What if Mr. Darcy was unable to purpose to Elizabeth Bennet at Rosings? The sudden death of Mr. Bennet changes the course of all their lives as Jane m...moreWhat if Mr. Darcy was unable to purpose to Elizabeth Bennet at Rosings? The sudden death of Mr. Bennet changes the course of all their lives as Jane marries an older merchant to help secure her family after Mr. Collins inherits Longbourne, Elizabeth moves to London, and Kitty never meets Wickham again. Dependent upon the Gardners’ chairty, Elizabeth helps with their young children taking the brood for walks and serving as their governess. Mr. Darcy — still thinking of Elizabeth’s fine eyes — arranges to casually run into Elizabeth on her morning walks after he finds himself unable to stay away, unable to stop wondering what lively and witty conversation he might have with Elizabeth next.
The blurb on the back of this novel, particularly “What if Mr. Darcy’s intentions were shockingly dishonorable?”, is sinister and darker than the actual contents of the novel. Although I’ve read and enjoyed many of Reynolds’ novels, I seriously considered passing on this book when I saw it listed as available on the library’s website because the blurb is that off-putting. Most of the story, in fact, is based around the idea of morality and protecting one’s reputation with the only “shockingly dishonorable” action on the part of Mr. Darcy is actually an assumption on Elizabeth’s part.
Mr. Darcy is still prideful but seeing Elizabeth in reduced circumstances, learning of her family’s plight and how it mirrors his own in some ways helps him to work through his issues. Elizabeth is still prejudiced but learning of Darcy’s silent help to her family even without the Wickham subplot causes her to see Mr. Darcy in a new light. Mr. Darcy is more lovesick than Austen writes him; Elizabeth is still as witty. The social divide is wider than ever, and the plot is well-paced.
Reynolds makes two additions to the characters’ back stories — one I loved and one I hated. I always appreciate it when authors build up the supporting characters in the novel, and Reynolds has an interesting take on Anne de Bough. Namely that the young woman suffers from some developmental delay, which explains her mother’s hovering nature and how little we actually hear from her in the original novel. The second aspect is revealed slowly throughout the novel but is barely addressed after the confession and appears to be solely inserted for the shock value. I found it an intriguing addition and was disappointed that it wasn’t sufficiently addressed.
Even so, I practically devoured this book and enjoyed pondering about all the “what if” questions Reynolds posed in her novel. Those who avoid the bodice-ripping sequels and variations will also be pleased to know there is no smut within these pages.(less)
**spoiler alert** Elliott's novel picks up Austen's classic novel changing the narrator to Darcy's shy sister, Georgiana, and setting the story in 181...more**spoiler alert** Elliott's novel picks up Austen's classic novel changing the narrator to Darcy's shy sister, Georgiana, and setting the story in 1814 after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth, Bingley and Jane. The constant reminders of Darcy and Elizabeth's happiness persuades Georgiana to reconsider her notions of love and marriage, to stop assuming that all men will lie and use her like Wickham once tried, but she mourns the fact that the man she loves will never love her back. At least, not in any other capacity than the older brother/guardian role Colonel Fitzwilliam already fulfills. Lady Catherine de Bough, however, has decided her niece shall marry and has descended upon Pemberley with a string of eligible bachelors.
I normally skim past author's notes, particularly if the book is fiction rather than non-fiction, but this one begins with a sort-of apology that I could not ignore. I can appreciate the author's recognition that it is impossible to write on the same level as that of Austen, and Elliott uses this to explain why she chose to write in a diary format rather than the narrative format employed by Austen. But she then proceeds to give away the entire plot of the novel stating that she always thought Georgiana would marry her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and telling the reader to continue on to find out if Elliott stuck to her original idea. Well, of course, you did! I mean, if you've always thought Georgiana would marry Fitzwilliam, then it is unlikely you will change your mind. It's not the incentive to keep reading I think the author wanted it to be.
Modernity began to seep into this novel almost from the very beginning, and I could not believe that an incredibly sheltered, eighteen-year-old Georgiana would have such a frank understanding of sex and prostitution. At one point, she deduces that a potential suitor brought to Pemberley by her aunt is actually gay and not only does she accept it without hesitation, she tries to suggest that the man should be more forth right with who he is. Excuse me? Is this novel not set in 1814?
The remaining characters become caricatures of their prior selves, and anyone previously perceived as "evil" becomes an embarrassment. I'd rather have Lady Catherine never accept Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage than watch her become a complete fool. The only character who actually benefits from Elliot's treatment is Lady Anne, who finally stops believing she is the perpetually ill person her mother says she is and starts showing an interest in the world.
I also could not buy into the relationship between Georgiana and Fitzwilliam, which was thankfully manifested as an infatuation throughout most of the novel. It may be true that Georgiana has the fortune a second son like Fitzwilliam would need, but I see no reason for Fitzwilliam to be romantically interested in Georgiana, especially since he has been a father figure in her life. The romance is clearly meant to set up for another novel in the series meaning the novel ends rather unsatisfactorily for me.(less)
If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them. The title of this...moreIf Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them. The title of this book was what moved it from the shelf into my hand, but this line from the back cover was what moved this book from my hand into my growing pile of library books. I was so excited to find a book imagining the events behind the scenes of Pride and Prejudice and expected to read Sarah and Mrs. Hill’s reactions to Bingley and Darcy’s courtship of the Bennet girls.
Perhaps most surprising was the fact that I became more interested in the lives of Sarah, James, and Mrs. Hill than those upstairs. I suppose it’s because I already know that story so well, but I think it also has to do with how interesting life downstairs was despite the mundane chore of cleaning mud off Elizabeth’s petticoats. The book didn’t exactly line up with my expectation, but I ended up loving it even more so because of that fact as we are introduced to an inventive world where the lives of the servants not their employers take center stage.
There wasn’t a single, new character I didn’t like — the mysterious James Smith, the naive Polly, the cautious yet curious Sarah — and I was surprised to connect so much with them given how much I love the original characters. While the novel doesn’t copy the style of Austen’s original — more romance than examination of life during this time period — the story Baker weaves for those characters that are referenced in the original novel fits in seamlessly adding rather than detracting from the original novel.
And I was so pleased to see how the servants agreed with some of my own ideas about those living upstairs, particularly as to whom Mr. Collins should have married. While I didn’t agree with all of their feelings towards those upstairs, it did give me something new to think about. Almost like having a conversation with readers of the original novel, which is something I love to do. Mr. Bennet takes on a characterization I think actually enhances who he is in the original novel rather than detracts as I have seen others state.(less)
Right about the time this book was published I discovered that my grandmother creates sequels to Austen’s classic in her head just like I do. It was f...moreRight about the time this book was published I discovered that my grandmother creates sequels to Austen’s classic in her head just like I do. It was fun to dream up our own version of Darcy and Elizabeth’s life together when we were together over Thanksgiving break. She was so excited to read this book particularly because like the rest of my family she loves mysteries/crime thrillers. I think she was more excited to read this one than I was, and I think she liked it more than I did.
I was surprised at how spunky Elizabeth took a backseat in this tale. It’s all Darcy, all the time. And even Darcy looses the deep characterization Austen gave him. Actually, nearly as the characters I know and love have become shadows of their former selves. Those looking for a competent Pride and Prejduice sequel may be disappointed. Yet, at the same time, those looking for a compelling mystery novel will also be disappointed. It’s not all bad as the book did keep me largely engaged throughout a long flight cross country. It’s just not the best out there.(less)
Abandoning this book at the 100 page mark because I just cannot suspend disbelief and believe that Darcy would propose marriage in order to provide El...moreAbandoning this book at the 100 page mark because I just cannot suspend disbelief and believe that Darcy would propose marriage in order to provide Elizabeth with a bed. Just cannot believe it. (less)
Previously published as And This Our Life, which I have already read. Do not know if it's a good thing (due to editing) or a bad thing that I did not...morePreviously published as And This Our Life, which I have already read. Do not know if it's a good thing (due to editing) or a bad thing that I did not recognize the story until working on my review.
Aidan’s trilogy is probably the best retelling of Pride and Prejudice through Darcy’s point of view. As I said in my review of the third book in the s...moreAidan’s trilogy is probably the best retelling of Pride and Prejudice through Darcy’s point of view. As I said in my review of the third book in the series, These Three Remain, Aidan has “a good sense of who Darcy was as a whole person, how he thought, what drove him to do the things he did, the type of brother and friend he was. So many others just steal all of the conversations from Austen and then add in the thoughts they think were going through Colin Firth’s or Matthew Mcfayden’s head as he played Darcy.”
An Assembly such as This focuses on Darcy’s time at Netherfield — his interactions with Elizabeth during the first assembly, Jane’s illness and Elizabeth’s time at Netherfield, Mr. Bingley’s ball — but it also introduces Darcy’s relationship with his sister, the feelings of regret and guilt over what transpired between Georgiana and Wickham. It’s the beginning of Darcy’s transformation from the proud man we saw at the first assembly to the humbled man at the end, a transformation Austen barely touched upon.
I’ve always wondering what Darcy was thinking the first time he met Elizabeth or when he realized that she had overheard his “not handsome enough to tempt me” comment, and Aidan does a great job of making believable situations that only build upon Austen’s original. She maintains the original language that doesn’t feel forced or out of place amongst twenty-first century wordage. This trilogy is one of my favorite series, and An Assembly Such as This is the second best in the series.(less)
While Elizabeth hasn’t completely turned into her mother, she has become quite the matchmaker in Moffat’s sequel, Mistress of Pemberley. This sequel b...moreWhile Elizabeth hasn’t completely turned into her mother, she has become quite the matchmaker in Moffat’s sequel, Mistress of Pemberley. This sequel beings two and a half years after Pride and Prejudice with the funeral of Mrs. Bennet. I was concerned at first that without Mrs. Bennet there would be very little conflict and comedic relief, but Moffat quickly gets Darcy, Elizabeth, and Catherine de Bourgh back on speaking terms and introduces Catherine’s daughter, Anne, as a major source of conflict and plot. Elizabeth wants Anne and Georgiana, now the closest of cousins and friends, to be as blissfully happy as she is with Darcy. The only thing that would make her even more happier is a child, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for her and Darcy. Although, it’s apparent he may already have a son.
I would have given Mistress of Pemberley a solid four-stars had it not been for the typos and mistakes within the story that had me questioning how much Moffat really knows Pride and Prejudice. It’s nothing major — she knows her characters and the plot line — but when Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet are discussing baby names for Charlotte Collins’ daughter, Mr. Bennet says he and his wife never considered the name Catherine for one of their daughters. Um, Kitty is a nickname for Catherine. This mistake is something that stuck with me, and the typos include Elizabeth mistakenly referring to her childhood home as Netherfield and Pemberley or being called by her maiden name after marriage.
What I did love was Moffat’s interpretations of the characters of Mr. Bennet and Anne de Bourgh. I always wondered how Mr. Bennet came to marry Mrs. Bennet, and it was nice to see how his life after her death. Anne’s transformation from sickly and shy is believable as it slowly comes about; it’s just wonderfully written. Just don’t expect to see any of Charlotte, other than through mention by other characters, or Colonel Fitzwilliam.(less)
I’ve always wondered what would have happened had Darcy not fled from Rosings after his disastrous proposal, and Abigail Reynolds attempts to answer t...moreI’ve always wondered what would have happened had Darcy not fled from Rosings after his disastrous proposal, and Abigail Reynolds attempts to answer that question in By Force of Instinct. This “what if?” novel is packed with misunderstandings, more pride, and more prejudice.
While I would consider this one Abigail Reynolds best Pride and Prejudice variations, I really did not like her portrayal of Georgiana or Mr. Bennet. Thankfully, Mr. Bennet isn’t in the story enough to really detract, but Georgiana is a major player in By Force of Instinct. She’s also malicious, vengeful, and bitter. Some of her bitterness is easy to stomach; Darcy is allowed to marry Elizabeth, who is “beneath him,” but Georgiana could not marry the man who is beneath her. But the majority of it is over-the-top. It makes for great controversy and plot line, but it is a deviation from the character presented to us by Jane Austen. There’s also the little problem of the “love shack” Darcy sets up for himself and Elizabeth.
I enjoyed By Force of Instinct, but it’s certainly not for Austen purists. It’s diverting and enjoyable only if you don’t mind of a few twists and distortions.(less)