Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Variation
TIME FRAME: Begins 4 years after the events of Pride and Prejudice
Steering our beloved Pride and Prejudice off course after Elizabeth’s visit to Kent, Caitlin Williams implements some drastic changes in her latest variation. Mr. Darcy does not encounter Elizabeth again until four years after his disastrous proposal – they never meet at Pemberley and an upset Mr. Bingley dissolves their friendship after Darcy confesses all. During these four years apart:
- Elizabeth experiences a whirlwind romance and marries a Viscount
- Darcy eschews London society and intently focuses on managing his estate
- Colonel Fitzwilliam marries, fathers a son, and sadly becomes a widower
- Georgiana Darcy, who spends most of her time with her Fitzwilliam relations, transforms into an elegant lady of fashion and high society
WHAT I LOVED:
- Daring and Inventive: Brava to Ms. Williams for such an ingenious and eminently original premise! Many altered situations, a few sorrowful deaths, and some darkness imbue this story. Yet as with her other novels, Ms. Williams pushes the boundaries as far as she can while maintaining plausibility and respect for Jane Austen’s original characters and time. I was fascinated to learn all the new twists at the opening of the story and witness how some small changes produced such numerous ripples. I applaud Ms. Williams for boldly having Elizabeth married to someone else and for creating such an impossible yet realistic new course for Darcy and Elizabeth to traverse.
- Unanswered Questions: The story opens cloaked in tragedy and mystery – something terrible has occurred, but the reader isn’t quite sure why and what are the implications. But then the story jumps back six months to Darcy and Elizabeth first re-encounter. Throughout these six months we learn bits and pieces of Elizabeth’s life these past four years, but there are always details left out… Ms. Williams is supremely skilled at keeping secrets and revealing them with excruciating slowness! The reader will perpetually be wondering the hows and whys did this all come to be. And the events of the story will consume them until they know all!
- Dual Perspectives: I love that this story was told from both the POV’s of Darcy and Elizabeth with alternating chapters. Because this is such an tension-filled and dynamic variation it is essential to understand the feelings and hear the inner thoughts of both Darcy and Elizabeth. To understand the evolution of Elizabeth’s life and her conflicting feelings towards Mr. Darcy; to see Darcy’s internal thoughts about Elizabeth’s marriage and husband, and understand his hidden yearning was wonderfully captivating and moving.
- Realistic Emotions: Both Darcy and Elizabeth are in a horribly difficult situation they can’t seem to escape. It is impossible in every way and both are conflicted many times over. Ms. Williams does a magnificent job of conveying the progression of their feelings and actions. The impatience, the dissatisfaction with all options, the irrational desires, the imprudent actions, the contemplation of risking censure or comprising one’s morals, the madness, the ardency…it was mesmerizing to witness the powerfulness and authenticity of these feelings.
- Original Characters: There are quite a few original characters that add vibrancy and intrigue to this tale: Lord Lambert, Elizabeth’s husband whose mood is often vacillating and extreme; Miss Talbot, Elizabeth’s unmarried friend who is practical, forthright and a possible match for Mr. Darcy; Bassett, Elizabeth’s fiercely loyal lady’s maid; Albert Tanner, Lord Lambert’s trusty footman who is instructed to follow and protect Elizabeth; Countess Magdó, a cheerful, kind-hearted matron with a sad past, and many more! These characters were wonderful additions that evoked a myriad of feelings and twists throughout the course of the tale.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- I loved it all! And my only wish would be for a few more chapters.
NOTE: A brief scene of domestic violence and some other mentions of physical altercations take place in this story.
I loved The Events at Branxbourne‘s unconventional premise and emotionally turbulent plot – not just because of the gripping events of the story and enthralling gothic undertones, but because how it was masterfully designed and executed. Ms. Williams once again delivers an exquisitely expressive and incredibly impassioned tale. One that deserves the highest of praise for its unabashed portrayal of marriage, human nature, and life in Jane Austen’s time.