Monday, October 27, 2014

The Madness of Mr. Darcy by Alexa Adams

Today I am back with the lovely Alexa Adams. If you recall she was my guest several months ago and gave us the extreme pleasure of sharing some excerpts from the very book that is now released and making its way to many bookshelves. I have one on mine and literally cannot wait to read it. She had my hooked back in March. The links for those posts with excerpts, should you want to read them, are as follows: March 24, 2014; March 25, 2014 and March 26, 2014. Each excerpt followed a review of another book by Alexa.

Alexa is giving us some information about the asylums of the time. It is both troubling and interesting at the same time. Thank you, Alexa, for sharing your research and your talents in writing.

Thank you, Janet, for allowing me this opportunity to present my newest novel, The Madness of Mr. Darcy, to your readers. This book takes place in 1832, more than twenty years after the events of Pride & Prejudice, and imagines what might have happened if Lydia and Wickham parted ways before Mr. Darcy could find them and force a marriage. The years have been hard on our hero, in no small part because of the loss of his true love, Elizabeth Bennet. The Madness of Mr. Darcy reunites them in the most unlikely of locations. Ramsey House is a private asylum for the unhinged genteel. Mr. Darcy finds himself there after committing an uncontrolled act of violence and nearly murdering a man.

“You have extensive lands, Mr. Darcy, I think.” Mr. Knightley said, continuing his offensive maneuvers.

“Yes. Pemberley is a large estate.”

“I have heard of it before. In whose hands do you trust it while here?”

“My cousin, Lord Matlock’s.”

“Then you have nothing to fear. Fitzwilliam already has too much to possibly require any more. Besides, is not his son your heir?” Darcy nodded to the earl in affirmation.

“I think your assets are in rather safe hands.”

“Is it common for relations to seize estates while their owners are…indisposed? One hears of such things, of course, but I admit to thinking such accounts more sensational than representative.”

“Such things do happen, though you are right – it is not common. Nevertheless, certain persons of influence have been pushing to codify into law the rights of those, like us, who find themselves incapable of handling their own affairs,” Mr. Knightley said, with a hint of bitterness in his voice. “It is a cause I should have liked to take up.”

By 1830s, when my book takes place, private asylums had a very bad public image. Before the 19th century there were no public asylums in England at all but the infamous Bedlam, more formally referred to as Bethlem Royal Hospital, which had been in operation in one form or the other since 1247. Over the centuries little progress was made in what we now call the mental health field. Lunatics (a technical term) were confined and restrained as needed to prevent harm to others. There was little notion of true treatment or attempt to cure. Bedlam couldn’t house all the madmen in Britain, and a prosperous industry developed out of the housing the mad in private homes. A private madhouse could hold anywhere from one or two lunatics to hundreds, and those who profited from them seldom had little interest in or knowledge of medicine. Healing these poor inmates would be bad for business, and there was no one to hold the owners of asylums accountable for their “treatments” but the families who had confined relations to their care.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pause to note that this is the same manner in which may contended with other inconvenient relations, like the mentally, developmentally, or physically challenged, such as Jane Austen’s brother George, who was sent to live with another family at a young age and seldom referred to.

The situation began to improve in many ways in the 18th century. Doctors became interested in actually treating madness as a disease, though it would not be until the 1845 Lunacy Act that inmates of asylums would be legally considered as patients. A few notorious cases of abuse mid-century led to the Madhouse Act of 1774, which required madhouses be licensed, inspected annually, and instituted fees for holding unregistered inmates. George III’s illness increased attention and interest in treating madness instead of just containing it, and a new breed of private asylums flourished, forsaking restraints and chains for moral therapy, which strove to rehabilitate the insane through country settings, labor, and reinforcement of routine. Despite reforms, public paranoia regarding private asylums continued to increase, and the 1808 County Asylums Act paved the way for the first public asylums in the countryside. Though abuse surely diminished in the private facilities, increased scrutiny revealed more, and a few sensational cases held a pretty tight grasp on the public’s imagination. The Madhouses Act of 1828 brought metropolitan asylums under the oversight of the new Commission in Lunacy, and an 1832 act further refined the legislation. The 1845 act gave the final death blow to the private asylum when it required every county to build a public asylum for paupers. Enormous institutional structures, designed to resemble country homes in all but their monstrous proportions, cropped up all over England, and the only private asylums left in business were those like my Ramsey House, catering to an elite clientele. New attempts to cure the insane led to new abuses, in some ways all the more horrific for being sanctioned by medical authority. Nevertheless, the significance of these early attempts to understand the mind and treat the mentally ill should not be underestimated. It was the birth of psychiatry. While Ramsey House is entirely the product of my imagination, I based it upon what we know of such institutions and tried to ground it in reality: a private madhouse flourishing at its pinnacle yet on the verge of extinction.

If you’re interested in learning more about my writing please visit me at I am currently celebrating Halloween with a new Mansfield Park prequel entitled Becoming Mrs. Norris. Come join in the fun!

Thanks again, Janet. It’s been a pleasure.

Books by Alexa Adams may be purchased on Amazon and at B&N.

Thank you, Alexa. I've been looking forward to this post for quite some time. It did not disappoint either! Very interesting! The book sounds very good and also very different. I hear it has been getting rave reviews so I am even more excited than I was to begin reading it.

Be sure to visit Alexa on her blog.She is doing her annual Twisted Austen series and has some interesting things going on plus some fab giveaways!

Alexa has a very generous giveaway for all the readers. She is going to have two eBooks of Mr. Darcy's Madness up for grabs and it is international. Yay! We want to hear your share in the conversation so leave a comment to be entered in the giveawayBe sure to include your email address in your comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @. Winners will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight on November 2, 2014. Good luck to all.

Hello to all!

Hello to all in the blogging world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. I have been silent for about six weeks now, silent but not idle! I have been busy working on some book covers for several splendid authors, having my website revamped (which should be up and running in a few days) and working on the Pride and Prejudice calendar for 2015! Something had to give and sadly, it was my blog. (and my housekeeping! lol ) I will post more on some of these things at a later date and will definitely be putting the calendar pics up soon, as well as some new Christmas items)

Shortly I will have a post by the talented Alexa Adams. Be watching for it!

In the meantime, here is a sneak peak of the cover for my 2015 calendar!