Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Darcy Goes to War, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd

Author Mary Lydon Simonsen is making quite a name for herself as a writer who successfully uses Jane Austen’s characters and themes in other historical times and settings.  Her latest Pride and Prejudice re-imagining is set in WWII England with the Bennet girls conscripted into the work force to support the war effort.  This tale begins when Elizabeth Bennet, a pants wearing, lorry driver, encounters the handsome but rude Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot, Fitzwilliam Darcy.  And like in Austen’s masterpiece, Darcy once again unwittingly slights Elizabeth when she over hears him discouraging a fellow officer from attending a local RAF dance.  “I shall warn you there is little beauty in the girls who attend these dances, and they aren’t exactly light on their feet.  If you do go to the dance, my advice is to wear your jump boots.”  But upon seeing Elizabeth, Darcy is certain he has met her previously, but where?  A befuddling thought indeed until they are later formally introduced through another pilot, Charles Bingley.

The original characters are as they ever were with Lydia getting caught dallying with Wickham and with real consequences; and Jane falling for the estimable, Mr. Bingley.  What was most pleasing was to read familiar Austen lines, tweeked of course, to fit this 1944 story… “Because their mother was so eager for her daughters to marry, even in the midst of a war, Jane decided it was best not to mention meeting Mr. Bingley to her mother because she would have jumped from having a cup of coffee at a canteen to a courtship and, from there, to a walk down the aisle in the blink of an eye.”

Missing in action from this story is the domineering Lady Catherine de Bourgh and any real development of Mr. Collins, Georgianna Darcy, Mary Bennet or the Gardiners.  But the inclusion of the very much alive Mrs. Anne Darcy, Darcy’s mother who is recently separated from his father, was a welcome twist.   And THAT story line more then made up for any misgivings for not following the original story verbatim! Although the story arc is not about social class prejudices keeping our two heroes apart, rather the decisions they struggle with because of the war.  It was all too gratifying to compare both works for similarities and was gladdened as well that this touching love story was in essence fresh and a story unto its own.  A favorite passage was when Elizabeth and Will spent a poignant evening together under a dining room table during a rather harrowing London bombing.  I felt as if I was right there with them, finishing the eBook in almost one go—and well past midnight!

It would be all to easy to label this as yet another Pride and Prejudice love story… but author Simonsen has really done her research.  Her skill for drawing us in is masterfully depicted as we see the war ravaged landscape of London as well as the English country side in grim tales of rationing, death and gloom.  I must say that Mary Lydon Simonsen has another hit on her hands.  And if I might suggest, “Keep calm and read Darcy Goes to War.”  You won’t be disappointed.

5 out of 5 Stars

Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing (2012)
Trade paperback (258) pages
ISBN: 978-0615689487

© 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

14 thoughts on “Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

  1. As I look back at my review, I realize I failed to mention so much. (sigh) But I guess all the more to surprise you. Her story is truly rich in detail and terrific character development. I was surprised how much I liked it. And believe me, it takes something special to surprise me like that anymore.

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  2. Christina and Fellow Janeites, If you could see me here in AZ, you would see that I am doing a headstand. I’m actually typing with my toes. :) What a wonderful review. Thank you so much. It’s always a pleasure to visit Austenprose, but it’s doubly nice to have such a wonderful gift waiting for me. Thanks, Laurel Ann.

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  3. I was hesitant to read this book as I’m not a fan of the era, but your review has changed my mind. Sounds like another great release by Mary Simonsen – time to order!

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  4. Wow! This piques my interest becaue my son-in-law’s parents lived through the bombing in London during the battle of Britain and spent many nights either in the ‘tube’ or out under the stars for fear of getting caught in a collapsing building. Christina: another slam-dunk of a review from you!

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