Mr. Darcy's Feigned Courtship*

In this unusual Pride and Prejudice variation, Darcy proposes not in Kent but at Netherfield while Jane is recovering from a much more lengthy illness then she has in canon. As is normally the case, Elizabeth is surprised by this, and of course, rejects him vehemently. But this is not the last she will see of Mr. Darcy. She visits Charlotte in Kent. After a few weeks there, she is drawn into a scheme to throw a ball for Lady Catherine’s 50th birthday. As she, Mr. Collins, Charlotte, and Anne are discussing this, Mr. Darcy shows up. Soon, Darcy and Elizabeth are working together on a joint task for the ball, spending much time together to Darcy’s delight and Elizabeth’s initial dismay.

The proposal scene at Netherfield was shown in flashback as Elizabeth approaches Rosings. I thought that the author wrote dialogue that didn’t feel realistic on a couple of different levels. At times, it seems to be trying to mimic Regency patterns, but it didn’t quite work out, feeling stilted. At times, too, the characters would speak for a bit before switching to the other character. If you are familiar with the original, you know that Jane Austen only occasionally had these kinds of protracted soliloquies. Rather, she preferred a quick back and forth for conversation. I would have liked to have seen this scene written more in that less blocky, more rapid-fire way.

I also thought that Elizabeth quite often behaved inappropriately. She at times takes Darcy to task with the shrewishness that one would expect from her mother, not the witty and insightful Elizabeth we know and love, and she does so in front of others, which would not be acceptable by Regency propriety standards. Also, there are quite often long stretches of narrative; I would have liked to have seen that more interspersed with dialogue for balance.

That being said, this was an enjoyable variation on the typical story. I particularly enjoyed the idea of bringing in an important person from Lady Catherine’s past. It was funny to watch Lady Catherine’s reaction to all that Anne and crew put into place.