Darcy’s Story: Pride and Prejudice Told From a Whole New Perspective by Janet Aylmer
So the cover says a “whole new perspective”, but it’s not that new. Other authors were doing it before her, like Pamela Aidan in An Assembly Such as This.
But as I have promised to review all Jane Austen inspired novels, I will review this.
So Mr. Darcy.
We all love him. But, in the original novel, he’s actually not a major player, in the sense of being in a majority of the book. We see him in the beginning, some in the middle, and then at the end. As a whole, the book is more about Elizabeth.
So we know how Elizabeth feels about everything, as we are in her head. But what about Mr. Darcy? What made him change from:
So anytime you rewrite Austen it can be difficult. How do you retell the story so that it stays true to Austen, but at the same time giving it your own flavor so it isn’t a boring rehash.
Let’s see how Aylmer does.
So of course the book is Pride and Prejudice, and we all know the story, (or at least I imagine most of us do), so I’m only going to hit on the parts that I liked or didn’t like. Ready?
So one thing Aylmer does differently with her work, is that instead of starting with Darcy heading to Netherfield or starting at the ball, it begins with Georgiana Darcy almost running away with Mr. Wickham.
I thought this was a good opening as it set it apart from other retellings, and showed the great relationship Mr. Darcy has with his sister.
So what’s nice about this version, is that Aylmer goes farther than Aidan went. She gets into Darcy’s head and actually tries to create a fuller character. It isn’t as big a release as I would like, but I understand that it must be hard writing when you have the ghost of Jane Austen lurking over you.
So one thing we see in Darcy, is that he is not a true romantic, willing to marry whoever he loves. He needs someone in his position of wealth and class, but he won’t settle for just anyone. He wants a relationship like his father and mother, who earnestly cared for one another. And as his cousin Fitzwilliam points out, it might be time to start looking, after all he’s not getting any younger.
For Darcy he has yet to find a woman that captures him wholeheartedly. There are young ladies of means, beauty, etc. but he cannot connect to their intelligence or wit. So until then, he’s content with being single and enjoying his hobbies and managing the estates.
In this version Darcy hates balls, not just because he hates to dance, of which Aylmer states it in such perfection I am now forever going to say this when people try to get me to dance:
“I cannot recall how many times I have tried to impress upon you that my knowledge of the exercise is not matched by any enthusiasm…”
But him being single and wealthy, he has to spend all his time with overzealous mothers trying to push their daughters on him. It can be extremely annoying.
I like that addition. When I read Pride & Prejudice for the first time, I always imagined that someone as single, rich, and attractive as Mr. Darcy probably had women constantly trying to get him for his money and title. Like in Cinderella when the prince wants a girl who wants him for himself, not because he’s a prince.
So Darcy is going to visit his Aunt as usual, but he can’t get Elizabeth out of his mind.
So when he hears that she will be visiting the Collins, he writes to Col. Fitzwilliam and moves their trip up to coincide.
There he makes conversation as best he can, as we all know he is really shy under that exterior.
He starts to believe that her comments, manners, everything she does means that she likes him too. For someone who has always had to make it clear to women that he is not interested, the thought never comes to mind that she might not like him. He assumes she understood how much he cared about her in their shallow, little, talks they had.
It is easy to throw stones, but on some level this must have been what he was thinking. I mean at this point in Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth has heard the lies of Wickham and that Darcy was the one who took Bingley away from Jane, so we know that Elizabeth hates his guts.
But Darcy must have seen something that he thought was encouraging, or else he never would have proposed.
And then when he hears all that Elizabeth thinks of him he decides he must correct it. Now this is what I always thought of Darcy as well. I always thought that he never realized what image he was giving off to others, his reserved nature coming off as snobbery and jerkiness. Bingley is so nice and thinks Darcy is awesome, while any other people around him are always brown-nosing, trying to win his favor. He’s never had anyone be brutally honest with him.
So he decides to write a letter, partly because he is angry, but mostly to fix his character in her eyes. He then starts to really think about what portrayal he is giving off.
I agree with Aylmer in this, as I always believed that this shock of seeing how others viewed him was part of the reason why his reserve breaks down.
But while all is settled in that sense, he still can’t stop thinking about what she said.
We also have some great scenes with Darcy and Georgiana, which deeply cement how great an older brother he is.
And of course we get to see Darcy track down Wickham. While it doesn’t go like this:
Darcy still comes out on top.
For more books from a Jane Austen Hero’s perspective, go to Mr. Knightley’s Diary
For more Pride & Prejudice, go to Be It Ever So Humble
For more works based on Jane Austen, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged)