Gentle Readers: We are happy to welcome author Kathryn Nelson today to chat about her new Jane Austen inspired book, Pemberley Manor: Darcy and Elizabeth, for better or for worse. This continuation of Pride and Prejudice is a new twist on the story of Darcy and Lizzy after the nuptials. It has received solid reviews and was nominated for Best New Fiction in 2007 by the Jane Austen Regency World Awards. It is an engaging tale that not only reveals the story of their new life at Pemberley, reuniting us with many familiar characters, but introduces an intriguing psychological subtext for one of the main characters.
Hello to Laurel Ann, Vic and Jane Austen Today fans. Thank you so much for your generous praise of Pemberley Manor. The pleasure of hearing that someone enjoyed reading my book is only second to the fun I had in the writing of it. And that is closely followed by the delight in being asked, “Why did you write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice?” With the exception of parenting a child, birthing this book has been my most enjoyable adventure yet.
The sheer beauty of Jane Austen’s language coupled with the timeless quality of her characters constantly stirs up readers to visit and then revisit her work. I’m far from the only writer to become obsessed with chasing those characters down the road, trying to get a glimpse of how things will turn out for them. For me, that obsession included trying to peek back into the past, especially Darcy’s, to understand what forces molded their personalities. I confess it’s a very modern pursuit, but then I’m a pretty modern girl. And so are my readers.
To critics and admirers of Pemberley Manor, I confess I tried desperately to imitate Jane Austen’s prose, but I strayed a long way from her style. Conversations on nature versus nurture and the paths to self-awareness were definitely not the ordinary dinner conversation of her day as far as I know. But that is not to say that Jane Austen was not extraordinarily aware of who her characters were and what they represented in terms of human foibles. Particularly with her leading characters, she carefully placed them in scenes that tested their beliefs and values, and she was willing to allow them to be humanly flawed.
Some of us (not mentioning names) focused on Darcy as portrayed by Colin Firth in 1995. I had to pull myself away from the BBC/A&E tapes, and read and reread Pride and Prejudice, to fully comprehend how equally flawed Elizabeth Bennet was. She had all of the appearance of good sense, especially in her own eyes, but she was also prone to precipitous leaps of judgment. I lately heard praise of Elizabeth’s willingness to stand up for her ideal of love, even braving the possible outcome of disastrous poverty if her prince failed to materialize. I tend to think she was immature, as many of us were at that age, and didn’t really imagine that the consequences her mother feared would befall her.
Elizabeth’s father was her greatest fan – at least until Fitzwilliam Darcy came along. Mr. Bennet, first observed as a man of good humor and common sense, is revealed by Jane Austen to be lacking in the kind of strength and determination that are called for in difficult circumstances. Elizabeth seemed to recognize in herself that same weakness of character as she was confronted with the increasing complexities of life; unlike her father, she fought against that nature.
In Pemberley Manor I tried to wrap my mind around the inevitable sparks that would have resulted from the collision of these two strong personalities, and the process of maturing that marriage may bring to a couple. If all of this sounds terribly dark and serious, I hope you’ll find that large doses of humor alleviate any heaviness that may result.
Thanks again for the opportunity to join you on this beautiful site. I look forward to your comments or questions.
Thank you Kathryn for joining us today. I found her tale charming, intelligent and engaging; uniquely one of the most thought provoking and satisfying Austen sequels that I have ever read. I hope that you enjoy it also.
Kathryn Nelson’s romance with language and the characters of Jane Austen was reawakened in 1995 by the BBC/A&E miniseries of Pride and Prejudice inspiring her to write Pemberley Manor. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and son.
Win a copy of Pemberley Manor by leaving a comment before April 8th by asking Kathryn a question about her new book, or stating why you think that Mr. Darcy is one of the most popular romantic literary heroes of all time. The winner will be announced on April 9th. Shipping to US and Canadian locations only.
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Cheers, Laurel Ann, Austenprose