Friday, May 20, 2011
Guest Maria Hamilton: Mr. Darcy!
Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Maria Hamilton and her Pride and Prejudice retelling, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman. Here she tells us about our absolutely, without a doubt, most favorite in all the world Jane Austen character, Mr. Darcy. And Elizabeth, too.
Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Maria 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 Maria selected is OregonKimm! OregonKimm, if I do not hear from you by June 9, 2011, I will award your prize to an alternate. Congratulations, and thanks to all who came over.
1) Tell us what you find most attractive about Mr. Darcy.
I am always drawn to Mr. Darcy because he is such a wonderful mix of contradictions. He exudes control but often acts impulsively. He appears to value the rigid rules of proper behavior but seldom follows society’s dictates. He seems to embody the archetype repressed Englishman but is actually seething with passion and has a streak of mischief.
For instance, Darcy makes clear that he would not allow his sister to walk unescorted through the wood, but secretly admires Elizabeth for doing so. He judges Elizabeth’s family harshly for failing to exhibit the social niceties while he is simultaneously giving offense to most of Hertfordshire by failing to exert himself at conversation or dance. He wants any man who would court his sister to do so only with her guardian’s blessings but asks Elizabeth to marry him without any regard for the propriety of the situation or her father’s wishes.
This might make a lesser man seem hypocritical, but we instinctively know that Darcy behavior stems from the fact that he is torn between two competing images of himself. He is trying to uphold his family name and what he perceives as the obligations that go with it, while also trying to act in a manner that might help him obtain his happiness. We feel his pain when it appears that he cannot do both. We see glimpses of the more relaxed man when he tells Caroline Bingley and Elizabeth in an almost flirtatious manner that their walking about the room will give him a better opportunity to admire their figures. Similarly, we can almost hear the war within himself during his disastrous proposal at Hunsford.
In the end, though, my attraction to him is simpler. I love Elizabeth and can identify with her as I am sure most readers do. That Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth almost despite himself, makes me love him. The image of him watching her every move in Hertfordshire seems to humble his character regardless of what foolish things he might say or do. Despite his professed control, he is like anyone else in love. Once you realize that about him, you cannot help but take pity on him when he tries to win Elizabeth regards and fails miserably.
2) Who's your second favorite P&P character?
As I mentioned above, I love Elizabeth, but as characters go, there’s none more interesting than Mrs. Bennett. It’s not clear whether she is a good mother or a terrible one. She is silly, harsh, embarrassing, prone to gossip, and exhibits an alarming amount of favoritism toward some of her children. She also loyally believes that any man would be lucky to marry any one of her daughters. Mrs. Bennett appears to be the story’s comic relief, except that her fear for her family’s precarious future makes her the one realist in the family and provides an explanation for her other flaws. Mrs. Bennett seems to have less sense than any other member of the family, but her concern for her family’s ultimate welfare demonstrates more wisdom.
3) Tell us what behavior was required of a Regency gentleman.
My new novel, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, examines that very issue. In it, I try to explore how Mr. Darcy is motivated to change from a selfish individual to a fully realized member of society truly entitled to bare the moniker of gentleman. In my novel, I introduce the reader to Mr. Darcy immediately after Hunsford when he is attempting to overcome Elizabeth’s rejection and struggling with the knowledge that he has unfairly separated Mr. Bingley from Jane. He determines to correct his mistake much earlier and in the process of doing so has to return to Hertfordshire. He asks Jane for a private interview in order to determine if she still has feeling for Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Bennett assumes that Darcy has come to court Jane. Once Darcy is thrown into Elizabeth's company again, he vows to show her, by every civility in his power, that he that he can be a gentleman worthy of her esteem. As Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy become reacquainted, he pursues her and a slow courtship evolves as they attempt to see each other without their prior misunderstandings.
My story focuses on the dialog between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and tries to explore their developing intimacy. I wanted to see how the characters would react in some of the scenes that I wished were in the original book, like Darcy asking Mr. Bennett for permission to marry Elizabeth, Darcy telling Bingley that he was in love with Elizabeth and had wrongly separated him from Jane, Caroline learning that Darcy had asked Elizabeth to marry him (twice), and Darcy and Elizabeth transformations from suitors to husband and wife. In doing so, I wanted to keep to Austen original intent but give the characters enough the room to act in new ways. I think I accomplished my goal, but I will leave it to the readers to decide.
About the Author
Maria Hamilton has been a lifelong Jane Austen fan. Her first novel, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, will be published by Sourcebooks in May of 2011. She is presently working on several projects including a new Pride & Prejudice variation. She attended Boston College where she earned a B.A. and then a M.A. in history. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and presently works as an attorney in Boston. Her interests include travel, cinema, the Red Sox, and bicycling. She lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband, two children, and her dog Poseidon.
If you are interested in Maria’s writing style, she has two Pride & Prejudice short stories available on the internet at http://www.austeninterlude.org/maria/maria.html.
Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton
When Elizabeth Bennet refuses his hand, Darcy is devastated and makes it his mission to change. By every civility in his power, Darcy slowly tries to win her affections, but Elizabeth is not easily swayed. Darcy vows to unlock the secrets that will make her his. He curses himself for his social awkwardness and appearance of pride, and sets out to right the wrongs he’s done her family.
Elizabeth’s family and friends misunderstand his intentions, and being in Elizabeth’s presence proves to be both excruciating for the shy Darcy—and a dream come true. For the first time in his life, he must please a woman worth having, and the transformation leads him to a depth of understanding and love that he never could have imagined.