Hi friends! I’m so very excited to welcome back author Riana Everly to Austenesque Reviews today! Something I love about this author’s work is the unique angles and twists she gives her stories, and her latest release – Through A Different Lens – is no exception. I love that she created a story that explores Mr. Darcy having Asperger’s Syndrome! Riana is here to share more about the Mr. Darcy in her tale!
I am delighted to be here today, on the final day of my blog tour for Through a Different Lens. Thank you, Meredith, for hosting me.
In this novel, I have explored the possibility of Mr. Darcy having Asperger’s Syndrome, and of Eizabeth Bennet understanding him. Darcy is extremely intelligent and most capable, but has difficulties with some social interactions.
Now, I had hoped to spend some time talking about that gentleman, but I have been unexpectedly called away to attend to an unfortunate incident with a wrongly-accused damsel, a deceased clergyman, and some missing silverware. I hope you won’t mind if Mr. Darcy himself steps in to take my place. He has been working hard at his social skills, and might have a few words to offer about himself!
Mr. Darcy’s Lens
Uh… Good day. I was not expecting anybody to be here.
I am not very good at conversing with strangers.
However, Miss Elizabeth Bennet has entreated me to practice the art, as she practices scales on the pianoforte, and so I shall endeavour to be pleasant company for the time we have together. I fear I shall say something wrong, but I trust you will forgive me, as you might a wrong note from an inexperienced pianist.
Miss Bennet has been encouraging me to find topics of conversation that might be of interest to my company. I confess, I had not thought seriously of such a thing before, for I had not considered that others might have topics of enjoyment other than my own. But Miss Bennet is, from what I can see, adept at the art of small talk, and so I shall take her advice as graciously as I can.
I find that most conversations I hear flit from topic to topic, touching upon many but settling on none. I cannot understand that at all. My mind seeks to find one topic and explore it in depth, and I find I am often perturbed when distracted from my subject and return to it at once with little regard for what interruption has occurred. This too, Miss Bennet advises me, I must learn to moderate.
I find I most wish, right now, to discuss with you my fascination with lenses. I have a fair collection of them in my workroom at the back of my town house. I have some simple ancient magnifying glasses, and a pair of medieval spectacles, which balanced on the end of the wearer’s nose. These are a fascinating invention, not only for the need to accommodate to the owner’s particular eyesight, but also because of the need to minimise chromatic aberrations, which occurs when different colours of light are refracted differently and do not meet at the focal point. One can make spectacles from tinted glass to provide relief from very bright lights, in the style of the Venetians. Lenses can be combined, or used with mirrors to make microscopes or telescopes. Parabolic lenses are another fascinating… Oh.
Forgive me. I have fallen into my old habits, and am talking at length about a topic of interest to me alone. We are practicing, Miss Elizabeth and I, the fine art of conversation as a musician practices etudes, but I have many scales still to learn, if I may use such an analogy. But practice I shall, and I hope that upon our next meeting, I will be much improved in my skills.
Perhaps this excerpt from the novel will elucidate where my meagre skills have fallen short. Thank you for abiding my poor company today.
~ Excerpt from Through A Different Lens ~
Lizzy began by introducing the topic most dreaded by her student: small talk. He understood the mechanics as a house painter understands the theory involved in mixing pigments. But Elizabeth wished to help him learn the art, so that he might become, if not a Gainsborough of chatter in the salon, at least a creditable imitator.
“You might wish to have one or two topics upon which you can converse lightly,” she suggested. “Something of interest to you, but that also will appeal to your companions. Pray, sir, what are your personal interests, that amuse and occupy your mind when none other is there to disturb you?”
“My interests?” he furrowed his brow. “Why should anybody concern himself with that?”
“We seek not only to pass the time with small talk, but to form some small connexion between the participants in the conversation. By exploring whether you might share some common interests, you can create the illusion of getting to know each other without the risk of exposing your true self. You, sir, are a master at protecting your innermost essence, but without the effort of reaching out to others even with the most superficial of topics, you leave the room with only the impression of your pride and disdain. In short, upon first encounter you seem most disagreeable.”
At this, Darcy started and huffed, “I? Disagreeable? I cannot believe that! I say nothing to offend people! Well, most of the time.” He must have reflected upon his rude words only days before, for he turned a rather alarming shade of red. Then collecting himself, added, “I learned that much, at least, from my governesses and tutors.”
“Sir, you say nothing, and THAT is what offends people!” Lizzy retorted. “You leave people with the impression that you have no interest in engaging them in conversation, that nobody is good enough for you. And I recall a conversation you had with your good friend Mr. Bingley, in which you insulted me most cruelly. ‘Not tolerable enough to tempt me,’ were your exact words, I believe!”
To his credit, Darcy bowed his head in remorse. “You were not intended to hear that. It was all I could think of to say to convince him to leave me in peace. You know how poorly I acquit myself with strangers.”
Mr. Darcy may not have been at all adept in deciphering facial expressions, but when he was not hiding behind his protective walls, he was most eloquent in displaying them, and the look of contrition that washed over him was almost enough to bring about Lizzy’s complete forgiveness. “I am most sorry you heard that,” Darcy muttered. “It was not true.”
With a breath to clear her thoughts, Elizabeth returned, “One never knows who hears one’s words. That is why we must always be careful what we say. And, to our topic, it is the reason small talk is of such importance, trivial though it be by nature. It is how we display ourselves to best advantage with strangers, how we replace our impenetrable protective walls with something a bit… friendlier, which will allow those whom we might allow real friendship a safe entrance to our inner essence.”
Darcy pondered these words for a few moments. He had risen, and was pacing the small space of the folly, from one Grecian pillar to the next, as he contemplated this little speech with the determination he might give to one of Sophocles’ orations. “If I understand you, what you are saying is that we suffer through small talk so that we might have a means of selecting those whom we wish to admit as friends and intimates.”
Suppressing a giggle, Elizabeth said, “Well, yes, in a way. You phrase it in a rather mercenary manner, but that is certainly a part of it. We also engage in small talk because it is more polite than staring blankly at people.” Darcy stared blankly at her. Rolling her eyes and taking yet another deep breath, she continued, “And so, let us return to my original question: What are your personal interests? We need a base upon which we can build.”
It is so interesting to see Mr. Darcy’s character in this light (or perhaps I should say – through this lens!) 😉 It is a very plausible explanation for his thoughtless comment about Elizabeth during the Meryton Assembly and discomfort/awkwardness with the art of conversing. I’m really eager to see more of Darcy and Elizabeth’s exchanges together in this tale! Thank you for sharing, Riana!
Connect with Riana
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit and was honoured with a Discovering Diamonds review. For all of these, she is delighted and very proud!
Today Riana is generously giving away five lovely ebooks of Through a Different Lens in conjunction with her blog tour!! Woot woot!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment and fill out the rafflecopter form below!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Riana!
- This giveaway ends February 10th! *Act Fast*
~ If you missed any of the other stops of the tour, check them out below ~
Jan 21 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
Jan 22 ~ Author takeover at Historical Reads and Research with Leila Snow
Jan 23 ~ Rose Fairbanks
Jan 24 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Jan 25 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
Jan 28 ~ So Little Time…So Much to Read
Jan 29 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
Jan 31 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 5 ~ From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 6 ~ More Agreeably Engaged
***Feb 8 ~ Austenesque Reviews***