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Letters from Pemberley: The First Year

Letters from Pemberley: The First Year

by Jane Dawkins

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In this continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the best-loved novels in the English language, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself in a very different league of wealth and privilege, now as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and mistress of Pemberley. Writing to her sister, Jane, she confides her uncertainty and anxieties, and describes the everyday of her new


In this continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the best-loved novels in the English language, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself in a very different league of wealth and privilege, now as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and mistress of Pemberley. Writing to her sister, Jane, she confides her uncertainty and anxieties, and describes the everyday of her new life. Her first year at Pemberley is sometimes bewildering, but Lizzy's spirited sense of humor and satirical eye never desert her. Incorporating Jane Austen's own words and characters from her other works, the book is a literary patchwork quilt piecing together the story of Lizzy's first eventful year as Mrs. Darcy.

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5.75(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.59(d)

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My dear Jane,
Can it really be only several weeks since our joyful nuptials and tearful farewells? There have been so many changes, so much that is new since then that it all seems a lifetime ago.

I write to you from the comfort of my sitting room, which formerly belonged to Lady Anne, Mr. Darcy's mother. A pretty room, not overly furnished, with a little writing desk which is very much to my liking. Mr. Darcy has instructed me to make whatever changes I want to this room and to my private apartment, insisting they should be exactly to my liking and taste. Perhaps when I truly feel that Pemberley is home I shall, but for the time being I am happy to leave things as they are in their faded, comfortable elegance. Nevertheless, the honour of my dear Husband's gesture in giving me this particular room for my own is not lost upon me, and already I spend a great deal of time here when Mr. Darcy has business to attend to. The pleasing view from the window is an added attraction, the more so since I understand it was one of Lady Anne's favourite prospects. Even at this time of year there is a stark kind of beauty to Pemberley's surroundings and yesterday's snowfall has given the austere winter landscape a magical aspect, which is all the more pleasing from where I sit in my comfortable room in the warmth of a good fire.

We agreed to spend the first weeks here quietly and alone so that I can become accustomed to my new life out of the glare of the notice of the neighbourhood, who are naturally anxious to inspect the new mistress of Pemberley. Although tact prevents him saying as much to me, Mr. Darcy cannot be unconscious of the fact that some of his acquaintance will consider that he has married beneath himself. Perhaps he feels that his wife will be better able to hold her own in the face of any resentment, real or imagined, once she feels settled at Pemberley and begins to think of it as her home. Had we been able to actually discuss the matter I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for his generous consideration of my comfort, but it is yet too delicate a subject to embark upon.

Notwithstanding our mutual desire for this quiet time, Mr. Darcy felt an obligation to order the church bells to be rung and to arrange a wedding celebration for his servants and tenants. This took place a week ago. Jane, I had not an idea that so many people were under Mr. Darcy's protection, and was quite astonished at his knowing so many particulars about them all-the names of children, a wife's recovery from illness, the addition of a barn, the success or failure of a crop. My heart swelled with pride as I saw not only the ease with which he conversed with everyone and accepted their congratulations, but also the respect and admiration in which my dear Husband is held by one and all. I recollected my surprise when, on showing us Pemberley last August, the housekeeper had declared Mr. Darcy 'the best landlord and the best master that ever lived.' At the time I had thought this excessive commendation, but I begin to see that she spoke only the truth. (Your own sweet nature would not wish me to say so, yet I must acknowledge that you alone, dear Jane, will not share my astonishment: you, who from the very beginning of our acquaintance with Mr. Darcy defended his character.)

The servants' hall was decorated with evergreens and ribbons and looked very festive. Mr. Darcy had engaged musicians and he and I led the first dance to much applause, though we had the good sense to remove ourselves early that the revelers might better enjoy themselves unencumbered by our presence, and so the dancing continued until ten o'clock, followed by supper.

Georgiana will join us from London in ten days and it is agreed that together we will begin visiting and carrying out those necessary social duties which will probably give little pleasure to either of us. Mr. Darcy and Georgiana are both uneasy and shy in social situations outside the family, and their circle is therefore small, so at least I shall be spared the agony of close inspection by a multitude! But it will be a trial of sorts for all three of us: Mr. Darcy will be anxious for his acquaintance to approve of his wife, and for his wife's approval of his acquaintance; Miss Darcy will be anxious to please her Brother by pleasing me; I, of course, am anxious to please Mr. Darcy by pleasing his acquaintance! What a circle of anxiety, one which I will laugh myself out of sooner or later, I am sure, though I fear that it is too early to begin teasing my dear Husband and Sister out of their share.

Yet I shall not scruple to confess to you, my dearest Sister, that amid all this elegance, and notwithstanding the affectionate heart of my Husband and our real happiness in each other, there are days when I feel quite heartsick: for your company most of all, but also for Longbourn and our quiet, ordered family life-even Mamma's nerves provoke a certain nostalgia! The enormity of Pemberley, beautiful as it is, and the responsibilities of being its mistress sometimes threaten to overwhelm, but my courage, so far at least, has risen to the occasion. I flatter myself that nobody but myself, and now you, knows my worries and uncertainties, least of all my dear Husband, whom I would not wish to cause pain and who, as you see, does everything in his power to please me.

No, you will think me an ungrateful creature, so let me hasten to add that everyone here at Pemberley makes great efforts to make the newly-minted Mrs. Darcy (how strange that still sounds!) welcome, showing extraordinary kindness beyond that which duty would require. If they do have any doubt of my competence and fitness for the role of mistress of Pemberley, they are good enough to keep it to themselves.

Meet the Author

Born in Palestine, Jane Dawkins grew up in Wilton, a small country town in Wiltshire, neighboring county to Jane Austen's Hampshire. Dawkins now resides in Key West, Florida with her husband, several cats and a dog.

She has been a Jane Austen fan most of her life.

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