Thank you, Anna, for having me as your guest today to talk about my latest release, The Unthinkable Triangle.
But firstly, may I speak of Mrs. Bennet? I must admit that I am rather fond of her. Partly because I am fast approaching the age I think she would have been in the original novel. Married very young and presumably pregnant with Jane almost immediately, she must have been in her late forties when Pride and Prejudice started to unfold. I am also rather fond of her because I simply cannot see her as an evil, scheming mother selling her daughters to the highest bidder, but rather as a realist. Of course her daughters needed to get married, preferably soon and hopefully well. What choices other than marriage or genteel poverty were open to them, should the worst happen and they lose their father and their home?
Lastly, as an author, I am very fond of her, and also of Lydia, because they are wonderful plot devices. A pair of blabbermouths can be extremely useful in moving the plot along, or having the main characters learn of details they would not yet dare disclose to each other – or would not have the crassness to mention themselves.
For instance, in The Falmouth Connection, my last book but one, Lydia makes Elizabeth see that Mr. Darcy might be in love with her. In my latest, The Unthinkable Triangle, Mrs. Bennet orchestrates a journey north that would allow Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy to finally reach their understanding. Moreover, it is thanks to her that Elizabeth finds herself travelling in Mr. Darcy’s carriage, along with her sister Mary, with Georgiana – and with the gentleman himself.
These days it takes mere hours to drive from Hertfordshire to some place or another in the vicinity of ‘Pemberley’. Not so 200 years ago, when a gentleman travelling with his own equipage and a large party of family and friends would take to the Great North Road with the expectation of covering roughly 50 miles in a day, weather permitting. They would have to frequently stop at coaching inns along the way to rest the horses and have them fed and watered, as the travellers partook of their own refreshments.
And then they would proceed at a stately pace again, and spend many hours in the close confines of a carriage. During those hours, in The Unthinkable Triangle, Elizabeth must confront her recently discovered feelings – a daunting task, in such close proximity, as the following excerpt shows.
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The Unthinkable Triangle
Excerpt from Chapter 14
Meryton was far behind now, as the swaying carriages proceeded at a stately pace along the Great North Road.
In the first there was silence. Fed and content, the babe was sleeping in her mother’s arms, and the three other occupants were keen to prolong that desirable state of affairs for as long as they could.
In the second there was a mayhem of Lydia’s, Kitty’s and Mrs. Bennet’s making, which would cease for some ten minutes or so whenever Mr. Bennet determined he could not tolerate it any longer and threatened with bidding the coachman make an about-turn and head back home to Longbourn.
In the third there was no mayhem but, despite appearances, there was precious little peace. One of the seats was taken by the readers – Mary and Mr. Darcy. Presumably mortified by her father’s injunction, Mary took it to heart and forbore to say a word, devoting her full attention to Mr. Gibbon’s History of the Roman Empire. Mr. Darcy’s reading matter, although less ponderous, still lacked the power to engross him fully, and now and then he would close his book and leave it in his lap, his finger holding his place between the pages, until he would tire of staring out of the carriage window and take up reading again, with infrequent glances at the seat before him, where Elizabeth and Georgiana were maintaining a cheerful conversation.
Truth be told, the cheer was all on Georgiana’s side. Elizabeth’s sole contribution was to skilfully drop the necessary words here and there, that would encourage her young friend to share more tales of town and Derbyshire. No one could doubt Georgiana’s excitement and her delight with the company and the travel plans. She was chattier than ever, which was a surprise but no less of a blessing, for otherwise the carriage ride would have been mostly spent in awkward silence.
Elizabeth clasped her gloved fingers in her lap and smiled to Georgiana as she declared her intention to visit the Lakes in the very near future, thus providing the young girl with another topic that would bear lengthy and elaborate descriptions, and giving her leisure to cast a surreptitious glance towards her friend’s brother. She longed to speak to him – she did not dare – and her own unprecedented shyness vexed her beyond endurance.
He was intent upon his book, so she allowed her glance to linger. Dark tousled hair, a few long, wavy forelocks falling over the wide brow. Eyes cast down, lidded as though closed, with only the flicker of dark lashes to prove it was not so. Lips pressed together, presumably in concentration, making the chin jut ever so slightly forward. Strong jaw above the neckcloth and the pointed corners of the collar, no longer perfectly aligned, as they had been this morning. Cheeks vaguely shadowed. A very straight nose, the nostrils widening all of a sudden, with a deep intake of air. And then the lips again. Perfectly formed. Still tightened.
Did he kiss Miss Wyatt when he had offered for her?
She had no answer to that question. Likewise to another: what alerted people when they were being watched? A sixth sense, or whatever else it might have been, prompted Mr. Darcy to glance up so suddenly that he caught her staring. Someone who had nothing to hide might have met his eyes squarely. Those who still had their wits about them would have looked away casually and slowly, as if their mind was elsewhere and they were simply staring blankly into space. Sadly, the sensible alternatives occurred to her when it was all too late. When her cheeks were already flaming as though set on fire, and her eyes had darted in panic from his face.
She did not look his way again, not for a long time, and Georgiana was surprised to note that she was getting monosyllabic or rather odd answers to her questions. Across from them, Mr. Darcy turned to stare at the Bedfordshire countryside again.
There was at least another hour and a half till their next stop. And to their destination – one hundred and twenty-two gruelling miles.
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Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. There is an international giveaway of a Kindle copy if you would like to find out more – just leave a comment for the chance to win. The giveaway ends on Sunday, October 18.
Best of luck, thank you for visiting and many thanks again, Anna, for welcoming me as your guest.
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Thanks, Joana! It was a pleasure having you on the blog today!
Stay tuned for my review of The Unthinkable Triangle. In the meantime, check out my 5-star review of one of Joana’s previous novels, The Subsequent Proposal. You can also connect with Joana here:
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