Dear reader, you shall be unshocked and unsurprised to learn Elizabeth and Darcy married.
Though Bingley adored both Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, he never grew to enjoy the combination of the two in one location. For that reason he and Jane saw less of them than Jane would have preferred, for despite their endless arguments, Elizabeth and Darcy were inseparable and always laughing. They were very much a pair, with those around them, except her father, unable to follow their darting minds, and even Mr. Bennet could not understand their indecent pyramid of private jokes.
Georgiana and Mr. Peake made an elated couple, and they had five children, besides Anne. The firm of Gardiner and Peake prospered. They were involved in many profitable ventures, early railroads, Bessemer's steel mills, a steamer line, and many others. By the time both he and Darcy reached their seventies — all our favorite characters lived a long course of life, well beyond the three score and ten allotted to man — Mr. Peake was the wealthier man by a substantial margin.
Darcy had long since forgotten that he ever opposed the match between his sister and Mr. Peake.
Mr. Bennet visited Elizabeth and Darcy for almost six months out of the year. Longbourn would have gone to ruin had Darcy and Bingley not convinced him to hire a steward to take over the duties. He was rather at lost ends once all of his daughters were well married.
Mrs. Bennet always was an adoring grandmother, who delighted in providing the children with an excess of sweets and then returning them to their parents to energetically run about from the sugar. To the day Mrs. Bennet died she retained an iron grip over the community, leading the assembly committee, the committee for the relief of the African orphans, and the committee for the promotion of crinoline hoops in lady's dresses.
Never again did any foolish Lady whose husband gained a knighthood on the account of a speech made to the king upon his visit to Meryton question who the true leader of Hertfordshire society was.
Mr. Bennet loosened the drawstrings round his money box, thus mixing a metaphor and allowing his wife to spend close to her delight. Now that his beloved Elizabeth was married to a man with a vast pile, and none of his other children needed support, he began to spend most of his income. A grand part went to the books, but Mr. Bennet had free and full access to the Pemberley library. That superb specimen of the family library was a work of generations; generations of vastly wealthy bibliophiles.
Even if had he dedicated his entire income to the pursuit, Mr. Bennet could not hope to compete. He instead contented himself with finding opportunities to acquire particular rare and odd editions which Darcy did not possess. He planned in his will for all such books to be given to Elizabeth, and thus placed into the Darcy library, continuing the grand work of generations, and also showing by what means the rich might become richer.
Besides many years of moderate self-denial had blunted Mr. Bennet's desire to spend.
Not his wife! Not her for whose usual nagging met with more than usual success! During that part of the year when Mr. Bennet was present at Pemberley, he granted her a large budget and liberty to use this budget as she wished to entertain. Mrs. Bennet had never been happier in her life.
Everyone in the entirety of Hertfordshire — and even parts of Kent and Sussex as well — agreed that God had been very good to her.
Fewer thought such of Lady Catherine. She now was left with no hope at all of marrying Anne to Mr. Darcy. This did not bother her for a full year, believing as she did that Darcy had simply chosen to live in sin with his mistress as a way of taunting her, while pretending to the rest of the world that he had married.
However, upon the birth of Elizabeth's first child, a son, Lady Catherine learned from her solicitor that the young boy was in fact the true heir to the estate, and that the marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy had been witnessed, solemnized and registered, and then consummated frequently and thoroughly, and was not a gesture to taunt her.
Loud and long did Lady Catherine shout when she visited Pemberley to bitterly complain about the fate of the now aging Anne. Short and silent were Darcy's sympathetic replies. Elizabeth showed much more kindness. She promised that they would exchange visits, and she discovered from Anne that she was happily unmarried, and matters were patched up between the family so they stayed on the barely passable terms until the death of Lady Catherine. Anne and Elizabeth carried on a correspondence, which lasted for many decades, and crisscrossed with her correspondence with Charlotte Collins.
Some decades later Elizabeth's second son inherited Rosings Park upon Anne's death, after he added the last name of de Bourgh.
As for the question you have read this entire epilogue to discover the answer to: Jane's son Bennet and Georgiana's daughter Anne married as adults. They too lived a happy and prosperous life, and they owned many cats, many ponies, many rocking horses, and many of all the things they loved most as children. Neither, alas, were great readers, despite the best efforts of their Uncle Will and Aunt Lizzy.
I always wanted to one day be an author who sticks a section at the end of my books to talk about how I wrote the book, the research I did, and like matters.
Today is the day.
Those who have read my other books (some are really good!) already know that I tell my readers to donate to Doctors Without Borders. You should. That organization does good and important work, and one of the best things about being a writer is that I can ask my audience to join me in making a better world by helping them with money. So donate, because you want the world to be a better place too.
But I also want to write things that are more fun.
The genesis of this book was a combination of two ideas: a more mature Elizabeth and a good Mr. Bennet. I'd been looking for a good Mr. Bennet idea for some time, since despite the way he often is viewed as a bad father in fanfiction, when I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teenager he was my favorite character because of his jokes.
As it happened, it was surprisingly hard to write this novel. I wrote the first chapters, up through the scene where Elizabeth returns home after the assembly, two years ago. Each time I reread that section, I thought Darcy and Elizabeth meeting in this story was one of the funniest things I have written — you may disagree, of course — but I had no enthusiasm for what I planned to write in the rest of the story. So I switched to a different project. It was either the first collection of notes on Colonel Darcy or the first draft of A Dishonorable Offer.
The first chapters of this book charmed me so much that I, on three separate occasions, planned out different ways of finishing the story, before giving up in dissatisfaction. It in fact reached the point where I promised myself I would not waste time again trying to finish it, since I'd decided the book was a time black hole.
However, as you already know, I eventually found an idea I liked. I was able to produce the remainder of the first draft for this book during June and July of 2017. One final thing about the writing of the book is while doing the drafting of the new scenes, I often would do a round of editing the new material the day after I wrote it, and before trying to write new scenes. Before my usual policy had been to wait to look at my first draft until I started work on the second draft. The immediate editing helped me capture the character's voices better.
Royston Cave is a real place which was discovered in the middle of the eighteenth century while someone was doing some digging for some purpose, which I do not recall, but which either the Wikipedia page or the Cave's webpage will tell you. I discovered its existence when I googled "date ideas in Hertfordshire" as part of my highly sophisticated research strategy. I did shift the geography somewhat. The location of the caves is in the far north of Hertfordshire, fifty miles from the center of London, while we are told that Longbourn is twenty-four miles from Gracechurch Street. This means there are at least twenty-five miles between Netherfield and Royston Cave, which would likely take three hours to travel, making the caves rather distant for an easy day trip.
Something else you can discover with a simple Google search is the stages of the moon in the early 19th century. It really was right after the new moon on the night of Bingley's ball for Georgiana.
Speaking of Gracechurch Street: My American readership shall be vastly more impressed by the following announcement than my British readership, especially that portion of my British readers resident in the great city of London.
Dear reader, I have visited London.
This not particularly momentous, but fun event occurred between writing the first and second draft of this novel, and I have a picture of myself standing next to a sign for the ward of Cheap, and I have walked down a substantial portion of Gracechurch Street. I also have a picture of the street sign.
This visit to the center of modern London had a substantial influence on the scenes at the end of the novel when Georgiana marries Peake. Most notably, when I initially wrote that section the action occurred for some reason at Netherfield.
I would recommend to my American readers they visit London and other parts of the United Kingdom if they have the opportunity — I have an unfortunate tendency to want to tell people about useful things I've discovered. So if you purchase in advance, airfares between the US and London can be surprisingly cheap. I am planning to fly back to the States for a few weeks in January, and if I purchased the tickets right now, I could get between London and LAX for around $200 each way.
A further point I should mention, for the sake of not continuing misconceptions if I can end them, teething did not in fact lead to the negative consequences Elizabeth, and others in early nineteenth century, attributed to the process. However, it is completely accurate that doctors and parents believed teething was dangerous. I had read, some years ago, in a Pride and Prejudice novel — I am not sure, but I think it was in Memory by the excellent, if long winded, Linda Wells (booknut) — that several percent of children during this period of time died of infections during teething. That seemed plausible, true, and horrible. It stuck in my mind.
There often is some ambiguity about historical evidence, but while teething is unpleasant, unfun, and often treated with antibiotics today, there seems to be relatively few deaths directly caused by it without treatment. However during the regency period people believed teething to cause almost anything bad which happened to a child during its course.
Having said that, antibiotics are really, really good. And together we can help people who don't have access to antibiotics get them. You really should donate to Doctors Without Borders.
Now that I've made that appeal a second time, here is a self-interested one: Review the book if you liked it, or even if you didn't. And then go buy some of my other books.
One final addendum, which actually is a little self-interested, in a weird way: I'd like to give a few book recommendations: Goodly Creatures by Beth Massy was one of the first big P&P variations I read, and it kept me up all night until I finished it. Angst, a fantastic strong Elizabeth, and a blundering Darcy. Haunting Mr. Darcy by KaraLynn Mackrory has a very entertaining and fun plot twist, and I particularly liked the romantic resolution at the end. Finally, you probably are aware of Abigail Reynolds books, and while her books are not actually perfect, there is a reason she is so popular. Alone with Mr. Darcy is a personal favorite.
Budapest, October 2017