I’m so pleased to have another guest for the blog this month! I was interested in Through a Different Lens when I saw Riana posting on social media about writing Mr. Darcy with Autism. As both of my kids are on the Spectrum, I was eager to see how the story would change with Darcy having such a different way of viewing the world. The book is one of a kind and I loved this chance to interview Mr. Darcy! Riana is also offering a giveaway for my readers!
Considered the father of American Psychiatry, Benjamin Rush was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, and founder of the Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He was internationally known in the academic and medical worlds for progressive ideas for the mentally ill and handicapped. In Through a Different Lens, we learn that Mr. Darcy knows of Dr. Rush. How fortuitous that his assistant happens to be at the same London ball as Darcy and is eager to speak with our favorite Regency gentleman!
Interview with Mr. Darcy
Dr. Logan: Thank you for agreeing to speak with me, Mr. Darcy. I understand you are an admirer of my mentor, Dr. Rush.
Mr. Darcy: Indeed, I have studied his writings, and respect him greatly. Miss Elizabeth Bennet knows something of your mentor as well. She has mentioned his name in our discussions, and has used many of his ideas in dealing with her young cousin, Samuel, to great effect!
Dr. Logan: I was hoping you could answer a few questions for research he is conducting. Let us step away from the noise of this crush. Ah, that is much better. Are you like me and grow weary from the atmosphere of a ball?
Mr. Darcy: Thank you… please allow me a moment to collect myself now that the noise is more distant. Yes, this is much better. You seem to understand me well. I find the atmosphere of a ball most oppressive indeed. The lights, the smells, the noise, the physical sensation of people brushing up against me, all work in concert to vex me most grievously and drive me to the edge of distraction. It is as if I am at the seaside. At first the water is pleasant, but soon the tide comes in and the waves grow greater and stronger, until I am completely at their mercy and fear being drowned.
This is a metaphor, which I find I rather enjoy when given the time to think about the associations and imagery. Through my work with Miss Bennet, I have come to appreciate such word play, and have been attempting to employ such in my own speech and writing.
But back to your question, taking a respite from the overwhelming sensations of the ballroom, as Miss Bennet has recommended, allows me to bring my senses under better regulation, to find my footing in the sand, if I may continue that metaphor. And thus, I can attend to your questions with the consideration which is their due.
Dr. Logan: I also often need a moment to myself amidst crowded events. Now, I have heard from mutual friends that you are quite the collector. Is there a certain item which holds your fascination?
Mr. Darcy: I cannot imagine who… Have you been speaking with Charles Bingley? I must have a word with him, for he has no respect for my privacy! But it is true. I have a great interest in optical devices, specifically lenses. I have amassed a reasonable collection both of modern pieces of diverse properties, and of some ancient specimens as well, including a piece of shaped and polished crystal from ancient Egypt and some Mediaeval reading stones that magnified the images on the page.
However, the item to which I am drawn more than others, for no reason I can discern, is not a lens at all, but a crystal—or, rather, an ornament made of crystal. The Irish artisan I employed created a beautiful butterfly from the same crystal used to make drinking vessels and chandelier teardrops. I had not given much thought to the piece, other than it being a rather lovely prototype for a gift for my sister, until Miss Bennet held it in her hand some weeks ago. Since that day, the butterfly has become quite dear to me. I cannot account for this, since the piece has no practical value at all, nor any real academic interest. And yet I find myself gazing upon it in recollection of the day she first saw it and covered the walls of my workshop in brilliant shards of coloured light.
Dr. Logan: How intriguing! How did your interest begin?
Mr. Darcy: I believe my interest came about by accidental means. I was an unusual child, quite unlike my peers. My father—such a fine man and the model by which I live my life—once commented in my hearing that I saw the world so very differently than did my peers. At the time, I was unable to catch the meaning of this expression, and believed it literally. I began to think that I did not see properly, that there was something amiss with my eyes. I knew from reading and from those of my acquaintance that spectacles were used to help correct faulty vision, and so I engaged upon a study of lenses. I found the science to be fascinating, and thus began my interest.
Dr. Logan: Have you met others who amass similar compilations?
Mr. Darcy: I have never met another person with a similar interest in optical implements; however I have heard talk of a baronet from the vicinity of Salisbury, who collects oddly shaped pieces of wood. Why this is drawn to my attention, I cannot say, but my associates seem to think our interests similar. I have not made Sir Benedict’s acquaintance. It seems he is never in London, preferring the solitude of his estate.
Miss Bennet’s cousin, Samuel Gardiner, does have something of a similar collection of unusual items, although his is of no monetary value at all. He has an abiding interest in the odds attached to the races, and has, for several years, collected notices about the horses as reported by The Times. He has a sizable portfolio, and can locate any particular race’s information within seconds. Is this what you meant?
Dr. Logan: Yes. That is exactly what I meant. I am curious, was it difficult for you to make friends as a child?
Mr. Darcy: As I have mentioned before, you understand me well. My childhood was solitary, lonely even. I was an only child for many years, and I was already at school when my sister was born. The only other lad on the estate who was deemed a suitable companion for me was George Wickham. At the time I thought him a friend. I did not then understand how he tried to belittle me, or embroil me in some sort of trouble. He feigned friendship, but really sought my humiliation.
The local boys from the village sometimes tried to befriend me, at the instigation of their parents, no doubt, but we never found common ground. Where they wished to play at cricket or football, I would correct their version of the rules of the game, and this was usually the end of the association.
How I looked forward to those days when my cousin Richard—that’s Colonel Fitzwilliam now—would come to visit. Then, as now, he was the best friend I had, and often, the only one. Father sent me away to school a year early so I might be with Richard, and I am mightily glad for it. He saved me from more than one beating at the hands of our classmates. I certainly learned to treasure those few friends I did have, for there was not a large circle of them.
Dr. Logan: How fortunate you are to have such a friend. What brings you the greatest comfort or ease?
Mr. Darcy: I am not a solitary man by choice, although I often seek solitude when the assault on my senses threatens to overwhelm me. Given my choice, I would prefer to be in quiet company with one or two people who understand me and who do not strive to make me other than I am. Richard is one of these people. He draws me out, but allows me my silence when I need it. Cabal, though not a person but a dog, is such a creature as well. And Miss Bennet… how I have come to rely upon her patient and assuring presence! She challenges me and encourages me and will not allow me to sink into self-pity, but for all that, she accepts me and seems to like me not for who she wishes I might be, but for who I am today. Knowing that such an admirable lady enjoys my company brings me the greatest comfort of mind I can imagine.
Dr. Logan: Finally, I have a few questions of lesser importance. Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Mr. Darcy: I enjoy tea, but my preference is for coffee.
Dr. Logan: Sweet or savory food?
Mr. Darcy: I cannot resist my cook’s scones, and the berry tarts she makes when my cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, comes for tea. However, I do enjoy curry as well, which is most assuredly savoury.
Dr. Logan: Bach or Beethoven?
Mr. Darcy: You have heard of Mr. Bach? How wonderful! We must find another time to meet, and I shall show you the early edition I have of his Well Tempered Clavier! He is so little known outside of the halls of musical study, almost completely forgotten. But his music is a technical tour-de-force, and is well worth studying, for all that it is now very old-fashioned. Perhaps, one day, he will come back into favour.
Mr. Beethoven is known to have studied that same set of pieces that I possess, and I can see evidence of it in his masterful command of tonality and modulations, as well as his motivic development…
Oh, please forgive me. Miss Bennet has alerted me to certain gestures and facial expressions that people might exhibit when I begin to lecture too long, as she calls it, on a subject. I see those very things in you now.
Beethoven. I prefer Beethoven.
Dr. Logan: Dogs or cats?
Mr. Darcy: I find great comfort in the nonjudgmental loyalty of my dog, Cabal. Therefore, I must profess a preference for dogs.
Dr. Logan: Ah, I do see Mrs. Adams signalling to me now. I believe she is requesting my presence as she is motioning to me and has raised eye brows. Thank you very much for answering my questions, Mr. Darcy, and I wish you an enjoyable evening.
Through a Different Lens Blurb
A tale of second glances and second chances.
Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.
Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?
Warning: This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.
This is a full-length novel of about 100,000 words.
I’m giving away five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide! Just sign up through the Rafflecopter widget to enter.
If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send me an email message (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a note on my Facebook page, and I’ll add you to the list for the draw.
Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day.
Here are the blog tour stops for Through a Different Lens!
Jan 21 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
Jan 22 ~ Author takeover at Historical Reads and Research with Leila Snow
Jan 23 ~ Rose Fairbanks
Jan 24 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Jan 25 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
Jan 28 ~ So Little Time…So Much to Read
Jan 29 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
Jan 31 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 5 ~ From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 6 ~ More Agreeably Engaged
Feb 8 ~ Austenesque Reviews
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!
You can follow Riana’s blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!
Follow Riana Everly