Thursday 29 October 2015

The Unthinkable Triangle

It's a pleasure to welcome Joana Starnes to the salon today to discuss her new novel, The Unthinkable Triangle

The winner of the giveaway is Cassandra Samuels; congratulations to Cassandra and thanks to everyone who entered!

The Unthinkable Triangle
Many thanks, Catherine, for inviting me here today to talk about my latest release, The Unthinkable Triangle, a Pride and Prejudice variation based on a perhaps uncomfortable premise: what if Mr. Darcy’s rival for Elizabeth Bennet’s hand and heart was not some inconsequential stranger, but his dearest, closest friend?

As the blog tour is drawing to a close, I thought I might dwell a little on the nearest relations of the said close friend. By that of course I mean Colonel Fitzwilliam’s relations, for he is the third in the titular triangle.

The Colonel’s parents are unnamed in the original novel. But, thanks to a scene in the cherished 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation – namely the one where Mr Collins, ridiculous as ever, urges the ladies to make haste and return home to greet their illustrious visitors – they are widely known in many variations as the Earl and Countess of Matlock. More often than not, they are portrayed as a charming couple, eager to promote the new Mrs. Darcy’s entry in society and keen to disoblige the sour Lady Catherine in any way they can.

However, the chatelaine of Rosings is the very reason why, in a couple of my variations, I have chosen to view them in a different light. The earl is Lady Catherine’s brother and must have had the very same upbringing. If anything, the dictates of society would have been even more insistently drilled into the son destined to carry the title and continue the lineage. Therefore it might be assumed that he would share Lady Catherine’s prejudices and perhaps even her notions regarding Miss Anne de Bourgh as the most suitable wife for Darcy. He might favour an alliance that would clearly augment the couple’s wealth and standing in society. 

Likewise the countess. While I can easily picture her as heartily detesting her sister-in-law, I imagine she would have her own class prejudices too. It is unlikely that the earl married for love. He must have made a socially acceptable union with the daughter of one of the best houses in the land. Thus, while the countess might harbour no desire to promote the interests of Lady Catherine’s offspring, it is reasonable to imagine that she would turn her nose up at the daughter of a small country gentleman with little or no dowry and who, horror of horrors, also bears the stigma of relations in trade. It is fair to assume that she would try to steer Darcy away from such an unremarkable connection. And the objections she might have to Miss Elizabeth Bennet becoming Darcy’s wife would be multiplied a hundredfold if the prospective groom were her own son. Her younger son, moreover, who needs to marry money.

With deep apologies to the charming Lord and Lady Matlock, in my latest Pride and Prejudice variation Colonel Fitzwilliam’s parents are anything but charming. Which is one of the reasons why I have chosen a different name for them. In The Unthinkable Triangle they are to be Lord and Lady Langthorne – much like lady Catherine, a long and painful thorn in everybody’s side.

The following excerpt shows Lady Langthorne’s reaction at her son’s proposed marriage. He is recovering at Darcy’s London home from a life-threatening condition, but that is not deterring the great lady from voicing her opinions regarding his matrimonial intentions and the very vexing fact that the unsuitable Miss Bennet was suffered to play nurse:

* * * *

Excerpt from The Unthinkable Triangle

Darcy returned several hours later, to be greeted by a very flustered Georgiana.
“Brother! Thank goodness, you are here at last.”
“Why? What happened?”
“Our aunt is here. And she is not best pleased.”
“Lady Catherine?”
“Oh, no. Worse. Lady Langthorne.”
Foreboding spread through him like lightning.
“What happened?” he repeated.
“She arrived unannounced half an hour ago– ”
“Where was everybody?”
“Mrs. Annesley, Elizabeth and I were sitting with our needlework when Lady Langthorne stormed in, lost no time with civilities and demanded to see Richard. She was most put out when Elizabeth warned me that he might be asleep and offered to go up to check. And–… Oh, Brother! I wish you had been here. No sooner had Elizabeth said as much than our aunt drew herself up to her full height and asked me in her most forbidding manner who was the young woman who was making so free with her comings and goings to her son’s bedchamber. But I am sure she knew. She looked very grim when I made the introductions and said she would wait for a footman to go and check instead. Thomas went and confirmed that Richard was asleep, so our aunt installed herself in state in the drawing room, refused refreshment and demanded to see you– ”
“Where is Miss Bennet?” Darcy interjected.
“In her chambers, I think.”
“And her father? Is he with her?”
“No. He is not in. Mr. Bennet left right after breakfast to call on Mrs. Bingley.”
“Blast!” Darcy muttered. Her father’s support might have been welcome, both during and after the uncivil encounter. Why the blazes had he seen fit to tear across the turf in Hampstead Heath this morning? But he knew why, and pointless questions would not make the current situation any better. Just now, he needed to reassure himself that Elizabeth was well and not distressed unduly – but he could not very well seek her in her bedchamber.
Perhaps Georgiana might be sent to ask her if she would see him in the upstairs sitting room? It was a sensible solution, and it might have been a workable one as well. Sadly, an imperious voice rendered it utterly useless.
“Darcy! I see you have returned. Good. I would speak with you.”
His jaw set, he turned to acknowledge his relation with a bow and a terse “Lady Langthorne”.
“Pray join me,” her ladyship intoned, making him arch an eyebrow at having been peremptorily summoned into his own drawing room. Besides, he had his own opinions on the matter.
“Might I suggest my study? You would be more comfortable and you might prefer a private setting.”
“I am not concerned for my own comfort, Nephew, nor am I seeking to keep my opinions private. But you can have your wish. Let me to your study.”
Darcy squared his shoulders and showed her the way.
“Pray, be seated,” he said, once they were within and he had closed the door for further safety. “May I offer you refreshment?” he stalled with a civil offer, which was so brusquely rejected that it was beyond uncivil.
“Not now. Tell me about Richard.”
“He is alive and well.”
“Is this all you can tell me?”
“What would you wish to know?”
“A vast deal. But I should begin by thanking you. My housekeeper has written to inform me that you took the trouble of fetching him from Portsmouth.”
“I could have done no less.”
“I beg to differ,” the lady loftily retorted. “But firstly, is he safe?”
“Dr. Graham thinks so.”
“Good. Then he is fit to travel.”
“Might I ask where?”
“To be with his family.”
The lady’s crisp retort and her non-existent effort at civility could not fail to provoke him into replying, just as crisply:
“Forgive me, I was under the impression that he was with family already.”
“Then perhaps I should say, with those members of his family who are prepared to see to his best interest.”
“Pray tell me, how do I fail to qualify?” Darcy spoke up firmly, having determined it was time to bring matters into the open. He was not surprised when the lady instantly obliged.
“Frankly, Darcy, I am bitterly disappointed that you would contrive to force his hand by allowing the country chit at his bedside. I had every hope that he would conquer his preposterous infatuation, but how can he do so when you allow that person to ingratiate herself with him? Worse still, force him to keep his word, if it becomes known that she enjoys free access into his bedchamber.”
Violent anger choked him and goaded him into a sharp retort:
“No man of sense and feeling would need to have his hand forced into marrying Miss Bennet. She is the very best that anyone could hope for.”
“Is that so! Do you imagine me ignorant of her connections?”
“Richard does not object.”
“Seemingly not. But I do. And it is time I made my feelings known without equivocation. I would never consent to this disgraceful union.”
“That would make your ladyship’s situation more pitiable, but I doubt it would sway him.”
“Even if he finds himself deprived of every material comfort he is accustomed to?”
“Even so. I have it from him that a genteel sufficiency would suit him just as well, or even better.”
“I doubt that a colonel’s pay can guarantee it. And the war cannot last forever.”
“Then those of us who care for him might find a way to secure him advancement.”
“You would go this far? Wilfully act to disoblige your own relations?”
“Richard is my relation too. It would be an honour to oblige him.”
“And see him shunned, censured and despised in almost every circle that had once welcomed him?”
“Those are heavy misfortunes indeed. But his wife would provide such extraordinary sources of happiness that, upon the whole, he would have no cause to repine.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Surely it does not surprise you that affection would outweigh the loss of any number of fashionable circles. Rest assured, he will be happy. I would have hoped that, as his mother, you would value this above all else.”
“Do not presume to lecture me on my feelings and duties as a mother. Affection indeed! Arts, allurements, my son’s wilful blindness and a young upstart’s wishes for self-aggrandisement do not make for a happy union.”
“You have said quite enough, Madam! I perfectly comprehend your feelings. But it would serve you well to comprehend another’s. Miss Bennet’s devoted care has brought my cousin from death’s door. I should have thought that this alone entitles her to your deepest gratitude– ”
“She would have my deepest gratitude if she removed herself from his path. But there is no hope now, is there? Tittle-tattle would oblige him– ”
“His sentiments would oblige him! And as for tittle-tattle, I can assure you that no one in my household would spread rumours that might endanger Miss Bennet’s good name. If rumour spreads, it could only come from Langthorne House!”

* * * *

If you would like to see the outcome of Mr Darcy’s instinctive response to Lady Langthorne malice, please leave a comment to be entered in the international giveaway of a Kindle copy of The Unthinkable Triangle. Thanks for stopping by to read the excerpt and thanks again, Madame Gilflurt, for the wonderful warm welcome! As always, it was a great pleasure and honour to visit your virtual abode.

About the author:

Joana Starnes lives in the South of England with her family. A medical graduate, in more recent years she has developed an unrelated but enduring fascination with Georgian Britain in general and the works of Jane Austen in particular, as well as with the remarkable and flamboyant set of people who have given the Regency Period its charm and sparkle. She has published five Austen-related novels, all available at Amazon in print and Kindle version:

  • From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley ~ A Pride & Prejudice sequel
  • The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion
  • The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation
  • The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set in Poldark territory
  • The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation, where loyalty comes at loggerheads with love

You can connect with Joana Starnes on ; ; or visit ‘The Unthinkable Triangle Facebook page’ for details of giveaways and lots of images that have inspired this story.

Written content of this post copyright © Joana Starnes, 2015.


CassiaDeWarren said...

At first, I was very skeptic about P&P variations, prequels and sequels, but after several tries, I say that you can become addicted. Beware, readers! ;-)

Cassandra Samuels said...

I really enjoyed the excerpt. Darcy holds his own and I love a good discussion. How lucky Joana is to live in such close proximity to everything Austen.

Rachel said...

Great post :) I need to read this, sounds so good.

Joana Starnes said...

It really is such an addictive genre, Cassia! I haven't managed to escape in over 10 years, but in all fairness, I haven't tried that hard :)

Many thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks, Cassandra, I'm so glad you enjoyed the excerpt and the aunt-nephew chat ;)
Best of luck and thanks for stopping by.

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks, Rachel, I'm so glad the excerpt caught your eye! I hope you'll like the rest of the story too. Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for taking part.

Anji said...

Such a different excerpt this time, Joana. It's lovely to see all the little quotes and nods to Lady Catherine's confrontation with Elizabeth from canon. I was punching the air for Darcy as he told his Aunt "what for" during this particular confrontation. Love the little kind of a threat at the end. . Nice one, Fitzwilliam! (Mind you, he's always "Will" to me).

EDIT: I drafted this earlier today on a break at work, but had no internet connection. When I got home, I found an email to say I've won a copy of this wonderful sounding book on another blog, so please don't enter me in the giveaway. Doing a happy dance!

Dung said...

There's so many obstacles for Darcy in this novel! I'm glad to know in advance that he and Elizabeth have their HEA... :)

Joana Starnes said...

I couldn't write anything else, Dung Vu :) Thanks for reading and commenting, much appreciated, and best of luck in the giveaway!

Joana Starnes said...

So glad you won a copy at last, Anji! Thanks for following the blog tour and for reading every excerpt, your comments were so lovely every time and much appreciated. So glad you enjoyed this snippet too and can't wait to hear what you thought of the whole story.

Diana Wilder said...

What a delicious excerpt, beautifully written in perfect Austen form (and familiar to me from their original setting) but with an individual touch that makes it all the more enjoyable. I'm glad I stopped by! Please put my name in for the giveaway. When I learn that mathematical likelihood was against me, I will purchase a copy for myself.

tgruy said...

Great excerpt! I was finally able to buy the book, so don't put me up for the giveaway, and I am impatient for the time to read it. Pity I'm so swamped in work.

Unknown said...

This sounds very intriguing! I would love to read this!

Anji said...

I'm four chapters in, Joana. Loving it!

Joana Starnes said...

Many thanks for your kind words, Diana, I'm so happy that you liked the excerpt! So glad you stopped by and best of luck in the giveaway. I hope you'll like the rest of the story too.

Joana Starnes said...

Wonderful to hear that, Anji! Happy dance :)

Joana Starnes said...

Thanks for your wonderful support, tgruy, and for following the blog tour. I'm so glad you enjoyed this excerpt and I hope you'll like how it fits in with the rest. Best wishes,

Joana Starnes said...

Many thanks, Elsa, I'm so glad that the excerpt caught your eye. Best of luck in the giveaway and thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

Catherine Curzon said...

Congratulations, Cassandra, you're the winner of the giveaway!