Another Austen spin-off taking liberties with Mr.Darcy, I hear you say. Does the world need another one? All I can say in my defence is that my book was written as a kind of tribute to the Great Writer. This website is going live on December 16th which is Jane’s birthday. She would be 236 years old, not a fate I would wish on any woman. I hope she doesn’t feel even older due to a certain amount of spinning in her grave. At least my book does not contain aliens and Mr. Darcy does not meet with any mishaps.
I have used a well-worn literary trick – taking a fictitious character and giving her a new life. The idea came to me when I heard an agent say that there was no female equivalent of the picaresque novel – where the hero goes off on adventures in exotic places. Examples would be Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels and the adventures of the lovable rogue, Flashman, from Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
The only female character I could think of who fitted the bill was Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair – a roguette, perhaps? There was a reason for this, of course. Pre-20th century females did not get around very much. Hampered by convention, corsets and a lack of civil rights, their adventures were mainly in the boudoir.
I thought that Lydia Bennet from Pride and Prejudice would be an ideal subject. Only sixteen when the novel ended, she had made an ill-advised marriage to Wickham that was bound to end badly. Here was a female black sheep ready to trot over the hills and far away to who knew what?