An Interview With Mary Lydon Simonsen; Author of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning

Very good friend of the blog, Mary Lydon Simonsen, recently gave me some time out of her busy schedule while promoting Mr. Darcy’s Bite to do a little interview (you can find my review here).  I recently started writing some “getting to know you” questions at the beginning of each of my interviews.  It gives readers a chance to get to know the author as a person as well as an author! 

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Lonesome Dove.  It’s a wonderful epic adventure of the closing days of the American frontier.  The characters are so perfectly drawn that you care about all the good guys and hate all the bad guys and are ambivalent about everyone in between.  It’s the American equivalent of Homer’s Odyssey.

If you had to describe your writing with a color, what color would you choose? Why would you choose that color?

I would choose a soft yellow because I think that color makes you smile, and I like to have people laugh or chuckle or smile at some point while reading my stories.

If you had all the money in the world and could only travel to one place, where would it be? Why?

This one is easy.  I would go to Italy.  I’ve been twice, and it’s addictive.  I love the architecture, art, history, language, people, food, and, most especially, the gelato.  I once stood outside a church built over a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva with a Michelangelo sculpture inside behind the Pantheon facing an Egyptian obelisk on a Bernini pedestal.  Where else in the world could that happen?

If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be and why?

George Washington.  He put everything on the line when he took command of the Continental army.  After the war ended, he could have seized power and made himself an emperor, but, instead, he served his country and then retired like Cincinnatus and not Napoleon.

On to your books!!

I’ve read almost everything you’ve written, and see that you’ve written a multitude of different genres from historical fiction, to Jane Austen fan fiction, and now with your newest book, a paranormal romance.  What would you say was the most fun genre for you to write?  What genres have you not written yet that you’d like to try your hand at?

I love writing parody.  The most fun I’ve had as an author was writing Anne Elliot, A New Beginning.  All the rules went out the window on that one.  Despite the comedy, Anne and Frederick stay true to their basic characters. 

Next up is a British procedural mystery.  I’m nervous about this because it requires that I write an outline.  I’m a writer who usually flies by the seat of her pants.  You can’t do that with a mystery.

You and I have talked about the inspiration behind some of your novels.  Would you care to share with our readers which inspirations have been the most influential?

Writing historical fiction is my greatest love.  My first novel, Searching for Pemberley, was very personal because its roots are in the little coal-mining town where my parents grew up during the Depression and their experiences during World War II.  I admire people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps or, in the case of Elizabeth Bennet, someone who will not compromise on her core beliefs, even if it costs her Mr. Darcy.

I think it’s safe to say that you’re a widely popular/successful author in the world of Jane Austen fan fiction.  What type of JAFF is your favorite to write?  Which of Austen’s original books do you most enjoy writing about?

Oh my goodness!  Thanks for the compliment!  In my Jane Austen re-imaginings, I like to keep it light, and that is why I introduced the character of Antony, Lord Fitzwilliam, Earl of Stepton, Darcy’s bad boy cousin.  He can break all the rules and get away with it.  We all love a rascal.  We just don’t want to be married to one.  As for my favorite Austen book, it’s a tie. I have loved Pride and Prejudice since I was a teenager in the 1960s, but as I have grown older, I have fallen in love with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth’s much more mature love story in Persuasion.  I have a novella coming out in November, Captain Wentworth: Home From the Sea.

What can you tell us about your upcoming works?  (I hope you tell us that you’re working on a sequel to Mr. Darcy’s Bite)

After the Persuasion novella, I will have a time-travel P&P romance coming out in December titled Becoming Elizabeth Darcy. This one will be somewhat controversial because a modern woman from New Jersey goes back to Darcy’s Pemberley and ends up in Elizabeth Bennet’s body. Although there are lots of light-hearted moments, it is my most serious work since Searching for Pemberley.

As for Mr. Darcy’s Bite, so many people have contacted me about a sequel that I think I might just do it.  It would take place early in the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth.  Wickham may be back!

Thanks for taking the time to discuss your work with us!

Thank you for having me.  It’s always a pleasure to visit with you.  This was fun!

Make sure you check back in tomorrow for my review of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning!  For more information on Mary and her novels check out her website here.  Check out my reviews for her other novels: A Wife For Mr. Darcy, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park, and Darcy on the Hudson.

#9 A Review of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen

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Mary Lydon Simonsen is back with her sophomore novel, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy.  (Can I also say that there is no sheer coincidence that the word “perfect” is in the title of this novel? More about this later!)  Her first novel, Searching for Pemberleywas a partial venture into the world of Jane Austen fan fiction.  The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy is a uniquely interesting Pride and Prejudice variation that lets Austen’s supporting characters take the reins of her original work.

Anne de Bourgh sees that something is happening to her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, during his yearly trip to Rosings Park.  She comes to find out that Fitzwilliam has fallen in love with Ms. Elizabeth Bennett, has proposed to her, and has been rejected.  Anne having seen the two together at Rosings know that they are absolutely perfect for each other.  Once Fitzwilliam leaves Rosings, Anne realizes that she must play matchmaker to bring Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam back together.  Anne begins to set her plan in motion by visiting Elizabeth at the Collins’ rectory and securing her friendship.  During her visit Anne finds out that Darcy’s letter had a positive effect on Elizabeth’s feelings and that she feels regret for some of the things she said to Darcy.  This revelation from Elizabeth is the sign Anne needs to know that she is doing the right thing in bringing Elizabeth and Darcy together. 

As I said earlier, the word perfect being in the title is no sheer coincidence.  Simonsen wrote a truly incredible novel with fantastic characters.  Granted, the characters are changed and molded from Austen’s original writing, but my are they molded in an entertaining way.  I doubt you’d be able to find one fan of Pride and Prejudice who would say they didn’t want to see an assertive Anne de Bourgh.  Her character change alone makes the book worth reading.  Anne isn’t the only character that undergoes a change in The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy.  Another supporting character undergoing a total transformation is Georgiana who now becomes a rambunctious teenager who enjoys society and is unafraid of meeting new people.  The characterizations of the new Anne and Georgiana are a joy to read.   Anne and Georgiana’s match-making schemes give them a strong resemblance to another Austen character, Emma Woodhouse.  Along with Georgiana and Anne, Jane and Charles Bingley also get makeovers. 

I’m always a huge fan of Austen fan fiction novels that take the supporting characters of Austen’s original work and give them a chance to be in the spotlight.  Simonsen does just that here, giving the storyline a new twist, with these “new” characters.  You get to read the story in a new light and begin to hear it through a new character’s thoughts.

I wouldn’t recommend this book for those of you who are unwilling to part ways with Austen’s original storyline.  With the changes to Anne and Georgiana’s characters the storyline deviates from the original work, but ultimately has the same outcome.  For those unfamiliar with the original work, this variation might be a bit confusing for you.  The first half of Austen’s original novel does not exist in Simonsen’s work, as it picks up after the horrendous first proposal.  I have to say I was so happy to read a variation as creative as this.  After reading so many Pride and Prejudice sequels and variations, I get tired of the original storyline being told over and over with a small difference here and a small difference there.  It was absolutely refreshing to read a complete overhaul of the original story and I truly can’t recommend it enough.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sourcebooks (2011)
Paperback 400 pages
ISBN: 9781402240256

For More Reviews of  The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy Check out the Following:

Diary of an Eccentric
Austenesque Reviews
Savvy Verse & Wit