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Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Perfections of Pemberley | guest post from Alexa Adams!

Joining us today is Alexa Adams, a name you'll definitely recognize if you've been around for previous Austens in August. (Austen in Augusts? Austens ins Augusts?)  Her current novel, Darcy in Wonderland, mashes up Pride & Prejudice and (you guessed it) Alice in Wonderland. I'll be featuring the book in a few days, but until then, Alexa has dropped by to talk a bit about the "character" of Pemberley, and adapting it to a Wonderland setting -- and she's included an excerpt for you to check it out yourself! Click through to read it, and let us know your thoughts in the comments! 

Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; -- and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something! – Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43
More than any other country house in Jane Austen’s six novels, Pemberley is the most romantic and fascinating to the reader. Not only does Mr. Darcy’s wealth guarantee his home’s superiority (only Mr. Rushworth of Mansfield Park surpasses him, and his house, like his personality, is generally acknowledged to be in need of improvement), but also the excellence of his character, which is always reflected in an Austen gentleman’s estate. Like Darcy himself, Pemberley is a place of order, prosperity, and a model for others. From Miss Bingley’s first sycophantic praises of the place …

"Neglect! I am sure you neglect nothing that can add to the beauties of that noble place. Charles, when you build your house, I wish it may be half as delightful as Pemberley."
"I wish it may."
"But I would really advise you to make your purchase in that neighbourhood, and take Pemberley for a kind of model. There is not a finer county in England than Derbyshire." – Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 8
… to the more reliable confirmation of the sensible Gardiners, and finally Elizabeth’s total approbation, we hear nothing of Pemberley but its perfections. It’s fairytale-like: truly a Cinderella’s castle for our heroine to swept away to for her happily ever after.

It is precisely these attributes that made Pemberley (and Darcy) the perfect foil to the absurdities and contradictions of Wonderland in my newest book, Darcy in Wonderland. The very contrast between the two locales is at the heart of the story. The novel begins amongst the Darcys in their home, many years after Elizabeth and Darcy are married. We see a place and family flourishing and secure. In comes the youngest of their children, Alice, who does her best to disrupt this tidy world with her inexhaustible imagination and hijinks. Soon she leads her father down the rabbit hole into an alternative land of talking creatures, irrational despots, and spontaneous growth spurts. In vain will Darcy struggle to apply the rules and strictures that have always assured him, his estate, and his family the prosperity they enjoy, never abandoning up his attempts to organize the disorderly until, finally, he and his daughter find themselves back where they belong. Nevertheless, he gains something from the experience. Pemberley will remain what it always has been, but its master has learned the importance of letting his children pursue their own paths, even when they include a hint of the unpredictable. Here is a small taste of my tale:
Alice was still struggling with the baby, so Darcy took it from her, tucked it with practiced ease into the crook of his arm, and pushed his daughter out the door and into the open air. 
There was no sign of the Footman, and Darcy thought with some consternation that if he were intent on neglecting his duties, he at least might be found in the spot from which he so fervently announced he would not move. 
“What shall you do with the baby, Papa?” Alice asked, quite reasonably. “I am glad you took it, for they would be sure to kill it in a day or so. Would it not be murder to leave it behind?”

“It would be neglect, and certainly irresponsible. When we return to Pemberley, I shall find someone to raise it.” He thought he might have to feed it some mushroom first, but he could not bring himself to say so out loud.
“You hold it so easily, Papa,” Alice noted as they walked back into the woods. “I was having the most difficult time of it. You cannot know how relieved I was to even catch the poor little dear when she threw it at me so suddenly. I have only met a duchess once before, Papa, and she was nothing like that one.” 
“I sincerely doubt she was really a duchess,” Darcy replied.

“But she had an invitation from the Queen, Papa.”
“I cannot believe it was real.” 
“‘Tis a queer shaped little creature, is it not, Papa?” Alice observed. “It holds out its arms and legs in all directions, just like a starfish.” 
The baby grunted in response to this description. 
“Don’t grunt,” scolded Alice. “That is not a proper way at all of expressing yourself.” 
The baby grunted again.   
“Perhaps there is something the matter with it, Papa?” Alice asked anxiously. 
Darcy, not overly pleased with his burden, lowered the bundle to gaze at the baby’s face. “Good Lord!” he cried. “It has a snout!” 
Alice peered at it inquisitively. “I do not like the look of it at all, but perhaps it was only sobbing? No. There are no tears. If you are going to turn into a pig, my dear,” she said seriously, shaking a scolding finger at it, “then we shall have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!” 
“Of all the day’s absurdities, this is the worst,” Darcy said, though he was really quite relieved not to have a baby in his care. He put the pig on its legs and let it wander into the woods, still wearing its bonnet. “I will not carry that thing home. We have ourselves to see to.” 
Alice watched as it quietly trotted off. “If it had grown up, it would have made a dreadfully ugly child, but it makes a rather handsome pig, I think.” As they continued walking along, she maintained this theme. “I think there are quite a few children I know who might be improved as pigs. The Collins boys might do very well, if only one knew the right way to change them …”

Darcy in Wonderland is available for purchase in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon. Thank you, Misty, for allowing me to participate in your always awesome, annual Austen celebration. It’s a blast!

[You're welcome! ~ M.]

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  1. Oh, indeed this was a fun one. I got the privilege to review it and had a good time on Darcy and Alice's adventures.

  2. This sounds like fun. THE ebook is on my TBR.

  3. What a wonderful excerpt. It sounds like loads of fun. I already have the ebook and it is on my very long TBR.


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