If you close your eyes and say “Elizabeth Bennet”, who do you see? This is something that I have tried to do many times whilst writing about her, with varying success.
Of course, throughout The Elizabeth Papers, “Elizabeth Bennet” is in fact, “Elizabeth Darcy”. The story commences in 1817, when our favourite couple have been married for some four years. At the very outset of this story, Elizabeth is, as she would have it, four and twenty years of age. She is married and has two young children with another one well on the way. In fact, she spends quite a lot of The Elizabeth Papers pregnant.
All of these things have ramifications for what she looks like, and how we can imagine her. I’m conscious that we are all influenced by the various actresses who have played Elizabeth. Often, once we have seen a character performed, we can’t get that face out of our minds. I have tried to apply a sort of method acting theory to my writing. Basically, I try to imagine myself back in time. What do the clothes feel like? How do the hairstyles feel when you touch your hand to them? How comfortable was Mr. Darcy’s carriage as it rattled out of Pemberley?
The questions crop up in relation to other characters as well of course. What does Mr. Darcy really look like? We know that he’s tall, but how tall? How have the years treated the wider Bennet family? Whay. I hope that you enjoy it. Can you guess who I imagine each one to be?
Have a guess, or leave a comment with your own ideas, I’d love to hear them! The wonderful Maria Grazia has invited me to return at the end of the blog tour with another post, giving my (which is not the same as “the”) answers. Happy guessing! What about other characters such as servants and children?
I’ve tried, as best I can to look for answers to these questions in contemporary, or near contemporary art. How did that go? Well, the first thing I discovered is that it is really difficult! Very often I found pictures from exactly the right period - with perfect fashions - but the faces felt all wrong. Sometimes I happened upon faces that struck a note in my mind for a particular character, but their clothing was from the wrong period or too grand or too humble.
My conclusion is that finding faces for our beloved characters is an art not a science and sometimes, its better to run with your gut feeling than to worry too much about details. So here, dear readers, are some of the images that I have found and liked. All of these images date from (roughly!) the right period and caused a little bell to go off in my mind. I suppose you could call it my personal Pemberley gallery.
About the author
Jenetta James is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. She is the author of “Suddenly Mrs. Darcy” which was published by Meryton Press in April 2015. “The Elizabeth Papers” is her second novel.
About the book
“It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world.” —Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice
Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an emerging and independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.
Together they become entwined in a tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy.
How could Evie know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?
Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?
Follow The Elizabeth Papers Blog Tour:
5/30: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
5/31: Excerpt & Giveaway at Romance Novel Giveaways
6/1: Review at Tomorrow is Another Day
6/1: Guest Post & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
6/2: Review at From Pemberley to Milton
6/3: Guest Post at Moonlight Reader
6/4: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
6/5: Review at Just Jane 1813
6/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
6/7: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
6/8: Character Interview at More Agreeably Engaged
6/9: Author Interview at Savvy Verse & Wit
6/10: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
6/10: Excerpt & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight
6/11: Review at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
6/12: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
6/13: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars