It is always the completely unforeseen events that lead to the most unexpected consequences, and such is the case in this variation on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. One of the crucial points in Austen’s novel is Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s fiery and passionate refusal and denunciation of the equally passionate but infinitely more repressed Fitzwilliam Darcy.
What might eventuate if the robustly healthy Elizabeth falls prey to illness for almost the first time in her life just when Darcy comes to call? Bemused by her illness, she hardly comprehends what Darcy is asking, and her simple nod of acknowledgment is misinterpreted as acceptance of his suit by a joyous Darcy.
By the time Elizabeth regains her health, it seems that every one of her acquaintance and many outside of it accept that she has become engaged to the last man in the world she would ever have considered marrying. Can she openly demand her engagement to the amorous but prideful Darcy be broken, a course fraught with hazards in the social milieu of Regency England? In a maelstrom of confusion, choices have to be made and disclosures closely considered. Elizabeth knows that nothing in her life will ever be the same, and the consequences will likely spread further than she can imagine.
Sounds like a really juicy read, doesn't it! Without further ado, I will pass over to the author of the book, C P Odom so we can learn a little bit more about how he ended up writing Austenesque books.
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One of the questions I am asked most often is what it is like to be one of the few male authors in the Austenesque genre, and the answer, a simple, straightforward answer, is that it hasn’t really been an issue. The overwhelmingly female readers of my fan fiction efforts, starting with A Most Civil Proposal in 2005, have been very nice, gracious, and rather complimentary at getting the male perspective. This has continued since an altered and edited AMCP became my first published novel in 2013, followed by Consequences in 2014.
Actually, I got more raised eyebrows and flat open-mouthed stares of astonishment from my male friends than my female readers—but that’s okay. I kind of like being able to shock my guy friends—it’s good for their assumptions to rock their cages!
A more difficult question is how I drifted into the Jane Austen world rather than trying to publish in the science fiction or historical fiction arenas, which have formed the bulk of my reading over the years (not that I completely neglected other areas, such as histories, mysteries, techno-thrillers (a la Tom Clancy and others), and a sampling of the classics). I didn’t have too many opportunities to visit the library when I was growing up, since it was a long way away, we only had one car, which my father took to work, and the rest of the family, while they certainly read books on occasion, did not read as compulsively as I did. In my early teens, I mowed yards during the summer (at $3.00 a yard) in order to be able to buy the thirty-five cent paperback science fiction books on the turning stands at the grocery stores and drug stores. For you younger reader, you’re probably wondering what this old dinosaur is talking about (I just turned 67, by the way), but that’s the way it was growing up in Oklahoma City in the late 1950’s. Actually, it was a transitional time, and paperback books made reading much more available to the general public than ever before. I still have a lot of those old paperback books, and the covers are a colorful and vibrant art form in and of themselves. My wife wonders why I have three or four copies of favorite old books, and it’s because I love the covers and how they changed as newer editions were published.
Now, on to my new book, Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets, which is, like my previous two efforts, a variation on P&P. I’ve read Austen’s other books (truth time: I couldn’t finish Mansfield Park – I had to skip to the end to see how it came out), but somehow I keep coming back to P&P. Part of that is because I like it best of all Austen’s books, but something in it calls to me, and my plot bunnies all seem to go back to it (including a prospective new book that is partway between the science fiction/fantasy arena and Jane’s world. I’ll have to see if that one every gets written). I had some familiarity with the time period, both because of my interest in history and my reading of several naval historical fiction series (C. S. Forester and Patrick O’Brien, among others), so I wasn’t as confused by the different social customs as I might have been. In fact, I think that the civility, manners, and politeness which are so much a part of Austen’s world is one of the most compelling attractions to me, since it seems like such behavior has all but disappeared from our present culture. Present company excepted, of course, which is another reason I like to hang out here. In my completely dispassionate opinion, whoever invented the phrase “Let it all hang out!” (defined as “Be totally candid in expressing feelings and opinions; hold nothing back.”) is a twit, and I’d love the opportunity to tell him so—in the most polite and civil manner, you understand, since we former Marines are well-known for our sensitivity.
Unlike my two previous novels, PP&S is a completely new novel, written last year in the spring and never previously published in any form, either as fan fiction or anything else. It is also longer than my other books and covers a lot of territory, not only with Darcy and Elizabeth but with several subsidiary characters and subplots. It’s not like a Tom Clancy omnibus, but it does come in at about 345 pages. In my dedication, I give a tip of the hat to my eldest daughter, Mikaelie, since she was instrumental in providing a rationale for how Elizabeth Bennet might wind up with everyone believing she was engaged to Darcy (including Darcy himself), while our heroine was wondering what elephant just ran over her and disrupted her entire life. She made an idle comment about not having to worry about the latest health scare since she “doesn’t get sick.” She says it’s because she always drinks after everyone else and thus keeps her immune system working at high efficiency as it develops antibodies for the illnesses which send we mere mortals to our sickbed. Ah, the delusions of the young—except that the last time she missed school because of illness appears to have been in the fifth grade, and she’s now in her second year of college!
So Elizabeth, in a blurry and hazy state because she is ill for almost the first time in her life, gives Darcy a nod of acknowledgement when he falls to a knees and simply asks for her hand in marriage. Before she knows what has happened, Charlotte re-enters the room (having cleverly left in order to give Darcy his opportunity), Darcy informs her of Elizabeth’s acceptance, and Elizabeth falls into a swoon (also a first) and is carried to bed. I had a bit of fun with the events here as the news sweeps through both the Darcy and Bennet circles faster than Elizabeth could have moved to counter it, even if she had been completely well. In fact, I had quite a bit of fun both with the main plot and some rather surprising subplots (at least, I hope the reader find them surprising and believable, since I attempted some rather unusual pairings among our characters).
So I’ll bring this post to an end, hoping I’ve whetted your appetite without giving away all the story lines. On topic to discuss before I go, however, is the title. My working title when I was writing and editing the book was “Secrets,” since the characters in my novel are virtually forced to be guarded rather than outspoken in what they say. For example, if Elizabeth does not break the engagement (rather difficult to do in the Regency), then she can never tell Darcy what she thinks of him, both for separating Jane and Bingley and of blasting Wickham’s hopes. So Darcy thinks Jane is indifferent to Bingley, and Elizabeth doesn’t learn of Wickham’s transgressions against the Darcy family, etc., etc., etc. In any case, “Secrets” eventually became Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets after my editor pointed out there were more than a dozen novels on Amazon with the title of Secrets, with the only differentiation being the author. She pleaded for a change of title, and I’ve learned to listen to her advice, so we eventually settled on the new title. And for those concerned after reading Consequences that I have a morbid element in my psychology, let me assure you that book was a one-off. There is some inevitable stress and worry in PP&S, but no undue angst. I hope those who take a chance on this book have a good experience reading it, and I’ll close by thanking Ceri for the opportunity to visit with you. Happy New Year, everyone!
Author Bio - C. P. (Colin) Odom: By training, I’m an engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma following a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. The next thirty-five years was spent as an engineer in Arizona with my first wife, Margaret, where we raised two sons before her untimely death from cancer. Six years later, I married Jeanine, and we are raising our two girls that we adopted from China. I have always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres were (and are) science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife's beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.
One thing led to another, and I now have three novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015). After retiring from engineering in 2011, I currently live in Chandler, Arizona with my family, two stubbornly untrainable dogs, and a quartet of very strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking (which helps with bookcases for all those books), college football (no NFL gladiatorial arenas for this citizen!), and Formula One racing (no NASCAR – at least they turn both ways in F1).
You can find out more about C P Odom and his books on Facebook, his Amazon author page, Goodreads author page and his page at Meryton Press.
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I'd like to thank C P Odom for the guest post. Funnily enough it tied in with something I'd been thinking just last week, when I looked at a reading challenge which had a list of things to tick off, amongst which was 'Read a book by a female author' and I realised that 95% of the books I read last year were written by females! I read 'Consequences' early on in the year so C P Odom made my very select male authors read in 2014 list!
Now, would you like read 'Pride, Prejudice & Secrets'? Yes? Me too! Well, the kind people at Meryton Press are giving away an e-book (Kindle or Nook format) to one lucky winner here. To enter, just leave a comment below by the end of Wednesday 14 January. Please leave a way for me to contact you if you should be the lucky winner :) - Please note that this giveaway is now closed -
Since this is a blog tour, that means there will be other stops, with excerpts, reviews and other chances to win. Here is the schedule:
4 Jan: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
5 Jan: Review at Margie's Must Reads
6 Jan: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7 Jan: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
8 Jan: Review at Wings of Paper
10 Jan: Review at The Calico Critic
11 Jan: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen
12 Jan: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
13 Jan: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
14 Jan: Author Interview at Wings of Paper
15 Jan: Excerpt & Giveaway at Everything Books & Authors
17 Jan: Review at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
18 Jan: Review at The Delighted Reader
19 Jan: Guest Post at More Agreeably Engaged