Today my guest is Kara Louise, author of the Pride and Prejudice retelling, Darcy's Voyage. In keeping with the nautical theme, Kara enlightens us about the reasons Regency women sailed to America.
Leave a comment for a chance to win one of the two copies of Darcy's Voyage which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Kara will select the winners. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winners within a week of their selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only. Contest runs through September 30.
Kara has selected the winners Aik and BabyBlue22. Congratulations! I've sent you both emails. If I do not hear from you by October 8, I will select alternates.
I so appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and you readers this morning. In my book, Darcy’s Voyage, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet on a ship bound for America. They have completely different reasons for being on the ship, and although they may not have been typical for the time, I did endeavor to create plausible motivations for each of them to make such an arduous voyage.
Mr. Darcy was traveling to America to retrieve his sister. She had accompanied her companion, Mrs. Annesley, after being rescued from Mr. Wickham’s clutches when he attempted to elope with her. Mrs. Annesley’s son and his wife were living in America and she wished to travel there so she could see their new baby. She thought it would be best to take Georgiana with her to keep her as far away from Wickham’s influence as possible. Darcy reluctantly agrees. When Mrs. Annesley becomes sick and cannot return, Darcy sets out on the ship that he owns, Pemberley’s Promise, to bring his sister back himself.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, had been invited to join her aunt and uncle Gardiner, who had traveled to America on business. Since they were going to be there several months, they extended an invitation for both Jane and Elizabeth to come over. Jane declines, but Elizabeth is thrilled for this opportunity. I envisioned her as the type of young lady who would love adventure. We know that she loved to read, and I believe she devoured books on different cultures and exotic lands, prompting a real desire to see firsthand those faraway places. Thus, she grasped at this opportunity to travel outside the realm of her neighborhood and country and sail to America.
What were some of the reasons a young woman might sail to America in the Regency era? In doing research, I found the most common reason for a woman to travel was to find a better life. More often than not, she would be accompanying her husband and have her family in tow. For those who had no means of improving their situation in England, moving to this new world gave them a new hope. They likely scrimped and saved for years; the hope for a new and improved life the only thing keeping them going. Yet in reality, they had no assurances that their lives would improve in the new world, let alone that they would make it across the treacherous ocean alive.
Some traveled to America in the hopes of finding a husband, possibly having secured an offer of marriage through the mail. There were those who would be joining other family members who had made the journey before them. I read of a woman who had traveled to America to join her brother whose wife had died. She was going to be his housekeeper and care for his children. I am sure there were women like Mrs. Annesley, who traveled across the sea to visit her married son or daughter and see their new baby for the first time.
It was interesting to read the names of passengers from the website www.theshipslist.com. Its earliest entry is 1819, and there I found myself wondering about the widow with five children, or Miss Hargrave, or Mrs. Thompson or Mrs. Wings, who all stayed in steerage. This site doesn’t give stories, only names, but I imagine they had a lot of different stories to tell.
My idea for the ship Pemberley’s Promise, which is owned by Mr. Darcy, was a ship that would have been structurally sound and managed with the greatest propriety. This vision was the result of reading about the ship the Jeanie Johnson, which took thousands of Irish across to Canada without one passenger ever dying. The reason for such a spotless record was apparently attributed to the compassionate nature of the captain and the cleanliness in which they kept the steerage compartment. They would leave the hatch open as much as possible, bring bedding up for airing, and encourage passengers to walk up on the deck (something Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth do quite frequently!). Although this ship sailed later in the 1800s, it captured my interest and belief that the conditions on board any ship back then would have been decent or positively horrendous, depending on whether the ship’s owner, captain, and crew cared about the passengers and their fate.
I believe Mr. Darcy, his captain, and the crew would have striven to make it one of the best—and safest—ships sailing at that time. And all that transpires on that ship, Pemberley’s Promise, changes the course for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy once they return to England.
DARCY’S VOYAGE BY KARA LOUISE – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2010
A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas
In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley’s Promise. She’s prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down.
When Elizabeth falls ill, Darcy throws convention overboard in a plan that will bind them to each other more deeply than he ever could have imagined. But the perils of their ocean voyage pale in comparison to the harsh reality of society’s rules that threaten their chance at happiness. When they return to the lavish halls of England, will their love survive?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ever since Kara Louise discovered and fell in love with the writings of Jane Austen she has spent her time answering the "what happened next" and the "what ifs" in Elizabeth's and Darcy's story. She has written 6 novels based on Pride and Prejudice. She lives with her husband in Wichita, Kansas. For more information, please visit her website, Jane Austen’s Land of Ahhhs, http://ahhhs.net/.