Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner: A Pride and Prejudice Farce, by Jack Caldwell – A Review

From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner by Jack Caldwell 2013 x 200

Back in the day I read a novel entitled Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell and found myself totally impressed with the original reimagining of my beloved Pride and Prejudice (from a male author’s perspective!). I remember heading over to Caldwell’s website to see what else he had written that was available for me to get my hands on. I wound up finding a story he was publishing piece-by-piece on his site entitled Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner. I decided to read the entire story from start to finish in the course of one evening (ok, maybe some very early hours of the day were involved too….). Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I found it on sale for NOOK earlier this year. Being able to readily remember the pleasure it gave me several years earlier had me all the more excited to read it again.

We are all familiar with Mr. Darcy’s haughty nature, but it is no match for a little furry kitten in Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner. An encounter with Elizabeth’s pet cat causes Mr. Darcy to fall and injure himself, leading to a long recovery at Longbourn of all places. Because of a lack of space, Darcy is actually put up in the parlor, and he is subject to the exploits of the Bennet family, including every wail of Mrs. Bennet and every antic of Kitty and Lydia. Things get even more hectic when Bingley, Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh come to visit Darcy in his invalid state. Hilarity ensues when these guests further antagonize the pressure cooker of emotion and frivolity that is present at Longbourn. Will Darcy and Lizzy be able to survive his recuperation? While most of us would erupt in anger and frustration at this impossible situation, Darcy shocks us all by doing quite the opposite. He shows us a kinder, gentler side of himself by taking an interest in all of the Bennet sisters, not just Lizzy.  He brings his horse to Longborn for Lydia to ride, helps Kitty with her sketches, and compliments Mary on her pianoforte pieces. In all, we see a Darcy that is quite refreshing and new, which made the story spring to life off the pages. Continue reading

The Three Colonels Blog Tour with Author Jack Caldwell & Giveaway

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen's Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell (2012)Today is World Book Day, and what better way to celebrate the printed word than with an Austenesque author?

Please join us today in welcoming Jack Caldwell on the first stop in his blog tour in celebration of the release of his second novel, The Three Colonels, published today by Sourcebooks. Jack has generously shared with us some insights into creating the novel, and offered a giveaway to three lucky readers.

Greetings, everyone. I’m Jack Caldwell, author of Pemberley Ranch, that western-themed re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I’m happy that Laurel Ann invited me back to Austenprose to talk about my new book, The Three Colonels – Jane Austen’s Fighting Men.

Unlike Pemberley Ranch which was a re-imagining, The Three Colonels is a sequel of the original novels set during the Regency. That’s right, novels—I combine Pride and Prejudice with another of Austen’s beloved books, Sense and Sensibility. I find that by doing so, I’ve opened up the Austen universe to unlimited possibilities.

So who are my three colonels?

  • Colonel Christopher Brandon (from Sense and Sensibility) – The romantic hero of Austen’s first novel is married to the former Marianne Dashwood, and they live happily with their baby daughter at Brandon’s estate of Delaford. For purposes of my novel, I’ve tweaked Brandon’s career a bit. He served not only in India and the East Indies, but also in Italy, where he met the future Duke of Wellington and the next of my colonels.
  • Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam (from Pride and Prejudice) – Possibly the most popular minor character in Austen’s entire canon. An officer in the Light Dragoons, Fitzwilliam has taken the place of Mr. Darcy as Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s favorite nephew and court jester. However, he’s still a second son with no fortune or estate of his own, and Lady Catherine well knows it. Fitzwilliam’s best friend, besides Darcy, is—
  • Colonel Sir John Buford (an original character) – Buford is a Welsh gentleman, an extraordinarily brave and capable officer in the Light Dragoons, and a particularly popular figure with the ladies. This “Dark Darcy” won his knighthood in Spain and comes to realize that his rakish conduct has not served him well. Valued by his superiors for his abilities, particularly with languages, he is distrusted for his dishonorable personal habits. Buford seeks redemption through better behavior and a good marriage.

But what’s a romance without the ladies?

  • Marianne Brandon (from Sense and Sensibility) – Marianne has come into her own with marriage and motherhood. However, being the colonel’s wife is one thing, and being Mistress of Delaford in Brandon’s absence is quite another, particularly when a certain former suitor returns.
  • Anne de Bourgh (from Pride and Prejudice) – Now cured of the mysterious malady that harmed her health, she dreams of marrying the cousin she has always loved. Unfortunately, he’s the wrong Fitzwilliam as far as Lady Catherine is concerned, and she will stop at nothing to keep Anne at Rosings.
  • Caroline Bingley (from Pride and Prejudice) – Buford is not the only character seeking redemption. Miss Bingley enters into a marriage of convenience with Sir John, thrilled that she will finally have her place in society. Buford serves in the British delegation at the Congress of Vienna, and Caroline is thrust into a social order above the ton in London. Here the stakes are far higher, and so is the treachery. Can Caroline find love with her husband and avoid the pitfalls that could hurt not only herself but her country as well?

In 1815, Napoleon escapes from exile and Europe is at war again. Who will live and who will never come home again from the fields of Waterloo?

As you can see, the plot is full and complex. There are plenty of the readers favorite Austen characters, including Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, Elinor and Edward Ferrars, George Wickham, Mr. Collins and Charlotte, John Willoughby, Georgiana Darcy, and Mary Bennet. I’ve also included actual historical figures, such as the Duke of Wellington and the Emperor Napoleon.

Some have said I write Jane Austen from a man’s perspective. I take that as a compliment. One of Austen’s great accomplishments was that she could write men very well. She saw us as we are, warts and all, and not as women wish we were. Her male characters leap off the page. She makes it very easy for a man to use her characters, and I hope you will approve of my attempt to honor one of the greats of British literature. I also honor the brave men and women who wear their nation’s uniform and the families they leave behind.

So, who are your favorites of Jane Austen’s fighting men? Brandon? Fitzwilliam? Captain Frederick Wentworth of Persuasion? How about Northanger Abbey’s Captain Tilney? Who do you want to know more about?

Or, what other Austen novels would you like to see mashed together? Let me know! Have fun!

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 who 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.

When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons. Visit Jack at his website: Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile; Blog: Austen Authors; on Facebook: as Jack Caldwell Author; and on Twitter: as @JCadwell25.

Grand Giveaway of The Three Colonels

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of The Three Colonels, by Jack Caldwell by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about this new sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, or which other Austen novel you would like to see Jack write about next, by 11:59 PT, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Winner announced on Thursday, March 15, 2012. Print editions and eBooks available. Shipment of print books to US and Canadian addresses only. Ebook shipment Internationally. Good luck!

Many thanks to Jack Caldwell for his delightfil guest blog and to his publisher Sourcebooks for the giveaway!

The Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, by Jack Caldwell
Sourcebooks Landmark (2012)
Trade paperback (384) pages
ISBN: 978-1402259739
NOOK: ISBN: 978-1402259746
Kindle: ASIN: B006OI2AKU

© 2007- 2012 Jack Caldwell, Austenprose

Winners Announced in the Pemberley Ranch Giveaway

Pemberley Ranch, by Jack Caldwell (2010)Congratulations to the five lucky winners of the Pemberley Ranch book giveaway.

Ammy Belle, Laura D., Lynn M., Carol Arsenault and Nancy

To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by December 21, 2010. Leave a comment acknowledging your prize. Shipment to the US and Canadian addresses only. Many thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for arranging the blog by author Jack Caldwell, and the giveaway prizes. Congrats to all, and enjoy your books.

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007-2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

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

Pemberley Ranch, by Jack Caldwell – A Review

Pemberley Ranch, by Jack Caldwell (2010)In the spirit of the ole Wild West, Christina and Laurel Ann have agreed to a double barrel review!

Review by Christina Boyd

The latest re-imagining of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice is Jack Caldwell’s debut novel, Pemberley Ranch, a tale of fancy in a style entirely new. Set in the post-Civil War Era on the plains of Texas, ardent Union supporter Beth Bennet and family must retrench from Meryton, Ohio to the wilds of Rosings, Texas. When Beth encounters the handsome, rich yet unfortunately arrogant owner of Pemberley Ranch, Will Darcy, an attraction ensues. Rich or not, however, Beth cannot overlook his Confederate past and coupled with the town gossip and tales shared by carpetbagger George Whitehead, Darcy doesn’t stand a chance when he presses his suit. But as bullets start to fly, Darcy is the only one who can settle the dust and save the Bennet’s from ruin.

In this Wild West incarnation of Pride & Prejudice, Caldwell uses many familiar (or similar rather) names from Jane Austen’s canon in entirely original plot devices – as well as many newcomers, like the former slave family, the Washington’s. Like the Bennet’s, they too have come to Rosings for a fresh start. They buy land from Cate Burroughs, Darcy’s cousin, but encounter deadly prejudices along the way that prove all is not what it may seem. The railroad is coming to town and if the greedy, dangerous faction of Kid Denny, George Whitehead and Billy Collins have any say, nothing will stand in their way of becoming the new masters of the west.

This sure-fire page-turner with Jack Caldwell’s heart pounding standoffs and heart racing romantic moments is bested only by his real gift in the clever nuances and subtle references, ie.  Lizzy’s horse, a “paint,” named Turner (more than a nod to the famous Regency Era painter, J.M.W. Turner.) As an unabashed reader of this Louisiana native since his early Cajun ramblings at various fan-fiction sites, I must humbly admit to being “a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant historian.” His masterful handling of the historical action and colloquialisms authenticates this fictitious musing and the footnotes are quite helpful to one such as myself, who is rather uniformed regarding the particulars of this Reconstruction Period. To pinch a line or two from Daniel Decatur Emmett’s rallying song, Dixie, Caldwell takes his stand and triumphs in his debut novel retelling “old times there are not forgotten… Hooray! Hooray!” The slated Spring 2012 release of his next offering, The Three Colonels, really is too long a wait. *sigh*

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Review by Laurel Ann

I have been patiently awaiting a Wild West rendition of Pride and Prejudice for some time, so when Pemberley Ranch rode into town, I was all anticipation. The blending of the two genres seemed like a natural to me; especially concerning two romantic archetypes – the Regency gentleman and the American cowboy. *swoon*

It’s really not surprising that so many elements from the Regency-era have transitioned neatly into Caldwell’s new adaption of Jane Austen classic story set in post-Civil War Texas. Lizzy and Darcy are as spirited and arrogant as ever in any century, transformed into Beth Bennet, a poor Yankee farmer’s daughter from Ohio relocated to Rosings, Texas where rich Johnny Reb William Darcy has a large cattle spread, Pemberley Ranch, and the local Darcy Bank. Caldwell does a great job of melding the plot to fit a western theme, changing enough of the story to make it original, yet harkening to all of the plot points that readers will recollect from the original narrative. There are some important exceptions. Given that this is a tall tale from the Wild, Wild West, Cate Burroughs (Lady Catherine de Bourgh), George Whitehead (George Wickham) and Lily Bennet (Lydia Bennet) can be “really” officious, dastardly and loose! Well maybe they were already, but in this setting the writer does not have to be as proprietous as Austen was obliged to be in the early nineteenth-century.

Pemberley Ranch had some surprises. The Team Tilney fan-girls will be happy to know that Henry himself makes an appearance as a very “likable” high plains rector in a supporting role. Even pedantic Mary Bennet is under his charms. The dialogue is lacking Austen’s wit and snappy retorts, but shucks, this is the Wild West where outlaws and lawmen talk with their guns. The story builds beautifully in the western theme of shoot-outs over the land as opposed to Austen’s conflict of social decorum with witty words. However, some things never change as both plots have money struggles in common, and, the eventual humbling of Darcy’s pride and dissolution of Beth’s prejudice – culminating in a great romance as they ride off into the sunset. Yippy ki-aye.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pemberley Ranch, by Jack Caldwell
Sourcebooks, Landmark (2010)
Trade paperback (363) pages
ISBN: 978-1402241284

Glorious Pemberley Ranch Giveaway

Want to enter a chance to win one of five copies of Pemberley Ranch? Follow this link to Jack Caldwell’s whistle-stop blog tour and leave a comment there before December 13, 2010. Good luck!

© 2010 Austenprose