“You must allow me to tell you…”
For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?
In this romance anthology, fifteen Austenesque authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.
Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams
Lit 4 Ladies Interview for The Darcy Monologues
Thank you, Renee, for having us here today at your lovey site. And for letting us go on about a favorite topic, Jane Austen’s Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. I have brought along with me today a few of the authors from “The Darcy Monologues” anthology to have their share in the conversation: Ruth Phillips Oakland, Melanie Stanford, and Joana Starnes.
Lit. 4 Ladies: “Pride and Prejudice” variations span all sub-genres of romance, why did you choose to assemble this collection of Darcy point-of-view stories?
Christina Boyd: As editor for the project, I’ll take that question. Since 1813, readers have loved Mr. Darcy. My own love affair with the master of Pemberley began when I discovered on-line Jane Austen fan fiction years ago when my now teenagers were toddlers. Long before kindles and the upsurge of publishing Austen-inspired novels, I had dreamt of a collection of stories all from my favorite Austen hero’s eyes. While editing fourteen books in the last four years, I frequently returned to that same idea of an all-Darcy collection—and finally decided last summer to make it happen. Yes, “Pride and Prejudice” has been told before from Darcy’s point-of-view by the talented Pamela Aidan, Stanley Hurd, Amanda Grange, Janet Aylmer, and Mary Street, to name a few—but with the many amazing “Pride and Prejudice”-inspired stories, I was also interested in reading his re-imagined stories in his own words…and I suspected that there might be a few other Darcy fans who might think as I do: there can never be too much Darcy. Fitzwilliam Darcy is timeless and though Jane Austen created him for Regency England, his characteristics can be translated to a Darcy in most any time. Handsome, rich, strong, cerebral, constant, cool-headed, honest, gallant—you might find Darcy in disguise as numerous other literary paragons and film icons such as Gilbert Blythe, John Thornton, Gabriel Emerson, Edward Cullen, Lloyd Dobler, Jake Ryan, Richard Blaine, Mr. Big, Poldark… And as we pay homage to Jane Austen on the bicentennial of her death, it is our hope that these 409 pages help extend the moments with a most beloved character. We like to use Elizabeth Bennet’s own words: “It’s your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy.”
Lit. 4 Ladies: We all know Mr. Darcy is perfectly imperfect, which of his imperfections is your favorite?
Christina Boyd: Despite the manifold of faults against him, Darcy has estimable qualities that have distinguished him by millions of readers as the ultimate catch. He is flawed but he is willing to change for the love of a woman worthy. I’ll throw this one to Ruth Phillips Oakland who wrote a modern story entitled “The Ride Home”.
Ruth Phillips Oakland: The aspect of Mr. Darcy’s personality that I have seen most often willfully misunderstood is his conceit. I’ve heard so many people say, and watched (several hundred times) an entire Academy Award Nominated adaptation based on this misconception: “He’s not arrogant, conceited and overbearing. Mr. Darcy is just shy!”
In the words of any petulant middle-schooler, “Pul-eesse!”
If Mr. Darcy was merely shy, that means he IS a man without faults. That makes every misconception, every argument, every angry word, purely Elizabeth’s fault. All the pride, all the prejudice falls on her shoulders, and that, my friends, is not only unfair, but not supported by the evidence within Austen’s novel.
Let’s remember that Mr. Darcy thinks very highly of himself. Elizabeth was ‘not handsome enough to tempt him,’ and when he could no longer fight his attraction to her, he delivers the most insulting proposal in all of literature. And let’s not forget the words of our darling Mr. Darcy after he has been truly humbled, “I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately, an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.”
It is because of the enormity of his conceit that Mr. Darcy’s humbling at the hands of Elizabeth is so monumental. If we take away his greatest fault, we belittle the impact our wonderful (and equally flawed) Elizabeth has on his character.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead. Hate me if you dare!
Christina Boyd: Hate you? Nevah! And I totally agree with that assessment. Whenever I am editing and a writer describes him as shy, I redline it and comment: “SHY? Nevah. Reticent, reserved, restrained, aloof, distant—yes. But never SHY.”
Lit. 4 Ladies: If Miss Elizabeth was out of the picture, do you think you’d have a chance winning Mr. Darcy’s esteem?
Christina Boyd: Melanie Stanford who wrote a Regency paranormal story, a mash-up of “Beauty & the Beast” and “Pride & Prejudice” should answer this.
Melanie Stanford: Well that’s the dream, isn’t it? Every single and married woman who loves “Pride & Prejudice” secretly harbors the desire to marry Mr. Darcy. But could I actually do it? Sadly, probably not. Aside from Mr. Darcy, one of the things I love about P&P is Elizabeth’s wit. I envy it. She always seems to know exactly what to say, when to tease, when to barb. I’m definitely more of a Jane, sitting there quietly concealing my massive crush. While I might get Darcy to be impressed by my fine eyes, I’d be shy and probably intimidated by him that he’d never get past that. At best, I’d be “tolerable” and at worst, invisible. I’m pretty sure I would not win Mr. Darcy’s esteem…but there’s always Bingley! (Or Wentworth, or Tilney, or Knightley…)
Christina Boyd: Ha, ha! Melanie, you make me think of that ITV series “Lost in Austen” when the unlikely heroine Amanda Price gets Darcy in the end—not Elizabeth Bennet! That ending always bugs me because in any era, to me, it MUST be Darcy & Elizabeth, so I always joke, “Pffft! If I should ever have a chance at Fitzwilliam Darcy, I will behave better than Amanda Price.”
Lit. 4 Ladies: What aspect of the Mr. Darcy’s personality do you think people (willfully) misunderstand?
Christina Boyd: Oh, I think Joana Starnes, who wrote the Regency story “If Only a Dream,” should field this one. There is a lot of “willful misunderstanding” in that story as in many of her novels—that I also adore.
Joana Starnes: Perfectly imperfect indeed. I have to say that my favourite imperfection is that he knows best. He knows best what Jane feels, what Bingley should do, what everybody else should do, including himself. And how much fun it is to see how all the plans and preconceptions, not to mention all his other imperfections, lose ground so spectacularly before love. All of a sudden, all his clearly mapped life is turned upside down by a pair of fine eyes and a bewitching woman, and he’s so utterly adorable when he finds himself the very opposite of Mr. Darcy, the know-it-all in control. It’s a heady notion, and a very moving and attractive one as well, I think, that all and sundry know him as a strong, willful, determined man who is in full control of himself and his world—yet the right woman, and she alone, is privileged to see the soft, tender and vulnerable side of him.
Christina Boyd: Ooh, that is a good one! I always love to read of our literary hero discovering he really has no control when comes to matters of the heart. And what he can do about that. It does make for some clever analysis and countless re-imaginings.
Thank you, Lit 4 Ladies, for having us and for shining a little light on our collection and sharing in your love of all things Darcy with us. We are having a marvelous time discussing a favorite topic!
About the Contributors
—Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner, The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist and proprietor of Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England was made possible by her book boyfriend and star crush, Henry Cavill, when she won a trip to meet him on the London Eye in the spring of 2017.
—Mild-mannered business woman by day, hopeless romantic by night, Ruth Phillips Oakland was always a fan of the fictional gentleman from Derbyshire, but it was her discovery of Jane Austen fanfiction in 2006 that inspired Ruth to become a writer. Ruth has written dozens of short stories posted online and the published novel entitled, “My BFF.” Ruth lives in New England with her favorite husband of over thirty years and is thrilled to be included in this anthology with so many of her favorite authors and friends.
—Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives in Canada with her husband and four kids. She is the author of “Sway,” a retelling of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and the short story “Becoming Fanny” featured in the anthology “Then Comes Winter.” Her second novel, “Collide,” inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South,” is coming soon.
—Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: “From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley,” “The Subsequent Proposal,” “The Second Chance,” “The Falmouth Connection,” “The Unthinkable Triangle,” “Miss Darcy’s Companion,” and “Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter.”