Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World (A Pride and Prejudice Variation), by Abigail Reynolds, read by Rachel E. Hurley (Audible Audio Edition) – A Review

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds Audio 2013This Pride and Prejudice variation asks readers “What if Elizabeth Bennet had accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal?” After reading this question in the book’s description my first reaction was, ACK, why would she?

Like the two other novels by this author that I have read, the story begins on familiar ground at a certain point in Austen’s novel and then quickly takes a left turn—changing the course of the plot and the characters’ lives. In this case, it starts at a very critical moment, the first proposal scene when Mr. Darcy so arrogantly assumes that the less-socially-endowed Elizabeth Bennet would jump at the chance to accept his generous offer of marriage. Reynolds’ Lizzy is still repulsed by the thought of this man as her husband and frozen with disgust. Since Austen’s last sentence in Elizabeth’s refusal contains the title of this novel, I was all anticipation of reliving Elizabeth’s famous put down:

“From the very beginning — from the first moment, I may almost say — of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Mr/ Darcy's Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds (2012)From the desk of Lisa Galek: 

What if, during their disastrous first proposal, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were hit by a real disaster – a flash flood that trapped them together in Hunsford Parsonage? How would they respond? How would they survive together? And would they still, against all odds, learn to love one another?

Many Austen fans will by now be familiar with Abigail Reynolds’ series, The Pemberley Variations, a group of novels which reimagine how the events of Pride and Prejudice might have been different if only one or two details were changed. In the ninth installment, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, Darcy travels to Hunsford Parsonage to propose to Elizabeth, but this time, he makes his way through a rainstorm. After he finishes confessing his love for Elizabeth and, in the process, insulting her family, Elizabeth begins to refuse him when disaster strikes. The storm outside has become a deluge, flooding Hunsford, forcing the villagers up to the high ground of the parsonage, and blocking the road to Rosings. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are now trapped together in this house, forced to care for Mr. Collins’ parishioners and to live together in this painfully awkward situation until the flood waters recede.

I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say that by the time the weather improves, these two have come together (Darcy and Elizabeth will always find a way), but then other obstacles begin to stack against them. Though Mr. Darcy is not reliant on his family’s support, they all heap their disapproval on him anyway. Lady Catherine makes an appearance to register her annoyance with the marriage, while her brother, the Earl of Matlock (Colonel Fitzwilliam’s father) appears on the scene and offends everyone with his crude suggestions about the couple’s engagement. Mr. Bennet also makes his way through the flood waters to condemn the match (Mr. Darcy has not asked his permission, after all) and then spends the rest of the novel attempting to forbid his most favored daughter from marrying Mr. Darcy. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Mr. Darcy’s Refuge

Mr Darcy's Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds (2012)43 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of two digital copies available of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Patricia F. who left a comment on September 04, 2012
  • Erna who left  a comment on September 05, 2012

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and email address by September 19, 2012. Digital download Internationally.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge is a new Pride and Prejudice variation from Abigail Reynolds. To learn more about it, visit Abigail at her website: Pemberley Variations; Blog: Austen Authors; Facebook: Abigail Reynolds and on Twitter: @AbigailReynolds

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge Blog Tour with Author Abigail Reynolds & Giveaway

Mr/ Darcy's Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds (2012)Please help us welcome Austenesque author Abigail Reynolds today during her blog tour in celebration of the release of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, the ninth novel in her popular Pemberley Variations series.

Whenever I read one of her creative and romantic takes on roads not taken in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I feel a bit like I am in an Austen Twilight Zone. Readers familiar with Austen’s classic story will recognize characters and settings, but Reynolds always mixes it up, placing new impediments and challenges to Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s romance. There are always surprises, and, this new novel is no exception. The first few chapters had me laughing out loud as the story unfolds from Darcy’s point of view. He is even more arrogant and assuming then we ever realized. Ha!

Abigail has kindly shared her thoughts on her writing career and her new book. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win a copy of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge. Enjoy!

I’ve just spent the weekend at the Decatur Book Festival enjoying the company of readers and authors of Austen-inspired books, both fiction and non-fiction. One topic that arose repeatedly was how the world of publishing has changed in the last two years, and even in the last two weeks – yes, really, we discussed some significant changes that have taken place in the last fortnight!  It made me think about how my personal writing process has changed as well.

Mr. Darcy's Letter, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)It took me 25 months to write and edit Mr. Darcy’s Letter, which was released in December 2011. In contrast, I started writing my latest release, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge in mid-January of this year, completing it in 7 months.  Why so much faster?  The easy answer is that I started cutting back on my day job early this year, giving me more free time to write, but that doesn’t completely account for it, since I probably spent one-third the hours on it overall as I did on the last book.

The biggest difference was that I could write every day.  When I have to take a break from writing for a week or more, I lose track of the flow of the narrative, and if I want to have good pacing, I have to go back and rework already written text before I start again. Even with detailed notes, I have trouble keeping scenes on track when there’s a large gap in time. It’s much harder to keep characters consistent and I have to do more revisions in order to keep the tone consistent through the book.  Interestingly, when I look back at my books, the ones that are most popular with readers are the ones that I wrote the fastest.

Certainly a book can be written too quickly, without enough care being taken to make it into a quality product, but can it also be written too slowly?  Obviously, in my case, it can be.  But what about Jane Austen?  We have a reasonable amount of information about how long it took her to write her books.  What does it show us?

The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austenm edited by David M. Shapard (2011)Let’s look at Sense & Sensibility, which Jane Austen referred to as her ‘suckling child’ – an interesting metaphor since it implies that she both loved it and felt drained by it.  She had finished the first draft, then entitled Elinor and Marianne, quite quickly, since she read it aloud to her family before she was 20 years old.  She returned to it two years later to do a full revision, changing it from an epistolary novel to a traditional narrative.  Twelve years later she took it out again for yet another full revision, this time changing the name to Sense & Sensibility.  It was published in 1810, fifteen years after she read the first draft to her family.  She had been working on it for her entire adult life.

The Annontated Persuasion, by Jane Austen and David Shapard (2010In contrast, she started Persuasion when she was 39 years old, and wrote it from start to finish, including revisions, in just under a year.  Naturally, she was a more experienced writer at that point, but I also wonder how the speed of her writing affected the book.  I think of Persuasion as a delight – the tone, the themes, the characters, the background, all seem to flow seamlessly together as I read it.  Sense & Sensibility, on the other hand, reminds me in some ways of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ where there are gaps of style, consistency, or just basic characterization.  I think of it as Jane Austen’s problem novel.  While more polished than Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays,’ the flow of Sense & Sensibility isn’t as smooth as Persuasion, nor are the characters as consistent, and it’s sometimes hard to follow why certain characters care about other characters.  It makes me wonder if Jane Austen also had to struggle with changing vision and loss of flow when the writing of a book spanned so many years.  After all, a character created at age 19 would have to go through a major metamorphosis before meeting the standards of an author at age 34, and it would be almost impossible to erase all the traces of the earlier characterizations.

My writing will never come close to equaling Jane Austen’s, or even make it into the same order of magnitude.  I write light fiction for my own pleasure and that of my readers, and I’m very content producing the literary equivalent of comfort food rather than haute cuisine.  Still, given how much I adore Austen’s writing, it’s very nice to be able to find some potential similarities in our experience as writers!

Thank you for sharing your insights on your writing Abigail. Jane Austen also wrote for her own amusement and that of her family, so you share more than a few similarities.  Best wishes for a great success with Mr. Darcy’s Refuge.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

Author bio:

Abigail Reynolds is a great believer in taking detours. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, A Pemberley Medley, and Morning Light, and she is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. A lifetime member of JASNA and a founder of the popular AUSTEN AUTHORS group blog, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house. Website: Pemberley Variations; Blog: Austen Authors; Facebook: Abigail Reynolds and at Twitter: @AbigailReynolds

GIVEAWAY OF MR. DARCY’S REFUGE

Enter a chance to win one of two digital copies available of Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, by Abigail Reynolds by leaving a comment either asking Abigail about writing her Pemberley Variations series, her new novel, or a remark about Jane Austen’s writing style by 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, September 12, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, September 13, 2012. Digital copies are available to download Internationally. Good luck to all.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
White Soup Press (2012)
Trade paperback (238) pages
ISBN: 978-0615669755
Kindle: ASIN: B00919X9CW
NOOK: BN ID: 2940015170801

© Abigail Reynolds, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Letter, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Mr. Darcy's Letter, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)Guest review by Christina Boyd

In this latest self-published offering from the Pride & Prejudice variation author, Abigail Reynolds’s, Mr. Darcy’s Letter responds to the query: What might have happened had Elizabeth Bennet never accepted Mr. Darcy’s letter that defended his actions in separating his friend from her sister and acquitted him of any cruelty toward Mr. Wickham?  Reynolds’s poses a plausible scenario wherein Miss Elizabeth, conscious of society’s mores, refuses the risk of accepting this letter from a man, thus avoids the risk of being discovered and possibly forced to marry the last man in the world she could ever be prevailed upon. Consequently, she returns to Longbourn yet ignorant of Wickham’s debauchery and continues a dangerous acquaintance with that very scheming lothario and prevaricator.  As in Jane Austen’s masterpiece, how could her former prejudices against Darcy ever be removed so that she would eventually comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her?

Of course, her revelation of Darcy’s goodness takes further discovery but by the time she realizes her blunder – Wickham elopes with Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia. And then, Darcy arrives too late in Lambton to learn of the Bennet family’s disgrace!  In an assembly of plot devices, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations, Reynolds artfully increases our suspense by illustrating the Bennets decline and how it taints Charles Bingley’s manners with Miss Jane Bennet. “‘Too many people know that her sister was seduced and abandoned, even if a marriage was eventually patched up somehow.  It would never have been an equal match between Jane and me.  She is a gentleman’s daughter, but her mother is not and now the family name is tainted.’”  Oh, how Darcy’s own words from the previous autumn seem to have come back to bite him in the arse!

As much as I enjoyed the overall romance of another Darcy and Elizabeth re-imagining, I was rather disconcerted by Elizabeth.  First she refuses his letter under the premise that a lady would never accept a letter from a gentleman she was neither related to nor betrothed. And yet, soon after Darcy and Elizabeth become engaged, they anticipate their vows?  On a fainting couch in the corner of Darcy’s dressing room serving as his study while at Netherfield!  “‘I want nothing more than to be your wife.  I wish I were yours this very moment, and nothing would ever separate us again.’ She tightened her arms around his neck, pressing herself closer to him, as if trying to make herself part of his very essence.” Reynolds creates such a riot of emotions that this modern-day reader, I suppose, must forgive Elizabeth’s lascivious zeal – it is Mr. Darcy after all!

In classic Abigail Reynolds style, her latest steamy and sensual romance novel is agog with machinations to drive the story to its final happy conclusion.  If reading about Elizabeth and Darcy sharing amorous favors before marriage is unsupportable, by all means, avert your eyes.  However should it take more to get your knickers in a knot, Mr. Darcy’s Letter should not be cast aside!  Enjoy!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy’s Letter: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
Intertidal Press (2011)
Trade paperback (262) pages
ISBN: 978-0615571416
Kindle: ASIN: B006G2E4XK
Nook: Not available

Christina Boyd lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two youngish children and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Bibi.  She studied Fine Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Salisbury University in Maryland. For the last nine years she has created and sold her own pottery line from her working studio. Albeit she read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked her interest in all things Austen.  A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

© 2007 – 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose