Can't Stop Reading P&P Variations…

The Good, the Bad, and the ?!??!?!?!?!

Archive for the month “May, 2018”

An Unpleasant Walk // by C. Rafe

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Kindle

Overall Rating:  3.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.0/5.0

Copyright:  2011

Pages: 302

Clean Rating:  PG – the whole point is Elizabeth is assaulted (although not raped) right at the beginning of the story – other than that, there is nothing objectionable sex-wise.

Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

Elizabeth Bennet thinks she is a great judge of character. However, when Colonel Fitzwilliam decides to take her as his mistress, despite her feelings on the matter, Elizabeth is forced to reconsider. Though not fully violated, she knows that his attack would be the ruination of her entire family. Mr. Darcy, who she had judged to be arrogant, disdainful, and ill-tempered, offers his support and assistance in a gentle and caring manner.

Elizabeth must come to terms with her feelings of guilt and shame, conquer her fears, and learn to trust again.

Review:

Okay, first off, confession time.  Since May 17 I have read eight P&P variations (and am working through #9).  A combination of factors have led me to this place, but the truth is that I regret nothing.  Sometimes you just have to go on a binge of virtually mindless reading.

This variation was decent but not amazing.  Here, Colonel Fitzwilliam is the villain.  While walking with Elizabeth near Rosings, he asks her to be his mistress.  When she refuses, he assaults her and tells her that he will be coming to finish what he started that evening.  Terrified and in shock, Elizabeth stumbles back towards the parsonage, only to meet Darcy on the way.  He pieces together the story and realizes that his cousin is to blame for her situation.

Of course, this means Darcy doesn’t propose, but through a series of events, he and Elizabeth still have a conversation about Wickham.  Meanwhile, he also arranges for Elizabeth to be spirited away back to London to the safety of the Gardiners.  With the pieces in place, Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship continues to grow.

While this wasn’t a bad read, it was just simply boring in places.  I have a real soft spot for the original Colonel Fitzwilliam, so I’m always biased against variations that make him into a bad guy.  It also felt weird that this meant that both of Darcy’s best friends from childhood turned out to be basically the same terrible person, which seemed unlikely.  In some ways, this story may have made more sense if Wickham had been the villain instead of the Colonel.  Also, while I understand that what Elizabeth went through was very traumatic, it also felt like her reaction to it was a bit over-the-top in that her entire character changed.  Instead of being grateful that nothing worse happened and that everything had worked out well, she just moped about for way longer than she needed to.

I really did like the way that Mr. Bennet stepped up and took responsibility – I always like that twist, where the overall family ends up better and stronger in the end.

No real spoilers or rants for this one – although I have to say that “unpleasant” seems like a vast understatement.

Unequal Affections // by Lara Ormiston

Type: Variation

Setting:  Regency

Read Via: Hardcover

Overall Rating:  4.5/5.0

Characters True-to-Original Rating:  4.5/5.0

Copyright:  2014

Pages: 335

Clean Rating:  G – the preface literally says that variations with lots of sex are ridiculous and historically inaccurate

Synopsis (via jacket cover): 

When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same.  Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men – until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed.

Mr. Darcy’s passionate avowal of love causes Elizabeth to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about him.  What she knows is that he is rich, handsome, clever, and very much in love with her.  She, on the other hand, is poor, and can expect a future of increasing poverty if she does not marry.  The incentives for her to accept him are strong, but she is honest enough to tell him that she does not return his affections.  He says he can accept that – but will either of them ever be truly happy in a relationship of unequal affection?

Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudiceat the proposal in the Hunsford Parsonage, this story explores the realities and choices of being a woman in nineteenth-century England and reflects on enduring questions about marriage, commitment, passion, and love.

Review:

I read this book several years ago (and reviewed it on my main book blog here).  At the time I enjoyed it enough that I purchased a hard copy to add to my own library.  However, I had never gotten around to rereading it, and when I picked it up this time around I had only the vaguest idea of how things had played out.

Luckily, Unequal Affections was just as delightful as I remembered.  The book opens while Mr. Darcy is proposing to Elizabeth at Hunsford.  But in this version, instead of angrily rejecting him, Elizabeth allows the fact that she was so completely wrong about Darcy’s opinion of her to open her mind to the possibility that she may have been wrong about other things about him as well.  So Elizabeth asks for a bit of time to think about his proposal, and agrees to give him a final answer the next week when they are both back in London.  The very fact that Elizabeth doesn’t immediately (and enthusiastically) accept him is enough to give Darcy some pause and get him thinking a bit.  However, because Elizabeth didn’t go off on her angry rant, Darcy is still unaware of just how much she dislikes him, and Elizabeth doesn’t learn the truth about Wickham.

In London, Elizabeth sincerely ponders her options with an at least somewhat open mind, and decides to accept Darcy, but she is very clear that she doesn’t love him, and isn’t sure if she ever can.  Darcy still agrees to marry her, and they return to Hertfordshire as an engaged couple.  As the story unfolds over the next several weeks of time, Elizabeth and Darcy are able to work through many of their differences and, of course, find love.

The pacing in this variation is done quite well, and I loved the character development.  All the characters from the original story felt very true to form, and Ormiston retains Austen’s gentle humor.  There are also some excellent conversations between Darcy and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth does her best to be patient with Darcy, but because he never received her infamous set-down, he hasn’t really changed his ways in regards to people he deems beneath him.  There is a particularly lovely scene where Elizabeth finally confronts him about this, explaining why these people deserve his respect, and Darcy’s change of heart is done quite well.

All in all, a very highly recommended variation.  No need for ranty spoilers, as this story stands head and shoulders above the majority of the variations available.

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