Welcome, Tasha Alexander!
Although the third Lady Emily book, A Fatal Waltz, debuted just this week (to uniformly rave reviews), Tasha very generously took the time to pay a call on the History Hoydens here in our electronic lair to discuss a subject dear to so many of our hearts: Mr. Darcy.
Without further ado... Tasha Alexander!
How Do I Love Darcy? Let Me Count the Ways......
I admit freely to having a deep and undying love for Mr. Darcy. It started when I was about ten and read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE for the first time. I can still remember when Elizabeth rejected his proposal. My pre-adolescent brain was filled at once with horror and admiration. After all, boys were mysterious creatures (though still largely icky), and I wasn’t convinced I’d ever find one I really liked. And all things considered, ten-year-old me wasn’t sure Darcy was all bad. Sure, a little rude and presumptuous, but at the time I thought our heroine could do worse.
Like Mr. Collins.
So I made paper dolls of all the characters (yes, I was an absolute geek and don’t apologize for it in the least) and sometimes even let Mr. Darcy kiss Elizabeth.
As I got older and the Ick fell away with an incandescent grace from (at least some of) the boys I knew, Darcy went from not all bad to, well, dreamy in that way someone can be dreamy only to a fourteen year old. And then I grew up, and didn’t think about it again for a long, long time. I re-read the book at regular intervals--it's always been a favorite--but it was only when Colin Firth popped onto my TV screen that I once again gave serious consideration to Darcy and his (cough) many fine characteristics.
Why do so many of us love Darcy? I don’t subscribe to the theory that it’s because he’s a challenge--that we want to be the one who breaks through his aloof exterior and finds every delicious thing inside. I’ve never been a fan of games or drama, so if anything, that’s a strike against dear Fitzwilliam (although he himself claims “disguise of every sort is my abhorrence”). For me, it’s another thing entirely--what Austen has given us in Darcy is a man who, although he fights it at first, figures out what he wants and reaches for it with both hands.
Now. He’s far from perfect. He’s (not to put too fine a point on it) a complete jerk when he’s trying (in vain; fool) not to love Elizabeth. And when he finally acknowledges the scheme is a futile endeavor, his proposal falls short of inspiring. Who among us longs to be told she is loved against someone’s better judgment? Darcy’s concerns, though insulting, are real. A man in his position would get grief for marrying “beneath” him. Silly though that may seem to us today, we can nonetheless understand the difficulties posed by choosing a marriage to which your family objects.
So Darcy manned up. In extremely inelegant fashion, but he did it. It’s when he puts himself again in front of Elizabeth the second time, now having not only decided to go against family pressure, but having rejected it to the point that he no longer is carrying it with him that we really start to love him. This is when we see the man in all his glory: strong, decisive, unapologetic. What’s not to love?
And it doesn’t hurt that he strides with confidence in such perfectly dashing fashion...