Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisherr
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Variation
TIME FRAME: Begins with Lady Catherine’s visit to Elizabeth at Longbourn
MAIN CHARACTERS: Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Georgiana Darcy, Lady Catherine, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Gardiner, Mrs. Gardiner, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and others
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
- I adored the first two variations I read by Jan Hahn – An Arranged Marriage and The Journey – I even named The Journey as one of my top favorites in 2012.
- This premise sounds just as daring and challenging as The Secret Betrothal (which I also enjoyed!), and if anyone can pull such a premise off – it would be Jan Hahn.
WHAT I LOVED:
- The Brave Premise: When I first read the synopsis for A Peculiar Connection, I must admit I felt hesitant – such a divergence, such a shocking revelation, is it going too far? But when I remembered how well Jan Hahn handled a daring premise before, I knew that even though this plot would be very bold and different, it would also be executed thoughtfully and skillfully. I was not wrong. The proposed idea of Darcy and Elizabeth having a closer familial connection was not unbelievable and even though it is such a strong departure from Jane Austen’s original plot, Jan Hahn did a marvelous job tying in as many connections as possible.
- Elizabeth Explains it All: This story is told solely from Lizzy’s point-of-view and readers are privy to every thought and feeling she experiences. Lizzy goes through a tumult of emotions in this variation, Lady Catherine drops a sizable bombshell on her that destroys her happiness and all her newly realized dreams for her future. Not to mention alters her views about herself and her past. These new realities are difficult for Elizabeth to accept, and I thought the portrayal of her struggle, despondency, and anger to be very realistic and believable in such a situation. While so many variations show how Darcy suffers internally with his feelings and battles his demons, this book revealingly highlights Elizabeth’s inner turmoil and conflict.
- Exploring History and Mystery: With just scraps of clues and hardly any reliable source alive that can shed light on what happened 20 years ago, Darcy and Elizabeth embark on a mission to find answers. Looking through attics, journals, paintings, and letters they try to piece together the Darcy family history and uncover the mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s birth. I loved the intrigue, the hunt for answers, the slow unraveling of truth. In addition, I loved the focus on the Darcy family ancestry, the journeys to distant locales, and the integration of important religious issues of the day.
- Torturous Yet Tender: Until Darcy and Elizabeth can successfully and irrevocably disprove Lady Catherine’s allegations, their relationship is fraught with tension, denial, and guilt. While each suspects the other may have strong feelings, they both must suppress them because to express them would be unthinkable. I loved the dichotomous balance of seeing Darcy and Elizabeth grow closer to each other and then push away, witnessing their increasing tenderness and affection, yet at the same time seeing them overwhelmed with despair and yearning. If you worry that this story will be too dark and angsty, don’t fear, there are plenty scenes of sweetness and romance to balance it all out!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Hmmm. Don’t really have anything I wasn’t fond of… If anything, I would have loved to learn more about Darcy’s feelings and thoughts after Lady Catherine dropped her bomb, but with a first person POV that probably wasn’t possible.
Jan Hahn once again pushes the envelope and fearlessly takes on a most challenging and almost inconceivable plot with her latest variation, A Peculiar Connection. Her skilled story-telling and thoughtful, emotive prose are definitely something to marvel and admire! A thoroughly poignant, heart-wrenching, and memorable tale! I highly recommend!