Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In her latest retelling of Pride and Prejudice, author Maria Grace gives readers a refreshingly different Darcy and Elizabeth tale to enjoy. Similar to Ms. Grace’s Given Good Principles series, Remember the Past does not follow the Pride and Prejudice canon – there are altered personalities, new characters, different situations, and less focus on pride, prejudice, and first impressions. These novels are perfect for readers who want something that stands out and is dissimilar to many of the JAFF novels out there. But this novel may not be the favorite of readers who don’t like it when much license is taken with Jane Austen’s characters and plots.
The premise for Remember the Past is wholly unique – Mr. Bennet is actually Admiral Bennet, a widower with a successful career in the navy, substantial wealth, and the father of two daughters and two younger sons. The Bennet family purchased an estate in Derbyshire and are neighbors with those in residence at Pemberley – which includes a widowed Mr. Darcy, his mother-in-law Lady Catherine, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Georgiana, and Darcy’s two young sons. These two families begin to form fast and strong friendships, and more than one romantic attachment begins to blossom. However, when Darcy’s childhood friend George Wickham is hired as steward for Mr. Bennet’s estate these budding relationships are put to the test…
As stated above, there are quite a few differences with characters and their traits with this Pride and Prejudice retelling. Even though this made some of these characters less recognizable, I did enjoy seeing these unique changes. Instead of being negligent and sarcastic, Admiral Bennet is a blustery and stalwart navy-man who runs his household with military precision. His daughters have connections, dowries, and know how to protect themselves with knifes or swords. And probably the most striking alteration is with Lady Catherine, who is strong-willed but far more loving, kind, and maternal than Jane Austen’s Lady C by far.
One of my favorite elements of the story were the new original characters Maria Grace crafted. I loved the four young boys. Oh, how I love to see Darcy and Elizabeth interact with children. (It melts my heart! :)) I enjoyed witnessing several lovely and tender moments with these young children and our dear couple. I also greatly enjoyed Piper, Admiral Bennet’s man who is gruff and menacing on the outside, but loyal, dependable, and caring inside, he is such an integral part of the Bennet family.
My main issue with this novel and the reason it is not receiving a higher rating is because I felt it was too fast-paced and a little underdeveloped. Yes, fast pacing is a good thing in a story – it means things are exciting and riveting – but if the story proceeds at too quick a pace it can diminish development. And that’s what I felt in this case – Darcy conquered his scruples quickly, the couples in love reached understandings easily, and any obstacles in their path were swiftly overcome. I would have loved to explore deeper into these characters and feel more emotional connection to them. Learning more about their pasts would have helped I think, almost each character has past experiences that impacted their lives. Seeing some flashbacks of these experiences and internal introspection would have aided in making the characters more complex and dimensional.
Imaginative, distinct, and romantic – Remember the Past is a wonderful choice for readers who have read dozens and maybe even hundreds of Pride and Prejudice inspired novels and is looking for something new. 🙂 As always, I love seeing how Maria Grace plays with and creatively alters these beloved characters and their stories! However, my favorites of hers remain the first two books in the Given Good Principles series. 🙂