Today, my latest Austen-related book, Mr. Darcy and the Designing Woman, releases. It has been the work of many days, and those of you who have read it already know there was a great deal of research involved to have the “special bits” of the story accurate.
If you are interested in reading the other excerpts I shared on Always Austen, they may be found at the links below.
Read excerpt 1 HERE
Read excerpt 2 HERE
I also have additional excerpts and chances to win eBook copies of the tale in a separate giveaway over on my personal blog, Every Woman Dreams. Spreading the fun around.
Much of my research was on a variety of houses from the period, especially those standing in the Regency era. Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire influenced some of my choices for it was used as Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie. Yet, I made a conscious effort not to duplicate the floor plan of Kedleston Hall when Darcy and Elizabeth rebuild Pemberley after a fire has destroyed part of Mr. Darcy’s house.
Hylands House in Chelmsford also made up some of my choices. In 1814, a Dutch banker named Pierre Labouchere bought Hylands, and completely redesigned the Queen Anne house, creating a symmetrical building encased in stucco (I purposely did not choose stucco for Pemberley), fronted by a huge neo-classical portico. He added a pleasure garden, stable block, and filled the house interior with classical statues. I particularly liked the idea of the two wings, with one being used for the Darcy family and the other for guests and entertaining.
The final house which played a great deal upon my preferences was Audley End House, which sits outs of Saffron Walden in Essex. I particularly chose this house for the three storeys, which Mr. Darcy insists on in my tale. The impressive house that can be seen today is only about a third the size of the vast mansion created in about 1605–14 by Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk. It retains much of its original character, and contains fine Robert Adam (a favorite of Elizabeth Bennet in my tale) and Jacobean revival interiors. Moreover, on the English Heritage site, one might download a “blueprint” of the house, which was extremely helpful in writing the tale. I would like to share it with you, but that “blueprint” is copyrighted and cannot be share for such purposes, only for research.
The final source, which proved extremely beneficial, was found in one of the footnotes on a Wikipedia page about stone and building in the different shires. It is from the Historic England website. On the site there is a PDF entitled “Building Stones of England: Derbyshire and the Peak District.” This guide describes “Derbyshire and the Peak District’s local building stones in their geological context. It includes examples of buildings and structures where the stones have been used.
“This guide is one of a series for each English county. The guides draw on research and fieldwork with the British Geological Survey, geologists and building historians to compile the Building Stones of England Database. The guides are aimed at mineral planners, building conservation advisers, architects and surveyors, and those assessing townscapes and countryside character.”
A second source on the site is “Derbyshire and the Peak District: building examples and stone sources. I did my happy dance when I came across both these docs. This one provides examples of buildings, architectural style, building stone sources, a list of know (active and ceased) building stone sources (quarries, mines, delphs, etc.), plus additional information on stones such as grain size, sedimentary structure, weathering, etc.
Mr. Darcy and the Designing Woman: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
“You do not know your place!” Elizabeth Bennet had heard those words time and time again from every man she encountered, with the exception of Mr. Thomas Bennet. Her dear father encouraged her unusual education, especially her love of architecture.
Fitzwilliam Darcy finally could name the day his beloved Pemberley would know its renewal. For five years, he had denied himself the pleasures afforded the landed gentry in order to view Pemberley House rebuilt after a questionable fire had left it in ashes. He would now choose a wife as the next mistress of Pemberley and raise a family.
When Darcy hires Elizabeth’s relation as his architect, they are thrown together in unexpected ways. He requires a proper Georgian manor to win the hand of an equally proper wife, but Elizabeth is determined only the house she has designed will do. The house of her heart for the man of her heart, even though she will never spend a day within.
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Giveaway: Comment on the post to be entered into a giveaway for eBook copies of Mr. Darcy and the Designing Woman. Two copies are available on Always Austen and additional copies on my blog Every Woman Dreams. Winners will be contacted by email.