Extract: Who Needs Mr Darcy?
The wonderful Who Needs Mr Darcy? publishes this week. Here is a sneak preview to this hilarious rom-com.
Pemberley, September 1815
Black does not become me: I am convinced it deprives my complexion of all life. I am one of those pale-skinned, chestnut-haired females given to freckling if I venture out in the sun. I suggested to Lizzie that I might wear something in pale grey, perhaps a frilled muslin threaded with a purple velvet ribbon, at dinner this evening. The look of horror on her face rapidly put an end to that idea. Marriage to Mr Darcy has transformed my once outspoken sister into a
model of propriety and mysteriously removed her sense of humour.
‘How can you think of going into half-mourning so soon?’ she gasped. ‘Think of the scandal it would cause.’ I lowered my eyes so that she could not see the gleam in them at the prospect of a little scandal, anything that would lighten the atmosphere here at Pemberley. Spirits were higher on the battlefield at Waterloo.
‘I only thought . . . my black dress is so drab. I would not want to embarrass you.’ I am, naturally, regarded as an embarrassment to the entire family. Miss Georgiana Darcy looks down her long, aristocratic nose at me. I am not fooled
by her reputation for sweetness.
‘Are you quite comfortable in your rooms, Mrs Wickham? We all feel deeply for your loss, Mrs Wickham.’
She sneers elegantly at my poor apparel, as if I did not know of her previous entanglement with my late, unlamented spouse. If only Wickham had successfully enticed her away and married her. I would not then have attached myself to him. I might have set my cap at a wealthier and less indifferent officer.
I loved him once. He was my handsome hero for a while, until I realised that money was the only thing he cared about. I can hear his voice still.
‘I bought you, my dear. Ten thousand pounds if I would make an honest woman of you.’ Except that I am no longer honest. Wickham saw to that. These thoughts tumbled through my brain as Lizzie patted my arm awkwardly.
‘You need not worry about anything, Lydia dear, while you are under this roof – least of all your wardrobe.’ I smiled gratefully as she left the room. Peering out of the window, I saw my brother-in-law riding up to the house. I must contrive to meet him alone so that I may persuade him to make me a small allowance. Then I might retire to the continent and begin to live. Paris! Paris is calling to me like a siren song. If I could live in the city of amour and splendour among all the nations gathered there, what opportunities might I find? The number of officers gathered in that wonderful place is unimaginable.