All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man In The World – Abigail Reynolds

on August 13, 2010

This is probably the third P&P adaptation/variation/continuation that I have read and I think it would be my least favourite of the bunch. I thought the idea was extremely interesting – that Elizabeth is forced by circumstances, to accept Darcy’s first proposal and how that alters the course of events in the novel.

This variation however, falls flat to me. What could’ve been lively and spiritied and made the best of Elizabeth’s famed nature is instead weak and insipid. The proposal occurs in different circumstances than in the original novel, and Elizabeth is compelled to accept when Darcy, in over-enthusiastic exuberance, kisses her and they are seen. That alone doesn’t sound like Darcy, as even at his most fervent and lovesick, he never forgets himself and also doesn’t assume Elizabeth’s total reciprosity, like this novel suggests. After the marriage (which is not described in this book) and the subsequent decamping to Pemberley, Elizabeth is depressed and shows none of her wit and vivaciousness. Darcy is attentive and considerate but totally lacks…whatever it is that makes him Darcy. Elizabeth feels the best way to make the best of this unwanted marriage is not to anger Darcy and she is compliant and agreeable to the point of imbecility. Like myself, Darcy doesn’t seem to much enjoy this ‘new’ Elizabeth either and seems to yearn for the girl who was impudent and spirited (don’t we all?).

I know that the ‘misunderstanding’ is a great delaying/complicating matters tactic used in romance novels but in this novel, that tactic is taken to a whole new level. It seems that after Elizabeth realises that she doesn’t dislike Darcy quite as much as she previously thought, she starts trying to show him her regard. Unfortunately, the lack of her previous regard gets spilled to Darcy during a quarrel and having realised he forced her (although inadvertently) into a marriage she wasn’t an interested party in, he withdraws into himself and seeks to avoid her and treats her with cold civility. There are so many misunderstandings that occur in this novel that it would be impossible to cover them all. First he is offended, then she is miserable, then he is injured and deluded, then she is spurned, then he feels like she pities him and it goes on and on. The whole novel, told from Elizabeth’s point of view, is just one big oscillation from spurned humiliation to outrageous consternation to giddy happiness as an understanding is reached and then the whole cycle starts all over again.

If the characters in this novel hadn’t been named Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet I might’ve actually quite enjoyed it. But because I’ve read P&P many times, and studied it before, I could not get used to this Darcy dancing attendance and Elizabeth and her quiet agreeableness. Every now and then she shows a hint of spark, with a mental note that Darcy seems to enjoy her spiritedness but it lasts for one or two remarks and then falls by the wayside. She does it only because she seems to feel that it is what Darcy wishes, not because it’s what she wants to say, or how she feels. And I don’t think Lizzy would ever have forced herself!

4/10

(Book #49 of my 50 Book Challenge)


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