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The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Kindle Edition
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How I loved the portrayal of young Mr Darcy before he became the master of Pemberley, while he was still a very young man still finding himself and the way he presented himself to the world (I loved how Elizabeth took him to task as regards his fashion choices, by the way, and how he actually paid heed to them, little as he initially thought of the ‘impudent hellion’). I loved how he was still more or less under his father’s guidance and control. I loved how he vacillated between wanting to throttle the fiery 15-year-old Elizabeth and showing his true nature with thoughtful gestures of kindness (the Haddon and Pemberley dinner scenes were so adorable!) I loved the relationship Elizabeth established with the matriarch of Haddon Hall and especially that the Countess was not glossed into a picture of perfection and, while extremely kind to Elizabeth, she still maintained some very realistic and very strong class prejudices. I loved the relationship Elizabeth built with old Mr Darcy, Georgiana, Miss Temple and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Especially with Colonel Fitzwilliam, during young Mr Darcy’s extremely long absences. How he became the brother she never had, and the unwavering support that Darcy was not there to give her, particularly in a dreadful circumstance that could have ruined them all. I dreaded Wickham’s appearance in the story, I hate the man and what he gets away with, and it was such a relief that my fears were largely unfounded. It was also a huge relief to see Elizabeth and Darcy reacting so sensibly to angst-y moments that could have caused a great deal of pain if misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. They were hurt, but had the good sense to explore the hidden meanings and talk to each other, rather than fly into temper tantrums and jump to conclusions.
Teenage Elizabeth’s temper tantrums were a delight by the way, a couple of them in particular. The first, during the wedding visits, when she returned measure for measure to incivility and slights (how wise of old Mr Darcy to appreciate her for that, rather more than his less worldly son did), and no less the second, in the altercation with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s sister-in-law, which led to the first realisation of unconquerable attraction between our favourite couple, despite their odd circumstances – married but not quite.
I could have honestly strangled young Mr Darcy for his domineering manner and especially for deserting his young wife for such a length of time – 3 years?? What was he thinking? But I can see that he had to be absent for very long, otherwise Elizabeth would not have had the chance to grow into the poised and capable mistress of Pemberley he found on his return. From his return, it was unstoppable delight. Mr Darcy was faced with the startling revelation that the hellion had matured into a perfectly behaved young woman who could deliver an impeccable set-down quite as smoothly and effectively as he. A poised lady of the house who takes no nonsense from anyone, least of all himself. And moreover, shockingly attractive. Their gradual opening towards each other was wonderful to read and deeply moving. Equally moving was Colonel Fitzwilliam’s journey into love, and his fate was eminently satisfying. I deeply enjoyed the portrayal of the Bingley-Jane relationship and the role Darcy played there, and Georgiana’s growing-up process and the bond she established with Elizabeth were so beautifully presented. Every character was treated sympathetically (when they deserved it, that is), with a profound understanding of human nature and of Jane Austen’s original characters. To all this, add exquisite Regency language and beautifully crafted prose and you have an absolute must-read. I could keep listing so many scenes and nuances I loved, but I really should let you discover them for yourself. I’ll just say I really enjoyed this book and I hope it’s coming out in paperback too.
On the day the Darcy's are to take Elizabeth, she runs away wearing outdated and baggy men's clothes and four pounds to her name. Mr. Darcy's son, Fitzwilliam, runs after Elizabeth, and this leads to a wild goose chase. After a few days, the young Mr. Darcy saves Elizabeth from danger, brings her to his room to giver her a few moments to regain her composure and to make herself more presentable. Prior to this, the young Mr. Darcy bumps into an acquaintance, and asks for her help to provide Elizabeth with female clothing.
As we know, in the Regency era, propriety precedes everything. People must observe the most proper decorum. Two unmarried people of the opposite sex must not be left alone to their own devices to avoid scandal and compromise. Unfortunately for Elizabeth and Darcy, a resentful former flame discovers them and believes it her duty to spread the scandal all over town. Long story short, Elizabeth and Darcy must marry to avoid disgrace.
The story is divided into five parts--Elizabeth's fifteenth year, sixteenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twenty first. We are shown how Elizabeth changes from the tomboy, impertinent and 'disobedient little hellion' to the refined, beautiful Mistress of Pemberley.
Elizabeth at fifteen was very much still a child. She had little regard for consequences, as seen when she ran away from home. When Mr. Darcy proposed to her, she stamped and whined, and there were times when I wanted to drag her by the ear and give her a talking to. Darcy wasn't any better. He was too serious for his age, and looked slightly ridiculous with the thin mustache, long hair, and the gaudy cravats. It was very entertaining to imagine him as such.
Their marriage was indeed a bumpy one. Elizabeth would never have thought that upon marrying the same man she ran away from, the very same man would run away from her. Within the first year of marriage, Darcy goes to Scotland to tend to their estate. He again leaves for the continent when the Fitzwilliams' finances were invested under a questionable business. Thankfully, Elizabeth had Colonel Fitzwilliam, Lady Fitzwilliam, Georgiana, and Georgiana's governess, Miss Temple.
Despite the company of the Fitzwilliams and Georgiana, my heart still ached for Elizabeth. She lost her father at such a young age, married a man who holds no tender feelings for her a few months later, and lost another father figure a while later. She was then thrust into the role of mistress without so much as a by your leave, and her husband was absent. She had no choice but to grow up.
By the time Darcy finally comes back, Elizabeth is no longer the impertinent fifteen year old he remembered her to be. She's beautiful, refined, accomplished, and is very much the Mistress of Pemberley. The staff respects her, and he could see how amazing she is at her role. It leaves him awed and a little confused.
I love how this story was weaved. It was different from Pride and Prejudice, but the same elements were still there. There were a few nods to Austen's other works, too.
Wickham was a rake of the highest order. Caroline was more persistent than ever. She knew Darcy was married yet she still tried to woo him. Charles was the usual affable and kind man.
The ending was satisfying and relieving. After everything Elizabeth's been through, she deserves the best of endings.