The Darcy Monologues – an anthology of short stories
15 different writers get inside Darcy’s head and write their versions of Mr Darcy. For me, the two USPs of this anthology are the Darcy perspective, and the different eras.
The Darcy Monologues is a JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) anthology of 15 short stories, written from the perspective of Fritzwilliam Darcy. (They aren’t all in first person, but they are certainly written from his point of view.) The book is split into two sections – one contains stories set in the Regency era, the other has stories set in different eras, from the 1940s, to the 50s, 60s, and modern day.
Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is written mostly from Elizabeth’s perspective, so, while we are privy to her inner turmoil after she rejects Darcy’s proposal and receives his letter of explanation, we learn far less about Darcy’s inner thought and motivations. Haven’t you ever wondered what Darcy thought when he met Lizzy and the Gardiners at Pemberley? And what about after the book ends – what are Darcy’s thoughts before, and after his wedding?
15 different writers get inside Darcy’s head and write their versions of Mr Darcy. The result is different gorgeous hues of the same man who will forever be the ultimate female fantasy. While each story has something to offer every type of reader, my favourites from this section were: The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Standford, and Without Affection by Jan Hahn.
As plots change to fit the era, conflicts change, yet the essence of the characters, and the building blocks of the story, remain true to the characters and story we love.
While the first half of the book shines because of the Darcy POV, the second half of the book is all about location, location, location. Or, in this case, era, era, era. It was such a treat to discover how Lizzy, Darcy and the gang were written into stories set in different decades, with their personalities, characteristics, jobs, and personal backgrounds changing accordingly. So we get soldier Darcy, principal Darcy, CEO Darcy, wild west Darcy, ball player Darcy. As plots change to fit the era, conflicts change, yet the essence of the characters, and the building blocks of the story, remain true to the original Pride and Prejudice. My favourites from this section were: You Don’t Know Me by Beau North, and Reason To Hope by Jenetta James.
My only criticism would be not about this anthology, but about JAFF short stories in general. The original Lizzy-Darcy relationship started out with animosity, and it took a lot of interaction and plot development for it to change into admiration and love. In the short stories where they meet, dislike each other, fall in love, and get engaged – all within 30 pages – they literally have to be “in the middle of it before they know it has even begun”. That can come off rather unrealistic. However, it is only because we know the characters, and already know the plot, that the short stories really work. But hey, that’s why it’s called fan fiction. It’s not about telling the same story; it’s about retelling the same story in a different way, which still captures our hearts.
The Darcy Monologues is the JAFF gateway drug.
If you’re new to Jane Austen Fan Fiction, or you’re a JAFF fan and want to “convert” a friend, consider starting with an anthology like The Darcy Monologues. Not only do you get to sample the writing of some of the best writers in the genre, but you also get to read stories in different styles and flavours, set in different eras. So there’s something for everyone in it to enjoy. Think of The Darcy Monologues as your JAFF gateway drug. Don’t worry, experts agree; it lowers anxiety, increases imagination, and is very good for health. 😉
You can get The Darcy Monologues for FREE until 9th December, 2017, so hurry and click on this link to get it now: The Darcy Monologues on Amazon.
Read the brief synopsis and analysis of each story below.
Death of A Bachelor by Caitlin Williams
This story explores Darcy’s thoughts and fears as he prepares for married life with Elizabeth. He considers the nature of love, struggles being around the Bennet family, and even gets caught in a snowstorm with Lizzy. (Romantic!) This story was the perfect opener for this anthology. It gives us a glimpse into what might have happened just after the book ends, and is equal parts inner monologue and plot, with plenty of sexual angst.
From The Ashes by J. Marie Croft
Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth does not go as expected, and a disturbed Darcy writes Elizabeth his famous rebuttal. We are privy to the many drafts he composes (which subsequently turn to ashes), before he settles on the final version. I loved the clever use of cancellation to give us a glimpse into the uncensored thoughts of Darcy as he formulates the letter. This story is fun, funny and a great change of pace for the Regency era section of the book.
If Only A Dream by Joana Starnes
This story also picks up after the failed proposal, but instead of leaving Rosings immediately, Darcy is detained there by unforeseen circumstances. This means Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to face each other after everything that has occurred. (Awkward!) Of course they reconcile but not before we are entertained by a little angst, some humour, and romantic confessions. A delicate and well-balanced short story. Bonus points for a humorous scene with Lady Catherine.
Clandestiny by Karalynne Mackrory
Lizzy and Darcy have a clandestine meeting at the Netherfield Ball, quite by accident. A secret passage transports Lizzy into the arms of Mr Darcy – quite literally. With no one else in the cosy library but Darcy and Lizzy, a crackling fire, some circumstantial physical proximity, and unspoken desire hanging in the air, what can you expect but plenty of sexual tension? Visceral and hot.
The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Standford
Darcy and the inhabitants of Pemberley (Lumiere and the gang) have been cursed with disfiguring wounds that do not heal, by the the sorcerer Wickham. Elizabeth has to marry Darcy to pay off her father’s debts. Can she love the angry, broken and disfigured beast of Pemberley? I’ve never read Darcy as a tough-yet-vulnerable man before, and there was something interesting about that. The story of Darcy and Lizzy blended perfectly into the Beauty and The Beast plot in the capable hands of Melanie Stanford, creating a touching and romantic love story.
A Resentful Man by Lory Lilian
The most popular scene to frame a monologue around is usually the proposal/letter scene. Which is why it was refreshing to read Darcy’s inner monologue as he prepares to travel to Pemberley, and afterwards, when he meets Lizzy and the Gardiers on the grounds of Pemberley. This is a thoughtful and pleasant story, that sticks close to canon while filling the gaps in between. I enjoyed the preamble scene as well, where Darcy is having a house party with Georgiana and the Bingleys at his London residence.
In Terms of Perfect Composure by Susan Adriani
Mr. Gardiner grills Darcy about his intentions regarding Lizzy. Darcy realises Elizabeth might reciprocate his feelings and travels to Longbourne. But a certain someone has already turned up to try and thwart the union! Susan imagines Darcy’s thoughts and feelings in the days before he proposes to Lizzy. I appreciated the restrained prose and dialogue – it is very close to canon in style and treatment, and that made it all the more delightful.
Without Affection by Jan Hahn
Darcy reminisces about the birth of his son – we learn that it was a difficult childbirth. Darcy is left traumatised, and believes that another pregnancy will endanger Elizabeth’s life. He decides it is best to abstain from sex – forever – to ensure Lizzy’s life isn’t endangered again! Of course, Lizzy will have none of it, and what follows is a sexy game of cat-and-mouse. Sex in historical romances is generally presented as romantic, magical, and devoid of consequences – but not in this story. I appreciated the realistic look at sex, contraceptives and childbirth in the Regency era. But realism can also be very romantic, as this story exemplifies.
Hot For Teacher by Sara Angelini
Darcy is a School Principal in present day. He hires a dowdy art teacher who turns out to be less dowdy as time progresses. But her attention is taken by the charming literature teacher Wickham, who is also Darcy’s half brother. Will Lizzie learn of Wickham’s indiscretions and will Darcy change and earn Lizzie’s admiration and love? Hot For Teacher is playful, funny, and fun. Bonus points for Collins the janitor.
You Don’t Know Me by Beau North
Darcy travels to Buffalo to oversee changes at one of his radio stations there, where he meets the opinionated and impossibly-long-legged DJ, Miss Bennet. She butts heads with Darcy and a local ladies group that wants jazz music off the airwaves. Plus, Miss Bennet has a secret, and isn’t willing to share it just yet. Discrimination and prejudices prevalent in the 60s provide the conflict in the plot. The chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth sizzles, fuelled by a heady mix of music and *SPOILER* couch-makeout! The plot was cohesive, the characters well-fleshed out. This story would work as a great standalone, even if the protagonists weren’t called Darcy and Elizabeth.
Reason To Hope by Jenetta James
Group Captain Darcy and Squadron Leader Bingley are stationed at Meryton in this story set during WW2. A chance encounter with Lizzy, and some dancing later (yes, in this story, Darcy likes to dance!), Darcy is smitten. But this is wartime, and Lizzy suddenly finds herself in a distressing situation involving her family. Darcy springs into action, and the two of them find themselves on a road-trip and rescue mission. This is a well-researched story that immerses you in the era with its attention to historical detail.
Pemberley By Stage by Natalie Richards
In the dangerous world of 1880s California, Darcy, Bingley, Elizabeth and their sisters face highwaymen, robbers, murderers, kidnappers, and prostitutes. Darcy teams up with a fresh-faced boy named “Elias” Bennet to save Georgiana, Jane, Bingley and Lydia, and they fall for each other in the process. Far removed from the social restraints of Georgian England, our Darcy and Lizzy brandish firearms instead of barbs, and lock lips instead of heads. This is a good ol’ western with plenty of action.
Darcy Strikes Out by Sophia Rose
Darcy is a charming baseball player, and Lizzy is a sports journalist. The plot sticks close to the original P&P. Lizzy and Darcy have a misunderstanding over Wickham and some off-hand condescending comments. But fear not, it’s a home run in the end for our lovebirds. What I loved about this story was the inclusion of people with disabilities. Sophia writes about Georgiana, a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, with empathy and realness. Also touching was her portrayal of the easy and loving relationship between Georgiana and Darcy. This is a modern love story with heart.
The Ride Home by Ruth Phillips
It’s millennial Lizzy and Darcy! A drunk Elizabeth needs to be rescued from a disastrous date with Mr. Collins. It’s Darcy to the rescue, but it will be awkward because Lizzy doesn’t like Darcy. Or so he thinks. An inebriated Lizzy is a filter-less Lizzy, and her real thoughts about Darcy are NSFW! Will there be some behind-the-wheel hanky-panky, or will Darcy save it for later like a proper gentleman? This one is a modern, sexy story that eschews Regency demureness and brings Pride and Prejudice to 2017.
I, Darcy by Karen M Cox
Liam Darcy meets Lynley (Lizzy) at a hotel where a Jane Austen conference is taking place. Liam expresses his displeasure at being named after the fictional Mr. Darcy, and proceeds to malign his character. You know Lynley is having none of it! They meet again in a small-town in Virginia, where Lynley runs a farm with Jane, and Darcy is setting up a restaurant with Corbin (Bingley). Liam re-reads Pride and Prejudice, and comes to appreciate his namesake. Lynley finds her happily ever after with her real-life Mr. Darcy. I loved that the last story on the anthology went meta. As much as this story is about Darcy and Lizzy/Lynley, it is also a celebration of Austen, her fans, and the JAFF community. A perfect last story for this anthology.