Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman - Darcy in a Gothic tale...where has this been all my life?

Duty and Desire - Pamela Aidan

I'm not going to go in depth on Aidan's writing, the purpose, etc. as these were covered in my review of the first book in the series, An Assembly Such As This.


Duty and Desire is far more ambitious; it details Darcy's life from Christmas until right before he travels to Rosings. This is lost time in Austen's story and while many others have touched only lightly on this time, Aidan created a whole book to delve into Darcy's thoughts, feelings, dreams, and realities. Most will read that and worry, I know I did. However, as with her first book, Aidan weaves a believable story based on Darcy's character, conventions of the time, and the wonderful structure laid by the previous book.


Darcy, fighting his desire for Elizabeth, decides he must do his duty and search for the proper woman to be Mistress of Pemberley and his wife. But nobody seems to be happy about this: Georgiana has wanted to meet Miss Bennett and is sad to hear he has no intention of seeing her again and Fletcher, his Valet, seems all but horrified at the idea of his search. So, Darcy accepts an invitation to stay at a school fellow's house for a week or so in order to start his campaign...and ends up in the worse bed of intrigue, scandal, and the marriage market he's ever seen. Hertfordshire has nothing on this place! Darcy has to give up on his search rather quickly; he's too busy trying to figure out how to survive this house of crazy with his name and reputation intact!


While this book does not take place during set scenes of P & P, various characters we know flow through the text both in the flesh and in memory. Elizabeth, with all her duality of feeling she arouses in Darcy, is a constant purpose in his thoughts as he wades the social minefield, he finds himself in. Fletcher plays a pivotal role in this book, serving as Darcy's one confidant and the only person he can trust with complete certainty. We also see the return of Darcy's friend, Lord Dyfed Brougham, as he calls on Georgiana and promises his friend he'll check on her while Darcy's away. The new characters introduced in this book are all interesting and all mysteries; the guests offer various looks at people in society. You have the gambling addict first son who is selling off his family history and close to losing his house as well while the second son, because of luck of birth, must watch it all and despair. There are the single women either on the prowl or pushed through the marriage market by their mothers. The men are mainly brothers and fathers, a few of which were school fellows of Darcy.


The setting of the house and group has a Gothic vibe and fits many of the conventions of the time including rituals, mistaken and hidden identity, and a dark and somber mood. Seeing Darcy live through a Radcliffe novel of the time lends a humor outside of the text.


This is a highly enjoyable, and despite what it may sound like, one of the better P & P re-tellings. Darcy really gets to shine in this one. I can't wait for the their and final one.