I am so happy to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy vs. Bennet. I had the pleasure of editing this novel, and I must admit that Victoria makes my job easy by writing such delightful variations!
About Darcy vs. Bennet:
Elizabeth Bennet is drawn to a handsome, mysterious man she meets at a masquerade ball. However, she gives up all hope for a future with him when she learns he is the son of George Darcy, the man who ruined her father’s life. Despite her father’s demand that she avoid the younger Darcy, when he appears in Hertfordshire Elizabeth cannot stop thinking about him, or seeking him out, or welcoming his kisses…
Fitzwilliam Darcy has struggled to carve out a life independent from his father’s vindictive temperament and domineering ways, although the elder Darcy still controls the purse strings. After meeting Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy cannot imagine marrying anyone else, even though his father despises her family. More than anything he wants to make her his wife, but doing so would mean sacrificing everything else…
Victoria’s Inspiration for Darcy vs. Bennet:
Readers often ask me where I get my ideas. Often it’s difficult for me to re-construct the origins of an idea after I’ve been living with it for months (and often years). However, the idea of a more positive version of Romeo and Juliet has appealed to me ever since I read the play in high school, and it seemed a natural fit to apply elements of the plot with Pride and Prejudice. This allowed the family feud aspect of the R&J plotline to provide Darcy and Elizabeth with external obstacles. While I love the conflict created by the personality differences and misunderstandings in the canonical P&P, I thought it would be intriguing to see a Darcy and Elizabeth who were working together to struggle against external pressures.
One of the results of this struggle in Darcy vs. Bennet is that they must pretend to dislike each other so that no one suspects their true feelings. Thus, when Darcy says Elizabeth isn’t handsome enough to tempt him, he doesn’t mean it; he’s trying to deflect attention from his true admiration of her. And Elizabeth must pretend to believe Wickham’s slander of Darcy’s character. Other parts of the P&P plot also fit into the family feud template. For example, many of Wickham’s actions are motivated by his conspiracy with Darcy’s father to separate the lovers. And Mr. Collins plays a brief but vital (and humorous) role in adding to the struggle.
In writing Darcy vs. Bennet, I was surprised how easily the various plot points of P&P fit with elements of R&J. However, I do promise my version of the R&J story does have a happy ending; no one dies in a tomb!
And if that hasn’t already made you want to read it right away, here’s an excerpt from Darcy vs. Bennet:
“Just think, five thousand a year!” Elizabeth’s mother exclaimed for at least the sixth time that day. “Jane, you must be sure to smile at him.”
“Yes, Mama,” Jane said serenely—again.
“And be certain to have him dance with you. Lizzy’s friend Louisa swore that it only took one dance with her Robert and he fell in love! Now she is married into the Berwick family as happy as can be!”
“Yes, Mama,” Jane said.
Elizabeth exchanged an understanding smile with her elder sister. All week the family had been in an uproar over the arrival of Mr. Bingley at Netherfield Park. Her father had called on the man, and he had returned the call, but the Bennet daughters had yet to meet him.
Now, however, they were on their way to the Meryton Assembly, where Mr. Bingley was certain to be in attendance. Elizabeth winced as the carriage went over a particularly big bump, and she was jostled against Jane.
“And he may have other wealthy gentlemen with him!” her mother exclaimed. “I heard he was to bring twelve ladies and six gentlemen to the assembly.”
“I heard it was seven ladies and four gentlemen,” Lydia put in.
Her mother waved her handkerchief irritably. “In any case, he is likely to have other wealthy friends.”
“I will be sure to smile at them!” Lydia exclaimed.
“Good for you!” Their mother smiled.
“I can smile at gentlemen, too!” Kitty whined.
“There is no doubt of that.” Their father rolled his eyes.
“I do not believe it is appropriate to smile at men to whom we have not been properly introduced,” Mary added.
Elizabeth massaged her temples. It was possible she would have a headache before they even arrived at the assembly.
“Do you think there will be any men in regimentals?” Lydia asked. This began a discussion of how dashing men appeared in a red coat, and Mr. Bingley’s party of guests was temporarily forgotten.
Lady Lucas greeted the Bennet party at the entrance to the assembly with the information that Mr. Bingley had brought two gentlemen and two ladies. The ladies were his sisters, and one of the gentlemen was married to one of the sisters. The other gentleman was a friend of Mr. Bingley’s who was rumored to be worth ten thousand pounds a year, but Lady Lucas had not caught his name.
At this news, Elizabeth’s mother was in an even greater frenzy of excitement. “Oh, Jane! You must be sure to dance with both of them! Is the other gentleman well favored? He must be in want of a wife as well. Elizabeth, be sure to stand near him. Perhaps he would dance with you too!”
Elizabeth simply nodded; she knew from experience that any type of protest was futile and would only prolong her mother’s inappropriate behavior.
Within a few minutes Mr. Bingley had made his way to their party, and Mr. Bennet introduced the newcomer to his wife and daughters, whereupon Mr. Bingley immediately invited Jane to dance. Lydia and Kitty ran off to join some of the other neighborhood girls, and Mary departed for a discussion with the local vicar.
Elizabeth stood awkwardly with her mother. The assembly hall was quite crowded and warm. The others in Mr. Bingley’s party were well concealed by the crush of people, for Elizabeth noticed no strangers. However, Mrs. Long waded through the crowd to be at Mrs. Bennet’s side. Her eager expression suggested she had some interesting gossip to impart.
“Have you heard about Mr. Bingley’s guests?” she asked Elizabeth’s mother.
“Indeed, I have! Ten thousand a year!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed.
“Well, the man may have a fortune, but the man is proud and disagreeable!” Mrs. Long said. “He has refused to dance with anyone save the ladies in his party and stares at everyone with haughty disdain. I told Henry, ‘Well, if that is how Mr. Darcy feels about Meryton, then Meryton does not—’”
Elizabeth and her mother gasped in unison, but Mrs. Bennet recovered first. “W-What is his name, Marianne?”
“Mr. Darcy. I believe his given name is Fitzwilliam. I am sure it must be a family name because who would choose to bestow such a name—”
Mrs. Bennet had turned white, and Elizabeth was sure her complexion looked no better. “Where does he reside?” Mrs. Bennet asked her friend.
“I believe his family is from an estate in Derbyshire.”
Elizabeth’s world went white for a moment at these words, so implausible and unwelcome, and she thought she might faint. He was here. There was no doubt it was him. In the two years since the masquerade ball, he had constantly invaded her thoughts. She could not help comparing every man she encountered to “William.” But she had believed herself safe from another encounter.
Would he recognize her? Remember her? Was he angry at how she had fled the ball? Of course, he would know by now that she had not been invited. Did he think her terribly wanton? Perhaps he had forgotten her; that would be for the best.
Elizabeth attempted to quell her growing panic. It hardly matters what Mr. Darcy thinks of me, she reasoned. Once he learns I am part of Thomas Bennet’s family, he will be disgusted. But the thought of seeing that look of disgust on his face ignited more panic. I must leave before he sees me!
Victoria is generously offering a copy of Darcy vs. Bennet to one of my readers. This giveaway is open internationally, and the winner will have the choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address about what intrigues you most about this unique take on Pride and Prejudice. The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 17. The winner will be chosen randomly. I will email the winner and announce their name in the comments section of this post. Good luck!
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