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Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey: A World War 1 Pride & Prejudice Companion (Great War Romance) (Volume 2)
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-"From the very first sentence the words are alive, every single description, event, dialogue talks for itself. .... Fascinating how quickly a well written book can suck you in." ~Obsessed with Mr. Darcy Blog
About the Author
Ginger lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.
Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's 2015 "Picture This" grand prize.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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This is a book that's very high on the angst meter and high on the major misunderstanding meter. It's also high on the highly unlikely/virtually impossible and large number of coincidences meter.
And I challenge you to try to put it down once you start reading it.
If it's been a while since you read Darcy's Hope: Beauty from Ashes: A WWI Pride & Prejudice Variation, there are quite a few segments that recount what happened previously to jog your memory. If you've never read the first book, probably there's not enough for this to be an easy tale to pick up as a stand-alone. This begins where the tale left off without interruption, commencing with the same scene. Elizabeth heads off on a steamer from Boulogne towards Pemberley while Darcy looks forward to his leave in two months when they'll be reunited again.
Elizabeth enjoys her sojourn at Pemberley and is eagerly awaiting Darcy's return when a letter and a newspaper report spook her big time. Next thing you know, there's an attempt on her life on the grounds of Pemberley and she's on the run, convinced that it is in Darcy's best interest for her to disappear from his life. She does everything she can think of to avoid being discovered, including taking a false name and adopting a disguise.
Darcy, back in Belgium, learns more about the web of espionage that had been operating at The Ritz, but his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam considers Elizabeth under suspicion of colluding with the other traitors. It doesn't exactly make her look innocent when they learn she's disappeared from Pemberley without a trace.
The story just gathers steam from there with more gripping war adventure. Darcy returns to The Ritz with his cousin to follow a clue and searches for information to clear Elizabeth. Later, he is reassigned to The Front. Once again, he is part of a perilous mission when a break in communications threatens to cause the annihilation of the Allied troops. Darcy's heroism has horrific results, and he ends up with disabilities that may or may not improve over time. As in the first book, the author conveys the incredible resolve of the soldiers as they're surrounded by terrifying chaos and destruction without dwelling excessively on gory details.
Poor Darcy really gets put through the wringer this entire book. Elizabeth's missing throughout most of it, a body discovered is believed to be her so he's grieving her death, he has nightmares of the hellish scenes he's witnessed in combat, and he's trying to deal with injuries that literally test his will to live. Elizabeth deals with a different kind of anguish, as she's constantly looking over her shoulder and worrying about being discovered and also is torn apart with heartache over abandoning Darcy and her sister Jane. She stumbles across a perfect opportunity to start anew, and eventually she is effectively hiding in plain sight. This puts her at greater risk of exposure as well as putting her in an emotionally difficult situation she can't easily leave.
In addition to impressive historical detail, Ms. Monette treats the reader to a number of characters borrowed from other Austen novels and, more surprisingly, North and South. The Knightleys here are cousins of Darcy's, and Mrs. Knightley rivals Lady Catherine with respect to her desire that he marry into her family. In this case, it's her granddaughter Sarah Knightley. So among his other troubles, Darcy's the victim of a familial tug-of-war between Mrs. Knightley and Lady Catherine, and he's the rope! While Caroline Bingley doesn't appear much directly, her actions have significant effects on the story. Wickham, as always, is a slimy piece of scum who has a blinding hate for Darcy.
I have to note the ingenious use of wartime propaganda in the story. The Mr. Collins-like buffoon from the first book, Dr. Cowart, ironically, has become a war hero. His face appears on morale-boosting posters in England, where everyone knows the supposed story of his selfless feats. And it's also news misinformation that primarily drives the separation between our hero and heroine. Although the authorities know the truth, they don't want the intelligence network to look foolish to the rest of the country, so corrections are never broadcast. It's maddening but is probably an accurate reflection of the reality during that time and place in history.
Much as I loved this story, I would give it less than 5 stars if I could because of the preponderance of coincidences throughout. While some may be unavoidable in order to keep the plot moving, there are just too many in even inconsequential situations (mostly regarding the "cameos" from secondary and tertiary characters). Despite that, it's an engrossing book and a very satisfying conclusion to this series.
The story is stand alone so it's not necessary to read the previous one. However, doing so enhances this one 1000%! This story has Lizzy as a fugitive of what she feels will be wrongful charges of treason (which again is detailed in part 1 but rehashed in this story). In doing so not only is she hurting herself but Darcy, who cannot find her once Lizzy disappears.
I really don't think I need to go over the story because the synopsis does a good job of it. In fact, with the synopsis and the book's cover, you can pretty much deduce Darcy's heartbreaking tragedy and who this nurse is he falls in love with.
Now, I want to say this story is perfect. But I can't. Spoiler alerts ahead....
I gave it 5 stars because it's a riveting tale from beginning to end and you rejoice in Darcy's triumphs (little to big) and you hurt when he hurts. And of course it has a happy ever after. But the happy ever after wasn't given as much love as the frustration that was the majority of the book! I thought Darcy discovering Lizzy was his nurse was pretty genius but once we got through that climax it resolved itself way too quickly. Beautifully, but quickly. I'm contradicting myself but I don't know. I feel like there could've been more considering how long it took us to get there.
My other complaint and here's another spoiler alert so beware.....I expected Darcy to recognize Lizzy's voice right away. I know the author wrote that once Darcy recovered his hearing some sounds may be different but how is it he recognizes everyone else and not Lizzy?!? The woman he loves? The woman he almost killed himself over?! I found that hard to believe. And it just prolonged the suffering lol. I can kind of see the reason for it, but again, hard to believe.
Despite my two minor complaints, this is a beautiful story. It's a lot more heartbreaking than the first because Darcy goes to hell and back but like I said, it was beautiful to see him overcome obstacles big and small.
I'd definitely read this again!