Today I’m welcoming one of my favourite JAFF authors to talk about her latest project, which is both surprising and exciting for me. Victoria Kincaid joins me at From Pemberley to Milton to discuss President Darcy, a modernization of Pride and Prejudice, and brings with her an excerpt and giveaway!
I would like to ask you to join me in congratulating Victoria on this new release and wish her the success she deserves with it 🙂
A modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country. Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House. He’s not. And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office. Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet. She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable. Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, D.C.—making her harder and harder to ignore. Why can’t he get her out of his mind?
Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her. At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting. Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her. Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man—who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult. For some reason he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her.
Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results. But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president—with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities—and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him.
Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?
You can find President Darcy at:
Although President Darcy is my first modern Pride and Prejudice variation, the idea for it has been germinating in my brain for a long time. Still, I wasn’t prepared for how different it would be to write a version set in the present day. I thought it would be easier; after all, I didn’t need to worry about violating some obscure Regency tradition or describing a carriage by an incorrect name. What I found, however, is that modern variations are difficult in other ways.
When I write a Regency era adaptation, one of the challenges is to stay true to Austen’s characters and world while writing something new. The modern setting gave me more freedom to stray from Austen’s original concepts, but that also meant I had more latitude to alter other things in the book. In other words, there were more choices to make—and everything still needed to fit together as it did in Pride and Prejudice.
In a modern context it didn’t make sense for Collins to be a clergyman, but what profession would work for him? Catherine de Bourgh couldn’t be a Lady, so what reason would she have for feeling superior? But other elements of character needed to remain the same. Collins might not be foolish for precipitously proposing to Elizabeth, but he needed to be foolish in other ways. Wickham can’t claim Darcy denied him a “living,” but he needed to be aggrieved for another reason. As I began to write I realized every character in the book needed a new profession and new motivations for their actions.
Another challenge was finding modern day equivalents for Regency customs and institutions. For example, today we’d go home or to the hospital if we got sick at someone else’s house. But Jane needed a reason to stay overnight in the White House—and to require Elizabeth’s company. The Gardiners and Elizabeth aren’t going to drop by for a tour of Pemberley (now a house in the Hamptons), so they needed some other way to encounter Darcy and get invited to see the house. Wickham can’t cause a scandal just by spending a night with Lydia in a hotel; they needed do so something much more shocking.
However, what I found was that when I solved these issues, it usually enriched the story and took it in a new and better direction. For instance, Collins became an employee of Catherine de Bourgh’s who is slavishly devoted to her office supply company. His self-importance manifests itself in long-winded discussions of hole punches and the relative merits of different kinds of number two pencils. He sees himself as the crown prince of staplers. Not only did that make Collins up-to-date, but he was still stupid.
I have tried to remain true to the spirit of Austen’s book—to find modern equivalents for her brilliant characters and plot points. When you read President Darcy, I hope you feel that I succeeded.
Hilliard scanned his iPad. “How about one of the Bennet girls you just met? Elizabeth Bennet? Her father donated to your campaign. She’s pretty, and you seemed taken with her when you shook her hand.”
Elizabeth froze in horror while Lydia and Maria shot her amazed looks. Would he tell Hilliard about the broom closet?
President Darcy snorted. “Ha! I don’t think so. You didn’t have to speak with her. I don’t think there’s anything going on upstairs.” He tapped the side of his head. “Intellectual lightweight. And she’s not that pretty.”
Elizabeth stumbled further into the alcove until she couldn’t see the men anymore. Lydia convulsed in silent laughter, her hand stuffed in her mouth to muffle the sounds, while Maria gaped at Elizabeth, wide-eyed. Elizabeth reviewed the words in her head, but they remained the same. Yes, the president—the president!—thought she was ugly and stupid and had voiced the sentiment out loud.
She heard President Darcy blow out an exasperated breath. “Bob, I know you have my best interests at heart, but would a few dances with some wallflower from a nouveau riche family make much of a difference to your average voter?”
Elizabeth peeked around the corner again in time to see Hilliard sigh and tuck the iPad under his arm. “Will you at least dance with someone? Pretend you’re having a good time for a few minutes?”
“Fine,” the other man muttered. “I’ll dance with Caroline again, okay?”
“Caroline is not an ordinary Amer—”
“Enough, Bob.” The president’s voice brooked no disagreement. The conversation was over. He straightened his jacket. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some governing to do.” As the president started to walk, the whole group of men moved en masse down the hallway. Soon they were gone.
Elizabeth remained frozen in the alcove, plastered against the wall. She probably should have bolted for the exit, but her muscles felt loose and unattached as though she might fall to pieces if she tried to move.
Finally, Lydia grabbed her arm, pulled her through the ladies’ room door, and pushed her up toward the sinks. “OMG! You just got dissed by the president!” she laughed.
Maria viewed Elizabeth with a kind of awe. “Presidential dissing. Executive dissing. Wow.”
Elizabeth fell onto the padded bench and drew her knees up to her chest despite the tightness of her dress. “Can’t we just forget it—?”
Eyes glued to her smartphone screen, Lydia interrupted. “Nah. It’s too good. I already texted Amy about this. She’ll scream.”
“Please don’t!” Elizabeth pleaded.
Lydia regarded her sardonically. “Yeah, uh, that’s not going to happen.”
“She’s not that pretty.” Maria imitated the president’s precise tones perfectly.
Lydia giggled. “I’ve got to send it to Jordan, too!”
Maria nodded vigorously. “Ooh, ooh! And Olga! It’ll crack her up.”
First the closet, now her father, and then this… Was it possible to induce a heart attack through accumulated mortification? Her chest ached, and she couldn’t catch her breath. “What did I do to deserve that?” she wondered aloud.
Frantically texting away, Lydia snorted. “Some people get presidential pardons. You get presidential shade.” Her phone buzzed. “Ryan thinks you should get a picture with him. Then we could add speech bubbles and…”
Great. The group of people in the know included Ryan, whoever he was. “Maybe we should go back to the East Room. Dinner will be ready soon,” Elizabeth said.
Perhaps she should slip discreetly out the back door, but that seemed cowardly like she was allowing his rudeness to chase her away. Instead, I should stay and show the president I’m not vapid and unattractive. Even if he doesn’t know I overheard him. As revenges went, it was rather feeble, but it was all she had.
“Ooh! I wonder who I’m sitting with!” Maria exclaimed in a too-loud voice. “I bet they’ll think it’s hilarious.”
“By all means, tell everyone you can find,” Elizabeth remarked dryly.
Lydia gave her an ironic salute. “I’ll do my best.”
As they opened the bathroom door, Elizabeth scanned the corridor, but it was empty. “You don’t really mind if we tell everyone, do you?” Lydia asked breathlessly as they hurried toward the East Room.
Elizabeth’s feelings were moot at this point, so she bit back an angry retort. Being a good sport would give her family less fodder for future teasing. “Nah. It’s kind of funny,” Elizabeth said through gritted teeth. “It’s not like he knows me.”
“Yeah,” Maria agreed absently as she thumbed another message into her phone. “I mean, you’re not as pretty as I am, but you wouldn’t make someone lose their lunch or anything.”
“I feel better already,” Elizabeth mumbled.
“I’m glad you’re being so mature about this,” Lydia said in all seriousness as they reached the entrance to the East Room. “’Cause I already posted it on Twitter, and it’s been retweeted 168 times already.”
“Twitter—!” Elizabeth sputtered. But Lydia and Maria had already disappeared into the crowd, no doubt in search of a greater audience for the tale of Elizabeth’s humiliation.
Elizabeth ambled around the edges of the room, avoiding eye contact and seeking a dark corner. It’s not like I ever thought of myself as a great beauty, so that part shouldn’t rankle. He doesn’t know the first thing about my intelligence or conversational abilities. He’s just making assumptions. Most people would get tongue-tied when caught in a White House broom closet. Arrogant jerk.
Of course, most people wouldn’t get caught in a White House broom closet. Maybe that did say something about her….
No. It would be stupid to get upset.
Victoria Kincaid would like to offer 1 copy of President Darcy to one of my readers.
All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post until the 22nd of October. The giveaway is international and the winner will be announced shortly after.
If you don’t want to miss the announcement of the winner, and therefore miss the opportunity to see your name there and seek your prize, please follow From Pemberley to Milton. By doing so you will receive an email every time a new post is published and will not miss your prize if you are the lucky winner.
Good Luck everyone!