Saturday, July 23, 2016

As Yet Untitled Variation of Pride & Prejudice

As I mentioned last week, I have been writing a variation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Such variations can be read all over Amazon and seem to do quite well in Kindle form; I have also ordered a good many through our state-wide library system Links+.

As I do wish to return to writing, I thought that posting the beginning snippet of the first draft might compel me to keep writing. So here it is....

This variation picks up after Darcy has arranged for the marriage of Lydia and Wickham with Darcy and Bingley's return to Longbourn for the first time since leaving the neighborhood the previous November.

NOTE: The characters, the places, and the lines quoted from Pride and Prejudice (1813) are the imaginative work of Miss Jane Austen (1775-1817) to whom the world is forever indebted and for the creation of two of the most famous lovers in all English literature: Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Chapter One

            "Lizzy? Lizzy, where are you?"
            Elizabeth Bennet sighed over her novel, closed it with reluctance, and unfolded herself from her favorite reading perch in the windowseat of the bedroom she shared with her elder sister, Jane. Elizabeth had been re-reading one of Mrs. Radcliffe's novels, but she had become distracted, unable to focus on the book in her lap nor on the early autumn scenery spread out before her window.
            Jane certainly had not been herself lately. Before Mr. Bingley had leased nearby Netherfield Park last autumn, Jane had been Elizabeth's chief confidant and Elizabeth hers; not a single secret had stood between the sisters.
            But now sweet Jane held her secrets in silence, her eyes the only key to the sadness she felt at Mr. Bingley's closing Netherfield and returning to London—never to return, according to the correspondence of his sister, Miss Caroline Bingley. Despite Jane's continued silence on the subject, Elizabeth knew that Jane's attachment to their handsome and genial young neighbor was the cause of her sister's capricious appetite, sleeplessness, and wandering thoughts.
            Elizabeth shook her head, partly in amusement yet also with heaviness of heart. With Jane in love with a worthy gentleman of considerable means, life at Longbourn, their modest estate in Hertfordshire, was in the process of altering forever. 
            “There you are, Lizzy!” huffed Kitty, the second-youngest of the five Bennet sisters, as the bedroom door flew open with an unladylike crash. “Your presence is required downstairs,” she reported before turning on her heel and stomping down the hallway to her own bedroom door which Kitty opened and closed with an identical reverberating slam.
            Standing a bit stiffly after being seated for such a long time with her feet beneath her, Elizabeth smoothed the skirt of her morning dress and replaced her novel on the bookshelf. Stopping in front of the glass, she deftly smoothed the curls around her face and patted her back hair into place before proceeding downstairs. Puzzled by the summons, Elizabeth thought that although she had not noticed guests arriving, she had been quite engrossed in her novel…well, in her thoughts, anyway…and may have missed the arrival of guests at Longbourn.
            Hearing the hum of voices in the morning room, Elizabeth opened the door but halted abruptly and awkwardly in the doorway, her hand still on the brass knob, as two familiar gentlemen rose to their feet and bowed to her. Automatically, she dropped a quick curtsey in response and entered the room, smiling at the blushing young gentleman who had been seated beside Jane.
            “Welcome, Mr. Bingley, to Longbourn,” Elizabeth greeted warmly before turning to the second, taller gentleman. “And welcome, Mr. Darcy.” The unsmiling man nodded in response as Mr. Bingley launched himself forward to return her greeting.
            “I can see that you are well, Miss Elizabeth,” Bingley enthused as he bowed over her extended hand. “Thank you for your warm welcome. It is wonderful to be back in Hertfordshire; I have missed it exceedingly.”
            “You are always welcome at Longbourn, Mr. Bingley,” smiled Mrs. Bennet, her eyes alight with satisfaction at having a young man of Bingley’s wealth once again calling upon Jane. “And I have not forgotten the family dinner you promised to attend upon your return; no, I have most certainly not. We shall fix a date for you to join us very soon, sir, indeed.” Elizabeth winced as Mrs. Bennet’s rudeness at utterly ignoring Mr. Darcy who was standing near the window, his lips folded in a thin line that Elizabeth took for disapproval.  
            Glancing quickly at Darcy, Bingley was discomposed at the invitation which deliberately left out his friend and guest. “Certainly, Mrs. Bennet. Name the day, and we shall be here,” Bingley replied. Elizabeth quite admired his gentle reminder to Mrs. Bennet of what was due his friend, but she also knew that her mother would disregard the “we” of Bingley’s statement and not accept the subtle hint.
            Bingley turned to Elizabeth. “We were just discussing the possibility of a walk to Oakham Mount; Miss Bennet has assured us that the view is lovely, and that you know the way very well indeed. And the weather seems quite amenable.” He sent her sister a warm look, causing Jane to blush prettily. “Would you consider joining us, Miss Elizabeth?” He turned politely but seemingly without expectation to the rest of the assembled Bennets, including Kitty who had rejoined her mother and sisters. “Mrs. Bennet? Miss Mary? Miss Catherine? Would you care to accompany us on this outing?”
            While Mrs. Bennet refused with effusive apologies while winking significantly and obviously at Jane during her speech, Mary indicated a preference for her book. However, Kitty elected to join the excursion with unusual alacrity.
            A glance at Jane assured Elizabeth of the necessity of her accepting the invitation, thus allowing Mr. Bingley the opportunity to speak to her sister without the presence of Mrs. Bennet. Yet inevitably she would be in Mr. Darcy’s presence, and she was uncertain of his wishes in the matter. Yet, an opportunity to tease must never be dismissed….
            “Are you quite certain that you desire my company, Mr. Bingley?” Elizabeth queried, her eyes glinting with mischief. “Mr. Darcy and Kitty will provide adequate chaperonage, after all.”
            But Mr. Darcy, who had remained standing since her entrance, stepped forward. “We would greatly appreciate the honor of your presence, Miss Elizabeth,” he agreed as he bowed politely.
            However, Elizabeth’s eyebrows rose with surprise at his reply. Mr. Darcy seldom spoke with those outside his party at Netherfield which had included Mr. Bingley and his two sisters, one of whom was married to Mr. Hurst. Although Mr. Darcy remained unsmiling as was his usual expression, Elizabeth noted warmth in his gray eyes which seemed much lighter this morning.
            “With such an invitation, how could I possibly refuse?” Elizabeth replied, smiling. After she, Jane, and Kitty had collected their bonnets and shawls from upstairs, Elizabeth followed Mr. Bingley and Jane out the front door and into the pale autumn sunshine, Mr. Darcy on her heels and Kitty protesting behind them.

There's much, much more to write, and I am purposefully leaving Anne Lamott's quotation in the sidebar as inspiration to make time for writing. After all,

"If you can't find an hour to write, even Jesus can't help you."

~Anne Lamott

If if that quotation isn't enough to compel me to pick up my pen and continue to write, nothing will!

Hoping to write more this week,


Reina M. Williams said...

Lovely read. And I appreciate that Anne Lamott quote! Though I believe He helps us even when we can't find time to write (and maybe that's when we need it most?). :) Happy writing!

Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Reina. I would love to have more time to write, but the days just slip through my fingers. I think I'll have to get up early and write before the rest of the household is up. :)


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