by Joana Starnes
This Pride & Prejudice variation imagines a scenario in which Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford before Mr. Darcy has the chance to do so himself. Based primarily on his ensuing anguish, there are also chapters in the perspective of both (Richard) Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth.
As a veteran Austen variation reader, I found the Elizabeth portrayed, while witty in parts, not quite the sparkling character I had anticipated. She seems unnaturally subdued when faced with the repercussions of her betrothal to a titled gentleman. There’s a much wider focus on Darcy’s journey, and if the author’s aim is to create the perfect gentleman, she definitely succeeded.
Most of the characters–Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. & Mrs. Bennet, Jane Bingley, Miss Bingley, and Georgiana Darcy–conform with Austen’s given personalities, while others (Anne de Bourgh, Charles Bingley) stray a bit. It’s not overburdened with unrealistic romantic situations, but Darcy’s imaginings are sometimes eye-roll worthy. Those looking for an imaginative take on the classic may be disappointed, however, it is a light, fun story for the casual Austen variation reader.