A little something after all these years…

Dy Brougham Searches for Lt.Richard Fitzwilliam

(1815, 2 years or so after Darcy & Elizabeth are wed)

The wagon jolted and shivered over the shell pocked roads until Dy’s teeth ached and his fingers cramped in their grip on its splintery sides. Rain continued to fall in unrepentant bursts that were soaking through his oiled cape. His hat was most likely a loss, even for its protective coverings, and the cold crept into the reaches of muscle and bone, both thoroughly wracked by the paths he had been required to travel to get to the farm house in which Darcy’s cousin was said to have been deposited before Uxbridge moved out.

“Il ya la ferme de Emille. Nous sommes presque hors de la pluie damnés,” his driver tossed over his shoulder. (There is Emille’s farm. We’re almost out of the damned rain.”)

Dy grunted his acknowledgement and began to flex his hands and feet. Pray God that Richard really was here and this was not another dead end. Upon a closer examination of the dwelling, his hopes rose. The ebb and flow of armies over its lands could not entirely extinguish the impression that at one time the farm had been a prosperous one. If anything remained of its family and of human compassion, mayhap Richard’s circumstances were not as dire as he feared.

His driver halted the sorry beast so dearly bought in the aftermath of war and hallooed the farmhouse’s inhabitants, but even after Dy’s careful descent from the wagon, no door or window had yet opened. The driver shrugged at his questioning look, indicating that his assistance in raising any response to their arrival was complete. So, stepping out on legs just beginning to feel some life, Dy advanced upon the door and rapped on it sharply.

“Hello there! Is anyone about?” He repeated his salutation in French. No sound came from within. He rapped the door longer and harder. “Hello! Hello! Can someone help me?” An indistinguishable bellow from within, followed by the rattling of the lock and latch stayed Brougham’s hand. He stepped back from the door, but it opened only a crack.

Pardonnez-moi, pardonne-moi, si vous s’il vous plaît,” he began.

“Wot’s ‘is?” came a voice from the dark interior. “Pardon? Pardon? Who the ‘ell’s pardoning me out of me well-earned nap?”

“A fellow subject of King George III.” Dy put a strong arm up against any attempt to close the door and locked squarely with the eyes of the rumpled figure beyond. “I am looking for someone…a friend. Is there anyone else, any British soldier, within?

The door opened a little wider. “’ow does I know you ain’t a spy, a Frenchy spy come to get this ‘ere bought ‘n paid for piece ‘o rubbish I gots to guard?”

Dy went rigid. “Can you recognize a pass and orders signed by Field Marshall Uxbridge that releases your prisoner into my custody, if indeed your man is my friend?” He pulled out the packet of documents with one hand and shook them out, holding them up to the gap. He doubted that the man could read, but perhaps the seal would mean something to him.

A hand shot out from the opening and made a grab for the letters he could not loose. Without thinking, Dy slammed his shoulder into the door, sending the guard down on his back and himself through the portal into the dim interior. For a moment, both men looked at each other in surprise, but the guard’s glance to a pistol on a table set Brougham into motion first. Sweeping it up, he quickly determined that it was primed and loaded. He cocked the hammer and trained it on the rising figure of the guard.

“Now, me fine gentl’man, don’t be hasty wid that there pistolero. I ‘ad to make sure o’ you, didn’t I? The sergeant would ‘ave me ‘ead iffen I neglected me dooty now, wouldn’t he?” the man wheedled, taking a small step toward him.

“Stand where you are!” Brougham commanded. “When does your sergeant return?”

“Oh, any moment, yer lordship, any moment. But, you best not be pointin’ that pistol at an honest soldier of the king when ‘e gets back. Oh, no, sir!”

Dy ignored the warning. “Where is the man you are guarding?”

The guard motioned beyond him. “In a room off the kitchen, yer lordship. I’ll take you iffen you…”

“You most certainly will,” he responded in a steely voice. He stepped aside. “On with you, and have no doubt that I will shoot should you give me the slightest excuse.”

The guard stared at him, then coming to a decision, shrugged his shoulders and ambled forward through a hall, leading him down a short flight of stairs that ended in the farmhouse’s kitchen. The doorway of another hall opened on the right and a doorway to the outside and the kitchen gardens stood on the left. Dy’s nostrils twitched. The stench he had encountered at the top of the stairs had increased on their descent and could not entirely be accounted for by the filth and depredations he had seen upstairs or upon the kitchen’s rotting larder spread out before him.

“He be back there, yer lordship.” The guard motioned toward the hall and the origin of the stench that was raising Dy’s bile already. The look on his captor’s face served the soldier notice that his next words might be critical to his future. “Now, it ain’t a pretty sight, I’m warnin’ ye. I be just a common soldier, yer lordship. Don’t know nothing ‘bout sawbonin’.”

Dy comprehended him with horror. There would be no quick rescue. He might even be too late! Whatever he must do now, he must have freedom to work and that required that the miscreant before him be effectively restrained. But how?

“So, what air ye goin’ to do, yer lordship? The mand grinned hideously. “He ain’t nowise fit to travel. ‘ppears to me…”

“Where does that go?” Dy nodded to what looked like a door fixed in the floor of the kitchen.

“Be a root cellar, yer lordship.” This reply was accompanied by an amused air at the common ignorance of the gentry, but in a moment, it turned into one of concern. “Yer not goin’ to put me in the root cellar, in the dark!”

“Open it up, or this will end here and now,” Dy barked at him and brought the pistol to bear upon his heart. With a gulp and cry the guard twisted on the ring and pulled the door up and open. Another set of stairs led down into darkness. “Move that chest there over here.” He indicated with his left hand. “Down into the cellar with you, all the way to the bottom” he ordered after the chest was in place.

“Please, yer lordship. Don’t be leavin’ me…” the man pleaded from the bottom of the stairs.

Dy slammed down the door and had pushed the chest half way on top of it just as the guard hit the other side at a run. The chest shivered at the blow but did not move. With another great shove, he had it squarely upon the cellar door where it would stay until the “sergeant” returned, if he ever did.

Copyright Pamela Aidan 2016

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Readin’ and Writin’ at the Festival

     If you can get to the Decatur Book Festival, I’d love to meet you!
I’ll be in the JASNA tents, #101-103.

Reading from my books: Saturday at 2:45/Sunday between 1 & 2.

Writing my name in books and talking Austen: Saturday 11:15 – 12:30, 3:00 – 5:20/Sunday 12 – 1, 2 – 4

Meet Me in Decatur!

It’s less than a week until the Decatur Book Festival near my former home of Atlanta, Georgia. The festival sounds wonderfully exciting, and the good people of the Jane Austen Society of North America-Georgia chapter have gone to extraordinary lengths to bring Jane to the Festival. The even attracts 100,000 annually and, although not all are Austen lovers, I imagine that more readers will be exposed to Austen and her literary progeny at one time than ever before.

A book festival–what a wonderful thing in a time when “story” is making another leap in form, spreading further into lives as ebooks living in “clouds”! Whatever would Jane think? Even fifteen years ago when I first started writing An Assembly Such as This, such a thing was not on my horizon. I thought I was quite up on technology by writing by computer rather than with pen and paper, composing by the soft click of the keyboard rather than the explosive bang of the typewriter. So now the dream is to appear in e-ink and be drawn down from a cloud into people’s lives via such strange sounding devices as Nooks and Kindles that will read to you as well, rather than enshrined in bound paper packages.

What will be next? Book glasses, I suppose. Text will stream across the lenses and a tiny microphone will chirp the text to you in surround-sound realism, complete with a musical score. And Jane will make that leap as well: deftly , gracefully, compellingly. Technology nor shifting public taste will hinder her advance through cultures because she writes of the human heart in all its “follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies” that lead it into joy and sorrow in every culture, in every time. Although we are not early 19th century ladies and gentleman, we can still recognize ourselves and our neighbors in her words and, perhaps, understand and profit from that recognition to become the gracious ladies and gentlemen of our own times.

Hope to see you in Decatur!

Pamela

PS There’s a list of all the Austen authors at the festival and a give away contest  of An Assembly Such as This and Young Master Darcy at Darcyholicsdiversions.com. Scurry on over!

Still Making Waves

What a wonderful and deeply gratifying surprise to find Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman highlighted in a Library Journal article this week reviewing P.D. James’s new mystery Death Comes to Pemberley!

Aidan, Pamela. An Assembly Such as This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. Touchstone: S. & S. 2006. 288p. ISBN 9780743291347. pap. $14. Aidan, Pamela. Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. Touchstone: S. & S. 2006. 320p. ISBN 9780743291361. pap. $14. Aidan, Pamela. These Three Remain: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. Touchstone: S. & S. 2007. 464p. ISBN 9780743291378. pap. $16.

While no one can match Austen, readers open to a good effort may appreciate Aidan’s take on Pride and Prejudice told through the eyes of Darcy. In this series spanning three volumes (the last is the best), Aidan wisely nods in Austen’s direction rather than attempting to mirror her. She fills the trilogy, which covers the events of Darcy’s rocky courtship of Elizabeth, with period detail, humor, literary references, and a touch of the gothic. This inventive retelling largely keeps the plot whole while necessarily filling in the spaces of Austen’s novel where Darcy is absent. He must, for example, account for his time away from Elizabeth and engage in proper reflection to overcome his judgments on her class and family. Fans willing to be entertained will be charmed by Aidan’s leisurely consideration of Darcy’s character.

About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ‘s online feature Wyatt’s World and is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers’ advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader’s Shelf should contact her directly at Readers_Shelf@comcast.net

You can read the entire article here:  http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2011/12/readers-advisory/ra-crossroads-love-murder-jane-austen

Christmas at Pemberley 1797

Click to order your copy!

It’s Christmas 1797.  Darcy and his cousins Richard and D’Arcy Fitzwilliam have been given reluctant permission to stage a Christmas farce in hopes of cheering Lady Anne.
–An excerpt from Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
–Pamela Aidan

~~~~~~~&~~~~~~~

“The doors are closed; they’re all inside!” Richard reported back from his post at the stairs. Earlier, they had raided the attic trunks for costumes, and Richard, as Lord Misrule, was tricked out in a coat from a much earlier time. Its hems almost swept the floor, but the unfashionably large brass buttons that adorned it and the voluminous pockets made it perfect for his part. An old-fashioned wig flowed almost to his waist to complete his costume, but his brother had not been satisfied.

“Where did you get those” Richard had looked suspiciously at the jars D’Arcy brought out.

“Something from school…never mind, just be still!” D’Arcy had commanded as he powdered his brother’s face white and painted red rouge circles on his cheeks, mouth, and the tip of his nose and then had finished him off with a black patch at the corner of his mouth.

D’Arcy adjusted the pillows strapped under the green cloak that proclaimed him Father Christmas, as did the “beard” fashioned from the stuff of an old mattress. Darcy joined Richard in the hall.  As befitted the character of Black Peter, Father Christmas’s assistant, Darcy was dressed in a mis-match of old clothes pinned all over with colourful ribbons. His face was smudged black with cork and he sported an old red stocking, bedecked at the end with sleigh bells, as a cap.

“Are we ready?” Lord Misrule waved the thin, gilded chair leg that served as his sceptre.

“Yes, and you both look perfectly ridiculous!” laughed Father Christmas as they glided down the stairs. Continue reading

Art and Life

Christmas at Pemberley 1797...a great Christmas 2011 gift, especially for the younger Austen fan!

I was reminded recently how funny life can be, especially the “writing life” as it intersects “real life.” I know I’m not the only author who ever scanned airports and their book stores hoping to see one’s books on shelves or, more so, in traveler’s hands. On the other hand, rarely do I say anything about being an author when making an acquaintance for fear of the blank stare at the mention of my pen name or the patronizing “And what is it that you write, again?” But this past summer in rather unexpected ways, two instances occurred of my two lives bumping into each other in wonderfully serendipitous ways.

The first was at my nephew-by-marriage’s wedding. I was seated next to a couple at the rehearsal dinner whom I’d never met. We were making  the usual polite conversation, discovering how we were related to the wedding party when one of my brothers-in-law leaned into the conversation and announced, “You know, Pamela’s a writer.”   Great!, I thought. Now I’m going to have to explain to polite disinterest what exactly I write. (None-Janeites, as you have undoubtedly discovered, are extremely uninterested in Austen-inspired anything) So I launched into an apologetic for my work, “Are you familiar with Jane Austen? Well, I wrote P&P from Darcy’s point of view. My pen name is Pamela Aidan.”

The woman turned to face me and looked at me with widening eyes, “Do you mean to tell me,” she stuttered, “that I’m sitting next to thee Pamela Aidan, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman?”  Well, yeah, I admitted, amazed that she had actually heard of me. “I love your books,” she exclaimed. “They are on my bedside table at home. I’ve read and re-read them!” Wow, not only heard of me but liked my books–really liked them!  And she was a general public-type person not someone at an Austen conference or website! Wow!

The second incident occurred to one of my sons rather than myself, making it even more serendipity. A new adult fellowship leader at my son’s church introduced herself to the group and in the process recounted related the story of when she had been involved in a car accident and could do nothing but sit and wait for the police to arrive. To help keep herself calm during the wait, she pulled out the book she was reading and dove in, lessening her anxiety until help arrived. Later, as my son helped her put chairs away they talked about what they liked to read. “Have you ever read any Jane Austen?” she asked him.

“Funny, you should ask,” he replied. “My mom writes Austen-inspiried novels and I’ve edited books for her publishing business’s authors who write the same type of thing.”

“Who’s your mom; I may have read her.” He told her.

“Oh my…you won’t believe this,” she replied. “It was one of your mom’s books that I was reading while I waited for the police in my story.”

As an author, you never know what ripples may be stirred when you send your work out into the world. You hope they are good ones and pray they’ll be uplifting, comforting, or at least entertaining.  What a joy to have proof!

~Pamela

“Just an old, little man”

Andrew Davies

That was how screenwriter Andrew Davies described himself in response to the standing ovation that greeted his ascent to the stage podium at the jam-packed JASNA session so many were ecstatic to attend. I think the self-deprecation was genuine–for the most part, but the gimlet gleam in his eye as the applause continued may have revealed how welcome the audience’s denial of such a label truly was. Physically, Mr Davies IS little, not much taller  at all than myself at 5’2″ and he is a bonafide senior citizen, having been born in Wales in 1936. But the appearance of this “old, little man” necessitated the kind of security measures one would not expect to encounter at a Jane Austen conference. One’s JASNA credentials were checked at the door before entry was permitted. You see, there were real threats from the Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South/Wives and Daughters) crowd that they intended to crash the proceedings!

Davies talk was entirely delightful, just what one would hope in terms of inside stories and fond memories of his various film adaptations of the novels we love so well, delivered with an endearing modesty and continued love for each one. I especially appreciated his review of his Sense and Sensibility, which I had placed secondary to Emma Thompson’s version. But as he went through some of the difficulties in bringing that work to screen, illustrating them with clips from the movie, I came to a higher opinion about both his version and the actors in it. Although I will always love Thompson’s version, Davies’ version demands more from it’s actors in it’s subtlety of expression and faithfulness to a more restrained and circumspect portrayal that is likely closer to the manners and conduct of the time and the characters as Austen drew them.

Of the many tidbits of insider information that Mr Davies shared with the audience, here is the first of two I will pass on.

CONTEST!

A copy of Young Master Darcy will be awarded to the name drawn from a hat of the pool of correct answers. Enter by subscribing to my blog and then commenting on this post. Remember to include your email address in your comment/vote. Entries will be taken for two weeks (Nov 1 – 14th) and the winner announced on the 15th.

Which of the following three scenes from Davies’ dramatization of Pride and Prejudice is his personal favorite?  Good luck!

~~Pamela

Elizabeth reads and responds to the letter/Darcy's voice over

Darcy responds to Elizabeth & Georgiana in the Music room

Wet-shirted Darcy startled by Elizabeth's presence at Pemberley