Today, I have the great pleasure of receiving Mary Lydon Simonsen
author of Searching for Pemberley, here on Enchanted by Josephine!
Thank you, Lucy, for inviting me to post on your blog! Today I’ll talk a little bit about why I chose post-World War II England for the setting of my latest book, Searching for Pemberley, and why I decided to write my novel from an American point of view.
“Write what you know” is a basic rule for many authors. Because I am a baby boomer, I grew up hearing stories from my parents and aunts and uncles about their wartime and postwar experiences. My mother and father had lived in
Washington, D.C. throughout the war, and like everyone else in the , they worked for the government. My uncles fought in the Pacific and European theater of operations, and one aunt worked for a government agency in a bombed out District of Columbia in 1945. I wanted to know everything about their experiences, and when I began to write Searching for Pemberley, I drew on many of their stories for my novel, including that of my main character, Maggie Joyce, who worked for the State Department in Berlin during the war. Washington
I have often thought that I was born one generation too late because I love everything about the 1930s (except for the Great Depression) and the 1940s (excluding a war being fought across the breadth of Asia and
Europe). The clothes, music, dances, and movies of those decades have great appeal for me. Like my parents, Maggie grew up in Minooka, a dirty coal-mining town in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, during the Depression era. In order to escape the ugliness outside her window, she would read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and be transported to a simpler time.
Ever since I first read Austen’s novel decades ago in my high school English class, I have been reading about the Regency Era. It was a time of balls staged in candlelit ballrooms, where women, attired in Empire dresses, performed complicated dance steps with their partners, men who would be dressed in a dark coat, waistcoat, elaborate neckcloth, breeches, and high leather boots, and where “polite” society was truly polite and followed an unwritten set of rules about how a man and woman would interact.
After the war, Maggie goes to work for the Army Exchange Service in
where she learns that the characters of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, the main characters in Pride and Prejudice, may have been based on real people, William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison. She travels to Montclair Manor in Derbyshire, which may be the storied Pemberley, to find out. While there, she is befriended by Jack and Beth Crowell, who live in a nearby village, and who know if the legend is true. They have their own love story, which is set against the background of the First World War. London
In Searching for Pemberley, the epic events of World War I and World War II are contrasted with the elegance of the Regency Era, so I had the three time periods that I was most interested in in one book and where decades of reading and research were put to good use.
The experience of growing up during the Depression and being swept up in the great political and military events of the Second World War shaped the people of my parents’ generation. I admired their perseverance in overcoming the poverty of their youth as well as how they answered the call of their nation to go fight in a war in places so far from home and so different from their own experiences, which is why I chose to write Searching for Pemberley from an American point of view. I wanted to tell their stories. One of those young people affected by these great events is Maggie Joyce, who wanted to get beyond the Pocono Mountains into the wider world, and went to live in
, a country still reeling from the devastation caused by German bombs. While living in England , she meets two men: Rob, an American and former bomber pilot, who saw too much combat, and Michael, a possible descendant of the Lacey/Darcy line. Maggie must choose between the two and, hopefully, will find her own Mr. Darcy. London
SEARCHING FOR PEMBERLEY—IN STORES DECEMBER 2009
Set against Regency England, World Wars I and II, and postwar
, three love stories intertwine in surprising and fateful ways England
American Maggie Joyce, touring Derbyshire in 1947, visits, Montclair, an 18th century Georgian country house, that she is told was the model for Jane Austen's Pemberley. More amazingly, the former residents of the mansion, William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison, were the inspiration for the characters of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.
Through letters, diary entries, and oral history, Beth and Jack Crowell, a couple who lives in the nearby
, share stories of the people they say inspired Jane Austen. They also tell their own love story, made difficult by their vastly different backgrounds—she was one of the social elite while he was the son of a servant. When their son, Michael, travels home from his RAF station in village of Crofton , Maggie may have just found her very own Mr. Darcy. Malta
About the Author
Mary Simonsen grew up in North Jersey with the exciting venues of
easily accessible. She is largely self-educated and is especially interested in American and European history and 19th Century novels. In Searching for Pemberley she was able to combine her love of history (World War II and postwar New York City ) with Austen's characters, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, and being a romantic, the novel includes three love stories from three different time periods, all thanks to Jane Austen. She lives in England . For more information, please visit http://searchingforpemberley.weebly.com/ Peoria, Arizona
Sourcebooks is graciously giving away 2 copies of this wondeful book. Thank you Danielle!
Open to Canada and US.
1 chance: Leave a comment telling me what you found most interesting in this guestpost.
5 chances: Become a follower (if you're already a follower, you automatically get this)
5 extra chances for: every time you Tweet or blog about this
10 bonus for putting this on your sidebar
***Make sure you leave me all links in your comment;)
Good Luck to All!!
Winner announced on December 23rd.