• Historical Fiction
  • General Fiction and Women Writers
  • YA Fiction
  • Suspense and Thrillers
  • Memoirs and Non Fiction
  • Classics and Mashups

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Author Abigail Reynolds~Jane Austen Christmas Week!

Trapped for three days by a flood, and trapped forever by society because of it….

It is a proverbial dark and stormy night when Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth Bennet in the most insulting manner. Just as she begins her famous refusal, a crack of thunder presages the pounding at the door as the residents of the flooded village of Hunsford seek refuge from the storm at the parsonage atop the hill. Even worse, the flood has washed out the only bridge leading to Rosings Park, leaving Darcy stranded with Elizabeth at the parsonage. The river isn’t the only thing that overflows in Hunsford when Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to work together to deal with the crisis under the worst possible circumstances. And it may already be too late to redeem Elizabeth’s reputation….
In this Pride & Prejudice variation, the lane dividing the Hunsford parsonage from Rosings Park has been replaced by one of the flood-prone Kentish rivers. The storms are real – the spring of 1811 was remarkable for numerous thunderstorms in Southeast England.

Published by:  White Soup Press
Pages: 238
Genre:  Fiction/Jane Austen inspired
Author:  Abigail Reynolds
Find more information here:  Abigail Reynolds


Abigail Reynolds is a great believer in taking detours. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.
A life-long lover of Jane Austen's novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are MR. DARCY'S REFUGE, A PEMBERLEY MEDLEY, and MORNING LIGHT, and she is currently working on a new Pemberley Variation and the next novel in her Cape Cod series. A lifetime member of JASNA and a founder of the popular AUSTEN AUTHORS group blog, she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenaged children, and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.


Welcome, Abigail!  Thank you for taking time out in the winter blizzard to stop by for a guest post!
I appreciate your doing this despite your note about losing your computer midst the whole thing....  Wow!  You're a trooper and we appreciate it.  Jane would be very proud.  Thank you so much!
Now, on to the treat you have for our readers...


"I’ve written eight variations on Pride & Prejudice and have a couple more in process.  Readers often ask me how I can keep coming up with my crazy ideas for variations without getting bored.  Here’s an example I’ve been working on for the last day or two. 


It stems from the weather.  You see, I no longer have to worry about whether we’re going to have a white Christmas this year.  A blizzard with 19 inches of snow has crossed that worry off my list.  It’s also the kind of thing that makes me dream up ideas for new variations.  As I watch my daughter becoming antsy the longer we’re trapped in the house, and my son being increasingly cranky due to the lack of internet and cable TV, I start wondering what Elizabeth and Darcy would do if stranded together in a snowstorm.


But could it be a story? The first step is to look at whether the scenario has any possibilities.  It needs a plot line, conflict, and character growth, or there’s no point in writing it.  The majority of changes you could make to Pride & Prejudice don’t lead to any significant alteration in the story line.  In this case, if they’re stranded together at Pemberley, they could go out for a romantic sleigh ride, but there’s really no story since there are servants to take care of everything.  If they’re stranded on their own, but already engaged or married, there isn’t any conflict to resolve, and survival skills by themselves aren’t that interesting.  If they’re stranded with people they need to take care of, there could be a great story, but I’ve already written it in Mr. Darcy’s Refuge, where a flood strands Darcy and Elizabeth at the Hunsford parsonage with the refugees from the village.


So that leaves Darcy and Elizabeth stranded either on their own or with a few other people who aren’t servants, and it has to begin before they reach an understanding. It also has to be in the winter, which fortunately isn’t a problem since Bingley leaves Netherfield after the ball on November 26, and Elizabeth goes to Hunsford in March.  There’s a significant geography problem, though, since Elizabeth is in southern England throughout that period, and that’s not a likely location for a paralyzing snow storm.  Unless I alter the climate, I need to find a reason for Elizabeth to be in the North.  That’s a manageable issue.


Next comes the real question, which is what difficulties they would face if stranded by a blizzard. They’re unlikely to be troubled by a power failure or an internet outage, but they would need shelter, food, heat, and dry clothing.  Now this is a fertile line of questioning!  Somehow they’d have to find an abandoned hut or cave, since neither of them could build a shelter.  The hut or cave would have to be cleaned, but that’s something that most people could figure out how to do, even if they’ve always had servants to do it for them before. 


Food is trickier.  Darcy knows how to hunt… at least he does when he has his hunting rifle, ammunition, a loader to load his rifle for him, some spaniels to flush out the game and to return with the killed animal, a gameskeeper to manage the spaniels, and a kitchen staff to butcher the animal.  It’s unlikely he would know what to do with an animal once it’s killed.


The actual cooking of the animal would be worse. Splitting logs isn’t likely to be among Darcy’s skills, or knowing the difference between dry and wet wood.   Both Elizabeth and Darcy have probably seen fires lit often enough to have some idea how to do it, at least if they have a hot coal from the kitchen hearth or a flint and steel to provide a spark.  Without those, they’re probably helpless.  Assuming they somehow surmount this challenge, the next step would be the actual cooking.  Mrs. Bennet tells us proudly in Pride & Prejudice that her daughters don’t know how to cook, so Elizabeth can’t save the day there.  They don’t have a lot of options for cooking, either, since pots and pans were valuable commodities in the Regency period, not something that one would accidentally leave behind in an abandoned hut.  That leaves cooking it on a spit, which is more difficult than it sounds unless you happen to like your meat raw, charred, or both. 


So far this is just Survivor, Regency Style.  Action is great, but I also need interpersonal conflict. Well, Darcy is accustomed to achieving almost anything with just a word to a servant. He’s not going to like discovering how difficult it is to survive without them, and he especially won’t enjoy looking incompetent in front of Elizabeth, not to mention the guilt he’ll feel if she is hungry and cold.  Elizabeth, meanwhile, will be happily looking for any fault in Darcy, and she’ll have plenty to find.  Then there’s the elephant in the middle of the deserted hut, which is that Elizabeth is now compromised.  Despite what we sometimes say in fanfiction, women didn’t really have a choice between ruin and a forced marriage.  Elizabeth will have a worse dilemma than that, which is not knowing whether Darcy is going to face up to his responsibilities.  She thinks he dislikes her and isn’t particularly honorable, and there’s nothing to force him to offer for her.  Yes, I think there would be plenty of interpersonal conflict!


So there you have it, the genesis of another Pride & Prejudice variation.  Will I write it?  Most likely not, since I already have 9 novel ideas ahead of it, and I keep thinking of more of them.  But it’s still fun to play “What if….”.


For more information on Abigail's books or to order her latest "Mr. Darcy's Refuge," please go here:
Abigail Reynolds Website

                            MERRY  CHRISTMAS  FROM ALL


                               YOUR BOOKISH DAME!



It is interesting that you brought up the subject of snow in Hertfordshire. My son and I were discussing weather trends this week. He has done extensive study about the weather in Europe over the centuries. Regency England was much colder than it is now. There was snow and the Thames froze over one year, so this story could be set close to Meryton with no trouble at all.


I kind of want to know what happens in the cave scenario now! :-)


LOL I'm sure Abigail will get a charge out of your comment, Ceri.
And, yours, too, Jade.
It's fun to see how an author's mind works!


Thanks for taking us through how you develop a possible plot, Abigail. It is all so interesting. I am always amazed at how much authors need to know and plot out in order to write one story. Knowing all that goes into this process makes me appreciate the story so much more. :)

Abigail Reynolds

Jade, that's interesting about snow in Hertfordshire. The Thames freezing is already on my potential setting list - a Frost Fair is one of the ideas I have for how Elizabeth and Darcy could encounter each other accidentally in London.

Ceri, the darkness in a cave would certainly make things interesting!

Jakki, thanks for your comments and your support!


I suppose you could always have a lurking threat drive them off the course they were taking when they get stranded in the snow. Highway men? Would Elizabeth ever be sitting in the cheap seats atop a post? Could she get bounced off, or forgotten when they have to replace a broken wheel or check on a horse with a lame leg at an unscheduled stop? But then no one might know that she was with Darcy the whole time.... Could she have been accompanying Mary to see her to a governess post and could someone have offered to see her back to the post route but proven to be too unsavory to even spend a small time with? Could she decide to walk? She is a great walker, and she could easily convince herself that the storm would not be that bad? That I suppose provides opportunity for Darcy to stumble upon her in the wilderness?

Can't wait for Mr. Darcy's Nemesis

Share your thoughts!

Blogaholic Designs”=