Guest Blogger: Author Sara Angelini

I’m pleased to welcome another guest blogger today. First, I had little children do my work, and now a published author. I could get used to this.

Sara Angelini PhotoSara Angelini is an attorney and writer living in the San Francisco area. She’s here to talk about her new book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy. Recognize that surname? You’ll have to read on to find out more. Sourcebooks is generously letting me give away 2 copies of this book. See details on how to enter below Sara’s post.

I’ll now sit back, have another piece of cake and give Sara the floor.—PCN

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Hellooooo.  *peeks head around door* Did I come at a bad time? No? Phew. What a relief. I’m pretty new to this whole blogomajigger, so when I was invited to do a little promotion for my book here, I was nervous. I mean, “Pop Culture Nerd” sounds so…well…cool. And I’m not cool. Not at all.

So please bear with me as I expose my unbearable dorkiness and try to wow you with reasons to read my book.

Oh yeah. The book. Maybe I should get around to telling you about that, hmmm? OK.  It’s called The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, and it’s a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Why, you might ask, would one do a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice? Wasn’t the Regency version just fine?

The answer is because I love the characters in Pride and Prejudice and wondered what it would be like to hang out with them, only I have no idea what the Regency period is like. So rather than immersing myself in their world, which would involve lots of research and maybe wearing some funny clothes, I brought them into mine. They got over the culture shock pretty quickly.

I suspect Ms. Austen may be twirling like a dervish in her grave at what I’ve done to her stoic Darcy and her charming Elizabeth. A Darcy who sleeps with Caroline? An Elizabeth who drops the “f” bomb with alarming frequency? A Mrs. Hurst who is actually a gay man? Surely Austen’s beloved characters would never act so crass…or would they?

Modern culture has become extremely relaxed over the last two hundred years, and undoubtedly Austen’s characters would have evolved with the times. Regency spinsters are today’s working women. The landed gentry are today’s internet moguls.  Couples are waiting longer to get married and have kids, and serial unmarried monogamy is the norm.

With all this in mind, I set out to give Elizabeth Bennet a makeover, a literary What Not to Wear, if you will. She had solid basics: “fine eyes” and a “light and pleasing figure,” was educated, witty, and determined to marry for love even if it meant the ruin of her family. It was much the same with Mr. Darcy: He was tall, handsome, had too much money and not enough humility but was, at heart, a decent guy.

The real challenge was updating the plot, which I summarize thusly: Destitute spinster turns down marrying obscenely rich man because he’s a jerk and thinks her family is inferior, jerk learns his lesson and cleans up his manners, proves his love by sullying his hands to rescue spinster’s wicked, wicked sister, spinster realizes she does love him after all, and he’s got a *dope* house. Spinster and jerk get married, live happily ever after. Only Austen writes it so much better.

I started by scrapping the Mr. Wickham element. Who cares if Elizabeth’s sister eloped with a gambling soldier? The only purpose of Mr. Wickham was to prove that Darcy could overcome his proud distaste for him enough to become his brother–in-law. Plus he’s a pedophile. Ick.

Then I got rid of the whole your-family-is-rude-and-uncouth angle. Elizabeth’s family is just like the vast majority of middle-class America: sorta loud, kinda embarrassing at parties, but hey, they’re your family and you have to love them or you go to jail.

Next I gave them a conflict they could sink their teeth into: an ethical dilemma. By making Darcy a judge and Elizabeth an attorney, I created a situation that actually prohibits their involvement because it creates a conflict of interest. Somebody was going to have to sacrifice a career in order to make this relationship work.

Finally, I gave them modern sensibilities and humor. Nothing in Austen’s work implies that Darcy is dour, as is so commonly assumed. In fact Mr. Bingley seems to think Mr. Darcy is a real laugh riot when he’s with his friends. Nor is there anything to suggest that he is virginal, prim, or dainty. It seemed perfectly reasonable to me that he and Caroline would be friends “with benefits.”

As for Elizabeth, she has such a sparkle and wit in the original that it only wanted a little lipstick to make it modern. She’s vivacious, talented, and confident. No off-hand remark about not being “handsome” enough to tempt anyone is going to get her down.

For their interactions, I tried to hold to the spirit of Austen while plucking events from my own experience to give them life.  Contentious court confrontations? Check. Embarrassing gaffes? Check. Massages with friends? Check. Slow, smoldering, smokin’-hot sex in an elevator? Uh…no comment.

Some might say that I modernized Austen’s characters by superimposing myself onto them. I’m sure that’s true to some extent, since it’s impossible not to imprint onto them. But I also believe that Austen’s characters are so well written, so vivid yet generalized, that everyone can see a piece of themselves in them. We all want to be Lizzy, and we all want to marry Darcy.  It’s just a matter of figuring out exactly who Lizzy and Darcy are; and the answer is, they are us.

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Thanks so much, Sara! If you insist that we’re all smart, witty, handsome and rich, I shall not object.

Readers, are you intrigued? Want to get your hands on the book? Did I mention there’s lots of hot sex?

For a chance to win 1 of 2 copies, leave a comment explaining why you must have this book. Make like Lizzy and give me a really persuasive argument for your case. Unlike my other giveaways in which winners are randomly selected, I’m going to be the, ahem, judge on this one. The two people with the most passionate pleas win.

Other eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a subscriber or Twitter follower
  • Must live in the U.S. or Canada (sorry, international readers, this is Sourcebooks’ request)

Contest ends on Sunday, October 4, 5 p.m. PST. Results will only be announced here and on Twitter; winners will NOT be e-mailed. If I don’t hear from winners within 48 hours, new ones will be chosen.

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10 responses to “Guest Blogger: Author Sara Angelini

  1. As I can’t enter the contest {no worries, we know how it goes}, I can relax and instead chat about how much I enjoyed learning Sara’s insights into her how’s and why’s. I’m hooked, and it has nothing to do with the promise of hot sex. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing Sara with us, PCN!

  2. Oh, this is a great post. Thanks, Sara! I love P&P so P&P plus hot sex sounds good!

    Hmm. Don’t know if I can write something really passionate but I’d love to win this book because my boyfriend recently told me he couldn’t marry me because his mom didn’t approve of me. Who lets his mother pick his wife nowadays?! Right now, I need a book with a happy ending, since it looks like it’s not happening with my guy.

  3. Hi Shell and MelodyGirl, thanks for your comments. Shell, I hope you get a chance to take a look at the book, even without the sex I think it’s a fun ride (but then I guess I’m a little biased 🙂 )
    MelodyGirl, all I can say is count your blessings now! Imagine instead having a mother in law who didn’t approve of your housecleaning methods, your cooking, the names you pick for your kids, your choice of schools, etc. etc. Better to learn now than later 😀

    • Pop Culture Nerd

      Sara, thanks so much for your fun, insightful post and for stopping by. I wish you much success with the book and agree wholeheartedly re: MelodyGirl’s situation.

  4. OK, you need to just give me this book. I’m on a diet, I had to cut out chocolate and am cranky all the time. I need to indulge in something and this sounds like a juicy story that won’t make me fat.

    Fun post, Sara. I’m not usually this grumpy.

  5. Elizabeth and Darcy as “friends with benefits”? Awesome!

    My impassioned plea: I found out earlier this week I made a huge, HUGE checkbook error (okay, it was a collection of errors all discovered at once which equalled A LOT). Now my husband is mad at me, the bank is mad at me, and I’m not going to be able to buy any more books for a LONG, LONG time! Of course, I found the error BEFORE all the new releases came out on Tuesday (grrr!). Winning this book would be the bright spot on my rainy day (week, month – you get the picture).

    Hmmm..that’s a lot of caps usage = very impassioned plea! Thanks!

  6. I love it! What a great guest post. And I have to say that I also love the concept of a modern PRIDE AND PREJUDICE much more than the idea of the zombies and whatnot. Yikes! I’m a great fan of the original; one of the few books I read over and over…probably at least once a year. And Sara, I love how you took the underlying premise and made it modern. I read a book that was supposed to be a “sequel” to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at one time. I liked it, but it definitely took the characters in a different direction than Austen would have. It was fun, nonetheless.

    I’m not very good at begging…see comment on post about being a nerd…I blush horribly and become embarrassed. However, my dogs can both do it shamelessly. Let’s see if I can take a lesson from them. I can claim status as the old spinster…well, at least old by Jane Austen standards. I’m 35 and unmarried and unattached. And I AM determined to marry for love some day – Lord, just let it be in this lifetime, please! 😉 But unlike Elizabeth, I am NOT outspoken, which is probably part of the problem. People forget I’m around because I’m quiet and I’m not aggressive enough to demand attention. Maybe if there were single men in my bookclub….;)

    Thanks PCN for highlighting this book. I had not heard about it before. This post was fun!

  7. Shell, it’s my pleasure to have Sara here. I really enjoyed her piece as well.

    MelodyGirl, I think your guy is still metaphorically breast feeding. Yikes. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you find your happy ending.

    Lenore, step away from the computer and eat a small piece of chocolate right now. Moderation works better than omission!

    Patti, so sorry to hear about your checkbook debacle. Hope you’ve got your library card handy?

    Jen, I think you get around just fine because don’t you know every crime writer alive?

  8. please count me in! Anything with Mr. Darcy in it is a book for me 🙂 I think hubby would like some of the ‘benefits’ he will get after I read it too, lol.

    hefollowedme AT gmail DOT com

  9. So here’s why I want to win: the author said she gave Elizabeth “a literary What Not to Wear” makeover; now I have to read the book. I’m very much intrigued by a somewhat dirty version of Pride and Prejudice. I’ve enjoyed some other “inspired bys” recently and can’t wait to read this one!

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