So this book review is a part of that challenge I made for myself a year ago. The one in which I promised to review every book and film based on Pride and Prejudice book and movie. (For more on that go here.)
An Assembly Such as This (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman book #1), by Pamela Aidan, is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice…with a twist. In this version, we get the view of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view.
And I have to say I have never, ever been a fan of these fleshed out fan-fics, you know the one’s where people decide to put a new twist on a perfectly good story, but I must say I loved this.
Yep, I was not expecting to like this book, but I just loved it and didn’t want to put it down.
You see the reason that it was so good was first of all the author, Aidan, really paid close attention to Pride and Prejudice and made sure that her book stayed as close as possible to the novel. The book spans from the first assembly in which Darcy snubs Elizabeth and ends when he returns to London, taking Bingley in tow.
It really shows the progression of Darcy’s interests in Elizabeth, as we have that view into his brain.
I also love how the author focuses a lot of time on Darcy and Georgina’s relationship. In Pride and Prejudice, you know he is a great older brother, but it is nice seeing much more of his care, attention, and affection.
But the main reasons why I loved this book…the Bingley and Darcy friendship.
In the original text, we know the two are close friends but all we really see is Mr. Darcy trying to take care of his friend, removing him from Jane and then encouraging him to come back. In Aidan’s book, we get to see the every day parts of friendship. The things they have in common, discussing issues they have with their families, their views on what’s popular at the time, etc. It’s nice to see that side if Darcy, as well as seeing that he isn’t always telling Bingley what to do.
Yep, they are best friends, through and through.
If I had to pick out something that I didn’t like about this book, I would have to say my only issue is the stiffness in Darcy’s personal thoughts.
In the book Pride and Prejudice, we are hardly ever in his head, so of course he is always stiff and proper, following the way people acted during that time. He only relaxes when we get to Pemberly, as that is his home and he feels comfortable there. However, Aidan always has him stiff and rigid. Even when he is talking to himself and thinking. I would have preferred him to be a bit more relaxed as it is in his private thoughts, but to be honest it is so minute, that it doesn’t really matter. All in all, it was a great book and I am looking forward to reading its sequel.
So I already did a post on the opening line of Sense and Sensibility, you should go here if you want to check that out. So Sense and Sensibility is far different from Pride & Prejudice. In Pride & Prejudice we have a basic introduction to the family-5 daughters, and their mother’s need to marry them off.
Sense and Sensibility is a little different.
We get a big family entanglement of who’s who in the family and who’s inheriting. It can be a bit much.
And in this case it’s the same. But the one in question here is Norland Park, belonging to Mr. Dashwood.
Now Mr. Dashwood was a confirmed bachleor, and shared his house with his sister who managed everything for him. Both of them grew older, and Miss Dashwood died. Mr. Dashwood found himself alone and didn’t enjoy it. So he decided to invite his nephew, Mr. Henry Dashwood.
Now Henry is where things become a bit more complicated. Henry has two families.
Now I don’t mean that he was married to two women at the same time, this isn’t Sister Wives. And he wasn’t a conman either. He was a widower who remarried. This might not sound too complicated right now (I mean with how high the divorce rates are today, things are far more complicated,) but it does cause some legal issues I’ll get into later.)
So we have Mr. Dashwood’s first family. This includes his son John, horrible daughter-in-law Fanny,
and awful grandson.
I hate these people. Absolutely HATE THEM.
But more on that later.
And his second family consists of the new Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret.
So here we are.
John being older and married was the one that didn’t move into the family homestead. But he and his family visited all the time. The three girls however, joined Old Mr. Dashwood. They take good care of him and greatly amuse him in his old age.
Only one problem.
One thing my drama director always told us:
“Never work with kids or animals. They’ll steal the show.”
It’s true. Kids and animals are too cute, and they don’t even try. They’ll do something that will cause all others to be overlooked.
And here it’s no different.
Yes, the little spoiled brat steals away all the love of his grandfather.
“…this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained the affections of his uncle. by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old, an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters.”
Yep, just another case of those who slaved and cared being pushed aside for something “cuter”.
So the old Mr. Dashwood dies. And leaves things unpleasant. He entails all his money and estate to his grandnephew.
Replace Rothbart with entailment
Entailment was something that was done a lot in the 18th-20th centuries. All the money, property, the whole shebang was entailed to the next male heir. So this is good and bad. It means that Henry will have everything, but only for as long as he is alive. When he dies it will be passed on to John, and then to the kid. This means that the female Dashwoods will receive nothing. The old Mr. Dashwood gave them £1000, but that won’t be near enough for them to marry well.
So I’m sure you are wondering about Mr. Henry Dashwood. I mean he doesn’t have to entail his personal money. Or Mrs. Dashwood’s money. Right?
Well you’re half-right. He wouldn’t have to ifhe had any. Yep, you see Mr. Dashwood has no money.
He had status and married wealthy. His first wife had a fortune!
Unfortunately, she died.
And left all her money to her only child, John.
When he remarries it’s for love and his second wife is poor. They have only £7000. (I’m not sure if that’s a year or what, but it’s not enough for taking care of his family long-term).
And then he hopes to get the inheritance, but winds up with basically nothing.
To rub salt further in the wound, John doesn’t even need the money. You see John not only has all that dough from his mom, but when he married he increased his net worth tenfold.
Yep, he’s rolling in dough.
So the Dashwoods got the shaft.
But then Henry decides maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. He is not an old man, he’s still has plenty of years left in him and he could start setting money aside to take care of his family. After all it’s not like he is going to die any day.