“…in his behaviour to me there were stronger influences even than pride.”
When George Wickham speaks these words to an impressionable Elizabeth Bennet, she can have no idea how true they will turn out to be. Stronger Even Than Pride, Gail McEwen’s latest novel, explores whether love can survive the biggest obstacles fate—and a most ruinous stubbornness—can conjure up to separate two people destined to be together. After Miss Bennet refuses to read the faithful narrative of Darcy’s dealings with Mr Wickham, this Pride and Prejudice variation takes an unexpected turn when she chooses to exonerate the wrong man.
Events quickly spiral out of control and Fitzwilliam Darcy is forced to watch helplessly as the woman he loves slips further and further from reach. Can there be a happily ever after for them? Can a love, stronger than pride, redeem even the worst mistakes?
About the Book
Stronger Even Than Pride alters one detail in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and small change takes the story on a very different path. What would have happened if Elizabeth Bennet was a little too obstinate and headstrong to read Mr Darcy’s letter of explanation after the disastrous Hunsford proposal? What if she did not continue on to learn the truth about Mr Wickham? Well, what would happen is that she would continue to ‘think of both gentlemen as I did before.’
The house was bright with candlelight and warm from a generous coal fire when she walked through the door. In his shirtsleeves, George sprawled on the sofa, halfway through a bottle of fine scotch. Behind him, the table was piled high with foodstuffs.
“Do you see this?” he beamed at her as he swept his arms around the room. “Things are turning around, just as I said they would. Are you not sorry now that you had so little faith in me?”
“Faith in you?” Elizabeth was stunned. “You are saying you did this?”
“Of course I did. I told you I would take care of you if you just believed in me. And look.” He gestured again. “Look at what I have done for you.”
She could not believe her ears. The man had no shame! Not only had he put them both in such dire need as to require intervention, he then had the nerve to look her in the face and claim credit for it! He was watching her expectantly, so she took a calming breath and repeated, “You did this? All this?”
“That is what I said. Who else would?”
“That is a very good question.”
His eyes narrowed.
“Of what are you accusing me?”
Elizabeth weighed her options carefully. She could confront him with the lie, tell him she knew who had paid their bills, and watch his arrogance crumble, but what would that get her other than temporary satisfaction? He would be furious, and she had no energy or desire for the long, drawn-out battle that would result.
She could storm out in disgust, leaving him there to wallow in his complacency alone, but it was already dark and freezing outside, and she had no place to go. Or she could swallow her pride and bile once again, pretend to believe him, and stay inside where it was warm and there was food.
She sat at the table, turned her back on the smug man on the sofa, cut thick slices of bread and meat and put them on a plate while blinking back tears of powerlessness.
She was now the object of charity. As such, it was not her place to insist that Mr Darcy be given credit for a deed he wished to keep anonymous. This was her place, and for reasons of his own, Mr Darcy had made it more bearable. She would simply have to live with it. As she sat there eating the fruits of a near stranger’s kindness, listening to the slosh of liquid as George took another drink from the bottle, she stared at the cutting board and indulged yet another forbidden fantasy: taking hold of the knife, turning around and plunging it into her husband’s chest up to the hilt.
It took a few decades, but Gail finally took her English teacher’s advice and “became a writer.” It’s not that she didn’t want to be a writer – she always wanted to be a writer – she just didn’t know how to go about it. Because, truthfully, if one is going to write, one must eventually allow others to read what has been scribbled in that notebook shoved in the back of the drawer.
Gail eventually worked up enough nerve to share her efforts with the anonymous world of the internet, after that she ventured out to college classes, writing contests, and eventually found a publisher.
Gail’s newest book, Stronger Even Than Pride, is a wicked twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Depending on your measure, her success is either modest or phenomenal – while she is in no danger of growing either rich or famous, she is a published, award-winning author! Gail chooses the latter yardstick.
So it just goes to show – you should always listen to your teachers.
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