Complex Young Mr. Darcy … and a Silly Elizabeth
This is a very different take on Pride & Prejudice fan fiction. It takes place almost entirely in London, five years earlier than in canon. Due to illness at Longbourn, 15-year-old Elizabeth and 13-year-old Kitty are shipped off to an old friend of their father’s in London. Darcy and Georgiana have just recently arrived in London, too, unable to face Pemberley after their father’s death. The main text takes place over the course of a year and a half. The Bennet girls become friends with Georgiana and so enter Darcy’s sphere.
Because the book takes place over such a long period of time, with sometimes months where we don’t see what is happening, it sometimes felt like there were dropped threads that took a while to pick up again. For instance, Major Fitzwilliam is planning to meet with Elizabeth to determine if Elizabeth is OK for Darcy and Georgiana to chum around with. At the end of a Darcy scene, it looks like he is just about to do it. Yet, the next scene isn’t that; he actually doesn’t meet her until much later…and we didn’t get to see any intensive interview (which could have been great fun).
Eavesdropping was used too often as an important plot point.
I really liked this younger Darcy. His vulnerability at the passing of his father and his delicate handling of Georgiana were sweet and poignant. He had odd little quirks, like drumming his fingers on anything when nervous, that made him more endearing. As a reader, I felt like I got under Darcy’s skin and could see his world from his perspective. A great characterization of Darcy.
I was not so enamored of Elizabeth. Early on especially, she seemed to have silly moments to rival Lydia’s! I have seen other JAFF with a young Elizabeth where she had a wisdom and grace beyond her years. Not so here! I actually found her continuous childishness annoying. I secretly hoped at times that the complex young Mr. Darcy would find someone more worthy of him! She did improve after her Wickham moment, where she became more like the Elizabeth we all know and love. For the last 10% of the book, I found her a sympathetic character…but not really before.
I quite enjoyed the epilogue, which had a couple of interesting surprises.