Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Alternate Path, Mature Audience
TIME FRAME: A couple of months before the death of Mr. Darcy (senior) – 1807. Several years before the beginning of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Jane Bennet, Charles Bingley, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Lord and Lady Matlock, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Viscount Layton, Mr. Harwick, Mr. Stewart, Georgiana Darcy, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Anne de Bourgh, Caroline Bingley, George Wickham
SYNOPSIS: Over the course of two years Darcy and Elizabeth keep catching small glimpses of each other around London. They exchange looks and smiles, but never seem to be able to talk. In these two years, both experience a lot of sadness, heartache, and stress. During such dark times, they live off of the precious memories of each other and hopeful dreams of meeting again. Will the reality live up to their dreams? What stands in their way of happiness?
WHAT I LOVED:
- Sweet and Sentimental: I adored the premise of Darcy and Elizabeth knowing just little crumbs and tiny scraps of information about each other, yet falling deeply in love. I loved how they kept private journals that held all their romantic notions and secret longings. And I loved how they both tried to learn about each other from other sources! Such adorable romantics!
- The Relationships: There are soooo many heart-warming and inspiring relationships in this novel! Some of my favorites include: Elizabeth’s relationship with Mrs. Gardiner, Darcy’s relationship with his father and Lord Matlock, and Darcy’s relationships with his friends and cousins. Such excellent examples of friendship, guidance, and love!
- The Original Characters: Some charming possible suitors for Elizabeth and Jane, a couple reprobate Fitzwilliam cousins, and the wives who put up with them – I greatly enjoyed meeting these well-drawn, engaging, and entertaining characters! I hope we see more of the Stewarts, Harwicks, Laytons, and Singletons in Volume Two and Three!
- Jane and Bingley: Linda Wells daringly chose to portray Jane Bennet as having some more flaws! At first, I wasn’t too fond of seeing Jane display some jealousy and vanity, I thought it was out-of-character. But then I realized that no one is perfect, not even serene and beautiful Jane Bennet! I enjoyed seeing Jane go through a little struggle and character development. As to Mr. Bingley – he was just too cute! I loved seeing the beginning of his relationship with Darcy, how he referred to Darcy as his “advisor,” and how he earnestly attempted to play matchmaker between Darcy and Elizabeth. <3
- A Saga of Epic Proportions!: It’s a 500 page volume! With two more installments! I must admit, I was worried I’d find the story’s pacing too slow or the prose too wordy. Nope! Negative on both accounts! It is a very eventful story and instead of summarizing what happens each day, Linda Wells allows her readers to witness it all. I liked being privy to all of Darcy and Elizabeth’ encounters and found myself very satisfied with the leisurely pace of this novel.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- The Loathsome Mrs. Bennet: (This is just a small quibble) As always Mrs. Bennet is vulgar and full of histrionics and gossip. In this novel these traits are accentuated and coupled with verbal abuse and neglect. I don’t find these changes implausible, but I do find Mrs. Bennet’s character to now be entirely loathsome! I know she is a silly character and we are supposed to find her exasperating, but I hope she receives some redemption or reform later on in this series like Mr. Bennet did in Volume One.
- Some intimate and romantic scenes
So far, I find this series to be “excessively diverting!” I took great pleasure exploring this inventive premise and spending some quality time with these charming characters! I wonder what kind of adventures and excitement await in Volume Two: Trials to Bear!
22 out of 30!