Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Gift from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation
TIME FRAME: Begins during the Netherfield Ball
SYNOPSIS: Darcy learns – from the most startling of sources – what Elizabeth Bennet and the rest of Meryton truly think of him and it makes him realize how needlessly insulting his behavior and manners have been. He learns also that it isn’t just the people of Meryton that view him this way – Charles Bingley and his dear cousin, Richard Fitzwilliam have also commented on his officious and selfish tendencies. While taking the first steps to improving Elizabeth’s opinion of him and at the same time protecting the people of Meryton, Darcy receives some urgent and distressing news that immediately calls him home and requires him to reconfigure his plans for the next few months. What happens soon after that when Darcy and Elizabeth unexpectedly cross paths again in London? Could there be any love developing between these two or is it just compassion and friendly concern?
WHAT I LOVED:
- LOL, Lydia: Arguably sometimes Lydia’s outspokenness can be a mortifying sign of her lack of proper manners and impudence, but in this story Lydia tells it like it is and shows that she is observant and wise…although still immature! I loved seeing Lydia confront Darcy and all of her moments of speaking her mind. And even though this interpretation of Lydia is “in essentials very much what she ever was” it was lovely to see some moments of understanding and realness underneath all that sass and silliness!
- Georgiana Storyline: I really appreciated the unexpected twist Ms. King gave to Georgiana’s storyline in this variation. It is something that could plausibly have happened and Mr. Darcy’s reaction and plans felt very much in accord to his character. There was a secondary twist that changed the course of this storyline again and part of me is interested to see how the first twist would have played out. But at the same time, I enjoyed the course this story took and loved witnessing the close relationship and devoted love Darcy has for his sister.
- Enemy Indeed!: Another interesting development in this story is that Wickham becomes an even more nefarious villain than usual. He isn’t out just for money or an easy living, he wants revenge and is prepared to go to great lengths to exact it! I enjoyed seeing this darker and more vicious side of Wickham, it feels very believable that someone so jealous and spiteful would resort to such sinister means when desperate.
- A New Discovery: Can you believe after all the many times I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and all the numerous Austenesque novels I’ve read that there is still something new for me to discover that can blow my mind?!? That happened while reading Friends and Enemies – Ms. King makes an ingenious comparison between two characters that I never before realized. It is amazing how this similarity has been there all this time without me noticing it! I love how this comparison, when pointed out to one character, serves as an impetus for change! Just brilliant!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Openness and Boldness: Once in awhile there were some conversations and behaviors that felt a little too open and forward for this time period. It may just be me, but I often feel like conversations such as someone declaring their feelings or taking a family member to task, would – in Regency polite society – happen in a more private setting. I am perfectly willing to accept characters like Mrs. Bennet and Lydia acting too bold, but it feels a little incongruous for someone as reserved and fastidious as Mr. Darcy to do things like make a declaration of love in front of others and then backtrack later to analyze his feelings and determine if what he felt truly was love.
Reading anything by J. Dawn King is always a wonderful pleasure! Her stories never fail to entertain and bring a smile to my face. I thoroughly enjoyed the inventive twists she implemented in Friends and Enemies and I am forever grateful for the delight and heartwarming joy her stories always bring!