Saturday, March 15, 2014
I have actually been reading Pride & Prejudice spinoff stories for several years. When I worked at a school I saw one of the students reading one and then the idea was new to me so I read a few like Mr. Darcy's Diary and Mr. Darcy's Daughters (the latter of which is a part of a series that I really like). Since then I have read several every year. Somehow - according to my Goodreads lists anyway - I always tend to start and end my year reading these spinoffs. This year I mixed it up by reading this one a few months before the end of the year. I am such a rebel. ;)
Mr. Darcy's Dilemma and Delight is a different type of story about how Elizabeth and Darcy come to fall in love. They've already got some history - the history we all know - and then we find out how evil George Wickham truly is.
The story begins in medias res ('in the midst of things' if you're not a lit nerd like me) with Darcy out doing Darcy things like looking majestic on a horse and contemplating his responsibilities when he hears strange sounds that indicate someone is in trouble. He (unseen) witnesses Wickham walking away from - as further investigation enlightens - Miss Elizabeth Darcy sobbing on the ground. That's as descriptive as it gets, in case you were worried. And I promise that isn't giving away too much of the plot as it is in the synopsis as well.
Darcy mans up and gets help for Elizabeth, even going so far as to help her conceal events from her family (ruination for the sisters as well hanging in the balance).
We really breeze right on past the proud Darcy here and jump right into the most thoughtful and caring man on the planet. This man thinks of everything and creates a provision for it and he has a mindful, caring hand in Elizabeth's healing of her emotional trauma. And working through his doubts of how to care for a broken woman whom he still loves despite his hatred of Wickham and the evil that his actions wrap them into was a wonderful progression to read.
Elizabeth, in the meanwhile, is not a total shrinking violet. Obviously she has her rough patches and anxiety moments but she has an active hand in the restoration of herself that was written in a very gentle and believable way. She wasn't always one way or another because humans are not and emotions sometimes rule and sometimes we have good control over those things. If Austen's Elizabeth were a real person she would be very proud of this representation of her.
In the end, the love Darcy and Elizabeth develop is so full and deep it's like gentle waves washing over all the terrible things they've endured and making it all clean. A truly beautiful thing.
And there is no way you walk away from this book not completely in love with Darcy yourself. You thought the original made you love him? You ain't seen nothin' yet.
Amazon has the kindle version for only $4.99 (as of this posting)!
Fun fact: the cover photo - I totally took that. :)