I've been incredibly scatterbrained in my reading lately, picking up and setting down several books - some with only 50 odd pages left. Part of that is my family were coming/are here/have left (this was written and posted over several days) to visit us and easy to follow fiction is better to read in tiny stolen moments then non-fiction or books I need to focus on. And some books have just not connected with me.
But this book held my attention, even as the book that introduced me to this author sits with 100+ pages left! I think it might have something to do with the premise of this book. Darcy and Elizabeth first see each other, in London, before Mr. Darcy dies and she's of marriageable age. They only share a couple looks but she manages to lift his sadness and he captures her attention enough to really look at her family situation. Meeting so young for both of them allows them to set their feet to a different path.
Each of the main character's stories were fascinating and let you see the times eluded to but not shown in the novel. We get to see Mr. Darcy and his relationship with his son, as well as the crush of responsibility Darcy feels after Pemberley becomes his. This is not the haughty, assured version we see in P&P; he's looking for hope and help and he's already seen it.
Elizabeth is young and her mother's reactions and words to her still hurt a great deal. She doesn't feel pretty and her eyes have been opened to how little her parents have prepared their daughters to find good marriages. Her education through book and especially the attentions of Mr. & Mrs. Gardiner to their two eldest nieces. Without the two of them inviting Jane and Lizzy to spend a long time with them once a year, she would have had no idea what she needed to change. Her eyes are opened to her mother and even her father's issues, and she loses respect for him. This in turn causes him to step back even further and basically leave them in Gardiner's control for some time. Saying that out loud makes it seem implausible but it makes sense combined with his other reactions.
It is then Darcy is ready to seek her out and she's old enough to accept his attention. This took place much sooner then expected, but Wells' reason soon became clear. She dealt with Elizabeth's introduction to Darcy's circle of society. We really get to see his family and how they react to his choice, as well as Elizabeth learning everything she needs to face the ton. I've long wanted to see this and it was rather well done. Mary Bennett gets a pretty good set up and I can't wait to see what comes of her story. Interesting takes on characters (particularly concerning the de Bourghs) and knowledge about society as a whole made this a satisfying read.
Not to say it was perfect. The writing seemed a tad too modern to me, though she gave it a decent try. Some of the characters, while there are reasons given and they make sense, seem to have almost been done dirty. While some of them I'm not partial to, they still get some really bad changes. And again, why can't Darcy and Elizabeth seem to keep to the proprieties! I don't mind some things but once again Lizzy's reputation comes close to being ruined so many times - right when they need all the help they can get! GARGH!
This is only the first in a trilogy and I confess I can't wait to see what happens next. Darcy and Elizabeth might be married, but there is so much still to come! While not the best P&P pastiche I've ever read, the idea is intriguing and the book held my interest quite well.
Warning: This book is very reminiscent of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife...by that I mean we see beyond the close door of the Master's bedroom!