The Colonel

So I promised to post this in February, but I didn’t end up doing it.

I really meant to post it on February 17th, after Valentine’s Day as

“this isn’t a love story but the end of one. The story of two ships forever passing in the night…

…this isn’t a love story.

But almost.”

But then I didn’t like my review, so I shuffled the posts around so I could rewrite it.

But then I didn’t like that review either-so this is my third time writing it.

I have been having such trouble with it as this story is a saga. It is an intense story spanning from the 1940s to the 2000s. It has drama, comedy, heartbreak, love, births, deaths, weddings, funerals, etc. The themes involve parenthood, family, trauma, biracial/bicultural romance, etc. This is a meaty book.

So this book is long, and I’m sorry if this review gets too long, as I want to reach a good point to pause at-discussing some but not revealing everything (you want some surprises when reading after all).

The story is flips from present (2002) to flashbacks of the past and is told with multiple narrators. That’s not a bad thing, it just makes it harder for m to summarize as I don’t want to confuse anyone reading my review.

Hmm…

None of the other reviews I wrote seemed right. So here we go again-try three.

 

Now I wasn’t sure if I should do this review as I haven’t read the first book, Longbourn’s Songbird, but then decided to as this book isn’t exactly a sequel as events in the novel do take place before the other book, as well as after it. The Colonel,  follows Richard Fitzwilliam’s exploits (Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride and Prejudice) and his family’s.

So the story is set in America during, and post WWII. I loved the idea of setting them in a different timeline and setting as it made the book more…hmm, I guess…unknown.  North also focused on more of the supporting characters of Pride and Prejudice-Colonel Fitzwilliam, Charlotte Lucas, Anne de Bourgh, and Georgiana Darcy-with the main characters: Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, etc-getting a back seat. With this focus on these characters and being set in a new timeline, it really allows the author to have the freedom to create their own story, while at the same time keeping the parts and the people we love in it.

So to make this easier for those reading, and myself (don’t want literary whiplash) I’m going to start with Bennet “Ben” Fitzwilliam’s story line [Richard’s son] in the present (2002), and then Richard Fitzwilliam [Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride and Prejudice] in the past and his family.

Bennet “Ben” Fitzwilliam

So the book starts off in 2002 NYC. Ben Fitzwilliam is the only son of Richard Fitzwilliam and life is not going well. He is suffering from trauma faced in 9/11, his girlfriend left him-and so he decides to quit his job and return to his father’s home, the Fitzwilliam House in Annapolis, MD.

As he goes through the house, he starts to wonder more about his father. His father was a complicated man, with a very complicated life. There is so much he doesn’t know about him and things he wish he could ask him. After much thought he decides to write a book about him:

Who better to write about a twice-decorated war hero who took two bullets in World War II and lost an eye in Korea? A man who spent his life making every damaged solider his brother, a man who never married but fathered a child out of kindness?

Who? Who is Ben’s mother?

Ben also meets and begins a relationship with African-American Police Officer Keisha Barnes. When Ben discovered a locked drawer in his fathers study, he invites Keisha along, and the two get caught up in trying to discover “who” Richard Fitzwilliam is. They find some correspondence, one being to a woman he loved who he referred to as “Slim.”

Slim? Ben knew he his father had a tattoo of “Slim” on him, but thought that was his war nickname. Who is this woman? What happened to her?

He later finds out from his cousin Maggie Darcy that his dad Richard dated her mom, yes Slim was his aunt, Elizabeth Bennet.

But his mother is Charlotte Lucas:

Okay, at this point of the book my interest was super piqued.

We have a mystery on our hands and I am utterly baffled what is going to happen next. Usually I have an idea of the direction the author will go in, but I have no clue with this story.

Will Ben be able to handle the truth about his father? Or will he be biting off more than he can chew? Will he learn from the mistakes and loves his father had-or will he fall victim to repeating the same choices as his father?

Hmm…

He also discovers a life changing secret that his father never knew. Will he be able to right this wrong and take on his father’s legacy, in the best way?

Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam

So let’s move to the Colonel’s story:

So we start off in 1941, the war has just begun for the US and Richard and his brother are shipping out. Richard is quite the ladies’ man and has been saying fond farewells with one and all, whilst older brother James, has been waiting with family. Darcy is visiting, he is not leaving for war as he owns factories that are producing War necessities.

James is loved by his father while Richard is not. Their mother was injured and had to be hospitalized after an accident involving Richard and both he and his father blame him for her state, even though it is no one’s fault.

Sad…traumatic…poor guy

James is sent to Australia, Richard to Florida and Darcy to an unknown location (which I’m guessing is Oak Ridge, Tennessee). War life is hard and the trauma made harder when Richard loses his brother. He feels the loss strongly and now there is no one to smooth out the rough edges in his father. After he is wounded in a battle his father has him discharged and sent home.

But Richard has a lot of trauma over the war, and he takes off, disappearing from Darcy and Georgiana’s lives. No matter how many detectives Darcy employs, they cannot find them.

A mystery, within a mystery…

Mystery, you say?

Richard decides he can’t stand it any longer-the memories, the loss, the pain-he decides to end his life. He’s about to jump and drown himself, but before he can he hears the pier snapping and rushes in to save a woman, Elizabeth Bennet. The two fall head over heels in love and spend all their free time together, as they only have a summer and then she will return home.

However, the summer ends when Richard purchases Elizabeth an expensive gift and the bill goes to Pemberley, bringing Darcy to his door.

Richard wants to stay and marry Elizabeth, but Darcy opens his eyes to the mess he is. He desperately needs some help, he’s living in rathole, he’s lost a lot of weight, he’d be making Elizabeth give up college, and his father had a stroke. Darcy is right on the fact that he needs help but I didn’t get the other arguments as Richard has money. He and Elizabeth could marry and she could still go to school, I mean Richard’s G.I. bill could pay for that if he doesn’t want to use his money. But Richard doesn’t stay, he recognizes that he is not in a good place and doesn’t want to tie Elizabeth to all his pain and sorrow. He then leaves (which is good because Elizabeth needs to end up with Darcy.)

Richard writes letters to Slim (Elizabeth) but doesn’t send them. This saga then takes on a new twist with the introduction of a completely new character, Miss Evelyn Ross, James’ former fiancé.

Evelyn writes to Richard and the two continue correspondence throughout the whole book. She marries another man and has girls, the two continuing to write through all the ups and downs of life. They ask each other advice, share their hopes and sorrows, love each other unconditionally and platonically. I loved their characters together, their friendship, and the whole character of Evelyn Ross. I have to admit I think it was letter 3 or 4 and I wanted Richard and Evelyn to marry (unfortunately she already is married [Darn])

OMGosh, these letters. They are just so cute and sweet together.

So Richard returns to Pemberley, and helps with the Georgiana and the Wickham issue. A year goes by and Darcy has been out to Bingley’s home he rented and is excited and relaxed, so Richard concludes there is only one thing to make him fell that way-it must be a girl. And when Richard goes to celebrate Charles’ Bingley’s birthday, he discovers that it isn’t any girl his cousin is going ape over, but Slim-Elizabeth Bennet.

Richard is struck…

Very awkward. 

So there are some fights, drama, and Richard ends up leaving to New York to live with Anne de Bourgh and Charlotte Lucas-where he causes more fights and drama. He then decides to date a girl who looks about 60% like Elizabeth-yes you can see he’s making stellar decisions.

As you can imagine, it crashes and burns when Darcy and Elizabeth come to visit for New Year’s Eve.

There is a big blow up between him and Darcy, although they tenuously mend it. Things take a turn when Richard reenlists for the Korean war and stops at the Pemberley house to say goodbye.

He leaves for Korea and gets damaged a bit more, physically and emotionally. He gets severely wounded and Darcy comes to stay with him and help him. The cousins repair their relationship, although their mutual love for Elizabeth will always stand between them and cause them to be insecure and lash out at each other.

Time passes, and Richard goes with Charlotte (who has escaped her horrible husband-see her section below) to help with her husband’s funeral and they grow even closer. So close, that Charlotte asks him to be the father of her child when she is in a relationship with Anne de Bourgh.

This is like the worst idea ever. This is going to cause so many issues with the little family the three have made…but Richard says yes and the two are just sooo adorable together! When he tells her he respects her and it is an honor to be with her, and wants to treat her right-oh my heart!!! Having been in an abusive relationship, words cannot express how sweet that was to read. Now I want them together!

After little Ben is born. They are just so cute…but it doesn’t last-Richard hasn’t finished his ramblin’. He has more paths to take, old acquaintances to run back into, and maybe even a chance at falling in love again?

Georgiana Darcy

Georgiana is a young girl who stays and studies at home. She’s never seen anything of the world, nor ever really wanted to. She’s grown up not lonely, but has wished for more family. Especially now: with their father and cousin James dead, Richard lost in the wind, Anne sequestered on her mother’s mansion, and Darcy upset and running through the rings of grief. Georgiana wishes there was more for her to do to help, but there isn’t. She thinks about leaving for boarding school, but if she leaves her brother-who will he have? Who will she have?

A George Wickham returns to the estate and lifts Georgiana’s young heart-she begins dream, hope, and even starts digging through her mother’s belongings to take her luggage and clothes with her as she plans to run off with Wickham. Luckily she is stopped and saved, with Wickham getting sent into the military as punishment, (but not the kind of punishment I would give him.)

Is this too far?

Years go by and one day Georgiana runs into one of her brother’s furniture factory workers, Ari Penska, a Jewish Polish refugee. The two begin a friendship-she teaching him English along with falling head over heels in love with him. But is this love? Georgiana has been fooled before…should she open her heart or will this be a big mistake?

Anne de Bourgh

In this version Anne is a lesbian who falls in love with Charlotte Lucas-Collins. She grew up imprisoned in her mother’s home, controlled by her, and when she left to New York she began a new life as a painter with Charlotte.

Richard goes to stay with her and Charlotte but does cause a few problems with his drinking, roughhousing, etc. His disorderly contact gets him arrested more often than not, bringing Police Sergeant Kelly into their lives. Ann likes the man and decides she wants to paint him, the two becoming friends-with Kelly pining over her. Now, I know North wrote it a certain way but I loved how much Sergeant Kelly cared for Ann and then I wanted them together.

Things go well until Charlotte wants to have a child. Anne wants to support her but will she be able to handle Charlotte and Richard having a bond she can never be a part of?

Charlotte Lucas

Charlotte Lucas grew up with the Bennets and married their cousin. It appears the match was urged on by her parents, and it quickly became an unhappy one as he was an abusive monster.

She ends up falling for Anne de Bourgh, and after a truly horrible fight with Mr. Collins, the Bennets, Bingleys, and Darcys help her leave him. She then journeys to New York with Anne. There she starts to undue the damage from her abusive relationship-the parts with Charlotte finding herself I really enjoyed as North really nailed the emotions and feelings of coming out of an abusive relationship. Charlotte later starts working as a seamstress.

Charlotte and Richard become very close, he wanting to protect her and Charlotte enjoying the friendship of a good man who won’t hurt her.

Charlotte receives news that Leland Collins, her husband, is dead and she, Anne, and Richard head off to Florida to see for themselves. Mr. Collins was a traveling minster who would pull snakes out for his act. Usually they were milked of venom, but one was missed and he died.

Suspicious

Charlotte goes to see his “wife”, a girl really, that he used and abused. I really like the interactions between Charlotte and this woman, and I think North did a great job capturing it.

Charlotte wants to be a mother, she has always wanted to be a mother, and she asks Richard to be the father of her baby. But is that a wise decision? How will that affect the family they have created in New York?

This story was compelling, my attention was captured from page one and I wanted to finish reading it and discover what the conclusion of the book would be.

I liked that North focused on other characters that aren’t usually written about and ones that we don’t know that much about-I mean in the original Pride and Prejudice we have Colonel Fitzwilliam, Charlotte Lucas-Collins, Georgiana Darcy, and Anne de Bourgh for only a few scenes and that gives a lot of room for an author to create.

I for one, never saw Colonel Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth as lovers-I always thought of them as mutually attracted to each other but never serious. But this is North’s story and I don’t mind that she took the story in this direction as it was done well, added to the characters, and that in the end she didn’t decide to ignore Jane Austen’s work and change Darcy and Elizabeth getting together (I’m looking at you Beth Patillo).

Darcy always!

But even if you don’t agree with all the decisions that the author made, (clearly you can see I wanted the romance to go in different directions [I couldn’t help myself]) or have a different viewpoint there is much to enjoy in North’s take on a loved story.

There were some sex scenes, but they were tasteful and progressed the story line, rather than feeling like it was just sex to be sex. Like with Dangerous to Know, they don’t overwhelm the story so if you like reading them you get what you want-and if it isn’t for you you can just skip over it.

And let me say-I LOVE how the story is peppered with characters from other Jane Austen novels. While Richard is in boot camp he meets a Teo Bertram (Tom Bertram from Mansfield Park); Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) is leading the troops in Korea, and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) is the military doctor who operates on him. We finally have a Marvel Cinematic Universe-I think we need a Jane Austen Universe where all the characters show up in a book together (and something better than Austentatious)

One thing I also just love about North is that in her work she tends to do include multiracial romances. As being biracial and growing up with only I Love Lucy, it is great to have something to read that has that-like I can not express enough with words how it felt growing up and feeling so different and alone, with no one like you. This feeling of inbetween as you don’t belong to one or the other. North, I wish you were writing stuff like this like 15 years ago.

North is a talented writer, really knows how to craft a story, and has an incredibly command with words and phrases. I look forward to reading the first book.

For more Beau North, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more Colonel Fitzwilliam, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

For more Georgiana Darcy, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

For more on Charlotte Lucas, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

So Modesto Jane Con was this past weekend. From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

I, unfortunately, could only go on Saturday, but I had so much fun and I can’t wait until the next one! If there is a next one…

So your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

I dressed up for the event (I’ll post on that later) and brought a reticule my sister made. Reticules are tiny, so I couldn’t pack everything in my bag-just the essentials. Debit card, credit card, ID, fan, gloves, pens, glasses (as I was wearing contacts) and a handkerchief. I wasn’t too worried about the size of the reticule though, as I had planned on purchasing one of their cute tote bags.

I also brought my notebook, as I planned on taking notes and later posting them (as I am now).

Our group was traveling from 1.5-2 hours away (depending on that CA traffic) and left around seven and arrived a little after 8:30. We actually headed to the theater as I was looking at the wrong event. You know me and navigating, I always get lost!

I then redirected our group, and we went to the library. We easily checked in and finished just as they announced the first workshop: Gowns & Groans

So of course, we were excited about this workshop. We wanted to learn more about the Regency gowns and who can resist the chance to snark about costumes?

Let the snark begin!

This workshop was run by Kristine Doiel and Hillari DeSchane

“Costumes have a coded language all their own. They can transport us back to Austen’s time and speak volumes about the characters, or they can be a constant distraction and prevent us from losing ourselves in the unfolding drama. Join veteran costumer Kristine Doiel on a lively, and likely to be controversial, stroll through this Regency costume Hall of Fame and Shame.”

Kristine Doiel is a costume designer and theater educator with over 50 theater and dance productions to her credit. A lecturer at Fresno State since 2017, she has taught costume and theater classes and mentored student designers. Awards include the UC Davis Provost’s Fellowship in Arts, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Grant and a Dramalogue Award for costume design for The Rivals in Santa Barbara.

Hillari DeSchane is a JASNA life member and a board member of Opera Modesto. Her pre-show opera talks have become audience favorites. DeSchane’s first Regency pet cozy: A Christmas Tail: A Regency Holiday Mystery received a Certificate of Merit from the Cat Writers Association hillarideschane.com

Picture by Arnold Chavez

So Doiel started off the workshop talking about her background; moved onto the judging of the film depictions, finished with her experiences in costuming the Mansfield Park Opera, and concluded with a Q&A.

Part I: Doiel’s Background

Doiel shared that didn’t have a background in Regency wear, and had to do research on it-being an archeologist, literary analyst, and art historian all in one. I enjoyed this aspect of her talk as you don’t really think about that when watching a film or performance, that not only do the clothes have to be accurate-but they have to reflect the action of the scene, the context of the characters, and the literature of the piece.

That’s a lot

It reminded me of when I studied art history and how you looked at the art and what it was saying, but at the same time also looked into what was happening at the time and how that influenced it. There are many layers you have to work through-such as a self portrait of an artist wearing red, blue, and white takes on a different meaning when it was created post-French revolution, such as to show liberty, fraternity, that is one of the new citizens, etc.

Part II: Gowns & Groans

The next part of the discussion was Doiel reviewing the clothing choices in Mansfield Park (1999), Mansfield Park (2007), and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

So to start with, I do not like Mainsfield Park (1999). 

Not for me..

Eventually I will review it, but as for now-we will get back to the clothes.

Gowns:

Doiel felt that quite a bit of the costumes in here were accurate. Lady Bertram wore flimsy, lacy gowns that looked like something the wealthy class would wear, but older-late 1700s and post-French Revolution. It fits as Lady Bertram wouldn’t be at the height of fashion, but wearing something more her time. Maria, Julia, and the men were all accurate.

Groans:

So here is the good part, let’s start talking trash! J/K, Doiel was very kind in her remarks, trying to not be too judgmental and try to reason why a certain outfit would have been picked.

The first offender: Fanny Price played by Frances O’Conner

So in this Fanny wears a lot of what looks like a jumper or vest over a shirt. This is not accurate at all. Instead the film, which is one reason why I can’t stand it, doesn’t follow the book at all when it comes to Fanny’s character. Instead, they turn Fanny into Jane Austen, and emphasize the writing aspect, dressing her in this more masculine, “writing type” outfit. I call it a “writing type” outfit as when I saw this the first time it made me think of Jo in the 1933 version and she was a writer. It also is similar to what Jo wears in the 2019 version of Little Women.

The other offender: Mary Crawford.

All of Mary’s clothes were too contemporary. I mean look at the dress above, it is something that we were wearing at the start of the millennium, rather than 185 years earlier. remember wearing sleeves like that on my clothes.

She also has an outfit with a giant collar, that is just what? Doiel pointed out that the person in charge of wardrobe would have the resources and done the research on what was accurate and somebody (whether them, the studio, actor, or the director) picked this for a purpose. Doiel didn’t know why, but guessed that either the director or actor wanted something more modern to relate to audiences.

Mary’s outfits definitely were the worst.

So Mansfield Park (2007) is not the most accurate of films, as they cut a lot out to keep it at standard movie time length-however I am apparently one of the few that actually enjoys it.

Gowns: 

She didn’t talk about any she liked as it was time to move onto the next section.

Groans:

The offender here was Billie Piper as Fanny Price.

So Doil noticed that Piper wore a wide range of styles and thought maybe it was so varied as the production wanted her to be wearing hand-me-down gowns. There is a diamond dress that she wears that is completely inaccurate to the time period. Also her hair is one hundred percent wrong, as it is too modern, and she would have had it pinned up as she isn’t a young child. I think that is an interesting comment in light of the Emma Vogue photo shoot. 

The other outfit that Doiel pointed out as wrong was the white wedding dress Fanny wears at the end of the film. White wedding dresses only became popular after Queen Victoria, prior to that they were colored dresses. I disagreed with this as I thought the white dress was more a comment on Fanny’s innocence, sweetness, and morality versus being white to be in with what is in fashion today. I mean, after all this takes place after an affair, a love proved false, and all the manipulations by the Crawfords. Plus, it is a foil to Maria’s dress who had opulence (check out that hat) and color, Fanny’s being plain not because of what she was forced to wear (as I am sure Sir Thomas would have bought her a different dress), but a testament to her character. But that’s just my thoughts…

The last one we looked at was Pride and Prejudice (1940) a film I love, but apparently a lot do not.

Gowns:

Nothing was accurate.

Groans:

The film was set in the 1830s instead of the Regency period and no one quite knows why. Some say it was because Gone With the Wind was so popular and they wanted to use costumes like that. Others say it was because the Regency gowns seemed too plain. Others believe it was more cost effective to use these gowns than create new ones. Doiel thought that they might have picked such extravagant costumes as England was having to o with sparse materials, “mend and make do” as the slogan goes, and seeing such fun fabric and opulence would raise spirits. I don’t know if we will ever know…

Hmmm

Doiel said that she felt that this style works for Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia as it is extravagant, frivolous, oversized, and fits their characters.

However, with Elizabeth, it works against her.

*Sigh* Laurence Olivier looks great, but he is wearing pants instead of breeches (as are the other men (see below on the view of pants) and Colonel Fitzwilliam wears a kilt (?).

That’s where we ended, although I wished they had discussed Mansfield Park (1983) as that one has some doozies in choices. I mean look at their hair.

From left to right: Edmund Bertram, Mary Crawford, and Mr. Yates

Part III: Costuming Mansfield Park, the Opera

So Doiel said that when costuming something that takes place in the past, buying the right type of fabric can be a problem. You need something that looks right on stage, fits together as a whole (in color and style), and needs to be accurate as to something they would wear.

Doiel did say that she was fortunate in this Opera to be able to reuse costumes from an earlier production, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley that had been done in December 2019.

She brought swatches in of the different fabrics for each characters costumes, and me and my group really liked that. We all enjoyed the closeup look and when we watched the performance later in the day, looked at the costumes and remembered what we had seen earlier in the workshop. We also loved that her mom, who helped her sew and cut things out, was there. It was so sweet how she helped hand out the swatches and supported her. I had tried to take a picture of the one for Fanny, but the people in my row wanted me to pass it along and the pic came out blurry.

But Lynne Marcus, one of the organizers from Modesto Jane Con, sent me a pic a friend of hers took.

Doiel’s favorite dress of the production was the gray number that Mary Crawford wears in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. It was originally worn by Anne de Bourgh in the Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. I tried to get a good picture, but this was all I got.

She also loved the Navy suit that Edmund wears as she made it.

Part IV: Q & A

Doiel ended the session by answering questions and talking about Regency wear. Breeches were standard menswear. Pants, or pantaloons as they were called, were not to be worn by the upperclass. They were said to cause a scandal because they showed everything too well-even though in reality breeches showed more. But you know how I feel about that!

This should say breeches instead of pants, but I didn’t write this so it gets a pass. It was an instagram answer from a question I asked my followers.

She said that pants were worn only by the lower class workers, so wearing them was seen as trashy.

Someone asked about the muslin we have today versus then, and she said it is different. The muslin sold in stores today is mostly white and work wear, instead of dress wear. Back in the Regency period it would be block printed, decorated, different colors, and came from India. The muslin was semi-sheer and lightweight, like cotton. Of course whenever I think of Muslin I think of:

India greatly influenced what people wore-in colors, patterns, and of course ladies adopting the use of a pashmina. I had noticed that when I was trying to find something to wear to Jane Con.

From Emma (1996)

Women and men always wore gloves when going out of the house. Doiel mentioned how they weren’t doing that in the Opera as it was too difficult with all the clothing changes. That means that that hand clench scene in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice never should have happened as both Darcy and Elizabeth should have been wearing gloves.

One woman asked about lace, and lace was very in fashion. It came from India or France (probably not as much from France at this time as England and France had been fighting) and was used on hemlines and sleeves.

My book club + sister really enjoyed this discussion. We wished that Doiel had judged the costumes a bit more, (as who doesn’t like a good rip ?), but understood that she was trying to be fair.

We loved that she stayed on topic-discussing only the clothes instead of the actual films. We would have liked to hear her thoughts on more films or more on costuming the show, but understood we only had an hour and had to be a bit limited to have enough time to cover everything.

DeSchane did a great job moderating the workshop, with her interesting questions and keeping an eye on how much time we had.

We loved it and learned a lot. In fact, later we watched the 1983 Mansfield Park and discussed what we learned in this when we looked at the costumes.

This workshop.

For more on Regency clothes, go to Muslin: The Fabric of Jane’s Life

For more Mansfield Park, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more on Jane Austen, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

The Darcy Monologues: Part II, Other Eras

The Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd and written by Various

So first of all, I’m so sorry to have taken so long to post this. I first planned to have it up by the 20th, but then I got busy and I pushed it back to the 21st. Then other things occurred which took me away from home all day so I had to push it back to the 22nd. And then I am sure you can guess that once again my attention was diverted.

After all you know my motto:

But never fear, my other motto has this covered.

The Darcy Monologues was brought to my attention when Christina Boyd gave me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I readily agreed and began reading:

What the novel consists of is several monologues, or short stories, retelling Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.

Some stories take place during the novel, some change things, some ask questions of “what if this happened…?”, etc.

Hmm…

The first half of the novel’s collection all take place in the Regency Era; and I loved it!

To read more about those stories, click on this link. The second half involves different decades.

Now let me clear one thing up. It was said anywhere, but for some reason I assumed that every story would take place in a different decade and involve Darcy and Elizabeth throughout time.

However, that assumption was false. When they say “Other Eras”, they mean “not Regency”. Yes, there is no great time traveling like I thought.

And let me be clear that this assumption wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine. The writers and marketing team did not lead me astray. made the mistake.

So I’m going to do things a little different then in the previous review. Last time I went through the stories by the way they are set out in the novel. This time I am going to review the stories by their times-starting with the ones in the past and ending with those that are set in modern times.

Pemberley By Stage by Natalie Richards

Circa 1860

Thoughts Before Reading:

When I heard that there was going to be a Western version of Pride and Prejudice I couldn’t wait to read it.

If you have been following me, then you know how much I was obsessed with the Old West, cowboys, and Clint Eastwood as a child.

ME!!!

So will this story be all I dreamed it to be?

Hmm…

Plot Synopsis:

After having his name sullied by his associate, George Wickham, lawyer Darcy has been convinced by his friend, Charles Bingley, to move to San Francisco and start over. He is journeying with Bingley and Bingley’s sister Louisa; no Caroline as she “would not leave civilization.” Darcy brought his sister Georgiana with him, but is worried that maybe it would have been best to leave her in the East. Also in their stagecoach is a Mr. Hurst, a man Louisa has become interested in.

As they are journeying, the stage is overtaken by bandits. Darcy is knocked out and when he comes to he discovers that the thieves not only stole everything of value, but kidnapped Georgiana as well, and will only release her for $10,000.

Darcy wants to travel after her, but many are wounded and need assistance. Luckily, two siblings-Jane Bennet and her brother Elias, arrive on the scene. They have been after the gang and the leader, George “Smiling George” Wickham” (the same ex-partner of Darcy), ever since he convinced their sister Lydia to run off with him. The two know of a healer, so Darcy and Elias head off to fetch her while Jane and Louisa tend to the wounded.

As the two travel they talk about their families and instantly form a friendship. After bringing back the healer, who is also a prostitute favored by Wickham, Darcy pays not only for her to aid his friends but for the information of Wickham’s hideout. Elias wants to join him, as Darcy needs an extra hand, and Elias is an excellent shot.

However, it turns out that Jane does not want Elias to help, as she can’t stand to lose another sister.

Yes, Elizabeth had been traveling as “Elias” to protect herself and her sister. Darcy is at first upset at Elizabeth, as he shared personal information but Elizabeth withheld hers. As they ride, the two patch up, as each understands the other hurt.

When they arrive at the camp they find Georgiana tied up, Lydia pregnant, and a camp of thieves bickering between themselves as what to do next. As this gang begins to turn on each other, Darcy and Elizabeth must think fast and bold in order to save their siblings.

Things I Pondered: How awesome this was.

Things I Liked: How amazing this was!

The action was fantastic, the pacing was great, and once I got started I just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

I think it was absolutely one of the best in this section. Just amazing from beginning to end and with every character. I know this will be one I will read over and over.

For more Westerns, go to People Have to Snatch at Happiness When They Can in This World. It is Always Easier to Lose Than to Find: O Pioneers!

Reason to Hope by Jenetta James

Circa 1939-1941

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love history and had just finished reading The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, so I was primed for a World War II-themed Pride and Prejudice.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy and Bingley are soldiers in the British army. They knew each other back in school and have struck up their friendship again. Bingley’s sister Caroline is after Darcy, but he has been free from her clutches as she has evacuated London and went to a country estate, Netherfield

Yep!

One night when Darcy has time off, he comes across a light shining during a mandatory blackout. When he drives up to yell at the person with the torch (flashlight), he finds his words being thrown back as Elizabeth Bennet will not take any of his gruff, especially as he is on her land.

In this tale there are only three Bennet sister- Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary. However, the household is harboring two girls from the city, Lydia and Kitty Potter.

Darcy tries to talk to Elizabeth at a USO dance but she is angry for the things Caroline said about her family previously, the Potter girls, mother, etc.; and that Darcy listened to it all in agreement.

Jerk

When Lydia and Kitty return to London to visit their parents, a bombing is done by the Nazis. Darcy goes with Elizabeth to track down the missing girls and try to make amends for his earlier behavior. But will he succeed or fail in both ventures?

Hmm…

Things I Pondered: I didn’t really see where this level of anger was coming from in Elizabeth as there is a difference between voicing an opinion and listening/agreeing to one. I felt that she released her anger at Caroline at Darcy, instead of being given a reason to dislike him.

It also felt weird without Mr. Wickham. As much as we hate him, he does play a very important role in the story.

What I Like: I liked the introspection Darcy goes through as he realizes not saying anything can be just as bad as being the one saying it; when you give the impression that you agree with the speaker instead of being polite. I think it was paired very well with the fact that this was a war in which some citizens didn’t agree with what the Nazi party believed, but also didn’t say anything about what they were doing.

I liked the second part of the story when they search for the girls as it just grabs you and makes you read faster to see if they discover them alive…or dead.

The secondary characters were also fun as I like what the author did with Kitty, Lydia, Denny, and the like. 

You Don’t Know Me by Beau North

Circa 1961-64

Thoughts Before Reading:

This whole time I have been reading this title as You Don’t Own Me, thinking it was named after the Lesley Gore song.

Having it in the sixties intrigued me as I wondered if the author was going to go in the direction of Mad Men or Do Not Disturb with marketing or fashion (as that is how I saw Darcy) or the overused “hippie” route.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this to be about music and a radio station.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy inherited half his father’s company when he passed, the rest being controlled by his aunt Catherine. He doesn’t really care for it, as the company always held all of his father’s attention, but does like the money he gets from it. After he is caught with a client’s wife, as he did not know she was married, his aunt banishes him from Manhattan to Buffalo for a year.

If he does well with the newly acquired station, WPNP, then he can come back after the year. Otherwise he stuck there.

The interim station manager and sales manager is Charles Bingley, who later becomes a good friend, and his secretary is Jane [Bennet]. One of the radio shows is run by an Eliza Bennet, who has the top stats with her music. The only problem, she is playing African-American music which is not what Aunt Catherine or Regina Caroline Bliss, leader of the Mother’s Morality League, want. Finding himself pressured from all sides he tries to strike a compromise which doesn’t work well with Eliza, them often going head to head.

After a heated argument, Darcy goes to speak to Eliza at home and meets her father, Tomas Benowitz. It turns out that Elizabeth Bennet is actually Benowitz and that she is Jewish. There are more discoveries to be made as Tomas was the star violinist of the Royal Orchestra of Prague, before the war changed everything and he came to America. Darcy also meets Eliza’s aunt and uncle; and enjoys everyone’s company.

In fact, he starts falling for Eliza but she refuses him as she doesn’t want to be seen as securing her job by sleeping with the boss; plus Darcy is only staying for a year. Darcy doesn’t like, but agrees to just be her friend.

Not what I want, but what can I do?

Darcy leaves, with Bingley in charge (he is also now dating Jane). He returns to Manhattan and repairs the relationship with his aunt. When Eliza’s father dies, he returns, but she still refuses him. There is nothing he can do but return home.

His Aunt Catherine discovers that he is in love and encourages Darcy to go back and try again. Will he fight for the woman he loves? Or will he give in and marry some high society girl from Vassar?

Things I Pondered: I didn’t care for this story as much as I didn’t like the depiction of Elizabeth. She always seems to be just rude and yelling at Darcy. I understand her wanting to be sassy and standing up for the rights of others, but still Darcy is her boss. I don’t care how good you are, I think most bosses would fire you for screaming at them and saying the things she says about their character.

I don’t know the background of North but I thought the Jewish ancestry wasn’t dealt with as well at it should have been. Yes Eliza talks about the fact that she had to change her name to not offend people, but they characters act as if it isn’t a big deal when many Jewish people still faced racism and scrutiny. It also seems to not impact their lives or anything as it is introduced and never featured in the story again. True, it is not about her but Darcy, but I felt like it could have been fleshed out (maybe in a future novel?). I also thought they were too cavalier with Darcy converting. I mean changing religions is a big deal, it isn’t like changing a shirt. There are lots of steps he has to go through and it is taking everything he has known and celebrated and throwing it out, having to adjust to new life.

Things I Liked: really like that North decides to make this a bicultural relationship. This is something not really seen, other than  the film Bride & Prejudice. I liked the idea of having Pride and Prejudice with people of different cultures or races as you aren’t as separated as one was in Regency England. I would definitely read an interpretation of Pride and Prejudice that went along those lines.

I also like how the author tied in Eliza’s background to her musical choices. Being a person who is discriminated against as to her gender and religion, it made sense that she would campaign so hard for others who face prejudices. 

Plus *SPOILER ALERT* I love how he tells her on air, not caring who hears him, that he loves her and wants to marry her.

Hot for Teacher by Sara Angelini

Circa 1999-2005

Thoughts Before Reading:

So at first I thought this was set in the 1980s as the title comes from the Van Halen song, Hot for Teacher (1984) and they name a section after AC/DC‘s Back in Black.  But then they reference  Creep by Radiohead (1992), Dazed and Confused (1993), She’s So High by Tai Bachman (1999), and then Paradise which I am not sure is referring to the ’80s film or the Coldplay song that came out in 2011.

Hmm…

There are no cellphones really in use, but then Darcy does mention Google. I think the author set it in modern times, but it still has an older vibe to it. I may be wrong, but I’m going with early 21st century.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy’s parents were the CEOs of the FitzCo company, his father having passed on, but instead of being a part of the corporation Darcy has chosen a career in education.

Yes, Darcy is the principal of the prestigious Pemberley Academy. A new year is about to start, but Darcy is less then pleased with Vice-Principal Charles Bingley’s choices in two new teachers. For art we have Ms. Elizabeth Bennet, who dresses in eccentric clothes and does not carry the look Darcy expects his staff to project.

That sweater and hairstyle?

But Ms. Brunhilda (his nickname for Elizabeth) is nowhere near as disastrous as the new English teacher, a Mr. George Wickham.

George Wickham is the half-brother of Darcy, having been born from a liaison between Darcy’s father and his secretary, George’s mother. The two have never gotten along and Darcy dislikes him with every fiber of his being. George has never done anything to warrant this dislike but Darcy just has a “feeling”.

One night when Darcy is attending the FitzCo art benefit, he makes a disparaging comment about one of the artists, Frances Gardiner, to his cousin Anne (mix of Anne and sister Georgiana). Elizabeth overhears it and is extremely displeased as that is her mother.

Darcy soon grows to like Elizabeth but finds himself challenged in that arena with his half brother. However, after a few conversations and flirting, he believes Elizabeth is in to him, and goes for it at a the Homecoming dance.

Elizabeth turns him down and yells at him. She finds his behavior with George and the other teachers to just be atrocious. She dresses him down for all kinds of things he was unaware that were occurring in the school, and with a few lies that George has told her.

After that embarrassing moment,

Darcy decides that he will try and improve himself and the relationships at school. Will it work? Or will George and Elizabeth have the happily ever after?

Things I Pondered: I didn’t care for this depiction as much as I felt there were quite a lot missing. First Darcy’s relationships are horrible, I mean he had friends in the original book. And he wasn’t as mean or temperamental as depicted here as all his servants loved him and could only speak kindly of him. I mean that is something that validates the Darcy in the letter, when Elizabeth visits his home and hears what the people who work for him say.

Having George Wickham not be evil, also didn’t work. In fact, you rooted more for him as he missed out on all kinds of things Darcy had, while Darcy hates him for being born. I mean it isn’t his fault your dad cheated on your mom. They should have made him far more nefarious than stealing money at the end of the book.

Elizabeth is really mean to Darcy and he is her boss. I don’t mind her being sassy, but the way she talks to him, I’m surprised she didn’t get fired. If I yelled at any boss I’ve ever had this way, I don’t think I would have stayed on. They would have let me go. 

Darcy was a bit of a dork in this. I thought he had more in common with the original Mr. Collins. The way he acts around others, his flirting, his assumptions, etc.

Elizabeth yells at Darcy for being cruel and insensitive, but while in the original novel she had a valid concern, the others being misinformation supplied by Wickham; in this she has no justification. Mrs. Crane has been late multiple times and isn’t keeping up with her work so the rules say she has to receive a warning. Elizabeth yells at him that the only reason she has ben doing that is because her husband was in a car accident and is going through physical therapy, meaning she has become the sole caregiver for her husband and boys. Darcy didn’t know as Mrs. Crane never told him. It isn’t his fault, she should have talked to him, after all she could have received emergency family leave. The same goes for the other teachers, they never give a reason why they can’t do something, so what is Darcy supposed to think?

What I Liked: I actually liked that Darcy wasn’t carrying on the family business but doing his own thing. In today’s world you don’t have families being forced to carry on the professions their ancestors did but have the freedom to do what they want. I thought that was a very new twist in the story, and something no other Austen retelling that I have read has ever tried doing.

Also Angelini finally does the one thing Austen fans have been BEGGING someone to do. 

Yes we finally have Darcy do that. Thank you very much Angelini.

And something even more surprising, Angelini does something I never thought possible-she makes Mr. Collins likable.

Yes I know, I never, ever imagined finding myself liking Mr. Collins. Angelini you must be a magician or something.

Or something…

I, Darcy by Karen M. Cox

William Darcy has hated his name for as long as he could remember. His mother choose it after the hero in one of her favorite novels, but he just can’t wrap his head around why woman like him so. Ten years ago he read the book and hated it-

I know-

So the worst place for him to be would be a convention center full of Austenites.

Yes, he is bemoaning this to his friend and business colleague, Charles Bingley, when he is interrupted by two lovely ladies who defend Austen. Jane and Lynley Bennet walk in and out of his life, but remain memorable as the two gentlemen head on to discuss opening a chain of locally sourced restaurants with their board of directors. It passes and Charles it out to start up the trial place-with Darcy joining him later.

When Darcy comes driving up to the house Bingley rented in the country, he has car trouble but manages to get help-from Lynley. Not only is that a coincidence, but Charles is dating her sister Jane.

Darcy waits for Charles as he is out on a date and starts reading a copy of Pride and Prejudice he finds on the table (probably given to Bingley from Jane), surprising himself with falling in love with the book.

Later the two men discuss the farms they want to use for the restaurant, seeing the Bennet farm as the perfect place to get their supplies from. Darcy makes them a generous offer, one they need as if they don’t get a good contract they may lose it; but Lynley refuses, angry at Darcy. What could he have done to upset her? I smell a nefarious plot, but who would want to ruin Darcy’s name?

Things I Pondered: I liked it. I thought it was funny how she went with this theme of “real” Mr. Darcy as I was just talking about that earlier this year.

Things I LikedI thought the characters were very well written and easy to connect to. I liked how the story flowed and enjoyed it from start to finish.

The Ride Home by Ruth Phillips Oakland

Circa: Present

Plot Synopsis:

This story takes place after Darcy proposed to Elizabeth and was rejected. Darcy is owner of the company, Pemberley Media, and is in the States to launch PM’s channel here, then planning on returning to England. His best friend got his happy ending when Jane said yes to his proposal.

Soon to be!

The happy couple have been celebrating with champagne when they receive a call from Elizabeth asking for a ride. Neither can take her, so they wake Darcy and ask him to do it.

Darcy picks Elizabeth up from her disastrous date (with Mr. Collins) and she really lets herself go- drunkenly praising Darcy’s personality to body- ranging in too much information to nonsensical. She does apologize for being upset over Lydia, saying Darcy was right to be angry at Lydia spilling secrets to rival George Wickham. The two patch things up and everything looks great for Darcy, that is if Elizabeth remembers the conversation tomorrow. Will this drunken release be the beginning of something new, or the last shred of the old?

Hmm…

Things I Pondered: I didn’t care for this as much as I missed Elizabeth’s witty repartee with Darcy-something drunken speech can’t really do. 

I also found myself distracted with trying to figure out if she would be well enough to talk. I mean she was average height, thin and consumed a gin and tonic along with four or five martinis (she lost count) but hardly ate anything as her date said no butter, salt, carbohydrates, meat, etc. I’m not a drinker but gin, dry vermouth, and more gin with no butter or carbs to counteract it seems to be like she would be passed out. I mean I calculated it and she has an estimated BAL of 0.235-that’s nausea, vomiting, blackouts, etc. How was she able to make him breakfast the next day? She should have a massive hangover.

Things I LikedI liked having Darcy be introspective as he drives into town. Something about him just thinking over everything and himself as he drives resonated with me. 

Darcy Strikes Out by Sophia Rose

Circa: Present Time

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love puns, jokes, and when authors are smart enough to use language that implies two meanings that fit perfect with the situation. In this case Darcy strikes out in the game of love and:

I’m also a big baseball fan so I was very interested in reading this.

Plot Synopsis:

Darcy is a top baseball player, known as “Dandy Darcy” after he and his father posed in top hats and tails with the bats as canes for a photo shoot. After his father passed away, and his sister was in her horrible accident that left her in a wheelchair; he pulled away from life and others. The only one who he remained close to (besides his teammates) was his good friend and old roommate, Charles Bingley, who he saved from a gold digger.

He meets Elizabeth Bennet, sports reporter, and starts to fall for her.

But when he asks her out, he strikes out. Yep, it turns out that he really dropped the ball as that “gold digger” was Elizabeth’s sister; she thinks he is a snob for being camera shy and refusing interviews (especially with that horrible nosy Collins), and sees him as a giant jerk for blackballing fellow baseball player George Wickham.

Darcy is still thinking over the refusal as he visits his sister. Yes, Elizabeth was right about Jane; but after checking her out Darcy did discover he was wrong about her and encouraged Bingley to try again. However, being camera shy and Wickham all have to do with Georgiana as he tries to protect her.

When he gets to his sister’s apartment, he discovers her hanging out with a friend who participates in the Paralympics, and their new friend; Elizabeth Bennet.

Elizabeth meet the girls when she was writing a story on upcoming athletes, and she has realized that she was prejudiced against Darcy. They later meet for breakfast, and Darcy reveals what happened to Georgiana. Wickham was trying to use Darcy to get ahead, but was lacking in discipline and focus; being cut from the team. Later at a high school party, Wickham being over eighteen, roofied Georgiana’s beer with the intent to rape her. However, she left early and ended up crashing the car not from drinking (which she did) but from being drugged. They knew it was him, but couldn’t prove enough to put him away. The famous Darcy name, underage drinking, a beautiful girl with a tragic story all made for excellent newspaper fodder, especially for a TMZ like reporter (Collins).

Things are going well, until Elizabeth hears from Jane that their sister Lydia is missing! It appears this underage girl was last seen with baseball player George Wickham.

Darcy calls in his private detective, Jack Austen, who has been keeping an eye on Wickham. Will they be able to find Lydia and Wickham in time? Or will this be another strike out for Darcy?

Things I Pondered: Wow this was awesome!

Things I Liked: First of all if there was a “Dandy” baseball player I would totally be out there cheering for him whether or not he was on my team (the As, Cali all the way). I also would purchase a “Dandy Darcy” clothing line for my friends and relatives if such a thing existed. 

I thought this book was amazingly well done in taking the story and setting it in modern times. I loved what Rose did with all the characters, and I really enjoyed how she set us in the middle of the story with flashbacks as to what came before. 

I also applaud you for doing something I haven’t really seen anyone else do- show how Wickham was not only a jerk but a child predator. Yes, contrary to popular belief, most people weren’t married until they were 21-24 during the Regency period. Most modern updates keep Wickham close in age the other characters and make him seem like just a fiend. In this we realize just how evil Wickham is, in the orginal and this version, as Rose unveils him as the pedophile he is.

Jack Austen, P.I.- I like the sound of that. I don’t know if there are any film-noir, 1940s, Humphrey Bogart-ish Austen retellings, but now you make me wish for one. Can’t you just see Darcy?

Or what if Elizabeth was the detective and Darcy the client?

So Rose names a few of Darcy’s teammates and their wives, I’m not sure but I believe they stand for other characters from Austen novels. There is a Cathy and Hank Denny, maybe Catherine and Henry “Hank” Tilney from Northanger Abbey?

And then there is an Esme and Jose Carreaga. Could it be Emma and Mr. Knightley?

I think it would be wonderful if Rose would develop this into a full novel with all the Austen characters. 

But seriously, I thought this was just as fantastic as To Pemberley By Stage and just as hard to put down.

So what did I think of it as a whole?

Well, I….

I really loved it, even the stories I didn’t like as much. It was just so refreshing to see a point of view that is often overlooked or not done well.  I enjoyed every version of Darcy as each had the things we loved most about him but at the same time were all so different.

I thought that was fantastic as it made a Darcy for everyone. I mean some might be into a baseball playing Darcy or Western Darcy, while others want something different-such as a teacher or man born with a silver spoon who needs to see how others live.

Just like the movies you have your pick of Darcy, being sure to find one, two, or more to love/

In conclusion I think The Darcy Monologues, Part I and II, are just fantastic.

Amazing!

If you are an Austen, Pride and Prejudice, or Mr. Darcy fan you need to check this book out TODAY!

In fact, not only is this something I know I will read over and over again:

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

But I can already think of several people who will be receiving it as a birthday or Christmas present.

Thank you authors. You all did a wonderful job.

For more on The Darcy Monologues, go to The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more Mr. Darcy, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Prom & Prejudice

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Brought Shame and Scandal to Pemberley: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Two (2013)

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited

The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

The Darcy Monolgues edited by Christina Boyd and written by Various

So I was contacted by Christina Boyd to do a honest review in return for a free copy of the ebook. I agreed as you know I will review anything Jane Austen.

This is so me

I promised to have the review posted by the 21st, which I saw as no problem as you know how fast I read.

But the day came closer and closer and I realized I hadn’t posted my review!

Let me say that when I first heard of the story, I thought it sounded interesting but had no idea what to expect.

Hmm…

Was it going to be a view of Darcy at different times in the story? Will they follow the original text or do their own thing? Hmm…

I began reading the book

But then I was sucked in:

Or story in this case.

So the book is a collection of monologues or short stories; told from the point of view of Mr. Darcy.

Some take place in the Regency time period, some take his point of view of the novel, some after the novel, and some asking the question of what would happen if..?

Hmm…

The book is divided into two collections: those that take place in the Regency time period and those that span all time periods. I have decided to review the first collection on the Regency time today, and the second one later on this week.

Death of a Bachelor by Caitlin Williams

This monologue tells of Mr. Darcy’s feelings as his wedding day grows closer and there will be an end to his bachelor ways. As his wedding occurs and they head out to London for their honeymoon, they get stranded at a less than fabulous inn in a blizzard. Will Darcy enjoy being married? Or will it be his biggest regret? And how can he fix his honeymoon to be memorable for all the right reasons?

Things I Pondered: The only thing I can see Janeites/Austenites getting upset over is when Darcy says that he has been with many women before Elizabeth. This is historically accurate, as gentlemen had more social freedom; however some might not care to have Darcy be anything than their version of a romantic hero. 

What I Like: I thought it was very well written and that Williams truly captured the spirits of the characters. I really enjoyed her story, especially as she was not graphic but allowed the reader to use their own imagination. 

From the Ashes by J. Marie Croft

This story takes place right after Darcy has proposed to Elizabeth, only to have her reject him in every way. We have Darcy as he goes through every emotion from anger to sadness at having his love refused.

Things I Pondered: Who is Richard? Is that supposed to be Colonel Fitzwilliam’s middle name or something?

What I Like: I thought that Croft truly captured the emotions of anyone who has been heartbroken and I found her portrayal of Mr. Darcy not only to be likable but 100% relatable, as who hasn’t gone through a painful rejection?

I thought that he might be a little more composed than her portrayal:

But I think the beauty of this piece is that Croft shows that temper Darcy spoke of in the original novel, giving it a strong connection to Austen’s work.

I also loved her character of Anne de Bourgh and if Croft wrote a novel that featured or continued this expanded character of Anne, I would read that in a heartbeat.

For more quotes from J. K. Rowling, go to Don’t Fear the Reaper

If Only a Dream by Joana Starnes

Mr. Darcy has been rejected by Elizabeth and is so upset after giving her the letter that he wants to leave Rosings Park and never see her again. However, things do not go according to plan as his Aunt Catherine de Bourgh’s ploy at faking a heart attack turns to a real malady when she trips on the stairs and breaks her ankle.

Now Darcy must remain there, as it is his nephewly duties; and as the Collins are such great neighbors that they (along with Elizabeth and her sister Maria) come over all the time. Will this constant proximity change things? Or drive a deeper wedge between Darcy and Elizabeth.

Things I Pondered: I didn’t like this story as much as having them fall in love so early cuts out a lot of growth in the characters, along with all the events that changed Elizabeth’s view on him and showed her own pride and prejudices.

What I Like: While I didn’t like losing so much of the story Starnes wrote the answer to this “What if” very well and provided an interesting twist: Lady Catherine’s plot to get her nephew to marry her daughter results in him marrying Elizabeth. Oh Lady Catherine, I think your conspiring days are over:

 I also liked this Anne de Bourgh character as she was interesting and witty. If Starnes decided to expand her version into a novel, I would definitely read it as well. 

Yep!

Clandestiny by KaraLynne Mackrory

This story takes place during the ball at Netherfield. Georgiana had only been attacked four months earlier by Mr. Wickham and Darcy is still upset over it. However, his mind is split between that and Elizabeth as he thinks she has feelings for him. Things take an interesting turn when a trap door brings the two together. Will this help the situation or only cause more issues?

Hmm…

Things I Pondered: By moving up them having that time when Darcy is less reserved and more himself, we miss out on all the meat of the story. It is cute, but too short and missing the whackam-sockum appeal of Jane Austen’s revelations as how all the characters connect.

What I Like: Even though I didn’t like how much was to be cut out of the story with this earlier connection, I still thought this was interesting to see what would have happened if Elizabeth saw the “real” Darcy earlier in the novel. This was a good part to do it in as her real only problem was that he hurt her feelings. After all she doesn’t know Wickham all that well and seeing Darcy behaving in a different way, more natural, and apologizing for his earlier rudeness would help sway her from the fake charm to the real deal. 

The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Stanford

So in the past I have compared Pride and Prejudice with Beauty and the Beast :

But in this story, Stanford rewrites the story so that it is Beauty and the Beast, with all its magic and characters, but set in Regency England.

In this tale, Darcy has saved Pemberley and the village by standing in when Wickham (a powerful wizard) tried to destroy it. For his efforts he has been cursed with hideous scars, while each of his staff (Cogsworth, Lumiere, etc.) suffer from one scar. All he does is look in his magic mirror hoping that he might see something to lift him out of his depression and pain. He sees Elizabeth Bennet, and when her father plans to marry her off to Mr. Collins to pay his debts, Darcy steps in.

Things don’t go well as she refuses to have Darcy wear a mask, wanting to see his face:

But when wolves almost attack Elizabeth, Darcy manages to save her and after that things start improving.

Especially when he gives her the Pemberley library.

But will they be able to end the curse? Will Elizabeth ever see more in Darcy? Or just a Beast?

What I Like: I thought it was a cute fan service story. And when I say “fan service”, I mean this is something people have been talking about and wanted. It was a very fun and adorable read that I really enjoyed.

For more on Beauty and the Beast, go to Xactly Why I Think Beastly is An Xcellent Story

A Resentful Man by Lory Lilian

Mr. Darcy has proposed to Elizabeth, been rejected, and has left Rosings. He is celebrating Georgiana’s 16th birthday with the Bingleys and other family friends. They are heading back to Pemberley when Darcy decides to return ahead of schedule. When he gets there, who should he run into? Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners. They spend the time together walking the grounds and talking. Will they be able to reconcile? Or will this just make things more awkward?

What I Like: I thought it was cute and adorable. 

In Terms of Perfect Composure by Susan Adriani

So the story starts off with a brief recap about all that happened. Lydia had run off with Wickham and he’s been paid off so that the reputation of the Bennet family would be saved. Darcy is having dinner with Mr. Gardiner, and the latter man is trying to find out why Darcy would help them out – is there an understanding he hasn’t been told? Darcy tells him about his proposal and how it went:

And how he still cares but has given up. Mr. Gardiner encourages him to try again, as he believes Elizabeth still has feelings for him. Darcy goes to stay at Netherfield and when he and Bingley visit the Bennets, as Bingley and Jane are now engaged, Darcy overhears Lady Catherine’s tirade at Elizabeth.

Will this bring them together or force them farther apart?

Things I Pondered: I don’t get why she has Elizabeth avoid Darcy as in the original novel, at this point in time she wants to see Darcy and be with him.

What I Like: I really enjoyed how she has Darcy build upon his relationship with the Gardiners when he is in town as he greatly enjoyed their company and this showed that to a further extent. I also like how the author made her Darcy expect nothing in return for his deeds in helping the Bennets as is closely followed how Austen’s Darcy was. 

Without Affection by Jan Hahn

neverloveyouchallengeprideandprejudicedarcy

It has been fifty years since Darcy proposed to Elizabeth the second time and she accepted. The two are in their golden years and Darcy reflects back on his life, to a time he almost lost Elizabeth…

Elizabeth gives birth to their son and almost dies in the process. After the birth she has to rest, but while her body is weak her spirit is strong. Darcy is heartbroken and decides that he cannot, will not lose her. He is determined to have her never experience childbirth again and risk her life. But will Elizabeth comply to his plan or have her own ideas?

Things I Pondered: Darcy talks about how he knows little of women’s bodies and never thinks to consult with a doctor to see if she shouldn’t give birth. I thought it was strange as I imagine that a man with all his wealth and power would seek several people’s opinions.

What I Like: It was sweet to see them still so in love and talk about their great years together. Just adorable and a great way to end the first collection.

So what did I think?

Hmmm….

I enjoyed every one.

Yes there may have been changes I wouldn’t have done or things altered that weren’t my favorite, but those were really minute things. I found each of these tales to be extremely enjoyable and I loved looking at all the interpretations these authors gave to a story they and we love.

And no matter what changes, additions, etc  that the authors did, there is one very important thing that they all made sure to do. And that was to get inside the character’s head and actually give a voice to Darcy.

Wow!

Yes, you have heard me complain again and again about different writers never really ever go that far to bring Darcy to life, always stopping short in their interpretations.

But these authors don’t do that. Whatever changes they have made or ways they interpreted the characters; they tried to make sure they gave Darcy a personality and looked deep into him and how he would react to the situations, not through another’s eyes but through the depths of his spirits.

That is a hard feat to do I commend all of them:

I think all did a fantastic job in presenting “their” Darcy and I highly recommend you read this book.

But what do I feel about part two, Darcy and Elizabeth through time?

I guess you will just have to wait and read.

For more Mr. Darcy, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Prom & Prejudice

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Brought Shame and Scandal to Pemberley: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Two (2013)

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more Jane Austen quotes, go to For Darkness Shows the Stars