Over ten years ago I set out on a mission. I was inspired by Pride and Prejudice — the beautiful love story as portrayed on the silver screen with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen and within the pages of Jane Austen’s novel — but also by my own love story of over thirty years. Beginning in 2006, I embarked on a quest to intimately reveal a happy marriage.
The pearly treasures of the sea,
The lights that spatter heaven above,
More precious than these wonders are
My heart-of-hearts filled with your love.
~Heinrich Heine, “Of Pearls and Stars”
Tragically in our modern era, the concept of a “happy marriage” is far too often deemed a fantasy. The phrase itself is viewed as an oxymoron. While divorce statistics may seem to prove the case, I do not believe marriages growing stale or ending badly is a given. I never have believed a happy marriage was impossible, not now and not when I first sat down at the keyboard to write the opening lines of Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One. I didn’t merely hope it was true, I 100% knew it was possible to have a marriage that was fulfilling, contented, romantic, and passionate… even after several decades. I knew it because I witnessed it with others. I knew it because God said it was to be so. I knew it because I possessed such a marriage relationship.
Your smile stops the minutes
And as moments they dance in candlelight.
While your eyes whisper secrets,
My heart with wings takes flight.
In search for more of you to know,
Of why and what make you so,
Then mystery pleads her case
And once again I found your face.
There to know beauty true
And gentle winds of peace and love,
With eyes like jewels shining,
Looking to the One above.
And the moments which find life there
Become the brightest stars above,
Which live forever beautiful
In the sky of my heart’s love.”
~Steve Lathan, “Your Smile Stops the Minutes”
The poem above, in case the poet’s name didn’t leap out, was written by my husband. It was 1986, a few months before we married, and was the first poem he wrote for me. He has since written others, all beautiful, but this one will always be my favorite. So much so that with his permission, “Your Smile Stops the Minutes” was added to In the Arms of Mr. Darcy as a love poem written by Mr. Darcy for Elizabeth.
Now, writing poetry for one’s beloved does not necessarily translate into an eternally smooth marriage! As the old saying goes, if anyone tells you they never fight with their spouse or have never had any troubles, they are lying. Point is, encountering problems along the way does not negate the “happily ever after” goal. I happen to be very blessed with a super romantic husband who to this day (we are coming up on our 35th wedding anniversary) still brings we flowers for no reason, never forgets a special calendar day, spends way too much money on personal gifts, and, yes, still writes the occasional poem. Whenever a critic says I write Mr. Darcy too romantic, I just point to Mr. Lathan! Half of Darcy’s romantic phrases and overtures are stolen from my husband, like the poem above for example.
We’ve dealt with our fair share of trials, I assure you, yet here we are 35 years later and still going strong. Therefore, I knew the whole “happily ever after” thing was not a Mission: Impossible. I approached the life of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy with this goal clearly in mind. The mission statement of The Darcy Saga has always been clear. Love. Romance. Passion. Those are the attainable treasures that Darcy and Elizabeth would pursue. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. And maybe even on into eternity.
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
And I will make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
~Christopher Marlowe, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” 1599
Throughout my Darcy Saga series I have faithfully held to the ideal. I wanted to give Darcy and Lizzy the life that I believe Jane Austen intended. I wanted to allow the reader to journey along with them as they attended to their normal lives with an unusual event thrown in occasionally. I wanted to show the Darcys growing in their accord and deepening their love.
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
~Henry van Dyke, “Time Is”
In the third novel of The Darcy Saga, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, the Darcys travel to the seacoast for a holiday jammed with history, entertainment, action, and romance. Of course! Then they return to Pemberley, settling in and enjoying the autumn months. The culmination of their first year of marriage draws near with the birth of their first child on the horizon. As with all my novels, the theme is positive with the love between these two heightening as they await the addition to their family. So much so, that even longtime bachelor Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam begins to rethink his commitment to a solitary life. On a ride to London with his cousin, Richard blurts out the question: “What is it like, Darcy, to love as you do?” After a bit of teasing from Darcy, the topic is discussed seriously….
“Why do you ask about love?”
Richard shrugged, gazing out the window. “Primarily idle curiosity. You have been so different since Elizabeth entered your life. I noted a change in your demeanor as far back as Rosings last, although I did not comprehend the cause. The oddity is that I thought you perfectly content before, yet now I observe the two of you together, and even how you fondle your new ring, and the happiness is transparent. Nauseatingly so.” He grinned and shrugged again. “So I was curious what it felt like.”
Darcy was gazing into his lap with a soft smile upon his mouth, self-consciously removing fingertips from the gold band. He did not answer hastily, finally speaking lowly, “I do not know if I can sufficiently place it into words. Perhaps that is why the poets wax eloquent with platitudes and analogies as mere common phrases do not suffice. All I know for certain is that almost from the moment I saw her she has filled my senses and my heart. There is joy with Elizabeth in every way and every moment, whether present or no. I feel light and buoyant, yet also grounded and secure. Giddy and frivolous, yet strong and steady. Childish and masculine simultaneously.” He chuckled softly, closing his eyes and leaning back against the carriage wall. “Yet you know what the most miraculous part is, Richard? Greater than how she makes me feel is the miracle that she loves me.”
He opened his eyes abruptly, staring at his cousin with full Darcy intensity. “Richard, there is no replacement for that. It is a priceless treasure, and I only wish all in the world could experience it.”
Sappy my novels may be, but if I convince a few skeptics that happily ever after can come true, it is worth it! One thing I am sure of is succeeding in my mission: The Darcys are still in love, are passionate for each other, delight in being together, respect and honor their vows, and are not ashamed to express their feelings.
True love… Everlasting love… Passionate love..
These are goals to reach for, don’t you agree?
Your thoughts are always welcome!