cover of The Darcy Cousins by Monica FairviewThe Darcy Cousins: Scandal, Mischief, and Mayhem arrive at Pemberley… by Monica Fairview, Sourcebooks, ISBN: 978-1-4022-3700-3, pages 432.

The rift between Darcy and his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh has been somewhat mended since Elizabeth has given birth to an heir. Of course that doesn’t mean that Lady Catherine actually recognizes Elizabeth’s presence. But the entire family is gathering at Rosings once more for Easter. Joining the family are Robert Darcy (see The Other Mr. Darcy) and his wife and two relatives from America, Frederick Darcy and his sister Clarissa Darcy.

Georgiana is hoping that she and Clarissa will become close friends. Georgiana has been feeling that she’s in the way or not really wanted. Darcy marrying Elizabeth was definitely a good thing but where Georgiana always had her brother for company now he seems always involved with Elizabeth and their son — they don’t purposely exclude her they just don’t seem to notice.

Once Frederick and Clarissa arrive, they seem to get off on the wrong foot with Lady Catherine. While Frederick can be accepted, after all he is American, a business man, and rich. Clarissa must learn to become a lady — of course that’s the type of lady that Lady Catherine approves of, and that’s where all the trouble begins. Clarissa is neither tractable or docile.

Georgiana and Clarissa do become friends. Georgiana learns that one can be a lady and still have strong opinions and interests of her own. When Clarissa is appalled by the way everyone ignores Anne de Bourgh and has Georgiana join her in her campaign to become friends with Anne, Georgiana begins to realize that she’s always just accepted things and never looked at them from the outside. She’s also surprised by what they learn. Her eyes opened, she begins to look at other behaviors she’s always accepted.

As is usual, one things leads to another and before long Lady Catherine is convinced that Clarissa is practically the devil personified, and there to ruin the family. Once again the family finds itself rent by Lady Catherine’s insistence on her point of view. Everyone decamps for London and the season.

Georgiana struggles to find her own way in society with her new insights. She learns that Clarissa is in England for more than this visit and that there are depths to her American cousin. In fact, soon Clarissa and Georgiana find themselves interested in the same man. But is he the right man for either of them? Will their friendship last through the season?

To say any more would spoil the fun of learning all the secrets, intrigues, and adventures to be had in The Darcy Cousins. The book’s advanced press implies that the book is all about Clarissa and her problems but this is really Georgiana’s story. Clarissa is the spur that goads Georgiana to action and change. Georgiana is firmly front and center. She’s always been in the background and this time Monica Fairview gives the reader a chance to get to know her a bit better. Shy? Yes, but also she has the same strong Darcy stubbornness and loyalty. It’s a turbulent story as Georgiana becomes a person most of us would like to know better and have stand at our side in adversity.

Another excellent follow on to Pride and Prejudice that maintains the integrity of the original characters while moving the story of their lives forward.

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Monica FairviewMonica Fairview, author of The Other Mr Darcy, was gracious enough to answer a few questions allow me to share her answers. Her book was released on October 1st and is now in stores. I reviewed The Other Mr. Darcy on my blog last month on September 23rd.

Drawing:

I’ll be giving away one copy of The Other Mr. Darcy. The winner will be chosen from those who have commented on this post and live within the US or Canada. The winner will be chosen from those who comment on October 16th.

Interview with Monica Fairview:

What drew you to Caroline Bingley? She’s not a very sympathetic character in Pride and Prejudice and most follow on books center on the P&P main characters, what was it about Caroline that called to you to give her a chance at happiness?

I see Caroline as an underdog in Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth waltzes in and steals Mr. Darcy from right under her nose, and to add insult to injury, everyone gets to hate Caroline because she wanted Darcy in the first place. I kept thinking about Caroline and the kind of labels people attach to her such as “evil” and “witch” and other less polite terms, and my feminist instincts came to the fore. Why is Caroline the scapegoat in this story? She doesn’t do anything that Darcy doesn’t do. Darcy snubs Elizabeth and makes snide remarks about her family (“I’d sooner call her mother a wit,” he says), separates Bingley from Jane, and has plans to marry well. Caroline doesn’t do anything worse than that. Yet Darcy is forgiven, because he comes to love Elizabeth, but Caroline isn’t. There’s a much worse villain in Pride & Prejudice: Wickham. And yet you don’t hear people call him names.

So I wanted to give Caroline a voice. It’s as simple as that.

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica FairviewI was a bit surprised that Mr. Robert Darcy was American. It can be assumed that there are European D’Arcys, so why put a branch of the family in American?

I didn’t even think of the European D’Arcys because I was looking for a specific type of hero. Robert Darcy’s father left England because he was an odd person out. He couldn’t live with the expectations of being a gentleman. He was a businessman, and since engaging in trade wasn’t quite respectable, he needed to go elsewhere. Robert Darcy, too, is a sort of rebel. He does his own thing, even though as a Bostonian whose mother comes from a Brahmin background (though that word wasn’t used until later), he’s been raised very much like an English gentleman. So he’s capable of seeing two sides of the coin. Because of that, he can help Caroline see what’s wrong with her own lifestyle. Plus, he won’t look down on her for being in “trade.”

In addition, I have an underlying theme in the novel about “otherness” and how easily one can become alienated from society. Britain is at war with America at the time the novel takes place. Robert is caught behind enemy lines, so to speak, although the English at the time were more interested in the war with Napoleon than what was happening in the former colonies. But it forces him to examine his own identity. As a Darcy, he is part of the upper class in England. But as an American, he has supposedly moved away from such distinctions. It was fascinating to explore the contradictions inherent in the social systems. Through Robert I was able to look at the differences between the New World and the Old, and to explore the question of the newly established American identity of the time.

Because Robert is actually trying to define his own identity, his journey of self-awareness runs in a way parallel to Caroline’s, who also learns some hard lessons about her own role in society, both from a class perspective and as a woman.

One of the main problems of writing a follow on book from any of Jane Austen’s works, is “how true must I stay to the characters she developed as I bring them into a new adventure.” Did you feel that keeping the main character traits caused you any problems in moving in the direction you wanted to go? Did it cause any problems in your filling out Caroline’s growth and change?

Yes, it’s very hard – you do have to stay true to the characters. And you have to be very disciplined. I found it very restrictive, in some ways, but I also found I learned so much about the craft of writing from Jane Austen. She’s amazing, really, not only because of Darcy or Elizabeth but because she’s so very subtle. And then trying to adopt Jane Austen’s characters and move them into the new context was a huge challenge. I enjoyed it tremendously, though. Some Austenesque writers solve the problem of keeping the characters true by using actual quotes from P&P. I couldn’t do that, because I wasn’t presenting things from the same angle. I did use a lot from P&P to fill in Caroline’s background, but by the beginning of The Other Mr. Darcy Caroline had already changed in some ways. She’d been in love, and she’d been badly hurt. I was therefore able to have her stay true to her character, but at the same time I was able to show her as vulnerable, too, for two reasons: 1) because of the pain she went through and 2) because Robert Darcy has watched her fall to pieces, and she feels almost in his power.

I think when it comes to the other characters, the Bennets, for example, I’ve stayed as true to P&P as I could while at the same time putting them into different contexts. I studied the speech patterns of each of the characters very closely, and tried not to have them say anything that didn’t seem to fit. I’ve known P&P since I was about thirteen, and have read it so many times I have sections of it memorized. That definitely helped.

When not reading or researching the Regency period for your books, what type of books do you like to read — what are the last five books you read just for fun?

I noticed that you featured Connie Willis on your site. I just (re)read Passage, which I think is brilliant, though probably the word “fun” doesn’t apply here. I love her writings. I also love Cherryh’s Foreigner series, because I love the way she deals with cultural issues. For fun, to get out of the Regency world I seem to eat, drink and breathe, I read SF, especially by women writers, though I don’t read as much of it these days as I used to since it seems to have gravitated towards horror, which is not my genre, even though it’s enormously fashionable. I’ve been reading some British romantic comedy writers such as Julie Cohen’s Girl From Mars, Phillipa Ashley’s Decent Exposure, and Jill Mansell who is now being published by Sourcebooks. I read veraciously.

Most people are interested in writers and their lives, so what’s a typical writing day like for you?

I dream of something to write, then I wake up and start scribbling frantically onto bits of paper. Actually, not true, though sometimes that does happen. Not the dreaming part, but the bit where I wake up with a dialogue or scene in my head that I have to write down or I lose it. But otherwise, my working day is quite mundane. I usually turn on my computer when I wake up to give it a chance to do all the updates and come up with all the delays it possibly can, then do school drop-off. Next I procrastinate by checking e-mails, facebook, twitter, etc. When I have no more excuses left, I have to start writing. It’s really like any job, except it’s a lot more fun. I have to take into account my child’s schedule. I usually stay up late to write because that’s a quiet, peaceful time with fewer interruptions.

Has the reaction to The Other Mr. Darcy held any surprises for you? Anything you didn’t expect?

Not so far. I’m sure there will be some surprises, though. The Other Mr. Darcy is a bit different from many of the Austen-inspired novels out there.

Thanks for your time!

Thank you! I’m delighted to have had this chance to share my thoughts and books with you and your readers.

The Other Mr. Darcy—in stores October 2009!
Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin’s wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it’s nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

About the Author:
As a literature professor, Monica Fairview enjoyed teaching students to love reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized what she really wanted was to write books herself. She lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston as a student and professor, and now lives in London. To find out more, please visit http://www.monicafairview.co.uk/

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The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica FairviewMr. Darcy has married Elizabeth Bennet. Caroline Bingley is devastated and mortified by this turn of events. After the ceremony, she finds an empty room and gives way to her heartbreak and sorrow. Imagine her surprise when she realizes that her blatant display has been witnessed by a gentleman who had been in the room before she entered. They agree to never mention it again. Carolyn believes that is the end of the matter until months later when she is introduced to Mr. Darcy’s American cousin, Mr. Robert Darcy, the man who witnessed her loss of decorum and who, because of his station and relations, will be thrown into her company as he waits out the war before returning to America.

Most of the follow on books that continue the story of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, deal with the lives of Elizabeth and Darcy. Monica Fairview has chosen to focus on Caroline Bingley. In Pride and Prejudice, Carolyn was depicted as a proud, jealous, status seeking, snarky, conniving woman who had set her sights on Mr. Darcy. In the very first scene, Fairview changes our perception of Carolyn by showing us that she didn’t just want Darcy’s fortune and status–she actually loved him. We can’t help but feel for her loss and sorrow–but can we come to like her? How will she take this loss — will she accept it and move on to try again, or harden her heart and become the woman we all thought she was?

It doesn’t take much effort to guess that Robert Darcy is smitten with Caroline Bingley. He was privy to her outpouring of emotional tears and had been touched by the depths of her feelings. He wants to get to know her better and perhaps take his cousin’s place in her affections, or at least gain her good will. We don’t get into his head, so we can only guess at his motives and wishes. However, it’s obvious that the two of them come from different backgrounds even though their status might be equal. So, there’s plenty of misunderstandings and cultural differences to add to the mix.

The major stumbling block is that Caroline is a woman of her times. She’s been trained from a young age in how to behave and what is acceptable and what is not. Over time she has had to give up almost everything she loved in order to become the woman that society expected her to be. But underneath, Caroline still remembers bits of what she lost and it’s only now, with the loss of Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet that she wonders if it was worth it. Caroline begins to question all her assumptions about society, her way of life, her status, and reputation. She’s beginning to see herself, her family, her sister, and her friends with some new insights. When Robert Darcy comes to the rescue of her reputation it just adds to her confusion.

Over time Robert Darcy and Caroline Bingley have their own dance of approach and avoidance and pride and prejudice. Some of the best and wittiest dialogue is during the fights these two have over their perceptions of right and wrong, society, reputation, and trust. You find yourself wishing you could reach within the pages of the book and give a shake or whisper in an ear — as with Pride and Prejudice, we can only sit and continue reading and hoping that these characters will eventually work out their differences and realize their true feelings for each other.

Along the way, Caroline reclaims herself, finding that many of the preferences and talents that she’d suppressed in order to be deemed “proper” are ones that if she’d had any say she’d never have abandoned. As she examines her life and her future, she becomes a person that this reader, at least, found she actually liked.

Fairview gives us a Caroline Bingley that has history, which in turns gives her depth. She allows us to see that there is more to this character than we could ever have guessed from the pages of Pride and Prejudice. Yet, she doesn’t do anything that would take away from the original presentation of the character; she only puts it in a different light and gives us background to understand Caroline a bit better.

Indeed, this is a worthy addition to the growing body of works that continue the stories begun in Pride and Prejudice.

Publishing Info: The Other Mr. Darcy. Did you know, Mr. Darcy had an American Cousin? by Monica Fairview. ISBN: 978-1402225130. Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, October 1st, 2009.

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The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica FairviewMonica Fairview, author of The Other Mr. Darcy. Did you know Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?, will be setting out on a blog tour to talk about her book and her writing.

A Curious Statistical Anomaly will be part of that tour. The review of The Other Mr. Darcy will be posted on September 23rd and an interview with Monica Fairview on October 11th. But you don’t have to wait for October 11th. Below is her blog tour schedule which starts September 28th. Be sure to check in with these websites to learn more about The Other Mr Darcy and Monica Fairview prior to the books publication date of October 1st.

Note that there will be a give-away of one copy of The Other Mr. Darcy after the October 11th interview. Check back then for details.

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Gumshoe Review LogoWe went live with the magazines at midnight on September 1st, but we just finished all the tweaks and polishing of the chrome this evening.  The major problem this month was me.  Yup, me.

I got the flu or a cold but it might be the flu.  Yes, I googled the symptoms and I’ve got all of them so I don’t know what I’ve got.  So, I’ve been dragging around for a couple of weeks barely getting out of my own way and trying to do the things that absolutely had to be done and smoothing over the rest.  That means I OCR documents, put the pages together and proofed  them.  Entered and proofed reviews that were sent to me.  Stared at the screen for inordinate amounts of time but didn’t add a line to my novel.  Sent out the announcement of the finalists for the WSFA Small Press Award. I answered some email and entered books.

And I read.  I don’t know what most people do but when I don’t feel good I read.   I read nearly everything I was assigned this month and then some.  The problem is that, feeling as crappy as I did — I didn’t write the reviews immediately but waited.  I thought, silly me, that I’d write them the last three days of the month since I’d already taken notes and stuck stickies in the books to remind me of things I could do that.  Except I then got laryngitis and Hyperion got sick and several people who normally don’t wait to the last minute did and ….

Well, I ended up adding new material on September 1st and 2nd.  So, now we’re really done with the zines and so, if you already checked it out — check again — there may be new stuff because I combed my email today for everything I missed and now–deep sigh,  it’s time to start all over again for the October issue.

Speaking of upcoming events, I’m hoping to get an interview with Monica Fairview the author of The Other Mr. Darcy in October.  She’s doing a blog tour and I’m hoping she’ll be able to squeeze it in between stops.  I’ve got the list of the blogs she’ll be visiting and will post it closer to the start of her tour and just before I post my review of the book.

Gumshoe is going to be running an interview with Laura Childs in October to go with the release of her new book, Tragic Magic (A Scrapbooking Mystery).  I’ll also be reviewing season one of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

SFRevu AdOn the SFRevu side, I need to see what books we’re reviewing for October and start contacting people to line up an interview.  The problem is usually not that there aren’t enough people to ask but that I dither on trying to decide who to ask because I want to ask them all.

Then there’s the knitting.  I’ve got a pair of socks on the needles and the first one is nearly to the heel.  I’ve got a sweater that needs to be steam pressed and hemmed and a button added.  And, I’ve got two other started sweaters that I hope to finish this fall.  Then there’s the spinning of yarn that I need to do.  I’d hoped to get some spinning done by requesting an audio book for review but when it arrived it was print–no problem but I was looking forward to the listening time.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get my act together to get geared up for Capclave 2010. I’m really excited about the opportunity to be a convention chair and hope that the convention will turn out to be one that everyone enjoys from the Guests of Honor to the Volunteers to the attendees.

Looking this over, I think I may be over-committed…nah…it will be fun.

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