Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange will be published by Sourcebooks on April 1, 2011. Sourcebooks sent AustenBlog an exclusive excerpt from this upcoming novella. Check out another excerpt on Amanda Grange’s website.
27th May 1791
I went round to Darcy’s rooms early this morning, and after a little coldness I confessed that he had been right and I had been wrong and that I had fallen into bad company. He looked relieved and offered me a horse to ride and we went out together, talking of Pemberley and our experiences at Cambridge and our futures.
‘My father intends to give you the living at Pemberley,’ he said, as we returned to our rooms, ‘but I am not sure that you are suited to the church. Are you comfortable with the idea of preaching sermons, George? Because the church is not a profession to enter lightly. A clergyman has the good of his parishioners in his care and if he cannot set them an example…’
‘My dear Darcy, I have learned my lesson,’ I said, and I used all my charm to help me. ‘It went to my head, the new place, the new people, the easy friendship, the parties, the… yes, why not say it?… the wine and the women. And then Mama… But such a life palls before long, and I do not think a man is any less fitted for the church because he has found this out through experience, rather than finding it out through the experience of others.’
‘There is something in what you say.’
‘To understand sinners, I have to understand their sins. I have to understand their temptations, too, for how else could I treat them with understanding and grant them forgiveness?’
He was satisfied. Indeed, as I spoke, I more than half believed it myself. But I must be careful if I am not to lose his family’s patronage. Mama was right: there is something implacable in Darcy, some strength of character that will not allow him to be bullied or persuaded out of doing what he thinks is right. Moreover, his good opinion, once lost, is never regained, a fact James learned to his cost, for when he approached Fitzwilliam to help him with some trifling debts, Fitzwilliam refused him; he has never forgiven him for tormenting Georgiana by taking her doll, all those years ago.
I am lucky I did not lose his good opinion entirely this year and that he remained my friend. But I must be careful if I am to keep it, for until I marry an heiress, I need influential friends on my side.
30th October 1791
I have taken to carousing in London rather than Cambridge, where I comport myself with more or less dignity. Peter’s family have a house there and we often escape and go to town, where we have several sweet little dancers and opera singers who keep us amused, as well as several taverns where the serving wenches are willing, when we are in a mood for lower company. We were escorting two dancers back to our rooms tonight and were just having fun in the carriage when it stopped outside Peter’s house at an inopportune moment.
‘Oo, don’t stop,’ begged my partner, and like a gentleman I obliged, only to hear the door open.
I looked up, annoyed, only to see Darcy standing on the pavement!
By some ghastly chance he had been to the theatre and had decided to take a hackney cab home instead of walking. Thinking the stationary cab was empty, he had opened the door, meaning to climb inside. He had then been confronted by more than he had seen since we were boys swimming naked together in the river at Pemberley, and more of Molly than anyone has ever seen without paying her.
To his credit, he simply raised his eyebrows, said, ‘I beg your pardon, I did not know the cab was taken,’ and closed the door again. I burst out laughing, Molly did the same, and I hastily fastened my breeches and tumbled out of the cab.
‘Darcy!’ I called. ‘Darcy! Wait.’
But he did not stop.
My little dancer followed me, for she had not been paid. I handed her what I owed her as I watched Darcy’s retreating back and I thought, It is all up with me now.
I felt a sense of relief, for going into the church is not something I have any desire to do, no, not even for a large rectory and an easy living for the rest of my life. But I felt a sense of disappointment, too, that he should have found me like that.
Damn! Why is it that he makes me feel like that? Without ever saying a word he makes me feel inadequate.
But as he dwindled into the distance I felt a sense of sympathy too, for as I watched his retreating back it came over me that he was a lonely man, for all his money, his family, and his friends.
I remembered him telling me that he was looking for something.
Whatever it is, he has not found it.
I wonder if he ever will?
Read more info about the novella and another excerpt at Austenprose.
7 thoughts on “AustenBlog Exclusive: An Excerpt from Wickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange”
Granted, I’ve never had any interest in reading Austen “sequels” and spinoffs, but this looks abysmally bad!
‘Oo, don’t stop,’ begged my partner, and like a gentleman I obliged
I thought that was hilarious!
I have to say when I first heard about this I thought, I don’t really want to read Wickham’s diary all that much, as I don’t find him likable. But there might be something interesting in someone exploring his motivations, even if they turn out to be totally venal. With the excerpts, I feel ready to give it a try. I’ll be reviewing it here.
Grange’s other works have been very well done indeed (luv’d Mr Darcy, Vampyre), so I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss this one, though I agree with Mags that, on t eface of it, Wickham is not a character that one wants to know a great deal more about.
However, this has some potential along the Flashman line–except that Flashman ends up getting credit for good deeds when he is really committing acts of craven cowardice and greed, and Wickham is just basically a Bad Hat.
I was particularly thinking of Wickham having “sympathy” for Darcy, and actually admitting and/or pretending that he gives a damn about what Darcy thinks of him (because I see no evidence of such emotional awareness or concern in the original). But I’m just one of those stodgy old purists who, even though I will sometimes appreciate freedom with a film adaptation, thinks that any further print exploration of beloved characters outside the author’s vision is best left in the readers’ heads.
Look forward to reading your review, Mags!
Wait–I thought *I* was the tar-hearted dried-up spinster purist &c. &c. 😉
I know what you mean–like I said, I wasn’t that interested in reading Wickham’s diary at first. But as Allison pointed out, Amanda Grange has a pretty good track record with these things and it buys her some slack with me. I’ve really enjoyed all her books so far. In her hero diaries she pays scrupulous attention to the original and when she colors outside the lines, the characters usually behave as one would expect. There is a minimum of the sometimes silly melodrama that can appear in these things, although Colonel Brandon’s Diary is quite exciting and dramatic, because Brandon has an exciting and dramatic backstory in the original–Eliza, an elopement, finding her dying in the spunging-house, the duel! And it’s all there in S&S!
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is the exception. It is definitely melodramatic, and like this book I was initially doubtful that it would be something I would like, but Amanda posted an excerpt on her website and I realized she was affectionately parodying the “horrid” Gothic novels, which I love and find hilarious, and I changed my mind and became quite eager to read it–and I really liked it. Any other author, I would be way doubtful about this book (and probably wouldn’t bother to read/review/post an excerpt) but because of the author’s track record, I’m willing to give it a try. We’ll see how it ends up!
I’m actually not any more willing to cut paraliterature authors slack than I am willing to cut filmmakers slack. I am pretty particular about both. It’s possible that an overall impression of liking something will overpower problems, but more often it seems like if there’s enough little things bugging me, I can’t enjoy the whole. I don’t know if that makes any sense.
When I first saw this going to be published I figured it would look more like Wickham’s record of who has heard which story so he could keep everything straight.
Monday: Told Mrs. Young I had been denied my dream of becoming a clergyman. Her heart broke for me. Must remember this story for future acquaintances. May prove useful.
Thursday: Am sure I have Georgiana convinced to elope. Said her eyes reminded me of frozen music which she clearly loved. Will have to glean a poetry book for more nonsense like that in order to wrap up this challenge.
Saturday: Thwarted! Darcy has discovered my plan. Will have to pretend I never found Georgiana appealing. Shouldn’t be hard as I honestly couldn’t stand the little twit. Perhaps will keep that to self in future. Surely Darcy will never tell anyone!!
Wednesday: Mentioned to Mr. Jones that my grandmother had died leaving me terribly distressed. Hope he never meets anyone from London as this makes fifth dead grandmother this year. Should consider killing off another relative.
I’m still waiting for Edward Ferrars’ Diary. *sigh*
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