Fifteen authors come together to celebrate 200 years of Pride and Prejudice by exploring what might have happened in the scenes Austen didn’t write.
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PRIDE & PREJUDICE: BEHIND THE SCENES
What did Mr. Darcy think when he first saw Elizabeth Bennet? How did Miss Bingley talk her brother out of proposing to Jane Bennet? And how did Lady Catherine de Bourgh find out Mr. Darcy was on the verge of proposing to Elizabeth? 15 authors of Austen-inspired fiction decided to answer these questions and more. Here are the scenes Jane Austen never wrote: ones that happened off stage, such as Mr. Collins proposing to Charlotte Lucas, and actual Pride and Prejudice scenes from the point of view of different characters.
PRIDE & PREJUDICE: BEHIND THE SCENES is not a complete novel in and of itself. It is a collection of scenes written independently and designed to complement the original. The reader can start at the beginning or dip into any scene they choose.
Contributing authors include Abigail Reynolds, Mary Simonsen, Susan Mason-Milks, Maria Grace, Jack Caldwell, C. Allyn Pierson, Shannon Winslow, Colette Saucier, Jane Odiwe, Monica Fairview, Diana Birchall, Marilyn Brant, Kara Louise, Cassandra Grafton and L.L. Diamond.
News of Lydia Spreads
August 16, 1812
The narrow vestibule was far too quiet for comfort. An eerie hush had settled over Longbourn since the initial news of Lydia had arrived, punctuated only by moments of Mama’s nervous episodes.
How nice it would be to be able to hide in her room, away from the work of the house, and indulge in unconstrained sensibility. But someone had to keep their home in order, and that task was much to Elizabeth’s preference. So, to market she would go.
She squared her shoulders and tucked her basket under her arm. Jane tied her bonnet and fastened the buttons on her pelisse. Poor thing looked so pale and haggard. All these days waiting on news from London had taken their toll.
Mrs. Hill handed Elizabeth a list, a long one at that. Though she did not leave her rooms, apparently Mama was well able to organize her thoughts enough to manage a detailed market list. Best not dwell on that too much.
Elizabeth tucked it in her basket and they left.
A gust of chill air caught the hem of her pelisse and tore her breath away. A storm was on its way. Had not mama yet learned the danger of sending daughters out in the rain?
She glanced at Jane, her face serene as always. But her eyes held silent notes of sadness. She never spoke of it—she bore it well. Still, the melancholy lingered and might never leave. Jane assured her that all was well, and she would rally in time. But with each passing day, it became more and more difficult to believe.
Who would have ever thought the Bennets of Longbourn would face such a situation? How much had they all learned—or had the opportunity to learn—over the last months.
The inconstancy of friends.
The flightiness of young gentlemen.
The dangers of leaving young ladies unchecked.
The fallibility of her own first impressions.
That was, perhaps, the most galling. How wrong she had been about both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. How much would that cost them? If only word of Lydia’s folly might be contained.
Jane shaded her eyes and squinted into the distance. “Oh, look—I think I see Lady Lucas and Maria on the road ahead. Shall we try to catch them?”
“I think not. I do not fancy her company right now.”
In truth, there were few she less wanted to see.
“But why not? She has been so solicitous after Mama’s comfort, calling on her nearly every day.”
Dear, sweet, naïve Jane.
“Do you not see what a danger she is to our reputation?”
“What do you mean? The Lucases have been our friends these many years.”
“Friends who have been quick to take advantage of any situation that they might turn to their advantage. You cannot deny—“
“Do not be so harsh, Lizzy. You refused Mr. Collins wholly and completely. Would anything have changed your mind?”
“No, but that is not the point.” Elizabeth paused and bit her lip. It was not fair to use so harsh a tone with Jane. “Consider how quickly Charlotte became engaged to him, merely days. It is not difficult to believe a scheme must have been in place.”
“A scheme? I cannot believe that. Even if that was the case, what possible scheme could they have now? Do you think Lady Lucas would have wished Mr. Wickham’s attentions for Maria?”
“Hardly. Even she is not so desperate, especially when something far more subtle would serve her as well or even better. Consider, she has only to allow news of our misfortune to spread, and any attention that might have been offered to Kitty or Mary might very well turn away from them.”
Just as Mr. Darcy turned away from her.
“And they will go to Maria instead? That is a far stretch of thought is it not?”
“Perhaps, but perhaps not. In her mind though, I am sure it makes sense. Lady Lucas is so convinced in the scarcity of eligible men that I can easily see her counting distracting suitors away from our sisters as a victory for her own daughter. What’s more, you cannot deny she has reveled in our misfortune, and has not kept secret her own triumphs.”
“You are determined to think ill of her.” Jane turned to her with that look of admonishment that always inspired a flash of guilt.
“Lydia is not here for me to vent my spleen. It is only natural I should turn it somewhere.”
“Please, Lizzy, let go of the vitriol. I am quite certain it is ill-founded. You will see. In town no one is giving this little upset any mind at all.”
“I hope you are correct.” Not that she believed it possible, but Jane would be so distraught if she offered any argument now.
The first drops of rain, cold and sharp, fell as they arrived at the baker’s shop.
“Good day, Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth.” Flour smudged the shop girl’s face and apron. “What may I do for you today? Has not Mrs. Hill had her usual order delivered already?”
“Indeed she has.” Jane said, “But there are a few dainties—”
“Ah, yes, for your mum, I suppose. I ‘erd she were feeling poorly these days, take wholly to her bed, no? You ought to call Mr. Fischer. I know he ain’t your regular apothecary, but he makes a fine tonic to set any woman’s nerves to rights. Me mum’s relied upon it for years. Here you go, will these do?”
She held out a box with savoy cakes, macaroni biscuits and orange-flower biscuits.
“Yes…yes, that will be splendid.” Jane’s hand trembled as she pushed the box back toward the shop girl.
“How came you to the conclusion our mother has taken to her bed with her nerves?” The words hurt to push through her tight throat.
“Begging your pardon, Miss, but under the circumstances, what else could it be?” She tied up the box with string and handed it to Jane.
Elizabeth bit her tongue and led the way into the bracing cold and rain.
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