Disabilities in Early 19th Century England + Words Unspoken Book Launch, by Iris Lim

Disabilities in Early 19th Century England + Words Unspoken Book Launch, by Iris Lim

A few years ago, the idea for a Pride and Prejudice Variation that portrayed a physically imperfect Darcy came to me, an idea that resulted in the book That’s What Makes It Love. Doing armchair research for that book led me to discover a few key points about disabilities in early 19th century England.

First of all, disabilities were widely believed to be hereditary, whether justifiably or not. While modern medical science helps pinpoint exactly which impediments are genetically caused and which occur randomly, that sort of research was not available back in the day. As such, people tended to believe any form of disability was a reflection of unfavorable family genetics.

The above belief leads to the second point, which is that families tended to hide their differently-abled relatives from the public eye. Noblemen would leave their family members permanently in the country, some families would house their relatives in a separate cottage, and many would simply shield them from society in varying degrees. The fear that the perceived imperfection of one person would negatively affect the rest of the family socially was very palpable, and it caused families to often act unfeelingly towards their affected relatives.

Those points fascinated me, even while my heart went out to the unfortunate souls who had to bear with being ostracized on top of being disabled at a darker time in history. And while my first book did not deal too much with such ramifications given that Mr. Darcy in the story was struck blind by a childhood illness rather than suffering a birth defect, the discoveries I made did marinate in my mind until another story came along.

That story, entitled Words Unspoken, is a 14-thousand-word short story that debuts next week on Amazon. It portrays the unlikely friendship between Mr. Darcy and a mute Elizabeth after they encounter each other in the countryside. In some ways, this book mirrors my other one because while a blind Darcy could not insult Elizabeth’s looks, a mute Elizabeth could also not throw verbal barbs at her Netherfield hosts. In fact, she barely sees Netherfield at all.

The dedication for this book reads: “To the differently abled yet similarly loved.” As someone who has loved ones, students, relatives, and godchildren who face unique special needs of their own, I can only hope that I can be the kind of person who makes the world a better place rather than a more hostile one for these beloved souls.

Enjoy the blurb below and leave a comment to be included in the giveaway of 3 copies of the eBook (Note: Winners must be able to receive an eBook from Amazon U.S.). The giveaway will end at midnight EST on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, and the winners will be announced on Sunday, August 21, 2022. As per Austen Authors’ stated rules, all prizes must be claimed within 72 hours of the winners’ announcement. Otherwise, an alternate winner will be chosen. I hope you‘ll like the story!

Born unable to speak, Elizabeth Bennet remains hidden from society, her very existence denied by her family, until she is discovered by a wandering Mr. Darcy keen to escape a stifling Netherfield Park. The pair strike up an unlikely acquaintance, and their private interactions forge a friendship that grows deeper by the day.

Her insights broaden Darcy’s perceptions; his recognition opens up her world. And when circumstances push them together towards the possibility of marriage, Darcy would have it no other way.

A sweet, short Pride and Prejudice variation of finding hope, love, and family in the most unexpected places.

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37 Responses to Disabilities in Early 19th Century England + Words Unspoken Book Launch, by Iris Lim

  1. As someone who has a disability I have been interested in finding out what life was like in earlier times

  2. This short story sounds so unusual! I want to know how they communicate with each other. Elizabeth is fortunate that her family kept her at home even though she was hidden away. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • Yes, the story had to get a little creative. Lol. The Bennets are still caring towards Elizabeth, as best they can be!

  3. I love this! I worked for many years in schools with special needs kids, and every single one of them had something so lovable and endearing about them. I have read a couple of stories where had some form of special need, but never Elizabeth. I look forward to reading this story!

  4. I really enjoyed this story and can’t wait to read it again! I really think that more stories need to include disabilities because they include a lot more people reading.

  5. As disabled person, married to another disabled person, I really appreciate you dealing with the subject of disability during the Regency Era, both in your fiction and in this post. Of course, Austen’s own family is another example, since she had a disabled brother who was raised away from the rest of the family. Looking forward to reading both stories!

    • Thank you for sharing. It’s very heartening for me to hear this. I know I cannot fully comprehend what life is like for the differently abled, but I’ve come across with many students and loved ones with different needs over the years, and I hope I’ve made a compassionate if imperfect influence in their lives.

  6. I’ve read a variation where Darcy became deaf from a severe fever as a toddler. I really liked the dynamic change in their relationship. I can see the challenge in writing something like that. Good luck with the new story!

    • That sounds very interesting! I do find it challenging but also meaningful when classic heroes and heroines are not given perfect health and perfect lives. It makes them so much more relatable.

  7. I also followed this as it was posted on the forums. I look forward to reading it again as a published work. I can see how difficult it was to write with this new challenge for Elizabeth. She could write what she wanted to say but much of her snark and wit were not present in her interactions with others. I felt the lack of that in the story. However, Elizabeth never let her disability get her down. Her strength of character was even more evident as she lived her life in quiet and solitude away from the critical crowd. I wish you all manner of success on the launch of this new work. Blessings.

  8. A novel idea! See no evil and speak no evil obviously does away with the usual misunderstandings! I do love books with Darcy and Elizabeth together against the world!
    I’m in the U.K. so not eligible for the giveaway.

  9. I read this during your WIP and was very touched by the story and by their relationship growing despite Elizabeth’s “limitations”. For that era, she was lucky she didn’t get thrown into a home for mentally infirm.

    • I’m glad you already know the story! I agree that the Bennets were already quite considerate to have kept Elizabeth around, but it’s still quite sad to see her solitary existence until Darcy showed up in her life.

      • It is that extreme opposition which makes, in my opinion, the story even more touching. It is more than a loves story, it is almost a salvation. But not out of pity, Darcy sees E as a whole, that her lack of speech isn’t a lack, but makes her uniquely who she is as a human being. I found it to be a powerful story for all it being a shorter one.

  10. Congratulations on your new book.

    Always loved the conversations between ODc (esp the heated ones). Intriguing/interesting story. Looking forward to those heart-warming unspoken words/moments. Thank you for sharing about your new book.

    • Thank you! This story does not quite lean into the arguments, but we do get plenty of ODC interactions of the sweet variety.

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