What if a Determined Mr. Darcy Returned to Longbourn?
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
To Conquer Mr. Darcy, originally published as Impulse and Initiative in 2008, is another brilliant and impassioned novel in Abigail Reynold’s stellar Pemberley Variations series. The Pemberley Variations series is a collection of Pride and Prejudice re-tellings that asks the question “what if?” In these variations we see how one small change in the plot can alter the course of Pride and Prejudice.
To Conquer Mr. Darcy opens with Colonel Fitzwilliam visiting his cousin, Mr. Darcy, who has been in a withdrawn and black mood ever since he left Rosings. When Colonel Fitzwilliam conceives that Darcy’s taciturn temperament and low spirits are the results of Elizabeth Bennet rejecting his marriage proposal, he scolds him for giving up so easily and urges him to do what ever it takes to win Elizabeth’s heart! Darcy soon receives the opportunity to pursue Elizabeth again when Charles Bingley, newly acquainted with the truth about Jane Bennet, decides to return to Netherfield Park. Surprised that Bingley still wants to remain friends with him after what he has done, Darcy accepts the invitation and brings with him his sister, Georgiana.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself perplexed about her feelings regarding Mr. Darcy. Sometimes she loathes him, sometimes she loathes herself. At times she feels compassion towards his disappointed hopes, while at other times she feels no regret for refusing him. Nonetheless, on one thing Elizabeth is certain… she will most likely never see him again. (Think again, Elizabeth!)
As an avid reader and admirer of Ms. Reynolds’s novels there are a few things I have come to expect when I crack open a novel of hers: First and foremost is that she will deliver a plausible, well-thought, and synchronized variation of Pride and Prejudice; Ms. Reynolds has proven again and again that she knows and loves her Pride and Prejudice! Secondly, I can always expect a lot of tension, emotion, and angst to be infused into her plot. Thirdly, Ms. Reynolds is very adroit in giving great dimension and depth to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Whether she depicts them as playful and passionate or insecure and obstinate, the Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy Ms. Reynolds illustrates are always well-drawn! Lastly, I know to be prepared for a few romantic and passionate scenes. Some readers may be deterred by such scenes appearing in an Austenesque novel, but I have always found them to be more sensual than explicit and not overly abundant.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel was the emotional journey I took with Elizabeth and Darcy. I love being privy to all their thoughts and reactions. Ms. Reynolds always provides plenty of detail and spends an equal amount showing Elizabeth’s perspective as well as Mr. Darcy’s. In To Conquer Mr. Darcy, I took great pleasure in witnessing Darcy strive to improve Elizabeth’s perception of him, while she inadvertently kept jumping to the wrong conclusion. Moreover, I loved observing Elizabeth’s battle between her heart and her mind. Even though she is learning to understand Mr. Darcy’s character, Elizabeth just can’t let go of her former prejudices!
The reason I am giving this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because of Darcy and Elizabeth anticipating their marriage and having premarital relations with each other. While some may feel this incident is very uncharacteristic of these characters in their time period, my main issue with it is that I felt it brought about the climax of the story too early. Having Darcy and Elizabeth marry so early in the story released a lot of the tension that was built up a little too soon.
Regardless, To Conquer Mr. Darcy (Impulse and Initiative) remains one of my favorite variations of Pride and Prejudice and will be one I reread countless times!
THE PEMBERLEY VARIATION SERIES: self-published titles in ( )
– Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (The Last Man in the World)
– To Conquer Mr. Darcy (Impulse and Initiative)
– (By Force of Instinct)
– Mr. Darcy’s Undoing (Without Reserve)
– What Would Mr. Darcy Do? (From Lambton to Longbourn)
– Mr. Darcy’s Obsession (BRAND NEW VARIATION coming out OCTOBER 2010)