Posts tagged ‘fitzwilliamdarcy’

February 26th, 2010

An Interview with Pamela Aidan!

by Madeleine Rex

I recently (well, it was a while back, but it took forever to write the reviews) interviewed Pamela Aidan, author of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen trilogy. (To read my reviews for all three books, click.) Aidan was wonderful and quickly answered all my questions. On to the interview!

ME: The back of my book says, “Pamela Aidan has been a librarian for thirty years and a fan of Jane Austen even longer.” How long would that be?

Aidan: I read Pride & Prejudice in high school so that would be about 40 years ago!

ME: How did you manage to juggle your own Austen world and the one already revealed in Pride and Prejudice without sacrificing either Austen’s view of her story, or your own?

Aidan: Actually, except for a few elements, I had no “view” of the story. I was writing it piece by piece and posting it on the web at the Republic of Pemberley and the Derbyshire Writer’s Guild at first, and later on my own website as well. The process was more like waiting for Darcy to reveal himself as the events in P&P unrolled. So, I wrote with P&P open next to me, and as Darcy’s true character became clearer and clearer to me, my story evolved. I call my method “traipsing after Jane.”

ME: When did you begin to seriously ponder the goings-on of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s mind? And when did your thoughts transform into An Assembly Such as This?

Aidan:The process began with my first viewing of the BBC/A&E 1995 production of P&P. Previous adaptations to film or stage had either re-interpreted the story to the point of making it unrecognizable or the Darcy character as stiff and unemotional as a poker. The 1995 version, however, gave us a Darcy via Colin Firth who communicated a man whose emotional control was imperfect and hinted at great feeling. The idea that there was more to this character than I’d ever thought before presented itself to me. Then, there is the sea-change of character or at least of understanding when we meet Darcy at the end of P&P after a ½ book or more of absence from the plot.  Why did he change? How did he change? I wanted to know!  So, as an experiment I wrote a short 5 page peek at what might have been going on in Darcy’s mind as he wrote and then prepared to deliver the explanatory letter after Elizabeth’s rejection and posted it to The Republic of Pemberley. It was so well received that I then decided I would try to write the entire story from his perspective and, in so doing, find out those answers. So, I started in 1998 and finished writing Assembly in late 1999.

ME: When writing Duty and Desire, you obviously found yourself in a predicament. The time during which the novel takes place is completely Darcy-free in Pride and Prejudice (the physical Darcy, anyway), and you were left to complete conjecture. Did you appreciate this chance to thoroughly create your own plot-line, or did you miss the guidance of P&P? How was the outline/writing process different when writing Duty and Desire than it was when you wrote the other two books in the trilogy?

When I began Duty and Desire I was both excited to step away from “traipsing after Jane” and very, very apprehensive.  Here, after all, was the second test of my writing ability. The first had been whether I could write well enough to capture Austen and her characters in familiar surroundings. The second was whether I could launch off on my own, take the characters elsewhere, and the readers would follow.
I found that the solid grounding in Darcy’s character that I’d developed in writing Assembly, my research and familiarity with the historical period, and the temptations and revelations I wished Darcy and the reader to experience gave me the framework. This freedom made D&D fun to write. I had no outline, but wrote as it “came” to me, listening to Darcy tell me the story as I placed him in the conflicts of Norwycke Castle.

ME: I personally adored the characters you took more creative liberties with. Georgiana was intriguing and lovable. Lord Dyfed Brougham was mysterious and amazing. Did you feel you had a different author/character connection with these characters due to the fact that you had a chance to create their personalities?

Aidan: My relationship to Darcy and the characters I created or greatly expanded is very personal and akin to feelings for real people! Darcy started as the flawed hero/lover. By the end of Assemby he’d become like one of my children, a beloved son who I desperately hoped would overcome his flaws and turn out well. Some, like Fletcher, appeared full blown. Even I didn’t know how he’d come to be so fluent in Shakespeare until near the end of book three! Brougham & Georgianna are the major catalysts in the series after Elizabeth Bennet starts Darcy’s transformational process and thus had to be carefully constructed and revealed.  Their love for and frustration with Darcy mirror my own as he flails about trying to understand who he wants to be.
But their concern is compounded by their own difficulties in that quest as well. Their quests compel me to write.

ME: How many times would you say you’ve read Jane Austen’s novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice? Which novel, besides P&P, is your favorite?

I’ve probably read P&P around ten times just as a novel. When I was writing the series, it was always open next to me. So, I “studied” it almost daily. My second favorite Austen novel is Persuasion, and third is Mansfield Park, which I think has been largely misinterpreted, especially by modern readers, and therefore has never been dramatized correctly.

ME: Which is your favorite scene in your novels? If it is one of the scenes that is also in Pride and Prejudice, what would you say creates the different feel in your version, the one that entices you to love that scene so much?

My favorite scene takes place in book 3 at the Fox and Drake pub after Dy rescues Darcy from Sylvanie’s plot and coaxes a drunk and morose Darcy into finally confessing aloud the manner in which he has ruined his life. That scene explains the creation of the Brougham character. Who else could have called Darcy to account and force Darcy to listen; who else could Darcy bare his soul to but Dy?

ME: What response did you expect from readers when you packaged up your book and sent it out into the world? Were you worried your novel wouldn’t be appreciated or treated well because you’d based it on a novel so famous and beloved?

When my husband and I published our edition of Assembly we knew that it would do well enough to cover our expenses and make a little money. By that time I had developed my own website and was keeping track of the number of hits. There were thousands and from 101 different countries! I had a very loyal following on the internet and at the Republic of Pemberley and the Derbyshire Writers Guild, sites where fans will quickly tell writers if they are doing a good job or not. So, I knew it would be appreciated. What was stressful was when it appeared on Amazon and the non-fanfiction readers, janeites, and purists weighed in who had not read along during the years of posting bits and pieces online and seen the story develop. They did not tend to be amused by writers commandeering Austen. Although there were a few negative reviews, the response at Amazon was wonderfully positive. We sold around 10,000 copies of book one in a year! Duty and Desire did not fare as well in the reviews because of its divergence from Pride & Prejudice, but it sold quite well. These Three Remain is often referred to as the favorite of the three by readers. I believe that I’ve succeeded in extending Austen’s story and honoring her characters faithfully, which was always my intent, as presumptuous as it may sound—to me especially!

ME: Besides Darcy and Elizabeth, which character do you love most? Which do you think could use the most work?

Aidan: I love Dyfed Brougham the most. To be the friend that Darcy respects, the friend that can call Darcy out for foolishness or ill-behavior and be listened to is a man I want to know more about. The next book in the series will be as much his story as the Darcys’.  As for the others, having taken three books already to tell Darcy’s story, I think I’ve rounded out all the characters that need it.

ME: When writing, did you use certain objects or music to get you in the Austen/Darcy mind-set? How did you remain consistent with your voice, Austen’s, and Darcy’s?

Aidan: When I was writing the series, I often listened to Enya’s Paint the Sky with Stars album and Jerry Reed Smith’s albums of hammered dulcimer music (Strayaway Child is his first) to get me in the mind-set. A hot cup of Earl Grey tea and some buttered toast also helped! I’m a morning person, so the dark and solitude of early morning is very conducive.

As for consistency of voice, I couldn’t say. Mostly, I just waited to “hear” Darcy speak to me in the dark, quiet solitude of early morning.

—-

You can buy all of Aidan’s books at Borders.com (and a bunch of other places).

Thanks for taking a look!

February 20th, 2010

These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: These Three Remain

Author: Pamela Aidan

Published: January 2, 2007 by Simon and Schuster

Number of Pages: 464

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

Brougham broke their silence with a sigh and then, with a wry smile, leaned his elbows once more upon the table and looked Darcy square in the eye. ‘I think you had better tell me about her, old man,’ he prescribed, his voice compassionate but firm. ‘She must, indeed, be of incomparable worth if she has so won your heart.’

“From habit, Darcy bridled at Dy’s quiet request that he lower his defenses; but the old reserve, the shield between himself and the world, had already been rent by a young woman from Hertfordshire. Why should he hold it up against his oldest friend? He would not reveal all; it was too much, and the details were unimportant now. But he would tell him something of it, enough to understand.

“‘Her name is Elizabeth,’ he began, looking past Dy’s shoulder the better to maintain shreds of something akin to dignity, ‘and I am the last man in the world that she could ever be prevailed on to marry.'”

Review:

I know it looks like I’ve been using the fact that I’m being very generous and giving away a copy of The Book Thief as an excuse not to post (FYI: if spoken, this sentence would have been dripping with a tone that told you I was joking) – I’m not. I’ve been sick and lazy (primarily the latter), which has kept me from my blogging duties. I apologize! As a side note: the aforementioned giveaway is doing splendidly, and there’s still time to enter so drop by!

On to These Three Remain, book three in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen series, which, you will notice, I’ve been surprisingly fond of. When I read the first book, I was shocked by the fact that I could look past the fact that the name Pamela Aidan was on the cover, as opposed to Jane Austen. I’ve enjoyed the series immensely. If you’re going to read Pride and Prejudice spin-offs, first of all, read P&P, and second, read this trilogy. Pamela is a fantastic writer.

I read These Three Remain quite awhile back, and my memory’s a bit fuzzy. I can assure you, however, that I was not disappointed in what Aidan managed to do with the most pivotal part of the P&P story. We begin at Rosings Park, where, we all know, Mr. Darcy runs into Miss Elizabeth Bennet once again. Unfortunately for Darcy, she squirms herself back into his life so immediately after he’s sworn her off that his resolution isn’t quite strong enough to hold back the tidal wave of his renewed feelings. It seems our Mr. Darcy simply can’t get Elizabeth off his mind, despite how much he’d like to.

The wonderful thing about These Three Remain is that it not only does wonderfully with the story we already love, but Aidan brings back the favorites of the characters she’s taken upon herself to flesh out and allows us to obsess over them as well. My favorite of these characters (well, actually, this man and Fletcher are both eligible candidates for this spot), Lord Dyfed Brougham, burst back into the story, as intriguing and charming as ever.

Duty and Desire (book two – see my review here) strolled far off of Austen’s path (it’s up to you to decide whether you like the direction Aidan took. I thought it was interesting and rather fun, personally), which couldn’t really be helped, seeing as Pride and Prejudice was relatively Darcy-free during that period of time. Austen’s story could guide Aidan’s a bit more in this third installment, yet Aidan didn’t relax her hold on the story for a second. This book is infused with subplots that revolve around the story-lines that Aidan has taken on completely on her own. Darcy’s sister, for example, develops much in this novel and her story becomes more and more interesting as both she and her relationships with various people progress. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to delve into the lives of people whom I never would have “met” or gotten to know if it weren’t for Aidan’s refusal to step back from her post as author.

I’ve probably lost a few hard-core, P&P fans already. Come back! Come back! Don’t shut off your computers and run to Borders to rip all Austen spin-offs (WARNING: There are millions. Try explaining the thousands of dollars you’ll spend buying ruined books to your families). I’ve focused so far on the new, but there’s plenty of old to go along with it.

This book takes place during our very favorite part of our beloved Pride and Prejudice. We meet Lady Catherine de Bourgh, stay at the Collins’, and travel far past that to the very finish of the story – and we all know what happens then. Hardly anything can top this classic story, and it’s simply delicious to relive it through Darcy’s eyes.

I think I’ve mentioned before that, however much I might like Darcy in Aidan’s books, I’m absolutely certain that Austen wouldn’t quite agree with this particular portrayal, but then again, don’t we all have our own version of Mr. Darcy tucked away somewhere inside? There’s no universal Darcy, and I think that adds to the fun of seeing such a deep, interesting and heartfelt version in these books. You’re getting a glimpse of someone else’s Darcy. (I think many of us will agree however, that our Darcy’s look like the one on the right…)

Many surprises are tucked within the covers of These Three Remain, and although many don’t directly pertain to the events of Pride and Prejudice (don’t worry, folks, the ending’s the same. These books are faithful to the origin), I can happily and honestly say that I would love to see another book. There are characters I’m not quite finished with.

Stay tuned for an interview with Pamela Aidan, coming up soon!

October 3rd, 2009

Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Duty and Desire

Title: Duty and Desire

Author: Pamela Aidan

Published: 2006 by Simon & Schuster

Number of Pages: 320

Rating: 4/5

 

Quote:

There was little danger of encountering the Bennet sisters ever again.

Review:

Duty and Desire, the second novel in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy picks up not too long after An Assembly Such as This (Review) leaves off.

And the quote listed above may as well complete my synopsis, as this book contains no appearances of the Bennet sisters whatsoever. Mr. Darcy, having just, with Miss Caroline Bingley’s assistance, segregated his colleague, Mr. Charles Bingley, from his feminine infatuation, Miss Bennet. Mr. Darcy felt the urgent necessity of separating the two inarguable. He was a first hand witness to the peculiar attentions of Mr. Bingley’s to this young lady of inferior connections, and realized with a shock that his friend wasn’t simply momentarily smitten by the beautiful countrywoman. Their parting could not be put off. Darcy considered his friend’s situation in society to be unset. He was rich, certainly, but he had yet to completely heave himself into the highest of high society—where Darcy resided grudgingly. A marriage to a woman so far beneath him would be his destruction, he was certain the advantages would be one-sided.

Well, of course, not to mention the fact he was in danger of falling in love himself—with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, coy, witty, and daring, yet in possession of charitable heart and certain gracefulness not often found in women having been raised in Hertfordshire society—or London’s, for that matter.

And of course, the match he yearns for would be even more degrading than Bingley’s. How could he bring Mrs. Fanny Bennet’s daughter to Pemberly, to aid him in the task of ruling his home—to bear a Darcy heir? The idea itself is preposterous.

So, Darcy escapes, runs from his fears, no less.

Duty and Desire gives us the opportunity to delve more deeply into Mr. Darcy’s character. We get to see him as he acts as master, as brother, as cousin, as nephew, as friend. We see him undertake certain challenges and uphold his reputation as a decent, honorable man, worthy of the Darcy name. It’s really thrilling and comforting to think that this man who we have adored for ages is indeed one heck of a nice guy. Aidan does have her Darcy laugh, which I found fault in at the beginning, but then I realized that the idea of a man not laughing but merely smirking and tittering all his life was absurd. Of course Fitzwilliam Darcy could laugh. That’s a privilege granted everyone! Why shouldn’t Mr. Darcy laugh? Simply because Collin Firth never cracked anything more than a timid smile? Obviously, I realized the fault in my view of him and quickly abolished all thoughts of his being a man jammed into a permanent strait-jacket. Aidan does a fine job showing Darcy as he is without Elizabeth Bennet’s judging eye upon him–although he does think of her often in times of distress and temptation.

In Duty and Desire, we meet Georgiana Darcy in the flesh, although it’s quite obvious Mr. Darcy thinks of her more as an angel than anything requiring flesh and bone. Georgiana has just recovered remarkably from the previous summer—during which she had nearly run off with a rambunctious man, deviously deceiving, by the name of Mr. Wickham. We learn more about the circumstances that brought about her recovery, along with her changes of opinion and her new outlook on her faith. It’s quite entertaining to read as Mr. Darcy, “dear Brother”, rediscovers his sister as well, wondering in awe-struck alarm how such a change could possibly have come to past when, not long ago, he and his cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam, failed irredeemably at the task of replenishing her happiness and rejuvenating her spirit. Truly, Miss Darcy, it’s a pleasure to meet you!

As the entire novel is apart from the basics of Pride and Prejudice, Pamela Aidan (author) takes complete and utter control of the reigns of this story and leads it through a tediously unpredictable and suspenseful course. She introduces more of Darcy’s close family, pals from Cambridge, and dives more deeply into his remembrances of his parents, the ache of their loss, and the position he’s in as head of the estate. It’s wonderful to view Pemberly from an insider’s point of view, as a home, as a refuge, as an escape from the woman who permeates his dreams, his languid and absent thoughts.

Now, I must impede the flow of this review and slide in a paragraph revolving around one thing—one man, to be exact—one valetto be more so: Fletcher (he was also in the first book, but his character is more prominent here, and he’s mentioned more often). He’s charming, loyal, and seemingly all-knowing. He’s extremely fond of his master, but it’s quite obvious he takes great pleasure in “getting one over him”. He’s frequently quoting Shakespeare, and it’s soon apparent that Darcy feels comfortable with the man who has been with him for years. He confides in Fletcher when he feels so enticed to share his worries with someone that the yearning can no longer be ignored and set aside. Fletcher also seems to have innumerable ulterior motives, constantly causing Darcy to feel apprehensive. By the close of the novel, we discover he’s quite handy when it comes to snooping, and, as I’m sure this fictitious character would hold a grudge against me for a century if I did not mention this: he’s a very skilled valet, and his Roquet is ingenious (don’t ask. Read).  Back to my review…

The main plotline of this novel, aside from the goings on with Darcy’s family (most of which are humorous, some of which are sweet, and some of which are worrisome), is Darcy’s trip to the country—now, don’t get your hopes up, it’s not Hertfordshire to which Darcy finally escapes. He instead joins a group of old college friends at Norwyke Castle—certainly a house party of esteemed and highly positioned men and women more suitable than “she-who-must-not-be-named” (and no, that is most definitely not her title in the book) will provide distraction enough to draw his attentions away from her, and, just possibly, he’ll find someone to drive her permanently from his wracked, and now mangled, mind.

Suddenly, Darcy finds himself amidst men and women burdened with mysterious and scandalous secrets. It’s as though we’ve dived out of Pride and Prejudice and into something more along the lines of Northanger Abbey, as there’s certainly a 19th century gothic/horror feel to the remainder of the book’s pages. A combination of freakish (for want of a better word) acts that appear to be related to witchcraft, a seductive yet mischievous young woman with an eye on Darcy, legends of old curses and signs of voodoo-like magic, and Darcy’s already fraught mind assure you of the fact that you “aren’t in Hertfordshire anymore”.

Darcy, with Fletcher’s help, turns sleuth, determined to make an end of the mess he’s suddenly become tangled in. This story line, while slightly unbelievable, is entertaining, suspenseful, and altogether riveting. You never would have thought in picking up this book that you’d actually find yourself frightened at points—and I certainly did!

All the while, Darcy’s struggling to forget Elizabeth, but Fletcher’s certainly not helping, and he finds himself constantly comparing his crazed companions to her, lovely and content in the peaceful country—with mud bordering her petticoat.

One pleasurable feature of Aidan’s books is the frankness. While the borders of propriety are never crossed, they’re danced upon, not by Darcy himself, but by his companions. Is it really that unreasonable to think that women with no other amiable qualities used their gorgeous features to tempt men? Is it really that outrageous to think that men and women had the same weaknesses two hundred years ago as they do today? Aidan’s books are explicitly clean, but I consider her views more realistic. I mean, goodness, Austen didn’t even elaborate when it came to Elizabeth and Darcy’s final declarations of their love for one another. She was extremely vague. They hardly said anything with any real emotion in that scene other than relief. Pamela’s books are pleasantly real in those areas. Again, nothing serious, just what you would expect of social climbers at any year in the history of the world.

So, while the unmistakably odd witchery storyline is slightly unbelievable, it’s no more so than the marriage between a man of ten thousand pounds a year and a young woman of nearly nothing—and we all know stuff as crazy as that happens in novels…  

Needless to say, you’re in for an enjoyable surprise when you pick up Duty and Desire. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Sleuth and Lovesick Man.   

Madeleine