Mr. Darcy's Letter: A Pride & Prejudice Variation Paperback – November 21, 2011
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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I was honestly a little wary about reading it to begin with because I don't particularly like stories in which Lizzy is mean to Darcy at the outset, which seemed to be the premise here. It just makes me cringe when her anger turns to the type of cruelty that some authors, apparently, believe her capable of, but it wasn't like that here. She began very angry and stubborn, but her feelings softened appreciably around the 20% mark after a conversation with Jane. She didn't immediately fall in love with Darcy after that, but she was much pleasanter to him by the time they met up again and more receptive to affection. Anyway, I thought it was handled well with a minimum of ugliness.
I was a little disappointed in some of the other characters, but not in a way that would lower my rating. It's more that this extrapolation of their personalities, while arguably accurate to the originals, was exasperating. Bingley, in particular, needed a good shaking. After being told by Darcy that Jane cared for him, he goes back to Netherfield only to give up on trying to marry her after Lydia's elopement and then leaves again! Man, if you can't live without her, grow a pair and take the plunge. So what if it potentially damages Caroline's marriage prospects? It's not like she cared about his happiness when she separated him from Jane in November. And then her choice for his fiancee later gets him into a scandal that has nothing to do with the Bennets. Point being, Bingley is a weak idiot who doesn't even try to earn Jane. More disappointingly, however, is that Jane will still have him in the end. Sigh...
As for Wickham, it's hardly surprising that he has all the confidence that Bingley lacks, but did he honestly think that Lizzy would still consider him a "favorite" after seducing Lydia and abandoning her in London? He's either so narcissistic that he's delusional or a few chapters short of a book.
All the above ranting, believe it or not, actually added to my enjoyment of this book. As I said above, I don't really disagree with the characterization, they were all just exasperating. It helped keep things interesting.
Deducted half a star because Lizzy and Darcy kept misunderstanding each other, to the point of mild frustration.
Oh, and fair warning: they anticipate their vows. It was actually very loving, but still explicit. No complaints from me, but some readers don't like to be surprised by such things. It was relatively clean otherwise with a few intense kisses sprinkled in.
I had a real problem with this story that none of the top featured Amazon reviews mentioned - namely, there are LONG stretches of text that are pretty much lifted word-for-word out of the original P&P. I've read and liked many of Ms. Reynolds' stories so I was extremely surprised by how much of this variant depended upon JA's words.
The much-vaunted concept of Elizabeth not reading Darcy's letter (and so not knowing of Wickham's duplicity) is quickly taken care of by page 50, when Darcy meets her accidentally at Pemberley and tells her the hard truth. They are reconciled but torn apart again by Lydia's elopement. So really not much changed by her not reading his letter.
There's a lot of medium-level angst here, almost all of it due to Elizabeth being either rude, oblivious, or neurotically insecure, singly or in various combinations thereof. This version of Elizabeth presents an unattractive level of idiocy. She is constantly refusing to listen to Darcy at important times, creating all the angst and melodrama herself. "Obstinate and selfish" don't even begin to cover her behavior, let alone excuse it. Apparently Mrs. Bennet is more of an influence upon her two eldest daughters than we all thought.
It was also a little odd to see Ms. Reynolds reference "Mariah Lucas" as Kitty's friend at least twice. I believe in canon the character is named Maria.
The issue of Lydia is given a twist with Wickham having an elder brother Thomas, who also (conveniently, as it turns out) is in the military. Abandoned in London by George Wickham, Lydia is still stupid, but also scared by her experience. Darcy pays Thomas to marry Lydia. Upon meeting her, Thomas finds her attractive and lively; he's very willing to court her for a couple of weeks and then marries her. Darcy, Elizabeth, and the Gardiners attend the small wedding ceremony.
Bingley's weak-kneed insipidity also causes Darcy double trouble with Elizabeth - in order to help Bingley, Darcy has missed the critical dinner where Elizabeth meets the Matlocks for the first time, plus an attempt is made to compromise him which becomes a gossip column item.
I found Bingley's character distasteful. He's rightly accused by many JAFs as wishy-washy, and I agree. But this level of weakness was extreme.....and even more distasteful was that Jane forgave him not just once, but twice! I was honestly hoping that once Col. Fitzwilliam entered the story and took one look at Jane, the two would pair off. But no - instead she blushes at Bingley even as he sticks his foot in his mouth, apologizing for abandoning her yet AGAIN.
The puppy is cute, but that's not enough to even award an additional half-star. Did not enjoy this and certainly will not keep it. Deleting it with relief from my Kindle.
So she has no idea about the real Darcy.
And she has NO ONE in her life who will listen to her and will keep her safe. Her mother berates her constantly and would marry her off to anyone. Her father acts like he loves her but only loves a vision of young child Lizzy who adores him and never questions him.
She says it is unwise to let Lydia go to Brighton and she was right. She tells him that no one should talk about Lydia when she is ruined and Lizzy is right. She tells him Darcy loves her and she loves Darcy and she is right. But in all cases he disagrees with her and ignores her. He will do nothing to protect the family.
So, in my mind, when she finally finds someone to love her and she is betrothed to him, it must feel like the first time she has ever been loved, respected and safe. I think this is the explanation why she would allow Darcy and she to ‘anticipate their wedding night’ in a physical way before the wedding.
Of course it was wrong in her society but she must feel he is the person in the world she can be safe with and trust implicitly. imagine how frightening her prior life was.
I think this was a marvelous story. I recommend it highly.
Top international reviews
There was a nice conclusion for Lydia, although it took an interesting turn beforehand. I don't want to say too much and give spoilers away, but for me the story really heated up towards the end and I couldn't put the book down, even though I knew from P & P experience what the conclusion would be!
I did think that Mr Bingley was quite wet in this version. It would be really nice to see a much stronger Bingley as I think he is a really nice character normally.
On the whole I really enjoyed this story. It was quite detailed for the time period and came with all the usual angst that we get from reading about Darcy and Elizabeth. I will be checking out some of the other variations from this author.
In this version, there is a person who is against any connection between Lizzy and Mr. Darcy, and to my mind this person goes to some rather extreme measures to prevent this. I didn't get this person's character, when contrasted with Jane Austen's version.
Overall, still a good novel if you like the premise, but the unbelievability of that character made it a lot more difficult to enjoy the story. Better than the average.
I have read several of her books now and they have all been thoroughly enjoyable. Her grasp of correct language and etiquette make these as authentic a 're-telling as possible.
times and will no doubt read it many more.
Hier lehnt Lizzy den Brief ab, weil es unschicklich für eine junge Dame wäre, einen Brief von einem unverheirateten Mann zu empfangen.
Ich habe schon mehrere P&P Variationen von Abigail Reynolds gelesen und fand sie bisher immer gut oder sogar sehr gut. Bei Mr. Darcy's Letter muss ich nur sagen: das kann sie besser.
Auch hier brennt Lydia mit Mr. Wickham durch. Allerdings gibt es diesmal einen richtigen Skandal, denn es wird allgemein bekannt, dass die beiden zusammengelebt haben, ohne verheiratet zu sein und George Wickham verschwindet von der Bildfläche und lässt Lydia zurück. Der Skandal zieht seine Kreise und die Bennets werden von fast allen geschnitten, sogar von der Familie Lucas. Mr. Bingley kann Jane seine Liebe nicht gestehen, weil er sich Sorgen um seinen Ruf und die Chancen für eine Ehe seiner Schwester Miss Bingley macht. Er gesteht Jane vorher aber seine Liebe und sagt ihr dann auch, warum er sie nicht heiraten kann. Ein komplett rückratloser Idiot, sorry. Mr. Darcy ist natürlich komplett in Lizzy verliebt, diese kann ihn erst nicht ausstehen und ähnelt so gar nicht mehr der Elizabeth aus P&P. Für Lydia wird ein Mann gefunden, der ältere Bruder von George Wickham, so dass sie am Ende tatsächlich eine Mrs. Wickham ist und niemand merkt das so richtig. Darcy und Lizzy verlieben sich, verloben sich und haben Sex in einem Zimmer, wo jederzeit jemand hereinkommen könnte - vor der Hochzeit natürlich. Und das, obwohl Lizzy erst seinen Brief nicht annehmen wollte, weil es skandalös ist? Und obwohl die ganze Familie vorher wegen Lydia schon in Ungnade gefallen war? Dann gesteht sie es noch Jane, die es völlig in Ordnung findet - so hätte sie dann wenigstens keine Angst mehr vor der Hochzeitsnacht. Und Darcy wird in einem Duell mit dem wiederaufgetauchten George Wickham verletzt und hat Angst, dass er stirbt und Lizzy mit seinem Kind schwanger ist. Das gesteht er ihrer Tante so nebenbei, die völlig verständnisvoll reagiert. Natürlich findet alles ein gutes Ende und beim Happy End gibt es drei glückliche Paare.
Aber mal ehrlich, will man so etwas lesen? Ich finde, hier passt so einiges nicht zusammen. Ich habe nichts gegen Sexszenen bei P&P-Variationen, aber das passt hier einfach nicht zu den Charakteren und macht es völlig unglaubwürdig. Das war leider nicht das beste Werk von Abigail Reynolds, da gefallen mir ihre anderen Bücher weitaus besser.