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Mr. Darcy's Present: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary Paperback – September 10, 2016
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About the Author
With 30 books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense. A teacher for thirty-nine years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and a Smithsonian presenter. In 2016, she was a finalist for both the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and for the Frank Yerby Award for Fiction.
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As the book description tells us, Fitzwilliam Darcy, having been rejected in an earlier-than-canon proposal cannot keeps thoughts of Elizabeth Bennet from his mind. And even in accepting that she will not be by his side in the future, he secures little treasures, writes letters and saves mementoes which are saved away as they can never be given to or shared with her.
In the tradition of estate owners and heads of families, Mr. Darcy is out and about town with his valet seeking gifts for family, acquaintances, tenants and servants. He buys a token for Elizabeth to hide away with those other things which he saves. An accident of dire proportions put him into unconsciousness for two days and takes away the use of his hand. So he cannot address the greetings which go with each gift and there are some of a personal nature which not just anyone can write out for him. So when Charles Bingley, who has been in attendance for the two days he was abed, offers to help out it is with unavoidable angst as to his friend’s illegible handwriting that he has no choice but to accept. The presents are set upon his desk and the notes placed with them along with Darcy’s calling card as he cannot sign the notes. During the holiday rush servants are in charge of sending out the presents and when a mishap occurs during which cards are separated from the intended gift and then attached to another, Darcy does not find out about this mix up until his sister breaks down in tears upon opening the impersonal note attached to her gift from him.
So as we read of Darcy’s part in this story we find him traveling in haste about the countryside, even being assaulted, as he seeks to intercede where certain ladies are in receipt of not just the wrong notes but words which could decide his and her future.
Meanwhile, in Hertfordshire, Elizabeth is hearing and learning new things about not only Darcy but also Wickham. Aunt and Uncle Gardiner have slightly different behaviors herein: she gossips and he seeks to head off damage from such. And so Elizabeth is given food for thought and comes to some interesting conclusions about her own tendency to jump to quick opinions. When Papa receives a package via express addressed to Elizabeth, she is called into his study and they discuss who might be sending her a book – for that is the shape of the object. Mr. Bennet puts off opening it until Christmas morning when they will open it together.
There are other events to remind us that P&P had several entanglements besides that of ODC: there is the subject of Bingley and Jane and then there is that dreadful taking off to Gretna Green of a certain youngest daughter and a man in a red coat. Regina Jeffers gives us a new twist to both stories. Tongue in cheek, Mr. Bennet turns out to have a sly and devious solution to one of those situations while someone actually grows a backbone and makes a move on his own.
This was a delightful tale, not too long in length, which I will recommend to all who love JAFF – especially Pride and Prejudice variations.
Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner have a distinct role here, with Mrs. Gardiner more prone to spread gossip and Mr. Gardiner providing facts and demanding that Elizabeth examine evidence more objectively when it comes to Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth finds that she has a higher level of respect and trust for Mr. Darcy than for Mr. Wickham, who starts to make her feel uneasy. The more she learns, the more she realizes that she was mistaken about Mr. Darcy's character.
As usual, Ms. Jeffers puts a lovely spin on our favorite story. She creatively alters the plotline involving Lydia and Wickham and also provides plenty of sigh-worthy romance in the scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth. I would have liked a little more heated debate between the two of them that is usually characteristic of their exchanges. Perhaps some description of their time together at Netherfield while Jane is ill could have been included to demonstrate that aspect of their relationship. But that is only a minor complaint about this otherwise excellent tale.
Fitzwilliam Darcy was trying to live through the Holiday Season and survive. Elizabeth Bennet was foremost in his mind. Every window display made him think of her. Every gown, jewel and book make him think of … her. How would he survive? How could he survive without her in his life?
As Darcy’s valet helped him with his family gift shopping, Darcy accidently bumped into another gentleman. Or the other gentleman [who was inebriated] bumped into Darcy… either way… in his anger, at the audacity of being touched, the young buck pushed Darcy away sending him into the path of a coal cart. When the load shifted and then overturned onto Darcy… all you-know-what hit the fan. Lord Father of the young snit… didn’t appreciate his son being taken to task by a valet/servant until he learned the identity of the man being pulled out from under the coal. Fitzwilliam Darcy, wealthy grandson of an Earl, nephew to the powerful Lord Matlock, and a man the chagrined Lord Father needed to support him in his financial scheme. Let’s just say our young buck was about to have a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment with his father.
Now… what to do about the gifts? Darcy couldn’t write with a bandaged hand and wrist. His secretary was away and that left Darcy with only the help of his valet and his servants [many who could not read]. You know from the book blurb that there was a mix-up with the cards intended for the recipients. Yeah, we had a comedy of errors as Darcy was forced to do DAMAGE CONTROL!! He was all over the place trying to smooth ruffled feathers. Then he was left with the most humiliating mix-up of all. Elizabeth Bennet was sent something he had never intend to send her. What was he do to?
“As we give presents at Christmas, we need to recognize that sharing our time and ourselves is such an important part of giving.” Gordon B. Hinckley
After a terrible time at Rosings [yeah, family does that sometimes], Darcy and Georgiana headed for Hertfordshire. She wanted to help her brother even knowing that Wickham was in Meryton. I loved this Georgiana. She was so brave and creative.
What I liked: There were many scenes that varied from canon; however, our author skillfully manipulated scenes, dialogue and shifted timelines to create a delightful story. Even though there were the familiar scenes, our author shifted them just enough to keep them interesting.
Mr. Bingley and Mr. Gardiner: OMG! Whoa! I loved these guys. I would not want to be in negotiations with either of them or cross them for that matter. I loved how each played their part in setting Lizzy straight on Wickham and Darcy and especially in their dealings with finding Lydia. Yep, these guys rock.
Thank goodness, we didn’t have to deal with Caroline, the Hursts, or Collins for that matter. We heard of them and from them, but didn’t have to endure much page time… thank you very much.
What I didn’t like: Well, actually there wasn’t really anything that I could say irritated me. Of course, I’m not crazy about Lizzy and Wickham having page time, but that was necessary for her to come to her epiphany as to his true nature. She started puting two and two together and suddenly nothing added up with his stories.
Mr. Bennet was better in his dealings with his family. He wasn’t innocent of all that went wrong with his girls. Mrs. Bennet was less obvious and irritating in this story. She was pretty much in the background.
I loved the little clues scattered throughout the story. As they were being revealed, I just wanted to give the author a ‘high-five’ for being so sneaky. I really enjoyed how they handled Wickham this time. Wow! I am surprised it worked. I am also surprised that the stubbornness that Lydia is known for didn’t jeopardize their scheme. However, it was fun to watch it transpire on the page. Well done. I don’t think Wickham realized just what hit him.
This was a good clean story to read during the Christmas and Holiday Season. Enjoy and Blessings to all.