I’m thrilled to welcome Victoria Kincaid back to Diary of an Eccentric to celebrate the release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Chaos Comes to Longbourn. I had the pleasure of editing this book a few months ago, and it was such a delight to read. I’ve enjoyed all of Victoria’s books, and I think this is her best yet! Victoria is here today to share her inspiration for writing romantic comedies, an excerpt from Chaos Comes to Longbourn, and as an international giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!
First, check out the book blurb to see just how chaotic things are in the world of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy:
While attempting to suppress his desire to dance with Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy flees the Netherfield ballroom only to stumble upon a half-dressed Lydia Bennet in the library. After being discovered with her in this compromising position, Darcy is forced to make her an offer of marriage.
A few weeks later, Bingley returns from London to discover that a heartbroken Jane has accepted an offer from Collins. Bingley instead proposes to Elizabeth, who accepts with the hope of reuniting him with Jane.
Now Darcy must cope with jealousy toward Bingley and a fiancée who longs to get her hands on the grand estate of “Pembleton” (or is it “Peckersly?”). Lydia, in turn, is jealous that Wickham has proposed to Charlotte Lucas.
Although Darcy yearns for Elizabeth, he feels honor bound by his promise to Lydia. Elizabeth has also developed feelings for the master of Pemberley, but he has never seemed so far out of her reach. How can Darcy and Elizabeth unravel this tangle of misbegotten betrothals and reach their happily ever after?
And oh what a tangle it is! I was on the edge of my seat, unable to fathom how it would all end and laughing out loud throughout. Here’s what Victoria had to say about teasing out the humor in Pride and Prejudice:
When I first started reading Pride and Prejudice variations I was in it for the romance. I have to admit that I love drama and angst and big sweeping emotions. And there were lots of variations that fed this “addiction” for me.
However, when I started writing my third P&P variation, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, I realized that angst and drama didn’t always fit into a story in which Elizabeth accepts a proposal from Mr. Collins. After all, Collins’s primary value in P&P is comedic. I found I loved writing dialogue for Collins; it’s almost not possible to go too far. He’s so oblivious and so obsequious that it’s delicious fun.
Before I knew it, I was writing a romantic comedy.
Of course, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue is still dramatic and full of romance, but there were plenty of funny moments. And the readers appreciated the humor, noting it in their reviews.
I wasn’t necessarily planning to write another comic P&P variation, but around the same time, I happened upon a Facebook post by fellow Jane Austen Fan Fiction writer Joana Starnes. She described playing a game of Marrying Mr. Darcy which ended with Elizabeth as an old maid, Caroline Bingley eloping with Denny, and Darcy married to Lydia (!).
It got me thinking about what fun it would be to have a P&P variation in which characters were all engaged to the wrong people. Of course, it couldn’t be anything other than a comedy. Chaos Comes to Longbourn was born.
As I’ve been writing humorous variations it has helped me appreciate another side of Austen’s masterpiece. While I love the drama and romance, I’ve grown to understand how brilliantly she wrote comedic characters. Characters like Lydia, Collins, and Mrs. Bennet might be exaggerated for comedic effect, but their behavior is recognizable and human. This long-past Regency English setting resonates in part because we see these characters and think, “I know someone like that.”
So it’s interesting. As I’ve written more comedic variations I’ve realized that many of us are drawn to Austen because of the romance, but it’s the comedy that helps us relate the stories to our own lives. We feel at home in Jane Austen’s world in part because it’s funny in a way we can understand.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you that you must read the book, hopefully this excerpt will:
Elizabeth dropped the napkin on the tray. “You cannot flirt with officers now, Lydia. You are betrothed to Mr. Darcy.”
“I remember, silly!” Lydia waved away this objection as she shrugged off her night rail and donned her dress. “I shan’t kiss anyone! But I must have some fun before I marry that stodgy old man.”
Elizabeth was not an admirer of Mr. Darcy’s, but she would hardly describe him as stodgy or old. “Engaged women must behave with greater discretion,” she said.
“I can be discreet!” Lydia declared. “I shall have discretion shooting out of my ears!” Elizabeth winced at this image as she laced up her sister’s dress.
Once her dress was fastened, Lydia flopped back onto her bed. “Although honestly, Lizzy, I wish I were not engaged to Mr. Darcy. I agreed to marry him because everyone said I must, but I always wanted an officer. They are so dashing and so much fun! Mr. Darcy almost never smiles and never laughs.”
Elizabeth pulled Lydia into a standing position before she could wrinkle her dress. “I understand, my dear. But the circumstances last night were…quite bad. You are betrothed now, and you must make the best of it.”
“That is what Mama said, and she reminded me of Mr. Darcy’s fortune.” Lydia sighed. “If only he were more dashing…Although I suppose I shall comfort myself with jewels and hats…”
“Yes, indeed,” Elizabeth said. She hardly approved of such an obviously mercenary approach to marriage, but Lydia must not break off the engagement. Her reputation was in tatters.
“I cannot wait to tell everyone in Meryton about Mr. Darcy’s ten thousand a year!” Lydia giggled.
Elizabeth’s righteous anger at Mr. Darcy was gradually transforming into an amorphous regret. Last night she had been so certain of his guilt, but now…if what she suspected was true, he had been wronged, and Elizabeth had helped to wrong him.
Moreover, she did not need to learn more of his character to be certain that he was spectacularly ill-suited to be Lydia’s husband; most likely they would both be miserable in the marriage. Elizabeth rubbed suddenly sweaty palms on her gown. What can I do? She had nothing but suspicions and no way of confirming them without Lydia’s cooperation.
“I shan’t let anyone forget I have a fiancé. A very wealthy fiancé!” Lydia dashed from the room and down the stairs. Elizabeth followed at a slower pace.
At the bottom of the stairs, however, they both encountered Hill, followed by the tall figure of Mr. Darcy. He bowed to the two ladies. “Forgive the intrusion at such an early hour,” he said. “But I was hoping to have a word with Miss Lydia.”
Elizabeth’s first reaction was alarm. Surely he was not suggesting she leave them alone! But then she recalled that they were betrothed, and it was appropriate for betrothed couples to enjoy some privacy. Although she could not imagine what two such different people would say to each other.
Lydia pouted. “I am bound for Meryton with Kitty!”
Elizabeth barely refrained from chastising her sister. How could Lydia treat her fiancé so rudely?
Mr. Darcy looked affronted. “I shall be departing from Hertfordshire within the hour.”
Lydia heaved a great sigh. “Very well, I suppose I have time for a brief conversation.”
“Thank you for making time for me.” Mr. Darcy’s tone was so dry that Elizabeth could not discern if he was being sardonic.
“I suppose I must, for I am your fiancée!” She gave Elizabeth a sidelong glance and giggled. “Isn’t that such a grand word: fiancée?” Elizabeth rolled her eyes, but Lydia mistook the gesture. “Don’t worry, Lizzy,” she patted her sister’s hand, “I am sure someday a man will want to marry you as well.”
Mr. Darcy regarded the sisters with a carefully blank expression. Did he also believe Elizabeth would be lucky to procure a husband?
“You are too good,” Elizabeth murmured to Lydia. Mr. Darcy made a strangled sound that turned into a cough.
“I know.” Lydia tossed her head so her curls bounced. “Mr. Darcy, shall we retire to the drawing room?”
He nodded mutely.
Now for the giveaway:
Victoria is generously offering an international giveaway of one copy of Chaos Comes to Longbourn. The winner will have the choice of an ebook or paperback. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what intrigues you most about the book. The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 24. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comment section of this post. Good luck!
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