And here's my review:
This variation deviates from the plot of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ pretty early on. Here, when Elizabeth is dancing with Mr Darcy at the Netherfield Ball, she mentions Wickham, and he decides that he will tell her some of the truth of that gentleman’s character. He takes her aside, just inside a dimly lit room, and as he leans closer to speak to her... they are interrupted by the screech of Mrs Bennet, berating Elizabeth for allowing herself to be kissed! Elizabeth protests her innocence, but in vain, neither of her parents will listen, and in a very short space of time, Elizabeth finds herself married, by special licence, to Fitzwilliam Darcy, a man whom she hardly knows. Although Elizabeth doesn’t like Darcy, she doesn’t blame him for the marriage at all, she knows her mother is the reason they have to wed, so she goes into the marriage in quite a meek frame of mind, and hoping that he won’t resent her for it.
‘I understood there was no escape from a union with this high-handed and disagreeable man, and the only advantage, though he loved me not, was that he appeared to wish me no ill.’In ‘Pride & Prejudice’ both Elizabeth and Mr Darcy grow as people; she comes to realise that she has been hasty in her judgement, vain and biased, and Mr Darcy learns that he has been arrogant and selfish, holding himself in too high esteem and valuing others too meanly. Here, they marry before they find any of this out so the dynamic between them is entirely different. Elizabeth is still in ignorance over Darcy’s behaviour towards Wickham, and finds herself often offended by Darcy’s high-handed attitude towards her. Darcy is very standoffish with her. He doesn’t believe that she would need to know a number of things, and not knowing Elizabeth that well, and not realising that she is the sort of woman who needs to feel respected by her husband she feels quite kept in the dark and excluded:
‘I resented Mr Darcy as well; he had had told me so little about himself that he had made a detective of me. If I crept about, reading things I should not read and collecting a patchwork of half-known things, then I blamed the man himself for his lack of openness.’However, in the first days of her marriage Elizabeth finds herself happier than she would have supposed. I was a little surprised at how little she struggled – after all, the Netherfield Ball is the point in ‘Pride & Prejudice’ where Elizabeth tells Charlotte that she is ‘determined to hate’ Darcy, but here, I never received the impression that she disliked him with any passion. I was also a little surprised at how quickly she began to have warmer feelings for him, because although she has a turnaround in her feelings in canon, this is set in motion by gratitude for Darcy’s admiration of her and here he gives very few signs. The reader knows that Darcy has feelings for Elizabeth from knowledge of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, but this book is from Elizabeth’s point of view; she has no idea of his feelings and there are very few hints. I am not sure I’d have picked up any affection on his part if I hadn’t have already known it was there. As it is, Elizabeth counsels herself to be more cautious. It was a change from many Austen-inspired stories to see Elizabeth having doubts of Darcy’s affection rather than the other way round.
‘I came to realise that, in the first flush of unexpected happiness at Pemberley, I had been living in a dream. I had allowed myself to forget how his connection to me had been forced upon my husband and how he must lament it. Just as I had looked at Pemberley and been overwhelmed by its grandness, so he must have looked at Longbourn and found it wanting. I determined from that moment on that I would be more realistic in my attitudes.’I liked the rendition of Elizabeth’s character here. I don’t see her being the sort to fall into a decline. She is one to philosophically make the best of her situation, even an arrogant husband:
‘I considered his words, and they being by his standards a compliment, I resolved to accept them as such.’Although she doesn’t want to set him against her, she isn’t overly meek and tries to build bridges between them.
Some people prefer to avoid novels with sex scenes, and while there is a sexual relationship between the couple the scenes in this book are very low on detail and I think people who are uncomfortable with such scenes might find they can read these. In some variations with a forced marriage scenario Darcy holds off on having a sexual relationship with his wife, but I think in these circumstances, with him arrogantly thinking that it’s a wonderful match for her and not considering her feelings at all, that would have been unlikely, however, being a woman in those times Elizabeth is expecting it, and since she doesn’t dislike him with such passion as in canon, it’s not distressing for her.
This is a low-angst read. I don’t like drama for the sake of it, but for myself, I’d have preferred a little bit more tension or misunderstanding between the characters or something, things are often plain sailing, even when difficult events occur, and I like to have an amount of choppy seas!
The book is very readable, so much so that I got through it in one sitting, I just devoured it! The author’s style flows really nicely, and there were very few instances of words or customs that didn’t seem in keeping with the period. I understand that this is Jenetta James’ first book and I hope she intends on writing more, this is a really enjoyable read, which I’d rate at 4 stars.
*I received an e-book of this story for my honest review.
Jenetta James is a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. Suddenly Mrs Darcy is her first novel.
Since this is a blog tour, there are other stops where you can read guest posts from the author, Jenetta James, excerpts from the book, other reviews, and even win a copy of your own. Here are the other stops on the tour:
20 April:Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
21 April: Review at Songs and Stories
22 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
23 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
24 April: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
25 April: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen
26 April: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
27 April: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
28 April: Guest Post at Songs and Stories
29 April: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
30 April: Review at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
1 May: Review at Margie's Must Reads
2 May: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
3 May: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie
Many thanks to Meryton Press for sponsoring the blog tour and to Jakki Leatherberry of Leatherbound Reviews for arranging the blog tour!