Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd
So a while back Christina Boyd asked me to be a part of her Book Tour and I wholeheartedly said yes.
I have always wanted to be a part of a book tour, it’s like being a rock star, but even better as it involves books.
Although…unfortunately I realize that I am too much like Stacey Jaxx the rockstar as I forgot all about the book tour until I saw posts on social media.
But hey, better late than never right?
So when I went to read the book, I saw that my link to get a free copy of the ebook was expired.
I thought of asking for a new one, but I decided to just buy my own as Christina Boyd and the others have been so generous to me. The book, whether as an ebook or physical copy, is really not that much. So if you are stuck in the quarantine and looking for something to read, why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?
So a little backstory before we review the book. Back in 2017, Christina Boyd (editor) and the following writers: Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams-put together an anthology that had stories on Mr. Darcy, The Darcy Monologues.
After all, who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy?
Half the stories had a Regency theme, while the others were set in different times (Old West, 1960s, 2017, etc.) Each one did their own spin on the story-keeping the things we love but trying a new look, or new path on the tale. With so many Darcys there is sure to be a Darcy for everyone to love (there were several that I loved). [Also something to get if you are stuck in quarantine and looking for something new to read.]
In the back of this book, Obstinate Headstrong Girl, Christina Boyd shared that from the publication of The Darcy Monologues, readers suggested doing the same for Elizabeth-but she wasn’t sure. With all the retellings of Jane Austen’s most loved novel:
“…I thought all the Elizabeth Bennet point-of-view stories surely must have been told.”
But you know us Janeites-no matter what character may be your favorite, everybody loves an Obstinate Headstrong Girl.
So here we go with the five Regency stories. All of these are set in the Regency whether before the novel, after the novel, or taking a new path from some point in the story. I am going to do them in the order they are as you read it.
Resolution by Amy D’Orazio
It is two weeks before Elizabeth’s wedding and she eagerly awaits it. If I was marrying Mr. Darcy I would feel the same way.
She is staying with Jane (now Jane Bingley) and Mr. Bingley and glances out the window and sees Mr. Darcy-becoming stricken with fever at seeing him. Aw, she is so excited to wed him…so cute.
Jane is in a lather trying to get things ready for Elizabeth’s engagement party-upset that Mr. Bingley keeps inviting people so she has no clue how many people are coming. I really liked that, as I think it is nice seeing Jane more than the perfect angel and I think every marriage has its annoyances. Elizabeth is a bit distressed that Darcy would be coming (weird as they are getting married.)
Whatever, Jane asks if Elizabeth holds a grudge and that it shouldn’t be weird having him at her engagement dinner.
OMGOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHATTTTTTTTTTT?!!!!!!!!!!!!! ELIZABETH AND DARCY ARE NOT ENGAGED???!!!
I literally spit out my tea! WHAT??????!!!!!!!!
Do you ever get shocked in reading that you read faster, because you have to know what happens next?
So in this version everything happened as in the original book, but Darcy did not come back a second time to propose to Elizabeth. He did visit with Bingley, so he went back and spoke to Jane but Elizabeth and Darcy never had their walk together, time passed, and she met another man-Mr. Julius Timpson-who also happened to be wealthy as he is a banker-and got engaged and is to be married. Mr. Timpson is older, opinionated, and Elizabeth isn’t in love, she loves Darcy, but as she cannot have him sh but believes herself to be content with him. WHAT? ConTeNT?
OMG I have to take a breath.
Okay, so I calmed myself down, I’m sure Darcy and Elizabeth will straighten everything out. So that evening Elizabeth can’t stop thinking of him. Why didn’t he come back, was Lydia’s shame too great? Has he found another. She wishes she could speak to him, but doesn’t get a chance to as she is next to Mr. Timpson (if you can’t tell whenever I say his name I say it in a snotty tune as I don’t like him) and Darcy is on the other side of the table.
She gets a chance to break away from the ladies, and tries to talk to him-overhearing Darcy and Bingley talking about her engagement. She interrupts them and she and Darcy get a moment to talk when Bingley gets called away. The two parry blows with their wits, and Darcy admits that he loves her aw! They are going to get together! But no, he leaves. What!!!
13 Days until the wedding, the wedding that should not be happening, but is.
Elizabeth wants to be with Mr. Darcy, she imagines him when kissing her fiancé. Oh no, Elizabeth-but she can’t she doesn’t even know if Darcy loves her still. I think D’Orazio speaks for us all when she describes Elizabeth’s feelings:
Elizabeth drinks a bit too much wine and writes a note to Darcy asking him why he didn’t come back. The note is delivered and he replies he did what he thought she wanted. WHAT!!!!!!!!
What are you talking about??
He didn’t know if her feelings changed and then Lady Catherine, that evil schemer went and told him that Elizabeth would never want to marry him. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
But what will happen? Will they get together? Will Elizabeth break her engagement?
So I really liked this story and I think it was perfect for the beginning of the anthology. Not to talk bad about the other writers, as I loved their stories too, but this story itself was worth the price of the book. D’Orazio took parts and texts of the original novel and gave it her own spin. We get to see a view of what would have happened if Darcy did not come back? Would she have gone on to be a spinster? Or would she have become like Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride, not loving or caring and entering the marriage having no feeling regarding it.
And NO lie, every time the days before the weddings shortened, my heart leaped in anxiety, will they or won’t they? I zoomed through this story as I just had to finish it before my lunch break ended. Plus I LOVED that ending, it was amazing. and just what I was hoping for.
Atmospheric Disturbances by Christina Morland
Darcy and Elizabeth are fighting.
But not about her sister or Wickham. The two are engaged and we have fallen right in the middle of their unknown dispute. Elizabeth is angry and trying to poke at Darcy to get him to react, he wanting to leave, but she not letting him until they have it out.
Mr. Darcy is a puzzle to her-he is “cold and warm, kind and aloof, reticent and garrulous”-a walking contradiction. He is kind and loving enough to each her sisters to play chess, gives everyone in her family gifts, but doesn’t give her anything but the compliment of his attention.
So…I was really not getting into this story. I love Darcy, but in a different way than most people. I mean I love that he is kind and caring and a romantic hero, but I also love him because he reminds me a lot of myself, personality-wise (not money or family). Like that earlier quote I pulled, that could describe me.
So as I’m reading this I’m like, why you mad Elizabeth? Look at all the stuff he is doing- spending time with all the people who are the last he’d want to be trapped with, Mary and Kitty, ugh Mrs. Bennet. And I’m sure he feels that giving his time is the best thing to give, after all that happened I’m sure he feels that any larger gift would look as if he is trying to purchase her love not an act of love.
But, then we get why Elizabeth is fighting with Darcy, the real reason:
“No, what truly frightened her was the epiphany he was bound to have, and soon: she was, and always would be, headstrong and obstinate. When he came to understand this unalterable aspect of her character, would he also come to regret his love?”
OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH…she is feeling insecure.
It all makes sense!
Will they be able to work through these issues? Or will their wedding not take place?
I really liked the rest of the story as I think this was a new view into Elizabeth Bennet. I mean we all love her wit and how she has no fear toward Lady Catherine, but even though she loves Darcy and was a very confident person, she is no longer blind to her family faults and she must have spent time afterwards wondering if this would work, if Darcy would be okay with it, if he would regret his choice.
Does he regret marrying me? (from Death Comes to Pemberley)
I also like how Morland shows that just like any couple-Darcy and Elizabeth have to work through from being a “I” to becoming a “we”, and that it can be done with communication and still retaining one’s independence and obstinate, headstrong ways.
The Uncommonly Busy Lane to Longbourn by Joana Starnes
Elizabeth is trying to hide out as her mother is trying to match her up with Mr. Collins.
Elizabeth thinks to herself about how soon Jane will get with Mr. Bingley and then maybe Mrs. Bennet will lay off. Thinking of Mr. Bingley of course brings thoughts of Mr. Darcy-how dare he say she isn’t tolerable, and that in turn brings thoughts of Mr. Wickham. Poor Mr. Wickham, so rudely mistreated by Darcy.
As she runs home, she runs into Mr. Darcy, who is out taking a ride on his horse. They actually engage in decent conversation, surprise, to Elizabeth’s total surprise! But she hurriedly scurries away as she does not want to spend any more time with him-confusing man.
At home, Elizabeth tries to put in her plan to have Jane influence their mother to pass Mr. Collins on to Mary, as Mary enjoys his sermons and has her own self-righteous streak. It works half right well, as Mr. Collins secures the first two dances with Mary, but that leaves Elizabeth open to Mr. Darcy asking her to dance! She does, but ends up getting her foot squished by Mr. Collins. That man!
She has to sit out the dance, but who should come and keep her company, Jane?…no Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth is shocked, but the two actually have some decent conversation, until Darcy warns her against Wickham. That will not do and she becomes extremely angry.
Thinking you were nice.
The rest of the night is horrible as she doesn’t get to dance and instead has to watch everyone else dance and she gets to see how silly her family is acting.
The next day they are walking to visit their Aunt Phillips and tell her of the ball, and when they come back they come across Mr. Wickham who joins their party of Elizabeth, Kitty, Lydia, and Jane.
The other girls walk ahead to give Wickham and Elizabeth time to talk to each other, but as Wickham tries to steal a kiss, before Elizabeth can decide what to do they are interrupted by Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy begs a moment with Wickham and the girls walk off.
They are almost home and there is no Mr. Wickham behind them. Elizabeth starts to grow fearful and decides to head back as maybe Mr. Darcy did something to him? She and Jane hurry and they spot motionless riding boots emerging from a bush. Oh no!!!!
Elizabeth thinks it is Wickham and reaches out to him, only to discover it is Mr. Darcy and he has a headwound!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! NOt Mr. Darcy!!!!
They take him home and call the apothecary but Elizabeth is in shock. She cannot believe that Wickham could do such a thing, such a decent man-it must have been Mr. Darcy’s fault, it must have been an accident, he must have gone for help, Wickham can’t be a bad man.
But why didn’t he get an apothecary? Why didn’t he get help? Darcy must have caused it himself, right? She can’t have been wrong about Wickham, could she?
I liked that Starnes took the obstinate and headstrong down this pathway. I know I am an obstinate and headstrong girl and I have often in my younger days, not as much now, held onto a view of belief of a person even when the evidence seems glaringly opposite. It is a major fault of being an OHG that we can be so obstinate that we deceive our own selves.
And she receives the truth hard-with the officers saying that Wickham spread the account of Darcy (Mr. I won’t speak an ill word and disgrace his father), meeting Georgiana Darcy and seeing she is nothing like Wickham said, and Georgiana sharing the truth about his character.
But don’t fear, let me calm your hearts-Darcy survives and there is an amazingly cute scene when he thinks Mr. Collins is Elizabeth as he is suffering from a bad concussion. But will he want to be with her still? I mean he almost died for her-will that deter him from this OHG?
Something Like Regret by Elizabeth Adams
Elizabeth and the Gardiners have decided to tour Pemberley as Mr. Darcy is gone. Elizabeth immediately regrets this as seeing it reminds her of what she gave up.
However, she also would have had to marry Mr. Darcy, and who would want to be married to Mr. Darcy?
She realizes however she was wrong about Mr. Wickham and about Mr. Darcy. Seeing the beautiful place isn’t what chnges her mind but hearing what all his staff say about him-she starts to wonder. Could it have been that Mr. Darcy was just seeking intelligent discourse, seeing her as a match for his wits-rather than trying to argue with her? Could she have misconstrued his intentions? Could he have fallen in love with her mind? Is that why he said he loved her?
I don’t know…
She then sees a portrait of him when he was 22, before his father died. And she can see the difference in his countenance-before he had to be a serious landowner, responsible to all the people, and a father to his sister-in fact, he only a year older than Elizabeth and he took all that on. And Elizabeth knows she would find difficulty in being responsible for so much, and looking at how it has flourished:
They learn from the houskeeper how wild Mr. Wickham turned out and Elizabeth starts to wonder about her judge of character.
Maybe…being obstinate and headstrong isn’t the only way one should be. Maybe they should be firm in what their beliefs but also allow a flexibility in judging characters.
She looks at the late Mr. Darcy’s study-left exactly how it was when he died and how he kept a small miniature of Mr. Wickham to honor his father. Elizabeth thinks that if she had accepted Darcy’s proposal her first act as mistress of Pemberley she would “accidentally on purpose” smash Wickham’s picture, and I’m 100% in agreement with her!
Elizabeth realizes that she let his comment and injury to her vanity color her every perception of him. Being obstinate and headstrong sure can lead to misunderstandings. (I know it!)
Then Mr. Darcy comes…awkward.
Elizabeth is later surprised when Mr. Darcy joins their tour. He converses with her uncle, and is extremely friendly and not at all what she expects, and when Elizabeth apologizes for the way she treated him in Kent-he turns it around and admits his faults and apologizes to her.
The two begin to spend quite a bit of time together as Mr. Darcy invite her and her aunt and uncle over. And what of Mr. Wickham? Well, he does not cut their visit short as he won a ton of money and took off to hide from his creditors. So good-bye to you!
Adams is an excellent romance writer as they are just so cute together-the way they talk, and act, and such. Ah my heart melts like butter.
Squee! I loved it!
The Age of Nescience by J. Marie Croft
So this was a very different story. We start the book off in 1806, when Elizabeth is 15 and at her coming-out into society. I really like that Croft went in a different direction than most people-I don’t think I have ever read any other retelling that starts long before Pride and Prejudice.
The first party was not so great as she and her mother argued over the clothes-and there were no proposals. We all know Mrs. Bennet is not happy about that.
Later a Mr. Archibald Crosbie visits, both handsome and charming, and Elizabeth develops a crush on him. She goes to visit with her Aunt Gardiner who is planning on buying her clothes that are fashionable and actually suits Elizabeth, also using this time to try and talk about her about men-warn her that not all have honorable intentions, but Elizabeth doesn’t really listen. She believes she is an excellent judge of character and will not be hoodwinked-us poor obstinate headstrong girls-we don’t listen.
She picks out lovely material for her new gown, and knows it will catch Crosbie’s attention.
But Mr. Crosbie attracts too many women, and nothing happens. Poor Elizabeth is hurt and slightly angry at him-you know teenagers:
She then concludes that she will never pursue a man again-they need to pursue her!
Sir Jack Ashe moves into the neighborhood and pays a ton of attention to Elizabeth, pursuing her over her beautiful sister Jane. As anyone who has ever felt second best to a sister, Elizabeth’s heart gets stolen by his attention. He tries to woo her, but unfortunately all Elizabeth’s illusions and hopes are broken when she discovers he just wanted to take a roll with her in the hay-he never had any intention of anything more than seducing a “simple country girl”.
Elizabeth is angry at her naiveté and decides to never be used in such a way ever again and to not even look at wealthy man, but set her sites lower; developing an unknown prejudice against the wealthy class.
There is more to the story, I don’t want to give everything away, but I found this to not only be an interesting view into Elizabeth and her obstinate, headstrong ways-but very new. I also like how the author concentrated on Elizabeth’s relationship not with Mr. Darcy, but with all the people that are very important to her: Jane, Mrs. Gardiner, Charlotte Lucas, and her father Mr. Bennet.
Some people might feel what more can be done to Pride and Prejudice? Does Elizabeth really need her own book? Well I am going to stop you right there because first of all-
And secondly, this anthology proved that yes there is plenty more stories to tell about Elizabeth.
So I really loved and enjoyed all these stories!
Especially how each author took the theme of “obstinate headstrong girl” and worked it to create five very different stories that still kept the heart of Jane Austen and the fire plus wit of Elizabeth.
So if you love Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, or am a cardcarrying member of the Obstinate Headstrong Girls’ Club-you should definitely check this book out (and what better time when you are basically being told to stay home and read?) Why don’t you head over to Amazon and order a copy?
I think it is a fantastic idea.
So this of course is only the five Regency stories, the next post on 3/26 will be on the other five stories-these of course will be set in different time periods. We have the Victorian Era, Edwardian Age, 1930s, the ’80s, and present time!
For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie
For more on Pride and Prejudice, go to P.S. I Like You
For more edited by Christina Boyd, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook