Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation
TIME FRAME: Several months before Mr. Bingley signs a lease for Netherfield Park
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and Georgiana Darcy
SYNOPSIS: What if there was no Ramsgate, no overheard insult, and no surprise encounter in Kent? What if Darcy first met Elizabeth Bennet as a nursemaid/stand-in governess for his cousin’s children? And what if Georgiana expressly wished for Darcy to hire Elizabeth as her companion? With her father passed away and Longbourn taken over by the odious Mr. Collins, Elizabeth happily accepts this position, even though she has no experience. Will she find her new employer to be haughty and high-handed? Or will she see him as kind and generous?
WHAT I LOVED:
- Harmony and Happiness at Pemberley: This story takes us to Pemberley and stays there for nearly all of the book, with only slight mentions and visits to Netherfield and Rosings. I loved the focus on Pemberley and sense of idyllic contentment that pervaded this variation as we witnessed Elizabeth, Darcy, and Georgiana find pleasure, peace, and companionship in each other’s company with no interference. Pemberley is such a lovely setting for romance to blossom and I loved seeing the happiness and easy camaraderie between this trio.
- Woven Into Canon: With no Ramsgate, no Mr. Bennet, and no extended visit to Meryton, you may wonder if any of the same events will take place in this variation. Will there be a first proposal? Will Wickham cause any harm? I loved how, even though this story started so drastically different with altered situations for many characters, Joana Starnes found unique and clever ways to tie her variation to Jane Austen’s original canon. Especially her in regards to our favorite foils – Caroline Bingley and Mr. Wickham!
- Tempered Reserve: In many of Joana Starnes’s variations she delivers healthy doses of anguish and heartache to poor Mr. Darcy. But in this variation, the shoe is on the other foot! Mr. Darcy, being proper and honorable, does not give much romantic thought to his sister’s charming and lively companion and is quite slow to recognize his feelings. But Elizabeth, seeing Mr. Darcy in this different perspective, cannot help but admire him and think him “the best of men.” And her admiration easily leads to affection – an affection she tries to suppress and conceal because she knows there is no hope. I really enjoyed seeing Ms. Starnes explore these more reserved and private feelings of yearning and turmoil from Elizabeth’s perspective. AndI loved how she couldn’t resist giving Darcy a bit of torture and agony (which made us love him even more!).
- Georgiana: It is lovely to see Georgiana blossom in this variation. She has her shy reserve, but learns maturity and confidence with Elizabeth as her dear friend and companion. I enjoyed seeing Georgiana grow, think for herself, and become more assertive. Definitely some admirable development for her character!
- New Original Characters: Since we stay mostly at Pemberley, we don’t see much of the Bennets, de Bourghs, and the Bingleys. Instead we are introduced to several new original characters fashioned by Joana Starnes. These characters were well-constructed and interesting as they propelled the plot in various ways. (Note: I loved the helpful New Characters List in the front of the book!)
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
That now I will have an even harder time deciding which story by Joana Starnes is my favorite!
Sensitive, poignant, and gloriously impassioned – skilled storyteller Joana Starnes gifts readers another stellar Pride and Prejudice variation that will once again inspire them to fall deeply and irrevocably in love with Mr. Darcy! While this story might have a little more quiet reserve and suppressed passion, I think it is just as beautiful and stirring! Another brilliant read from Joana Starnes!
Because she is inordinately kind and generous, Joana has sponsored a giveaway of ONE Kindle copy of Miss Darcy’s Companion, for me to giveaway to ONE lucky winner in conjunction with my review!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review and share your favorite book by Joana Starnes (or, if you haven’t read any of her novels yet, which one do you want to read most?)
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Joana!
- This giveaway ends August 18th!