What if there was a hint of compromising behavior as a result of Darcy and Elizabeth spending time in the Netherfield library alone? What if Caroline Bingley was the impetus for Darcy offering marriage to her rival, Elizabeth Bennet? What if Elizabeth never encountered the extreme prejudice caused by Wickham’s lies or Darcy’s interference between Jane and Bingley? What if the odious Collins makes his proposal in just such a way that Elizabeth might truly have to consider it?
And those ‘what ifs’ lay the foundation for a gentle, simmering tale that takes things in a new direction in this sweet variation.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is saddened that the one woman he could see himself happy with for his future bride and the mistress of his estate is not an acceptable option because of her embarrassing relations, lower status, and lack of fortune. He is resigned that he must leave Hertfordshire and put some distance between them so he can get over Elizabeth Bennet. But he will enjoy his final time in her company at the ball. Then he discovers that there are whispers about them that will ruin her reputation. Darcy doesn’t even hesitate and make the decision to offer marriage and save her. This decision gives him peace.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is confused by her reactions to the austere, forbidding Darcy and assaulted by the disgusting unwelcome attentions of Mr. Collins. Her mother pushes her to take Collins to save the family’s future while growing impatient that Mr. Bingley needs to offer for Elizabeth’s sister, Jane. Collins is the last man that Elizabeth wants to marry and she is on the verge until Darcy startles her with his proposal. Darcy tenderly handles her and shows great forbearance with her family as courts her solicitously during their engagement period. Elizabeth is amazed at the fires of passion that she witnesses in this man that she read all wrong. Her life is now full of promise if they can get past interfering relations and their own defensive barriers.
Alright, this was a story with mild conflict and a low amount of angst which can be a nice change-up between all the dramatic reads. It is tender and swoon-worthy. I enjoyed it and was moderately engaged. I liked the hints of passion and seeing how the story would change if certain elements are different. I had to chuckle over Caro Bingley and Lady Catherine’s roles and shudder at the calculating Collins. Mr. Bennet’s conversation with Mr. Collins was engaging and earned a cheer from me. This Darcy and Elizabeth are milder versions of themselves which is nice if one is in the mood for something cozy rather than bracing.
The story engages the reader directly and then sometimes pulls back to passive voice or summarization. It’s not a long book so the summaries in the beginning and toward the end are meant to get the reader up to speed without having to cover the ground directly. At the end, I would have wished to get some of the scenes mentioned in passing, but I was glad that a few scenes were told in active voice such as Lady Catherine’s confrontation with a spirited Elizabeth, the Darcys sorting things out and starting their married life on the right foot, and of course Darcy’s proposal scene earlier in the book was my favorite.
The narrator, Pearl Hewitt, was a first for me. She has a good, clear voice that handled English accents well. Her shrewish Lady Catherine made me chuckle because it matched what I imagined of that great lady in a snit. Elizabeth’s voice was engaging to listen to and was a primary perspective. Her male voices were the weaker ones as they sounded pinched a bit.
All in all, this was a delightful listen that I can recommend to Austenesque lovers who want something cozy, sweet, easier conflict, and is of shorter length. There is an assumption that the reader is familiar with the original P&P. The story begins when Jane and Elizabeth are staying at Netherfield and no introduction to all the players and not much in the way of how things arrived at the current situation. Avid Austenesque readers will have no trouble of course, but a newbie not very familiar might want to give it a pass,
My thanks to the author for the opportunity to listen to this story in exchange for an honest review.