The Best Pride and Prejudice Inspired Novels to Add to Your Historical TBR List

Mr. Darcy, by Rocketsky at Deviant Art

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Today is Pride and Prejudice’s 209th birthday. Many happy returns of the day to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Jane Austen’s second novel was published in a three-volume set by Thomas Egerton, Whitehall, London in 1813. She sold the copyright for £110. Ouch! One can only imagine how much the novel has made for its numerous publishers over the centuries. Continue reading “The Best Pride and Prejudice Inspired Novels to Add to Your Historical TBR List”

The Earl Next Door, by Amanda Grange – A Review

The Earl Next Door by Amanda Grange 2012 x 200From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

A lesson learned from the works of Jane Austen is that the rake never saves the day and never gets the girl. Mr. Wickham, Willoughby, Henry Crawford, John Thorpe, and Mr. Elliot are all fine examples of this rule. While Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Edmund Bertram, Henry Tilney, and Captain Wentworth all perfectly fit their roles as heroes, I’ve lately experienced some niggling doubts about these so-called rakes. Was Willoughby really so horrible, or were his actions the result of a lack of maturity and guidance? Would Henry Crawford have been faithful if Fanny had given him encouragement? This leads to a deeper question–What would happen if the rake DID get the girl? And what if he really wasn’t a rake at all—what if he was the hero in disguise? Those questions are explored and answered in The Earl Next Door (originally published as Anything but a Gentleman) by Amanda Grange, the author of the well-known series of diaries from the perspectives of Jane Austen’s heroes. Continue reading “The Earl Next Door, by Amanda Grange – A Review”

Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange – A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

In 2005 author Amanda Grange gave Pride and Prejudice fans what they had been craving for centuries—Jane Austen’s classic story retold entirely from the perspective of its iconic romantic hero—Mr. Darcy. It was certainly not the first novel to explore this concept, but Mr. Darcy’s Diary remains, after many other attempts, the best in a very crowded field of Darcyiana.

I first read Darcy’s Diary eight years ago when it was released in the UK. I paid a fortune for the first Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange – A Review”

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange – A Review

Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

Bestselling authoress Amanda Grange’s latest offering, Dear Mr. Darcy, is a clever retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in the epistolary form. However, don’t be fooled by the title. This novel is so much more than just Mr. Darcy’s private correspondence, including many letters from several key players from the original novel as well as characters from Grange’s own invention to develop back story. She has also cleverly incorporated Austen’s canon Pride and Prejudice letters helping to solidify the timeline.

The novel begins five years prior to Pride and Prejudice, with the death of Mr. Darcy, Sr. and his final letter to his son detailing his hopes and dreams for him as well an introduction to Mr. Darcy’s cousin, compeer and confidant, Mr. Philip Darcy. The letters also unveil the dealings with The Living promised to George Wickham, as well as the near undoing of Darcy’s younger sister, Georgianna. Continue reading “Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange – A Review”

Dear Mr. Darcy Blog Tour with Author Amanda Grange & Giveaway!

Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange (2012)Please join us today in welcoming author Amanda Grange on the launch of her blog tour of Dear Mr. Darcy, a new retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.

Wait! Didn’t Amanda already write Mr. Darcy’s Diary? Yep, she did, but this novel has a new slant that readers will find enchanting. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available from Amanda’s publisher Berkley Trade.

Welcome Amanda

Hi, Laurel Ann, thanks for inviting me to guest blog. I’m very excited to be here to talk about my latest book, Dear Mr Darcy.

I’m sure people are wondering why I have written another retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and why I have used the epistolary form. The reason is very simple. As some of you will already know, Jane Austen rewrote Pride and Prejudice considerably between 1797, when it was begun, and 1813, when it was published. It was originally called First Impressions and it was probably written in the epistolary style.

I’ve often thought about the early version of Pride and Prejudice and wished we still had it to read. Over the years an urge started growing inside me to recreate it. Of course, my version is only my idea of how it might have been, and I’m not Jane Austen, but the idea gripped me. I thought it would be a fantastic way of providing another way into the story, and another way into Mr Darcy. I decided to start with the death of his father, because his relationship with his father was obviously very influential in turning him into the proud, haughty man of Pride and Prejudice.

Almost the first letter in Dear Mr Darcy is written by Mr Darcy’s father, when he is on his deathbed. He wants to give our Mr Darcy some advice for the future, including these words, which have a lasting effect:

Remember that the woman you favour with your hand will not only be a wife to you, she will also be a sister to Georgiana and the mistress of Pemberley. She will need to command the respect of the servants and the love of your family; she must reflect the greatness of the Darcys; she must be a gracious hostess and a model of feminine virtue; she must be a modest lady and she must be possessed of a refined taste and true decorum. And she must be a woman you can admire, respect and esteem, as well as love.

For advice on matters of this nature I refer you to my brother’s son, your cousin Philip.

Darcy’s cousin, Philip, is my own invention. He proves very useful throughout the book as his character is similar to Darcy’s, he is of the same social level and therefore Darcy feels he can confide in him.

The following extract is from one of Mr Darcy’s letters to Philip later in the book, written from Rosings, when he is tempted, against his will, to propose to Elizabeth – who is definitely not the sort of woman his father advised him to marry!

It would degrade me to marry her. I would be laughed at by all my friends, jeered at by my enemies and pitied by all. I could never possibly marry her. And yet – and yet I cannot keep away from her. The lightness of her spirits, her humour, her arch smile, her teasing, her eyes – oh! Philip, her eyes! which sparkle when she teases me and show she knows her power over me – all these things drive me to distraction.

I can tell no one but you. You know my character, you know how proud and disdainful I am, but against my better judgement I have been enraptured by her. It is out of the question for me to marry her; out of the question to make her my mistress.

I would leave if I could, but if I go now it will look particular and that is something I very much want to avoid. I do not know what to do.

Your beleaguered cousin,

Darcy

*******

Mr Philip Darcy to Mr Darcy

London, April 22

Darcy, leave at once. Make some excuse and go today, this minute, never mind if it looks particular, it will soon be forgotten. Do not linger another moment. This kind of fever is virulent and the only thing that can control it is a prolonged absence from its source. Have your valet pack your things and meet me in London straight away. If you stay you will regret it.

Philip

 *******

Mr Darcy to Mr Philip Darcy

Rosings Park, April 23

Dear Philip, you are too late. I have proposed.

This is just a sample of the letters, but Dear Mr Darcy is full of them! Letters from Elizabeth to her friend Susan (my own invention) as she talks about Mr Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield and her subsequent frustrating yet stimulating meetings with him; Caroline Bingley’s scheming as she persuades Charles to introduce her to his eligible friend Mr Darcy; Mary’s moralising and more. But at the heart of the book are the letters to and from Mr Darcy as he manages his estate, cares for his sister and fights a losing battle against his love for Elizabeth Bennet.

I love all my books, but every once in a while, I feel that one of them is extra special. I felt it when writing Mr Darcy’s Diary and I felt it when writing Dear Mr Darcy. I hope readers agree.

Author Bio:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst  the Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Grand Giveaway of Dear Mr. Darcy

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of Dear Mr. Darcy, by Amanda Grange by leaving a comment revealing what intrigues you about reading Mr. Darcy’s personal correspondence by 11:59 pm Pacific time, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012. Winners will be announced on Thursday, August 16th, 2012. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck!

Dear Mr. Darcy: A Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade (2012)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0425247815

© 2012 Amanda Grange, Austenprose

Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb – A Review

Pride & Pyramids, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb (2012)Review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder

In the entire spectrum of Pride and Prejudice sequels, variations, retellings, and what-if’s I’ve seen Darcy as a vampire, werewolf, zombie, ranch owner, and rock star.  I’ve seen Elizabeth as a master zombie fighter, scientist, doctor, sleuth, and time traveler.  I’ve seen them in WWII England, Colonial America, Thailand, Texas, and Oxford, but never have we seen them the way Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb have envisioned them in Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt. Taking them down the Nile and into the sprawling deserts of Egypt, Grange and Webb turn our beloved couple into amateur archeologists on an expedition in the land of the pharaohs!

Pride & Pyramids begins approximately 15 years after the fairytale ending of Pride and Prejudice.  Elizabeth and Darcy are comfortably tending to their many children and leading a comfortable, happy life.  This changes with a visit from Edward, brother of their cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.  Recently, Edward has been stricken with the latest craze in Regency England: Egyptology!  Begging for an adventure, Darcy gives in to Elizabeth and asks Edward if he can bring the family along with him to Egypt.  After months of preparation the whole clan heads out on an epic journey to Egypt.  What happens when they get there can only be described as Egyptian myth……

When I first heard that there were two authors writing this, I’ll admit that I was nervous.  Grange is already known for her excellent insight into the heads of Austen’s men with her diary series.  I was concerned that the book would read oddly with an Egyptologist as a co-author.  Webb has certainly made her mark in a wonderful way, helping weave her knowledge of Egyptian myths and beauty into the story.  The juxtaposition of Austen-styled writing with Egyptian myths is mesmerizing.  The story is effortlessly told, transporting the reader on this epic journey with the Darcy family.

While Elizabeth and Darcy are obviously important to the narrative, their children and their cousin Edward are the focal characters.  These new character creations make great additions to Austen’s cast of we know and love.  I was THRILLED that Mrs. Bennet was able to wheedle her way into the novel, as her “fluttering and spasms” made for great humorous fodder.

In all, this is a great new way to explore the Pride and Prejudice sequel JAFF genre!  It was entertaining to read this refreshing take on these familiar characters.  If I ever get the chance to go to Egypt I’ll be sure to remember all the sights and sounds that I read about in this work!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402265341

Kimberly Denny-Ryder is the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association.  When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.

© 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Pride and Pyramids Blog Tour with Authors Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb & Giveaway

Pride and Pyramids, by Amnada Grange and Jacqueline Webb (2012)Please join us today in welcoming authors Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb on their blog tour of Pride and Pyramids, a new Austenesque sequel to Pride and Prejudice that takes Elizabeth, Darcy and their family to Egypt. Leave a comment to enter a chance to win one of three copies of the book available.

Welcome Amanda and Jacqueline…

Amanda: I’d long wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but there were already a lot of sequels available and I didn’t want to repeat the usual story of Elizabeth and Darcy settling down at Pemberley. I didn’t want to write about the Darcys having marital problems either, since I firmly believe they live happily ever after, but a book needs incident in order to make it interesting, which created a dilemma. Then one day I was emailing Jackie, whose first book was set in Egypt, and something clicked, because it reminded me that Egyptology was a huge craze in the Regency era. The wealthy young men of the eighteenth century often extended their Grand Tour of Europe to include Greece, Turkey and Egypt, and interest was heightened in 1799 – when Jane Austen was writing Pride and Prejudice – because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. The Stone was brought to England and it was displayed in the British Museum from 1802 onwards. Interest continued to grow and Belzoni’s account of his adventures in Egypt, in 1815, (which was very useful for our research!) added more fuel to the fire. So it seemed a perfect setting for a sequel which would be new and fresh, but at the same time accurate for the period. I was very excited by the idea and suggested we write it together because Jackie had researched Egypt intensively for her previous book and had all the relevant research books at her fingertips.

Jacqueline: When Amanda suggested we collaborate on a Jane Austen sequel I was delighted. My first book The Scarlet Queen is based in Egypt about a young woman searching for an elusive cache of treasure in the Valley of the Kings, so I had already done a lot of research around this topic. My novel was set in the Edwardian era, about a hundred after Pride and Prejudice, but Egypt had been popular with the Europeans since Georgian times. Elizabeth, Darcy and their growing family were well-off and had enough leisure time to make the journey seem plausible and it was the kind of thing wealthy Europeans would do, although it would have been adventurous. However that aspect fit in well with the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy and allowed us to imagine them in a whole new environment, as well as meeting up with some old faces.

Amanda: Yes, we wanted to include some of the minor characters from Pride and Prejudice in Pride and Pyramids, as well as introducing some new ones.  As the book starts in London, then moves to Pemberley, before heading off to Egypt, we get a chance to catch up with Jane and Bingley. Then Lizzy and Darcy find they see rather more of Mrs Bennet than they intended! They have six lively children by this time, as the book is set fifteen years after their marriage. They’re still recognisably the characters from Pride and Prejudice, but we see them in their role of parents as well as in their interludes as a couple. And, of course, there are tombs and pyramids and an eerie little doll, which causes quite a bit of trouble! It was a lot of fun to write and I hope Pride and Pyramids will be just as much fun to read. It’s Elizabeth and Darcy as you’ve never seen them before!

Author Bios:

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, England, and spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She has had over twenty novels published including six Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Woman said of Mr Darcy’s Diary: “Lots of fun, this is the tale behind the alpha male,” whilst The Washington Post called Mr Knightley’s Diary “affectionate”. The Historical Novels Review made Captain Wentworth’s Diary an Editors’ Choice, remarking, “Amanda Grange has hit upon a winning formula.” Austenblog declared that Colonel Brandon’s Diary was “the best book yet in her series of heroes’ diaries.”

Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, England. You can find out more by visiting her website Amanda Grange. You can also find her on Facebook as Amanda Grange Author.

Jacqueline Webb lives on the Wirral, which is near to Liverpool, England, with her husband, two sons, two cats and one dog. She is a teacher of French and English and she has had two historical romances published by Robert Hale – The Scarlet Queen  and Dragonsheart. She has also just had a paranormal romance e-book published by Lyrical Press Sophronia and the Vampire, under the name Jacqueline Farrell. She has always enjoyed writing but didn’t get really serious about it until she was in her early forties. Her sons were very small and she was working part-time and feeling as though she was just rushing from work to babies without any time doing something she enjoyed. So she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and submitted a novel to their New Writers Scheme. Although she didn’t get anywhere with that submission she was given some great advice and wrote another novel which did get published.

Giveaway chance for Pride and Pyramids

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Pride and Pyramids by asking either author about their research and writing experience, or, which of Jane Austen’s original characters from Pride and Prejudice you would like to fall victim to the mummy’s curse by midnight PT, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Winners to be announced on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Print edition shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook edition internationally. Good luck!

Pride and Pyramids, by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
Sourcebooks (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-1402265358

© 2012 Amanda Grange & Jacqueline Webb, Austenprose

Henry Tilney’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange – A Review

Henry Tilney's Diary, by Amanda Grange (2011)Guest review by Christina Boyd

Albeit Jane Austen first sold Northanger Abbey to a publisher in 1803 (at first entitled Susan), it did not appear in print until 1817 when it was published after her death as a four volume set with her final novel Persuasion. In Northanger Abbey, Miss Morland is a daughter of a well-to-do clergyman, unabashed Gothic novel reader, and heroine-in-the-making, “Something must happen and will happen to throw a hero in her way.” Northanger Abbey, Chapter 1. Upon leaving her family home in the quiet village of Fullerton for the excitement of the resort town of Bath, the good-hearted and suggestible Miss Morland is entangled in a plait of plausible falsehoods fabricated by more sophisticated people she encounters. Invited to Northanger Abbey, the country home of the Tilney family, Catherine lets her Gothic-infused imagination run wild during her visit there. She suspects something sinister — true, but as in all Austen’s major works, money is the real labyrinth. Cloaked in a black veil of parody, Jane Austen subtly mocks the Gothic novel with actual dangers, fears, anxieties and misfortunes that torment Catherine Morland, making it relevant to the age in which she lived.

Author Amanda Grange’s latest offering Henry Tilney’s Diary, mirrors Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, but from the male protagonist’s point of view. When the young clergyman Henry Tilney is to be the hero, as in so many of the Gothic novels that he so fond of reading, the perverseness of his upbringing in a medieval home with a choleric, militaristic father, an aggrieved, sickly mother, his burlesque lothario of an older brother and a kindly, pretty sister cannot prevent him. Grange has scripted a rich back-story, starting with Henry’s first entries in his diary at approximately age 15.  We are privy to his most private thoughts regarding his parents, his mother’s illness, his sister Eleanor and her secret amour, and of course, how his rake of a brother Frederick came to be.  I found Henry so unlike other Austen heroes. He takes nothing seriously unless required, yet, is so self-assured that he has ready opinions on everything from marriage, politics and even fine muslin!

As in Grange’s previous books in the Austen diaries series, the entries are dated which is helpful in keeping the timeline in focus. She masterfully writes our hero’s thoughts and recollections with a strong, clear voice, seasoned with his wit, charm and satirical eye as Tilney attempts to influence others to rationality, even while on his search to find his own heroine. “‘Papa says I am the cleverest girl he has ever met. Captain Dunston remarked upon it as well.  But I think he is a very stupid fellow.’ ‘He must be,’ I said; a remark which she did not understand, but which made her smile, for she liked to think of my sharing her opinion of the captain.’” p. 97.  Fortunately, this Miss Smith did not suit.

Negotiating through a world that is oftentimes mendacious, and a society that is characterized by guile and polite fabrication, when Henry does meet Miss Catherine Morland, a pretty, young lady of meager fortune, he can’t help but be enchanted by her fresh charm and glorious honesty. And to discover her love of reading, it would seem he had found his match! Amused by her description of the south of France, “I could not help smiling when she went on, ‘It always puts me in the mind of the country that Emily and her father traveled through, in The Mysteries of Udolpho.’  Eleanor and I looked at each other, delighted to have found another fellow admirer of Udolpho. Your heroine?  Eleanor mouthed silently to me.  I smiled, for Miss Morland certainly had all the hallmarks of a heroine.” p.115.

When General Tilney, who has pre-determined his children will make wealthy marital conquests, takes an unlikely interest in Catherine, even inviting her to visit their home, Henry is pleasantly surprised. Later after an indulgent evening of laughter with just the three young people, “‘This is how it will be when we are married,’ I said to Eleanor, when Catherine had retired for the night. ‘I am sorry for it, but there it is.  My wife will not secretly resent you, as you believed when we were children. She will not slowly poison you, or lock you in the attic.’  Eleanor gave a sigh. ‘We must all bear our disappointments in life, dear brother, and it seems that having a good and charming sister, who loves me as much as I love her, is destined to be one of mine.’” p. 191. While Henry admits to himself his affection for Catherine, he also discovers her suggestible imagination has led her to suspect that his mother was incarcerated and murdered by his father…  “Oh! I would not tell you” the rest “for the world!  Are you not wild to know?” Northanger Abbey, Chapter VI.

Amanda Grange continues to build a dedicated fan base with her warm, witty and informative diaries of Jane Austen’s male heroes (and even a villain) since her first Mr. Darcy’s Diary in 2007 to Mr. Wickham’s Dairy last April. I was too anxious to wait for the US release in December 2011 for Henry Tilney’s Diary so I impatiently paid a small fortune last May for the shipping and hardback copy published through Robert Hale in the UK. I recall that from the time UPS delivered the book until I finished it sometime in the wee hours of the morn, I was thoroughly engaged. I believe my money and my time, well spent; surely one of her best diaries to date! Austen fans may declare Mr. Darcy as their favorite, I dare say, Mr. Tilney improves on acquaintance. Even if you are not as familiar with Northanger Abbey as other Austen works, you will still find the tendency of Henry Tilney’s Diary to be altogether recommendable.  A must for your reading list.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Henry Tilney’s Diary: A Novel, by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade (2011)
Trade paperback (288) pages
ISBN: 978-0425243923

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 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Wickham’s Diary, by Amanda Grange – A Review

Wickham's Diary, by Amanda Grange (2011)Austen’s bad boy George Wickham gets top billing in this prequel to Pride and Prejudice that will surprise readers for more reasons than one first imagines.

Anyone who has read Jane Austen’s original novel or seen one of the many movie adaptations knows that Wickham is a bad man: a charming rogue, a gamester and an infamous eloper. But what influences molded his character and what forces drove him to his choices? Wickham’s Diary presents some interesting options for us to ponder. Was it nature or nurture that corrupted his soul? After knowing his story, will we be sympathetic, or ready to string him up? Here’s a case study:

Early Childhood:

George is the son of an attorney working as a steward at the grand country estate of Pemberley in Continue reading “Wickham’s Diary, by Amanda Grange – A Review”

A Preview of Wickham’s Diary & Interview with Author Amanda Grange

Wickham's Diary, by Amanda Grange (2011)Please join us for the first stop on Austenesque author Amanda Grange’s blog tour of Wickham’s Diary, a new novella focusing on the early years of Jane Austen’s infamous ne’er-do-well from Pride and Prejudice, George Wickham, due out today from Sourcebooks.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

11 July 1784

“Why should I be beneath Fitzwilliam? I am just as handsome as he is; I am just as intelligent, even though he works harder at his books; and I am just as amusing; in fact I dare say I am a great deal more amusing, for Fitzwilliam is so proud he will not take the trouble to entertain other people.

Yet although he is no better than me, when he grows up he will inherit Pemberley, and I will inherit nothing…”

Continue reading “A Preview of Wickham’s Diary & Interview with Author Amanda Grange”

Exclusive Preview and Excerpt from Wickham’s Diary, by Amanda Grange

Wickham's Diary, by Amanda Grange (2011)Launching on April 1st, Wickham’s Diary, Amanda Grange’s new novella inspired by Jane Austen’s bad boy enters this world on April Fools Day. We promise it is no joke, but indeed a treat. Renowned for her retellings of Austen’s classic stories from the heroes perspective: Mr. Darcy’s Diary (2007), Mr. Knightley’s Diary (2007), Captain Wentworth’s Diary (2008), Edmund Bertram’s Diary (2008), Colonel Brandon’s Diary (2009) and the soon to be released Henry Tilney’s Diary (31 May in the UK & 6 Dec in US), this is Grange’s first novel based on an Austen villain. It promises to be wickedly intriguing!

Jane Austen did not suffer fools gladly. We know by the end of Pride and Prejudice that her rakish cad George Wickham and the selfish, impetuous Lydia Bennet are married and shipped off to a Northumberland exile. Their eventual fate is quickly revealed in the concluding chapter of the novel.

Their manner of living, even when the restoration of peace dismissed them to a home, was unsettled in the extreme. They were always moving from place to place in quest of a cheap situation, and always spending more than they ought. His affection for her soon sunk into indifference: her’s lasted a little longer; and in spite of her youth and her manners, she retained all the claims to reputation which her marriage had given her.

Indeed a grim reward for such scandalous behavior. But how did Wickham, who was raised with the honorable Mr. Darcy, become so dissipated? Ms. Grange shares her insights into how she envisioned the events.

This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.

At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham’s own greedy, black heart.

Here is an exclusive excerpt from Wickham’s Diary selected by the author. Enjoy!

3rd July 1799

Whilst walking through the park today, who should I see but Belle! She was as delighted to see me as I was to see her and we went to an inn together. The day was so hot that we both ordered an ice.

‘And have you married your merchant?’ I asked her, as we began to eat. ‘You were going to find some rich husband and settle down the last time we met.’

‘No, I changed my mind. I couldn’t find any­one to suit me and in the end I decided that, anyway, it would not do. I am not cut out to be a wife. I have taken a salaried position instead.’

‘Ah, so you are some man’s mistress then. He is very lucky. I only wish I had more money, my dear, and I would snap you up myself.’

She laughed at me.

‘Pockets to let as usual, George?’

‘You know me too well,’ I said, turning them out so that she could see how empty they were.

She raised her eyebrows and went back to her ice, but after a minute or two she said seriously, ‘We’re both getting older, George, even you are not as young as you were. You ought to be thinking of settling down. Marriage is easier for a man, not as restraining. With your silver tongue you ought to be looking for an heiress to marry.’

‘I have been thinking in just the same way.’

She turned and looked at me appraisingly.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘Only this. That I am engaged to be a companion—’

‘A companion! I had no idea your salaried position would be so respectable,’ I said. ‘You will never keep it, Belle. You will not be able to hold your tongue when some old harridan starts telling you what to do.’

‘I’m not engaged to be a companion to an old harridan, but to a young girl—’

‘A young girl!’ I exclaimed. ‘You, Belle! Why, who would employ a woman like you to be a companion to a young girl—begging your par­don, but you know what I mean.’

‘Don’t worry, George, I know exactly what you mean. But you see my employer doesn’t know about my history, and who is going to tell him? You?’

‘No, of course not, but how did you come by such a post in the first place?’ I asked curi­ously, for I could not imagine any way in which it could happen.

She took another spoonful of ice and let it melt slowly on her tongue, then said, ‘I met an old school friend by chance in the circulating library. I went to an elegant seminary, you know, one of the best, a very respectable establishment it was, and frequented by some very good families. My family were respectable, God bless them, when they were alive. But when my parents died, shortly after I left the seminary, I had to fend for myself and—well, you know the rest. Well, I met this friend again, Amelia Campbell, and we exclaimed over the chance and then caught up on all the news, only my version of my history was, as you may well guess, a slightly altered one.’

‘Did she not suspect anything? Had she not heard anything of you in the meantime?’

‘No, not she. She had married a man in the diplomatic corps and so had spent many years abroad, and she and her husband had only just returned to this country. So she had heard nothing of my years in the demimonde. She saw what she expected to see: an old school friend, somewhat shabbily dressed but as respectable as ever. I quickly saw she could be of use to me, and so I spun her a tale about how I had mar­ried a wonderful man, how happy we had been until his tragic death in a carriage accident, my brave struggle to manage since his death, and my poor but respectable life. She, bless her, was full of sympathy and said she knew of an excellent position that might suit me, and before the week was out I was employed. So tomorrow I am to take up my new appointment and in a few weeks we are to go to Ramsgate, where my young lady is to spend the summer; her brother thinks it is too hot for her in London and he wants her to have the benefit of sea air.’

‘And you have a plan in mind?’ I asked her.

‘Yes, I have, George. This young woman is an heiress.’

I saw where her thoughts were tending and I began to take more interest in her story.

‘An heiress, under your influence,’ I said thoughtfully. ‘And she is to spend the sum­mer at a seaside resort, where she will not be watched very closely. She will be away from her family?’

‘She will. She will be there alone with me. She is an orphan,’ she said by way of explanation.

‘Better and better. If she is all alone in the world—’

‘Now, George, don’t be mean, I would rather have two.’

‘I will be the one running all the risks,’ I reminded her.

‘What risks?’ she said in derision. ‘There aren’t any risks.’

I pushed the ice away from me and leant forward.

‘Yes there are,’ I said. ‘If her brother finds out what I’m doing and calls me out, then it will be me looking down the wrong end of a pistol, not you, and if he is a good shot then it will be me taking the bullet.’

‘He will have to catch you first.’ She laughed and finished off her ice with one last lick of the spoon. ‘And how will he find out? By the time he learns that anything is amiss you will be half­way to Scotland.’

‘Scotland?’ The word brought me up short. ‘She is under age then?’

‘Yes. She is fifteen.’

‘That is very young,’ I said with a frown.

‘In England, yes, though in Scotland it is thought plenty old enough to be married and no parents’ or guardian’s consent needed, just two people who say they want to be wed. Then it’s a quick ceremony over the anvil and you’re legally man and wife—or perhaps I should say man and fortune!’ she added, laughing.

I joined in her laughter.

‘Man and fortune. I like that,’ I said. Then I became serious. ‘Now, how is the thing to be done?’

She thought. ‘You must meet us casually,’ she said at last. ‘A chance meeting, in the circulating library…’

‘No, not the library; there will be too many people there and too many curious glances. We should meet somewhere less crowded, whilst walking by the sea perhaps, somewhere well away from the main promenade, so that there will be very few people there. Then I can scrape an acquaintance—perhaps we have friends in common, or anyway I can at least pretend we have. What is her name?’

‘Darcy,’ she said.

© Amanda Grange, Wickham’s Diary, Sourcebooks (2011)

About the Author

Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, in the north of England. She spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She went on to be a teacher and then managed to fulfill her ambition to become a published writer. Amanda has had eighteen novels published including five (soon to be six!) Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, where she spends half her life in the twenty-first century and the other half in the early nineteenth century.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

UPDATED! Download Free Jane Austen-inspired eBooks on her Birthday, December 16, 2010

Sourcebooks Jane Austen Birthday Banner 2010

Update 16 December 2010: 1:00 pm PT

Breaking News:

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Next Thursday, December 16th is Jane Austen’s 235th birthday and Sourcebooks, the world’s leading Jane Austen publisher, is throwing a huge one-day-only birthday book bash. They will be offering ten of their best Austen-inspired novels for FREE. Yep. That’s right. FREE!

Anyone with a digital eReader, or free application on their computer, or blackberry, or iPhone, or Android, or iPad can download the books. Just go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. online on December 16th and download away! (I highly recommend Barnes & Noble’s free Nook applications if you do not already own an eReader like me! You can read the eBooks on five different electronic devices ) Continue reading “UPDATED! Download Free Jane Austen-inspired eBooks on her Birthday, December 16, 2010”

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