11/29   Austenprose
  • 12/1     Austenesque Reviews
  • 12/3     Diary of an Eccentric
  • 12/6     The Royal Reviews
  • 12/8     Psychotic State
  • 12/10   Library of Clean Reads
  • 12/13   My Overstuffed Bookshelf
  • 12/15   A Moment with Mystee
  • 12/16   Laura’s Reviews
  • 12/20   Romance Fiction on Suite 101
  • 12/21   Thoughts In Progress
  • 12/28   Debbie’s Book Bag
  • 12/29   History Undressed

Further reading

32 thoughts on “Pemberley Ranch Author Jack Caldwell’s Whistle-stop Blog Tour

  1. I think there is quite a parallel between the Regency and the West. It has to do with the strict societal controls that are still in place. Modes of behavior are still expected to be be obeyed, and yet in both eras, people in society find ways to stand out, and explore their limitations. In the West, it was physical expansion and a test of their bodily survival. In the regency, the push on limitations was to breakthrough the rigid social circles that seemed to be carved from stone. In either era, the ability to push one’s limitations required great strength and also flexibility.

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  2. Hm … interesting – Mr. Darcy a cowboy – that got me. I would love to read where this leads! And I love the way you write, sir, this post was excellent! :D

    As to the parallels, I am not quite sure yet, but I am intrigued. The West was supposed to be a wild, interesting place, but it is true that there were strict codes of conduct. People are people, after all.

    apereiraorama @gmail.com

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  3. I wholeheartedly agree that there are parallels between the Regency era and the American West. Heck, there are parallels between 19th Century England and the United States in general. (I think of John Jakes’ “North and South” and Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel of the same name, whose storyline deals with the industrial north and agricultural south… Both FANTASTIC novels!)

    There’s always been a sort of tension between the “polished” city-dwellers and those with country manners (which I’ve heard are quite charming!), and the 19th century was a rare era where I believe that being a gentleman was something to be proud of. Of course, the idea of a “gentleman” is open to interpretation… and having a sense of rakish quality can be damn sexy to us 21st century ladies! (We do enjoy a man who’s rough about the edges and is a work in progress, indeed we do!) Perhaps this is a pivotal reason why Mr. Darcy stands out amongst other Regency men! And Mr. Thornton as a Victorian hero, yum! Ooh, and Rhett Butler! (Okay, while he may not be a “cowboy” per se, he is a southerner. My point still stands.)

    Something else that ties the two eras together: it was extremely difficult to move about in a different social circle. While proper behavior established a person’s moral character, there was little one could do to change their status in life until the Industrial Revolution. Social climbers were far and few between, and usually subject to scorn. Now, if only something so powerful such as love would allow a sort of reconciliation between the two classes… ;-)

    I absolutely cannot wait to read this book! After reading Mr. Caldwell’s bio and blog post, I’m confident he’ll earn a new fan after this!

    Side note:
    Regarding who deserves to be thrown into a water trough… there are many candidates! To defend the Bennets, it would be great to see Mr. Wickham, Lady Catherine, or Caroline Bingley find their way into a great body of water. However, I’m not typically a vindictive person, so my vote is for Mr. Collins. I would find great amusement in seeing him try to explain that it was very purely intentional (as he sputters water from his lips), or try to blame it on the horse or terrain. A ridiculous man should be called out for what he is! Meanwhile I would quirk a smile and reserve my laughs for later. And I dearly love a good laugh!

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  4. I am fascinated by the idea of Darcy as a cowboy. I LOVE Louis L’Amour’s novels – and cowboys were my first literary “crush” growing up. Combining cowboys AND Darcy? Be still my heart. :)

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  5. What an interesting concept! To me the main parallel is man’s regard for women, the need to protect, to treat with courtesy.
    I agree with Mr. Caldwell’s “list” of three great authors of Western novels, and would also add the name of Elmer Kelton.
    Thanks for this giveaway. I’d love to read the book.

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  6. I’m thinking that Mrs. Bennet could use a good head jarring experience, if only to make her a bit less frazzled! Would love to win a copy of this book – I think it’s going to be a must read!!

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  7. I’d like to see Caroline Bingley end up with some rough,crusty dude. Mr. Collins could be the simpering local parson trying to herd the rough cowboys into the church. Lydia would end up as a dance hall girl with Wickham playing cards in the back with his feet up on the table. Mrs. Reynolds would be, as usual, running Pemberley Ranch in superb manner.

    I want this book, too! It is already out here in Reston, VA.

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  8. Pingback: Pemberley Ranch, by Jack Caldwell – A Review « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  9. I already own a copy, and I am about a third of the way through the story. I particularly like how Jack has developed the secondary characters, such as Darcy’s cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam, and Charlotte Lucas, the daughter of the sheriff! And Mary Bennet as well. He really did an excellent job in moving the story from the Regency Era to post-Civil War Texas.

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  10. This sounds absolutely awesome, and written by a man too! I love what Jack said about Darcy being the “perfect man”. I like to think so, and I know my husband doesn’t, lol!

    Fabulous guest post and great giveaway Laurel Ann. Thanks!

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  11. I would love to see Lady Catherine tossed into the water trough. Perhaps the wild west would have tamed Lady Catherine just a bit. And I don’t think Wickham would’ve lasted a day in the west…some cowboy would have used him for target practice!

    Thanks for the chance to win your giveaway.

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  12. That’s a very interesting question. I have never thought about the parallel’s. I’ll have to ponder on that.

    I’ve been waiting for this book to debut. I can’t wait to read it.

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  13. I think there’s definitely a parallel — there’s a code of honor in the West *and* in the South. It’s not quite the same as that of a 19th Century Regency Gentleman, but it’s close. It’s wilder – its like if Regency Gentlemen were given clearance to unleash their furies (& passions) in any way they wanted, hehe … Or something like that. But I can def see the connection, and cannot wait to read this. :D

    Also, I agree with the statement above: Capt. Wentworth would make an amazing cowboy. He’s the only part of ‘Persuasion’ that I like, and I’d love to see him Westernized :)

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  14. I think this book sounds so interesting…I love all things Austen…and moving it to the wild west (one of the most interesting times in American history) is so much fun!

    As far as parallels go…in my head those two time periods seem like complete opposites to me!

    I guess one thing that is the same, and is still true to a degree today, is the fact that those who are underprivileged don’t want to be judged for this fact, and can find it hard to be accepted by those who are not in the same circumstance. And with the North/South issues still going on in this time period, this also reminds me of the conflicts between the different social circles of the Regency period. Also, in that time, women still didn’t really have any rights, and so had to rely on their “men-folk” to provide for them, like in the Regency era.

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  15. Hmmm.. I find your book quite interesting and I am very interested in reading.
    As parallel I think it would be a good fit for Darcy In the wild wild west, even Col. Fitzwilliam would be a good fit.

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  16. This is one P&P rewrite I’ve been dying to read. I love the thought of Darcy as a rough around the edges cowboy–somehow it just works for me. What are the similarities between the eras? For one, there was still a level of class consciousness in the late 19th century that we can’t really comprehend. I can easily see William Darcy having just as much trouble accepting the Bennets as Fitzwilliam Darcy did. The Old West was also a time of social change, much like the Regency Era. And… well, I’ve got to say that the first thing I thought of was the horses. Horsemanship was a vital skill of a Regency gentleman; I don’t think I need to draw the parallel here.

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  17. Coming in late, but I think it’s the perfect parallel. The Old West was very much a homosocial society, very much like the Regency. At the same time women had to step out of their expected roles because there just weren’t that many men around, and very often they lived in great isolation. There’s a great book, Women of the West, by Cathy Lucetti and Carol Olwell which explores this theme. You won’t find women astronomers or writers in the west but you’ll find women wearing bustles roping cattle!

    And also it was a great environment for rogues who needed to invent themselves–like Wickham–and Wickham definitely deserves that toss into the water trough.

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  18. I definitely agree that the west would be a perfect place for a scoundrel like Wickham to appear.

    From what I’ve heard in my history class, their lack of refinement was something the west actually valued, at first, and had a great part in forming their regional identity.

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  19. What a fun post! Other lovely commenters had the same idea I did: Wickham, that no-good, dirty, rotten, woman-seducing scoundrel would make an excellent cowboy . . . or cowboy villain. I can see him brandishing a pistol at a saloon and “staking his claim” where it doesn’t belong!

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  20. Pingback: Winners Announced in the Pemberley Ranch Giveaway « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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