A Wife for Mr. Darcy - Surprisingly...not bad!

A Wife for Mr. Darcy - Mary Lydon Simonsen

You know, I rather enjoyed this retelling. The premise of this version is that Darcy goes and apologizes to Elizabeth the day for his insult - "she is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me" - at the Assembly. He sees her character early, how she challenges him and does not play the societal marriage game. He becomes intrigued early, however he's already engaged in the beginnings of a courtship with a very eligible lady...who he rapidly discovers not only cannot match Miss Bennett's personality but also looks down on the people he chooses to ally himself with - such as Mr. Bingley.


The more time he spends with Elizabeth, the more he's drawn to her and she to him. However, his honor and reputation demands he continue his attentions to a woman he knows he can never be happy with. Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam come into the story much sooner and become his allies in his attempts to figure out what to do. Also, as he offers no objections to the connection, Bingley and Jane get together much faster. The center focus becomes Darcy and Elizabeth as he struggles to free himself so he may claim her...and she attempts to let him go, as she knows she can never have him.


There were many good aspects of this work. The author focused on the social considerations the union between Darcy and Elizabeth would arouse; which are taken for granted in Austen's work but modern readers often don't completely understand. Here, because they connect emotionally practically from the beginning, the social can become the driving force of the conflict. We also get to see the political side of the world as well as the issues arising from the time just before and beginning the Regency. One of the better...and worse original characters was Colonel Fitzwilliam's older brother, the heir to the family estate. He had to be one of the best original characters I've seen in Austen pastiches.


There are minor squabbles though. The writing, while good, doesn't quite bring to mind the time period and actions on both the characters' parts would simply not have happened at the time. (Why must you all include kissing and beyond in work of this time period?! Seriously, if you want them to kiss, show us scenes after the marriage. It's that simple.) Also, while the pacing is generally good, the ending felt a tad rushed and occasionally some things happened that seemed...convenient.


All told, this was quite fun for a Jane Austen pastiche. I can truthfully say it's one of the few scenarios I haven't thought of happening and it made for a very pleasent and quick read. I definitely want to try the author's other work.