Happy Monday, everyone! I’m happy to start my week off by welcoming back authors J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard as they begin their blog tour for The Most Interesting Man in the World (you may recall their visit and lovely cover reveal last month!) Today, these ladies bring with them a vignette to share with you all. We hope you enjoy!
Thank you so much for hosting us here at Austenesque Review, Meredith. I was here with my previous two books. A Searing Acquaintance and Mendacity & Mourning, and it’s great to visit again with my friend and partner in crime, Justine Rivard. We’ve only met once in person and we write across the miles, sharing the same love for Jane Austen and a quirky sense of humor. In The Most Interesting Man in the World, we explore the friendship between Darcy and Bingley.
Among the characters mentioned but never actually appearing in The Most Interesting Man in the World is Caroline Bingley, sister to one of our protagonists. She, in fact, is the only female voice ever heard within the book’s pages. Her “Hallooo!” called through the window of a carriage is the lone moment her voice is heard, but her presence permeates the book as Bingley recoils not only from her voice and looming arrival, but from the memories of her as a child and her behaviour as one of his dreadful sisters.
But, unsurprisingly, she would like her share of the conversation and, more particularly, her share of Mr Darcy. A few days before the double wedding in Hertfordshire, we had that lady and gentleman sit down together in the drawing room at Netherfield, the Hursts sitting nearby and a footman standing ever vigilant by the door, so Caroline could explore the whys and wherefores of the man both she and her brother consider the most interesting man in the world.
Darcy and The Other Bingley
“Mr Darcy, you are my brother’s closest friend. He trusts and confides in you, for obvious reasons, and I must ask you the question so many have pondered. Why are you his great friend? What do you like about Charles?”
Darcy’s eyebrows rose. “That is an absurd question. He is easy to like, and I take pleasure in his company.”
“You were born a gentleman, Mr Darcy. He aspires to be what you are, but he is your equal neither in intellect nor in station nor in…”
“Nor in what?”
“In anything!” she cried. “You read thick tomes, you follow the libretto at the opera, you oversee Pemberley and your business, your shoulders are broad and strong!”
“Miss Bingley,” Darcy handed the lady her tea and watched her take a calming sip. “Just as there is more to a lady than whether she can play and sing and speak Italian, there is more to a man than a list of accomplishments. Your brother is superior to me in his understanding of true love and happiness. He aided me in the attainment of these things in my own life.”
Caroline’s expression shifted from one of bewilderment to a less familiar melancholy. “Eliza.”
After a short pause, made longer by Caroline sipping her tea, she turned to Darcy. “Am I so dreadful?”
“There, there. Of course you are not dreadful.” Darcy patted her hand. “Younger brothers can feel put upon by elder sisters.” He sat back in his chair and the hints of his fabled toothy grin began to emerge. “He has told a story or two of you and Louisa putting ribbons in his hair and making him wear your old gowns for tea parties.”
“Oh! He was barely out of leading strings. He tells you everything!”
“On the latter, I fear I was not his only audience.” He glanced at her, hesitating.
“Your cousin? The naughty mustachioed one?”
“I cannot safely say what your brother has said to my cousin. This past year found them together enjoying my brandy and some shared amusements. I had fled such entertainments, preferring my bed to Archie’s long-winded tales and interrogations.”
“Then who has heard the colourful tales of our childhood?”
“Ah, Charles was, er is, rather loquacious and impressively detailed in his telling childhood tales. Some fellows at Cambridge were privy to his stories.”
Caroline set down her teacup with a clatter. “He has told you of my cousin Emily. And of all our aunts, who adored him.”
“Caroline, you are aware he is a likeable sort of man. Stray cats follow him. Bees alight on his collar but do not sting him. Angels love him.”
Darcy eyed the biscuits, prettily arrayed but untouched. He smiled and unbeknownst to himself, sighed amusedly.
A sigh of a different sort came from his companion. “Charles is formed for happiness, as you say Elizabeth is as well. You truly could never have married me.”
“No,” Darcy said solemnly. “You are my friend. I enjoy your company. But I will love only one woman.”
“This thing called love,” Caroline scoffed. “It is a most inconvenient impediment to marital felicity.”
“May I offer you a small piece of advice?”
She nodded eagerly and leaned closer.
“Learn to enjoy brandy and sit up with your brother tonight while he is still a man without a wife and pining for his wedding day. Get a bit of brandy in you and lot more in your brother and you may learn that love is not dreadful at all.” Darcy nodded. “He is surprisingly wise.”
The door burst open. “Caroline! Oh dear god, Darcy! I am so sorry, I thought—.”
Bingley whirled about, looking up at the footman behind the door and, behind him, Hurst slumped on the settee and Louisa intent on a fashion magazine. His attention focused on table holding a small tray of biscuits and cakes and two half-emptied teacups. “I see. A tête-à-tête, from which I have been excluded.”
Caroline waved at him impatiently. “Charles, is there something you need?”
“Why, yes there is, Caroline.” Standing at his full height, he crossed his arms and stared down at her. “An explanation. My family gathers here without me, and here you sit in private conversation with my friend, the man who will soon become my brother by marrying the sister of my Jane.”
He glanced at Darcy, trying to summon a glare, but was cut short by the amused expression on the man’s haughty mien. He watched as Darcy flicked some imagined piece of lint or dust off his perfectly smooth and pristine breeches.
“Your sister requested a conversation with me, Bingley, one akin to what you and I have shared.”
“No,” Bingley gasped. “You would not.”
Caroline shook her head sadly. “No, he would not. Unlike you, brother, I do not swill brandy or speak of lost loves and flying carpets and Greek buffoons.”
“Ah,” Bingley said, grinning at Darcy. “But that you would, you would be the most interesting lady in the world.”
After a long look at the two besotted men, Caroline sighed. “Perhaps a bit of brandy in my tea.”
Thank you so much for sharing, ladies! It is nice to see Caroline grow a little in her awareness and understanding, and I love seeing Mr. Darcy defend Mr. Bingley! 🙂 And lol! Does Colonel Fitzwilliam have a mustache again? 😆
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Meryton Press is generously giving away 8 ebook editions of The Most Interesting Man in the World in conjunction with this blog tour!! Woot woot!
Commenting on this post and filling out 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 1st!
Thank you to Claudine Pepe, Meryton Press, J.L. Ashton and Justine Rivard for making this blog tour possible!!
February 12 ~ A Covent Garden Madame Gilflurt’s Guide to Life ~ Guest Post
February 14 ~ Margie’s Must Reads ~ Book Review
February 16 ~ Just Jane 1813 ~ Meet the Authors
February 18 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm ~ Guest Post
February 22 ~ From Pemberley to Milton ~ Character Interview
February 24 ~ Diary of an Eccentric ~ Book Review
February 26 ~ My Vices and Weaknesses ~ Book Excerpt
February 28 ~ More Agreeably Engaged ~ Guest Post