Bewitched, Body and Soul by P. O. Dixon
I received this book for free quite a few years ago and just never got around to reading it. This year I have decided to read everything in my kindle and decide to whether to keep or delete it.
So this book is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, taking place after Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy, Caroline, and the Hursts have left Netherfield to return to London. Jane is heartbroken:
Elizabeth is furious and doesn’t quite know what to do to help her sister feel better. When the Gardiners invite Jane to London, Jane refuses and Elizabeth decides to take her place. Her mission? Find Mr. Bingley and makes things right. And if she can’t find Bingley, she’ll appeal to Mr. Darcy.
However, when she meets with Caroline Bingley, Caroline is polite but tells Elizabeth that Mr. Bingley is out of town. This doesn’t deter Elizabeth who decides she will head over to Darcy’s house and show up unexpectedly-forgetting about proprietary for her mission.
But Mr. Darcy’s sister should be there, right? It should all be fine.
Meanwhile at the Darcy townhouse none of Darcy’s servants are there, his sister is also not there, and Darcy is trying to set things right as his house did not expect him so early. Elizabeth arrives on his doorstep, the very person he did not want to see as he ran away from his attraction to her.
He doesn’t want to receive her alone for fear it will damage her reputation, but with her sopping wet he doesn’t see any other options. Elizabeth begs Darcy to tell Mr. Bingley that Jane cares for him but Mr. Darcy has decided to stay out of the matter and tells her he refuses to be an intermediary but also will not do anything to stop her plans. This isn’t good enough for Elizabeth and she plans to storm off, but the rain and her missing carriage force her to stay in Darcy’s home. Darcy makes her some tea and plans to send her in his carriage after it returns from its errands. However, before that happens she collapses from fever.
Mr. Darcy takes her upstairs into the only bed with a fire, the one that just happens to be his own, until he can light the fire in the best room-the lady of the house’s room. He then removes her wet clothes, no impropriety as he makes sure he doesn’t see anything, fetches a doctor, and brings his sister home to protect Elizabeth’s reputation.
Elizabeth wakes up and insists on going to her uncle and aunt’s house. She is determined to continue hating Mr. Darcy although she is upset his sister came to see her but he doesn’t come; he only sends fruit and flowers.
A relation of Elizabeth’s Aunt Gardiner, Lady Susan, offers to sponsor her this London season. Originally Elizabeth had planned to return home as soon as she completed her mission, but decides to take Lady Susan up on her offer as it’s the only way to come into contact with Mr. Bingley (and it’s not like there are a lot of eligible men at home.) If she happens to meet someone, it’s two birds one stone.
But does she run into Mr. Bingley? Nope. Instead she keeps encountering Mr. Darcy.
Lord Latham is a long time friend of Mr. Darcy and his sister, Lady Gwendolyn, is head over heels for Darcy. Lady Gwendolyn is set on winning Darcy this season. She arranges for a house party and invites the usual suspects; along with Mr. Darcy and his friend Mr. Bingley (at Darcy’s request.) She also invites Elizabeth as she met her at a party and enjoyed her company at several others occasions. Unfortunately for her, Darcy doesn’t look at Lady Gwendolyn at all, he only has eyes for one lady.
Lady Gwendolyn gets very jealous and tries to sniff out any dirt around Elizabeth. Her maid had a relation that used to work at the Darcy house and was let go. Before they were fired, they witnessed the night Elizabeth came and shares this with Lady Gwendolyn’s maid, who in turn shares it with Lady Gwendolyn. Lady Gwendolyn tells her brother and hopes it will be the piece de resistance that helps her win her man.
Mr. Bingley arrives after the others but before Elizabeth gets a chance to talk to him she goes for a walk with Lady Gwendolyn who drops a bomb on her: Darcy took Bingley away from Netherfield to keep him from marrying into her family. Lady Gwendolyn doesn’t out and admit it is Elizabeth’s fmaily, but she does drop enough hints that Elizabeth pieces this all together.
In Lord Latham’s study he and Darcy are having a discussion and Lord Lathan shares the rumor he heard about Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy professes his innocence, but is determined to do the right thing in order to save Elizabeth’s reputation. He proposes to Elizabeth “in order to protect her” and not only does she refuse him; but she also throws Wickham’s situation at him. Yep, yikes.
Elizabeth and Lady Susan leave early; along with Darcy and Bingley. This party turned out to be a real downer and not at all what anyone was hoping for.
Georgiana wants to host a party, planning to invite Elizabeth and the Gardiners, but Darcy tells her a little bit of what happened and how poorly Elizabeth thinks of him. Georgina wants to fix this and goes to Elizabeth to tell her the truth about Wickham and his evil ways.
While there, Elizabeth receives a letter from her family and finds out that Lydia has run off with Wickham.
Elizabeth returns home, but luckily all is fixed. Lydia and Wickham marry, Mr. Bingley returns to Netherfield and all is looking good; except Elizabeth has fallen for Darcy and doesn’t have him.
Will she be able to win his heart again? Or has she lost him forever?
I enjoyed this retelling a lot, except for Elizabeth. I felt her character was rather annoying at times (especially in the beginning) and I still couldn’t believe that someone who would be embarrassed so much at her family’s lack of propriety would completely ignore it herself.
But other than that I found myself caught up in the story and wanting to finish it. I enjoyed the new characters although I did feel Lady Gwendolyn was living in bit of a dream world when the truth was obvious. Although like Charlotte said:
But yes, this was an enjoyable read.
For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Longbourn’s Songbird
For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to Mr. Darcy’s Valentine
For more Jane Austen, go to The Making of Pride and Prejudice (1995)
For more on Jane Austen, go to I Will Try to Find My Place in the Diary of Jane: Jane Austen Biographies