“But you have heard enough of our conversations to know the lady can barely tolerate being in the same room with me and that is why she keeps to her sister’s bedchamber.”
“Oh, I thought it was because she cannot tolerate Louisa and Caroline’s company.”
“You have noticed it as well,” Darcy said. “Miss Elizabeth will not be put down — not by anybody. She is fearless and will stand her ground.”
(from “Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan”)
Mary Lydon Simonsen’s “Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan” is a fun short story inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While staying with her sick sister at Netherfield Park, Elizabeth Bennet falls asleep on a bearskin rug in the library only to awaken to a conversation between Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth tries to sneak out unnoticed, but she sticks around when the conversation turns to her sister, Jane, and ultimately turns into a demonstration by Mr. Darcy of “the language of the fan.”
If you can picture Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley waving around black-lace fans trying to determine whether Jane was communicating to Mr. Bingley with her fan, you can understand why I laughed out loud several times while reading this story.
“Because Miss Bennet is rather reserved, we can eliminate some of those signals she would never use,” and he put the handle of the fan to his lips, “which means to kiss me.” After seeing Bingley’s defeated expression, he added, “It is not that she will never want you to kiss her; it is just that she would never make such a gesture in public.”
But what I liked best about this story was the playful battle of wits between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, who uses her knowledge of the conversation against him. As their attraction grows, so does Elizabeth’s desire to beat him at this game, building up to a hilarious scene in the parlor at Longbourn.
Simonsen’s Austen-inspired stories never let me down. Her affection for Austen’s sense of humor and her wonderfully flawed characters shine through in “Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan.” I breezed through this story with a smile on my face, and I can see myself reading it again sometime when I’m in the mood for Elizabeth and Darcy’s playful banter. From the amusing use of the language of the fan to the humorous gravestone quotes, I could picture Austen reading this story with a glint in her eyes and laughter on her lips.
Disclosure: “Darcy and Elizabeth: The Language of the Fan” is from my personal library.
© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.