Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
After almost eleven years of wedded bliss, Elizabeth Darcy wakes up from a head injury not remembering anything beyond the Hunsford proposal. Darcy’s offensive and arrogant proposal and her vehement rejection is the last encounter she remembers with the loathsome man she apparently married many years ago. With four children in their household and one on the way, Elizabeth’s injury and memory-loss are taken very seriously. She is forced to submit to bedrest to protect her unborn baby and ensure her strength during its delivery. Elizabeth has much to learn about all the events of her life in the past eleven years, but the event she finds most unfathomable is how she became married to the last man in the world she “could ever be prevailed upon to marry”…
Poor Mr. Darcy is forced to revert to one of the most painful times of his life. A time where his love was unreturned and his chances of future happiness seemed very improbable. His wife does not currently return any feelings of love and affection towards him. In fact, she very much mistrusts him, dislikes him, and perpetually assumes the worst about him. And that is where the crux of the problem lies:
“You cannot recall choosing me. You do not recall my making myself acceptable to you. Our joys, our triumphs, our fears, ours suffering are unknown to you. Elizabeth, you are trapped in a life you did not wish for, one you violently rejected.” (page 158)
Gah!!! Isn’t that heart-wrenching?!? And so like Darcy to see how all of this is perceived by her, to understand how she must view him, and to cautiously keep away in accordance with her unspoken wishes. One of the things I loved most about this imaginative and poignant story was witnessing the tender and compassionate actions of a most incomparable Mr. Darcy. A Mr. Darcy that is utterly selfless and giving. A reflective Mr. Darcy that sees the flaws in his own character and upbringing and thoughtfully decides to do differently by his children. How easy it was to once again fall irrevocably in love with Mr. Darcy in this tale!
I applaud Ms. Galvia for dreaming up such a creative premise. Many authors show Darcy and Elizabeth deal with their misunderstandings and conflicts before becoming engaged or as newlyweds, but not many show Darcy and Elizabeth facing some discord and distance after several years of marriage. It was an interesting premise to explore, especially as it uncovers and slowly reveals the past experiences of these two characters. I thought the myriad of Elizabeth’s feelings and reactions such as confusion, doubt, frustration, guilt, pity, respect, and admiration were all eloquently represented. I truly enjoyed the slow progression of Elizabeth’s emotional development. Just because she loved Mr. Darcy in the past doesn’t mean she can easily will herself to do so now. And with her expressive portrayal of Mr. Darcy’s anguish and affection my heart felt his pain and was warmed by his exemplary devotion.
Another element I enjoyed in this tale were all the little details included to give readers some history of the Darcys’ lives up until this point. I loved learning about their children and witnessing their individual personalities and proclivities. And being privy to some of the letters Elizabeth received and wrote was an exceptionally lovely touch; it revealed a lot about the past to Elizabeth and the reader. Nothing in this story was extraneous; it all helped fill in the gaps of the past and complete the picture of Elizabeth’s life.
Emotive, articulate, and exquisitely rendered – Side by Side, Apart is a phenomenal debut release by Ann Galvia! It introduces some realism and turmoil into the Darcys’ lives – which may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but for my part, I often delight in Pride and Prejudice tales that are more inventive and daring. Especially when they are beautifully and thoughtfully composed like this one! I highly recommend!