Please join us today in welcoming Austenesque author Maria Hamilton for the official launch of her book blog tour of Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, a new Pride and Prejudice variation that was released on May 1, 2011 by Sourcebooks.
Why Mr. Darcy Still Impresses
With my first novel, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman being published just days after the royal wedding, I can’t help but relate the two events. It may be because I unconsciously measure all men, including the occasional real life prince, to Mr. Darcy and usually find them wanting. Like most women who love Mr. Darcy, it isn’t because he is good looking or rich (although it doesn’t hurt) but rather because his choice of a bride is emblematic of the depth of his character and good heart.
What makes Mr. Darcy still appealing to modern women is that he falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet because of her wit, independence, and intelligence. Moreover, he values Elizabeth’s opinion of him enough to inspire him to improve his character and win her regard. Jane Austen wisely makes Mr. Darcy wealthy, powerful, and attractive thereby making his devotion to Elizabeth in spite of his family’s censure all the more poignant given the endless array of women actively pursuing him. While 200 hundred years have passed since Pride & Prejudice was written, it is just as difficult now as it was then to find a good man and particularly one who understands what is required to please a woman worthy of being pleased.
There is an obvious parallel to the royal weddings with their implicit speculation of why a particular prince selected his bride. We will never truly know why Prince Charles, age 31, asked Lady Diana, age 19, to marry him, but the fact that she had an appropriate pedigree by title and religion and an unsullied past had to weigh heavily. I am old enough to have watched their wedding optimistically assuming that he also held her personality traits in high regard and that overtime their relatively short courtship would ripen into a marriage of true minds. As we know, it didn’t. It may have been that Prince Charles, to his own detriment, could not listen to the needs of his heart over the call of duty or that he couldn’t value Princess Diana’s independence as she matured into a mature women. Mr. Darcy, in a similar situation, innately understood that what a man in his position needed most was a partner that could challenge him and could, over time, inspire him through the strength of her personality to be a better man.
The recent wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William seems more likely to aspire to Mr. Darcy’s ideal. While an age difference is no impediment to a vibrant love match, their mutual maturity bodes well for handling the media interest that will inevitably seek to overwhelm them. They have been together long enough to understand each other personalities and value each other’s difference. Prince William has already proven willing to break with family tradition and select a woman he values over concerns regarding station or outdated notions of propriety. Let us hope that he can continue to emulate the best characteristic of Mr. Darcy.
It is the perpetual hope of that fulfillment of love that inspired me to write my novel, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman. I have long adored Pride & Prejudice. Darcy’s character is amazingly nuanced given that we only see his personality through his actions and hear very little of his inner life. Jane Austen famously never wrote a scene between men where a woman was not present. Consequently, there are “scenes” in Pride & Prejudice that seem missing. The propriety of the age also required that there be a minimum of private dialog between our hero and heroine. As a result, much of their courtship is left tantalizingly to reader’s imagination. With each reread, my cravings for these missing scenes eventually lead me to envision a different course for the story where those scenes could be played out more fully.
I introduce us to Mr. Darcy after Hunsford when he is attempting to overcome Elizabeth’s rejection and struggling with the knowledge that he has unfairly separated Mr. Bingley from Jane. He determines to correct his mistake much earlier and in the process of doing so returns to Hertfordshire. As Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy become reacquainted, he pursues her and a slow courtship evolves as they attempt to see each other without their prior misunderstandings. My story focuses on the dialog between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and tries to explore their developing intimacy. I believe the story holds true to the original but allows the modern reader to go where Jane Austen could not. I hope you agree.
Maria Hamilton has been a lifelong Jane Austen fan. Her first novel Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman will be published by Sourcebooks in May of 2011. She is presently working on several projects including a new Pride & Prejudice variation. She attended Boston College where she earned a B.A. and then a M.A. in history. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and presently works as an attorney in Boston. Her interests include travel, politics, cinema, the Red Sox, and bicycling. She is perpetually learning Italian and hopes one day to attempt a complete conversation. She lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband, two children, and her dog Poseidon. Visit Maria at her website: Austen Interludes, and blog: Austen Authors.
Giveaway of Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentlman
Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about reading a Pride and Prejudice variation, or which of Austen’s novels or characters you would like to see Maria write about next, by midnight PT, Wednesday, May 11, 2011. Winner announced on Thursday, May 12, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!
Mr. Darcy and the Secret to Becoming a Gentleman, by Maria Hamilton
Trade paperback (528) pages
© 2007 – 2011 Maria Hamilton, Austenprose