Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy form Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation
TIME FRAME: A couple days after the Netherfield Ball
MAIN CHARACTERS: The Bennet family, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Bingley
SYNOPSIS: After learning that he might not live beyond a year or so more, Mr. Bennet decides to do what he didn’t do all along – manage his daughters, take responsibility for their futures, and economize. His new plans include masters, hours of study, budgets, and not rejecting any marriage proposals from “respectable and solvent” suitors. This includes Mr. Darcy, who – you guessed it – proposes to Elizabeth while she is in Kent!
WHAT I LOVED:
- A Different Mr. Bennet: I really enjoyed seeing Mr. Bennet in action! He was decisive, firm, and clever. I loved seeing how he convinced Mrs. Bennet to join him on his plans and how he handled Lydia’s disobedience (we all know she had it coming!) In this story Mr. Bennet is a much more prominent figure and very much in the center of the story’s conflict since he faces some guilt and uncertainty about Elizabeth’s marriage to Mr. Darcy. I loved spending more time with Mr. Bennet and witnessing how he can effect such a change in his family if he takes the trouble. Especially with Mrs. Bennet!
- Jane Bennet: This story is mostly Darcy and Elizabeth centric (you won’t see much of Wickham, Lady Catherine, or Caroline), with some spotlight on Jane Bennet as her father tries to open her eyes to the unpleasant but realistic aspects of human nature. I loved how important it was to Mr. Bennet to give Jane this education and I enjoyed how it made her look at her suitors differently.
- An Enamored Darcy: Who doesn’t love to see Darcy so besotted and ardently in love? It’s too adorable! I loved seeing his joy in being betrothed to Elizabeth, how he was so ready to give his heart to her, and his patience with her while he waited for her to return some of the affection and love he has for her. I loved the scenes with the letters and when Darcy would steal some kisses (especially the ‘man full grown’ kind!) Be ready to fall in love again, readers!
- Gently and Awkwardly: I would describe this tale as low-angst and low-drama. Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s relationship is not one fraught with tension, high emotion, or turbulence. Darcy is endearingly sweet as he tries to win Elizabeth’s heart, and Elizabeth – while wary and uncertain about her future with Darcy – spends her time trying to learn more about him and understand his character instead of focusing on her discontent. I enjoyed how awkward it felt – they are on different pages and their feelings for each other are not equal. But the course of the relationship did change, not swiftly and dramatically, more gentle and gradual. I thought this was a beautiful and realistic portrayal of how our beloved couple would act in such a situation.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Elizabeth on Repeat: Just a minor quibble really. In this story Elizabeth frequently needed to know the plan and receive explanations of the future – what is the plan for marriage, what is the plan for the wedding trip, what kind of marriage does Darcy envision them having, etc. I don’t mind Elizabeth wanting to learn more about her future and having some uncertainties, but it started to feel a little bit repetitious at some points.
WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THIS STORY: Mr. Bennet has left the sanctuary of his library and is a man of decision, action, and force.
Unwilling is a beautifully charming Pride and Prejudice variation that examines the potential of the Bennet family to improve themselves and the effect of such improvements. Readers who want to see Mr. Bennet as an active father and husband and Mr. Darcy as an ardent and understanding suitor should definitely give this lovely book a try!