About the Author
Linda Berdoll is a self-described "Texas farm wife" whose interest in all things Austen was piqued by the BBC/A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. Four years and much research later, her effort, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (originally titled The Bar Sinister) appeared, to the acclaim of readers and the horror of Jane Austen purists. This is Berdoll's first novel, but she has since published a humorous book of euphemisms and is now at work on a sequel to the sequel. She and her husband live on a pecan farm in Del Valle, Texas. Although she admits that she eloped in a manner similar to Lydia Bennet's, to her great fortune it was with Darcy, not Wickham.
Reading Group Guide
1. Many sequels to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have been written recently, and this book is no exception. The author does a wonderful job of blending the societal rules and mores of our time with the societal rules and mores of Elizabeth and Darcy’s time. Give some examples where Linda Berdoll does a particularly good job creating this type of amalgamation. One place to start might be Georgiana and Fitzwilliam’s relationship and marriage.
2. In what ways is Linda Berdoll’s Darcy similar to Jane Austen’s Darcy? In what ways is he different? How do both Darcy’s exemplify the ideal man?
3. Linda Berdoll’s Darcy was partially inspired by Colin Firth in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Do you see Colin Firth’s character in Berdoll’s Darcy? How has Colin Firth’s performance influenced your own image of Darcy?
4. We see a rather bleak continuation of Lydia and Wickham’s relationship. How does their relationship appear at the end of Pride and Prejudice? How does it deteriorate through Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife?
5. There are many old faces from Pride and Prejudice, and some faces that are new to Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife. Discuss the development of some of Austen’s minor characters (Mr. Collins, Mrs. Reynolds, Colonel Fitzwilliam) in Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife. Discuss the new characters we are introduced to (Abigail Christie, Juliette Clisson) and how they fit in with the characters Austen created.
6. How does Austen’s Pride and Prejudice differ from Berdoll’s Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife in terms of historical context? What do we see/learn in Berdoll’s book that is conspicuously absent in Austen’s given the time period? Are you in favor of, or against, the additional historical context of Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife?
7. Lydia and Wickham both reflect on wealth, position, and rank. While wealth is what matters to Lydia, Wickham reflects that position and rank are what matter to Darcy. Do you think this is because Darcy has always had all of those things that the less substantial ones matter to him? Or is it simply a difference in the characters of Lydia and Darcy? (Page 14)
8. Elizabeth is confronted with many of the medical myths of the time. Women have a confinement period during pregnancy; Jane informs Elizabeth that having sex during pregnancy can cause a miscarriage, and that a fright can cause a breech birth. How do those myths reflect how society felt about women and pregnancy?
9. How does her father’s supposed infidelity affect how Elizabeth views Darcy? How does it affect how she views all men? Who does she see as the exception and who does she see as the rule in terms of male behavior? Is this reasonable? What effect does it have on Elizabeth when her mother later reveals that her father was not unfaithful?
10. When John Christie dies, Mr. Darcy has the gravediggers put the Darcy name on his grave even before he knows that Wickham (the boy’s father) is his half-brother. Why does he do this? Would he have been more or less likely to do it if he had known of Wickham and John Christie’s real relation to the Darcy family?
11. Why does Darcy initially consider Fitzwilliam an “unsuitable suitor” for Georgiana? What points does Fitzwilliam have going for him? What strikes does he have against him as a husband for Georgiana? (Page 396)
12. On page 413 Darcy drunkenly believes that he is dreaming of Elizabeth when a woman climbs into his bed while he is staying with Roux. We later find out from Juliette that Darcy ejects a disgruntled C. Roux from his bedchamber. Do you agree with Juliette that nothing happened? Or do you believe that an act occurred, only to be discovered later? Would you condemn Darcy if something had happened?
13. With her dying breath Mrs. Reynolds indicates that Wickham is also a son of Mr. Darcy’s father, and therefore Mr. Darcy’s half-brother. What foreshadowing is there of this revelation? (Page 457)
14. In several instances Mrs. Reynolds’ word, or implication even, is taken as absolute truth. What “truths” does she reveal? How do these revelations influence events? What would change in the story if Mrs. Reynolds were wrong about the paternity of John Christie and Wickham?
15. Elizabeth has several encounters with women who are trying to separate her from her husband. In one instance Juliette lures a pregnant Elizabeth to a park in London in an attempt to make Elizabeth think that Darcy has been unfaithful. What does Elizabeth’s behavior in this situation say about her as a person and a wife? How would you have responded in such circumstances?