Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars!
Source: Gift from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation, Mature Audiences
TIME FRAME: April 1812, Mr. Darcy’s first appearance in Meryton
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet. Mr. Darcy, Georgiana Darcy, Charles Bingley, Richard Fitzwilliam, George Wickham, Lady Catherine, and a bunch of original creations – Lady Ashcroft, Gisela Darcy, Lord Landingham , and John Wilkens
SYNOPSIS: Darcy meets Elizabeth in a bookshop in Meryton and it is love-at-first-sight for both of them. No insult, no pride, no prejudice. What separates them from being happy and in love together? Darcy is entrapped in marriage with another woman who threatens him with scandal and disgrace.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Darcy’s Hands Are Tied!: Sure there are many times we’ve seen Darcy unable to follow his heart – either because of rejection, competition, family interference, etc. But this has to be one of the few times where I’ve seen Darcy’s hands truly tied. As a married man, he can’t pursue Elizabeth – he isn’t the type to have a mistress and his horribly wicked wife threatens ruin for Georgiana and the Darcy name if he divorces her. Knowing how rare and difficult divorce was in this time period, this seemed like an impossibly helpless situation that brought me to the brink of despair…lucky for me things got better!
- Unique Adventure: This is not Pride and Prejudice as we know it. While the characters and many personalities and situations are familiar, this is an imaginative departure from Jane Austen’s canon. I love how the premise for this story is unlike any other I’ve read before. Darcy married to an evil witch of a woman? Dark family secrets about the Darcy family? It is brave, dramatic, and wonderfully intriguing.
- Elizabeth Bennet Is My Hero: While Elizabeth acknowledges that her heart belongs to another, she travels to London to prove to Jane (who is heartbroken and morose) that it is possible to receive an offer of marriage without much of a dowry or connections. But instead of being her surrogate mother and confidant, Aunt Gardiner is pushing her to accept the addresses of an unpleasant and foul-tempered soon-to-be earl. What I loved most about this Elizabeth, was her strength. She never gave into gloom and despair (like Jane did) and she always thought for herself (even when everyone in her life was trying to sway her differently). She was so strong, so brave, so inspiring!
- Audrey and Marshall: Out of all the new characters introduced in this story, these two are my favorite! I love their individual stories and pasts, and the storyline that brings them together. They are intriguing characters who could not but help earn my admiration and sympathy! I definitely wouldn’t have minded seeing more of them!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Balance and Pacing: Only a minor complaint. There were a few storylines that seemed to move a bit slowly, or perhaps they felt slow since plans or events discussed would take several chapters to finally take place (i.e. Ramsgate). And once in awhile some scenes and conversations felt redundant because they illustrated the same point made by an earlier scene. In addition, some storylines felt a little hurried towards the end. (I would have loved to witness a final confrontation with Lady C!)
Poignant and dramatic – this enthralling Pride and Prejudice variation is sure to please readers who delight in seeing Darcy and Elizabeth conquer insurmountable obstacles and love each other fiercely! I love Ms. Webb’s epic, inventive, and exhilarating approach to these characters! While there is some unhappiness and despair, the tender and special moments Darcy and Elizabeth share together are heartwarming and beautiful!
There are several intimate scenes in this story – not very frequent or graphic though. And there are some scenes of mild violence. Would recommend for Mature Audiences.