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Today I’m happy to welcome Kara Louise, author of Darcy’s Voyage (read my review) to Diary of an Eccentric.  I’d like to thank Kara for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her book — a unique re-telling of Pride and Prejudice — and of course, Jane Austen.  Please give a warm welcome to Kara Louise:

Where did you get the idea to have Darcy and Elizabeth meet on a ship to America?

The inspiration for putting Darcy and Elizabeth on a ship came after I finished reading Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (or perhaps it hit me somewhere in the middle of the book). He was a sailor in the 1840s and described his sailing adventures in this book. The thought of Darcy and Elizabeth meeting on a ship became very much imprinted in my mind and I decided to give it a try and see if I could come up with a plausible scenario.

Could you describe your introduction to Jane Austen? What is it about her work that you find so fascinating?

For some reason, my high school classes did not read any of Jane Austen’s works, so my first introduction to her was through the movies Emma and Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed the movies, but not so much that I was moved to read the novels. It was after seeing the 6 hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, however, that I was moved not only to read that novel, but all of her novels. I then began to seek out what I could find on the internet about her. What I discovered was a vast community of people who felt very much the same way as I did. I thoroughly enjoy her style of writing, her characters, and her plots. She had such a talent with words and an ability to create very real, yet diverse characters. Her heroes and heroines are not perfect, and that gives the reader hope that, despite their imperfections, there might be someone out there who will overlook those faults and fall in love with them. Even though she wrote in an era very different than ours, we can still relate to the issues these characters faced regarding family, hardships, disappointments, and love.

I’ve read that some people view Austen as modest and prim, while others think she was sharp-tongued and ambitious with regard to her writing. What do you think Austen was like, and how do you think she’d feel about numerous authors continuing or re-imagining her novels?

I think Jane Austen enjoyed making fun of certain aspects of society. In her novels she wrestles with the notion of that day that a woman must get married to any gentleman who is considered eligible and asks for her hand, rather than out of a mutual love. I do not think she approved of the disparity between the different classes of people, as we can see through some rather unlikeable characters who looked down on those who were not their equal. I believe each of her books was written in a way that addressed her strong feelings on these and other subjects.

As for Miss Austen’s feelings about all the authors publishing these works, I would hope she would be honored that her novels are so well loved 200 years later and people are making attempts to carry them on because of that love. I cannot answer for the variations, because I think they are more a product of our day and age. Think of your favorite television show and its characters you are so drawn to. Each week you turn in to see how they will respond, grow in relationships, handle adversities, or fall in love. You may be more drawn to the characters than the actual plots. I think in some ways these stories can be viewed in that light, that people are drawn to the stories to have one more connection with those characters whom they have come to dearly love.

How many times have you read Pride and Prejudice? What is your favorite line or passage from the book?

I’ve read it about five times. And I’ve read bits and pieces of it an innumerable amount of times. I often have the book next to me and look things up in it as I am writing to make sure I get certain facts correct. I have several favorite lines, but I think my favorite is Mr. Bennet’s line to Elizabeth after she refuses Mr. Collins’ proposal. “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” I laugh every time I read this or see it in the movie, but it also gives us a good picture of just who Mr. Bennet is!

Could you name a few of your favorite Austen sequels/re-tellings?

I think my favorite would be the one that inspired me to write me own. It is the re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective by Pamela Aiden. When she was posting the story online, I would print it out so that I could sit back and savor it as I read it. I purchased the first book, An Assembly Such as This and her third book, These Three Remain. She is an excellent writer and captured so much the flavor of Pride and Prejudice. It remains a favorite.

Are you working on another novel? Do you plan to stick with Austen sequels/re-tellings or do you have other ideas in the works?

Sourcebooks will be printing a second novel of mine in March, 2011. Only Mr. Darcy Will Do was originally self-published as Something Like Regret. I have other ideas swimming about, that are both Austen and non-Austen related. I don’t necessarily think I will only stay with Austen-related works, but will continue in that genre as long as I feel the stories are good enough to write and would be enjoyable to read. I have another variation of P&P in mind, as well as a back-story to a character in another novel.

Thanks, Kara!  I’ll certainly watch for your next novel!

Courtesy of Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of Darcy’s Voyage up for grabs.  Because the publisher is shipping the books, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.

To enter, please leave a comment with your e-mail address by Sunday, Oct. 10 at 11:59 pm EST.  The winners will be chosen randomly.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Darcy looked down, feeling somewhat embarrassed.  “Now you know very well, Georgiana, that I have never really taken a strong liking to any particular woman.  Usually the association was out of duty or obligation or some familial obligation.  There may have been a few whose company I enjoyed, but none I would have sought as my wife.”

“Oh, but there were certainly many who wanted you to take a liking to them and who would have, without the slightest hesitation, consented to being your wife!”

“Yes, and I can remember all your comments after I would introduce one of those women to you.”

Georgiana looked down, displaying a childlike pout for her brother.  “I was not that bad, was I, Fitzwilliam?”

Darcy laughed.  “I quickly discovered, Georgiana, that the quieter you were around the lady, the more vocal you would be to me after she left!”

(from Darcy’s Voyage, page 397 in the ARC)

Darcy’s Voyage proved to me that I’m still not growing weary of the numerous sequels and re-tellings of Jane Austen’s novels.  In this re-imagined Pride and Prejudice, Kara Louise takes readers on a completely different journey while staying true to Austen’s beloved characters and arriving at the same conclusion.

Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet in a carriage, and after enjoying a lively discussion, they part ways.  Two years later, Elizabeth convinces her father to let her travel alone to America to visit her Uncle and Aunt Gardiner.  After boarding Pemberley’s Promise, she runs into Mr. Darcy, and they strike up a friendship, not realizing he is the man from the carriage and the owner of the ship.  Elizabeth is booked in steerage, and she willingly gives up her bed to a pregnant woman whose daughter falls ill.  And when Elizabeth also becomes sick and injures her ankle, Mr. Darcy devises a plan that will allow her to sleep in the extra bed in his cabin — and joins the two of them together permanently.

Of course, misunderstandings separate them once they reach New York, but after returning to England, they are reunited at Netherfield, and readers are reunited with the rest of the cast of Pride and Prejudice.  In addition to the complicated situation carrying over from the voyage, Darcy and Elizabeth still must deal with George Wickham’s evil ways, Caroline Bingley’s arrogance, and Lady Catherine’s rage.  Louise handles these things (and more) much differently than Austen, breathing fresh air into a story I know inside and out.

Although I found it hard to believe that Mr. Bennet, being a gentleman, would allow Elizabeth to travel solo and that Elizabeth and Darcy didn’t recognize one another on the ship after being so smitten for months after the carriage ride two years prior, I really enjoyed Darcy’s Voyage.  Because they meet in a far different manner, there isn’t the prejudice that Austen created, though pride is glimpsed here and there.  Darcy’s Voyage is more about keeping love intact at all costs than about overcoming pride and prejudice.  Louise puts a unique spin on events, with enough tension to carry the story until the end, where some things play out differently than in Austen’s novel.  Darcy’s Voyage is among the most creative Austen re-tellings I’ve read in awhile.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Darcy’s Voyage from Sourcebooks for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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