Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Kara Louise: Why Regency Women Sailed to America

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.

Welcome, Kara!

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.

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?

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/.


Linda Banche said...

I liked seeing Elizabeth and Darcy in a different setting than Regency England. Still the same people, but also so much more!

Sherry Gloag said...

I live in the UK so can't enter the contest, but wanted to say how interesting I found your blog. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes for your book.

catslady said...

I find it all fascinating (all my relatives came almost 100 years later by ship and for the same reasons). Don't enter me since I already have the book coming my way thanks to Historical Hussies and you :) and I can't wait to read it!

Marli Trotter said...

It sounds like a good re-interpretation. I'll probably buy the book. Did they go to the U.S. or to the British North American Colonies (e.g. Upper or Lower Canada or one of the Maritime colonies) I'd love to read Darcy's impressions of Boston or New York, or how Miss Bingley (she is in the book, isn't she?) would cope with Muddy York (now Toronto) If you haven't written a colonial Regency, perhaps I should.

Kara Louise said...

I do hope all who are getting the book like it! And Marli, they pull into port in New York, (and it's only Darcy and Elizabeth, no Caroline Bingley). There is not a lot of sight seeing depicted in the book; the story is prominently them going over on the ship, a little once they reach America, and then what happens when they return to England, which occurs when Bingley has let Netherfield. It's there that we finally meet Caroline Bingley (who is only mentioned while on the ship).

Felicia said...

This book sounds wonderful and I would love to win a copy!



Anonymous said...

What an interesting post! - would love to read your take on Darcy meeting Elizabeth on a ship heading to America! My parents both emigrated from England to the US as children in the early 1900s -a time when their families saw it as the only way to make a living. My father came over in 1912 at the age of 11 and I became obsessed with the Titanic story thinking that if he had been on it I wouldn't exist! So the whole history of emigration to America has always fascinated me - now to think of Darcy traveling the high seas puts a whole different take on it! Thank you for this post!

Aik said...

This book sounds so good! Please count me in for the giveaway!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

TedA said...

I do hope that when Darcy and Elizabeth get to America that the anti-British sentiments of the period are properly reflected. (Remember the US and Britian were at war from 1812 to 1815!) That state of affairs did not just fall from the sky and the situation had been deteriorating for some time.

Babyblue22 said...

I absolutely love Elizabth & Mr.Darcy!! I would love to read about them in a different setting.
I always wanted their story to continue. I live in the US and would love to win a copy!
Thanks for the chance


Marie Higgins said...

This blog is just what I needed to read. Just the other day while plotting my next historical, I wondered why a woman who'd lived in England all her life would want to live in America! Now I know! This is awesome, thanks!

Oh, and speaking of Elizabeth being adventurous - I got that impression about her also. Then not too long ago I saw a movie that I totally LOVED! This shows Elizabeth being adventurous. If you haven't seen - Lost In Austen - yet, see it! I know you'll love it!

~Marie~ mariehiggins84302 (at) yahoo.com

susan said...

I love the sounds of this book and the idea behind it to bring it some place else. What a great idea and I sure would feel honored to read this book. I am retired so have lots of time to enjoy the book and get carried away in it. Hope you will enter this for the drawing of the free book. Have a wonderful day. susan L.

Unknown said...

This book will really allow a reader to escape. I love the idea of Darcy and Elizabeth, they have always been two of my favorite chracters. Good luck with your release.

tonyacallihan AT hotmail DOT come

Keena Kincaid said...

I love your imaginative retake on Darcy and Elizabeth, and I hope we get more glimpses of Darcy's younger sister in the story. I've always wondered what happened to her.

Margay Leah Justice said...

What an interesting variation on the Pride and Prejudice theme!


DanielleThorne said...

What a wonderful premise! I love sea fiction and adding some P&P to such a theme sounds like a wonderful idea! I'd love to win a copy! danithorne at yahoo dot com

This comment has been removed by the author.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite book. This sounds like a good read.


SiNn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SiNn said...

awesome premise sounds great ur a new to me author deff have to check it out ty for posting


gigis said...

I love the idea of a retelling of one of my favorite books. Taking a book and changing up the elements is a great idea. The BBC did a mini series called "Lost in Austin" which was another variation and if you have not seen it you should watch it. Can't wait to read your book!

jean hart stewart said...

Wow, highly original. But I'm debating if I want to read about my favorite people in another setting. I'm thinking!!!! Jean

susan said...

I forgot to include my email on my comment earlier..sorry it's garysue@dejazzd.com susan L.