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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Laurel Ann Nattress: What's the Big Deal About Mr. Darcy?

Welcome Laurel Ann Nattress to Darcyholic Diversions!
Hi, Darcyholics!  I am very happy to introduce to you, Laurel Ann Nattress.  Some of you might know her from her blog.  Others from her book.  But I am happy that we all get to know her a bit better with this post. 

Don't forget to read any posts from couple weeks you might have missed as it has been busy!  There are many opportunities for upcoming drawings including double giveaways from Kara Louise, Becky Thumann, Sharon Lathan and Shannon Winslow; as well as the posts from Gayle Mills, Jan Ashe, Stephanie Hamm and Krista Bagley.  Read ALL of them and don't forget to comment!  Comments are your entries to WIN those giveaways!

Upcoming Guest Posts Are As Follows:
June 29--Pam Dixon
July 3--Jennifer Petkus
July 6--Karen Aminada
July 10--Marilyn Brant
July 13--Meredith Esparanza
July 17--Lori Smith
July 20--Bernadette
July 24--Barbara Tiller Cole: Christmas in July
July 27--Amy Cecil
July 31--Maria Grace
August 3--Wendi S.
August 7--Moira B.
August 10--Barbara TC and the DBF
August 14--Colette S.
August 17--Regina Jeffers
August 21--Sally Smith O'Rourke
August 24--Amber Godat
And Many more to come!

&*&*&*&*&*&

Laurel Ann's details the specifics for being entered into a contest to win one of her books within her post below.  So you will have to read it and follow instructions in order to win!  Comments on her post will also enter you into the monthly drawings here at Darcyholic Diversions.  Winners will be selected along with other June winners, at the beginning to July.  Entries will be based on comments on blog posts; but additional chances will be given for joining this site, tweeting this post, Joining this site as a member via Google Friend Connect (GFC) (See the left hand column on the blog to join!), sharing this on Facebook or your blog, Friend me on Facebook, clicking 'like’ on Barbara Tiller Cole, Author's Facebook page, Join Darcyholic Diversions Facebook Page or following BarbTCole on Twitter.
What’s the Big Deal about Mr. Darcy?

Being introduced as a Jane Austen enthusiast can have its challenges. Recently, I met a very eligible gentleman. Single, handsome, well-educated, and rich. Mrs. Bennet the husband hunting mother in Pride and Prejudice would have been in vapors. His first question to me (expressed in a very sarcastic tone) was, “What’s the big deal was about Mr. Darcy?” I was stunned into numbing silence. My first impression was what an arrogant jerk! Where should I begin? How could I explain to him why Jane Austen’s hero from Pride and Prejudice is the most renowned literary romantic icon ever created? And, did I want to?

It was indeed a loaded question. I doubted whatever my defense of the merits of Mr. Darcy was that he was really not interested in knowing. This was just a male pissing match thing. He was just irked that so many women have elevated a fictional character to their ideal man. Feeling a bit like I was experiencing Elizabeth Bennet’s introduction to the fine, tall, handsome, noble, rich and arrogant Mr. Darcy, I inwardly laughed at the irony, and then in proper Jane Austen style, I tempered my own indignation with a calm double edged reply. I told him that there were many reasons; a few of which were key to winning a lady’s heart. That really got his attention. As his eyebrows rose in interest I knew that I had him just where I wanted him. Coyly, and with the sweetest of innocent smiles, I replied that if I revealed the secrets of Mr. Darcy’s charms, then he could emulate them, and then how would he know if the lady he was wooing loved him or Mr. Darcy?

Ladies, I would not try this approach if you are sincerely interested in attracting the attention of a man. Even though sparing with Mr. Darcy’s intelligence worked wonders for Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennet, it is not very often that we encounter a Mr. Darcy: a man who is challenged by impertinence and attracted to conceited independence. It could backfire on you. Men do appreciate strong women who speak their minds, but even spirited and outspoken Lizzy Bennet pushes Mr. Darcy to the limit. I am amazed at Austen’s persistent character development to the very end! Even after his second proposal she still can’t let it rest and must know when he fell in love with her.

Elizabeth's spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. “How could you begin?” said she. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?”

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” Mr. Darcy

“Now, be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?”

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.”

“You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you, because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable, you would have hated me for it; but, in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and, in your heart, you thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There — I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you knew no actual good of me — but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.” Chapter 60

She asks him when it began? When did he fall in love with her? And then proceeds to answer for him! I have always admired Elizabeth Bennet’s cheek, but gosh darn it, let the man speak for himself.

I first fell in literary love with Mr. Darcy in 1980 while watching the BBC/PBS adaptation of Pride and Prejudice staring David Rintoul as the romantic icon. In retrospect, I now realize that I loved Darcy because he loved Elizabeth, the smart and witty woman that I have always wanted to be.

As I stated to my arrogant new acquaintance, there are many reason why Mr. Darcy is a big deal. I admire his honor, his intelligence and his kindness. And anyone who claims they were not moved by his beautiful grounds at Pemberley, which are a reflection of the man himself, is in co-dependent denial. What about you? What is it about Mr. Darcy that turned your head and opened your heart? Why is Mr. Darcy such a big deal?

Author Bio:

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to her favorite author and the short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, released by Ballantine Book in October 2011. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present she delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Enter a giveaway chance for Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one signed copy of Laurel Ann’s new Austen-inspired short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, which includes seven stories inspired by Pride and Prejudice, by sharing with us the reasons why you think Mr. Darcy is a romantic literary icon or what qualities you admire in his character. The contest is open to all US residents and ends at 11:59 pm PT on July 5, 2012.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

A new short story anthology, this delightful collection inspired by Jane Austen—her novels, her life, her wit, her world—features an introduction and twenty-two never-before-published stories written by twenty-four authors including:

Lauren Willig • Adriana Trigiani • Jo Beverley • Alexandra Potter • Laurie Viera Rigler • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Syrie James • Stephanie Barron • Amanda Grange • Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Carrie Bebris • Diana Birchall • Monica Fairview • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Myretta Robens • Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret C. Sullivan • and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley.

Available in print and eBook from Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0345524966

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress  


  

40 comments:

  1. "why I think Mr. Darcy is a romantic literary icon"

    Personally for me, and i think in some ways many readers, like Mr. Darcy due to the character development that occurs in Pride and Prejudice. At the beginning, he is thinking really of money, in some ways his mind set is similar to his Aunt, for example his first proposal, some of the things he said was simliar to what Lady Catherine de Bourgh said later. Luckily, for us, he just felt something so strong for Elizabeth taht he just tried to ignore it.

    With what Elizabeth said and her refusals, made Mr. Darcy take a step back and reevaluate himself as an individual, NOT just as a suitor. This is when character development and change of Mr. Darcy Starts to come forth. You have him meeting Mr and Mrs Gardinar, Mr Wickham and Lydia Bennett scandal etc. He begins to see that to truly love someone you must love them regardless of their faults whether its their personalities and acquaintances. He is starting to love more for Elizabeth what is on the inside and not what the outside. When Elizabeth find s out about this, shes falling in love with him more for the actions he had done since the first proposal and sees the changes in his personality and character.

    This is the big thing I fele is what Makes Mr Darcy a big romantic literary character. It is his character development and changes that what draws everyone in and it was all because of love.

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    1. Hi Patricia, the character development of Darcy is indeed key to our own development of love for him. It parallels Elizabeth for me, something that Austen excelled at. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Why do I think Mr. Darcy is a romantic literary icon? It's just as you said - I love Darcy because he loved Elizabeth. What woman wouldn't want to be loved with such a great, deep, selfless love? He rescued Lydia but kept it secret from Lizzy. He's my hero!

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    1. Hi June, selfless love is indeed the best. Luckily, Elizabeth discovers his saving of her wayward younger sister Lydia by chance. I think it is one of the strongest reasons why she loves him. Thanks for sharing, LA

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  4. I think he's an icon because of the great depth of his love for Lizzie. Once he's in love, he's in love, and nothing will change that. And he's not wimpy about it--he acts. He shows his love by doing, and in a world (both hers and ours) where the men are more inclined to talk and not do when the difficult situations arise, a man of such integrity becomes even more appealing.

    araminta18 at gmail dot com

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    1. Darcy is indeed a man of integrity and honor. Two reasons I admire him so. Thanks for sharing Araminta18.

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  5. I agree with the importance of character development in his appeal. His initial pride makes Darcy's willingness to humble himself for Elizabeth a very romantic characteristic. He loves her enough to put himself in a situation he's been trying to avoid for years--that of catering to the whims of Mr. Wickham.

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    1. He even admits that he was humbled by her!

      "By you I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased." Ch 58

      *sigh*

      Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Pride & Prejudice was the first Austen that I read, and how well I remember! It was my ninth grade year of high school in honors level English, and when our teacher announced with great pomp and circumstance that we would be reading this most ancient of tomes (OK, I'm exaggerating), I was among the loudest of the groaners. But oh, what cheek on my part! I had no idea what I was in for. It became, and has remained, my favorite novel of all time and part of that love comes from the attachment I formed for Mr. Darcy and his beloved, witty Elizabeth. Like you, I think that I can sum up my great admiration for Mr. Darcy because he, unlike Elizabeth's other erstwhile suitors, comes to love Elizabeth for who she really is - although he certainly doesn't start out that way! But perhaps that's another reason why I like him; he's believable in his prejudice, and while he's frustrating and proud and makes a young lady reader want to punch him in the face several times in the beginning, the fact that he's willing to accept when he's wrong (no matter how long that takes) and that he will do anything for Elizabeth regardless of whether her affections are changed in the doing made me find much to oggle over in this dark and dapper hero.

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    1. Darcy could have any woman that he wanted, though, he chooses Elizabeth with no fortune and a questionable family. Being loved for who you are and not what you are, is indeed a fantasy. Austen knew this and played it out. Elizabeth's "tolerable" situation is even more serious in 1800's than now, so I appreciate his decision to choose to love her even more. Thanks for sharing, LA

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  7. In my personal opinion the importance of Mr. Darcy is his character develops through the story. He has been used to get everything he wanted and then a woman, a very clever woman turns him down, which is the starting point for Darcy's development from arrogant prick to literatur's most romantic character! Elizabeth falls in love because of Darcy's actions towards her family and that she sees that he really is a decent/honorable human being and he wants to do everything to make her happy! They are such a good couple both intelligent but also deeply suit each other so perfectly! Both intelligent and passionate about their independence and family!

    Oh this blog is genious! Meeting a arrogant/handsome/rich/noble/tall man/Darcy and then act like Elizabeth way to go Laurel!

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    1. Thanks Sophia. I met this arrogant Darcy-like man through work. Even though I am much older than him, it was interesting to be Elizabeth for 10 seconds. :)

      Thanks for sharing, LA

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  8. I first met Darcy in the form of Colin Firth, so it's impossible for me to completely seperate the manifold attractions of one from the other. But beyond the obvious, I think Darcy's appeal is a combination of two things that have already been mentioned. 1) We love that he grows and changes because of his steadfast love for Elizabeth. But he doesn't actually need to change as much as it first appears because 2)deep down, he's already a decent, honorable guy (as per Mrs. Reynold's testimony). So a large part of his apparent evolution is the result of Elizabeth's corrected perception of him. We girls may be intrigued by the bad boys, but we want to marry a man we can truly respect and admire. We get both in Darcy.

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    1. I totally agree Shannon. It is fun to read about or encounter a Wickham, but a Darcy is the real prize. Thanks for sharing, LA

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  9. I have only read the novel and seen the adaptation with Keira Knightkey, but I find Mr. Darcy to be such a unique character, while still maintaining relatable qualities. He is the perfect gentleman, and pretty much everything a girl wants. At the same time, hiwever, he faces the same thoughts and shortcomings as the males of modern times. The fear of rejection, the misunderstanding of what women are trying to get across and with pride the perfect balance of self-dejectedness. He does not appear it atfirst, but Elizabeth makes him just as nervous as girls and women of our time due to modern men. He is the ideal romantic literary icon because he is the perfect balance of pride and hopelessness.

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    1. It is interesting to fathom that he is not sure that Elizabeth will accept his second proposal. That quality of uncertainty is charming. That is another reason why I love him, literally of course! Thanks for sharing Samantha.

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  10. For starters, Jane Austen's character development of Mr. Darcy is phenomenal-you get to know him without being in his head. You get to know him through the people who are with him starting with Mr. Bingley and Caroline and then his Housekeeper and Colonel Fitzwilliam. But also this slowness of getting to know him is Jane Austen's way of building suspense because you want to know what's going to happen next with him.
    Then there's his character itself-now I'm not one to say that I want to marry him but I do admire his traits. In reality it is hard for people to learn to change and Jane Austen portrays this through Mr. Darcy as he learns that his actions and thoughts need to change not only for Elizabeth but to be a better person in general.

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    1. Nice point Cary. The story is told through Elizabeth's point of view. We learn everything about Darcy through his actions and what others say about him. I love this, and the fact that you all are so in tune to his character. What a group of enlightened Darcyholics we have!

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  11. Lovely post, Laurel Ann! Thank you for sharing! That man doesn't exactly sound like he would be up to your "Mr. Darcy Challenge!"

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    1. No, indeed not up to my standards. He wishes. :) Thanks for visiting Meredith.

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  12. This is a great post, Laurel Ann! And I love that you used a little Lizzie cheek in answering him! This may be something particular to me, but I think I love Darcy for his awkwardness, his good intentions, his shyness that may appear aloof but hides a heart of gold. I think those are things we can very much find in modern men today, if we take a moment and look. I love that he isn't the suave romancer who knows exactly what to say. He puts his foot in his mouth and lets his nerves and pride get in the way. But his good nature eventually wins out and shines through, and luckily Lizzie has the sense to take a second look at him. I love that this is a love story about uncovering the real person beneath the social facade and falling deeply in love. Because I think that's what we all want. To be loved for who we really are~

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    1. Hi Heather, Austen made Darcy very real by showing us his faults and his fine qualities. We can relate to him, and admire his personal development throughout the novel. Thanks for sharing, LA

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  13. Not only do I love Austen's Mr. Darcy, but I enjoy seeing all of the interpretations through films and JAFF books. Like the instance when Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy stretches his hand after lifting Elizabeth into the carriage. Or Firth's Darcy smiling as Elizabeth sings and plays with Georgiana. We realize this is a complex man and we learn that First Impressions aren't always correct. Sigh... So much love for P&P.

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    1. His complexity is our joy. Thanks you Austen.

      I too enjoy the different interpretations of the character by the actors who play him. I also like how Firth's Darcy unconsciously plays with his ring on his finger a lot when he is with Elizabeth! Rintoul's Darcy becomes very stiff when Elizabeth is near until they meet at Pemberley. Macfayden looks like a lost puppy in her presence. All interesting and different interpretations. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. I love this discussion!

    A while back, I wrote about this very thing on my blog (link in case anyone's interested: http://brennaaubrey.net/2011/06/30/what-makes-mr-darcy-so-irresistable/ )

    My point of view was that it was Darcy's irrevocable attraction to and then love for Elizabeth that makes him so appealing to the reader. Even during his insulting first proposal, he describes his struggle against reason and logic and decision to follow the dictates of his heart. It is this love that "in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer" that he cannot escape, even after Elizabeth rejects him the first time. In my opinion, it is this powerful passion for the woman he loves--one that he cannot ignore nor can he forsake that makes him irresistible to female readers of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Just my 2 cents. Carry on... I'm following everyone's very valid opinions.

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    1. Hi Brenna, Austen does not give us much of a physical description of Darcy, but the first time I read the novel, I had a strong picture of him in my mind. Amazing. How does she do that?

      My favorite Darcy moment was when he hands Elizabeth the "be not alarmed, madame" letter. He presents it to her, asks her for the honor of reading it, then bows and walks away. What a great exit. The letter changes everything about her perception of him and herself. Brilliant. Thanks for sharing, LA

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  15. Looking over the posts, I appear to be the first male commentor. Interesting...Anyway:I've read P&P at least five times, and yes, Elizabeth is one of the most captivating heroines ever. The thing is, a large part of what makes her captivating is her ongoing interaction with Mr. Darcy. He is the perfect obstacle to challenge every ounce of her will and determination, and even she she eventually realizes that he is the perfect opposite pole for all her light-hearted impetuosity. The consummate ease with which she handles the obsequious Mr. Collins is a telling example of how effortlessly she overmasters any lesser men: she blows the fawning prelate and his pretensions out of the water, and the reader would have to be oblivious not to realize that it is Darcy, and only Darcy, that will ever be able to match her.

    I guess if you are fond of Elizabeth (And who isn't?) you want to see her end up with the best. By a succession of selfless actions Darcy eventually proves to Elizabeth, and to the reader, that he is the best. That is how I see Darcy: as Elizabeth's best hope of love, security and happiness. And that is why Darcy is one of my favorite male characters.

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    1. The thought of Darcy and Collins as polar opposites just struck me. They both make mistakes, but how they react and recover is the action of a true gentleman. Thanks for sharing, LA

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  16. I love Mr. Darcy because he was willing to change for the woman he loved. He was pompous, and so full of his own self-importance that he couldn't even imagine that Elizabeth would refuse him, but once she did, he actually took his faults into account and realized that he had been wrong. He humbled himself for his lady-love. What isn't romantic about that? Also, he has a good sense of humor (he'd have to to marry Elizabeth) and that's always lovely to see.

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    1. Interesting observation. I have never thought of Darcy as having a sense of humor, but you are correct. Elizabeth loves to tease him, and her takes is very well. Thanks for sharing kastrel, LA

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  17. Mr Darcy is a romantic literary icon because most girls at some point, would want to be with somebody like him. Him being mysterious and all makes him so attractive. Aside from this, he is also loyal and romantic in his own ways. He might not be expressive but he is loving to his family and friends.

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    1. We do learn about his capacity to love through his treatment and care of his sister Georgiana. The housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds does pile on the praise too. I just imagine Elizabeth listening in amazement, totally wide eyed. Seeing his portrait really solidified the impact of the man. Being at Pemberley and seeing the care that he gave to his staff, tenants and beautiful grounds totally won me over. It was a left, right punch from Austen for sure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  18. I again wanted to thank you for posting, and for your willingness to share your story. I WISH I had discovered Mr. Darcy as early as you did. I recently SAW the 1980 version of P&P. If I had seen it first I imagine that I would have felt much as you. As it was, I found it almost like a spoof of the story I had seen before, but I loved it nonetheless.

    But I LOVED your story of your interaction on the ?was it a date? That was great! Explaining my love of all things Austen, and in particularly Mr. Darcy, is still not easy. Even when trying to explain it to my husband..LOL..

    Thanks again. Barbara

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    1. Thanks again Barbara for hosting me here at Darcyholic Diversions. It has been such fun to share my Darcy dilemma with your readers and read their reactions.

      I recently watched the 1980 P&P again after many years. In comparison to the Firth 1995 Darcy and the Macfayden 2004 version, it is very different. The production values are not as blingy as the later versions, but I do enjoy Elizabeth Garvie's Elizabeth, and Rintoul did play Darcy truer to the book! I find that whoever the first film version of Darcy is, he stays with you and is your favorite.

      Thanks again. Best wishes to the lucky winner of the signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It!

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  19. What I like about Darcy is that later in the story you find out that he can be a caring person. He helps out when Lydia runs away and then you find out his feelings for Elizabeth and that he'd do anything for her.

    The first P & P movie I saw was the Keira Knightley version. Well, that's the only one I've really seen. I may have seen a little of the one with Colin Firth, but the other one got me interested in Austen stories.

    spookycat72(at)gmail(dot)com
    GFC follower - Michelle Fidler

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  20. Loved your post, Laurel Ann. I enjoy your blog too!

    Mr. Darcy has such a powerful presence and is still vulnerable. He is strong and enduring. Jane Austen did such a wonderful job of portraying him in a way that he draws us in and keeps us entranced and loving him. We want more and continue to read more or reread.

    Reading PnP and the many JAFF books has definitely changed my life.

    Thanks for sharing. Don't enter me in the giveaway for Laurel Ann's book as I already own it! Great book!

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  21. I have just stumbled upon your blog. What fun! I have been an avid reader of Jane Austen's novels for many years. I have read them many times over and never fail to pick up any prequels or sequels I find in the bookstores.

    To answer your question why I think Mr. Darcy is a romantic literary icon:

    He is handsome, rich and powerful and becomes interested in a woman who, we can imagine, reminds us of a little piece of ourselves. The arrogant, distant man transforms only because he comes to love an unsuitable (to society at that time) lady. Eventually, as she discovers the truth of his soul, readers do as well. I think his housekeeper at Pemberly said it best: he was "the sweetest, most generous-hearted boy in the world” and “I have never had a cross word from him in my life".

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  22. Great post LA! Another reason that we love to love Mr. Darcy is that he is somewhat of a mystery man to the reader.

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  23. I've read all of Austen's novels, and I found Darcy to be my favorite of all her male characters. But does Darcymania as we know it today actually stretch back in time to the original publication of "Pride and Prejudice", or does it owe more to Colin Firth's wet-shirt scene in the television production, which isn't even in the book.

    As for film portrayals of Darcy, Firth is to that character as Connery is to Bond: the only legitimate question is, who is second-best? The same can be said for Jennifer Ehle and Elizabeth Bennett.

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