From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Today we are celebrating the release of a new Pride and Prejudice inspired novel, by bestselling author Abigail Reynolds. Mr. Darcy’s Undoing was published by Sourcebooks this week and is a variation on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The publisher has kindly shared an exclusive excerpt from the novel for our readers.
What could possibly make a proper gentleman come completely undone?
What if Elizabeth Bennet accepted the proposal of another before she met Mr. Darcy again?
In Abigail Reynolds’ bold and playful retelling of the Austen classic (originally self-published as Without Reserve), a devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he is willing to go to win the woman he loves. Consumed by jealousy, he knows that winning her will throw them both into scandal and disgrace, but losing her is unbearable. Mr. Darcy is going to have to fight for his love, and his life…
Darcy was cautiously pleased with how the evening was progressing. Although the degree of shock with which Elizabeth had greeted him had not been promising, she had agreed to dance with him, spoken with him with an air of comfort, and even teased him a little, if he was not mistaken. He had ached for her from the moment he saw her, standing by her sister with her back to the door, and the exquisite pleasure of touching her hand as they danced had only reinforced his desire to win her. He could not quite bring himself to dance with another woman so quickly, so instead determined to demonstrate his attention to her reproofs by conversing with her family. Unfortunately, the only member of her family then available was her mother. Taking a deep breath, he approached Mrs. Bennet, giving her his compliments and enquiring after her well-being.
His reception was initially cold and ceremonious, but he persisted in his civility, just keeping himself from rolling his eyes at some of Mrs. Bennet’s ridiculous manners. Soon, however, the compliment of having such a man’s attention outweighed her former anger towards him, and she began to take advantage of the opportunity to tell him all the news of the neighbourhood.
“My sister Phillips’ eldest son married last spring to Harriet Letsworth, and that was quite the occasion,” she said. With pride, she added her coup, “And you have no doubt heard, Mr. Darcy, of my daughter’s engagement.”
Darcy’s wandering attention snapped back to her at these words. Miss Bennet engaged? Bingley would be devastated, especially if the look on his face when he danced with her was anything to judge by. This was a disaster; it would certainly make matters more difficult for him with Elizabeth as well. He cleared his throat, trying to mask his reaction, and said, “Miss Bennet is engaged? No, I have not had the pleasure of hearing the news.”
“Oh, no, not Jane!” replied Mrs. Bennet distractedly, her eyes travelling with satisfaction toward the figure of Mr. Bingley. “No, it is Lizzy who is to marry Mr. Covington—ah, yes, he has just arrived. My daughter Lydia is unfortunately not with us tonight; she is visiting Colonel Forster’s wife in Devonshire.”
Darcy was struck by a sharp shock of pain and disbelief at her unexpected words. His Elizabeth, promised to another man? It could not be! The possibility had never so much as crossed his mind that she might look on some other man with favour—that she might refuse him again, yes, but marry another, and so quickly? How could this have happened? His eyes sought her out involuntarily where she stood conversing with several acquaintances, and the taste of bile rose in his throat. He forced himself to say, “I do not believe that I am acquainted with Mr. Covington.” But I know enough about him already to wish he had never taken the first breath of life! he thought darkly. “Not know him?” cried Mrs. Bennet disbelievingly. “Mr. Covington is master of Ashworth House, and a fine gentleman. Surely you must have met him last autumn, Mr. Darcy? There he is now.” With an embarrassing want of propriety, she pointed across the room to a well-built gentleman perhaps a few years younger than Darcy, with a handsome enough countenance though no particular claim to style, but fitting well into the company at hand. As Darcy watched with bitter jealousy, he approached Elizabeth and greeted her warmly, raising her hand to his lips.
Darcy’s eyes were fixed on Elizabeth, who welcomed the interloper with a somewhat absent smile, continuing her conversation and apparently including him without particular effort. Elizabeth, he thought despairingly.
Mr. Covington’s late arrival had not come as a surprise to Elizabeth; she knew he was quite busy at this season, and she was just as happy he had been absent during her dance with Darcy. She could not help but wonder what Darcy was thinking, if he had noticed the two of them together, and whether he was thanking heaven for his narrow escape. As Mr. Covington took her hand for the next dance, she braved a glimpse in his direction.
One look at his face told her something was terribly wrong. She saw her mother chatting away to him while he appeared oblivious, looking directly at Elizabeth. The realization suddenly hit her that he had not known of her engagement, that this was news to him; and a sudden wave of nausea passed over her. How cruel he must think she had been with her arch looks and teasing during their dances! She might not care for him, but he had been making a pronounced effort to be civil, and he did not deserve to be treated so. And what would Mr. Covington think if he knew she had been dancing with a gentleman who had loved her ardently and wanted to marry her? She felt heartily ashamed of herself, without quite knowing why.
Mr. Covington noticed her hesitation. “Are you well, Miss Bennet?” he asked with concern, noting her pallor.
Elizabeth swallowed. “Yes, quite well, sir,” she said. “Please, let us continue.”
End of excerpt…
I hope you enjoyed this visit with Darcy and Elizabeth! I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about Mr. Darcy’s Undoing or my other books.
Abigail Reynolds is a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast and a physician. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian, theater, and marine biology at Bryn Mawr College before deciding to attend medical school. She began writing Pride and Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her favorite characters. Her most recent releases are What Would Mr. Darcy Do? and an anthology of Pride and Prejudice stories, A Pemberley Medley. Abigail is a lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of wild animals masquerading as pets. Her hobbies include beading, reading, and finding time to sleep.
- Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
- Sourcebooks (2011)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (352) pages
- ISBN: 978-1402240942
- Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance
ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2011, austenprose.com.
Congrats on the new novel being published. I’ve enjoyed all the Pemberley Variations, any plans for another one or new story in the set to keep it going?
I’m curious about your initial creative thinking. I indulge myself in what I call “projecting” or extending Miss Austen’s stories out past their conclusion. I can’t think of any other author that encourages so much “projecting.” I burn with curiosity over just about every character in P&P and what could be happening to them in the future, after the story ends. It is just so much fun! What a blessing it must be to have the ideas AND the writing talent to bring them to life.
Abigail, I read this when it was self published and loved it! Reading this excerpt makes me anxious to pick it up again! :)
There are so many what-if possibilities. How do you decide which avenue you are going to take?
Best of luck on your launch of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing!!
Great scene! I can’t wait to read the rest. What made you decide to go with this specific “what-if” story? I love AU stories and am always amazed at how authors decide on scenarios that seem strange but always work. :)
Your twist on the original- giving Darcy a rival and bringing him back to Meryton- is intriguing. Does this change also mean that Lydia will cause no angst for her family now? I cannot wait to find out how this ‘twist’ ends.
Thanks for the opportunity for the giveaway.
I enjoyed reading the scene at the dance, and know the full story will be intriguing. I was wondering if Abigail has any plans for branching out into other Austen novels for characters and plots.
I would love to win this book! I am not familiar with your sereis, but I would love to be! Just reading the excerpt above has intrigued me to really win this one…!
Great excerpt to get us hooked! I’m used to modern Austen retellings or sequels, not what-ifs. You’ve opened my eyes to a new world of reading! :) Do you have your next what-if in mind, Abigail?
Abigail, you are one talented writer! i am entirely caught up in the scene and the characters! the inner dialogues are excellent and have captured my emotions along with their own. wondering how far this ‘what if’ takes us into their future? how you know when to bring resolution or conclusion ? and when /where to begin the next in the series?
thank you for sharing your delightful talent with us!
How much research do you have to do when writing the variations novel?
I love that “The Man who loved Pride & Prejudice”(now known as “Pemberley by Sea” is set mostly in Woods Hole. I also love the book cover, not something I normally notice. Interesting that it is Eastham’s Nauset Light, rather than Woods Hole’s Nobska(I have housesat for a friend in Waqoit and love the Woods Hole Public Library/the lighthouse) .
I see by your blog you spend time there. How long have you been visiting Woods Hole? Was it difficult or easy to set the book there?
Best of luck with this Abigail. You have me hooked! I didn’t want the scene to end. Jane’s character’s sounded so true to themselves! I’d love to win a copy of your book! I will be reading it.
This looks very familiar so I think it has been published before. I enjoy Ms. Reynolds’ books but I do not enjoy buying the same book twice so i will hold off until this is clarified (or I can search through my zillions of P&P sequels/prequels/what-ifs/etc etc).
Hi, Abigail! I absolutely adore your books! I’m actually reading one right now :-) I can’t wait to read this one– thank you for posting the excerpt!
Just how do you get into your characters ‘space’? Do you physically visit such locations? Or has Janeand other authors written with such vivid details that you’re already there? I know WI is a long way from Meryton. ;-)
Love your books, Abigail! I am curious–how much revision did you do for this manuscript versus Without Reserve (what it was formerly published as)? Much difference, much editing, additions etc.?
Great excerpt! I love reading these what-if books and can’t wait to read this one. My question for Abigail is, “Do you plan on writing anymore of these type of books anytime soon?”
Colleen and Rebecca, there are two more variations in the making. Mr. Darcy’s Letter will be ready to go if I ever stop tinkering with it, and I’ve started a new one as well. Linda B, I don’t have immediate plans for variations on any of the other novels, but Captain Wentworth keeps yanking on my sleeve, so that may be in my future.
Bloggin BB, revisions of Without Reserve were limited to copyediting because my editor decided to skip the revision step, which is a pity since there were a few things I’d like to have changed.
Jeffrey, I sense a kindred spirit! I’d love to follow every character. I’m involved in the P&P200 project at Austen Authors which requires me to write snippets from different characters, and I’m now quite unexpectedly caught up in Charlotte Lucas’ backstory. Jakki, mostly I choose what-ifs by looking at how much they change the story. I want ones that change the story substantially but don’t change the ending, and it can be tricky to find that balance. Araminta, I’d been interested for a while in pursuing the idea of Darcy having a rival, since in P&P it’s so much in Elizabeth’s best interest to fall in love with Darcy that I wanted to see how he’d survive some competition.
Sally, this variation avoids the Lydia subplot because she is effectively blocked from going to Brighton by the prospect of Jane’s marriage to Bingley which takes place much earlier than in P&P. It was a relief to me since I’ve gotten a bit tired of writing Lydia’s elopement in each book!
Stephanie and Rebecca, I hope you’ll give one of my books a try! The next variation is about what happens if Elizabeth refuses to read Darcy’s letter.
Sharon, I wish I could say I have a plan when I’m writing. Well, actually I usually do have a plan, but it gets pitched out the window when the characters refuse to cooperate and go off in their own direction!
Patricia, don’t mention research! I’ve just spent two days obsessively researching Regency lap desks because Darcy is going to give one to Elizabeth in the next book. I could now lecture you for an hour about lap desks, and in all likelihood I’ll cut the information down to a mere mention that now she’ll be able to write him letters in the privacy of her own room. Yes, I get a little carried away in the research department. But those lap desks are so fascinating… ;)
Thanks, Jaye. It’s a great compliment to hear that my characters are true to Jane’s. Chelsea, I hope you like this one!
Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by and commented!
what inspires you to continually to write???
i’m just always in awe of creative people…
please continue to do what you do!!!
thank you for the giveaway & i can’t wait to read your new book!!!!
Congratulations on the new release. I enjoyed the excerpt.
I enjoy the writing style and the flow of conversation. My question to you is how is this story different from all the others?
i love all your books! Is your latest a significant adaptation of Without Reserve or is it pretty similar?! Thanks.
Abigail you are probably my favorite Austen-esque author. I loved this novel as Without Reserve. Very excited to hear you have new variations coming!
I have read most of your books and I am always amazed with how you stay true to the characters and keep the story variations fresh. My question is, when you picture Darcy and Elizabeth in your mind, who do you see? Do you picture the movie actors or do you have your own ideas of what they look like?
Loved the excerpt!! Looking forward to reading your book!
This excerpt sounds wonderful! I’m very curious to see what happens next. Of course we know that after Elizabeth’s visit to Pemberley her opinion of Mr. Darcy changes so this is very interesting to see an alternative side to the story. Best wishes!
Abigail, I believe that your what if books are the first P% P books I read that were only available on amazon. I equated self published as not good enough. Well, I’m glad you proved me wrong. I’ve read everyone of your books and will continue to read them. I’ve been on tinterhooks waiting for this one and the upcoming treatment of Georgianna. I’ll soon find out the short story you wrote in Jane Austen Made me Do It, which I hope to gain at the JASNA AGM in 2 weeks. Whoopie!
Erna, it’s just the same as Without Reserve apart from some copyedits. From now on, there’s no retitling, though!
Danielle, you asked how this story is different from my other variations. I try to develop different sides of the characters in each variation, and this one has Darcy as a man of powerful emotions who has to struggle to keep them in check to preserve his cool and calm facade. It’s one of my more passionate book, and the characters go through some painful times, but not as much as in Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World or Mr. Darcy’s Obsession.
Joy, I read the books long before I saw the adaptations, so it’s the characters as I originally imagined them that I see in my head. I’m no use in the Colin vs. Matthew wars since I like ’em both.
Karen, I’m so glad you gave my self-pubbed books a chance! I hope I’ll have a chance to meet you at the AGM, but I don’t actually have a story in Jane Austen Made Me Do It. There are lots of great ones by other people, though.
Cynthia, I wish I knew what inspired me to write, because then I’d go hunting for more of it! Seriously, my readers’ enthusiasm is one of the most inspiring things for me.
Nicole, thanks for providing such inspiring words. Georgie and Valerie, I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt!
Margaret, you’ve already spotted one of the big differences in this story. Elizabeth doesn’t go to Pemberley, so Darcy has to do more to earn her respect. Their bantering scenes where she learns to understand him better are some of my favorite parts of the book.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Kirk, you get a medal. I had a long argument with my editor who insisted no one would know that Nauset Light wasn’t in Woods Hole, and I kept saying that people who knew Cape Cod take their lighthouses seriously! And it’s not for nothing that my dogs were named Nauset and Nobska. I ended up giving in since otherwise the cover included everything I asked for, which is far better than usual. I first went to Woods Hole as a grad student in 1983 and I’ve been a regular visitor ever since. For a long time my family vacationed in Eastham, but I kept lobbying for the Woods Hole area, and so now we stay in West Falmouth just north of Woods Hole. Woods Hole was made a great setting – it practically wrote itself. All the locations are real (or were in the past), though I changed the name of The Fishmonger’s Cafe to Dock of the Bay Cafe. Annie’s gallery in Morning Light is based on Under the Sun.
Terry, I’ve visited England, but mostly the settings for my variations come out of my head, or I hunt up pictures online. Like Jane Austen, I don’t tend to do a lot of description of the physical settings.
Ruth, this is the same book as Without Reserve. You’ll be glad to know this is the last of my books that will be re-titled, unless you count that By Force of Instinct will change to By Force of Instinct: A Pride & Prejudice Variation. I’m thrilled beyond measure myself! I can’t tell you how frustrating that has been for me, and I know it’s been aggravating for readers.
Thank you Abigail for your wonderful reply! Woods Hole/Falmouth are lovely!
Great names for the dogs. For me, Eastham is beyond description. My paternal grandmother/step grandfather lived in Eastham. We went there for Thanksgiving/New Year’s Day(2hr ride from just outside Boston). More recently, an ex’s parents had a house there. Went there every season but summer(summer rental). Lol, maybe my just south of Boston based bookclub can head down to the Falmouth and meet you at the recently expanded Falmouth Public Library. Cheers!
KIrk, that would be great fun. Isn’t the Falmouth library astonishing? I also loved Eastham’s tiny library – such a sense of history.
I am so glad to see this book. I am “up to date’ on all of your others so was in need of a new P&P book. I have had trouble finding them for some reason now. I enjoy all the variations and really am thankful for your talent.
How do you keep coming up with the different variations on the Darcy and Elizabeth story? How many more do you think you have in you?
First of all, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your books so far and most of all Impulse and Initiative (at that time, it was still I&I – made me fall in love with Darcy all over again and I offered it to my P&P-loving friends) and The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice.
My question to you is the following : how did you come to write P&P variations? What was the beginning of your love for Jane Austen and your idea of exploring the other ways that she did not take?
I find them fascinating… and I do hope one day, you’ll study Persuasion…
Wow, there are lots of great questions being asked! I have enjoyed reading all of them and Abigail’s responses!
I love everything Abigail! I own them all! I know you have had many releases this year. but how soon can we expect a new variation? Or will it be a Wood Hole? Congrats on the release!
Abigail. I am intrigued that you have given Darcy & Elizabeth even greater challenges between them before they can fall in love and be together. I am looking forward to your next novel.
Thanks for the guest blog & giveaways.
Maggie, I’m sorry you’ve had trouble locating copies of my books. I wish distribution were a little better!
Margay, I don’t know how many more variations I have in me. I stopped writing them for several years at one point because I felt like I didn’t have anything new to say and just resumed writing them a couple of years ago as I saw some new possibilities for character development.
Celine, I started writing P&P variations after discovering some Austen fanfiction on the Republic of Pemberley in 2001. There wasn’t much of it during those days – I remember the list of P&P stories could fit on one computer screen in two columns of standard font – and when I finished reading those, I wanted more, and there was only one way to get them!
Becky C, my releases this year represented a backlog of things I’d written, so now that I’m caught up, they’re going to be much further apart. I’m hoping for the new variation, Mr. Darcy’s Letter, to be out in a couple of months. The new Woods Hole book won’t be for at least a year, maybe longer.
Laurel Ann, thanks for hosting me on your fabulous blog!
What is this Wood’s Hole thing? I’ve loved all of your other books but am new to this area.
I’ve enjoyed your novels so well, and have wondered if you’ve considered doing variations of any of Jane’s other novels? As much as I love P&P, I’d love to see someone tackle Northanger Abbey or Emma for a change. I know there are sequels out there for some of her other works, but very few people write variations of their original stories (unless I’m missing them in my searches). I think you would do great with any of them!
I’ve always been intrigued by the role that dance plays in Pride and Prejudice, and I love that you focused on it again. Do you mind talking about your idea to bring Darcy and Elizabeth back to a dance scene?
Karen, Woods Hole is the setting for my modern novels, The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice (aka Pemberley by the Sea) and Morning Light. It’s a unique village on Cape Cod with several marine biology and oceanography institutes, and it’s very much a character as well as a setting for my Woods Hole novels.
Nicole, I’d like to do a Persuasion book at some point, though Emma isn’t on my horizon because my characters have to live in my head for months on end, and Emma would drive me stark raving bonkers! Heather Lynn Rigaud has been talking about doing a Northanger Abbey novel, and I hope she does.
Carolyn, I chose another Meryton assembly for Darcy and Elizabeth’s first encounter after their separation to show how they had both changed in the intervening months. Their behavior – Darcy’s in particular – is so different from the assembly in P&P. Also, dances provide a good opportunity for conversation and for light touch, plus Darcy’s reaction in this case Elizabeth’s dances with other men demonstrates his possessiveness toward her.
Thanks for your interest!
I just loved your excerpt of your new book! I do agree that every character in P&P is complex enough to create a story (or stories) for. I was going to ask you if you planned to ever use another novel as your jumping-off point, but reading your responses to the other comments, I see that a Persuasion-inspired novel is on the horizon for your faithful followers. It warmed my heart as that (along with Sense and Sensibility) is my favorite. Of course, my next hope is that you would use Sense and Sensibility as well! I have always found the ending to that novel unsatisfactory as so many things were not explained to my satisfaction. Also, several characters that we came to love weren’t mentioned at all. I always wonder what happened to them.
This story sounds so intriguing!
I love all your novels. Do you make any revisions to your stories when they are reprinted under a different title?