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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★★☆

A myriad of thoughts assaulted Elizabeth, especially when Mrs. Willstone gently patted her hand and continued, “We would not want Mr. Darcy to think ill of Rosalyn because of unbefitting behaviour tolerated by her family.”

“You think my behaviour unbefitting?” Elizabeth asked incredulously.

Mrs. Willstone’s eyes cast briefly toward the ground in an unwitting gesture of discomfiture.  “Unbefitting a governess, yes.  Miss Bennet, you must know we grieve with you over your change of circumstances.  It must be terribly difficult, but Mr. Darcy may be watching Rosalyn carefully for any signs of improper behaviour from her or her family…”  Her eyes slowly looked up.  “…or the family’s governess.”

(from Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, page 203 in the ARC)

I know, I know…I’m reviewing yet another Jane Austen variation.  I hope you all are not growing tired of these reviews because I just can’t seem to get enough of these books.

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do is a retelling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Kara Louise, which originally was self-published as Something Like Regret.  Louise opens her novel a year after Elizabeth Bennet rejected Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal at Rosings, and while she cannot forgive the role he played in separating her sister, Jane, from Mr. Bingley, she believes she may have been wrong about other aspects of Mr. Darcy’s character.

However, even if she had a complete change of heart about Mr. Darcy, it would do her little good, as her family has fallen further beneath his since the death of her father.  When Mr. Collins takes possession of Longbourn, Mrs. Bennet takes her youngest daughters to live with her sister in Meryton, Jane moves to London and becomes the governess for her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, and Elizabeth becomes the governess for six-year-old Emily Willstone.  Elizabeth and Emily have forged a strong bond, but she continues to grieve for her father and cherishes the Sundays she can spend with Jane and the Gardiners.

Elizabeth is forced to deal with her feelings about Mr. Darcy when Mrs. Willstone’s sister, Rosalyn, comes to stay with the family and confides in Elizabeth that she has long had a crush on Mr. Darcy and will do everything possible to ensure that he views her as marriage material.  With no one knowing what transpired between her and Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth must spend time at his Pemberley estate when the Willstones are invited for a fortnight.    At Pemberley, Elizabeth gets a glimpse of the man Darcy has become since his failed proposal.

Louise’s novel turns the lives of Austen’s characters upside down but still manages to follow the major plot points of Pride and Prejudice.  Elizabeth handles her changed circumstances with dignity, helped along by the fact that the Willstones treat her better than a governess in recognition of her past social status, and despite the duties she must bear in her new role, Louise allows her wit to shine through.  She also brings in some new characters, like Rosalyn, whose quest to impress Mr. Darcy provides much amusement, and Mr. Hamilton, Darcy’s cousin, whose loose tongue and clumsiness add some lightness to the story.

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do is a must read for fans of Austen variations.  I found that I couldn’t put the book down and read nearly all of it in one day.  Louise obviously adores Austen’s characters and stays true to their personalities.  Even though you know how the book will end, you’re not exactly sure how you’ll get there, but you’ll enjoy the ride.

Check out my reviews of other Kara Louise books:

Darcy’s Voyage

Disclosure: I received Only Mr. Darcy Will Do from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Today I am pleased to welcome Kara Louise back to Diary of an Eccentric.  Kara’s latest release is Only Mr. Darcy Will Do (my review will be posted tomorrow), which recently was published by Sourcebooks.  (It was originally self-published as Something Like Regret.)  I interviewed Kara last year after I reviewed Darcy’s Voyage, and I’m delighted that this time, she has stopped by to show us her writing space.

Please give a warm welcome to Kara Louise:

My Writing Spaces

When I was asked to write about ‘my writing space,’ I thought it could not have been more timely. The reason? I just set back up my favorite place to write.

Oh, I have the typical computer room with desk and cabinets and knick-knacks. We have an apple and a PC computer, so they sit at corners to each other and our swivel desk chair moves easily from one to another. But more about that later.

What is my favorite writing space and why did I just set it back up? Well, I absolutely love to write while sitting in our hanging hammock chair out on our patio. We take it down for the winter, and with an approaching few days of 70-80 degree temperatures, I thought now would be the perfect time to hang it back up!

It was actually only 60 degrees the other day when I set it up, but the sun was shining and there was no wind, so it felt warm. I loaded myself down with my arsenal: bottle of water, phone, iPod, Kindle, and computer, and enjoyed some time back in my chair the first time this year.

With my feet up and swaying back and forth, a book to read (or write), I couldn’t be happier! I’ll occasionally doze off to sleep, but no one will mind. It was the best investment I made one year while at a big annual community craft show held nearby. I had seen them several years before that, and it was the one thing I knew I wanted to look for when I returned! I was so glad to find that they were still selling them! I’ve included a picture of it for you. Please excuse the bare feet. 🙂 (You might notice from the picture that I am often visited by one of our cats and always by our dog (who is unfortunately not in the picture.)

Now, as for my other writing space, the computer room becomes my place of choice in cold and inclement weather. But it does have something very special in there.

I have a cabinet type bookcase that has all my books and things related to Jane Austen on the top of it. I have an 18-inch porcelain doll that I bought because she reminded me so much of Elizabeth Bennet. There is the Jane Austen Action Figure, which every Austen fan must have! I have several versions of Pride and Prejudice, including the Marvel Graphic Comic and the beautiful annotated version.

But some of the other items I have on it are very special to me. I have placed on it special mementos from each of the books I have written. When I started collecting the items, I only had my self-published books. I have a gardenia candle that represents Assumed Engagement, a 3 inch prism for Assumed Obligation, and a WebKinz English Springer Spaniel for Master Under Good Regulation. When I found a pair of ship bookends, I knew that’s what I wanted for Darcy’s Voyage and it holds all my books very securely.

I don’t have anything yet for Only Mr. Darcy Will Do. I have been looking around for just the right item. Perhaps a chess set or a large pawn representing the chess match between Darcy and Elizabeth. Or possibly a small stained glass sunrise for all the sunrises that Darcy and Elizabeth will see from the ridge behind Pemberley for the remainder of their married lives. But whatever I get, I know that as soon as I see it, I’ll know it’s exactly what I want!

Another special part of the computer room is that it looks out onto the front of our house, where we have a small pasture. We occasionally open it up to our horses. There’s nothing prettier than to see the horses out there grazing.

Whether it’s outside in my hammock swing or inside in my computer room, I spend a good amount of time there. In addition to writing my books, I am now part of the Austen Authors blog, and get to write a blog about once a month as well as a contribute a few extra fun things for it. I am honored to be a part of this group of excellent Austen authors.

Thanks for letting me stop by and share about my writing spaces.

Thanks, Kara!  My Jane Austen action figure is on display in my writing/knitting area.  Oh, how I would love to spend the warm evenings reading after work in a hammock!

Courtesy of Sourcebooks, I’m giving away 1 copy of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do.  To enter, simply leave a comment with your e-mail address and tell me about a memento you have on display to remember an important occasion, like the ones Kara mentions in the guest post to remind her of each of the novels she’s written.  Because the publisher is shipping the book, this giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada, and it will end at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, April 3, 2011.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Today I’m happy to welcome Kara Louise, author of Darcy’s Voyage (read my review) to Diary of an Eccentric.  I’d like to thank Kara for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her book — a unique re-telling of Pride and Prejudice — and of course, Jane Austen.  Please give a warm welcome to Kara Louise:

Where did you get the idea to have Darcy and Elizabeth meet on a ship to America?

The inspiration for putting Darcy and Elizabeth on a ship came after I finished reading Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (or perhaps it hit me somewhere in the middle of the book). He was a sailor in the 1840s and described his sailing adventures in this book. The thought of Darcy and Elizabeth meeting on a ship became very much imprinted in my mind and I decided to give it a try and see if I could come up with a plausible scenario.

Could you describe your introduction to Jane Austen? What is it about her work that you find so fascinating?

For some reason, my high school classes did not read any of Jane Austen’s works, so my first introduction to her was through the movies Emma and Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed the movies, but not so much that I was moved to read the novels. It was after seeing the 6 hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, however, that I was moved not only to read that novel, but all of her novels. I then began to seek out what I could find on the internet about her. What I discovered was a vast community of people who felt very much the same way as I did. I thoroughly enjoy her style of writing, her characters, and her plots. She had such a talent with words and an ability to create very real, yet diverse characters. Her heroes and heroines are not perfect, and that gives the reader hope that, despite their imperfections, there might be someone out there who will overlook those faults and fall in love with them. Even though she wrote in an era very different than ours, we can still relate to the issues these characters faced regarding family, hardships, disappointments, and love.

I’ve read that some people view Austen as modest and prim, while others think she was sharp-tongued and ambitious with regard to her writing. What do you think Austen was like, and how do you think she’d feel about numerous authors continuing or re-imagining her novels?

I think Jane Austen enjoyed making fun of certain aspects of society. In her novels she wrestles with the notion of that day that a woman must get married to any gentleman who is considered eligible and asks for her hand, rather than out of a mutual love. I do not think she approved of the disparity between the different classes of people, as we can see through some rather unlikeable characters who looked down on those who were not their equal. I believe each of her books was written in a way that addressed her strong feelings on these and other subjects.

As for Miss Austen’s feelings about all the authors publishing these works, I would hope she would be honored that her novels are so well loved 200 years later and people are making attempts to carry them on because of that love. I cannot answer for the variations, because I think they are more a product of our day and age. Think of your favorite television show and its characters you are so drawn to. Each week you turn in to see how they will respond, grow in relationships, handle adversities, or fall in love. You may be more drawn to the characters than the actual plots. I think in some ways these stories can be viewed in that light, that people are drawn to the stories to have one more connection with those characters whom they have come to dearly love.

How many times have you read Pride and Prejudice? What is your favorite line or passage from the book?

I’ve read it about five times. And I’ve read bits and pieces of it an innumerable amount of times. I often have the book next to me and look things up in it as I am writing to make sure I get certain facts correct. I have several favorite lines, but I think my favorite is Mr. Bennet’s line to Elizabeth after she refuses Mr. Collins’ proposal. “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” I laugh every time I read this or see it in the movie, but it also gives us a good picture of just who Mr. Bennet is!

Could you name a few of your favorite Austen sequels/re-tellings?

I think my favorite would be the one that inspired me to write me own. It is the re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective by Pamela Aiden. When she was posting the story online, I would print it out so that I could sit back and savor it as I read it. I purchased the first book, An Assembly Such as This and her third book, These Three Remain. She is an excellent writer and captured so much the flavor of Pride and Prejudice. It remains a favorite.

Are you working on another novel? Do you plan to stick with Austen sequels/re-tellings or do you have other ideas in the works?

Sourcebooks will be printing a second novel of mine in March, 2011. Only Mr. Darcy Will Do was originally self-published as Something Like Regret. I have other ideas swimming about, that are both Austen and non-Austen related. I don’t necessarily think I will only stay with Austen-related works, but will continue in that genre as long as I feel the stories are good enough to write and would be enjoyable to read. I have another variation of P&P in mind, as well as a back-story to a character in another novel.

Thanks, Kara!  I’ll certainly watch for your next novel!

Courtesy of Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of Darcy’s Voyage up for grabs.  Because the publisher is shipping the books, this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.

To enter, please leave a comment with your e-mail address by Sunday, Oct. 10 at 11:59 pm EST.  The winners will be chosen randomly.

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks
Rating: ★★★★☆

Darcy looked down, feeling somewhat embarrassed.  “Now you know very well, Georgiana, that I have never really taken a strong liking to any particular woman.  Usually the association was out of duty or obligation or some familial obligation.  There may have been a few whose company I enjoyed, but none I would have sought as my wife.”

“Oh, but there were certainly many who wanted you to take a liking to them and who would have, without the slightest hesitation, consented to being your wife!”

“Yes, and I can remember all your comments after I would introduce one of those women to you.”

Georgiana looked down, displaying a childlike pout for her brother.  “I was not that bad, was I, Fitzwilliam?”

Darcy laughed.  “I quickly discovered, Georgiana, that the quieter you were around the lady, the more vocal you would be to me after she left!”

(from Darcy’s Voyage, page 397 in the ARC)

Darcy’s Voyage proved to me that I’m still not growing weary of the numerous sequels and re-tellings of Jane Austen’s novels.  In this re-imagined Pride and Prejudice, Kara Louise takes readers on a completely different journey while staying true to Austen’s beloved characters and arriving at the same conclusion.

Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy meet in a carriage, and after enjoying a lively discussion, they part ways.  Two years later, Elizabeth convinces her father to let her travel alone to America to visit her Uncle and Aunt Gardiner.  After boarding Pemberley’s Promise, she runs into Mr. Darcy, and they strike up a friendship, not realizing he is the man from the carriage and the owner of the ship.  Elizabeth is booked in steerage, and she willingly gives up her bed to a pregnant woman whose daughter falls ill.  And when Elizabeth also becomes sick and injures her ankle, Mr. Darcy devises a plan that will allow her to sleep in the extra bed in his cabin — and joins the two of them together permanently.

Of course, misunderstandings separate them once they reach New York, but after returning to England, they are reunited at Netherfield, and readers are reunited with the rest of the cast of Pride and Prejudice.  In addition to the complicated situation carrying over from the voyage, Darcy and Elizabeth still must deal with George Wickham’s evil ways, Caroline Bingley’s arrogance, and Lady Catherine’s rage.  Louise handles these things (and more) much differently than Austen, breathing fresh air into a story I know inside and out.

Although I found it hard to believe that Mr. Bennet, being a gentleman, would allow Elizabeth to travel solo and that Elizabeth and Darcy didn’t recognize one another on the ship after being so smitten for months after the carriage ride two years prior, I really enjoyed Darcy’s Voyage.  Because they meet in a far different manner, there isn’t the prejudice that Austen created, though pride is glimpsed here and there.  Darcy’s Voyage is more about keeping love intact at all costs than about overcoming pride and prejudice.  Louise puts a unique spin on events, with enough tension to carry the story until the end, where some things play out differently than in Austen’s novel.  Darcy’s Voyage is among the most creative Austen re-tellings I’ve read in awhile.

Disclosure: I received Darcy’s Voyage from Sourcebooks for review.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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