An Assembly Such As This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman - How could I have forgotten this?

An Assembly Such as This - Pamela Aidan

I will confess to an absolute weakness for P & P and Holmes pastiches. I love them (well, most of them...some of have to take them one at a time), read every one I can get my hands on, and can even boost that my husband owns and has read two Mary Bennett focused ones. (I have yet to swipe his Kindle and read them.)


I read this a number of years ago, so long ago I couldn't remember what happened other then I greatly enjoyed it. Re-reading the story, I was reminded more and more why many P & P retellings fall short, in my opinion. Aidan does an amazing job of weaving the story we are so familiar with and the world of Darcy, which we only briefly glimpse in the Austen's work.


Here, though, we see the world Darcy inhabits; why he is so wary and judgmental of young ladies thrust upon him, how Elizabeth catches his attention and effects him, and what the larger world Darcy is connected to is like. We meet his valet, who seems to have an agenda of his own at times, his secretary who keeps the Darcys' business interests in line, and a friend from Cambridge who sees more than he appears to.


We truly get to see Darcy's character, both the good and the bad. We also see more of his friendship with Bingley. His true feelings for Caroline Bingley are made abundantly clear as is his growing interest in the woman he once said was not handsome enough to tempt him.


What Aidan does better than most I've read is truly place the narrative within the time period. Darcy's valet, the further social games we see played, the talk of war and the issues with the regent as well as the literary allusions scattered throughout the text lend the book a clear sense of taking place during the time period. All too often, retellings contain anachronisms that never quite allow you to suspend disbelief (though some do come close) but here there is none of that. This is an extremely well thought out and wonderfully composed book and even if you haven't liked other Austen pastiches, I'd take a chance on this one.