A Traditional Sweet Regency Jane Austen Fan Fiction Novel.
Believe me, this was hard work and I admire any author who picks up the gauntlet and writes a JAFF novel. I explain why in the Introduction to the book!
~ Nothing is ever quite as one might imagine ~
The new mistress at Pemberley is quite sure all Darcy’s friends, and his neighbours, will be keen to make his wife’s acquaintance. But several weeks later and no callers, who is Belle, and can it be true, Darcy has a mistress and a love child? As tensions rise and turmoil ensues, the three married Bennet sisters are reunited at Pemberley and duly set out to unravel the mystery of Darcy’s past. But when Belle and Bonnie arrive at the house, Darcy steals the ground from beneath Elizabeth’s feet. Likewise a letter from Longbourn heralds such favourable news everyone falls utterly speechless: until Lydia explodes— “Heavens above, what a giggle!”
I confess I have never aspired to emulate any other author's writing voice (style) and for me this was a fun exercise in writing a Jane Austen Fan Fiction novel which I am of mind has become one of French Farce proportions, and dare I say, it's a modest Homage to some of Jane’s delightful characters from Pride and Prejudice, characters beloved by readers across the globe so I pray I've not in any way besmirched the names Bennet, Darcy, or Bingley.
This a sample chapter from the paperback illustrated edition with differing letter text as penned by individual characters - thus the paperback will be on release in a day or two! The e-book version is available for pre-order minus fancy letter scripts!
Available for pre-order today worldwide at Amazon:
Amazon UK Amazon US
Available for pre-order today worldwide at Amazon:
Amazon UK Amazon US
As the blurb header states - this story isn't quite how it seems and I guess it's a little moral tale in how easy it is to judge a person without having met them face to face.
Derbyshire, England 1812:
Two months at Pemberley with his new bride, the rigours of marital obligations had taken its toll on Fitzwilliam Darcy. There was every reason to concentrate on estate matters which had fallen short in many quarters, not least the bi-monthly review of accounts and expenditure. Thus serious deliberation in a moment of absolute quietude whilst partaking of breakfast had determined he must afford Pemberley his undivided attentions for today, and make time to catch up with friends and set precedence for the introduction of his wife to the Derbyshire set. After all, the natural consequence of marriage and unencumbered indulgence of pleasurable asides, which could not be denied as essential to man’s inner desires, life at Pemberley was now wholly different than imagined. Hereafter, timely observance of his wife’s needs may indeed ensure against misapprehensions.
Heaven forefend worst case scenario involving cataclysmic personality clashes would arise in the presence of Mrs. Reynolds, or that of the head footman, Porter. Nonetheless, the memorable incident of his first encounter with Elizabeth still plagued him. The very thought of argumentative friction at Pemberley set him on edge, though it was Elizabeth’s very propensity to irk a man to vexed intolerance, the very same having drawn them together in verbal combat more than once prior to marriage.
There was no doubting he had indeed married a firebrand of sharp wit and clever retort in tongue. To a great extent she was a young madam easily affronted by the arrogance of the inner man; why then had she sought to wed him after her initial rebuttal despite his lengthy letter in the wake of Wickham’s improprieties? No doubt she had pondered the why of his need to redeem himself, and what man will ever admit to the truth that physical desire has the propensity to overrule common sense. Aside from which, despite her love for Pemberley, a novel could hold Elizabeth enraptured for lengthy periods of time.
To all intents and purposes she had oft seemed oblivious to her husband seated across the room, one desirous in occupations befitting a gentleman of means. What was done could not be undone, and marriage was no excuse for ignoring the wont of another. But what was a husband to do, say for that matter, other than retreat to a study or ride the estate. Far from immune to her desire to be Mistress of Pemberley, the notion marriage itself was seemingly secondary to her, gave rise to doubt he matched her expectations. Thus it was incumbent upon him to accept the inevitable consequence of foolhardiness in the heat of unrestrained desire and proclamation of love. After all, marriages involving masters of Pemberley were of necessity to sustain entitlement and dutiful guardianship of Pemberley to a Darcy heir, and Elizabeth seemed content with that notion.
Was he at fault, for although the begetting of a son was indeed the prime purpose of marriage, and God willing, news of that nature would be short in the coming; surely he and Elizabeth could find common ground in other ways. The truth of the matter, they had never talked of pastimes, sporting or otherwise, so engrossed were they in redeeming each in the eyes of the other.
Inwardly vexed and having justly excused self from his wife’s company to gain semblance of former duty to his birthright, and having strode back and forth along the upper corridor in momentary reflection, he turned and hastened to his private study. Nonetheless, a little prick of conscience struck, and flesh tingling whilst unlocking a drawer in the desk, inner longing to peruse a copy of an earlier letter set him ill at ease. Written shortly after his last proposal to Elizabeth, when doubt lingered, all but momentary, he had duly dispatched the letter to Farthingly. Belle his confidante and one of sage mind.
I shall endeavour to pay visit as soon as can be set in place, and explain more. It is with sincere regret I have to inform you wedlock to a Miss Bennet has transpired. How talk of marriage arose reflects my stupidity in frequenting Longbourn in company with Bingley. Damnation –as one would say in person– for my impeccable hide is finally besmirched by insanity, as some will no doubt speak of me. The sheer joy of walking out in company with others, I had avowed to self as the safest measure to prevent any notion of compromise by any ladies. No onlooker could surmise the devil’s hand at play, though most certainly I fell to foolish unaccountable notions whilst visiting at Longbourn and later at Rosings, where rejection befell me and justly so in the circumstance of blunder and unbidden desires as oft befalls man when least expected. Why then did I again countenance Miss Bennet’s company when playing gallant, and then to dawdle in pace and indulge in her fanciful notions, my own vague utterances thence part taken out of context? I shall not mince words, for that damnable Wickham is the cause of my present dilemma. If you will forgive me for this bluster I shall bear your scorn with fortitude when next I am able to attend upon you at Farthingly. Alas, I am now looked upon as akin to a ridiculous gallant of old from within Morte de Arthur, or some such nonsense tale. What can I say in despairing of this situation from which there is no escape, when affections thought of as sincerely cast in my direction are now seemingly cast abroad as easily as a kiss placed to one’s cheek in passing? Dash it all, for now committed to Mrs Darcy Fitzwilliam, the young madam I recklessly admired for her intellectual wit, I must live with the consequence of rash indulgence to provide Pemberley with the requisite heir. What is more, my daunting aunt, Lady de Bourgh, will mark me a cad of the worst order, but you are aware of that former promised fiasco. Aside from family commitments, to say I barely recognised the juncture whereby it was presumed I had offered for Elizabeth, and I must have, it was so rapidly announced to all afterwards I am unsure it was the right thing to do. I trust you will understand marriage will in no way curtail my visits to Farthingly. Be assured, the love you and I share will be no lesser than the past five years of indulging Bonnie at every given opportunity. After all is said and done, Farthingly is but a short ride from Pemberley.
With sincere affections,
Secreting the letter once again to the locked drawer, he then riffled through a stack of letters awaiting perusal, and there, as hoped, finally a reply from Belle. With speed he unlatched the wafer and there to his consummate pleasure, read:
My dearest Fitz,
How could you think I would be other than forgiving, albeit informed of your betrothal after the event? Whilst marriage has always been a rather contentious issue, for you, I never expected otherwise. It is the way of life and to continue as a bachelor when you have Pemberley; it is, as your aunt has proclaimed on several occasions, sorely in need of an heir. So dearest man, aside from any sense of immediate guilt that may arise as you settle to your new life, you will embrace the new found existence with a deal of familiarity in no time at all, and on occasion inner wails of despair will arise when things go awry as happens within marriage. You will survive those days and look back on them with enlightenment. In the meanwhile, never doubt my understanding of your situation, for it is quite probable your wife and events will curtail planned excursions without notice, thus I shall miss your company dreadfully on those days though never to the extent of making life difficult for you. Should I ever have cause to send for you in haste, I shall dispatch a stable hand with a perfectly innocent errand of seeking your advice on a matter of equine interest at Farthingly. Whilst responsibility for Bonnie rests solely upon my shoulders, and at five years she is quite the handful, I am much in admiration of your generous allowance for all her needs. There is no cause to prevaricate on the bond we both share from the day she was born. It exists, and will in the years to come deepen. In spite of everything, love, the magnitude of which you bestow upon her gladdens my heart, for with each day that cometh she ceases to amaze me with her beauty. Evidence of her sire is apparent from the moment of setting eyes upon her, as mutual acquaintances of ours remark with knowing nods from the gentlemen, and much fluttering of fans by the ladies. So my dearest Fitz, I shall bid a fond adieu until next we meet.
Your affectionate confidante,
Heart palpitating he desired to oblige immediate reply, though pondered the daring of it for Elizabeth was apt to intrude without warning, privacy a thing of the past. Her affections, although most gratifying, a man had need for moments alone, in particular when occasioned to indulge in correspondence. More to the point, a clandestine meeting required time-managed escape from Pemberley. One glance at the Louis XV ormolu mantel clock; he wagered he was spared the time it would take his wife to complete her toilette and dress for their planned carriage outing. Thus he settled to write:
I beg your forbearance in matters of marital duty required of a husband, and hasten to add, perhaps, in a month or so, you will oblige with a visit to Pemberley. Your presence would be most pleasing to self, immensely so, therefore further embellishment is wholly unnecessary. The mere purpose of a visitation will reassure you there is no threat to our continued association?
Nonetheless, Elizabeth is observant of others, quick to judgement of one’s character, and lo and behold, she and I were at odds as soon as introduced, and thereafter for a goodly while. But such is life when Wickham, up to his old tricks, had suddenly eloped with Elizabeth’s younger sister. To my chagrin I became embroiled in the Bennet family’s distress as events unfolded at a rather fast pace and most inopportune moment, hence that hasty letter at the time to warn you of delay in my return to Pemberley. Whilst I felt it my duty to intervene in the Bennet family’s unfortunate cir-cumstance, at best to rescue a silly young flibbertigibbet, my efforts were sadly to no avail. Simple country girl that Lydia is, she was quite unknowing of Wickhan’s roguish bent. So besotted was she by his dashing persona, I knew well enough he would like as not abandon her when it suited his purpose. In that, I was wholly correct, and therefore availed myself to do business with Wickham. The damnable blighter was in debt to the sum of two-thousand guineas and pounds besides, and the arrogant miscreant was quite of mind to resign his commission and take flight to the Continent, paying no mind to Lydia or the consequences that would surely have transpired in due course. Needless to say, his monetary crisis I discharged, and upon standing witness at his wedding to said Miss Lydia Bennet, the latter thus his saving grace in feigned decency. Whilst the matter of marriage delighted Lydia, Wickham bore the look of a man shackled. Though such is his artifice the reckless young miss remained oblivious to his imperfections, thus I fear he will break her heart at a later date. Forgive me if I wrote of this at the time, for my mind was, and remains somewhat preoccupied, which brings me to the present dilemma of calling by at Farthingly. I shall endeavour to arrive two days hence at around eleven of morn.
On the point of sanding the ink, the patter of shoes and swish of heavy satin skirts set his heart to the gallop, for Elizabeth was almost upon him as he dragged a spare sheet of paper across to conceal the letter.
“Oh. Were you busy with correspondence?” enquired she, her attention given to his hasty action.
“Tedious business matters, Elizabeth, which required immediate attention.”
“You did say to come directly,” marked she, whilst donning fine white gloves.
Drawing a deep breath it was impossible to avert his eyes from her blue wool wrap hanging loose about her shoulders, thus enhancing her gown of a glorious flesh-coloured hue. Draped from her wrist was a bonnet adorned with dainty blue silk flowers and matching ribbons.
“You are a fetching picture of summer in bloom, my dear, albeit October is stalking ever closer.”
“The hat has bluebells, Darcy, markedly that of late spring.”
In gaining his feet he supposed he would become accustomed to her admonishing barbed remarks in the months to come; his tongue little better if of a mind to put a person down a peg or two. “Bluebells, harebells, both are blue, both pretty wild flowers.”
“No Darcy, Campanula rotundifolia is representative of late summer, being that of the common harebell. But of course, north of the border it is referred to as the bluebell.”
“And the botanical for common English scented bluebell?”
Ah, she thought herself of superior knowledge.
“Are you familiar with the Greek myths?”
“A little,” replied she, “though I fail to see the connection.”
“Ah, then,” said he, ushering her away from the desk and toward the doorway, “allow me to enlighten you. It is a long story to retell in full, suffice to say, Prince Hyacinthus perished due to a blow to the head from Apollo’s discus; that particular sporting pursuit his forte. Devastated by Hyacinthus sudden death, Apollo shed tears of grief, his tears thus spelling alas on the petals of a hyacinth flower, which apparently sprang forth from the blooded ground. The drooping of the flowers thereafter thus referred to as the tears of Apollo, and non-scripta distinguishes the flower from all others of its namesake.”
“A tragic tale,” remarked Elizabeth, eyes downcast simply because he had outsmarted her, whilst she plied finger tips between fingers to secure tenure of her gloves with considerable and agitated force. Her final retort: “The Greek myths are but myth.”
“Next you will tell me the Greeks were as mythical as their Greek tragedies.”
“Next you will tell me the Greeks were as mythical as their Greek tragedies.”
A little smile curled her lips. “Oh no, they did exist, as did the Romans. Though Darcy, do you in all honesty believe a nonsensical story such as that: Apollo’s tears?”
“Are you saying sentimental and fanciful stories are for children?”
“Are you being deliberately obtuse?” said she, as they crossed the upper gallery in readiness to descend to the ground floor. “As to your question; yes, I do indeed believe the less learned are inclined to fanciful notions of imagined romance and mythical knights of old.”
He had sparked a touch paper, and whilst descending the grand half spiral staircase, it was true to say, despite she was the most outspoken young madam he had had the misfortune to encounter next to Caroline Bingley, he had nonetheless taken Elizabeth as his wife. It was further true to say, her appreciable attributes when sparks flew ignited physical desires and stirred a longing to tame her unbridled spirit as only a man was able: in so far as the master of the marital abode had the right to perform that task.
Far from fanciful in nature, she was a rare creature of contemptuous witty retort, and had proved herself worthy of consideration as the Mistress of Pemberley. After all, the house required a woman of confidence in matters pertaining to its management, a woman clearly enamoured by its grandeur, a woman who would be content to take charge in his absence. And last but not least, be a willing participant in the bedchamber. As to the latter aspect of wifely duty she was fulfilling his inner needs with a hint of shy reserve. Nonetheless, the delights begotten from a gentleman’s bed was clearly appreciable to her, and with good fortune their indulgences would soon bear the fruit of his loins.
As soon as stepping outside she paused in consideration of the chestnut horse and the Tilbury awaiting them. She then placed her bonnet to head and tied the ribbons whilst casting a brief glance to the glorious vista of the parkland. “Are we to escape the confines of the estate?” asked she, whilst stepping to the low-slung two-wheeled conveyance, and when it wobbled whilst ascending, sense of panic prevailed. “Are you sure this contraption is safe?”
In striding to the far side he chuckled to self, for if nothing else it was a fast contraption with Matlock to the harness, and the master was of devilish spirit this day.