Today Jessie Lewis is stopping by with a very interesting guest post that made me want to read Mistaken asap! I had read about the book before, and I knew what it was about, but it was this guest post that convinced me this book is just my cup of tea! I have never been a part of team Elizabeth because I always considered her as proud as Mr. Darcy and just as flawed as he was. She was merely lucky to have the story told from her point of view, but what if the story was told from other people’s point of view? Would we still think her the perfect heroine? Maybe most of us would not think so badly of Mr. Darcy in the first part of the book. Well, I hope you enjoy this guest post as much as did, and that it makes you wonder as it did me 🙂
Thank you so much for your visit Jessie, and best of luck with your new release!!
Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgement, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr. Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.
Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently manoeuvred into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.
Debut author Jessie Lewis’s Mistaken invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.
You can find Mistaken at:
Thank you so much, Rita, for inviting me to talk to your readers about my new novel, Mistaken. As the title suggests, there is a fair amount of misunderstanding in the story, and I thought it would be fun to give some insight into the writing methods I used to achieve the layers of confusion between all the major protagonists (and occasionally the reader, too).
Of course, the idea of these characters being mistaken is not unique to me; they were all pretty clueless in Austen’s wonderful original. Elizabeth, Darcy, Bingley and Jane all mistook one another’s personalities, motivations and feelings. In writing Mistaken, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the psyche of each character, to get up close and personal with their inner thoughts in a way Austen chose not to, and explore what those misconceptions really meant to each of them. To do that, I had to write in a style different from Austen.
Pride and Prejudice is written using omniscient narration, meaning Austen has the power to tell us everything that’s going on. Being such a wonderfully sly author, she uses her powers only occasionally. For the most part, the narration is limited to Elizabeth Bennet’s point of view. Only now and again does Austen dip into the thoughts of other characters to alert the reader to important events—such as when Darcy begins to find Elizabeth attractive. On a couple of occasions, Austen even speaks directly to the reader, reminding us that she is the one pulling the strings and will tell us only what she chooses us to know.
“It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor of any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay; Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenilworth, Birmingham, &c. are sufficiently known. A small part of Derbyshire is all the present concern.” –P&P, Chapter 42
The result of this cleverly selective omniscient narration is that readers are all inadvertently placed on “Team Lizzy” from the outset, since it is predominantly her story. We might be clued in to what Darcy is thinking when he’s in the same scene as her, but there is no guarantee of that, and we are never told what he’s thinking or doing when he’s off stage. We’re left to guess, along with Lizzy, and we feel her anguish when she’s forced to wait for news.
The thing with omniscient narration is that, by and large (though by no means always), the narrator is reliable. Austen might not tell us everything, but when she says Darcy has begun to notice Elizabeth’s pleasing figure, we believe her. When she tells us we don’t need to know about the passing scenery, we trust she knows her business. In Mistaken, the opposite is true. One cannot be mistaken if one is in possession of all the facts, thus the narrators (and there are more than one) are very deliberately not omniscient. They are human: biased, fallible, unreliable.
Instead of one narrator stating that Darcy admires Elizabeth, Mistaken readers are told a plethora of different things. Bingley believes Darcy disdains Elizabeth’s inferiority. Jane asserts that Darcy disapproves of Elizabeth’s impertinence. Lady Catherine insists Elizabeth makes Darcy miserable, and Lady Ashby is convinced Darcy will lose patience with Elizabeth’s flirting. Armed with the knowledge of each character’s misconceptions, whose judgement ought the reader to trust? By using more than one narrator, each presenting his or her own opinions as the truth, the reader is required to more consciously choose whose team they want to be on—and if I’ve done a good job, they will hopefully change their minds more than once over the course of the story.
To achieve this multiple view of events I used a technique called “deep point of view.” With this method, instead of one overarching storyteller choosing which bits of the story to tell us, the characters become the narrators and the story is told through their eyes. The reader sees, hears, feels and knows only what the character “narrating” sees, hears, feels and knows. This type of narration takes the reader deep into the character’s mind, giving access to far more of their thoughts and motivations than they’d usually be privy to with omniscient narration, though it doesn’t guarantee the same certainty. Though the point of view switches between the four protagonists and a few peripheral characters, allowing the reader to build up a larger picture of the truth, the reader is nonetheless only as knowledgeable as the characters narrating—and therefore just as susceptible to being mistaken.
Dramatic irony (when the reader knows something the characters don’t) is rendered defunct when every perspective provided is liable to be biased, badly explained, or deliberately misleading. If a character has lied, the reader has no way of knowing it, unless the lie is admitted or discovered by another character (whose “discovery” might also be mistaken). If a character simply isn’t given the chance to narrate a particular event, the reader cannot easily judge the veracity of the viewpoint they’ve been given. Moreover, it is not only the characters’ prepossessions the reader must contend with but their own.
Being based on Austen’s original, it is to be expected that readers will come to the story with preconceived ideas of how the characters ought to behave. It is because of the pervading influence of Austen’s seminal narration that most readers are predisposed to take Elizabeth’s side. Despite almost every character in Mistaken—from Mrs. Gardiner to Lady Catherine, from Jane Bennet to her mother, from Lady Ashby to Elizabeth herself—telling the reader that Elizabeth is flawed, readers will more often than not choose to believe Darcy when he says Elizabeth “has no imperfections.”
This leaves readers with an unpleasant choice because, as those familiar with the story know, to exonerate Elizabeth of blame for events in the book requires that the fault be laid at the door of other, equally popular individuals. What might otherwise have been vaguely unpalatable behaviour becomes an egregious offence in characters readers are predisposed to hold in high regard.
Thus, abetted by some fun storytelling techniques, mistakenness pervades the story at every stage, drawing attention to (and taking advantage of) people’s tendency to misunderstand one another—because, as Austen tells us, “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.” (Emma, Chapter 49)
Thank you, everyone, for popping in to From Pemberley to Milton today to take part in the Mistaken blog tour. Feel free to ask me any other questions in the comments below, or you can interact with me on Twitter (@JessieWriter), FaceBook (@JessieLewisAuthor), or on my blog, (LifeInWords.blog). I’d love to hear from you!
I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.
That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son, and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.
The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano.
You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.
10/03 My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway
10/04 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
10/05 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
10/06 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/07 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, Giveaway
10/08 Of Pens and Pages; Review, Giveaway
10/09 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/10 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
10/11 Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, Giveaway
10/12 So little time…; Guest Post, Giveaway
10/13 Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway
10/14 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Giveaway
10/15 Laughing With Lizzie; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/16 Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA
The blog tour comes along with a giveaway, readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mistaken by Jessie Lewis. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.
To enter the giveaway, click here.
Good luck everyone!