Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post: The Madness of Mr Darcy by Alexa Adams


 
Today I welcome the lovely Alexa Adams to my blog to tell us a little more about her newest story, The Madness of Mr Darcy, which sounds fascinating and very unique!  I will also be reviewing this story soon so watch for my review.
 
"The year is 1832 and regrets beleaguer Fitzwilliam Darcy. All he ever cared for has been taken from him: his pride, his sister, and his true love, Elizabeth Bennet. Now, having nearly murdered a man in a fit of rage, he might lose Pemberley, too. More than just his home, his very identity is at stake. In desperation, he seeks the help of Dr. Frederick Wilson, owner and proprietor of Ramsey House, a madhouse for fine ladies and gentlemen. Is Darcy’s confinement the inevitable end to his tortured descent, or will he rediscover what he lost in the most unlikely of places?" 


Thank you, Mrs. Darcy, for inviting me back to your blog!


"The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend. - Pride & Prejudice"
 
 
 
We all make judgements based upon appearances and first impressions. It is an inherent human instinct and provides the major theme of Jane Austen’s most beloved novel. If a devoted reader learns nothing else from Austen, they should understand that looks can be deceiving. Wickham, Willoughby, Isabella Thorpe: again and again she tells us to trust in a person’s behavior, not their appearance and professions. Yet in this Austen was distinctly unfashionable for her time, when physiognomy, the science of judging a person’s character by their facial features, was all the rage. When Elizabeth Bennet says of Wickham “there was truth in his looks,” she is doing no more than echoing the wisdom of her age, which Austen repeatedly and systematically debunks in each of her novels.
 
A woman in four stages of Puerperal Mania,
now known as Postpartum Depression.
I could wax rhapsodically on the gall of Austen’s intellectual confidence (ironically, the chief proponent of phrenology, physiognomy weird little sister, was a man named Joseph Francis Gall) and glory in the justification time has provided for it, but the purpose of this post is to introduce my new novel, The Madness of Mr. Darcy, and discuss how physiognomy informed the treatment of insanity in the 19th century. The notion of the lunatic (the technical term of the day) as a patient in need of a cure is a modern one, derived in the 18th century, and inspired professionals working in this field to develop a medley of new treatments intended to replace the chains and shackles of yore (though the vast majority of institutions did and do continued to use restraints, if only rarely). Identifying the correct cause of a lunatic’s distemper became essential to prescribing the correct treatment, just as in conventional medicine. My personal favorite of all the contemporary diagnostic tools were images (later photographs) documenting different types of insanity, each labeled with the appropriate ailment: alcoholic, melancholic, erotomaniac, sometimes  just “Ophelia.” I could not resist incorporating them into my story, which takes place in the early 1830’s, twenty years after the events of Pride & Prejudice.

“Interesting.” He took a few more notes. “Does your insomnia usually come in the middle of the night, or do you have trouble going to sleep in the first place?”

“Not really,” Mr. Darcy replied. “It is staying asleep that has always proven impossible, until recently.”

“Go on,” the doctor urged.

“Since you were with us at Pemberley, I have not found the bed conducive to sleep.”

“Hmmm. Is this the reason for the couch request?”

“It is.”

“And how did you get on last night?”

Mr. Darcy averted his eyes. “I slept on the floor last night.”


The doctor gave him a searching look. “Nightmares?”

“Yes.”

“About what?”

“All kinds of things.”

“Any recurring dreams?”

“Yes.” Mr. Darcy grew thoughtful. “I dream of my sister and others whom I have failed.”

“Do you dream of George Wickham?”

He hung his head. “Yes.”

“And monsters under the bed?” the doctor asked with a smile.

“Ancestors,” Darcy replied seriously.

“I see.” The doctor studied him contemplatively. “Rather a classic melancholic. Amazing I missed it at first!”

“And why is that?”

“Because it is inscribed in your countenance! Look here.” He rose and took a book from a shelf, flipping through the pages for a few moments until he found what he was looking for. Finally, and with flourish, he presented Mr. Darcy with an illustration labelled ‘Melancholia,’ depicting two images of the same man. In the first, he was dishevelled: neck tie undone, posture sloping, and hair wild. In the second, he was perfectly groomed and unexceptionable, even to the Bible clenched under his arm. “Note the broad forehead and patrician nose are much like yours, Fitzwilliam. Sunken eyes, careworn mouth – it is all there, plain as the nose on your face,” he laughed.

“The lines in my face are the foundations of my problems?” he asked skeptically.

“No, but they do reveal your predisposition towards melancholia. Life took care of the rest.” He made a last flourish with the pen and closed his notebook.


There are many more oddities of 19th century mental health to be discovered in The Madness of Mr. Darcy, but as it is primarily a romance, I’d like to provide the conclusion to the above scene, which begins to point us in that direction. Thanks again for having me, Mrs. Darcy! It’s always an honor.


“Just one thing more, Dr. Wilson.”

“Yes?” He paused with his hand on the door.

“When I last met Mrs. Bennet, she was a Miss Bennet, and I do not recall her having any male cousins on her father’s side.”


Dr. Wilson laughed. “You are a keen observer, too, Mr. Darcy! Miss Bennet found her position much easier to fulfill as a Mrs. Bennet, and so she adopted the more authoritative title before I even met her. I trust you will not expose her to the other guests?”

“Certainly not.”

“Very good.”

“Would you mind telling me how she came to be here, Dr. Wilson?” he asked, instantly regretting the impulse. “It is impossible to conceive how the genteel young lady I once knew found herself in such a profession.”

“It is Mrs. Bennet’s tale to tell, Fitzwilliam,” he said, studying Darcy as closely as a specimen at the end of a microscope. “You will have to ask her if you wish to hear it, but I suggest you put your prior association behind you. It cannot help you adapt to the relationship you must now have with her if you dwell too heavily on what she once was.”

“I understand,” he said, feeling secure in the knowledge that she already indicated she would confide to him the truth.

“There is one more thing I wish you would keep in mind, Fitzwilliam. Just as your curiosity is roused in regards to Mrs. Bennet, so is that of every other guest of the house, as well as a few employees. Her obvious gentility begs an explanation. Quite a few have been bandied about over the years, but I believe I remain the only person at Ramsey House who knows the entirety of the tale. She has not even confided in Mrs. Prescott, her closest companion. Her past has nothing to do with the here and now.”

Mr. Darcy looked at the odd man before him – this combination of doctor and baronet in whom he had entrusted his entire self – and knew him mistaken. The past was everything to the present.  


 
Author biography:
A devoted reader of Jane Austen since her childhood, Alexa Adams is the author of Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice, Emma & Elton: Something Truly Horrid, Jane & Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling, and the short story collection And Who Can be in Doubt of What Followed?: The Novels of Jane Austen Continued. Alexa resides in Delaware with her husband, daughter, and cat. She blogs about Austen and Austenesque literature at alexaadams.blogspot.com.
 

** GIVEAWAY - ends Monday 29th September**

Alexa has provided me a giveaway!  Two lucky winners will receive an ebook copy of The Madness of Mr Darcy. This giveaway is open internationally. 

To enter, leave a comment below and the winners will be picked randomly.

Please leave your email address and which format you would like for the ebook. If you are one of the lucky winners, I will pass on your email to Alexa who will be in touch.

Good luck!
 
Thank you again to Alexa for this giveaway and for this fascinating post! I wish you all the best with this story as well as any future ones! As I said, watch for my review in the next few weeks!

Your affectionate friend,
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43 comments:

  1. Oooo, this sounds VERY different! I'm going to be very interested to see your review, Sophie.

    In the meantime, I'll keep my fingers crossed for a win. My preferred format is Kindle and my email is angmardee(at)hotmail(dot)com

    Thanks for the giveaway, Alexa and Sophie.

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    1. Thanks you, Anji! Good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Doesn't it sound great!? Good luck!

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  2. I have emotions faced with this book, because the idea of Darcy and Elizabeth not together is terrifying me. I don't like this idea. The story begins twenty years old after, this means that D&E are older. However, I know the write of Alexa, and I love it. I have enjoyed so much her trilogy and particularly her style. The plot is very interesting, the madness. I see that Alexa has had an in-depth process of investigation into the plot. So I think that I have to give it an opportunity :)

    My good wishes with her new released, Alexa

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    1. Thank you! I hope you do give the book an opportunity. I've been concerned how my traditional fans, who like the super happy plots, will respond to this book that is so dark at the beginning. I hope that they (and you) get through those first, hard chapter to the happy part. :)

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    2. I was wary as well but I want to read it and see how we get to the happy ending! And Alexa is a brilliant writer! Good luck!

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  3. It seems a very different development than usual!!! I am very curious to read this novel, although Darcy without Elizabeth is not simple!!
    chiarapiccirilla (at) hotmail (dot) it

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    1. No, it's not simple. The book begins very heavy and complicated, but things do improve! Thanks for your interest!

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    2. I am looking forward to it! Good luck!

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  4. Enjoyed the excerpts that I have read previously, so would like to read the complete novel.
    kindle version would be fine

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

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    1. I hope you'll share your thoughts once you do read it! So glad you enjoyed the excerpt, and good luck with the giveaway!

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  5. I can't wait to read this! It sounds so unique and intriguing! Depression affects so many now and no doubt affected so many back then with little to treat them with. Sounds like a lot of research went into it. Can't wait!
    Jeannaputznutz(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. Thank you! I have done a lot of research on the topic, but my interest in it is totally based on the number of people in my family who struggle with mental illness.

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    2. I think it will be a great read Jeanna! Good luck!

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  6. oooh! This sounds so different! I can't wait to read it! I would like a PDF version please

    dramaqueen4ever96@gmail.com

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    1. So glad to have caught your interest! Unfortunately, I can't do a PDF. Sorry, and thanks for entering the giveaway!

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    2. It does, doesn't it!? Good luck!

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  7. I have been reading about this book with great interest. I appreciate the opportunity to enter the drawing and would happily write a review of the text in return.

    rcmsilvia@gmail.com

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    1. A review would be lovely! If you don't win this giveaway, do track me down and let's chat. Good luck either way, and thanks!

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    2. It sounds really interesting! Good luck!

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  8. A unique take on Darcy ... such a stuffed shirt (exceptionally well stuffed in The Colin Firth version). I never liked him. This sounds extremely interesting, and the exerpt was highly intriguing.

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    1. How can you say you never liked him!? :O (;)) Good luck!

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  9. This sounds incredibly unique- BRAVO!!!!

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  10. I've enjoyed everything by Alexa, so I'm looking forward to something unique! It'd be great to read on my Kindle, baristachick86@yahoo.com

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    1. I loved Alexa's last books and so this should be another good read! good luck!

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  11. I.NEED.TO.READ.THIS.!!!!
    I have a Kindle............
    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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  12. I love everything related to Jane Austen & this sounds fabulous.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    KINDLE

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  13. The dark start is intriguing as is why/how Elizabeth could have ended up working in a madhouse. I cant wait to read the entire story!

    Thank you for the post and the giveaway

    theresamattina@gmail.com kindle user

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    1. I am completely intrigued as well! Good luck!

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  14. What a fantastic and fascinating post! The book sounds quite intriguing.

    I am enjoying your blog immensely, Sophie!

    (If you enter my name...Kindle...inthespiritofjane@gmail.com)

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    1. Doesn't it sound great!? Good luck!
      And thank you!

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  15. Wow! The excerpt is awesome! A tortured, depressed Darcy is a natural progression for him if he didn't marry Elizabeth according to canon. The treatments and diagnosis sound frightening for the time period. (I am rubbing my hands together and squeezing in anticipation as I finish typing so I can head to my Amazon account to buy it. Only one click and it's MINE!) best wishes for your launch. Thanks for sharing, Sophie.

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    1. Exactly! It would have happened to him poor man! I hope you enjoy it! If you are buying it I assume you don't want to be entered for the giveaway?

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  16. I am up to chapter 7 and am enjoying it immensely. The excerpt is intriguing. I can't wait to continue reading. Please do not enter me in the giveaway as I already have the eBook. I don't have the patience to wait.

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    1. I hope you enjoy the rest! I am so excited to read it!

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  17. The book sounds quite interesting.
    tjreschke@yahoo.com / kindle

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  18. This book sounds very intriguing. I am most looking forward to it because it sounds completely different from any other variation I have read and it has to do with a topic I find fascinating. I will definitely keep my fingers crossed! I prefer the kindle version and my email is akdotter@yahoo.com. (I apologize if I post twice, I did not see my first attempt appear.)

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