I’m soaking up the last days before summer break and I have less time to write. Like so many kids, I’ve got my head down and am focused on my work. I’m still hoping for a June 15th release for Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride!
In my last post, I only shared the excerpt and blurb. Today, I’ll go into a bit more history. Many years ago, I was researching the root of the term bluestocking and discovered there was a club for women who promoted intellectual conversation. I had thought it was derided or perhaps as part of the salon movement popular in London and Paris in the mid-1700s. However, upon more reading, I realized these women came from good, wealthy families and yet they became patrons of the arts. Salons allowed women more discussion in politics, but it typically came in the way of supporting their husband’s career, often with rumors of vote swapping for “favors.” The women’s minds weren’t valued, but again, their sexuality. If they were particularly clever or witty, often at the expense of mocking others (i.e., Caroline Bingley) they were treated as an exotic creature to be subdued for carnal pleasures. Additionally, salon hostesses competed to have a more popular affair. It was not a celebration of intelligence or sisterhood.
The Bluestocking Society was different from the usual salon. Discussion of politics, gambling, and drinking were prohibited. Instead, science and art were talked of. The ladies would sometimes host male guests, but mostly it was a club by women and for women. Many of the ladies did more than merely fund others to produce work. These women, often educated more than average by indulgent fathers or loving husbands, were noted for their own abilities in art, literature, music, and even science. While reading about the notable members of the Society, I ran across a woman named Hester Chapone. Her most famous work was Letters for the Improvement of the Mind.
Hmmm….I recall those words. Darcy spoke them about what he required in a truly accomplished woman! Chapone’s work highlights the need to educate women to be more than arm ornaments. Even Mary Wollstonecraft enjoyed Chapone’s work (for more info, read my blog post). When I discovered this nugget three years ago, I began looking at him through new eyes. Eyes that saw Mr. Darcy as a proto-feminist and arguing for equality between men and women. And so a story began.
The Fitzwilliam Darcy in Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride has been tasked with reestablishing the Bluestocking Club. Ideally, once he marries, his wife will be the chief hostess. Elizabeth Bennet, even with her informal and at times neglected education, certainly fits the bill. As a true Bluestocking, I desired her to be more than well-read and having liberal thoughts. She needed to have a secret passion and skill. One that was determined unladylike but could be encouraged by the right group of people. In this story, Elizabeth secretly loves to sketch old houses and draw blueprints. She rejects the current trend of the Neo-Classical design with straight lines requiring rigorous conformity and instead embraces the Gothic architecture of centuries past. Neo-Gothic architecture became popular later in the 18th century. In this way, Elizabeth is ahead of Society.
“Over there,” he pointed to a tall spire in the distance, “is Knole Park. My aunt is friends with the Dowager Duchess’ mother, the Dowager Countess of Liverpool, who frequently stays at Knole. The Duke is still at Oxford, and his mother maintains control. The Dowager Liverpool often enjoys battling with my aunt on the matter of her sons vs. Lady Catherine’s nephews.”
“Oh my,” Elizabeth said and covered her mouth to muffle her laughter.
“Of course, Liverpool inherited the earldom nearly a decade ago and has served as Home Secretary. Richard and I can hardly compare.”
“And the other son?”
“Jenkinson is also in politics. He also volunteered for the Austrian Army in ‘05. Richard quite reveres him. He married about two years ago, has one babe and another on the way.” Darcy smiled at the vision of marital harmony Charles Jenkinson and his wife made. “His father-in-law is an accomplished astronomer. Mrs. Jenkinson has interests there as well.”
“How fascinating,” Elizabeth said. “And is the other Mrs. Jenkinson, that is Miss de Bourgh’s companion, a relation?”
“Yes…she is the first earl’s natural daughter.”
“Ah,” Elizabeth blushed.
“Jenkinson and his wife are visiting. We have an invitation to dine there in a few days’ time. I believe my aunt could be convinced to invite the Collinses and their guests.”
Elizabeth’s eyes went round at his words. “Truly?”
“Lady Catherine delights in exposing her favourites to better society.”
“But a duchess?”
“She bows to her mother, who was born the daughter of a squire. The Dowager’s brother-in-law is George Dance, the architect. She invites her family to the estate every Easter.”
“George Dance is there?” Elizabeth said in a voice full of wonder and hopped off the bench. She slowly approached the edge of the hill and stretched forward a hand as though she could touch the spire.
Darcy followed her. This was why he loved her. Meeting a humble architect meant more to her than duchesses and countesses. Investigating an old house meant more to her than trinkets and baubles. And while the coveted Society in London taught their daughters to conceal their feelings and emotions, to suppress everything they enjoyed for the sake of conforming to a mould, Elizabeth Bennet now gazed at a distant hill with wonder and joy. Darcy had never wished more than that he could pull her into his arms and kiss her with abandon. For then, he might have that lightness touch his soul. He suppressed a groan with a cough, and Elizabeth turned her head.
“I must seem very ridiculous to you,” she said with mirth in her eyes.
“Indeed, you do not. Ridiculous is how I describe Lady Catherine. Or do you think you are of the same disposition?”
Elizabeth’s eyes rounded and then she laughed. “I did not believe you ever teased!” Her normally brown eyes turned green with her amusement, and a sparkle in them remained even after she ceased laughing.
He’s on the hunt for a bluestocking, and she is no man’s fool.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, heir to a barony, must put aside his hatred for attention and Society and find a wife. Deemed the most eligible bachelor of the Season, he seeks high and low for a well-bred, intelligent woman to replace the one he determined unsuitable.
Elizabeth Bennet used to be certain of her judgement. In one day, everything changed. Her family might be in danger, and she needs a confidant. When she meets Darcy again and again in the groves of Rosings, her head says to tell Darcy everything, but her heart wonders if she can trust him.
As the clock works against them, can they find what they need in one another? Or will the duties of family and lingering secrets separate them?
Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride is the long-awaited newest release from Rose Fairbanks. Combining Regency era research and romance, this Austen-inspired novel will pull you into the Pride and Prejudice world and make you never want to leave.
Charge up your Kindle and relax into the world of cravats and breeches with Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride.