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Sourcebooks Landmark presents A Darcy Christmas, a collection of three Christmas-themed short stories set in the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The contributing authors are the talented Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carolyn Eberhart.

Story 3 – A Darcy Christmas
by Sharon Lathan

While Sharon Lathan’s novella is the concluding story of the book, I decided to read her A Darcy Christmas first. I recently finished her full-length novel, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, so I still had her voice in my head, so to speak. I was delighted to find that this short story felt almost like a sequel to her third book in The Darcy Saga, although I’m sure that wasn’t necessarily the intent.

A Darcy Christmas is a window into many holiday seasons over the life of the Darcy family. It begins the Christmas before Darcy weds Elizabeth and ends many years later when they have been married for 23 years. Each chapter shares moments from a particular Advent season, revisiting the characters introduced to us by Jane Austen and meeting new friends and family members as well.

This novella was sweet, innocent and enjoyable, and I loved seeing how the Darcy family grew and matured over the years. Not every year was full of mirth, and I was particularly moved in one chapter when Elizabeth is mourning the loss of a loved one. I may re-read that very chapter someday if I have the misfortune to mourn as she did. It was very touching and could bring comfort in that type of sorrow.

As is true for the other two novellas in this collection, Sharon Lathan’s A Darcy Christmas is an enjoyable composition. It matches the sentiments of the other two authors and brings a warm glow to the heart.

Story 2 – Christmas Present
by Amanda Grange

Second in my reading was Christmas Present by Amanda Grange. Although she has written over a dozen books, many of which are on my “To Be Read” list, I’ve never actually gotten around to reading her work. So this short story is my hors d’oeuvre into her banquet of literary offerings.

Christmas Present’s opening line pays homage to Jane Austen’s opening line of Pride and Prejudice, which I found very amusing. The events of her story occur in the months after the marriages of Elizabeth and Jane, both of whom are becoming mothers for the first time. As we share the Christmas season with Grange’s characters, we have an opportunity to visit with many of the individuals from the original novel, even bringing them all into one home for a time.

Christmas Present is very quiet and understated, but it’s an enjoyable time with Austen’s characters. Her tone is very evocative of Jane Austen’s style, and the holiday traditions presented hold true to the era and were a bit of an education for me. Grange introduces a new character who provides a bit of intrigue, and I hope she utilizes this character and their romantic possibilities in the future.

Of course, a delightful gift is bestowed at the conclusion of the tale. Ms. Grange’s work is also a gift, a small stocking-stuffer to enjoy before I open the larger gifts of her full-length novels.

Story 1 – Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol
by Carolyn Eberhart

Third in my reading was Carolyn Eberhart’s Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol. I saved this for the end due to my love of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I hoped the best had been saved for last. I was not in the least bit disappointed. In fact, Eberhart’s novella exceeded my expectations. She truly was successful in merging the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Dickens’ Carol. Like Dickens’ work, this Carol brings with it bitterness and regret, as well as enlightenment and reformation. There are cameos that were a delight, giving an even bigger nod to Dickens.

I hesitate to give more details, as I don’t want to spoil any of the delicious moments for you. Suffice it to say, all those who call themselves fans of Jane Austen and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol should read this story.

This small anthology A Darcy Christmas as a whole would be an excellent choice of reading for your holiday season. If I had the opportunity, I would read it on a snowy weekend, curled up in my favorite chair with a mug of hot chocolate. Like that soothing drink, the three tales of A Darcy Christmas are short, sweet and warm the heart. I hope they do the same for yours as well.

RRP: £9.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc (30 Nov 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402243391


Laura Hartness is the author of The Calico Critic, a review blog with a little bit of this and that. Presented in the low-key calico style since October 2009.

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Creating A Regency Christmas

I first discovered Jane when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, when I read Pride and Prejudice, and I was hooked. I fell in love with her humour, her characters and her world. I quickly went on to read her other novels and I adored her insights, which I often find myself quoting in daily life: “A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer”; “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other” and “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid” are particular favourites of mine.

This love of all things Jane led me to writing a series of diaries which look at the novels from the heroes’ points of view, the most famous of which is Mr Darcy’s Diary. This in turn led to my editor asking me if I would write a a novella about Mr Darcy for an anthology of Christmas stories called A Darcy Christmas. As I love both Christmas and Mr Darcy I was happy to oblige!

It was important to me that I created the right Regency atmosphere and so I did what I always do: I turned to Jane Austen.

Out came a book of her letters, and I read them again with the virtuous feeling that this was not pleasure, this was research. Out, too, came all of her novels, and I read the Christmas passages again, to remind myself of the customs that Jane herself enjoyed. I had already included Christmas scenes in Mr Darcy’s Diary and Mr Knightley’s Diary, but this was to be something different, a story set entirely at Christmas.

I chose all my favourite features and included them in my novella: a large family gathering, with plenty of quarrels and misunderstandings as well as more harmonious moments; a Christmas Eve ball, with dancing and cards and of course a hearty supper; a roaring fire to keep out the cold; greenery brought into the house for decoration; cakes and puddings and other good things to eat; the giving of gifts (though not necessarily on Christmas Day) and plenty of snow:

As the days passed, the house began to take on a festive air. Greenery was brought in from the gardens to decorate the house, with holly, ivy and mistletoe adorning the pictures or threading its way through the banisters. Rich smells wafted up from the kitchens, and the scent of winter spices and fruit cakes filled the air. Kitty and Maria could be heard giggling as they hastily hid half-wrapped presents whenever anyone unexpectedly entered their rooms, whilst Mary began making Christmas extracts.

But as well as atmosphere, something had to happen, and I knew at once what it would be. At the end of Mr Darcy’s Diary, Elizabeth was expecting a child, and the child would arrive the following December. I also knew that Jane would have just given birth to a little boy. So I decided to send Elizabeth and Darcy on a visit to Jane and Bingley, and have a novella about a family Christmas with the Bennets, the Darcys and the Bingleys all together. And then, because I couldn’t resist, I made Lady Catherine and Mr Collins arrive unexpectedly, having been prevented from reaching their intended destination by heavy snow.

Snow made me think of Emma and the wonderful scene where Mr Elton proposes to Emma. I didn’t put a proposal into A Darcy Christmas, but I did put in a delicious misunderstanding. Poor Mrs Bennet, to be so deceived!

There are arguments and misunderstandings aplenty, but the end of the story brings a perfect moment for Elizabeth and Darcy, and not even Mary playing ponderous carols in the background can spoil it.

I hope you will enjoy this look at one particular Austenesque Christmas, and that your stocking will be full of all things Jane.

 

Amanda Grange is the author of more than twenty Regency stories, including the acclaimed Mr. Darcy’s Diary and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre. Her latest Austen inspired short story, Christmas Present, can be found in A Darcy Christmas, A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen.

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