Apr 192017
 

Hi readers!! I’m so excited to welcome back Sophie Turner to Austenesque Reviews today!  Sophie, is the lovely author behind the Constant Love series, a series of wonderful Pride and Prejudice sequels. But today Sophie is here to talk about her newest release, which is actually a variation!  Sophie has prepared a very special and thoughtful post about her characterization of Mr. Darcy.  We hope you enjoy!

Thank you so much for hosting me again here, Meredith! I always love visiting Austenesque Reviews, and I’m excited to tell readers more about the thoughts behind some of the characterizations in my latest book, Mistress: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, with Parts Not Suitable for Those Who Have Not Reached Their Majority.

I often look up words during my editing process to ensure that they’re actually period appropriate. Sometimes words that I would have thought were more modern surprise me and go back to the 14th or 15th century. Sometimes, I’m surprised to learn that words I would have thought in use during the Regency did not come in until much later.

One of the biggest surprises was “empathy.” which Merriam-Webster lists as having a first known use of 1909. This was a bit of a blow to me: ever since I’d learned the difference between sympathy and empathy, I’d always considered it important to distinguish between them, but now I had to use sympathy to encompass both.

But since we’re in the modern world and the word has been invented, it’s the concept of empathy I want to talk about, and how it applies to the two men who have the greatest influence over Elizabeth’s life in Mistress. I suppose I should say three men have a strong influence over her life, for it’s Mr. Bennet’s untimely death that first drives the plot.

The first of the two men I primarily want to talk about, though, is Mr. Collins, who times his proposal to Elizabeth after her father’s death in such a way that she cannot help but accept, for to do anything otherwise might force her family into genteel destitution. The timing is so bad that it shows a shocking lack of empathy, and yet it felt entirely in-character, for Collins.

I had a realization about Mr. Collins a while back, that came from statements like this:

“My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in all matters within the scope of your understanding, but permit me to say that there must be a wide difference between the established forms of ceremony amongst the laity, and those which regulate the clergy; for give me leave to observe that I consider the clerical office as equal in point of dignity with the highest rank in the kingdom—provided that a proper humility of behaviour is at the same time maintained. You must therefore allow me to follow the dictates of my conscience on this occasion, which leads me to perform what I look on as a point of duty. Pardon me for neglecting to profit by your advice, which on every other subject shall be my constant guide, though in the case before us I consider myself more fitted by education and habitual study to decide on what is right than a young lady like yourself.”

…and this…

“When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on this subject I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me; though I am far from accusing you of cruelty at present, because I know it to be the established custom of your sex to reject a man on the first application, and perhaps you have even now said as much to encourage my suit as would be consistent with the true delicacy of the female character.”

The realization I had is that: he is mansplaining, to Elizabeth. Setting aside the somewhat mind-boggling notion that Jane Austen managed to capture this phenomenon long before it became a word (first known use, circa 2008), it was this Collins, the mansplaining Collins, the Collins with no empathy, that was Elizabeth’s first husband in Mistress.

I think we more commonly tend to think of Collins as ridiculous – after all, Elizabeth nearly laughs at him, during his proposal. I think this opinion has also been reinforced by David Bamber’s portrayal of him in the miniseries. But Collins is also a man who’s very full of himself, who has a high notion of his self-importance, and this is even before he inherits Longbourn.

It was very possible, I thought, that this Collins, when faced with his own incompetence at running his estate, and – unfortunately and critically – when married to a woman who challenges him and is far more intelligent than him, would react in a defensive manner. A more humble man might listen to his wife’s advice, but Collins felt threatened by her, and instead restricted her role.

But what about Charlotte, you ask? She seemed to manage matters well enough with him. Ah, yes, but Charlotte is a rather shrewd operator. She knows what she’s getting herself into, and I think she came prepared to “manage up,” as we would say in the workforce (for in that time period, Collins was the “CEO” of his household) from day one of her marriage. In Mistress, Charlotte gets an unacknowledged shout-out, in this exchange between Elizabeth and Darcy:

“I understand yours was not a happy marriage,” he said, quietly.

“In that, I bore some fault, too. Someone less headstrong than myself might have attempted persuasion, or even manipulation, to bring about her wishes, but I hated that Mr. Collins would not listen to me, and the more I argued with him, the more he diminished my role.”

Mr. Bennet knows this, about his daughter. We can see why he did not want her to marry Collins when he expresses similar concern in Pride and Prejudice, over her intent to marry Mr. Darcy:

“…I know your disposition, Lizzy. I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable, unless you truly esteemed your husband; unless you looked up to him as a superior. Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage…”

But in Mistress, Mr. Bennet is gone, and Elizabeth has no other choice. This is all developed in the prologue, and when the first chapter begins, Elizabeth and Darcy are about to meet again, for I had no more interest in writing a detailed rendition of an Elizabeth/Collins marriage than readers would in reading it!

Elizabeth, almost completely out of mourning, is deeply relieved to be widowed, and still affected by all that happened in her marriage. On top of the emotional abuse of never having her mind respected, there is the physical aspect of the marriage bed. I think the sexual aspect of Collins’s treatment of Elizabeth has been the thing that has stood out most strongly to readers – and indeed it creates one of the larger obstacles in the story – and I think it’s all the more awful for Elizabeth because it’s the more physical manifestation of Collins’s dominance over her will. I’ve read accounts of actual marriages during this era, and their marriage was by no means abnormal, as horrifying as it is to think about it. Legally, married women were powerless, and some men treated them exactly as such.

It’s time, thankfully, to move on to the second man I want to talk about: Mr. Darcy, of course. Hold up, everyone probably still has that picture of Mr. Collins in their head, don’t they?

All right, everybody good? Let’s move on. I’ve theorized before that Darcy is a highly sensitive introvert, and people who are such often tend to be very strong empaths, as well. I think you can see some evidence of this in Pride and Prejudice. I think particularly of Darcy encountering Elizabeth just after she’s read the news of Lydia’s flight with Wickham:

She burst into tears as she alluded to it, and for a few minutes could not speak another word. Darcy, in wretched suspense, could only say something indistinctly of his concern, and observe her in compassionate silence.

It’s one of my favorite scenes in the miniseries, and I think Colin Firth absolutely nailed this empathetic Darcy. It is, however, what Mr. Darcy does next that I think truly shows this empathetic nature: he goes through a great deal of trouble and expense to fix the situation with Lydia. He does this all for the woman who spurned his proposal, and with no guarantees that she will change her mind. Indeed, he even takes steps to prevent her learning about it, so his actions are not motivated by an attempt to influence her feelings. They are, I think, rooted in empathy: he cannot stand to think of Elizabeth suffering.

This is a theory that I went with strongly for Mistress. Because Elizabeth, in Mistress, really needs an empath, someone who understands how troubled she is by everything she’s been through, and wants to be there for her.

Darcy has spent the years of Elizabeth’s marriage and early widowhood devastated over having lost the chance at her hand, and growing increasingly deeper in love with the woman he’s lost. He’s exceedingly glad to have this second chance, but he also intends to go about things cautiously, and his caution increases when he comes to better understand what Elizabeth has been through, and how it has affected her.

I also had a realization about Mr. Darcy, and it came in the course of writing this story. If asked to say why he’s such a great romantic hero, I think most people would respond that it’s because he heard some pretty substantial criticism, recognized the truth in it, and sought to improve himself. I do not discount the importance of this, but I think Darcy is attractive to modern readers because he sees a strong-minded, intelligent woman and finds her extremely attractive. Darcy is appealing to us because he sees the worth in Elizabeth, even if at first he cannot see past her connexions.

You can see both this and his empathy at work in the brief excerpt below:

It had long since been clear that this painstakingly slow courtship could not be completed by the time the party at Netherfield broke up, and he had been tremendously glad to have Elizabeth agree to join in a house party at Pemberley. That he would now need to hold a house party at Pemberley, to determine the acquaintances he should invite beyond the woman he wanted to be mistress of the house – and then play host to them for some weeks – was a further draining thought, and so he returned his mind to Elizabeth.

What she had said about her half-mourning being complete – had that been meant for him?

Or had it simply been a statement meant to put such a terrible time behind her, one it had clearly pained her to speak about? She had confirmed, when they spoke in the garden, those things he had already suspected about her marriage, and he had ached for her. He did not understand how a man could be married to such a woman without fully appreciating her, how Collins could attempt to suppress such a lively mind rather than delighting in it, and these thoughts had turned his sentiments from ache to anger, although he had taken care to hide this emotion from Elizabeth.

Darcy had hated that propriety dictated he call her Mrs. Collins even in that time, that her very name must have been a reminder of all that pained her. He prayed she would change it to Darcy, hopefully before the year was out, and he was glad she had been willing to speak to him of her marriage, even just a little, for it indicated a new openness between them, one he hoped to build on when she came to Pemberley.

Oh – Elizabeth! He caught sight of her in the entrance-hall, leading her mother and sisters, something Mrs. Bennet seemed greatly displeased by. Elizabeth looked glorious, though, finally wearing white, delicately embroidered white muslin that became her better than anything else possibly could have done. Darcy emitted a ragged, shaky breath, and thought of the day when he hoped to hold the figure in that dress and kiss her as thoroughly as he had always wished to kiss her.

Elizabeth may not yet know it (she has, indeed, vowed never to marry again), but she needs someone who aches for her. Not just with romantic longing, although that is certainly there in Darcy, too, but in the manner described in the excerpt. In the empathetic manner, the manner of a man who knows he loves Elizabeth so deeply that he will do anything he can to further her safety, security, and happiness, regardless of whether she will marry him. And that is why both of these men are key to the story: as horrible as this version of Mr. Collins was, I found the damage he did brought out the very best in Mr. Darcy.

~~~

 Connect with Sophie

Blog   ❧    Twitter        Austen Authors

~~~

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Today Sophie brings 2 copies of her new release, Mistress: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, with Parts Not Suitable for Those Who Have Not Reached Their Majority for me to give away in conjunction with her visit and my review of Mistress (which will be posted on Friday)(Paperback or ebook for North America or Europe.  Ebook for all other countries.)

 

To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Sophie below!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide (with some shipping restrictions).  Thank you, Sophie!
  • This giveaway ends April 26th!

~~ Want to double your chances?  Come back on Friday and check out my review and leave another comment! ~~

Follow My Reviews!

No spam guarantee.

  56 Responses to “Guest Post + Giveaway with Author Sophie Turner!!!”

  1.  

    Such a great insight into Collins and Darcy’s characters, Sophie. I agree with everything you said. In my opinion Collins would be very restrictive to Elizabeth who wouldn’t (like Charlotte) manipulate him without him being aware. I would even say, that in showing his ‘male superiority’ he might even resort to violence. 🙁

    I can add nothing about Darcy, you are spot on. 🙂

    Please, leave me out of the giveaway, I won it during the blog tour. Now I’m waiting for an audiobook (hint, hint.)

    •  

      Thank you so much for your comment, Kate! I do sometimes wonder how Elizabeth would have fared if she would have thought about manipulating him upfront, but I think she really would have struggled with that. And yes, unfortunately, I think the more he was threatened, the more he would have found various ways to show his “male superiority.”

      And an audiobook might be a possibility. 😉

  2.  

    Great post, excellent observations on the difference in characters… and I love the new term mansplaining…very creative. Don’t include me in the give-a-way… I won a copy on the tour and loved it. I just wanted to comment. Have a Blessed day and thanks for writing such awesome books.

  3.  

    I just received my winning copy of this book on Thursday before leaving to visit my grandchildren. It is impatiently waiting on my side table by my chair waiting to be read!!!! I have to finish another book before immersing myself in this one! I love that picture of Darcy you have inserted to take away the image of Mr. Collins. I completely agree about your assessment on both characters. Mr. Collins could not handle having a wife who was smarter than him…therefore, he had to put her down. Mr. Darcy on the other hand found her intelligence and lively eyes to be the net that caught him. He would only want to fan the flame…

    •  

      Aww, I hope you do enjoy it once you finally get a chance to read it! Totally agree about Darcy…and I love the way you put it, to “fan the flame.” I’d not thought about it in that way until now, but I think in this story, he’s realized the flame almost went out, and he’s very eager to ensure it has proper oxygen, now. 😉

      Thank you for your comment, Carole!

  4.  

    Thank you for this fabulous interview! I did wonder about what would be revealed about Elizabeth’s marriage to Collins, which, truthfully, gives me the creeps. Your description of Darcy’s love and empathy for Elizabeth is moving. Thank you for the giveaway and I look forward to seeing how Darcy can convince Elizabeth to marry again.

    •  

      Thank you for your comment, Eva! I think it gives everyone the creeps, so I didn’t dwell on it more than I felt was needed to drive the story. It did, I found, create a lot of different and interesting possibilities for the relationship of ODC.

  5.  

    What a wonderful insight to Collins and Darcy. How Elizabeth must have suffered. I cannot wait to read the rest of the story

    •  

      Thank you for your comment, Nancy! Things were definitely rough for Elizabeth during her marriage, but this created a possibility for Darcy’s role in helping her get past this.

  6.  

    I’m so glad you have chosen to skim over the time of Collin’s marriage, I don’t know if I would want to read very much of that abomination.
    This Darcy seems to have learned a great deal from his pain at seeing Lizzy unhappily wed to such an ass. Perhaps by highlighting his empathy you have brought him to a level where he knows himself better than many other characterizations where he seems mired in doubt.
    I’m very much looking forward to your tale!

    •  

      Thank you for your comment, JoEllen! I don’t think any of us wanted to dwell long on the Elizabeth/Collins marriage.

      I think where Darcy is concerned, it’s in part to do with his empathy, and in part to do with all the time he’s had to stew over losing Elizabeth. He comes into this story with his priorities very much in order, and she is by far priority #1. 🙂

  7.  

    What a great book this is. The reasoning and excerpts above are perfect to explain the story. I truly hate this Mr Collins who couldn’t be nastier if he tried. But Darcy? sigh, bliss. He is the ultimate romantic hero, doing everything possible to make the woman he loves happy and succeeding admirably. I really like where he invites Elizabeth to a house party and then realises that he will actually have to invite others and actually host one. I was also lucky enough to win a copy of this book so please don’t enter me in the giveaway and thank you so much Sophie for your generosity.

    •  

      Aww, thank you, Glynis! I wanted to write this piece to help explain just why Darcy was the way he was in this story. And yes, I did enjoy the thought of his inviting Elizabeth to a house party and then realizing the ramifications of that. 🙂

  8.  

    I love the premise of this variation, and especially Sophie’s comments above about Darcy being a “highly sensitive introvert” and also am “empath.” Coming from a family of both, I see exactly what Sophie means, and I am even more excited to read this book!!

    Thank you for your wonderful angle on this variation, Sophie. I soooo enjoyed this post!

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

  9.  

    I agree with Eva that the whole idea of Elizabeth and Collins gives me the creeps. I look forward to reading this book. Thanks for the excerpts.

  10.  

    Absolutely loved this story. I have a copy so please don’t enter me in the giveaway. I don’t always like prior relationship stories and this one put truly awful pictures in my head that I’m still trying to get rid of. But, the storytelling and the patient and understanding Darcy is spot on.

  11.  

    It is absolutely horrible to contemplate that most marriages were little more than sanctioned rape. So many of the men forgot the words in the Book of Common Prayer when they were giving the ring that they were supposed to worship their wives’ bodies (and I am not Anglican or even Christian). I do not consider rape worship in any definition of the word. I really enjoyed this book, BTW ;-).

    •  

      I absolutely agree, Julia, and it’s difficult to think that this is still happening in some parts of the world and in child marriages everywhere today.

      Thank you for your comment!

  12.  

    Well. Whew! I cannot wait to read this!!!!

  13.  

    Thanks for this unique and intriguing feature. The giveaway is special and the books interest me greatly.

  14.  

    Enjoyed reading your insight into Collins and Darcy. I agree with you. What an interesting premise for a novel.
    Would love to read it. Thanks for the chance to win.

  15.  

    HELLO
    I read this post with delight. First of all, my attention caught up to the word “variation” as I enjoy how writers play with différent types of “what if” and bring the story toward another path.
    Secondly, may I say how beautiful your regency dress and lace handband are!!! I have a question, did you sew it?
    Thirdly, I respect a lot, the writers that take time to search for etymology of words to avoid any anachronism as I read a JAFF book whith had mistakes and really didn’t enjoy it.
    I also learnt a new word thank you , “mainplanning”, which I googled and was atonished to see that there was a word for the type of behavior I had read about /seen.
    Your post really made ma happy and at the same time the part of Collins and the physical “stuff” made me cringe and quite disgusted y him.
    Whereas Dracy loves her for what she is, as a modern reader we can see him respect her as an equal. A matter that was not even thinkale back in Regency Era, may I remind some of the readers that in the XIX, women were considered legally speaking as “an object” that men could easily use violence upon and rape was common in a marriage and women were often married to their rapist.
    There is a great discrapancy between Collins and Darcy, there are complete opposite ( no empathy/empathy).
    I am loking forward to see how she is going to heal.
    Sorry, I realised I wrote a lot -_- that’s hat happened when an introvert gets happy, XD.
    Please excuse my grammar mistakes, English isn’t my first language.
    I also would love to participate to this giveaway 😀

    •  

      Thank you so much for your comment, Mariam! I can’t claim credit for sewing my lace headband, although it was handmade — I got it on Etsy.

      I think the physical aspect of the marriage with Collins makes us all cringe. Collins was the sort of man who might think of his wife as an object — I think it’s there in his proposal to her in the book. He almost acts the same as he might have if Lady Catherine told him to go acquire a new desk!

      I’m an introvert, too, so I’m glad the post made you happy. 🙂

  16.  

    Also, hello meedith, I haven’t been reading your posts for quite some time, I was busy due to my studies. I’m sorry.

  17.  

    Wow! I will definitely be reading this one….can’t wait.

  18.  

    That was a fascinating analysis, Sophie. My only comment is this. Darcy fell in love Elizabeth for what she is and doesn’t want or need to change her. I doubt Collins even knows what love is and HAS to change her to achieve his own sense of superiority over someone he sees as an inferior being i.e. a woman.

    No need to enter me in the giveaway, as I also won a copy on the tour and it’s next up on my TBR list. Unless, of course, I could win a paperback copy to go with it. But that’s being cheeky and I wouldn’t want to deprive someone else of the chance to win, so ignore the previous sentence!

    Oh, and I heartily second KateB’s hint about an audio version!

    •  

      That’s a great way to put it, Anji — I think it’s part of what I was trying to get at in the post, but in a much more succinct way. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the story, and an audio version might well be a possibility!

  19.  

    Looking forward to reading!

  20.  

    Looking forward to reading this!

  21.  

    I love the way you’ve set up this variation. Adding it to my must-read list!

  22.  

    I adored Constant Love. It was one of the first JAFF books I read and I have been addicted ever since!! I would love to win a copy.

  23.  

    How horrible it sounds, but I can truly see why Elizabeth is happy to be a widow. Married to Collins must have been horrendous!

  24.  

    I fell in love with your story, Sophie, on FanFiction, and I have already read it again on my kindle, now that it is available on Amazon. And I read it a second time with even more pleasure and feelings that the first time.

    Empathy is an interesting take on Darcy. I always thought that his shyness and sensitivity combined with his pride were the reasons behind his aloofness, and I have credited him with too many other qualities for a human being (hmmm…), however I never thought of empathy but that his deep sense of honour and his compassion drove him to help Lydia. I was in awe of the Darcy you created, and the interactions between him and Elizsbeth were so beautiful and moving. And I say this even though I usually do not like sensual variations, but yours is so romantic and insightful.

    And, of course, I was very relieved when the unpleasantness of Mr Collins was done with. so that Darcy could step in and make us believe in love again.

    •  

      Thanks for your comment, Nathalie! And so glad to hear you love the story.

      I think honor, compassion, and empathy can all be drivers for what he did for Lydia, but I do think empathy was the largest part. He does indicate that he did it for her.

      I think the place where it’s toughest to square empathy with his character is in his tone-deaf first proposal. But even there, I think it’s possible that he did empathize, it’s just that it came with a complete misreading of Elizabeth’s feelings. If he thought she considered a match between them impossible because of his position in society, then he would have been giving her relief in proposing to her and acknowledging this. Of course, he was completely off!

      But empathy is putting yourself in another person’s shoes…there’s no guarantee that one’s perception of what it’s like in those shoes is correct.

  25.  

    Loved the last thought here — the very worst of Collins brought out the very best of Darcy!

    You have already give me a Kindle copy of this so choose someone else this time!

  26.  

    Sad to say, I joined rather late in the JA game but I have not regretted it one moment since. I am a big fan of modern Regency romances & to my great joy, JA wrote the best one of them all more than a hundred years ago! Admittedly, i am quite envious of the wonderful readers who wrote that they already have won a copy of Sophie Turner’s “Mistress” from a tour. Local bookstores here do not carry books of this nature but i go scrounging through the whole lot of used bookstores hereabouts because I am determined to read & add more to my collection of JA & other regency romances. It’s not hard when what you’re doing is something you love.

    •  

      Thanks for your comment, A B! So glad to hear you’re enjoying this genre. That definitely is one of the issues for authors like me — it’s much more difficult to get distribution into physical bookstores compared to Amazon. But perhaps you’ll be lucky with a win here!

  27.  

    Oh I can easily see Collins taking advantage of the timing, he is very much all about himself and doing what will further his place with his “esteemed Patroness” Lady Catherine. Can’t wait to see what else he does, I think, unless he drives me crazy and then I will be forced to reach through the book and strangle him with my bare hands. 😉

    •  

      Thank you for your comment, Danielle! And yes, he’s totally about himself, but thankfully he does not survive the prologue, so you will not be forced into drastic measures. 😉

  28.  

    Dear Sophie, Thank you for your characterization of your new book Mistress. I admit I have a hard time with variations of P&P when Elizabeth and Darcy are with others. Your book however has piqued my interest and I look forward to reading your variation. Thanks for the giveaway. Leslie

  29.  

    Wow what an insight into our beloved mr. Darcy! And the thought of elizabeth married to Mr. Collins.. ugh! I think you were quite right in thinking nobody wants to read about that in detail 😉 Sophie your book sounds wonderful and thank you both for the giveaway!

  30.  

    The title itself just makes me chuckle out loud… Poor Darcy & Elizabeth, the thought of her being attached to Mr. Collins! Yuck!

Your conversation and participation is always welcome, please feel free to "have your share."

%d bloggers like this: