Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continuesby Linda Berdoll
A sexy, epic Jane Austen sequel.
Linda Berdoll is a self-described "Texas farm wife" whose interest in all things Austen was piqued by the BBC/A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. Four years and much research later, her effort, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (originally titled The Bar Sinister) appeared, to the acclaim of readers and the horror of Jane Austen purists.… See more details below
A sexy, epic Jane Austen sequel.
Linda Berdoll is a self-described "Texas farm wife" whose interest in all things Austen was piqued by the BBC/A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. Four years and much research later, her effort, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (originally titled The Bar Sinister) appeared, to the acclaim of readers and the horror of Jane Austen purists. This is Berdoll's first novel, but she has since published a humorous book of euphemisms and is now at work on a sequel to the sequel. She and her husband live on a pecan farm in Del Valle, Texas. Although she admits that she eloped in a manner similar to Lydia Bennet's, to her great fortune it was with Darcy, not Wickham.
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The renowned (if occasionally peevish) lady of letters, Charlotte Brontë, once carped of fellow authoress Jane Austen's work, "...she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her...what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of Life and the sentient target of death-this Miss Austen ignores."
It is forever lost what Jane Austen might have made of Jane Eyre, hence we shan't dally with such a conjecture. And however we are moved to defend Miss Austen's unparalleled literary gift, we cannot totally disregard Miss Brontë's observation, for it was quite on the money. Jane Austen wrote of what she knew.Miss Austen never married, it appears her own life passed with only the barest hint of romance. Hence, one must presume she went to her great reward virgo intactus.
As befitting a maiden's sensibilities, her novels all end with the wedding ceremony. What throbs fast and full, what the blood rushes through, is denied her unforgettable characters and, therefore, us. Dash it all!
We endeavour to right this wrong by compleating at least one of her stories, beginning whence hers leaves off. Our lovers have wed. But the throbbing that we first encounter is not the cry of a passionate heart. Another part of her anatomy is grieving Elizabeth Bennet Darcy.
As plush a coach as it was, recent rains tried even its heavy springs.Hence, the road to Derbyshire was betimes a bit jarring. Mr. Darcy, with all gentlemanly solicitousness, offered the new Mrs. Darcy a pillow upon which to sit to cushion the ride.
It was a plump tasselled affair, not at all discreet. His making an issue of her sore nether-end was a mortification in and of itself. But, as Elizabeth harboured the conviction that she had adopted a peculiar gait as a result of her most recent (by reason of matrimony) pursuits, her much abused dignity forbade her to accept such a blatant admission of conjugal congress. Thus, the cushion was refused.
Dignity notwithstanding, the unrelenting jiggle of the carriage demanded by the puddles bade her eye that same pillow wistfully as its soft comfort lay wasted upon the empty seat opposite them. As she clung to the handgrip, she knew it was indefensibly foolish not to admit to her husband that he was justified in suspecting that she needed it. But at that moment, not making a concession to him was a matter of principle.
Suffering both from the road and from knowing herself unreasonably miffed, she submitted to the silent chastisement that she must learn to accept the perversely quixotic turns of her new husband.
As each and every muddy mile they travelled diminished the distance betwixt Elizabeth and the awesome duty that awaited her as mistress of such a vast estate as Pemberley, she became ever more uneasy. It was not that she had only then fully comprehended what awaited her, for she had. At least as comprehensibly as it was possible.
Hitherto, there had been the excitement of the wedding, and moreover, the anticipation of connubial pleasures with Mr. Darcy that buffered her from the daunting devoir that lay ahead. In soothing her newly appreciated trepidation, her husband was of no help whatsoever. Indeed, they had no more than stepped from their matrimonial bedchamber before he had reclaimed his recently relinquished mask of reticence. And with it, that maddening hauteur. One peculiar only to him.
It was only subsequent to their engagement that he had ceased addressing her as "Miss Bennet" in lieu of her Christian name. Delightful as that transfiguration was, her previous understanding in regards to her name was usurped in the throes of passion. For in the considerable heat generated the previous evening, he had repeatedly murmured "Lizzy" in her ear.
To her dismay, their re-emergence into company bade the Master of Pemberleyserve compunction by abandoning that much-appreciated endearment. This disappointment would have been less egregious had he not insisted upon addressing her as "Mrs. Darcy" not only to the help, but privately as well. Her alteration from Lizzy to Mrs. Darcy had been vexatiously abrupt. Therefore, Mrs. Darcy was profoundly aggrieved and sat in petulant silence much of their trip.
This lack of conversation he did nothing to mitigate.
Indeed, it was a repetition of the ride from their wedding to their London honeymoon nest the day before. She had convinced herself hitherto that his quiet could be attributed to nerves (owing to the compleat lack of reserve that night). Presently, she had not a clue.
Upon thinking of that lack of reserve and the resultant kindness done upon her person, it bade her not to think so meanly upon her husband, silent or no. If he had truly been disquieted in apprehension of their wedding-night, might not his present reticence come from unease? It occurred to her that the more firmly he seemed in his own charge, the greater was his perceived threat to it. Hence, his wall of defence. At one time, she might have been amused to think herself such a disconcertion to the arrogant Mr. Darcy. But no more.
Impetuously, she took his hand. In no manner did she want him to believe her a peril to his well-being.
The carriage, evidently unhindered by the weightiness of her ruminations, endeavoured on. Hence, she wrested her attention from them and peered out the window as they ambled down the fashionable avenues of Mayfair. There, even so fine a carriage as theirs excited few heads to turn and watch as they passed.
But once upon the road north, a legion of staring eyes could be detected through the obfuscatory yellow fog that clung persistently to the streets.Unaccustomed as she was to being the occupant of such an elegant coach, Elizabeth was a little off-put to be the object of such general scrutiny. Mr. Darcy, however, as was his habit, practised an impervious gaze just at the horizon, reflecting neither distaste nor notice of the gawking.
They broke their journey for a spare midday meal at a plain but tidy inn. This rest occasioned the innkeeper and his wife into whimpering subservience, thus enlightening Elizabeth to the extreme deference she must weather as Mr. Darcy's wife.
The brevity of their stop was in all probability ultimately a good thing, blessedly truncating as it did the publican couple's display. The next fit of veneration from a person of lesser birth than the Darcys (i.e., just about everyone) would not be so unexpected. Elizabeth promised herself that she would practise Darcy's patrician inscrutability and elude the urge to tell those servile persons they had undoubtedly mistaken her for someone else.
Whilst still partaking of their meal, Darcy apologised unnecessarily upon the austere winter dressing of his county.
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