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I am delighted to welcome Anngela Schroeder back to Diary of an Eccentric today, this time to celebrate the upcoming release of her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, A Life Worth Choosing. Anngela is here to talk a little about the book and to share an excerpt and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

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Hello Anna, and thank you for having me at Diary of an Eccentric. I hope you and your readers had a wonderful holiday, and stayed safe.

I realized in the last several months, we have all had the opportunity to create numerous opinions of happenings in the world: masks, politics, if uber-eats is worth the exorbitant fee just so we don’t have to cook dinner! 🙂 And in all of those moments, we were certain our beliefs were correct; that everyone should agree with us. Isn’t it a rude awakening when that’s not the case? When those we love don’t see things the way we do––how their choices could negatively affect their lives?

That is the daily life of Fitzwilliam Darcy! As the firstborn son, he has been reared to put duty and responsibility first, and protect those in his circle. He is always right. He should not be questioned because his experience has led him to determine the correct course of action in all cases. He has the best interest of those close to him at heart.

And then…he meets Elizabeth Bennet, who we all know has a mind of her own. Poor Darcy. To have his very core principals shaken by this inferior woman, only to realize she is not inferior in the least. I have often thought about what those moments were like when he returned to Rosings after his rejected proposal. The anger, but also the shock and sadness at Elizabeth’s response which drove him to write the letter. He was just acting in accordance with his principles­––those of a first born son, and yet this woman, the only one who had ever piqued his interest, rejected him. Him the Master of Pemberley.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt into the mind of our favorite hero, and look forward to your reviews when A Life Worth Choosing is available on Amazon in January of 2021.

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December 26, 1811

8 years later

Fitzwilliam Darcy came as close to slamming the door of his chambers at Rosings as he possibly could without arousing his aunt’s suspicion. She believes him! That she would trust him so implicitly over me. Me! Fitzwilliam Darcy, master of Pemberley! Me—who has saved George Wickham’s reputation and life from debtors’ prison for the last five years, and longer.

He tore off his cravat and tossed it onto the chair, certain Briggs, his valet, would be none too pleased. Yet, he did not care. The one woman whose esteem he desired the most had championed Wickham. Wickham! He shook his head in disgust and walked to the window with measured steps, staring out into the ink-black night. Having lived a life of honor, of respectability! She would still believe the words of a man whose illegitimate children Pemberley supports?

Darcy turned back toward the room, pacing with quick steps. That the boredom of my yearly Easter trip to my Aunt’s estate was broken by Elizabeth visiting the newly minted ‘Mrs. Collins.’ He slammed his hand on the writing desk as he passed. “Miss Bennet, man! She is not yours to think on as ‘Elizabeth.’” She made it quite plain this evening that she does not value the title of “wife” by me!

Shaking his head, he slowly came to a halt before slumping down into the tufted chair, still not believing how the evening’s events transpired. “Do I not know the heart of women? Or at least one worthy of being pleased?” When did I become so vulgar? Always being chased by fortune-hunting mothers and daughters. Yet, when a woman of substance is placed before me, can I not act in accordance with civility?

He leaned his head back and sighed deeply before whispering to the ceiling. “‘You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.’ Truly, Elizabeth? No possible way?” He reached over to the bottle of brandy on the table and poured two fingers before downing it in one fiery gulp.

No, this is how it should be. Elizabeth Bennet had no money or connections, but a mind and spirit that would send his world spiraling like a whirling dervish. It was providence that she…rejected me. Now I can leave Rosings cleansed of my fantasies of bringing her home as the mistress of Pemberley.

“But Wickham.” He spat the name, standing up and walking back to the window. The memory of her words still smoldering as he stared across the lawn and heard their echo. ‘If your father had not had a son, Mr. Wickham could have fulfilled that role more admirably.’ His jaw tightened at the thought. Darcy knew not which version of Wickham’s lies she had been subjected to. How he was not awarded the living at Kympton after his father’s death or how Wickham was refused any inheritance at all. Maybe both? Touching the glass separating their two worlds, he looked toward the parsonage and saw a dim light in a window. Oh, Elizabeth.

Hesitating only a second more, Darcy called for his valet, who came immediately. “Briggs, we will depart in the morning after I conclude a small matter of business.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Let Colonel Fitzwilliam’s man know as well.”

“At once, sir.”

Waiting for the door to close behind him, he touched the glass again and traced the far-off window of light. Although his pride was hurt, if he did nothing, her name might be added to the list of women soiled by Wickham’s hands. I cannot allow that to happen.

Walking to the writing desk, he sat and withdrew a piece of parchment. “If only I had not been born?” He grunted before scratching out his first thoughts in a most inauspicious letter …

Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter…

…that it may contain any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which last night were so disgusting to you. Its writing, however, could not be avoided as charges were brought before me, which I felt honor bound to defend— my character and very being demands it…

…[A] charge laid before me dealt with Mr. Wickham. Mr. Wickham was the son of a very respectable man who had the management of our family’s estate. The elder Wickham was a devoted member of our service, and before I had left the nursery, married a widow with a young son close to my age.

My mother and father encouraged our friendship, and I enjoyed having a playmate. As we grew older, however, George Wickham began to show signs of a defect in his character. His cruelty to animals began to extend to humans, and many a servant was abused by his hand.

His true character surfaced at Cambridge, where my father gave him a gentleman’s education in honor of Mr. Wickham, Senior. This is where our friendship all but ended. My playmate found more enjoyment in gaming and drinking, and other debauched activities.

After the death of both his father and my own excellent one five years ago, my father instructed in his will to give Wickham a living should it become available. Declaring no interest in the church, my former friend asked for and received three thousand pounds instead and abandoned our family for what pleasures I know not. He then returned a year later when his funds had dissolved, attempting to reclaim the living.

After all this, the worst was yet to come. My sister, Georgiana, took a house in Ramsgate with her companion last summer, a woman in whose character I was greatly misled…

Georgiana’s tender heart was convinced of his love but was then shattered by deception, as his intent was her dowry of thirty-thousand pounds. Had I not arrived unannounced, her future of misery would have been secured with her elopement to Gretna Green and an eternal shackle to the most unworthy man in all of England. She was but fifteen years old…

And now, Miss Elizabeth, I return to your words from earlier this evening. If my father had not had a son, might ‘another’ have satisfied that role more admirably? I have never become careless in my duty, and had I not been born the master of Pemberley, I assure you the Darcy legacy would have continued unaffected.

If, however, after reading this, your thoughts continue to champion another, I would not wish to suspend any pleasure of yours. Yet, I hope to never encounter a world where George Wickham’s power exceeds his moral limitations.

As for myself, I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My greatest failure is not within the confines of my family but in those of my heart.

I will only say, God bless,

F.D.

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I hope you all enjoyed that excerpt as much as I did! If you want to find out what happens next, look for A Life Worth Choosing when it is released on Amazon in January 2021.

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Giveaway

Anngela is generously offering one lucky reader a choice between a Kindle copy (international) or a signed hardcover (U.S. only) of A Life Worth Choosing. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway will be open through Sunday, December 13, 2020. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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