Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation
TIME FRAME: The day of the Netherfield Ball through the following weeks
Desperate times call for desperate measures! Fearful for the future, Mrs. Bennet revises her matchmaking plans for her daughters. Even though there is a strong inclination between Mr. Bingley and Jane, she gives Jane orders to be caught in a compromising position with a different gentleman at the Netherfield Ball. And Elizabeth is no longer pushed towards Mr. Collins, but instead towards someone completely different. Will these new matchmaking plans be successful? Or does Mrs. Bennet embroil everyone into a scheme that leads to broken hearts and ruined reputations?
WHAT I LOVED:
- Interesting Twists: I love it when author decides to shake things up with some clever twists! In this case it was all due to Mrs. Bennet and a discovery she made about Mr. Bennet. It was delightful to see how these changes played out and what other alterations Mrs. Bennet’s actions prompted. I also think it was an accurate supposition at what Mrs. Bennet might do if she did indeed find herself in this situation. I’d like to think she would orchestrate some methods (and they’d probably be a little hare-brained) to save her daughters. I don’t think she is the type to sit back and just let life happen to her. 😉
- Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet: I loved both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for different reasons in this story! I admired how Mrs. Bennet takes action and has some perceptive insight about the men in the neighborhood. And I appreciated how some of her natural nervous tendencies were explained later on in the story. And I equally loved how Mr. Bennet took a more active role in his daughters’ lives, his sweet relationship with Jane, and how he had a few surprises in store for his family. These characters are sometimes ones that frustrate and exasperate; it was lovely to see them possess some admirable traits in this tale!
- Jane Bennet: Another intriguing change! Jane is usually portrayed as perfectly serene and one who optimistically sees good in everyone. But in this story (thanks to an accidental overindulgence in strong drink) she speaks her mind to Mr. Bingley and shares her reservations about his behavior and family. It was great to see some firmness in Jane’s character, I liked how she knew what she wanted and wouldn’t settle for less.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Some Quibbles: While I enjoyed exploring the fun and inventive twists this story had to offer, there were some conversations that had me quirking my eyebrow and one aspect that left me wanting more. As to the conversations, occasionally some felt a little more open and frank than you’d expect during Jane Austen’s time. For example, I wasn’t so sure about Mr. Darcy revealing all his past dealings with Wickham so quickly to Elizabeth and her parents. In addition, this story does shift focus from Darcy and Elizabeth to Jane and Bingley part way through – which is great, I love seeing this couple receive more attention! But at the same time, I never felt as engaged with their story and conflict as I did with Darcy and Elizabeth. I think it might have to do with Mr. Bingley not being the strongest of heroes and Mr. Darcy (with all his appeal and loveliness) overshadowing him a little bit.
Overall, I found A Beneficial (if Unwilling) Compromise to be a diverting and charming Pride and Prejudice variation. As with her previous novel, Georgiana Darcy, Matchmaker, I greatly enjoyed Ms. Chisholm’s playful style and inventive premise; in this story she serves up some creative twists and delightful surprises that were a delight to encounter!