AUTHOR JACK CALDWELL DISCUSSES HIS LATEST NOVEL, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER
(I want to welcome Jack Caldwell back to Darcyholic Diversions!)
Hello, folks. I’m back. Jack Caldwell here, author of PEMBERLEY RANCH and THE THREE COLONELS. Barbara, the web-mistress of Darcyholic Diversions, invited me back to talk about my latest novel, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER – a Pride & Prejudice farce. Apparently my last appearances have done nothing to wear out my welcome. We’ll see if that holds after this posting.
So, how can I explain MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER – a Pride & Prejudice farce? Well, there is the title. It’s a farce. According to Bing, a farce is “a ridiculous situation in which everything goes wrong or becomes a sham.” Okay, that should do it.
What, that’s not enough? You want plot? All right:
“In this humorous re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s pet cat causes an unfortunate accident to befall the haughty Mr. Darcy, forcing the injured gentleman to reluctantly take up residence at Longbourn—more specifically, in the parlor of Longbourn! In pain, forbidden to leave by his doctors, Mr. Darcy cannot escape the ridiculous antics of the Bennet clan. And when Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh arrive to visit the invalid, chaos, confusion and hilarity ensue! Inspired by the classics of comedy, author Jack Caldwell transforms Austen’s beloved novel into a tour de force of farce. The Regency will never be the same!”
There. Now go out and buy it.
Huh? You want an excerpt? *Sigh* Okay.
To set the scene, Darcy and the Bingleys were invited to dinner at Longbourn the same day Wickham showed up in Meryton. An angry Darcy was distracted and therefore failed to control his rented horse when it was startled by Elizabeth’s pet cat. He fell, broke his leg, and cut his head. Caroline Bingley fainted at the sight of blood on Darcy’s forehead.
We pick up the story after the local apothecary, Mr. Jones, has attended to the injured Darcy:
The soup was taken away, and just as the party began to partake of the next course, Mr. Jones came into the room. Mr. Bennet immediately invited the apothecary to join them to dine. This earned a comment from Mr. Collins about inappropriate condescension of a country squire—what was perhaps acceptable in Hertfordshire would not be tolerated in Kent. Mr. Bennet allowed this insult to pass without comment, and a red-face Mr. Jones took his seat—in Mr. Darcy’s chair, Elizabeth noticed.
With quiet efficiency, a plate appeared before the gentleman while he gave his report. “As you know, Miss Bingley is well. She suffered no ill effects from her swoon. I understand she dines upstairs with her sister?” Assured that his information was correct, Mr. Jones continued, “I advised her to rest once she returns to Netherfield this evening. As for Mr. Darcy, he was not as fortunate. I suspect a fracture of the lower leg—the fibula, to be exact. The discoloration reveals the location of the injury, you see. Very painful, I am sorry to say.”
“Oh, Mr. Jones, how dreadful!” Mrs. Bennet cried. “Shall you be able to save the leg?”
The apothecary was astonished. “Save it? Oh, most certainly, Mrs. Bennet! There are two bones in the lower leg, you see, and the fibula is the minor of the two. I have slapped a splint on it, and given quiet rest, the gentleman shall be as right as rain in a couple of months. Madam, this chicken is excellent!”
“I am glad to hear that the gentleman is on the road to recovery,” said Mr. Bennet. “Mr. Bingley, would your carriage be sufficient to transport your friend back to Netherfield, or shall we use one of my wagons?”
“Transport?” cried the apothecary. “Oh, no, Mr. Bennet! The patient cannot be moved.” This pronouncement was like a thunderbolt in the room.
“What?” returned Mr. Bennet. “What do you mean, he cannot be moved? Certainly you are not saying he must remain here!”
“Mr. Bennet, we cannot take any chances. Moving Mr. Darcy may exacerbate the injury; the bone may shift, endangering the leg! No, Mr. Darcy certainly cannot be moved. It is unthinkable.”
“Oh, my goodness, my nerves!” Mrs. Bennet placed a hand on her heart. “I…I must prepare a room for—”
“Madam,” Mr. Jones cut in, “Mr. Darcy must not be moved at all, even upstairs. He must stay where he is.”
“In my parlor?” the good lady cried. The apothecary nodded. Mrs. Bennet bristled. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“Mama,” offered Jane, “at least Mr. Darcy will be comfortable. It is the warmest room in the house, you always said.”
“True, very true,” Mrs. Bennet reluctantly agreed.
“Warmth is important in recovery,” Mr. Jones pointed out. “Would someone please pass the potatoes?”
“This is stuff and nonsense!” Mr. Bennet proclaimed. “Mr. Darcy is not going to spend two months in my parlor!”
“Of course not,” said the apothecary patiently. “He should be able to tolerate a carriage ride in four weeks or so—no longer than six weeks, certainly.”
“F-four to six weeks!” Mr. Bennet sputtered.
And off we go.
Some of you movie buffs out there recognize the plot and the title. I admit is “borrowed” it from the masterpiece of farce, The Man Who Came to Dinner, by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The 1942 movie stared Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante, and Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. Now. This instant. You’ll thank me later.
You may wonder why I followed up two dramas like PEMBERLEY RANCH and THE THREE COLONELS with a comedy like MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER. The simple answer is why not? My readers know I have a strange sense of humor. MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER allows me to indulge in that part of my writing.
And why not turn Pride & Prejudice into a farce? The book is a comedy, after all. Anyone who can read Austen’s biting wit without laughing has no soul.
MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER was a lot of fun to write and I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s available now in from White Soup Press in print and Kindle at Amazon, and in print and Nook from Barnes & Noble.
One last thing: It takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.
About the Author - Jack Caldwell is an author, amateur historian, professional economic developer, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook. Born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, Jack and his wife, Barbara, are Hurricane Katrina victims who now make the upper Midwest their home.
His nickname—The Cajun Cheesehead—came from his devotion to his two favorite NFL teams: the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. (Every now and then, Jack has to play the DVD again to make sure the Saints really won in 2010.)
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings—The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles—appear regularly at Austen Authors.
Web site – Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile – http://webpages.charter.net/jvcla25/
Blog – Austen Authors – http://austenauthors.net/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/JCaldwell25