Monday, May 9, 2011
Title: Mr. Darcy and the Secrets of Becoming a Gentleman
Author: Maria Hamilton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 2011
Format: Trade Paperback
How I Read It: Trade Paperback from the Publisher
Rating: 4.5 Crowns
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE, HE HAS TO WORK FOR HIS REWARD…
Darcy is shocked when Elizabeth refuses his hand-- and then it begins to dawn on him how very bad his behavior has been. Now he’s on a mission to change himself and to change Elizabeth’s mind. But Elizabeth Bennet is not easily swayed.
And then there’s her family. Misinterpreting Darcy’s intentions, meddling friends and family may derail Darcy’s cause. With misunderstandings in the air, and even his closest allies unable to help him, unless Darcy can really transform himself, he’s never going to win Elizabeth over…
(from the back of the arc)
It is novels such as this that makes me fall in love with Pride & Prejudice all over again. I love watching the characters that Jane Austen created, transform and grow into even more splendid characters and in this novel, we Darcy transform and mature in a sense. Being after the failed proposal, this novel explores the concept of what would happen if Darcy heeded Elizabeth’s advice sooner rather than later. While trying to make amends for his ill deeds, Darcy unintentionally gives the impression that he wishes to wed Jane rather than Elizabeth, therefore creating more drama for himself.
Maria Hamilton has done a brilliant job with her debut novel, and offers readers a unique look into the mind of Mr. Darcy. Whereas Jane Austen was limited to only showing events from a woman’s perspective, Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, is wrote from Darcy’s POV, thus adding a more rounded approach to the novel.
I hope that this will be the first of many Austen-Inspired novels that Maria Hamilton dazzles us with!
I would like to thank Maria Hamilton for this lovely Guest Post!
Jane Austen has so many remarkable characters, but is seems that Mr. Darcy attracts the most attention. What drew you to use Mr. Darcy?
I have always been drawn to Mr. Darcy because he is someone you want to know more about. I think the Pride & Prejudice endures from generation to generation because Jane Austen wrote it in a very unorthodox and brave manner. Most authors want the reader to identify and bond with the main characters early in the novel in order to ensure that they care about what happens to the characters through the evolving storyline. Austen certainly does that with Elizabeth Bennett. You understand and admire her very quickly. You are soon empathizing with her situation in life and admiring her bold choices, such as rejecting Mr. Collins with amused and mounting alarm. When Elizabeth makes a clever remark that listeners like Caroline Bingley of Lady Catherine misinterpret, the readers feel that they get the inside joke and as a result, are her ally and confidant.
In contrast, the readers hardly knows anything about Mr. Darcy that gives any insight into who he is until half the book is done. At the beginning, we all know he’s rich and powerful, but without more information and Wickham’s misinformation, we jump (along with Elizabeth Bennett) to the wrong conclusion regarding his basic character. He also says and does a series of stupid things that seem to weigh in favor of rejecting him whenever you feel some empathy for him. Moreover, we are never privy to his inner thoughts and as a result, when he asks Elizabeth Bennett to marry him, the readers is as confused as she is. You had a sense that he liked her but you can’t understand why he does. How he has escaped everyone’s proper estimation of him save Charlotte Lucas’ shrew eye.
Mr. Darcy then proves himself to be the best of men and the reader along with Elizabeth Bennett must then reevaluate hard prior judgments. At that point, you want to find out more about all you have missed about him. We know that he loves Elizabeth for her wit, independence, and intelligence, but how exactly did that come about? And, what did he do between Hunsford and the Gardiners visit to Pemberley? Was he tempted to confide his failed proposal to his sister or his cousin? Did he being to drink or try to socialize to help him forget Elizabeth and his rejection? We never really know and, as the story progresses to a happy ending, we do not learn that much more about him. In keeping with the propriety of the age, Austen doesn’t dwell on the couple’s developing intimacy and their courtship is primarily left to the reader’s imagination. Similarly, because Austen never wrote scenes between men where a female character is not present, we never hear Darcy confiding to contours of his bumpy courtship to Bingley or explaining his engagement to his cousin in the manner Elizabeth does with Jane. We also never see how he asks Mr. Bennett for permission to marry his daughter and whether he mentions how he came to love her.
It is this missing information that led me to write my first novel Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman. I wanted to fill in many of those missing scenes and I felt the best way to do so was to put the characters in a different situation and then have the story unfold accordingly. Mr. Darcy’s most important character trait is his willingness to reassess his behavior after Elizabeth rejects him and his ability to then change his manners to address her criticism. I wanted to explore that process and see him struggle with it. I also wanted to write dialogue and scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth as they get to know each other’s hidden personalities as Austen often summarizes those events (“he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do”).
In my novel, I introduced the reader to Mr. Darcy immediately after his rejection at Hunsford. He begins to evaluate Elizabeth’s rebukes of his prior actions and decides to correct his mistakes regarding Jane and Mr. Bingley much earlier. Doing do is harder to accomplish than he imagined and he is forced to return to Hertfordshire. Once there, he is reunited with Elizabeth and after some initial misunderstanding regarding the purpose of his return, they are able to get to know each other without the cloud of prior misconceptions. Their courtship then grows. I hope that my story allows the reader to see some of the missing scenes from Pride & Prejudice as they might have unfolded and watch Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s courtship from a more intimate vantage point but I will let the readers be the judge.
About the Author
Maria Hamilton has been a lifelong Jane Austen fan. Her first novel Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, was published by Sourcebooks in May 2011. She is presently working on several projections 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 is perpetually learning Italian and hopes one day to attempt a complete conversation. 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
I have two copies to giveaway. Contest is International. Giveaway Ends May 27, 2011
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