Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
It is 1814 (many events from Pride and Prejudice never took place) and for several years Mr. Darcy has lived in seclusion, away from his family and home and desperately hoping no one recognizes him as Mr. Darcy of Pemberley…
In an effort to dispel his loneliness and at the same time help out a friend very much in need, Mr. Darcy agrees to travel to Hertfordshire and assist Mr. Bingley, who is leasing an estate for the very first time. Since the scandal was years ago and Meryton is a small village, Mr. Darcy feels it might be not so dangerous for him to rejoin society in this setting. Especially as he plans to be known as the insignificant Mr. John Darcy, Mr. Bingley’s impoverished friend. But it turns out people are still curious about Mr. Darcy, even without knowing he has an estate in Derbyshire and is worth ten thousand a year. His evasive replies and lack of details pertaining to his past, his family, and where he lives invite intrigue and speculation. And who is the most intrigued by the mysterious Mr. Darcy? Why the young lady he insulted, of course…Elizabeth Bennet!
With her older sister married to a barrister in London and her dear friend, Charlotte, married to her odious cousin, Elizabeth Bennet is beginning to long for a marriage and establishment of her very own. When Mr. Bingley starts to single Elizabeth out and pay her more attention than any other lady in the neighborhood, Elizabeth begins to question her romantic ideas of marriage. While Elizabeth is trying to make up her mind about how she feels about Mr. Bingley she makes some discoveries about the mysterious Mr. Darcy. Even though he seems rude and aloof, she likes his skill at cleverly turning the conversation and is touched by some of his surprisingly thoughtful and considerate actions. All she has learned (and not learned) about him has made her want to discover more… But will Mr. Darcy let her?
What a magnificently unique Pride and Prejudice variation! Mr. Darcy in hiding? Some scandal attached to his name? Is he forever banned from society? Why? What happened? Sounds deliciously intriguing doesn’t it? YES! It does! 🙂 Not only do I loved the mysterious nature of this variation, I loved how Ms. Fairview executed it all. While I did partially guess Mr. Darcy’s scandal, I greatly enjoyed how Ms. Fairview chose not to reveal it until around the last 20% of the tale. It is fun to be kept in the dark sometimes! In addition, I appreciated the other plausible changes Ms. Fairview implemented in this tale. The new timeline alters the series of events significantly – i.e. no militia regiment coming to town, Mr. Collins’s visit came and went, Jane is already married. And yet it is interesting to see how some things happened the same – such as Mr. Darcy still insulting Lizzy and Mr. Bingley still holding a ball.
I loved witnessing Darcy’s emotional journey and internal reflections in this tale. Ms. Fairview did a terrific job portraying his warring emotions, his feelings of helplessness, and his uncertainty for the future. I was diverted by Mr. Darcy’s thoughts about people treating him differently when he is not known as Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. And I loved Mr. Darcy’s scenes with Elizabeth, all their little meetings and exchanges. Their conversations are quite a bit different in this variation, and I adored them. However, while I thoroughly enjoyed the climatic action of this story and seeing how everything resolves, I wish it was drawn out more. I wanted to spend more time in the midst of the drama and basking in the romantic resolution. 🙂
As a longtime fan of Monica Fairview’s writing, I am thrilled to read another one of her creative, perceptive, and skillfully executed works! Mysterious Mr. Darcy is an entertaining tale and I applaud Ms. Fairview’s inventive yet plausible twists! I highly recommend!