Hi readers! I am so happy to welcome back Alexa Adams to Austenesque Reviews today! Alexa is not only one of my favorite Austenesque authors but one of my first blog friends! 🙂 Alexa has created some wonderful Austenesque stories (my personal favorite is The Madness of Mr. Darcy) and I’m really excited about her newest release, Darcy in Wonderland! Alexa is sharing a great post about some of her characters in this clever Pride and Prejudice sequel, we hope you enjoy!
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Meredith! It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog – one of the very first JAFF blogs I discovered way back in the day.
My newest book, Darcy in Wonderland, is a pure mashup. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is encapsulated within a traditional Pride and Prejudice sequel, set many years after the Darcys married, sometime in the Victorian Era. All are thriving at Pemberley, and I thought I’d take the time today to introduce you to Elizabeth and Darcy’s brood, the inspiration for whom largely derives from the Bennet family of Longbourn.
The eldest Darcy child and only boy, Bennet has inherited his grandfather’s dry wit and his father’s discomfort in society. When our story opens, he is on summer holiday from Cambridge and enjoying the refuge that is Pemberley, even if he does find his many sisters a bit overwhelming.
“You shall never believe it! A white rabbit with pink eyes came by — ”
“There is nothing so very remarkable in that,” Bennet interjected, again distracted from the work before him. “A great many rabbits are white with pink eyes.”
“ — wearing a pocket watch and waistcoat!”
Darcy sighed. The wondrous happening was merely more fantasy. His son said, “Now that would be a sight worth seeing.”
“Papa, he actually took the watch out and checked it!”
“Why wear a watch if not to know the time?”
“You don’t believe me,” Alice said accusingly to Bennet.
“Whatever gave you that notion?”
“Come now, children. Enough squabbling.”
“But it is true, Papa. I saw the rabbit and got up to follow him, but I soon lost his trail.”
“You might release the hounds, Father.”
“Don’t you dare!” Alice shrieked indignantly at her brother. “You would never do such a thing, would you, Papa?”
“There must be some means of controlling the pest population,” Bennet continued to goad.
Eleanor (Ellie) Darcy
The eldest Darcy daughter is somewhat modeled off of Jane Bennet, sharing her aunt’s goodness and beauty. The story begins a few days before Ellie’s 18th birthday, for which occasion the family has planned a ball: a prelude to her upcoming London season.
“So who else can we expect at your ball, Ellie?” Rose asked eagerly, once there was a promising lull in the conversation.
“All the local families are coming — ”
“They would not miss it for the world,” Bennet drawled.
“ — and all the family — ”
“All the family?” Helen asked wearily.
“All the near relations, except the Wickhams — ”
“Let us be thankful for small blessings,” Rose grinned.
“ — and the Fitzwilliams, obviously.”
“They are not crossing an ocean for a birthday party?” Bennet asked sardonically. “Why did you even send the invitation? They can’t have even received it yet.”
“I sent it,” Ellie said tersely, irritated at all the interruptions, “because I knew Cousin Anne would appreciate being included. Of course, I never expected they should come.”
“Especially not when you invited her mother,” Rose said with a candid shudder, earning her a quelling glance from Elizabeth.
“Mrs. Shuttling said that is why she and Cousin Richard moved to India in the first place: to escape Aunt Catherine,” Alice added.
The next daughter bears some resemblance to Mary Bennet. She’s not as gregarious as her siblings and can get a bit lost in the crowd, but with her parents’ encouragement, she’ll soon shine like the rest.
“I am pleased you are enjoying your time at school, Rose. How about you, Helen? Are you still in alt over Mrs. Jeffries?”
“Yes, indeed, Mama. She is the most inspiring teacher. I never was comfortable with recitation, you know, but Mrs. Jeffries and I have been working on it together, and I have memorized quite a handful of extracts with which to entertain you and Papa this summer.” To Bennet’s credit, he stifled a groan.
“Do you find yourself more comfortable speaking before an assembly?” her mother asked, certain the answer was yes, as her shyest child now bore herself with increased confidence.
“I am becoming so. My heart still thumps so loudly I am sure everyone can hear it, but I do not think I will be as nervous before just the family.” She smiled in a manner that belayed her assertion but soon asked, “Would you like to hear one?”
“Can it not wait until the drawing room?” Bennet asked, rather alarmed by the notion.
“If your sister should wish to grace our meal with a bit of light entertainment, I do not think we ought to let convention stand in her way,” Darcy reprimanded his son, who responded by flourishing an arm in Helen’s direction, thereby ceding her the stage.
With a hesitant smile, she put down her napkin and rose to her feet, beginning her performance in a strident, dramatic voice that thoroughly took the entire family aback: “‘Harry the Fifth is crown’d: up, vanity!’”
The emphasis with which the last word was spoken reverberated about the room.
Rose, or Rolie as Alice calls her (side note: my grandmother’s name was Rosalie, and my grandfather called her Rolie), is probably the most like her mother in temperament. She and Helen currently attend school together, and she is much missed by her youngest sister, who particularly adores her.
“Do you like school, Rolie? I wish you need not return. Would you not prefer to stay here with me?”
“As much as I value your company, Alice, it is nice to be with girls my own age.”
“You like it! You actually like it! Bennet never did, and even if he is odious, he has got some sense. Ellie liked it, but she has hardly any at all, so I made sure you should hate it,” Alice explained.
“Thank you so much for the compliment,” Ellie said bitingly.
“I thought her assessment rather accurate,” Bennet murmured to her in an undertone, earning him a well-practiced and entirely discrete kick to the shin.
“I am sorry to disoblige you, my dear.” Rose turned to Alice and spoke soothingly. “Liking school does not mean I don’t miss you, you know. If I could pack you up in my trunk and smuggle you back with me, I would.”
“Do not give her any bright ideas, Rose,” their mother pleaded with an amused grin.
“I should never do such a thing, Mama,” Alice reassured her. “What if I ran out of air? No, I would much prefer to hide under a blanket on the floor of the carriage, and then I might pop out and surprise you all once we were on our way.”
“Thank you for telling us,” Darcy said. “We shall be sure to check all carriage floors from here on out.”
Cassandra (Cassie) Darcy
A combination of Kitty and Lydia Bennet, Cassie is eleven years old and enduring a peevish stage, like so many at that age. She is more interested in reading novels than her lessons and is anxious to escape her governess’ reigns (though they are held rather loosely) and join her older sisters at school.
“Pemberley is very well, but there is an entire world beyond this estate, and I for one cannot wait to explore it.”
“You don’t see much of the world from inside a school, Cassie,” Helen lamented.
“I should possess a broader acquaintance and thereby broaden my mind,” she smugly replied.
“You would not,” Alice insisted, “for who would want to know you?”
“Another salient point,” Bennet interjected.
“Bennet,” Elizabeth said with a hint of warning in her voice. He looked at her and grinned.
“I shall make lots of friends, far more than you shall ever have,” Cassie sulked. “And what do you know about it, anyway?”
“The same as you,” Alice replied, “neither of us having ever been to school.”
“You are wrong! I am older than you and must know better.”
“You mean you ought to know better.”
As the star of this show, we’ve already heard quite a bit from Carroll’s character turned into a little Miss Darcy. A combination of her original self and my own, precocious six-year-old, Alice is up for anything, rarely daunted, and more than capable of holding her own amongst her elders, including the formidable Lady Catherine (still alive and exerting her will after all these years).
Lady Catherine smiled on Ellie. Her smiles were not much more inviting than her frowns, and as they were a far more unusual sight for the Darcy children to observe, the occasion could not pass by unremarked. Alice did the honors. “Why, you have all your teeth, Aunt Catherine!” she exclaimed. “I always thought you grimaced so because your jaw was empty.”
“Impertinent child!” Lady Catherine retorted, the customary frown back in place. “Do you not know how rude it is to make personal remarks? I suppose I should not be surprised that no one has taught you any manners, but such outspokenness is not at all what I am accustomed to!”
“I should think it is,” continued Alice, paying too close attention to the bread she was buttering to see her parents’ admonishing looks, “for you are a great deal outspoken yourself, are you not?”
“My age and rank, child, give me more license to be so than you are likely ever to have. I suggest you learn to hold your tongue now,” and Lady Catherine would have returned to the task of maligning Mrs. Bennet had Alice heeded her lesson.
“I could be a duchess someday, and then I would outrank almost everyone but the Queen and her family, and I think I shall enjoy being outspoken, for I do like to talk.”
“Yes, we know you do,” sneered Cassie. “You are a great chatterbox.”
“It is just that I always have so very much to say. I really can’t speak quickly enough to get it all out. By the time I finish explaining one thought, five new ones have popped into my head. It can be quite difficult to choose which to share.”
“Some of us keep our thoughts to ourselves,” said Cassie.
Rose let out a laugh. “Not a very common occurrence in this family, I fear.”
So now you have met the entire family, all of whom will take a day to visit the Bingley estate, leaving Darcy alone with Alice. She spots the White Rabbit again as they stroll the grounds, and together they plummet down the rabbit hole and into the madness of Wonderland. Darcy will do his best to protect his daughter and see her safely home, but how does one impose order on the absurd?
Thank you again, Meredith, for having me here today. The book, featuring original illustrations by my own sweet sister, is available now from Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats.
Illustration by K. Wiedemann: www.wiedemannillustrations.com
Doesn’t this sound like so much fun?!? I love reading the exchanges between these siblings! I think Bennet and Alice are my favorites so far! 😀 Can’t wait to fall down the rabbit hole and read this clever mash-up! Thank you so much for sharing, Alexa!!!
Connect with Alexa
Alexa brings 1 new copy (winner’s choice paperback or Kindle ebook!) of her new release, Darcy in Wonderland for me to give away today to one lucky reader!
To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Alexa below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Alexa!
- This giveaway ends August 14th!