One always wonders what if… what if a conversation was not overheard? A comment left unsaid? What if something, something small and seemingly insignificant did not occur or DID in a manner different from the original? How would that change the circumstances that follow? “What if” is what Diana J. Oaks focused on with her continuation of a Jane Austen book from a significant point in its narration onward. She chose the book Pride and Prejudice from the point at which Darcy and Bingly discuss the options for dancing at the local ball.
I find this all to be explained marvelously in the Amazon page as follows: “When the wealthy and handsome Fitzwilliam Darcy encounters the beautiful and lively Elizabeth Bennet at a small country ball, he loudly refuses to dance with her, declaring her to be merely tolerable. Fortunately for Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth has walked away and does not overhear his insult, thus snagging the thread that would have sealed her prejudice against the prideful stranger. Unexpectedly, circumstances thrust Elizabeth into the same household as Mr. Darcy, and her proximity unwittingly proves tempting, as her tantalizing wit and playfulness evoke desires that threaten to unravel his resolve against her.”
Many of the main events still occur in some form… Jane still falls ill and requires Elizabeth to nurse her at the Bingly’s estate… Darcy’s aunt still descends upon everyone in scorn… the cousin Collins comes to stay with the Bennetts for a time… Wickham’s issues with Darcy and his beloved sister are dealt with… but the outcomes are all different to varying degrees.
What I LOVE about this book is that with all these changes of varying degrees we get to see so much more character with people. Individuals are further developed, relationships strengthened and motives better understood. WHY was Bingly’s sister so horrible and so self entitled What were the younger sisters really like? Darcy’s cousin the sickly Ann, what of her under her mother’s shadow?
If you have ever wondered what Darcy was truly like or how Elizabeth could have been had she not heard his acidic comment, how the romance could have progressed, how the families would adapt and grow this is definitely a book for you. With the flavour of Jane Austen and the beloved characters of a well known classic we are further educated in culture and beliefs of the regency era.
My only complaint is the same as I have had with some Jane Austen books… the pace is VERY slow, the language flowery… this means you have to be in the right mood (at least for me) to read them. So at times I did put this book down to return to a more contemporary fast paced book. But isn’t that part of the allure of the true regency era novel? That more gentile feel, the softness and almost innocent flirtation for the most part? So maybe the word COMPLAINT is not the right one, maybe CHALLENGE! So please, take a few evenings or sunny afternoons and challenge yourself to slow down, relax and enjoy a really good book!