Hello readers! I’m very excited to be participating in the A Searing Acquaintance Blog Tour and to be able to welcome back author J. L. Ashton to Austenesque Reviews today! Last month you may remember we participated in a cover reveal for Ms. Ashton’s debut release, A Searing Acquaintance, and it was a lot of fun to anticipate this story and become intrigued by its gorgeous cover image. Today Jan shares with us a post about the fairy tale theme in JAFF and how she incorporated that theme in her new modern-day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
One of the themes that runs through JAFF, especially variations of Pride and Prejudice, is the fairy tale parallel. Some writers and readers see Darcy as the “beast” and Elizabeth the “beauty” who transforms him, or view him as the “prince” who provides Elizabeth escape from a provincial life married to a town clerk, not so far akin from the hardworking, mistreated Cinderella rescued from life as a scullery maid.
Well, the Fitzwilliam Darcy of A Searing Acquaintance is wealthy, intelligent and handsome, but he is no prince. True, he lives in a building that looks like a castle overlooking Central Park but he isn’t living a fairy tale; his past is rather sad and his life is pretty lonely. Darcy’s apartment in The Beresford looms over Central Park West while Elizabeth, a recent escapee from her dysfunctional family home, lives across the river in a New Jersey walkup. She doesn’t need rescuing—she is smart, ambitious and hard-working, not to mention attractive, witty and capable of taking care of herself.
I really like a strong, funny Elizabeth in a modern re-telling. Whether they are Regencies or moderns, I admire JAFF stories that play off Jane Austen’s subtle intimation that Darcy sees Elizabeth Bennet’s intelligence, curiosity and social ease and recognizes how limited her opportunities are in Meryton. He knows he could offer her so much more, give her a richer life—materially and spiritually—while she could provide him a happier emotional (and yes, physical) life. Of course, in JA’s actual book and in many (if not most) variations, Darcy completely fouls up communicating those hopes and desires to Elizabeth and instead makes sure to emphasize the vast social gulf between them.
It’s she, in fact who rescues him—after much painful yearning and self-discovery, of course, which might be my very favorite part of JAFF stories. The effect that Elizabeth and Darcy have on each other, how they fill each other’s empty spaces, heal hurts and heartaches, and complement each other’s personalities, is the love story in Pride and Prejudice, and it is certainly what I had in mind writing A Searing Acquaintance.
Even superficially in A Searing Acquaintance, while Darcy can offer Elizabeth his palatial homes in New York and the Hamptons (not to mention London and one or two others never mentioned), social connections, box seats at Yankee Stadium, she offers him a much simpler palate of comfort, lighthearted companionship, and warm empathy. Problem is, early on, she doesn’t like him and isn’t consciously extending that offer to him.
Darcy took a deep breath and reached over to pull out a beer. He handed another one to his cousin and slowly walked past him to the darkening living room. Because I’m in love with her. He fell back into a chair.
“Because she’s smart and pretty. And fun to be around. And completely unpretentious.”
Rich, settling into the sofa, snorted. “All of that is true, but it describes a dozen women I could name. Please be more specific.”
Darcy took a long pull on his beer. “She’s…she’s somebody I want to know better,” he said quietly. “She’s so lively, but I feel comfortable around her. She makes me open up. I feel alive with her—happy.”
“Wow. I knew you liked her.”
Darcy shrugged. “But she didn’t.”
“Yet, she is the oil that makes your rusty locks swing open?”
Darcy looked up, annoyed. “Rich, stop trying to use ridiculous Moldavian proverbs in America. They don’t translate well.” One more joke and I’m done talking.
Rich nodded. “Sorry, man. But why her—why does she do that?”
“I have no idea. I just like being around her. I need to be around her.”
Once they sort themselves out and declare their love, Elizabeth offers Darcy some fun, as well, introducing him—the very proper product of an American mother and a British father—to American pop culture. (Some of them are likely a bit foreign to overseas readers as well.) There’s everything from college football traditions to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Jetsons. And of course, we cannot forget Elizabeth singing Wagner, a la Elmer Fudd in Looney Tunes. Of course, the couple bond over old pop tunes, stray animals and a screwball comedy, and Darcy teaches Elizabeth a little about baseball.
That’s lovely, Jan! I love finding fairy tale themes in stories. But I especially love the idea of both characters being rescued by each other. Looking forward to reading A Searing Acquaintance in the near future! Thank you so much for visiting Austenesque Reviews!
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Meryton Press is generously giving away 4 paperback and 4 ebook editions of A Searing Acquaintance in conjunction with this blog tour!! Woot woot! Commenting and entering through the rafflecopter widget on this blog enters you in a chance to win
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Meryton Press!
- This giveaway ends March 24th!
Thank you to Jakki Leatherberry and the lovely people at Meryton Press for making this blog tour possible! Click image to check out the rest of the tour!