Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Alternate Path
TIME FRAME: A couple of months after Darcy’s proposal at Hunsford Parsonage
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Lady Eleanor Carlisle (original), Lord Charles Carlisle (original), George Paxton (original), Dowager Marchioness (original), and Lord and Lady Bentham (originals)
SYNOPSIS: What if Elizabeth didn’t have a “very strong local attachment?” What if she wasn’t “always at Longbourn?” What if Lizzy spent much of her childhood as a playmate and resident companion to the daughter of a Marquess. Now, six years after her last visit with dear Lady Eleanor, (and a couple of months after Mr. Darcy’s disastrous proposal at Hunsford Parsonage) Elizabeth returns to Bentham Park to find none other than the “last man in the world” she’d ever want to encounter again!
WHAT I LOVED:
- A Change of Cast/A Change of Scenery: No Bennets, Bingleys, Gardiners, or Wickhams. No Jane, Charles, Georgiana, or Colonel Fitzwilliam. No Longbourn, Pemberley, Rosings, or Netherfield. Abigail Reynolds takes her readers to a wholly new and original location – Bentham Park and introduces readers to a whole new cast of characters.
- Intriguing New Characters: Such dynamic and well-drawn original characters! The Carlisles – a noble, titled family – consists of a son in exile, another son whose rakish habits rival Henry Crawford, a rebellious daughter in love with an unsuitable man, an evil step mother, and a strong matriarch who loves to give commands. I loved all these new characters, especially Lord Charles – I can’t help but like the idea of a bad boy trying to turn good.
- Mr. Darcy – A True Gentleman: Fiercely loyal and protective of his friends and loved ones, honorable and noble even in the most difficult of predicaments, principled and respectful – Elizabeth Bennet can hardly find reason to accuse Mr. Darcy of being ungentlemanly in this novel! I just loved seeing him act so heroically and honorably! So many excellent traits to admire and love! He even shows some vulnerability in this novel – your heart doesn’t stand a chance!
- A Variety of Influences and Inspirations: Henry Crawford, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Lady Bracknell, Downton Abbey – such a wonderful and intriguing array of influences and inspirations. I loved spotting the echoes and references to all these great works and characters whether they were intended or not.
- Ton Manners and Practices: In this novel there is talk of entrapment, extramarital affairs, duels, and gambling bets gone bad. We are no longer in the quiet country parlors of Jane Austen, but in the more worldly and scandal-ridden drawing rooms of the upper-class. It did in some ways feel very much like a Georgette Heyer novel.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Not. A. Thing. 😀
- This novel does not contain mature sex scenes as many of Abigail Reynolds’s other novels do. There is some passionate kissing and sensuality, but the only article of clothing being removed is…Lizzy’s hairpins *sigh*
In my opinion, Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections is quite different from Ms. Reynolds’s other splendid Pemberley Variations. But different in a good way! I thoroughly enjoyed her refreshing departure from the Pride and Prejudice canon, inventive new characters, and exciting new plot twists! Well done, Abigail Reynolds!
**Want to see what other people thought of Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections? You can read our group read discussions HERE!
20 out of 30 completed!