During the 2007-2008 school year, I complained to my Advanced Placement Language class about a particular novel, what we would now call Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF). The story, although well written, was historically inaccurate in the situations presented. It was not a true reflection of Austen’s period. As the class was taught to examine the language and the situation to identify the time period of a piece of literature, this novel would be misleading. Many of the students in the class had been in my honors classes previously, or in my elective classes, such as Journalism. They were accustomed to how I challenged them, and so one student said, “If you know how to do this, do it yourself.” Therefore, I took on the role of fiction writer. I had written much in the academic realm, but not novels. I decided to rewrite Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.
To make a long story short, I self-published the book at a time when self-publishing was not a popular means to see one’s book in print. All I wanted at the time was to answer the challenge presented me…to be a good sport. I permitted one of my students to draw the cover of the book so she might put the experience upon her college application. I purchased copies for those in the class and quickly forgot about it until my son sent me an email informing me that the book was #8 on the Amazon sales list. Even then, I considered it a fluke. At length, however, Ulysses Press contacted me asking about traditionally publishing the book. This was the time when several of the traditional publishers were buying up the rights to JAFF pieces. Ulysses had 3 other Austen-inspired writers, while Sourcebooks scooped up a dozen or more.
In February 2009, Darcy’s Passions was published by Ulysses Press, and my publishing career began. I retired from teaching in 2010, after some 40 years, and have supplemented my retirement with the publication of 31 novels to date. Yet, Darcy’s Passions remains a favorite for it started me down this path. Moreover, it remains my best seller, having entered into multiple printings.
Recently, I decided to rerelease Darcy’s Passions with a new cover and a reworking of the story (Gosh, I cannot believe neither the editor or I caught some of those errors found in the first printing!) So, please enjoy from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, the scene where Elizabeth Bennet comes to Netherfield to tend her sister.
Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes
FITZWILLIAM DARCY loves three things: his sister Georgiana, his ancestral estate, and Elizabeth Bennet. The first two come easily to him. He is a man who recognizes his place in the world, but the third, Elizabeth Bennet, is a woman Society would censure if he chose her for his wife. Can he risk everything he has ever known to love an impossible woman, a woman who has declared him to be “the last man in the world (she) could ever be prevailed upon to marry”?
Revisit Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Discover his soul-searching transformation from proud and arrogant into the world’s most romantic hero. Experience what is missing from Elizabeth Bennet’s tale. Learn something of the truth of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s pride. Return to your favorite scenes from Austen’s classic: Darcy’s rejection of Miss Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly; the Netherfield Ball; his botched first proposal; his discovering Elizabeth at Pemberley; and Darcy’s desperate plan to save Lydia Bennet from George Wickham’s manipulations, all retold through his eyes. Satisfy your craving for Austen’s timeless love story, while defining the turmoil and vulnerability in a man who possesses everything except the one thing that can make him happy.
“…to be really in love without encouragement . . .”
LITTLE DISTRACTED DARCY from his growing obsession with Miss Elizabeth except the opportunity to dine with the officers of the Derbyshire militia. Much to his friend’s dismay, his sisters chose to engage Miss Bennet to Netherfield on the same evening. Bingley had not enjoyed Jane Bennet’s company for several days, and his countenance showed the irony of the situation. “That beautiful angel dines at my own table, while you and I have the duty of dining with the local militia.”
For Darcy’s part, being away from Elizabeth Bennet had solidified his resolve to ignore her and to squash any aspirations she might have. “It is only one evening, Bingley.” His response did little to allay his friend’s desire to cancel their engagement with the officers. After the meal, the smooth brandy and the interesting conversation entertained Darcy. His interest in military history served him well. A continual downpour dampened his spirits some, but not enough to ruin the evening, while the rain and the travesty of the situation dramatically increased Bingley’s discomposure.
Upon their return to Netherfield, they were met at the door by Miss Bingley. “That foolish chit rode a horse in the rain,” she declared with a snit. “She is down with the ague. I had no choice but to offer lodging for the night. The apothecary has come and gone. Miss Bennet has a fever.”
“Should we send to London for a physician?” Bingley paced the floor.
“The lady has a cold, Charles. Sending for a physician would be preposterous! I warrant Miss Bennet shall be better on the morrow.” The whole matter fatigued Caroline. Although not thoroughly content with the answer, Bingley did not press his sister further. Privately, he told Darcy that he would wait until the morning to assess whether Miss Bennet required more learned care.
Satisfied he could do nothing to relieve his friend’s tumult and seeing no other need for his service, Darcy retired to his rooms. Sitting before the mirror in his dressing room, he spoke aloud to the image he found there. “So, Miss Bennet is at Netherfield and ill. How convenient! I wonder who planned such an astute venture. Mrs. Bennet, naturally. She sent her daughter out in the rain to snag a husband. Can one imagine such a mother–such connections–poor Elizabeth?” As quickly as he said her name, a reverie of images claimed his senses. Every time he thought he rid himself of his desire to see and talk to Elizabeth Bennet, reminders resurfaced. She would never agree to such a clearly manipulated plot as this one, he mused. Should he warn Bingley? His friend had become more entangled each day. Could he permit Bingley to create an alliance with such a family?
Darcy undressed and prepared for bed. Leaning over to blow out the candle, another thought dawned. If Miss Bennet fell very ill, Elizabeth Bennet would likely come to Netherfield to care for her sister. Darcy groaned with the realization. Elizabeth would be in the house with him. He would be forced to spend time with her. Was his groan from pain or pleasure? He was not certain.
Jane Bennet’s fever worsened. In the morning the Bingleys dispatched a note to Longbourn to secure approval to send for a physician. Despite not agreeing with propriety, Bingley realized he had no right to order a physician for Jane Bennet. “Please, you must calm down, Bingley. Everything which can be done for Miss Bennet is being done,” Darcy cautioned.
“I am aware of my insensibility, Darcy, but I feel I should be doing more for her.”
“Please, Charles, you are doing your best for Miss Bennet. She will recover soon; you will see. Let us join your family in the morning room. Your sisters are concerned for your well-being also.”
Darcy’s words lessened Bingley’s anxiety, and Bingley allowed himself to be led to the morning room. Although the rainstorm had ended, and the land had dried, remnants of the downpour remained. Darcy knew they could not ride out, so he, too, remained in a state of disorder; a ride on Cerberus would do him well. Consequently, there they sat, partaking of the morning repast, making niceties, and each of them lost in his own thoughts. Bingley worried for Miss Bennet’s well-being; Caroline and Louisa wished to rid themselves of the duty of caring for someone they only pretended to admire; and Darcy needed to be free of the unexplained energy which thoughts of Elizabeth Bennet created in him.
Suddenly, the door swung wide, and a servant announced, “Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” and she stood framed in the doorway. Her appearance had taken all of them by surprise. Mud steeped her petticoat, her hair was windswept, and her clothes, disheveled. The Bingley party sat in shock–-in momentary suspension-–at an unannounced visit so early. Both he and Bingley sprang to their feet to acknowledge the entrance of a lady. Mesmerized by her image, Darcy stood dumbfounded; in all his nightly musings, he had never envisioned Elizabeth to look as such; she was lovelier than ever.
Bingley, thankfully, had the good sense to leave the table to approach her. “Miss Elizabeth,” he began, “please, join us.” She motioned his plea away. “You have come to see your sister. I am so glad. Miss Bennet will benefit by having her loved ones close.”
Sarcastically, Caroline said, “Miss Elizabeth, did you walk here?”
“I did, Miss Bingley. I was worried for Jane,” Elizabeth reasoned.
“Three miles?” Louisa added incredulously.
Elizabeth smiled at their astonishment. “I believe so.” Then turning to Mr. Bingley she asked, “Would it be too much trouble for me to see Jane?”
“We will have someone show you to Miss Bennet’s room,” Bingley chimed in. “When you are able, please advise us on her condition; our apprehension grows. If Miss Bennet requires anything, we are your servants.” Bingley turned to the footman and indicated for him to escort Miss Elizabeth to her sister. During this exchange, Darcy did not move; the picture of Elizabeth, which he would add to his mental gallery of her, thrilled him.
When she was safely from earshot, Caroline could not contain her distaste for Miss Elizabeth’s display. “Did you ever?” she began, but Darcy cut her short by removing her immediate audience. “Bingley, it appears we will be unable to ride out today to examine your holdings, but we may address expenses for the renovations you have considered.” Bingley looked relieved at the possibility. They removed quickly to Bingley’s study.
“Darcy, would it be inappropriate to bring a physician from London to attend to Miss Bennet?” Bingley asked when they were from earshot.
“It would be a break in propriety,” Darcy responded. “May I suggest if Miss Bennet’s progress is delayed, her sister should also be given accommodations so she may attend to the lady. From what I have observed of Miss Elizabeth, she is very sensible. She would never allow decorum to stand in the way of her sister’s health; Miss Elizabeth would ask, mayhap demand, you do more if need be.”
“Naturally, why did I not think of such? When Miss Elizabeth joins us later, I will ask her to stay. Your good counsel never fails me, Darcy.” As Darcy turned to the plans for
Netherfield, he wondered if he had erred in favor of insensibility.
At three in the afternoon, Elizabeth entered the sitting room; she had attended Miss Bennet all day, with the occasional assistance of the ladies of the house. The apothecary declared Miss Bennet to have a violent cold and to be in need of additional care. “I must depart,” she said tentatively. “Evening approaches, and I must be to Longbourn.”
“Allow me to offer you the use of my coach,” Caroline declared in tones that sounded too sweet.
“I thank you for the consideration,” Elizabeth said.
Bingley hesitated, but Darcy nodded his encouragement. “I will not hear of it, Miss Elizabeth. You must stay and tend your sister,” his friend declared. “I insist. Miss Bennet will recover much faster if you are in attendance.”
“Mr. Bingley,” Elizabeth gushed with gratitude. “Your kindness is most appreciated. I do desire to stay with Jane if your offer is sincere.”
“Then it is settled,” Bingley added quickly. “We will send a servant to Longbourn to acquaint your family with our plan and to bring back clothes for your stay.”
“I am in your debt, Mr. Bingley.” Elizabeth curtsied and happily returned to her sister’s room. This satisfied Bingley, but if his friend had taken note of his sister’s face, Bingley would have seen displeasure. Caroline had made it no secret she wanted the Bennet family removed from Netherfield. She recognized her brother’s interest in Miss Bennet. Darcy suspected the woman also recognized his growing interest in Elizabeth Bennet.
It was half past six before Elizabeth rejoined the party, having been summoned to supper. “I am afraid, Mr. Bingley, I cannot give you a favorable response to your inquiry. My sister shows no improvement.”
Although she quickly returned to the needlework she held, Caroline intoned, “That is dreadful to hear, Miss Elizabeth.”
During supper Darcy hoped for an opportunity to speak with Elizabeth, but Caroline strategically placed Miss Elizabeth beside Mr. Hurst. Darcy made conversation with Caroline. He split his attention, however, hoping for gems of Elizabeth’s conversation, which he could use later.
She returned to her sister’s care after the meal, and Miss Bingley immediately abused her. “Miss Elizabeth’s manners, I find, are lacking indeed; they are a mix of pride and impertinence. Did you notice, Louisa, she cannot hold a civil conversation; she has no style, no taste, and no beauty of which to speak. Country ideas of such appealing qualities must be far below those of refined societies.” Darcy wondered at how little he knew of Miss Bingley. He once found her to be dignified, but her luster dulled.
Louisa Hurst joined in her sister’s aspersions. “Elizabeth Bennet has nothing, in short, to recommend her but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”
Caroline cackled, “She did, indeed. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowzy!”
“Yes, and her petticoat. I hope you noted her petticoat, six inches deep in mud!”
Bingley came to Elizabeth’s defense. “I thought Miss Elizabeth looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.” Bless him, thought Darcy. Mayhap he will one day be able to handle Caroline.
Caroline turned to Darcy. “You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am certain, and I am inclined to think you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition. To walk three miles or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt and quite alone–what can she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum.”
Caroline’s references to the boorish behavior of the locals wore on Darcy’s patience. “Her sister was ill. It shows an affection that is very pleasing.”
“Mr. Darcy, you must agree, however, this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.” Caroline’s voice displayed her desperation.
“Again you are mistaken, Miss Bingley. I found them brightened by the exercise.”
Darcy hoped his comment would stifle Miss Bingley’s censure of Elizabeth, but she ignored his censorious tone. “Did you know, Louisa, the Bennet family has an uncle who is a country attorney and an uncle who owns a warehouse in Cheapside?”
“I do not understand all this emphasis on material wealth when one judges a person’s merit; even if the Bennets had enough uncles to fill all of Cheapside, I would not think less of the family.”
Bingley felt the need to defend his preference for Jane Bennet, and in many ways Darcy sympathized with his friend, but the truth remained unchanged. “Unfortunately, Bingley, other people will judge differently. It must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world.” He hated to acknowledge the facts. Men of fine Society would not consider the Bennet sisters as probable mates, and although he found Elizabeth Bennet to be more than desirable, he knew he could not marry her.
Darcy’s speech had given the Bingley sisters permission to continue their condemnation of the Bennet family’s vulgar relations. Bingley, on the other hand, had no response. Darcy, too, could not shake the uneasiness he felt each time Caroline mentioned Elizabeth in a negative light. Eventually, the sisters ceased their humorous attack and removed to Miss Bennet’s room to offer their concerned advice. It was late in the evening before Elizabeth rejoined the Bingley household. The party sat at loo when she returned; Darcy anxiously observed her again.
After the Bingley sisters’ attacks, he spent several hours in quiet contemplation. During the day he decided he once more wished for Elizabeth’s company. Moreover, he reasoned having her at Netherfield would provide him time to know more of Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy looked forward to engaging her in a verbal battle. She would view him differently; she would increase her regard. That idea played to Darcy’s sense of pride. What woman would not desire his attention? No one Darcy met previously had refused his consideration.
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Now, for the giveaway. Leave a comment below to be eligible for one of two eBook copies of Darcy’s Passions. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Monday, April 24, 2017.