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A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen

A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen continues the slew of Pride & Prejudice spinoffs and continuations coming from Sourcebooks.  In this version, Simonsen explores what may have happened had Mr. Darcy apologized to Elizabeth Bennet after the Meryton Assembly for calling her beauty only tolerable.  Would the connection between them be as strong? Would Lizzy and Darcy cast aside their assumptions and simply enjoy one another’s company?  But what if Darcy also had been seen in the company of another young lady in London and her father had political plans following the match?  All of these questions are explored and more.

Simonsens writing is as close to Austen’s as you can get, but it is modern at the same time, with sexual intimacy talked about, but never shown explicitly.  The wit of Austen is here as well, though with a more modern sensibility.  Readers will enjoy this creative exploration of these characters, the introduction of new characters, like Sir John Montford and his daughter Letitia and Bingley’s older sister and her brood the Crenshaws.  One of the most amusing scenes in the novel is when Jane takes on the task of taming the savagery of the Crenshaw children, who are prepared to survive any apocalypse.

“‘Please.  You must say please, Master Lucius,’ Mrs. Bennet told the more compliant twin.
‘Soldiers don’t say please,’ he answered in a voice revealing just how insecure he was feeling.
‘Are you an officer or an enlisted man?’ Mr. Bennet asked.
‘An officer.’
‘Any officer in His Majesty’s Army would be regarded as a gentleman, and as such, would know the proper manners to use when dining.’
‘Well, then, I am an enlisted man,’ he said, even less sure than when he had been an officer.
‘Enlisted men follow orders,’ and after staring him in the eye, he continued, ‘or they are flogged.'” (page 119 of ARC)

Simonsen showcases Mr. Bennet’s trademark wit and knowledge in this book like no other, and he appears more frequently, which many readers will enjoy.  While certain plot points from the original are modified, there are some that remain the same or are slightly varied from their originals.  However, the scene of Darcy proposing to Lizzy at Rosings is not in this novel, and that particular exchange or the passion of that exchange will be missed by readers looking for the tension it creates.

Tension, on the other hand, is created by the introduction of another woman — though not a woman who he views with love, but merely obligation.  In this way, Simonsen has called attention to societal norms in a way that Austen would have, pointing to their shortfalls and ridiculousness.  Another interesting element of the novel is the inclusion of song lyrics, which will make readers curious as to whether those songs were from the time period or merely created for the occasion.   A Wife for Mr. Darcy is a quick read that allows readers to revisit their favorite characters, see more of Austen’s characters who were more on the sidelines in the original, and be introduced to new and interesting characters.

Guest Post: Confessions of a Pantser by Mary Lydon Simonsen

I’ve reviewed several variations of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, and enjoyed most of them.  Mary Lydon Simonson is one of my go-to authors for Austen spinoffs and continuations.  I’ve reviewed two of her other novels, Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy and Searching for Pemberley.

Today, I’ve got a special guest post from Mary about her writing routines and habits, or what not to do when writing a novel, as Mary notes.

Confessions of a Pantser

First, I would like to thank you for having me on your blog. It’s always a pleasure, Serena. You asked me to write about my writing routine and habits. Before I begin, I should warn any potential authors that this is probably a post about what not to do when writing a novel.

Unlike many authors, I do not write an outline, and that is because I am a pantser, i.e., someone who writes by the seat of their pants. But… but… no outline, you cry! What about all of those creative writing seminars that state it is a cardinal rule that an author must write an outline? They do have their place; they are just not for me. I’m the person who got in the car in Flagstaff, Arizona for the purpose of going out for breakfast and ended up 175 miles away in Oatman, Arizona near the California border looking at wild donkeys. (This actually happened.) Like a Sunday drive, I just let the story take me wherever it wants to go.

One of the things that works best for me is speaking the dialog out loud. I’ve gotten used to people finding me all alone having a full-blown conversation with myself, usually in a British accent. But when you say things out loud, it is easier to spot your mistakes. It is more obvious that something doesn’t sound right or isn’t nearly as funny as you thought it would be if they are lying quietly in a Word document rather than out there in the atmosphere screaming at you.

Because I have worked out most of the plot bunnies before I sit down to the computer, things really start hopping once I am at my desk. I can easily write three or four chapters in a sitting, that is, if I don’t have any visitors. My visitors happen to be an adorable seven-year old who is missing her two front teeth and her brother, who has no teeth at all, because he’s only six months old. Once I see my daughter’s car pull up in front of the house, I know that my work day has come to an end because my grandchildren have come calling. They will only be little for a short time while, hopefully, I shall be writing stories forever.

On days where I do not hear the patter of little feet, I begin to write as soon as I finish breakfast and go at it until I get bored. I know I’m bored when I click out of my story and start reading the news or some blog (Savvy Verse and Wit for one) or check my sales on Amazon. Considering the number of stories I have written, you might be surprised to learn that this happens a lot. I’m like a dog who sees a squirrel. I’m off and running. But life is a juggling act, and no one wants to watch (or read) a juggler who only has one ball in the air.

Are you methodical about your work habits or are you a pantser? I’d like to hear from you. Thanks again.

Thanks again, Mary, for joining us here. We always enjoy your company. Stay tuned for my review of Mary’s novel, A Wife for Mr. Darcy, tomorrow.