October 15, 2010

Guest Author Sharon Lathan and a Giveaway

Today I am excited to welcome Sharon Lathan, author of the newly released In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, to Psychotic State Book Reviews.  Welcome, Sharon!

Darcy and Elizabeth Forever
by Sharon Lathan

The more I surround myself with Austen authors the more I see the wealth of ideas these clever writers come up with. It is truly amazing! It is also wonderful to see many of them tackling Austen’s other novels—you know, those ones that aren’t Pride and Prejudice! Every one of Jane Austen’s six published novels is fantastic and worthy to be read and paid homage to. Yet as plentiful as the Emma or Persuasion fan fiction is becoming, Pride and Prejudice remains the clear favorite.

Why? Good question! And it is the one that Lori asked me to answer. Specifically, “Why do you think Darcy and Elizabeth are Austen’s fan-favorite couple as opposed to Col. Brandon and Marianne or Emma and Knightley?”

Yes, it is a good question although I am not sure I have a good answer. I suppose it must come down to the characters themselves and why readers have been drawn to Darcy and Elizabeth so strongly. That I think I can answer and hope the Colonel or Emma will not be offended!

Mr. Darcy, quite simply, is an enigma. I honestly believe that is at the root of our love for him. His character and background are sketched ever so slightly by Austen, leaving a vast amount open to interpretation. Thus we can create this man to fit the image we desire in our hearts and who is to say we are wrong? Adding to that delicious mystery, what we are told about him is intriguing and desirable. 

Most will point to his arrogance, broodiness, and detachment; and somehow Elizabeth “changes” him into Mr. Wonderful. I don’t agree at all. It is quite clear that Darcy is a man who struggles with his emotions, has a conscience, and is a decent man. His displays of intelligence and humor are all through the text, even when he is behaving badly.

The reader is forced to look beyond how Darcy talks or acts to what he does, thus seeing a man women dream of. He is steadfast and loyal, even when making a mistake as he does with Bingley. His love, once fixed, does not waver. We see that with his sister, with Bingley, and of course with Lizzy. We want to know that our man will forever love us, will be faithful and devoted, and will strive to do what is best for us.

Although I don’t believe Darcy changed in essence since I think the clues are all there that he is a good man from the get-go, it is clear that his love for Lizzy induces him to re-evaluate. He is inspired to improve, no matter the outcome with her, out of an honest awakening to his soul. What woman isn’t melted by that idea?

Lizzy, conversely, is crystalline on the page! We love her spunk, intelligence, wit, and strength. She is who we wish we could be and few of us are. At least I am not like her! Better yet, even with all those attributes we admire, she is a flawed person, and that is something every last woman on the planet can relate to. I think it is unconsciously forgotten that the prejudice and pride is as rampant with Lizzy as it is with Darcy. Or maybe we simply forgive her quicker because she is endearing from the beginning whereas Darcy takes some warming to! However it is those flaws that make her human and loveable.

Lizzy is admirable not only for her liveliness but also for her humility. She too undergoes a radical transformation when the error of her assumptions is made clear. She re-evaluates, is inspired to improve, and is awakened by the reality of love.

It is then that we come to recognize how similar Darcy and Lizzy are and how honest their love. The magic is in the belief that once together she will unlock Darcy’s hidden nature and that he will grow to love her more. That is beautiful.

Do we see that with the other Austen couples? I’ll let you answer that question for yourself!

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If only everyone could be as happy as they are…

Darcy and Elizabeth are as much in love as ever—even more so as their relationship matures. Their passion inspires everyone around them, and as winter turns to spring, romance blossoms around them.

Confirmed bachelor Richard Fitzwilliam sets his sights on a seemingly unattainable, beautiful widow; Georgiana Darcy learns to flirt outrageously; the very flighty Kitty Bennet develops her first crush, and Caroline Bingley meets her match.

But the path of true love never does run smooth, and Elizabeth and Darcy are kept busy navigating their friends and loved ones through the inevitable separations, misunderstandings, misgivings, and lovers’ quarrels to reach their own happily ever afters…

About the Author

Sharon Lathan is the author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, and My Dearest Mr. Darcy. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit http://www.sharonlathan.net/.  You can also find Sharon at Austen Authors – http://www.austenauthors.com/  and Casablanca Authors – http://www.casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/.

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And now for a GIVEAWAY! The lovely Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks has offered a copy of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy to TWO lucky readers!   Pride and Prejudice lovers, you don't want to miss this contest!

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know if you agree with Sharon's take on why Darcy and Lizzy are Jane Austen's number one couple - - and if not, why do you think fans are so obssessed?  That's all! Leave me a comment with your name and email address and you're entered to win your own copy of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy!

U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes.


Contest to end on Friday, October 29, 2010 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winners drawn by randomizer.org  on Saturday, October 30, 2010.

Good luck!

Faithful readers, stay tuned as my review of Sharon Lathan's In the Arms of Mr. Darcy is coming soon!


Sharon Lathan said...

Good morning Lori. Thanks for having me on. This is always a fun topic to discuss since everyone has such varied ideas. It will be interesting to read what your visitors have to say.

I will be around off and on today in between getting some sleep after a long night at work. But feel free to comment and I will pop in later!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Sharon and think she described it beautifully! I love that Darcy is mysterious in some areas, yet we also get glimpses of his loyalty, charm and pride. I appreciate that he is proud of his name and where he has come from and love that he is willing to give it all up for love! Who WOULDN'T love a man like that!? And Lizzy's personality is so fun and strong! I like to think that we would have been great friends if a) she was not a clever character and 2) I lived during my favorite era! LOL! Jane's portrayal of these two made me fall in love with them, and Sharon's continuation of their story has only deepened that love!

Shannon Drappo
Lake Elsinore, CA

Unknown said...

I definitely agree with Sharon's interpretation of why we are so drawn to Lizzy and Darcy as opposed to other characters. For me, Pride and Prejudice was the first Jane Austen book I read/movie I saw and i tend to always love the thing i was exposed to first more than any of the subsequent ones.


Blodeuedd said...

There is just something with them, and that is sure why this works so well..though I could imagine a pretty cool series taking part on the ocean with Wentworth and Anne :)

Lori Johnston said...

Good morning, Sharon! So happy to have you here. I hope you are able to catch up on your sleep; we will be here all day.

Shannon, I absolutely agree. I think every woman loves the idea of a man who would give up everything for them. Isn't that a true definition of romance? At least book romance? Sigh.

Sarah, P&P was the first Austen book I read as well (and at 30!) I saw the Firth/Ehle P&P and fell in love with it, which led me to read the book. I was sorry that I never had to read it in school or discovered it earlier as it is now one of my absolute faves.

Sandy said...

I love your take on Darcy and Elizabeth and I love your stories.

Darcy is an honorable and loyal man. We see this with his dealings with his sister and Bingley. He took his experiences with society and applied them to Jane and thought she didn't love his friend. He therefore, thought he was protecting him. He did all he could to protect his father from learning about Wickham, he protected his sister from ruin. He even helped Lydia so he could save Elizabeth from ruin. Now that is a man I could go for in a heartbeat!!

Lizzy is a bit complex...raised in a dysfunctional household. Her mother and father are not good parents who teach their children correctly and prepare them for their futures. Mrs Bennets attempt to sacrifice Lizzy for her own security was a prime example and probably had a big impact on her thinking.

She wants to be flattered and she allowed Wickham to do just that and thought meanly of Darcy because of the insult. Thus...for all her reasoning, she was deeply flawed. Her comment about vanity being a fault showed how blinded she was of her own vanity and pride.

To see these characters grow and learn and find out how much they actually complimented each other is amazing and I have read Pride and Prejudice many, many times.

As to the fanfiction writing...I just can't seem to get enough!

I'm always ready for more of Darcy and Elizabeth!

-Sandy Cook

Sharon Lathan said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Nice to see everyone stopping by and giving well thought out ideas. Bravo!

Sandy, I love what you wrote. I have seen a tendency amid P&P discussions to put Lizzy on a pedestal almost while emphasizing Darcy's faults. He is the one with all the bad traits and perfect Lizzy must "save" him and "change" him into a decent man. I think it is a desire to exalt the female and pick on the male! Whole fount of discussion and essays could be written about that! I think it is too easy to apply the title - pride and prejudice - to Darcy and forget that it is meant for Lizzy too!

Sharon Lathan said...

Hello Shannon. Personally, as much as I admire Jane Austen, I think I would have been terrified of her in real life! I am far too shy and introspective. I could not have kept up with her quick mind and quirky way of saying things! Thanks for pointing out who Darcy is - I appreciate that and have never faulted him (too much) for his pride in that. It was natural for the era he lived in.

Sarah, I think it is true that for many P&P is the "favorite" simply because it was the first they read. Schools teach it and not the others, usually. Many of the authors at Austen Authors speak of how it was later that they grew to appreciate Persuasion or Mansfield Park - and now write novels based on them!

Nice to see you Blodeuedd! Thanks so much for coming by. I agree with your Anne and Wentworth on the sea series! That would be marvelous. We should put a bug in a few ears at AuAu!

Lori, I slept for a few hours, got hot and needed some water, and decided to check in before heading back to my bed for a bit. So glad I did!

It is very true that whole generations of P&P/Austen fans have arose as a result of the 1995 miniseries. Now we are seeing a vast multitude of new lovers (or reawakened lovers) of Austen as a result of the 2005 movie. My prayer is that someday the latter group will be respected and accepted as equal fans who have just as much right to be in the club.

mrsshukra said...

Hi Sharon, totally agree with your take on Lizzie and Mr. Darcy! I think Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy catapulted Darcy's appeal and popularity to a higher level... well, at least for me!

Lori Johnston said...

Hi Blodeuedd! I agree that a tale about Wentworth and Anne at sea would be good reading. Are any Austenesque writers out there listening?

Sandy, I agree with you. There can never be enough Darcy and Lizzy fan fiction in my world. I just love them.

Sharon, I think I too would be intimidated by Jane Austen. When I think of how forward she was for the times with her writing, how well she read people (and wrote them) and what kind of pedastal I put her on . . . sheesh, I'd probably be a nervous mess.

I am still working on an appreciation for Mansfield Park - - I think it's my least favorite of JA's works.

It's funny how there are definite "camps" between the 1995 A&E version and the 2005 version. I think it boils down to whichever version you may have seen first. I do like the 1995 version better but I also appreciate many things about the 2005 version. ALL Jane Austen/P&P fans should be accepted and welcomed. What's important is these wonderful movies are being watched and incredible books, including the classic, are being read.

Just my two cents. Now I'll step down off my soapbox . . .

Vee said...

Wow love this passage Sharon! You could not have described the relationship between Darcy & Lizzy any better and all the reasons you state are exactly why they will always be my favourites. Others will come and go, but there will be none to equal Darcy & Lizzy.
I do love Knightly's secret devotion to Emma and the realisaton of his true feelings at the end , but Emma annoys me a little with her "spoilt" behaviour. Something I did not find in Lizzy's behaviour.
Also Captain Wentworth and Ann are a beautiful pairing as well. They're loyalty in love, to each other, after all those years is inspiring. The "pierce my soul" line always melts me to a puddle. And yet they had doubts. Which for me did not lend their relationship to be as satisfying overall as the Darcy & Lizzy relationship/struggle/realisation/
TSBO devotee

debbie said...

I agree. You can't can't change someone into something they're not, but you can bring out the good qualities they already have. I think this is an ideal couple.

Kathy Habel said...

Yes I agree they are the #1 couple.
bkhabel at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Sharon's take on why Darcy and Lizzy are Jane Austen's number one couple!!

Julie said...

I agree with Sharon somewhat; however, the average reader doesn't really analyze that deeply. I think that they are a favorite couple simply because the love perseveres throughout many misunderstandings and bad situations - which is what we all want from a long-term relationship if we're honest. Life throws lots of curveballs, and any couple that can make it through is a fan favorite!


Nina @ The One Fantastical said...

This is obviously a great book--

And yes, I agree with the fact that Lizzy and Darcy are the best Austen couple.

They have the most tension, and passion between them and I have fallen in love with their story.

I just finished reading Pride & PRejudice for the first time and would love to experience this book as well.

Nina Say
nina @ theonefantastical [dot] come

Christine said...

Hmm... I agree with Sharon. Lizzie is very likeable and Mr. Darcy's love for her shines through very nicely, which every woman loves to read. Personally, I've always liked Col. Brandon and Marianne the best.

But that's just me. ;)


Deb Anderson said...

tnshadylady at gmail.com

I love the fact that even though Darcy is painted as proud and arrogant at first, Austen keeps bringing him back, and not for comic relief (a la Mr. Collins), so we get the hint right from the start that not only is Elizabeth wrong in her "First Impressions" but so are we! Austen very skillfully reveals depths to Darcy's character that almost knock us over the head for our shallowness and presumption. We get an upbraiding along with Elizabeth. :)

But I think the major affection we have for P&P as opposed to Austen's other works is because we are allowed very intimate contact with the workings of Elizabeth's mind as opposed to her other heroines. In the other books, Austen is the storyteller and we see the events as if from afar. With Elizabeth, we are very much inside her head and for a short time (too short!!) we can almost imagine that we are Lizzie. I don't think the other Austen heroines come close to that. So we can feel pity for Anne Elliot and want to smack Emma Woodhouse and shake Fanny Price out of her lethargy etc. but we are not as intimately involved with them. It comes from outside, not inside as with Lizzie Bennet.

Ah well, great discussion! Would love to read your new book! And I've been thinking of trying my hand at a prequel to Persuasion...

crazywriter84 said...

Most certainly the best couple! crazywriter@hotmail.com

DEBIJOT said...

I definitely agree. Well put!

Nancy said...

I agree with Sharon! Darcy and Lizzy are the #1 couple!

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Unknown said...

I think she summed up exactly what we all see and love in Darcy and Lizzy! Fabulous. I would love to read this book.

kissyjensen at gmail dot com