If you’re writing light fiction, don’t forget the comic relief, otherwise known as the fool. Jane Austen makes it easy for me. Her novels offer a smorgasbord of fools to choose from.
Perhaps someday I’ll write a more serious book with only one point of view. But for now I am smitten with the multi-point-of-view ensemble piece with a cast of wonderful characters. I blame after-school television reruns of Star Trek (TOS) and Gilligan’s Island and The Munsters.
When the drama in one part of the story is played out, I switch things up. Toss in a scene involving secondary characters to heighten the Oh No! I do enjoy how people rationalize their poor or selfish choices. Not sure what that says about me…
In Darcy By Any Other Name, the complication is that Mr. Darcy is not alone in the body-swap. Mr. Collins now inhabits Darcy’s body. And as he is unintelligent and weak (not to mention conceited and grasping), he can cause a world of trouble. At the beginning of the book he’s in a coma, but by Chapter 17 he’s awake and talking–to the Mrs. Darcy Wannabe, Caroline Bingley.
Collins attempted to rise to the occasion by smiling. It took effort to twitch his lips into the proper shape.
“You look to be on the mend.” The man gave an awkward laugh.
“Do be quiet,” the woman said. “Poor Mr. Darcy. He has been very brave.”
She came forward and sat in the chair beside the bed.
At last, sympathy! Not that Collins was feeling brave, but if this fine lady said so, who was he to disagree?
These strangers were obviously his friends. How disquieting it was to have everything turned upside down! Collins fingered Darcy’s gold signet ring, heavy and solid and real.
On the other hand, he must keep in mind that there were benefits to this new identity. Yes, he must rise to the occasion.
“Soon enough, Darcy, we’ll be riding again,” said the man. “A gallop to Longbourn will do you good, put heart into you.”
“Gallop?” repeated Collins. Did he mean they would ride at breakneck speed on horses? The thought made him shiver.
The lady must have noticed because she said, “Charles, stop. You are scaring him. Indeed,” she added, bending nearer, “you shall not go anywhere until you are ready, Mr. Darcy. You are welcome to remain with us until you are completely well.”
“Not—Longbourn,” Collins managed to bleat. He could not face his cousins, not yet.
“Oh no,” she said, smiling. “Certainly not Longbourn. There is nothing of interest there.”
“Actually—” the man called Charles said.
The woman gave him a look. She turned to Collins with a smile. “You have everything you need right here with us,” she said.
By Jove, it paid to be Darcy! No one—with the possible exception of his long-deceased mother—had ever smiled at him like this lady did.
She was expensively dressed and wore an amber necklace, which complimented her gown. “Beautiful,” Collins said, gazing at her, and he brought his fingers to his neck. “Amber?”
She understood! He saw her finger the beads.
“Your gown, exqui—” It took several tries to work out the pronunciation, but he managed it.
“Exquisite?” she cried, and turned to the man. “Charles, he said exquisite! This shows great improvement. Indeed, his aunt’s fears are quite unfounded.”
“No harm to his intelligence, eh?” Charles said. He gave another awkward laugh.
There was a look exchanged between them that Collins did not understand. He returned his attention to her.
“Set a fashion,” he said, indicating her gown. “In London. Among the Nobs.” And because she smiled, Collins smiled too.
“Oh, Mr. Darcy,” she said. “This dress is nothing special.” But Collins could see that she blushed.
He fastened his gaze onto her face. “You are,” he said solemnly, “Diana. No, not Diana, the other one. Venus. Beautiful like Venus.”
He saw her eyes widen. Not in revulsion like his younger cousins, not in amused skepticism like Elizabeth, but in wonder. Such a simple compliment, too. Of course she did not look like Venus, but he knew ladies liked hearing that they did.
And Collins couldn’t help but laugh in delight at her response. Except it came out as a giggle. But she did not seem to mind.
Yes, being Darcy certainly paid.
For tomorrow, F is for Fight. Hey, thanks for stopping by!
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