Happy Friday, Just Jane 1813 readers! I am so glad to be at the end of this week to settle down into some serious reading time and to be able to share this really fun guest post with all of you.
This new JAFF story, My Fair Lizzy, brings back memories from my childhood, when my sixth grade chorus teacher told us we’d be learning every song from the play, My Fair Lady. As someone who was unfamiliar with this show, I was rather put off by this announcement, especially when the first song we learned was “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly?” But after singing this song a few times, I was hooked on this song and the rest is history! My Fair Lady is still one of my favorite shows and I love the idea that Barbara Silkstone has for combining this story with the characters and story from Pride & Prejudice.
Please join me in welcoming Barbara Silkstone to Just Jane 1813…
My Fair Lizzy By Barbara Silkstone
Lizzy Bennet speaking with a cockney accent? Balderdash! And yet my newest novel required that our dearest girl be in need of some improvement. A mashup of Pride & Prejudice and Pygmalion, My Fair Lizzy would require Darcy to polish Miss Elizabeth Bennet, making a lady of her. Despite their class differences he falls madly in love with the spirited lass in this Regency tale.
It was while searching the vast materials available for such a fun undertaking that I discovered the English to cockney translator. Click here for a spot of fun: http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/cockney_translator/.
By the 1600s the use of the term cockney was particularly associated with the Bow Bells area of London (Those born within earshot of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow, a church located in the Cheapside district of the City of London.) The term came to be used to refer to all working-class Londoners generally. (Wikipedia)
Here’s a blurb from the book, My Fair Lizzy:
Lizzy Bennet, a sassy London shop girl is instantly attracted to Fitzwilliam Darcy, the arrogant, handsome visitor to the Bennets’ struggling Covent Garden flower shop. Darcy insists on purchasing Lizzy’s lucky orchid as a gift for his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Will Lizzy sell her family’s much needed good fortune to the haughty know it all?
Complications arise when Darcy accepts Bingley’s wager to make a sophisticated lady out of the humble flower girl. Can Lizzy endure Darcy’s mentoring in order to save the Bennet family’s flower shop? Will Caroline Bingley tolerate Darcy’s peppery new student? Will Wickham finally bring about Darcy’s ruination?
This is a light-hearted tale of a headstrong, London lass (Lizzy) whose drive to achieve more than life has handed her compels her to accept the position of pawn in a wager between two friends, (Darcy and Bingley). Gumption meets true love.
A fun read for all those who have ever enjoyed George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.
Barbara Silkstone is sharing this excerpt today with my readers from My Fair Lizzy:
“Mr. Darcy is accomplished in linguistics and etiquette,” Bingley said. “What if he were to teach you refined speaking and social graces? Would that not help? I would be pleased to recommend my friends and acquaintances to your flower shop.”
“Mr. Darcy ain’t about to help the likes of us,” Lizzy said. “And, if he did, I’m guessing he would charge for the lessons. We cannot afford to pay him.”
This was coming together nicely, Bingley thought. The sisters did understand what they lacked. He could not lose, for no matter the outcome, he would ingratiate himself with Miss Jane Bennet.
He began to explain to his guests the details of his wager with Darcy, softening his words so as not to offend. He suggested Lizzy play student for Darcy. Bingley sweetened the proposal by saying that he would pay for the lessons and all the expenses including her gown because she would be expected to attend Lady Catherine’s birthday gala acting the part of a noblewoman. “We must strike while the wager is on the table!” His countenance took on the appearance of a mischievous little boy.
The sisters exchanged amused looks. They knew from observation how men could become completely engaged in a bet. Bingley had dared Darcy to educate a person of low class and pass that person off as titled nobility. She was being offered the position of pawn in their contest.
There was nothing shy about Lizzy. When a question burdened her mind, she voiced it. “What will your wife say about you buying clothes for strange ladies?”
Bingley blushed. “I am an unwed gentleman—but a gentleman nevertheless.”
Although Lizzy was certain that a gentleman of Mr. Bingley’s stature could never offer for a lady who lived in Cheapside, she could not silence the little voice deep inside of her that spoke of Jane’s future.
The more acceptable arrangement might have been for Darcy to tutor Jane, but Bingley wished to keep her to himself. He was astute enough to know that one sister would learn and the other would imitate her. He did not wish Jane exposed to his friend’s quirks of ego, whereas he rightly perceived Lizzy Bennet was more than Darcy’s equal.
Seizing the opportunity, Lizzy said, “Can Mr. Darcy really teach proper speaking to someone like me? I was born within the sound of the bells of St. Mary-le-bow. My speech is as much a part of me as my willfulness. I fear Mr. Darcy and me shan’t get along very well,” Lizzy said.
“He is well studied,” Bingley answered, not willing to tell them that Darcy had never instructed anyone but his own sister, Georgiana. And worse yet, Darcy assumed Bingley’s choice of a student for their wager would be a lad.
“I’m afraid Mr. Darcy did not take to me. He is not the warmest of gents,” Lizzy said, frowning.
“Darcy takes some getting accustomed to, but I believe he will make an excellent mentor for you. However, you must work very hard, and be very patient with him. It will not be easy. I am interested in seeing this experiment through, and actually wish Darcy success. I have no other motive.” Bingley tried not to look at Jane as he uttered a slight fib.
“Let us go encounter the bear in his den, for he expects me this afternoon,” Bingley said. He gently guided them to the door and into his waiting carriage.
The change in their fortunes was all happening so quickly, Lizzy felt spun around and topsy-turvy. She would have insisted on asking her parents’ permission before even listening to such an offer, but they were caught up in their own troubles and this opportunity would not wait. They were off to Darcy House.
Doesn’t this sound like a fun story? I wonder what happens when they arrive to Darcy House?
It’s Giveaway Time!
To enter the giveaway from Ms. Silkstone, please post a comment by midnight, ET on Monday, October 16th, to qualify for this drawing. One winner will receive a signed paperback copy of My Fair Lizzy (US mailing address required) and one winner will receive an ebook version of My Fair Lizzy (open to international readers too) Winners will be announced on Wednesday, October 18th.
I’d like to thank Barbara Silkstone for sharing this post and generous giveaway with my readers!
To add this book to your bookshelf, visit one of the following booksellers:
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075ZWYYKV