Jane in January and You – Knowing Your Un-Leading Ladies — 43 Comments

    • Thanks, Jennifer! It’s been a lot of fun developing her character and her story. Turns out there’s a lot more going on with her than you might expect!

  1. Based on the way JA wrote Anne, I think she was indifferent to Darcy and was just following her mother’s dictates as she had been programmed. Lady C was the one upset that D&E did not follow her orders. After P&P, I think Anne would have just continued as-is until Lady C died or found someone else she could force to marry her daughter, probably Colonel Fitzwilliam.

    I am curious to see how you will write her.

    • I’m tracking with you, Linda, except of course I couldn’t leave her there since I believe in happy endings! (How sad if Anne had nothing to look forward to except her mother’s death, especially when I have it on good authority that Lady Catherine intended to live forever.)

  2. I have always thought that should would have been indifferent to marrying Darcy. The very least she was relieved from the obligation. You have posed a different view that I hadn’t really given thought. I think she was just in love with the idea of being out from underneath her overbearing mother. Darcy would not be a good match for her. Darcy needs someone with a backbone. I have read other variations that have Anne with a little more spirit. I think that she hides it well because of her mother. With the Darcy no longer an option, I think she would look towards Col. Fitzwilliam or maybe she has always fancied him, but could never act on it.

    • Good ideas, Lori! Her attitude above represents mostly her romantic adolescent fantasies, not necessarily her desire as an adult. I picture her as having a lot going on under the surface, but kept down by her mother’s oppression and the weakness of chronic illness. Of course, I couldn’t leave her in that sad place. It was fun bringing out her hidden personality and backbone! 🙂

  3. I believe she would have had a mix of feelings: one, disquiet as she realized her preconceived life as a retiring wife of a wealthy husband who would provide for her was no more. Life was suddenly open-ended and insecurity of the future loomed.
    Second, a feeling of relief that her retiring nature would not be forced out into the world of social interaction by marriage to a gentleman who would expect more of her than she was capable of giving….ever.

  4. Anne de Bourgh grew up under the thumb of Lady Catherine. Her every moment of life [since the death of her father] had been observed, controlled, manipulated and dictated to by her mother. Was it any wonder that this sapling grew stunted under the shade of such a controlling harridan? She had never been allowed a moment’s peace nor a moment to do or be what she wished.

    As you stated, she assumed… because her mother said it would be thus, that she would marry her cousin Darcy. This form of brain washing was of the acutest kind. Anne had never been allowed independence or freedom to make her own choices. Her mother dictated those for her. Anne lived within her own head with her thoughts, beliefs and dreams, never questioning whether her mother’s dictates were truth.

    Knowing Darcy as we do… as he grew older, that taciturn behavior intensified. His demeanor no longer shrinking in the wake of his Aunt’s demanding, accusing, and dictatorial ways. His dark and brooding countenance must have been daunting to this tiny sapling, who quietly wondered about her future with such a man.

    As time went on, she had to suspect that it was not going to happen. As Darcy grew and became a man… this tiny woman had to know… didn’t she? At some point she had to see that his demeanor was not that of a lover, but a caring cousin. Nor did his actions indicate that they were in a courtship. When her mother discussed their betrothal, she had to see his reaction and countenance to the imperious declarations.

    When the guests arrived from Hunsford, Anne would see first-hand what it took to entice a man like her dour cousin. She would quietly observe as his eyes followed Miss Elizabeth’s every move. She would listen as he became animated in conversations with this country nobody her mother declared was beneath them. She would watch as he, and her cousin the Colonel, vied for that lady’s attention.

    Elizabeth Bennet, even with her limited accomplishments, was everything that Anne de Bourgh was not. This had to sting and it had to hurt… thus forcing Anne to examine her heart to see what she really felt… not what her mother dictated. A lifetime of thinking her cousin would pledge for her would suddenly come under the harsh light of reality. She had to wonder if her mother saw it as she did… and, what would Lady Catherine do if she did notice?

    If Anne liked Elizabeth… she would know that they would see to her comforts in the event of Lady Catherine’s death. She could spend time with them and enjoy the liveliness of their marriage. She could let Rosings and do whatever she wanted… travel or just rest somewhere in peace and freedom.

    Thanks for this post and generous give-a-way. I wish you the best on the launch of this work.

    • Thanks for sharing your well considered (and at times poetic) thoughts. I had to wonder if you were reading over my shoulder in places, where our ideas track so closely together!

  5. Yes, we only know of Anne through other characters’ eyes but given that Darcy doesn’t want to marry her and her sickly, thin, and small body, I believe Anne would be relieved that Darcy marries Elizabeth, for the obvious reason that she would not have to bear him an heir. But if thinking more off the wall: perhaps Anne is smarter than we are given to believe. Perhaps Lady C had married her maternal first cousin and the result was a bad crossing of lines resulting in the frail health of Anne. Perhaps Anne had seen this weakness in other first cousin crossing and feared mating with Darcy for that reason as well. Or perhaps Darcy has been training Anne on the sly about how to manage Rosings after Lady C’s death. Perhaps Anne has a female relative she wishes Rosings to pass to upon her own death. Lots of possibilities. I look forward to your new book.

    • Haha! Inbreeding. There’s an imaginative explanation for why Lady Catherine is the way she is! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Meg. Yes, because Jane Austen tells us so little, there are lots of possibilities – wide scope for my imagination!

  6. I always imagined she would have been upset as I think she would have had her mother continuously tell her that she was destined from birth to marry Darcy so she would have had this expectation. He is also handsome and a perfect gentleman so this would have made the arrangement even more palatable to her. And finally she could get away from her overbearing mother. I believe in canon she ends up staying under her mother’s thumb and never marries. I’m glad that she seems to find happiness in your book!

    • We’re not given any clue in P&P about Anne’s ultimate fate (although I know JA is supposed to have told family members what she imagined for some of her minor characters after the end of her books). But I feel compelled, by the power of the pen, to rescue everyone I feel is good at heart from a dismal fate – Charlotte Collins, Anne de Bourgh, and even Jane Austen herself (The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen)! So yes, I have taken care of Anne’s emancipation from her mother and her happy ending!

  7. I’d like to think that although Anne grew up under the thumb of her mother, she was quietly rebellious. She may not have spoken much, but I think she was biding her time. Anne knew better than to confront her mother, so she ignored her as best she could. She could obviously see Darcy’s unwillingness to marry her simply through his avoidance of the issue each spring.

    I’d like to think that Anne was rather relieved when Darcy married, for then she would no longer be pushed under Darcy’s nose only to be ignored, if not rejected, time and again. She lived with a strong personality already, and Darcy, although much kinder (and more realistic), was yet another who would order her life for her. I’d like to think that she was rather indifferent to the idea of marriage but was looking forward to either gaining her majority and having more control over her life (although that may not be in the Austen canon) or waiting for her mother to either die or go live in London so that Anne could live her life on her own terms.

    I think Anne loved Rosings and found her peace there…or what peace she could find with her mother constantly harping away about Darcy’s supposed regard for Anne. I can just imagine Anne subtly rolling her eyes every time Lady Catherine mentioned Darcy. Anne was not grasping the way her mother was; she had no wish to rule both Pemberley and Rosings. She welcomes her cousins’ visits because she knows that they will ensure that Rosings is run well; in a way, she sees them as protecting her from her mother’s overspending which endangers Anne’s future at Rosings.

    I doubt you’ll take the story in this direction, but it’s amusing to think of Anne as quietly rebelling against her mother’s rule. 😉

    Susanne 🙂

    • You’re not far off the mark, Susanne. I definitely see Anne as having a very active imagination and thought life. That is the only place to which she can escape; that is the only place she is her own mistress. She has also learned a little something from her mother about backbone and demanding one’s own way. So yes, she has been biding her time until she is strong enough and has the right opportunity to make her move. 😉

  8. Although I would like to think of Anne as having her own mind, I just can’t see where she get the courage to form her own thoughts. She knew no one other than her companion, Mr. Collins and his predecessors, Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam. She has been emotionally stunted by her mother her whole life. Someone like her would need some encouragement to break free. I always wished that Darcy had taken more of an interest in her. He could have told her (privately) that he was not going to marry her but he still valued her as a member of his family. Was she really sick or was it easier to give up. and pretend she was? She seems depressed to me. I would think that she was devastated when Darcy married Elizabeth because that is all she had to look forward to and now even that little chance of happiness was gone. Everyone needs hope.

    • Yes, Suzanne! It has always bothered me that Darcy seems to almost totally ignore Anne. We don’t expect him to marry her just because Lady Catherine wants him to, but I would have liked to know he wasn’t totally insensitive to her either. That’s one of the things I wanted to be sure to address in this new book – to show the relationship between Anne and Darcy, and to be sure they came to some mutual understanding. And you’re right about Anne breaking free, too; she does need (and get) a little help and encouragement. 😉

  9. Your characterization of Anne have been mine for a long time. It is time she be written with a strong voice and a dream of her own. Brava!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Sharon! I’ll be posting chapters here at Austen Variations beginning at the end of the month, so you’ll be able to read much more soon! The book itself will be out in late February or March.

  10. Growing up under such a dominant mother, Anne would escape her confines through her imagination. Weaving stories of herself as healthy prettyish young woman with a penchant for riding her horse in a stylish riding habit. Her interactions with her tenants and seeing to their cares would make her loved by all. As for Darcy, well, he may be handsome and polite, however, there is sadness about him that Anne knew she could never help him overcome. He needed someone with more panache and wit, that even her active mind could not conjure up. So when Miss Elizabeth Bennet arrives and seeing their interactions, or should I say Darcy’s reactions to her, along with Elizabeth being able to stand up to her mother, Anne knew that this was the woman who could bring Darcy happiness. She would go back to her imaginings and try to conjure up a man less taciturn and more fitting for her…someone, who would really put her first above all else.

    • Beautifully said, Carole. When you read the book, I think you’ll find I’ve incorporated many of your ideas into Anne’s story. 😀

  11. I really don’t know. Anne’s situation make me think about a novela called “Corazon salvaje”. She, like the main character of the show, grows up with the idea of marring Mr Darcy but when the moment comes she discovers that he prefers another. In the first time this can be a truly shock but I hope, like Bea in the show I have mentioned before, after some times this can be a good thing for her. In this way Anne can feel a true love and find her perfect match. Not an ideal but a true love.

  12. First, I am really looking forward to reading your new work. I do like versions that include plenty of plot time to Anne, or other supporting characters sharing the main story of D&E. We’ve read many versions of Anne, from spoiled rotten mini-Catherine (don’t like very much) to ghost-like weakling with one step in the grave (too sad.)

    I always wondered just for how long, and how sick she was. Was she truly quite ill? Lady Catherine was obviously blind to everything and everyone around her, including the truth of her own daughter which isn’t that abnormal because we’re often blind to our own children’s true person. But…..for Anne… much of being sick was a way to escape her mother. And after being told all your life that you are delicate, sick, weak and can’t do the things other people do (brainwashed as has been said) how much would she believe that about herself, or how that opinion of her helped her escape when she couldn’t stand being around her mother. Her self confidence must have been crushed under her Mother’s will. But she must have had an active inner life, unless she was drugged out of consciousness, which I have wondered about too. Either doctor prescribed or self-medicated. Seeing her cousin’s attraction to Elizabeth (although keeping it from Catherine would’ve been difficult) must have given her lots to think about. You can be happy for someone you love and still be unhappy for yourself, dearly wish to be normal, but terrified by the entire scope of that reality.

    I always want the supporting characters to have a happy ending…..except the baddies. But even some of those are redeemable.

    • Insightful comments, Michelle! I make much of Anne’s inner life; that’s her escape, the only place she has some control. In my book, she is neither a mini Lady Catherine nor a total weakling. She will take a stand for her own happiness in the end. I did give some explanation for why Lady Catherine is the way she is, but I decided against actually reforming her. Got to keep some baddies around; they are so much fun to write!

  13. I do not think Anne was really so interested in marrying Darcy and I think maybe they had talked about a wedding neither of them wanted but still they played along because why earn the fury of LadyC before he is inevitable?
    And in any case Darcy is not the cousin she is interested to marry… better the Colonel Fitwilliam or another brother of the Colonel who is not the firstborn (aka if she must marry a cousin better someone for which her and her dowry will make the difference and will at least be grateful to her for that and will not absolutely need an heir for preserving his name and lands). Darcy for character and everything is better for someone else who has not her bad health and can effectively charm him if a such woman exist at all. Meeting Elizabeth and seeing her interaction with her mother and Darcy will give her relief, envy because at least a part for her wished to be more like Miss Bennet and joy for the upcoming freedom. If Darcy decide to marry another woman instead of her Mother can not be angry with her, right? Everything must be fault of Darcy and his bride-to-be and Lady Catherine know that

    • Yes, Ada, the way I write Anne, she does have some envy of Elizabeth. In fact, that’s the title of the first chapter: Envying Elizabeth! But she’s smart enough to not stop at envy. She learns from Elizabeth too. 😀

  14. I have read two P&P variations in which Anne was featured, at least in part. In one, she regains her health with a new doctor from town which she later marries… another, she married the Colonel and regained in health enough to provide him an heir. I am more than anxious to learn what HEA ending you bestow on her. Initially, I didn’t much care for her (back in the days when I was new to the hundreds of P&P variations I have since read). I thought her, obviously, sickly, weak and timid. Later I came to have more compassion for her because of the overall conditions of her life under a tyrannical mother – and what else can you call Lady C but a tyrant? Jane Austen left poor Anne in limbo and now all these years later you and others are giving her a voice which we are eagerly awaiting to hear. Thank you so much, Shannon, for all your stories. I’ve read so many of them and have loved them all! Kudos. Who’s next? Mary?

    • Thanks for the encouraging words, Linda! Mary I took care of in “Return to Longbourn,” and if you’ve read my other books, you may have a pretty good idea where this one is heading too, but not all the interesting twists and turns we take to get there. I’ve never read another story featuring Anne (I read very little JAFF, not wanting to be influenced by the plot lines of others), but I needed to make “The Ladies of Rosings Park” agree with “The Darcys of Pemberley.” Just like in “Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley,” though, this book features a minor character instead. Or maybe I should say minor characters, since Lady Catherine shares the honors with Anne, and even Mrs. Jenkinson gets into the act! As for what’s next, I haven’t decided. I’d like to do a P&P prequel eventually and at least one book related to JA’s other novels. Still have NA, S&S, and Emma to go!

      • I completely forgot “Return to Longbourn”. I do have it as well as the other two that are in the series. Why didn’t I think of that!? ….must dig it out reread it. I remember the conflict in it with Kitty, who provided a secondary story within the story.

  15. I think Anne has been under her mother’s thumb for so long, she doesn’t really know what to think. I also think she’s relieved to not have to marry Darcy as change would be frightening for a girl/woman who has never had any responsibility for anything. Her entire existence has been overseen by others – some of whom do not have her best interests at heart. Ultimately I believe Anne will be grateful to Darcy for forcing her to actually think about what SHE truly wants and possibly learn to help herself move forward.

  16. I have seen mny vasiations on the Anne de Bourgh theme in fanfic – expanding her character either in a positive or a negative way. I just don’t see anything in canon to give us an definite direction: JA ONLY gave us Elizabeth’s experiences and her (rather prejudiced) interpretation of them, and whatever other characters told her about Anne and the supposed engagement. Although an evil, shrewish or jealous Anne can be an excellent plot device, I prefer the stories that give her a happy ending – either discovery that her illness can be cured, or a way to find her own freedom like in creative talent, wit, observation; I like to think that Elizabeth might befriend her after her marriage to Darcy, if Lady C can be gotten out of the way somehow. Since sickliness and delicate constitution are such vague terms of the era, there could be almost anything behind them, serious or minor – laudanum overdose, anemia caused by medical bleedings, hypochondry, allergy, digestive problems, heart problem etc. I do like stories where she did have some positive influence during her childhood that saved her from being completely under her mother’s thumb or shaped entirely by her illness: Lady Anne/Mr. Darcy Sr, the Darcy and Fitzwilliam children, Sir Lewis before his death, a more sympathetic nurse or Mrs. Jenkinson; a previous, more positive rector o Hunsford… someone. I look forward to see your version of Anne’s story!

    • I think you’ll find those elements you’re hoping for in The Ladies of Rosings Park, Agnes. Reading your comment, I noticed how similar your thoughts were to mine as I composed Anne’s story!

    • Agnes, I hope you’re still listening because you won the drawing for an ebook copy of The Ladies of Rosings Park! Please contact me (respond to my announcement on the Austen Variations FB page or email me at shannon[at]shannonwinslow[dot]com) so that I can get your book to you as soon as it is released. 😀

  17. Anne is a shy person and I believe with very little self esteem. She knows she is intended to marry Darcy because of her mother’s will but at the same time, she is smart enough to realize she’ll be a poorly suited wife for him. She certainly thinks he is far more superior to her in every aspect. When she sees Elizabeth and the couple’s interactions, she must feel Elizabeth is the right person for Darcy and better suited for him. Even though her inner life might be lively, smart and profound, because of her mother’s education, she tends to think she is worthless and unless Darcy marries her, she will never catch another man’s heart. She isn’t too upset about it because as a really shy woman, she prefers observation and living trough other people’s lives. But if she can free herself from her potent mother (death would be a good idea 😉😣), she can improve her self esteem and maybe fall in love with the right man!

    • Love your comments, Rosa. And I’m not above killing of a character when it suits my purposes, but Lady Catherine is too much fun to write for! I intended to write this book entirely from Anne’s point of view. Instead, I ended up switching back and forth between mother and daughter. I just couldn’t resist the chance to interpret the world according to Lady Catherine!

  18. It’s hard to tell if Anne felt relief from marrying Darcy, disappointed that she was not his bride or indifferent since we don’t get to know her personally but from hearsay. But it is my opinion that she is upset that she could not be free from her mother and she views Darcy as her means of escape. I don’t think she has feelings for him as her future husband, more like brotherly affection since she doesn’t have any siblings. If she is as sick as how she is portrayed in canon, she may think that she herself is suitable as Darcy’s wife to give him heirs.

    • There’s a passage in the book where Anne thinks about what her life will be if she doesn’t marry. Since she has plenty of money, she’s thinking it will be fine, that perhaps she will spend more time in London and travel abroad. Then her fantasy comes crashing down again when she remembers that if she doesn’t marry she will remain under her mother’s thumb. So, yes, as you suggest, losing Darcy means losing her means of escape if nothing more!

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