Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel, hands down, no contest. I love the story so much that I didn’t want it to end. What happens after the wedding, I wondered? How would Elizabeth and Darcy deal with the first major crisis in their marriage? Who is Georgiana’s secret love? What trouble will Wickham get into next? Will Lady Catherine ever get her comeuppance? Questions like these became the inspiration for The Darcys of Pemberley. My goal was to continue the Darcys’ story as I imagined the original author would have – her style, her sensibilities, and taking great care with the characters she created.
August 1, 2011: After six long years of hard work and perseverance, this novel is finally published! It’s available at Amazon (paperback and for Kindle), and at B&N (paperback and for Nook). For all other e-book formats, follow this link to Smashwords. Coming soon in audio also (June 2013)!
Here’s the opening scene:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that even the most ignoble person on the face of the earth appears more praiseworthy after death. Thus, as the news of Mr. Collins’s odd and untimely passing spread far and wide, the reputed quality of his character improved accordingly. The significant defects of his disposition, so recently impossible to overlook, were all but forgot, and the general consensus developed that he had been a fine clergyman, and a kind and generous human being.
As his relations, the Bennets of Longbourn were amongst the first to hear of the sad event. Although they had not been especially close to their cousin, his death could not help but make some impression on them. Mr. Bennet felt the loss most acutely. Having come to regard Mr. Collins’s correspondence as a priceless source of amusement, he would not have given up the association on any grounds less consequential than those supplied by the present impediment. Mrs. Bennet, though not ordinarily quick-witted, on this occasion immediately perceived how insupportable it would be to keep the burden of this tragedy to herself. Hence, she made haste to publish the tale abroad, beginning in Meryton with her sister, Mrs. Phillips, who was always anxious for the latest news.
“Sister, Sister, have you heard?” Mrs. Bennet paused to enjoy Mrs. Phillips’s admission that she was yet in ignorance of whatever it was to which her sister was privy. “You will never guess what has happened – I can scarce believe it myself – so I will keep you in suspense no longer. Mr. Collins has met a premature end!”
“No! Are you certain? How did it happen? Tell me everything,” begged Mrs. Phillips.
“It is true, indeed, for I have just had it from Lady Lucas who got the story straight from Charlotte. I will tell you all, but you must prepare yourself. It is quite a shocking and distasteful business.” Mrs. Phillips leaned a little closer as Mrs. Bennet continued in a hushed tone. “It seems that Mr. Collins was having his dinner when he realized that he was in danger of being late for an appointment with his esteemed patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She is a very grand lady, you know, and Mr. Collins never dared to keep her waiting. Well then, in his hurry to finish his meal, he apparently swallowed wrong and choked on a mouthful of mutton.”
“Oh yes, Sister. Can you imagine? It must have been an awful sight to behold. Anyway, no one could do a thing for him, and within minutes Mr. Collins expired right there on the dining room floor!”
“How perfectly ghastly! I wonder if he suffered much,” said Mrs. Phillips with a mixture of pity and excited curiosity. “It sounds to me to be a very dreadful way to go.”
“Yes, I quite agree. In fact, I shudder every time I think of it.”
The sisters took a moment to do just that.
“He was such a fine, sensible young man, and so particularly attached to our family,” mourned Mrs. Bennet. “Despite our small differences, I really was quite fond of him, as you will doubtless remember.”
“I must say that I always liked him myself.”
“Indeed, it is a tragedy, especially when I consider that it might have all turned out so differently had he married one of my girls instead. Mary, I think, could have been persuaded, and I am sure she would have taken much better care of poor Mr. Collins,” Mrs. Bennet concluded sorrowfully.
Another related topic followed exceedingly quick upon the heels of these heartfelt lamentations. As was common knowledge, Mr. Collins, until his demise, stood to inherit the Longbourn estate upon the death of Mr. Bennet according to the terms of the entail. This fact had not endeared him to the family in life but had been forgiven him most magnanimously the instant he was no longer in a position to take advantage of it. So Mrs. Phillips, very delicately and with the utmost tact, inquired what this unexpected event might mean for the ultimate disposal of the Bennet estate. A lengthy speculation ensued, but Mrs. Bennet, who never fully comprehended the former arrangement, could not begin to fathom how it needs must be altered now.
Darcy’s Discussion about Impending Fatherhood:
The Darcys stayed the night at Heatheridge. As they prepared for bed, Elizabeth revisited the subject. “What interesting ideas you expressed about fatherhood this afternoon, husband. I was quite surprised by them.”
“Why should you be? I did not relate anything the least bit shocking or even out of the common way. As far as I can ascertain, the vast majority of men leave the tending of their small children entirely to the female sex. Even my own excellent father, from what I remember, had little use for me until I was old enough to ride and shoot. He had even less time for my sister. Yet I would never be persuaded that we were neglected or unloved,” Darcy said defensively.
“No, of course not.” After pause for reflection, Elizabeth continued in a more playful tone. “It does no good, however, to tell me what ‘common’ men, or even ‘most’ men consider normal and reasonable practice, because I could never think of you in those terms. I hold you to a higher standard. I have long since learnt that everything about you, Mr. Darcy, is entirely exceptional,” she said, running an appreciative hand and lingering eye over some of his especially fine attributes.
This having the desired effect, he gathered her into his arms. “You have the most charming way, Mrs. Darcy, of transforming any discordance between us into an invitation to something infinitely more agreeable. The result is that I can never seem to remember what we quarreled about.”
“It is terribly clever of me, you must admit. I wonder if I am the first woman to discover this secret to total harmony in marriage.”
As her outstanding husband proceeded to accept her invitation, Elizabeth was momentarily diverted by the thought that, despite apparent indifference toward their own infants, men seem to have no lack of interest in the activity that leads to their existence.