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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Kara Louise: The Fascination of the Regency

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Kara Louise, whose latest book is the Pride and Prejudice retelling Only Mr. Darcy Will Do. Here she tells us about her fascination with the Regency.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Kara will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Kara selected is Chelsea B! Chelsea, I've sent you an email. Thanks to all for coming over.

Welcome Kara!

Thanks for inviting me back with you today to celebrate the release of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do. I’ve been asked to share about my favorite Pride and Prejudice character and two things that fascinate me about the Regency era. I am going to cheat a little on both topics.

Let me preface my first answer by saying this: In writing the variations of Pride and Prejudice, it is the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy that are truly my favorites. I love Mr. Darcy’s enduring love and desire to change himself for the better, whether or not he will ever have the chance to win Elizabeth’s affection. I love Elizabeth’s wit and intelligence, and that when she realizes the error of her judgment concerning him, she is able to not only see him as the good man he is, but readily falls in love with him.

But Jane Austen gave us a wide host of characters with such unique personalities that it’s almost a joy to write any of them. If I’m in the mood to be cruel, I can write a scene with Lady Catherine de Bourgh or Caroline Bingley. If I want to be evil, what better person to write than George Wickham?

Foolish? Mr. Collins. Silly? Mrs. Bennet. Shy? Georgiana Darcy. Sarcastic? Mr. Bennet.

But other than Lizzy and Darcy, the character I really enjoy writing is Col. Fitzwilliam. He doesn’t have a very big part in OMDWD, but he does have some good scenes in the prologue of the book, getting things rolling (and a smaller part toward the end). I always enjoy allowing him the opportunity to banter back and forth with his cousin, the fastidious and controlled Fitzwilliam Darcy. He always adds a bit of levity to the scene, usually to Darcy’s chagrin!

Col. Fitzwilliam converses easily, teases his cousin mercilessly, and unwittingly moved Darcy to feelings of jealousy when he seemed to find a rapport with Elizabeth at Rosings that Darcy was not able to do. He is, however, as loyal to his cousin as anyone can be. I like that about him, too.

And here I must clear up a misapprehension. Jane Austen never gives us Col. Fitzwilliam’s first name. Several stories have been written using the name Richard, and many assume that is his correct name. While it sounds right, I chose to use the name Patrick in this particular book. I hope you don’t mind.

As for the second question, I shall talk about only one thing I find fascinating in the Regency because it pertains to my book. That is, what it was like for a governess, since Elizabeth finds herself in this position after her father’s death.

A governess would have had to have all the manners and genteel upbringing required to raise the children in a like manner. She would have been educated so that she could teach the children in most subjects, such as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, grammar, and even some needlework. For some subjects, like music or painting, a master may have been brought in.

She was considered beneath the family for whom she worked, but was above the servants in the household, which often left her without anyone in the household who was her equal.

Finally, a lady became a governess usually due to some financial burden within her family that forced her into this employment.

I’ll explain this by using Elizabeth Bennet as an example. She was born and raised as the daughter of a gentleman. Despite not having a governess herself, as she told Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she loved reading and probably taught herself a lot. Despite having a silly mother, she was able to learn and exhibit the countless good manners that were expected of a young lady.

When her father dies, her family is suddenly without any substantial source of income. The house is entailed away, and when Mr. and Mrs. Collins move in, the Bennet ladies all move out. I chose to have Mrs. Bennet and the three youngest daughters move to Meryton with Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. Jane takes on a governess position with the Gardiners in London, and Elizabeth goes to work as a governess for six year-old Emily Willstone.

Even though the Bennets had not been very wealthy, they were an esteemed family, but now Elizabeth’s station in life is essentially quite a bit lower. Despite the fact that she would have previously been on slightly more equal terms with the Willstones, she now is beneath them.

She is fortunate that the Willstones treat her kindly and give her time on Sundays to visit the Gardiners and Jane. When Mrs. Willstone’s sister, Rosalyn, comes to visit, she and Elizabeth enjoy each other’s company. But Elizabeth can only attend the balls and theater and dinner parties vicariously through Rosalyn, who relates to her all that took place at these events when she returns from them.

Elizabeth eventually finds herself with the Willstones at Pemberley after being invited by Mr. Darcy, a long-time acquaintance of the Willstones. There she begins to see the good in the man that she was blinded to before, while realizing how much more beneath him she now is, despite the fact that her birth, manners, and education have not changed.

I hope this has made you curious enough to see how things work out between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and you will want to read Only Mr. Darcy Will Do.

Thanks again for having me here.

In this fresh and original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet’s greatest fear comes to pass—Longbourn is entailed to Mr. Collins. Elizabeth finds work as a governess in London, widening the social divide between her and Mr. Darcy and making it more difficult than ever for them to find their way to each other...

Kara Louise grew up in the San Fernando Valley and moved to the Midwest in 1991, where she enjoys the relaxed pace of the country. She began writing about nine years ago, first with a story inspired by her genealogical research. But that took a back seat when she discovered the writings of Jane Austen. She has written six novels based on Pride and Prejudice, including Darcy’s Voyage, answering the “what happened next” and the “what ifs” in Elizabeth and Darcy’s story. She lives with her husband outside Wichita, Kansas. Visit her at


Linda Banche said...

Hi Kara. I like Col. Fitzwilliam, too. The name "Patrick" will work just fine. Among the various P&P sequals, I've seen "David" for his name along with all the "Richard's."

catslady said...

It hasn't been very long since I learned (from this site) that there are variations on P&P and I'm finding them very intriguing. I didn't realize he didn't have a name in the original telling. I love banter too. And how difficult in many ways it must have been for a governess to be given a lower status after being one of the upper class. I look forward to your interrpretation!

Jakki L. said...

I always enjoy scenes with Col. Fitzwilliam! I found it fascinating that a governess was considered below the family but above the interesting position for Elizabeth

Caroline Clemmons said...

I love Regencies.

Melissa A said...

I like how authors use the Colonel differently in their stories! I look forward to reading how Patrick contributes to Only Mr. Darcy Will Do!

I'm thankful that as a teacher I'm not in the position of governess and social uncertainty like Elizabeth is in your story. I look forward to reading all about it!


susied said...

I can picture Fitzwillian teasing Darcy as well!

What an interesting idea to have Elizabeth become a governess. I though she would have been a good one, taking the children outside for a walk or for play as she enjoyed walking herself.

Miriam Newman said...

Regencies are special because I just have to have them, that's why! :) They were the first romances I ever read and for a long time I thought that was what a romance WAS. Come to think of it, I know some people who still believe that!

Kara Louise said...

Thanks everyone for commenting! Whether you read the book to read about Elizabeth as a governess, or Colonel Fitzwilliam banter with Darcy, or just to read about Darcy, I hope you'll read and enjoy the book! :)

Dee said...

I think it would be fun to "give" the Colonel one of those classical names. You know, like Apollo or Hercules. :) Then it would be very clear why he's only referred to as Colonel or Fitzwilliam.

This is an interesting storyline. Definitely a difficult half-life as governess. Lonely, too, I would imagine.

Chelsea B. said...

Hi, Kara! I can not wait to read your book!
Wishing you much success!


Margay said...

Hi, Kara! I read Darcy's Voyage and absolutely loved it, so I'm very eager to read Only Mr. Darcy Will Do. Regencies rock!


Mrs C 1963 said...

The book sounds quite intriguing. I've read many historical novels in my day, and from the what I've learned, governesses were definitely "tweeners"...not quite welcome in dinner with the family, but a bit too 'good' to eat with the servants. What a lonely existence that must have been for many of them !

Nancy Kelley said...

Col. Fitzwilliam is definitely a favorite with the ladies. (Just hang out on Twitter for a while if you don't believe me.) The levity he adds to scenes makes him a favorite with authors too--I will confess to an inordinate love for dear Richard/Patrick/David for this reason. He is everything a slightly irreverent cousin should be.

I love Darcy's Voyage and I'm dying to read your new book, Kara. Your opening premise really intrigues me, and I can't wait to see how Lizzy and Darcy work around the social gulf between them.