Good morning my lovely readers! Today I am sharing the cover of a book I have waited a long time to read and I hope all of you are as filled with terrific anticipation as I am to read this new book by Caitlin Williams!
When We Are Married is being released on July 20th and we are preparing a book tour to celebrate the release of this book. Today, Mrs. Williams is here to share with us the role that the Just Jane 1813 community played in helping this story get its early beginnings. Please welcome Caitlin Williams to Just Jane 1813…
Good day, Claudine. It’s a pleasure to be here to share with your readers the first look at my new cover for my new release, When We Are Married, which has been designed by the talented Janet Taylor.
Inspiration is all around and comes to us in many different ways. Ideas can creep up on us slowly and seep gradually into our consciousness. They might curl up in a corner to rest for a while before beginning to take root and grow. Others grab us more forcefully and hold on tight, bother us incessantly, and then refuse to let go until we give them life.
It can be difficult to explain just how a story is born—no fixed method exists for transforming those few scenes that exist solely in your imagination into a book of eighty thousand words. And sometimes, your tale mutates along the way. It will whisk you off on a detour and by the time you have published it, and are being asked where you got the idea from, you are left scratching your head, unable to remember just what it was that started you off in the first place.
Though with When We Are Married, I will never have a problem recalling where the idea came from. I have a record of it. It started on this wonderful blog, where we enthusiasts gather to celebrate Jane Austen and talk about her work.
It began when I wrote a post last year for the ‘We Still Need Her’ series, in which each chapter of Pride and Prejudice was dissected, admired, and discussed. The chapter I introduced was the one directly after Mr Darcy has delivered his infamous letter to Elizabeth. It focusses on Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings, and contains that wonderful line: ‘Till this moment, I never knew myself.” It’s where she starts to grow and change as a character.
Just Jane 1813 readers were kind enough to share their opinions with me and when I asked if there was a variation where Elizabeth returns to the parsonage having read Mr Darcy’s letter, only to find him still there, Claudine replied: “but I think you should write one”. As I was in a coffee shop with a nice latte in front of me when I read her message, it felt rude to refuse.
Starting with the last words of that chapter, “She could think only of her letter”, I wrote a short story and posted it in the comments section of the blog. Encouraged by everyone who read it to go on, I did, and almost a year later, here it is – a whole book! And the first chapter is still (bar some excellent editing) exactly the same as I wrote it on that day.
Because of the way this story started, it doesn’t seem like my book, but our book, borne out the friendships I have made within the JAFF community. I won’t dress it up as anything other than fan fiction because that’s exactly what it is – inspired by Janeites, written by a Janeite, and hopefully, it will be read by many Janeites. And when I am asked how When We Are Married came about, I shall be able to reply, “I wrote it because Claudine told me to.”
After reading this story, I can only say “Thank you” to Caitlin Williams for taking a little encouragement from us and turning it into another fabulous story. Since every great story begins with a beautiful cover, here’s to the beginning of another terrific journey between Darcy and Elizabeth…
This is a really unique cover from Janet Taylor and one that provides a few beautiful clues into the story between the covers of this book. Isn’t the cover just lovely?
Here’s the book blurb to give you another glimpse into this story:
Two sisters, one man. Someone’s heart is about to get broken.
Elizabeth Bennet quickly realises she has misjudged Mr Darcy. In Kent, she learns first impressions are not always accurate. His proposal is disastrous, insulting even, but when she reads his letter her heart begins to thaw, and her objections and prejudices start to melt away. Elizabeth decides to offer Mr Darcy a sliver of hope, an apology, and a second chance.
Yet when he begins to call at Gracechurch Street, determined to become a better man and humbled by Elizabeth’s reproofs, he unwittingly stirs the romantic hopes of another lady altogether.
Jane Bennet is bereft and confused, rejected by Charles Bingley. She is fearful of becoming an old maid and eager to fall in love with the very first gentleman who takes notice of her. Mr. Darcy just happens to be everything her mother has wanted for her; rich and handsome, the perfect suitor.
Through crowded, industrious Cheapside, to the elegant ballrooms of Mayfair, Mr Darcy chases Elizabeth Bennet, unaware that the quiet unassuming girl who smiles too much, is fully intent on chasing him.
Check out the lovely back cover Janet created for this story too:
I love the final colors for this book and I love that the back cover has the book blurb on a piece of stationary for the background. It’s so fitting for this story, isn’t it?
Would you like to read an excerpt of this story from the very first chapter? Here’s a peek into the very beginning of this story:
She could think only of her letter and such was the preoccupation of her thoughts that Elizabeth Bennet noticed very little on her return to the Parsonage. If there were strange hats on the hall table, she swept past without seeing them. If low male voices could be heard through the parlour door, they did not penetrate her consciousness. She took the stairs at speed, with the intention of opening the door only wide enough to tell her friend Charlotte she had returned safely. So, it was with complete shock that her eyes fell upon Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam who were visiting within.
They stood, nodded, and greeted her. The colonel came forward to explain they were there to take leave and were quitting Kent for London immediately. Mr Darcy’s coach was being readied at Rosings, and then they would be gone. He held out his hand, with the desire of taking hers for a farewell, but Elizabeth’s fingers still clutched Mr Darcy’s letter. She tightened her grip on it. The colonel looked down at the sheets of paper, and understanding her hand was otherwise occupied, put his own behind his back. He offered her a low bow instead, along with some very pretty words of regret at having to go away, telling her how much he had enjoyed her company, and of how he hoped they would meet again soon.
If she had been in the least bit inclined towards him, Elizabeth would have been much flattered by such words and sentiments. Instead they floated around the room, of no interest to her heart or mind. She risked the briefest of glances at Mr Darcy and saw he was staring at the sheets of paper she gripped, his face aghast. Elizabeth cursed her stupidity. Why had she not put the letter away somewhere? It contained such delicate information and might cause a great deal of trouble if it were to fall into the wrong hands.
“I see you have had a letter, Lizzy,” Charlotte said. “I was wondering at you having been out so long. You sat down to read it somewhere, no doubt?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth answered numbly. She folded the letter, making it into a small neat package, and tucked it away with her handkerchief.
Elizabeth did not care to lie and so stayed silent. She risked another glance at Mr Darcy, whose eyes were now on the mantelpiece clock. He had probably made a note of the time they had entered and was calculating how much longer he needed to stay. Fifteen minutes was the established etiquette, but country informality often had scant regard for Town manners. He might go anytime, without warning, and indeed, he shuffled his feet, seemingly desperate to escape. Elizabeth could feel his agitation and was somehow more attuned to him than any person in the room. Time was short, if she was going to say something to him, she must find a way now. Despite the colonel’s charming speech, it was quite possible none of them would ever meet again. They were not of the same circles—and from opposite ends of the country.
What to say? How to say it?
“If you are away to Town, Mr Darcy, might I trouble you to deliver a letter to my sister? I am of a mind to send her a note, for I think I forgot to tell her the exact date of my own arrival there.”
Her request produced a great gasp from Mr Collins. Elizabeth almost gasped herself as she heard the words fall from her mouth.
“Cousin Elizabeth, you cannot ask Mr Darcy to perform such an errand. I am quite sure he has never been to Cheapside, and neither have I,” Mr Collins said. To Mr Darcy he turned and offered a slick smile. “You must excuse her, sir. She forgets to whom she addresses her impudent requests.”
Mr Darcy frowned but said nothing. Perhaps she had surprised him too much or more likely offended him. Was he too proud to call at a tradesman’s house?
“I should be only too happy to take a letter for you, Miss Bennet,” Colonel Fitzwilliam interjected. “I have previously been to Cheapside and managed to enter and leave it without encountering pestilence, injury to my mortal soul, or any damage to my clothing or valuables.” The colonel smiled at her conspiratorially, knowing how ridiculous she found Mr Collins. Elizabeth, however, could not share in his joke. She was too busy wishing him away. He was a pleasant man but she had no note for the colonel to take. If she were to pen something now, there was only one man’s hand into which it might be pressed, but would he take it?
Mr Darcy cleared his throat, and thinking he was intending to give his adieus, Elizabeth was dismayed. Yet after nodding at the colonel, he looked directly at her and spoke in his usual careful, measured tone. There was a particular gravity to his words as if he were begging her to realise their importance. “I will take your note, Miss Bennet. I was planning to call upon your sister, in any case, once I returned to Town. I have been feeling, of late, my rudeness in not taking proper leave of her when I left Hertfordshire. I am of a mind to make amends for my recent lapse in gentlemanly behaviour. If you will entrust me to deliver something into your sister’s hand, I should be most honoured. I am happy to wait for as long as it might take you to compose such a letter.”
Though dazed at the length of his speech, for he was a taciturn man—excepting his horrible proposal she had never heard him utter so many words at once—Elizabeth was driven to act. She went to a corner of the room, where she sat down at a writing table, and took out paper and pen. Her hand shook as she unscrewed the cap of the inkwell and dipped the nib of the pen into it. Never before had she contemplated such reckless behaviour, no man had ever stirred her to such lengths. Yet now she quickly scribbled a few words, before stopping abruptly, with a quick glance his way. “I am not sure my pen is quite right. Perhaps it needs mending, Mr Darcy.”
She heard the deep breath Mr Darcy took and knew his hesitation. His boot shifted forwards, then drew back again, and she feared he would not come—but all of a sudden, he was at her side, offering his quiet assistance. He held out a large, strong hand for the pen, and after she had given it up to him, she leant back purposefully so he might see what she had written.
I am sorry to have misjudged you.
There was no change in his expression, except for a slight purse of his lips. He fiddled with the pen and when he turned it over in his hands, Elizabeth’s heart flipped over with it.
“May I try, Miss Bennet?” He leaned over the desk, till his head was inches from hers. He pulled the paper towards him while she held her breath, half eager, half fearful, watching him write.
I am the one who is to be sorry. I have behaved abominably.
“There.” He handed back the pen. “I think all that can be done has been. Perhaps it is a hopeless case? Will you finish your note?”
Nodding, she took out a fresh sheet and wrote an incomprehensible sentence to Jane, folded it, and left it on the desk. “I think it not so hopeless, though in need of some repair,” she said, before scurrying away to another part of the room, where she fell into a seat beside Charlotte, hot, flustered, and restless. Mr Darcy had the wherewithal to take both pieces of paper, hiding them within a small pocket of his waistcoat. Elizabeth watched, suddenly aware of his steadiness, his attention to family responsibilities, and was there a quiet goodness beneath the hauteur? Oh, why was she seeing these excellent qualities only now? And, oh, how handsome he was!
Gradually, she became aware of Charlotte’s amused look. Her friend’s eyes flickered over to the writing table and then back to Elizabeth. There was a small smirk at the corners of her mouth. Her clever, observant friend knew some kind of private exchange had taken place at the table. There was no condemnation in Charlotte’s countenance though, only an excitement she was struggling to subdue. Elizabeth was not afraid of being exposed, just of how unmercifully she would be questioned later when she and Charlotte were next alone.
“When I call upon your sister, I may take my friend Mr Bingley with me,” Mr Darcy said. “I think he would enjoy such a visit. He often talks of how he misses his Hertfordshire friends. Do you think he might be welcomed?”
“Certainly.” Elizabeth tried to keep her voice from quavering. “He would be greeted most warmly. Though London is full of distractions, Jane is not the type to forgo old friends in favour of current amusements.”
“Our recent conversations have persuaded me she is a person of great constancy,” Mr Darcy said.
“Elizabeth will be in London soon, though only for a few fleeting days before she returns to Longbourn. Perhaps this is not goodbye, Mr Darcy. Maybe you will come across each other there.”
Though she loved Charlotte with all her heart, Elizabeth wished her—and her matchmaking schemes— a million miles away. She felt a flush creep up her neck, and embarrassment increased the flush. One prompted the other, till she was sure she was puce, as red as a beetroot. She realised she would not be so embarrassed if she did not care so much, and a new layer of hotness descended. Her cheeks might be permanently stained pink, such was her humiliation.
“If our paths should cross in London, I would be made most glad,” Mr Darcy replied.
“Are we to leave it to chance then? Will you make plans to call upon my sister, but none to call on me?” Elizabeth shuddered at her own brazenness. She sounded like the world’s most determined flirt, like Lydia. Why had she sunk to such clawing depths, and why the desperation to see him again?
“I am at your command, Miss Bennet. If you say I am to call, I will come.”
“I will go anywhere.”
Elizabeth had never heard anything so gallant. As she looked around the room, she saw Colonel Fitzwilliam was ponderous, and then something darkened his countenance before he brightened again. “I shall show Darcy the way to Cheapside, Miss Bennet. He is a little unfamiliar with the area but will soon see it holds nothing to be afraid of.”
“That is good of you, sir. Will you keep him under good protection?” Elizabeth felt sure there was now not a single person in the room who did not know what they were about—and such conversations were full of dangers, explosions, attacks—she ought to be careful where she trod. And what was her purpose? Did she want to attach him? She certainly wanted to know more of him than she ever had before. How had this happened? Could one letter change her opinion of him so completely?
“I shall defend him with my life,” the colonel said. “I will shield him from everything but his own happiness, for he has had too little of that. I will throw him to the lions of joy, see him shot with the guns of happiness, and hope he falls on the sword of bliss.”
They all laughed, but then the room was silent again, prompting Mr Darcy to bow and say his final goodbyes.
Charlotte spoke quickly. “Lizzy, I find myself tired. Will you show our guests out?”
They went to the front door in silence. Colonel Fitzwilliam disappeared down the path immediately, after a jaunty wave, but Mr Darcy lingered on the doorstep. They were alone, suddenly, and there was no need for notes or letters. “May I call—in London?” he asked.
Elizabeth stared at her boots, still dirty from her walk. She had not even stopped to wipe them. “If you wish.”
“I do wish but will not impose. I do not like to be where I am unwelcome.”
Her face rose slowly to meet his gaze. She had never been shy, but to look directly at him, after all that had passed between them, required a great deal of courage. “I ought to warn you, Mr Darcy, I have a terrible temper.”
His smile was tender. “As I have told you already, I am not afraid of you.”
And then he was gone, striding away, leaving Elizabeth to wonder what she had set in motion. What did the future hold? Whatever happened, she was certain it would not be dull.
Oh, this story is not dull in the least, indeed! I wonder how many readers will read it in one long sitting, just like I did. I could NOT put this book down!
p style=”text-align: center;”>Meet Caitlin Williams
Caitlin Williams is the author of two novels, Ardently and the best-selling The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, both based on the characters from Pride and Prejudice. She’s a lifelong Austen devotee and lover of all things regency.
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Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police, but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write.
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Caitlin loves hearing from her readers, so please feel free to connect with her at the following places:
Caitlin Williams has generously offered an autographed copy of When We Are Married to one Just Jane 1813 winner. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment below this post and let us know what you think of this new book. Please leave your comment by midnight, ET on July 23rd. The winner will be announced on this blog on July 24, 2014. This giveaway is also open to international readers.
We hope you’ll follow the blog tour we have planned for this story too and use the schedule below to follow our posts.
July 21 Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post Launch
July 22 Of Pens & Pages / Book Review
July 23 Just Jane 1813 / Book Review
July 24 More Agreeably Engaged / Book Review
July 25 My Vices & Weaknesses / Excerpt Post
July 26 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review
July 27 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review