A Marriage with Trials and Obstacles
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
It is often depicted that Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet live in a fairy-tale world in which everyone is in perfect harmony and incandescently happy. Furthermore, Darcy and Elizabeth are frequently portrayed to have an ideal and flawless marriage where they never face any misfortunes or complications. This is not the case in Volume One of Mary L. Sherwood’s A Marriage Worth the Earning series. Ms. Sherwoods illustrates a marriage that contains strife, misconception, and outside negative forces. Her tale is one that is not frequently told and by comparison is a little bit darker and poignant than other Pride and Prejudice sequels. Jane Austen, an acute observer of human nature and folly, created a flawed Lizzy and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, isn’t it feasible these characters would continue to possess flaws and perhaps have a little difficulty adapting to their new roles of husband and wife?
After spending two wonderful and interrupted weeks together, it is now time for the honeymoon to be over for Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. Elizabeth needs to undertake the role of Mistress of Pemberley, and Darcy needs to attend to his estate affairs, which were much neglected during his honeymoon. While sorting through her abundance of correspondence, Elizabeth discovers a missive from Lydia Bennet Wickham. Lydia divulges that she knows about Georgiana’s near elopement with Wickham and demands money. Deciding to keep her husband in the dark about this, Lizzy attempts to send money to the Wickham’s from her monthly stipend. However, this situation takes a turn for the worse when Wickham blackmails Elizabeth into sending even more money by threatening to expose Georgiana’s past and harm Lydia and her unborn child. But when the wrong person discovers that Lizzy is being blackmailed by Wickham, they decide to use this information for their own nefarious purpose.
Even though Darcy has worked towards improving himself since his rejection at Hunsford Parsonage, his temper and officious manner towards the servants and herself has Elizabeth greatly perturbed. After many years of being the Master Pemberley, Darcy has grown accustomed to having his commands heeded, but Elizabeth is not one to be bossed around. In addition, jealousy and doubt flare up in Mr. Darcy when he perceives that Colonel Fitzwilliam may be in love with his wife. Darcy is then plagued with the question: “Would Elizabeth have said yes if Colonel Fitzwilliam asked her to marry him first?”
Ms. Sherwood introduces some stimulating and antagonistic characters that become negative forces in Lizzy and Darcy’s marriage. We meet Collette Caldecott, a great beauty who grew up with Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Collette is bold, flirtatious, unbridled and attacks Elizabeth with suggestive comments about Darcy. Elizabeth, while trying to maintain composure and quell her insecurities, can’t help but wonder if this alluring and confident woman was apart of Darcy’s past and if she means anything to him now? We are also introduced to the Earl of Matlock and his charming wife, as well as their older son, Lord Hazelton and his not so charming wife… Lord and Lady Hazelton are disappointed with Darcy’s choice in wife, and they create difficulties for the Darcy’s in two separate ways. Lord Hazelton, a lecherous and licentious man, usually gets whatever he wants; and what he wants is Elizabeth Darcy to share his bed with him. Because of his attraction to her shapely figure and spirited personality, Lord Hazelton pursues any opportunity he has be alone with her. As for Lady Hazelton, she convinces Lady Catherine and Lord Matlock that Georgiana’s future is in danger and that her guardians (Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam) are unsuitable an insufficient. What a dilemma for Darcy and Fitzwilliam when they discover Lady Catherine’s devious scheme to secure Georgiana’s future!
However, not all the characters cause tribulation or discord for Darcy and Elizabeth. Colonel Fitzwilliam is supportive and sympathetic towards Elizabeth, and he helps comfort Darcy when he is distraught. In addition, Charles and Jane Bingley provide much needed assistance, protection, and resolution. (I admired how the author portrayed Charles as brave and strong instead of immature and awkward, I also loved the scene where he comes to the rescue!)
My one criticism for this book is that sometimes there were too many conflicts and obstacles for the Darcy’s to face. While I don’t believe that Darcy and Elizabeth had a perfect marriage, I do believe that they would not let the little things in life mar their happiness, and that they would try to settle any quarrels they have before going to sleep. I greatly enjoyed the antagonistic characters and conflicts that were introduced in the book, I felt they were realistic and captivating. However, the little disputes and misunderstanding that occurred between Darcy and Elizabeth in the beginning of the book seemed too disheartening and perhaps were unnecessary. I preferred when Darcy and Elizabeth faced rivals such as Collette Caldecott and Lord Hazelton rather than being at odds with each other.
Ms. Sherwood’s novel of Darcy and Elizabeth is one I took much pleasure in reading. It was a leisurely paced novel with plenty of details and day-to-day occurrences. I enjoyed her wonderful and reverent rendering of Jane Austen’s characters, as well as her well-developed and creative character additions. Furthermore, I loved the secondary romantic love story she initiates between two characters, and I hope it will be cultivated and accentuated in her next installment. I eagerly anticipate Mary Sherwood’s next novel and am happy to have this lovely and genuine tale of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy in my collection.