Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation
TIME FRAME: 21 years after Elizabeth and the Gardiners visit Pemberley
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, George Wickham, Lord Matlock (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Lady Matlock (Anne de Bourgh), Sir Frederick (a.k.a. Dr. Wilson, master of Ramsey House)
- What if Darcy, no matter how hard he tried, was not successful in recovering Lydia and saving the Bennets from scandal?
- What if nine months after her flight from Brighton, Lydia finally returned to Longbourn, in tatters and mentally disturbed?
- What if twenty years later finds Darcy, suffering from severe melancholia and an eccentric recluse battling insomnia and alcoholism?
This variation kind of put me in mind of It’s A Wonderful Life, but like a Pride and Prejudice version – what if Darcy never saved the Bennet family from scandal and shame, what would become of them? How many characters would have altered fates because of the change in Lydia’s fate?
WHAT I LOVED:
- This Poignant and Riveting Premise: Disgraced Bennets, a mad Mr. Darcy, twenty years of separation for our dear couple. When have we seen such a unique combination of elements in a Pride and Prejudice variation?!? Truly a brilliant and original concept! And kudos to Alexa Adams for executing it perfectly – these alterations didn’t feel outlandish or out of character.
- A Historical Fiction Read: Besides being a poignant tale of past regrets and harsh trials, this story includes much that enlightens and educates the reader about mental illness in the 19th century – the conditions of madhouses and asylums, and the popular treatments and various schools of thought regarding mental illness at the time. It is evident that Alexa Adams thoroughly did her research with this novel, and I think her efforts made this story all the more interesting.
- The Narrative Voice: Ever since reading First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice in 2010 I have been impressed with Alexa Adams’s knack for emulating Jane Austen’s witty and ironic voice. I love her narrative asides, sharp social commentary, and humorous observations. Just look at the dry humor she employs in this tale…
Darcy suddenly asked, “I am surprised Anne agreed to this scheme of yours at all, Richard. Surely she invoked my late aunt’s shock at the notion?”
Richard smiled with genuine good humor. “Anne is always careful to ensure Lady Catherine receives her share of the conversation…” page 48
- Familiar Friends: I always love it when an author mix together characters from different Jane Austen novels. It was wonderful to see Mr. Darcy encounter Maria Rushworth, Lady Elliot, and Mr. John Knightley and to learn what brings them all to Ramsey House. In fact I loved all the quirky and eccentric characters assembled in Ramsey House and the attention paid them. I also loved seeing their interactions with one another – the games, the experiments, the conversations. They were a colorful and endearing bunch.
- Everlasting Love: The romance in this story was so pleasing to witness. Both Darcy and Elizabeth remain fervently devoted to each other through all their trials, hardships, and years of separation. The journey each of them has been on is emotional and heart-wrenching, but to see the constant love they have for each other is deeply satisfying. I love how Elizabeth wanted to see Darcy again, I loved seeing her defend him and protect him from the other Ramsey House guests, and I especially loved her letters. I greatly enjoyed how Ms. Adams depicted both Darcy and Elizabeths internal feelings, private thoughts, and reactions to being once in each others’ company. Just brilliant.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Ummmm….that it ended?? Can’t really find anything I didn’t like…was so sorry to see this story come to an end!
Alexa Adams created a compelling and unique journey for our dear couple to traverse and I truly loved every minute of it! The ending was pure satisfaction in every sense of the word – all past sorrows were erased and I felt each character experienced healing and peace. I highly recommend this exquisitely crafted variation!