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A Noteworthy Courtship Paperback – December 21, 2009
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I came to this story knowing (as it is stated in the book description) that this is a take-off on "You've Got Mail". Now there is some stretch to believing that these two people could over and over again show up at the one bookstore in Meryton and leave notes in that one particular book without the shop owner and his son making a note or comment about this to each other or to the parties involved. And it is a further stretch as to neither determining the identity of the other as the number of candidates who met the abilities needed to write those notes or the interest in doing so and even possessing the family member mentioned in the notes were limited. After all, Mr. Bennet, despite his sloth, notices Lizzie's many trips into town and begins to give her reasons to go into town or stop at the book store for him. Then he simply waits at the store, sees Darcy enter and subsequently speaks to Darcy about the compromising nature of the correspondence and his expectations about Darcy’s relationship with Elizabeth.
When Darcy makes his gesture to follow the dictates of Mr. Bennet he meets with an Elizabeth whose only opinions about him are those from the assembly in which he referred to her as not handsome enough to tempt him, from an overheard conversation in which he was attempting to discourage Bingley from his courtship with Jane and from her observation that he shields his sister from the society he considers beneath her. So her Hunsford set down of Darcy is now in play. In reaction: “He could not deny the vast discrepancy between the gentleman he had been on paper and the man he had been in her presence, and understood her inability to make the connection.”
The note exchange is not forefront throughout the entire novel but Darcy does some ingenious maneuvers to have notes show up while he is out of town so that the recipient is thrown off as to the identity of the sender. He has discovered her identity due to her reference to something Caroline Bingley has said. (Ironically, one of the alternate endings gives us an opposite variation in which Elizabeth discovers his identity first.) The notes are amusing as we view the personalities of each become evident without the presence of other people which would limit their interactions or put curbs on the appropriateness of what is said as would occur in a drawing room or on the dance floor.
One review sees the interlude at the Beaumont estate as unnecessary to forwarding the plot. I see it as a true period of courtship, of the couple getting to know one another in the presence of the two couples who married for love. We read of many moments which would be frowned upon in other settings and within other circles of society. Ladies playing cricket – oh, NO! While vacationing there we have a scene reminiscent of that infamous confrontation between Elizabeth and Lady C. I was aghast at who shows up and the physical nature of the confrontation which occurs. You may be applauding here.
And did I mention to you how obstinate and bullheaded Mr. Collins is about what he terms is his engagement to Elizabeth? Talk about someone being in denial as to the truth!
I loved the Bingley herein: first he makes his own decision about Jane and then as a gentleman and as a future brother he steps up to protect Elizabeth from unwanted attentions, going so far as to speak about such to the man who should be the first in the line of defense, Mr. Bennet.
I enjoyed this variation: another handling of Pride and Prejudice approached in a new manner. Well done.
However the way mister Collins is portrayed is beyond the pail. His behavior and Mr Bennett's tolerance of it would have compromised lizzy and she would have been forced to marry him.
What's more, Collins would have had too much respect for Mr Bennett to ignore his strictures.
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TIME FRAME: Begins just after the Netherfield Ball
MAIN CHARACTERS: Mr.Read more