With quill in hand, Gail Williams corresponds...
To Lady de Bourgh,
My Dearest Lady Catherine,
After hearing so much of your distress I felt at last I must write to you. Your tales of woe regard that darling boy Darcy and this gold digger Miss Elizabeth Bennett have quite astonished me. Yet, my dear, I have found myself curiouser and curiouser. As you know I do so enjoy to travel, here and there, back and forth. So I have read the reports of Darcy’s courtship of Miss Bennet and beyond, and I must confess that in all the forms I find something of comfort and value to the tale.
I hate to upset you my dear friend, but I feel I must state you are wrong. Before you cast this letter into the fire, please demonstrate your largess and grant me the opportunity of explaining my reasoning as it starts from the very beginning.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
From this one statement, I understand your concern that the Bennet was nothing more than a gold-digger. From this alone, I would agree. Yet when one considers all the circumstances, the restricted society in which the Bennets exist for example, one must also soon see that it is not so much the girl's digging for gold, as the mother. Do not all of us seek an advantageous marriage? I know my own marriage to my sweetie Doctor is the most advantageous I could ever hope for. It is clear from all behaviours that Mr Bennet did marry in haste to a pretty little vacuous thing, and he has had the leisure of a lifetime to repeat that choice; and in doing so he has been most injurious to the good education of his daughters.
As time moved on, an echo of this the first approach was to be heard in Elizabeth Bennet’s own words. When discussing the start of her falling in love she did claim that she: “must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” But think, dearest friend, Lizzy Bennet is of a sardonic nature; perhaps this was the date, but I am sure that what truly turned her heart was the grace and charm of the man not the house. Relaxed and in his own environment Fitzwilliam Darcy is the most agreeable of men and she would on that day have come to see him for what he is. A good man, reserved and careful. And after his dealings with Wickham who can blame him for the disinclination to make friends quickly when he has been so betrayed by one who was once so close?
The extension into Pemberley was rather vexatious. Showing only the worse sides of both Lizzy and Darcy. In truth, by the time I had completed this volume of their trials, I was thoroughly out of love with them both. However, some of that was assuaged by their later behaviour when Death Comes to Pemberley. Apparently having a child had brought them to their senses and their selves, and their love had grown ever stronger and more apparent.
In truth I say more, that I feel that theirs is the greatest of love stories, to span all time. Excepting my own of course. It seems that many others agree with me on the point of Darcy and Elizabeth being a perfect couple. For tis true they have inspired much imitation, which we all know to be the most sincere form of flattery.
Why Miss Amanda Price was so fervently in love with Mr Darcy that she would swap time and place with Lizzy to elbow her way in. Though that feels rather unwelcome, she knew so little of our manners, yet Darcy is, as most forget, a kind and forgiving soul, and women of substance in themselves without regard for fortune do seem to be his forte. Still this was but one imaginative blip on the road to the true romance for Darcy and Elizabeth.
Some imitations expand the boundaries somewhat. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I mean, Zombies in England! Who would believe such twaddle? Amongst the heathens of Gaul perhaps, even Wickham knows we may be at war with France, but never with Paris. Nothing so ungodly as the undead would befoul the beautiful shores of this sceptred isle. Though these zombies are, one must suppose, an allegory for the great unwashed masses that throng in every corner of the country. Utter nonsense, of course, but such fun! Though in honestly, it reminded me why I had come to care for Darcy in the first place. Even you, Lady Catherine come out well in that version. The production however, was colourful as a butterfly, and about as weighty. Enjoy it for the frippery it was, but compare it not to the story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and sully not the original Pride and Prejudice with any possible association.
Then there are the more modern retellings. I cannot say to have enjoyed a single one, for all Miss Jones, and presumably Miss Fielding, have done rather well from it. The exotic tones of Bride and Prejudice are intoxicating, but again fleeting against the endurance of the true tale.
My daughter, tis true, has been known to sample this new fangled technology of the Interweb. While I have little time for such things, I am assured that The Lizzy Bennet Diaries is on a revolutionary platform, the media at least. The tale is told in short bursts - God forbid the youth of today extend their attention span - but as it might have happened in an era well beyond our own Georgian times. The idea of a rape video is and should be shocking to all, but until I explained, my girl did not understand how such extremes must be reached in the second Elizabethan period compared to the Georgian. The strictures of our society are so much tighter - like our corsets. The mere whiff of scandal in our time is enough to be ruinatious not just to the scandalous minx, but to all her family. Lydia, if unchecked by Darcy’s intervention, would have been lost to all of good breeding, and most of intermediate, she would have be destitute, thrown to the street to live and die in the gutter without assistance or friend. With The Lizzy Bennet Diaries having been shifted across the Pond, where the vulgarian offspring of adventurers and traitors are the mainstay, the need for such extremes must be greater again.
We know the story of Darcy and his Lizzy, do we really judge it too well upon the mere fact of its survival? To me the tale of proud Fitzwilliam and prejudiced Elizabeth is a perfect tale of love across a divide. Yes, quality lasts, but does perfection? Clearly if it was perfect in every way to every reader there would be only one version and yet there are many. However, the kernel of the tale persists, and therein is its heart, its beauty and its eternal life. Pride and Prejudice will survive as long as the human heart retains the capacity to feel both. It will last forever.
Do not then, be too proud, my dearest Lady Catherine, to admit your own prejudices or you may be judged too harshly for them.
Your ever loving friend and confidante,
River Song, the Lost In Mrs Bennet.
Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and
the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits
and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with
her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find
out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!