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Conceit & Concealment: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Kindle Edition
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"Fool Me Once" by Catherine Bybee
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Top customer reviews
I could not put this book down! Literally, read the entire thing in one go, it was that good!
Our usual villains- Caroline, Wickham, Lady Catherine - are barely mentioned, and not at all missed in the momentum of the story, which is not at all lacking in angst and struggle for ODC.
I love stories that build to a final climax where everything hits the fan all at once, and this one certainly does not disappoint in that regard. The pace is fantastic, there are no dull moments, and plenty of character developing scenes. Given the nature of the alternate history, its exciting that Darcy and Lizzy get plenty of time, but are still just a piece of the bigger picture.
Georgiana is amazing and Lady Matlock is an unexpected treasure!
This story is certainly not canon so the purists will definitely not enjoy it. But the rest of us can enjoy the original and moving story without them! The author always does a good job of retaining the essence of the main characters of P&P, especially Darcy and Elizabeth. But they are essentially put through the wringer in this story.
Everyone is carrying a secret that if told can have serious repercussions. I can't spoil it but the biggest one revolving around Georgiana is told pretty soon in the story because it sets a lot of the story in motion. Not gonna lie, she was probably my least favorite character. I had some sympathy, but I most felt for Darcy and Lizzy and their trials as a result of THE secret.
They fall in love pretty quickly, thanks to bluebells and a puppy named Puck (who actually plays an important role in this story) but there is a lot of angst, barely any of it theirs. The angst I heard so much about comes from outside forces and you really feel for them, especially bearing the end when we all feel all hope is lost. But they do have a happy ever after.
While you do see the Bennets in this story, it's mostly in the beginning and then we don't really hear of them again until the very end. So this story provides us with some great original characters, including Darcy's younger brother Kit who I particularly enjoyed.
I tried to keep this vague enough because I don't want to spoil this story for anyone but I'd certainly recommend it. This author never disappoints!
Wickham is involved in one conversation; Lady Catherine is mentioned in passing;
and Caroline Bingley is not even identified by name!
This is a sweet, low-angst love story – truly the love story flows very smoothly.
War is the only game in which it doesn't pay to have the home-court advantage. ~Dick Motta
The drama comes from the uneasy spirits of the conquered English people;
both those who are Loyalist and those who are French sympathizers. We get to know some of each.
As we begin, Darcy is defined as one of the sympathizers. But is that the true Darcy?
Or as Paul Harvey would ask: Do we need to know the rest of the story?
Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own. ~Seneca
The author created a few French people who share their country’s side of the invasion.
Darcy confuses Elizabeth’s conflicted feelings by speaking well of several French officers,
most notably the General in charge of the occupation. Desmarais is not loved as a friend
but rather he is respected as an enemy.
I recommend this to anyone who reads JAFF – it’s a captivating story that will keep you up past your bedtime.
I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. ~Abraham Lincoln
Another thing that is very well done is how each individual character in Ms. Reynolds story behaves in a way that is consistent with the character that Jane Austen created. Everyone behaves according to the strengths and weaknesses that their creator endowed them with, even though they are in situations that they were never intended to experience. Those that, in the original, were strong or showed the potential for strength, demonstrated it in this story; those who were weak or shallow or lazy behaved accordingly. This takes some thought, effort, and insightness and goes a long way towards making this story so successful: while we are in an unfamiliar situation, we are there with familiar persons.
There were some new characters introduced, notably the much-traumatized princess and the French general supervising the occupation. I would have liked a little more growth on the part of the princess. She was basically the same at the end of the book than she was at the beginning. But the French general was portrayed with humanity and evenness and as a person with the same kind of honor that Darcy has.
I especially loved how deep and honest the love between Elizabeth and Darcy was. Their path to happiness wasn't smooth or easy, but their passion and commitment was there almost from the beginning (even if it had to take second place to their overall loyalty to the cause.)
All in all, this was a fascinating venture into what might have been and how our beloved characters would have coped in a completely different setting. All's well that ends well and we get to the end happy, relieved, and free.
POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT:
Obviously, we know that all will end well. This is the P&P universe after all. But I did feel that the uprising, when it came, was a bit too fast and that communications, coordination, and the dissemination of news was a bit more efficient than would have been possible at that time. This is the one area in which realism was a bit sacrificed but, I for one, almost prefer it this way. I have no patience for too many military details and dragged out episodes about how this or that city fell would have bogged down the story. I would have skipped those parts anyway so it's sort of silly to complain that they weren't there. Without being a complete hypocrite, I can't deduct any stars for it. Still, I was struck with how easy it was to shed the yoke of conquest in just a few page turns.
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