What if Elizabeth Was Jane’s Determined Champion?
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In her latest Pride and Prejudice alternate path, P. O. Dixon asks the question: What if Jane was too dejected to follow Bingley to London? What if Jane lost hope, lost her spirit, and was in the process of losing herself…
Elizabeth, filled with anxiety and concern, takes Jane’s place in London determined to find Mr. Bingley and tell him of her poor, lovelorn sister’s state. She is certain that this misunderstanding is the result of Mr. Bingley’s pernicious sister and her self-serving manipulations! Elizabeth will not let Caroline Bingley, Mr. Darcy, or the bounds of decorum get in her way…
While I applaud and admire P. O. Dixon for creating so daring a divergent path for Darcy and Elizabeth to traverse, I must admit to finding bits of the premise a little implausible. (You all know I can suspend my disbelief and that I’m relatively open-minded when it comes to Pride and Prejudice variations and alternate paths). However, as much as I tried, there were some elements of this novel that I just couldn’t get behind, such as Jane Bennet – for her to be so bitter,sullen, and absorbed in her own pain seemed too drastic a personality alternation. She was almost unrecognizable. Moreover, other aspects like Elizabeth naïvely thinking Darcy had nothing to with Bingley’s departure, Darcy forced to intimately tend to Elizabeth when she falls ill, and Darcy being so immovable to Elizabeth’s requests (even after he acknowledges his feelings for her) asked me to suspend my disbelief a little too much.
I found other aspects of this short novel a bit more to my liking, such as Elizabeth’s relationship with Mary. I always love seeing authors do more with Mary, she has the potential to be both clever and comical! In this novel, Elizabeth asks Mary to look after Jane during her absence. I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth interact with Mary more (instead of completely ignoring her) and I had to laugh out loud at Mary’s chiding yet inquisitive correspondence with Elizabeth:
“With that being said, in no way do I pardon your decision to seek out the gentleman from Netherfield Park to ascertain the workings of his heart as regards our eldest sister. I, like Jane, believe his actions speak to his purposes.
My feelings on the matter, however, in no way preclude my curiosity in hearing of your success in your undertaking…”
Moreover, I took great pleasure in Lord Latham and Lady Gwendolyn, who are some original characters created by P. O. Dixon. I thought they were well-drawn characters that added an intriguing new twist to the story. Lady Gwendolyn, just like Miss Bingley, has had her eye on Mr. Darcy for quite some time, but unlike Miss Bingley, she is actually a very likable character who befriends Elizabeth. And even more unlike Miss Bingley, Mr. Darcy considers her a marriageable prospect. It is always fun to see what drama is produced when yet another woman enters the “Mr. Darcy is Mine” arena!
Even though Bewitched, Body and Soul isn’t my favorite work by P. O. Dixon (that title belongs to He Taught Me to Hope), I still enjoyed my time reading it. In my opinion, P. O. Dixon writes some of the most inventive and original alternate paths for Pride and Prejudice. Regardless of my quibbles over this novel, I remain an admirer of Ms. Dixon’s work and I greatly anticipate reading her newest release, Matter of Trust: The Shades of Pemberley, which is now available!