Sunday, October 9, 2011
A Rival for Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds (and GIVEAWAY)
How could that unrivalled romantic hero, Mr. Darcy, possibly have a rival? That was the question that started me writing the Pride & Prejudice variation Mr. Darcy’s Undoing. In Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth is a reputed beauty in the local scene, her father is a gentleman, she has a tiny bit of a dowry, and she seems to be able to attract male interest without much effort. Despite this, Mr. Darcy has a clear playing field because all of Elizabeth’s other admirers can’t be taken seriously. Mr. Wickham is too poor, Mr. Collins too foolish, and Colonel Fitzwilliam lets her know directly that he needs to marry an heiress.
To develop a rival for Darcy, I had to consider what he had to offer Elizabeth. He is handsome (though Wickham is more handsome), extremely wealthy, intelligent and passionate. It would be hard to create another character who could offer Elizabeth more in those regards, but there are also things that Darcy can’t offer Elizabeth. To marry him, she would have to leave all her family and friends, as well as her beloved Hertfordshire, for a society where she is completely unknown. She is likely to be somewhat over her head trying to manage the household at Pemberley, which is larger and more grand than any she has ever dealt with, and in dealing with the ton in London. And while Darcy learns to accept Elizabeth’s family, one senses there is always going to be reserve on his part. He isn’t likely to consider them friends or part of his community.
Enter Mr. Covington. Elizabeth has known him her entire life and knows he is responsible, trustworthy and sensible. He owns an estate nearby that is similar to Longbourn, much more manageable for someone like Elizabeth. By marrying him, she could stay in her familiar environs near her family and friends. She is fond of his family, and could feel completely comfortable inviting them to visit her family. Mrs. Covington would never be as wealthy as Mrs. Darcy, but she would never lack for anything. Darcy is a brilliant match for Elizabeth, but Mr. Covington is a safe and comfortable match.
Even so, Darcy’s native intelligence and wit give him a major advantage with Elizabeth. I had to find something else in Mr. Covington’s favor, so I decided that Elizabeth would be engaged to him. In Regency society, it was very shameful to break an engagement, so even if Elizabeth developed feelings for Darcy, her sense of loyalty and propriety would weigh heavily toward Mr. Covington.
When I first posted Mr. Darcy’s Undoing as a serial on a Jane Austen fanfiction board, I had a big surprise. Before Mr. Covington had a name, I referred to him as ‘Mr. Nice Guy.’ And he is a nice guy – maybe a bit stolid, but he is a responsible and decent sort of fellow and he genuinely cares for Elizabeth. To my shock, my readers despised him. Comments ranged from suggestions as to painful ways I might choose to kill him off to torments he should suffer for daring to raise his eyes to Elizabeth. I’d created a perfectly amiable gentleman… and everyone HATED him for being in Darcy’s way.
The moral of this story: as an author, I could create a rival for Darcy, but in the minds of readers who love Pride & Prejudice, Darcy will never have a rival. And, in truth, that’s just how it should be.
Thank-you for the fantastic guest blog Abigail! I think having a rival to Mr. Darcy puts a fantastic spin on Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed the novel and will have my review posted this week so stay tuned! - Laura
Sourcebooks is going to send one lucky winner a copy of Mr. Darcy's Undoing by Abigail Reynolds.
If you would like to win a copy of Mr. Darcy's Undoing by Abigail Reynolds please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or this guest blog.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.
I will be using random.org (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday October 21st, 2011.