Chatting with Monica Fairview, author of The Darcy Cousins – and a glorious giveaway

Please welcome author Monica Fairview as she stops by to chat with us during her blog tour in celebration of the release of her new novel The Darcy Cousins, a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. 

Thank you for having me here on your blog, Laurel Ann. It’s one of my favorite places to visit. 

The Darcy Cousins focuses on Mr. Darcy’s shy and naïve younger sister Georgian’s coming ‘out’ into Regency society and her first experiences with romance. What intrigued you about her situation or personality to continue her story? 

Georgiana is a very secondary character in Pride and Prejudice, and of course we only see her through Elizabeth’s eyes. Elizabeth (as usual) gets it all wrong and expects Georgiana to be arrogant and obnoxious. This is one of the last mistakes she makes in the novel. Georgiana has three roles in Pride and Prejudice. The first is to show the extent of Wickham’s villainy. The second to reveal what a good brother Darcy is, and the third (more minor) that Miss Bingley wasn’t exaggerating when she said that Darcy’s sister is very accomplished. Apart from that, she doesn’t have much to say for herself. I wanted to discover what it was like to be Darcy’s sister, and through her, I wanted to find out who Fitzwilliam Darcy was when he wasn’t admiring Elizabeth. But Georgiana emerged as an independent character, quite able to hold her own in spite of her shyness. I was very glad to see that happening. 

We are also introduced to Clarissa and Frederick Darcy who arrive from America to visit their British cousins and brother Robert Darcy who we met in your first sequel The Other Mr. Darcy. Clarissa and Frederick do not quite conform to the social strictures of polite society in Regency England. I sense a sly wink at American brashness vs. British traditionalism. Is this an Austenesque gentle reproof or Monica having fun with her story? 

I wonder whose side Jane Austen would take? I have my own theory (not backed by anything concrete, I concede, just an instinct) that of the two sisters, Jane Austen was the closest to Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, while Elinor was like Jane’s sister Cassandra. In some ways, I had that novel in mind when I wrote Georgiana’s and Clarissa’s story, though they are quite different personalities. Other than that, the sly wink is there, of course. I straddle both continents, having been born in one and lived a large part of my life in the other, so I love playing the two cultures against each other. Though the reality is always more complex, as Clarissa’s Puritan background indicates. 

Austen’s character Lady Catherine de Bourgh plays a significant role in The Darcy Cousins. I must commend your eye rolling interpretation of her officious and imposing personality. How did you place yourself in her regal shoes and visualize her dialogue and behavior? 

Eye-rolling? I love that! To be honest, I studied Lady Catherine’s way of speaking until I knew everything she said practically by heart, then I improvised from there. To me understanding Jane Austen’s characters is much like acting. I learn the lines, then I fill in the silences, then I flesh out the characters. I loved playing Lady Catherine. She is such a wonderful character. 

This is your third Regency-era historical novel. Your historical references are quite impressive and really support your characters personalities and their physical environment. What is your process for researching an historical novel? Did you discover anything surprising? 

Apart from studying the characters, I do a lot of initial research because you have to take into account the events that occur during the time period of the novel. I even did my best to research the weather to make sure, for example, that I didn’t have the characters picnicking on a day that was notoriously rainy. I then included any relevant external events in the novel as I mapped it out. As I go along, I am often interrupted by specific things I need to look up though I don’t always end up including them. Yes, there’s always a lot of research involved when I write. 

One of your rewards for researching is discovering pieces of information that you didn’t expect. For example, I didn’t know that the famous Turner sunset colors were due to a volcanic eruption that sent particles into the atmosphere and made the sunsets very dramatic. I knew about the volcano, not about Turner. 

If you could plan a tea with Jane Austen, who else would you invite in your soiree and what would you ask her? 

I would love to initiate a dialogue between Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. I would ask Charlotte to explain herself. I never liked her disparaging remarks about Jane Austen. In that context, I’d like Ms. Austen to expand on what she means about the narrow bit of ivory because of course you have to take everything she says with a grain of salt. I can see her laughing as she wrote that – contrasting what she did with the wide sweep of what was then called “the romance”, which was really the epic. I think there will be “a monstrous deal of stupid quizzing” at that tea party, but I hope there’ll be some very witty conversation, too.  

What is next in your writing career? Do you have another novel in the works? If so, can you give us a brief preview? 

I do have another novel in the works, but it isn’t an Austenesque novel. I can’t say much more, since it’s still in the initial stages. I do plan to return soon to the world of Austen, though, since I have a lot of unfinished business there. I have to take care of Clarissa Darcy as well as Frederick, at the very least. And there are other irons in the fire… 

Thank you for joining us today Monica. I hope you finish your new novel quickly so you can return to entertain us with the further exploits of Clarissa and Frederick Darcy.

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003 

Publishers description: 

A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum… 

Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal, Mr. Darcy’s incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning! 

And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin, to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her “keeper” Mrs. Jenkinson, simply…vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man… 

About the author: 

Literature professor Monica Fairview loves teaching students the joys of reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized that what she really wanted to do was write.  The author of The Other Mr. Darcy and An Improper Suitor, the American-born Ms. Fairview currently resides in London. For more information, please visit www.monicafairview.com

Glorious Giveaway 

Enter a chance to win one of two copies of The Darcy Cousins by leaving a comment revealing which character in Pride and Prejudice you would like to see featured in a sequel, or any hints for a plot line for Monica to inspire her to write a sequel for her two American Darcy cousins Clarissa and Frederick! Contest ends on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at midnight Pacific time. Winners announced on Saturday, April 24th, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses. Good luck to all.

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The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview: A Review

In The Other Mr. Darcy, last year’s debut Austenesque novel by Monica Fairview we were introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s American cousin Robert Darcy. Now the story continues with The Darcy Cousins, a Pride and Prejudice sequel to a sequel, when his two younger siblings Clarissa and Frederick Darcy arrive from Boston and join their brother and the Darcy family at Rosings Park, the palatial estate of Mr. Darcy’s officious aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Being young, brash Americans, Clarissa and Frederick immediately ruffle Lady Catherine’s unyielding standards of social stricture. Dutiful and naïve Georgiana Darcy is shocked and intrigued by her cousin Clarissa’s adventuresome and unguarded behavior. Her shy and retreating nature has always acquiesced to proper decorum and her family’s wishes. So has her sickly cousin Anne de Bourgh, who at age 29 remains unmarried and firmly under the thumb of her tyrannical mother. Clarissa is convinced that Anne has been imprisoned by Lady Catherine at Rosings like a tragic heroine in a Gothic novel. Together, Clarissa and Georgiana clandestinely meet Anne hoping to learn her mysterious back story, offer their friendship and encourage her to improve her situation.

Clarissa’s lively spirits also makes her very popular with the young men of the neighborhood, especially to rakish charmer Percy Channing. Clarissa welcomes his attentions while wide-eyed Georgiana watches a seasoned coquette in action. She is also attracted to Channing and in turn annoyed by his sensible and matter-of-fact cousin Henry Gatley who sees right through Clarissa and Channing’s affected airs. “But the perversity of the human spirit is such that when a young lady longs for a specific partner, every other partner counts for nothing.” When Georgiana overhears Channing privately proclaim to his cousin that she is an insipid bore, she is determined not to be the dull as ditchwater little rich girl and entreats her cousin Clarissa’s help to school her in fashion and the art of feminine allurements. And then the unthinkable happens! Their cousin Anne simply vanishes without a trace. Has she been abducted or is this a run-away-marriage to Scotland? Speculation and emotions escalate until Lady Catherine unjustly places all the blame on Clarissa and Georgiana’s influence upon her daughter. As Mr. Darcy defends his sister and young cousin the battle lines are drawn and a family riff erupts. Will the Shades of Rosings be thus polluted? Can Georgiana have her London Season under the shadow of her cousin’s unexplained disappearance and the family scandal? How can she earn her families trust after her disastrous affair with George Wickham? Will her newly acquired feminine wiles lure Percy Channing away from her cousin Clarissa? And why is that pesky Mr. Gatley always at the ready to remind her that she’s a swan trying to be a peacock?

In this coming-of-age story Monica Fairview presents an engaging historical romance through the eyes of innocent Georgiana Darcy who idealistically thinks the grass is always greener in her cousin Clarissa’s court. Hard wrought lessons on human nature and love must be learned before she can find her own happiness. We are never in much doubt that she will succeed, or whom she will bestow her favor upon, but that matters not. Fairview has such an effortless way of unfolding the narrative that we are swept along with Jane Austen’s beloved characters and her own new additions seamlessly. The story is infused with the flavor of Austen’s world but entirely her own unique creation. It is hard not to compare her skill at irony to Austen’s when her Lady Catherine is annoyed at Napoleon, not for his impending threat to invade England, but for the inconvenience he has caused by too few men at her dinner table, or to the ribald humor of Georgette Heyer when Georgiana is stood up by Mr. Channing who invited her for a drive in his high phaeton through Hyde Park and is then quickly replaced by the waiting Mr. Gatley. When they encounter Mr. Channing driving another young lady, just as Mr. Gatley predicted, Georgiana is exasperated by Channing’s “sublime forgetfulness” and Mr. Gatley’s smug sagacity. Ha! Readers will recognize a bit of Mr. Knightley in Mr. Gatley and a combination of Austen’s slippery villain’s in Mr. Channing. Fairview understands Georgiana’s personality perfectly adding a few surprise twists to Austen’s shy, trusting young lady that give her added depth and interest. Infused with humor, wit and a bit of social commentary Fairview has proven again why she was my top choice of Austenesque debut authors of 2009. She is well on her way to becoming a nonpareil in Austen paraliterature and I recommend The Darcy Cousins to those who dearly love a satisfying love story and a hearty laugh.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2010)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1402237003

Additional Reviews

Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks, Inc. © 2010; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2010, Austenprose.com

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview: A Review

In The Other Mr. Darcy, last year’s debut Austenesque novel by Monica Fairview we were introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s American cousin Robert Darcy. Now the story continues with The Darcy Cousins, a Pride and Prejudice sequel to a sequel, when his two younger siblings Clarissa and Frederick Darcy arrive from Boston and join their brother and the Darcy family at Rosings Park, the palatial estate of Mr. Darcy’s officious aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Being young, brash Americans, Clarissa and Frederick immediately ruffle Lady Catherine’s unyielding standards of social stricture. Dutiful and naïve Georgiana Darcy is shocked and intrigued by her cousin Clarissa’s adventuresome and unguarded behavior. Her shy and retreating nature has always acquiesced to proper decorum and her family’s wishes. So has her sickly cousin Anne de Bourgh, who at age 29 remains unmarried and firmly under the thumb of her tyrannical mother. Clarissa is convinced that Anne has been imprisoned by Lady Catherine at Rosings like a tragic heroine in a Gothic novel. Together, Clarissa and Georgiana clandestinely meet Anne hoping to learn her mysterious back story, offer their friendship and encourage her to improve her situation.

Clarissa’s lively spirits also makes her very popular with the young men of the neighborhood, especially to rakish charmer Percy Channing. Clarissa welcomes his attentions while wide-eyed Georgiana watches a seasoned coquette in action. She is also attracted to Channing and in turn annoyed by his sensible and matter-of-fact cousin Henry Gatley who sees right through Clarissa and Channing’s affected airs. “But the perversity of the human spirit is such that when a young lady longs for a specific partner, every other partner counts for nothing.” When Georgiana overhears Channing privately proclaim to his cousin that she is an insipid bore, she is determined not to be the dull as ditchwater little rich girl and entreats her cousin Clarissa’s help to school her in fashion and the art of feminine allurements. And then the unthinkable happens! Their cousin Anne simply vanishes without a trace. Has she been abducted or is this a run-away-marriage to Scotland? Speculation and emotions escalate until Lady Catherine unjustly places all the blame on Clarissa and Georgiana’s influence upon her daughter. As Mr. Darcy defends his sister and young cousin the battle lines are drawn and a family riff erupts. Will the Shades of Rosings be thus polluted? Can Georgiana have her London Season under the shadow of her cousin’s unexplained disappearance and the family scandal? How can she earn her families trust after her disastrous affair with George Wickham?  Will her newly acquired feminine wiles lure Percy Channing away from her cousin Clarissa? And why is that pesky Mr. Gatley always at the ready to remind her that she’s a swan trying to be a peacock?

In this coming-of-age story Monica Fairview presents an engaging historical romance through the eyes of innocent Georgiana Darcy who idealistically thinks the grass is always greener in her cousin Clarissa’s court. Hard wrought lessons on human nature and love must be learned before she can find her own happiness. We are never in much doubt that she will succeed, or whom she will bestow her favor upon, but that matters not. Fairview has such an effortless way of unfolding the narrative that we are swept along with Jane Austen’s beloved characters and her own new additions seamlessly. The story is infused with the flavor of Austen’s world but entirely her own unique creation. It is hard not to compare her skill at irony to Austen’s when her Lady Catherine is annoyed at Napoleon, not for his impending threat to invade England, but for the inconvenience he has caused by too few men at her dinner table, or to the ribald humor of Georgette Heyer when Georgiana is stood up by Mr. Channing who invited her for a drive in his high phaeton through Hyde Park and is then quickly replaced by the waiting Mr. Gatley. When they encounter Mr. Channing driving another young lady, just as Mr. Gatley predicted, Georgiana is exasperated by Channing’s “sublime forgetfulness” and Mr. Gatley’s smug sagacity. Ha! Readers will recognize a bit of Mr. Knightley in Mr. Gatley and a combination of Austen’s slippery villain’s in Mr. Channing. Fairview understands Georgiana’s personality perfectly adding a few surprise twists to Austen’s shy, trusting young lady that give her added depth and interest.  Infused with humor, wit and a bit of social commentary Fairview has proven again why she was my top choice of Austenesque debut authors of 2009. She is well on her way to becoming a nonpareil in Austen paraliterature and I recommend The Darcy Cousins to those who dearly love a satisfying love story and a hearty laugh.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Darcy Cousins, by Monica Fairview
Robert Hale Ltd (2010)
Hardcover (224) pages
ISBN: 978-0709089056

© 2007 – 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Winners announced in The Other Mr. Darcy giveaway

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview (2009)Your questions to author Monica Fairview were fun and creative and your quotes of Caroline Bingley were oh so memorable – but the time has come to announce the two winners of one copy each of The Other Mr. Darcy. And the winners are…

Sarah-Wynne

Kristen

A big thank you to all who participated and especially to author Monica Fairview for visiting and responding to your questions so thoughtfully.

Winners – to claim your prize, you must reside in the US or Canada and respond with your full name and address by emailing me at austenprose at verizon dot net by October 21st. Books will be mailed directly from the publisher Sourcebooks who has generously supplied them.

Congrats!

FTC Disclaimer – Austenprose did not receive any pecuniary emolument or a trip to Tahiti for writing this interview of the author or for writing a review of The Other Mr. Darcy. In addition we did not receive a review copy in compensation from this publisher nor are we getting a kick back from Barnes and Noble for the link to purchase. Basically we did it for the love of Jane and out of the goodness of our black heart.

Interview with Monica Fairview: Author of The Other Mr. Darcy

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview (2009)A new Pride and Prejudice spinoff, The Other Mr. Darcy was released this month to positive fanfare. Focusing on Caroline Bingley, a secondary character in Jane Austen’s origial novel, I truly enjoyed her transformation and romance. You can read my review to get all the details of the plot and my impressions. 

Please welcome author Monica Fairview who stops by on her Grand Blog Tour. Thanks for joining us today Monica to chat about your new book The Other Mr. Darcy, a new Austenesque novel. 

While many Austen sequel writers have focused on Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy the main characters in Austen’s original novel, you have chosen to spotlight the minor but very memorable Caroline Bingley. Known for her snooty behavior and snide remarks, she is not exactly likable heroine material for a novel. What inspired you to select one of Austen’s most famous Mean Girls for your heroine?

Not all Mean Girls are Mean all the way through. I felt Jane Austen herself wanted to tell us that. Chapter 45 of Pride and Prejudice starts: “Convinced as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley’s dislike of her had originated in jealousy, she could not help feeling how very unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley must be to her.” I read that as an insight into Caroline’s behavior, and a recognition on Elizabeth’s part that Caroline was just trying to keep Mr. Darcy to herself. Jealousy is a very strong emotion, and it tends to bring out the mean streak in everyone. After all, wouldn’t you fight to keep Darcy if you thought you had a chance? 

I read this sentence as Jane Austen providing us with Caroline’s motivation, and took it from there. If Caroline is in love with Mr. Darcy, of course she’s going to try and represent Elizabeth in the worst possible light to him. Hence her snide remarks. 

When I originally read the advance publicity on The Other Mr. Darcy before it was released in the UK last summer, I was intrigued with the creative title. To many readers, Mr. Darcy is the ultimate romantic icon. Who could this other Mr. Darcy be? Like most young ladies, (or not so nearly young), my imagination is very rapid; it jumped from a twin separated at birth, to a multiple personality disorder, to an imposter in a moment! Your Mr. Darcy is of course none of those possibilities, but turns out to be his American cousin. What was your inspiration for Robert Darcy and how is he similar and differ to his English cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy? 

The title was the first thing I thought of, before I even started writing. Originally, I wanted to shadow Mr. Darcy, to create a character that was the other side of him in a way. What came out was Robert Darcy. That’s why if you go through the novel, you’ll find a lot of shadows associated with him. But as he developed, he turned out to be very sunny, and he seemed to prefer open spaces and sunshine. He went his own way. 

Robert is different from Fitzwilliam Darcy because he likes talking about things, he insists on being open and putting his cards on the table. His manners are easygoing and he likes to laugh. To all appearances, he has nothing in common with his cousin Fitzwilliam. But as the novel progresses, they become more similar. There’s a point in the plot where Robert is the one who is earnest and reserved, while Fitzwilliam is – well, I don’t want to give away anything in the plot, but let’s say they’re more similar than one would have thought. 

Let’s delve deeper into the personality of that jealous, manipulative and scheming Caroline Bingley! In Pride and Prejudice she uses all her charms and allurements to entice Mr. Darcy into marriage. When he selects Elizabeth Bennet, of inferior birth and no consequence, her dream of being Mrs. Darcy is thwarted. In The Other Mr. Darcy your Caroline is still devastated by Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth’s marriage hiding her emotions behind propriety. Since you put yourself in her shoes so-to-speak to write the character, can you share with us your thoughts on Caroline’s personality, what you liked and disliked about her, and what you hoped to achieve in telling her own story? 

Caroline used every trick she knew to get Mr. Darcy’s attention. But wouldn’t you? He was a good catch in every possible way. Because we’re on Eliza’s side, we only see Eliza’s perspective. We’ve got to remember that Eliza despises both Mr. Darcy and Caroline when she’s describing the way Caroline toadies to him. Later, she learns more about Mr. Darcy, so she comes to appreciate him. But we don’t get to know Caroline, so that initial impression remains. I felt there was a story there, particularly since Caroline is from a lower social class, and I wanted to know how she really felt about that. 

The other issue that puzzles me about Mr. Darcy’s relationship with Caroline is that he chooses to spend time with her. He’s perfectly happy staying with them in Netherfield, and spends days if not weeks in the company of Caroline. Then, as if it isn’t enough, he later invites her to Pemberley to stay with him there. And of course, he dances with her at that first ball. There must be something good about her, if he’s willing to spend so much time with her. It’s not as if the Bingleys are the only friends he has (one hopes!). 

In The Other Mr. Darcy you’ll find there’s a lot that’s good about her, once she realizes it’s useless to try and keep up the social pretences. It takes quite a few blows to recognize that, but once she does, and the real Caroline emerges, we can see why Fitzwilliam Darcy liked to spend time with her. 

I don’t want to say more about Caroline, because the novel’s partly about her process of self discovery, so I don’t want to spoil the experience for the reader. But I do want to remind people that Caroline, who is younger than Charles Bingley, couldn’t have been more than twenty one. She’s young and inexperienced, One of her redeeming features is that she’s willing to learn from her mistakes. I think of her, in some ways, as resembling Emma, who also arrogantly blunders along and has to learn along the way, except that Emma perhaps is more confident, as she never had to prove herself to anybody. 

Your first novel An Improper Suitor was also a historical romance set in the  Georgian/Regency times. Your historical references and knowledge of the era are quite impressive. In The Other Mr. Darcy, Caroline travels from Netherfield Park in Hertfordshire by carriage to Pemberley in Derbyshire. Your descriptions of the towns and countryside along the route were remarkable. How do you research your novels? Did you actually reconstruct the rout in the early 1800’s to inspire your writing? 

It took me a long time to work out the details of the journey north. I consulted strip maps of the time (literally, maps that are strips. They cover one particular section of the route in detail), I researched each of the places they passed through, and I used only real historic inns of the time. It was a lot of fun, but it took ages. I’m planning to take the route myself one of those days, just to see the actual places. A bit after the fact! 

I’ve visited the places I mention in my next novel, though, so I know exactly what the places look like. It doesn’t make me very popular with my family, I can tell you, because I spend hours taking pictures of every nook and cranny, while they stand around being bored to tears! 

Jane Austen has obviously influenced your writing. You have also mentioned your admiration for author Georgette Heyer when you wrote about her novel The Grand Sophy last summer on Jane Austen Today. What other writers have inspired, influenced, or cajoled you into becoming a writer? Who are you reading right now? 

Speaking of Georgette Heyer, now that’s one writer who’s absolutely amazing with historical detail, because she’d know the routes and the distances between towns and villages at the blink of an eye. Her books are an encyclopedia of information. I remember once painstakingly doing research about some of the famous boxers of the time, and then I picked up one of her books, and in one scene she gave us more information than all the research I’d done!    

I can’t say which writers influenced me most. There are so many. Virginia Woolf was important to me because through her I discovered stream of consciousness writing, and I fell under her spell for a while, until I discovered she was really too melancholy. I’ve loved Oscar Wilde, too, since I was a teen, and I would give anything to be as witty as he is (I haven’t seen Dorian Gray, yet, though I wouldn’t say wit is the strong point in that piece). Another writer I love is Toni Morrison. Perhaps at the back of my mind when I wrote The Other Mr. Darcy I had Jean Rhys’ Wild Sargasso Sea, which gives voice to the madwoman in the attic in Jane Eyre. I’ve read so many types of books, from science fiction to fantasy to postmodern, I can’t begin to say who influenced me. But I’m grateful to them all. 

The only sad thing about writing is that you don’t have as much time to read. 

I read many Jane Austen inspired books over a course of a year, but only a few authors really surprise and delight me as much as you did with The Other Mr. Darcy. Do you have another Austen inspired novel in the queue, or will you take a new direction? 

Thank you for saying that, Laurel Ann. I’ll treasure those words. My next novel, The Darcy Cousins, is coming out in the spring, which is lovely really, because it starts in the springtime. The Darcy Cousins deals with Robert’s sister Clarissa. Meanwhile I’m working on a third book related to Pride and Prejudice, but I can’t reveal more than that. 

Thank you for joining us today Monica. I am looking forward to reading The Darcy Cousins when it is released in the UK (Robert Hale) in March 2010 and in the US (Sourcebooks) in April 2010. 

Author Monica FairviewAbout the Author

As a literature professor, Monica Fairview enjoyed teaching students to love reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized what she really wanted was to write books herself. She lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston as a student and professor, and now lives in London. To find out more, please visit her webite Monica Fairview or her blog Monica Fairview, Author.

Giveaway Contest: Win one of two copies of The Other Mr. Darcy by leaving a comment or question for Monica, or by stating what your favorite Caroline Bingley quote is from Pride and Prejudice.  Contest runs from October 7th – 14th and closes on midnight ET. Contest open to US and Candian residents only. Winners announced on October 15th. Good luck!

And .. yet there is more! Here are even more chances for you to win one of five copies of The Other Mr. Darcy, plus a grand prize winner gets chocolates too. Visit Monica’s blog during the month of October and answer a daily question about Pride and Prejudice to enter the drawing. Then, follow Monica on her Grand Tour of the book blogosphere to enter additional giveaway contests. Here is her blog tour schedule.

Good luck to all!

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview – A Review

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview (2009)The Other Mr. Darcy is a new Pride and Prejudice sequel with a unique premise. Spotlight Caroline Bingley, a minor character who we all loved to hate in the original novel, and somehow make her into a likeable heroine. Impossible you say! And so it would seem. Add into the mix Robert Darcy, the unconventional American cousin of Mr. Darcy, and you have an intriguing concept that could challenge the most accomplished writer. Let’s hope author Monica Fairview’s fairy godmother mojo is stronger than Caroline’s predilection to snark.

After attending the marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet, the distraught Caroline Bingley uncharacteristically breaks down. Unbeknownst to her, she has a witness to her emotional outburst, Robert Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s American cousin. Shocked and embarrassed to be seen in such a state, their first meeting gets off to a very bad start. When they meet again a year later, Caroline is horrified to see him. Will he keep her secret, or use it against her? As they travel together from Hertfordshire to Derbyshire, complications delay their journey in Nottingham and their party takes refuge at a local estate. While there, Caroline will receive two surprising marriage proposals. One from Colonel Fitzwilliam who she suspects is motivated by her dowry, and the second by the last man in world she would be prevailed upon to marry, Robert Darcy. To save her honor, he has gallantly stepped forward offering a fake proposal to quell rumors of her engagement to the wealthy and distinguished Sir Cecil Rynes, the one man she truly aspires to marry. Dumbfounded and numb with shock, the proper Caroline has no choice but to temporarily play along with the scheme to save her own reputation. Also included in the ensemble are many familiar characters from the original novel: The Bennets, the Bingleys, Louisa Hurst, Lydia Wickham, and of course Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, all ready to offer help or hindrance to the couple.

Cleverly crafted and humorously engaging, The Other Mr. Darcy will delight Austen fans as they travel with Caroline Bingley on a journey of self discovery to Pemberley, and her heart. Monica Fairview is a skilled storyteller, creatively continuing Jane Austen’s characters, presenting a captivating but un-haughty version of the iconic Mr. Darcy in his American cousin Robert Darcy, and a Caroline Bingley who clings to her structured propriety sparking brisk repartees between them. Surprisingly, this Caroline has evolved beyond that snobby and gossipy “mean girl” that we remember in the original. I did not object to her change in attitude, but I think it would have been a tad more interesting if Caroline was that “mean girl” at the beginning, and grew away from it with new experiences. Despite this small quibble, I commend Monica Fairview for waving her magic wand and cleverly transforming Caroline Bingley into a human being worth knowing!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Landmark (2009)
Trade paperback (368) pages
ISBN: 978-1402225130

Additional Reviews

Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview – A Review

The Other Mr Darcy, by Monica Fairview (2009)The Other Mr. Darcy is a new Pride and Prejudice sequel with a unique premise. Spotlight Caroline Bingley, a minor character who we all loved to hate in the original novel, and somehow make her into a likeable heroine. Impossible you say! And so it would seem. Jealous, manipulative and scheming, her negative attributes heavily outweighed any of her finer qualities (honestly, none come to mind), presenting an incredible challenge for any sequel writer. Add into the mix Robert Darcy, the unconventional American cousin of Mr. Darcy, and you have an intriguing concept. This will be either a complete bus accident, or a delightful ride in the park. Let’s hope author Monica Fairview’s fairy godmother mojo is stronger than Caroline’s predilection to snark.

Deeply mortified by Mr. Darcy’s marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, Caroline Bingley uncharacteristically breaks down on the day of the wedding ceremony. Distraught and sobbing, her emotional outburst is witnessed by Robert Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s American cousin. Shocked and embarrassed to be seen in such a state, their first meeting gets off to a very bad start. A year and a half later, Caroline is living with her brother Charles Bingley and his wife Jane at Netherfield Park. Also residing with the Bingley’s is her sister Mrs. Hurst, now a widow. When Robert Darcy arrives unannounced from Pemberley bearing urgent news for the Bingley’s, Caroline is horrified to see him again. Will he keep her secret, or use it against her? Jane is needed immediately by her sister Elizabeth prompting the Bingley’s to depart for Pemberley post haste, leaving Robert Darcy to escort the ladies to Derbyshire. Joining them from London is Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mr. Darcy’s cousin, and a Bingley family friend. Along the road, travel complications delay their journey in Nottingham, and they take refuge at the estate of the Lough’s, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s friends.

While there, Caroline will receive two surprising marriage proposals. The first is from Colonel Fitzwilliam. Suspecting that he is motivated by her fortune, she delays her decision. The next morning guests begin congratulating her on her betrothal, but not to Colonel Fitzwilliam; to the wealthy and distinguished Sir Cecil Rynes, sending her into a panic. This blunder will ruin her chances with the one man she truly aspires to marry. Whoever started this rumor has forced Sir Rynes’ hand to deny the betrothal, humilating Caroline. She must either acknowledge the engagement immediately or refute it. Resolved to announce the mistake, she is interrupted by her friend Mr. Olmstead who steps in with his own solution declaring that Caroline is indeed engaged – to Robert Darcy! Caroline is dumbfounded and numb with shock. Mr. Darcy has gallantly agreed to save her honor. The proper Caroline has no choice but to temporarily play along with the scheme to save her own reputation.

Monica Fairview is a skilled storyteller, the narrative well paced and engaging. I admired her creative ability to craft characters from Austen’s plot, move them in new directions, and introduce new characters that framed the scenes and enhanced the story. I found her style to be fairly modern, with little embellishment of the text with early nineteenth-century language or idioms. There are, however, brief allusions to passages and language from Pride and Prejudice that astute Janeites will recognize. The highlight of the novel were the brisk repartees between Caroline Bingley and Robert Darcy as sparks flew over their opposition to what each believed was right and wrong. This prompted plenty of misconceptions, misunderstanding and resolutions. This Mr. Darcy is an American with more relaxed social attitudes. Caroline on the other hand, holds on to her social strictures as long as she can, only gradually realizing that they are influencing her attitudes and judgments, ultimately keeping her from her own happiness.

So how did author Monica Fairview turn Caroline Bingley the perfect archetype of a malicious “mean girl” into a heroine that we can admire and root for? Very gradually. The snobby and gossipy Caroline that we remember is never there as strongly as Austen presented her. Most of the snide and spiteful comments are generated by her sister Louisa, making the reader believe that she was the inspiration of Caroline’s bad behavior to begin with. This Caroline has evolved, correcting her sister, and opposing her slights. I did not object to her change in attitude, however, I think it would have been a tad more interesting if Caroline was that “mean girl” at the beginning, and grew away from it with new experiences. Despite this small quibble, I commend Monica Fairview for waving her magic wand and cleverly transforming Caroline Bingley into a human being worth knowing!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview
Robert Hale, London (2009)
Hardcover (224) pages
ISBN: 9780709088110

Cover image courtesy of Robert Hale © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com