In this latest twist on Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, author Kara Louise’s Darcy’s Voyage: A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas embarks on a tale of romance, intrigue, and adventure. Setting the scene for all to follow, Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet meet whilst sharing a post carriage – and following the familiar Pride & Prejudice formula – Darcy and Elizabeth’s first meeting is far from stellar. An inattentive, intolerable Darcy has, of course, offended Elizabeth by impetuously colliding into her, nearly knocking her to the ground. (In his defense he is pre-occupied with being forced to take the post as his carriage is under repair.) However in the brief hours spent conversing, they make a remarkable impression on one another. Alas, at the change of horses, the young people separate and continue on with their own travels.
Fast forward two years, and again the two are travel bent. This time Darcy is off to America to escort his younger sister home from a visit with her old companion – and Miss Elizabeth is traveling to meet her uncle and aunt Gardiner, who are on a business trip in New York. They meet on the ship he owns, Pemberley’s Promise, and as they set sail the highly eligible bachelor Darcy unwittingly insults Elizabeth when she overhears him making a disparaging remark about the young ladies on board. Fortuitously, they both relish starting the day with a brisk walk on deck and are thrown in one another’s company, thusly building an amicable rapport. Although they do not instantly recognize the other from that shared carriage ride of two years prior, they are curiously drawn to each other. They both fail to acknowledge their shared attraction because both are unwilling to overlook the inequality in rank and wealth. However, when Elizabeth falls ill amongst the steerage class, Darcy takes it upon himself to secure her a remedy – altering the course of their lives forever.
Although this story is chock full of unlikely scenarios: would Mr. Bennet really have allowed his favorite daughter to travel all the way to the New World unchaperoned, or for that matter… in steerage? Was Elizabeth really so indisposed as to merit such drastic action and still be able to bid farewell to her steerage companions? And if Darcy and Elizabeth had made such a striking impression two years previous, surely would they not have recognized each other without delay? And yet — it is still a sentimental favorite of mine. Kara Louise has successfully taken our beloved characters and created an entirely original story, whilst keeping each true to their nature and personality traits. For example, Wickham, the deceitful charmer, not only runs off with Elizabeth’s youngest sister but steals an important document from Darcy, sending Darcy on a wild race to London to preserve his future life with Elizabeth. What I find so refreshing in this re-imagining is how this author artfully reconstructs Jane Austen’s masterpiece: setting these well-known characters out on a journey across the Atlantic and back, throwing original obstacles and conspiracies in their path, and all the while ascertaining that their love triumphs in true Austen style… ending happily ever after.
Originally self-published in 2007 under the name Pemberley’s Promise, Darcy’s Voyage is a romantic novel that made me sigh in all the right places and laugh out loud at the most surprising moments. Make sure you settle in for 512 pages of comfortable prose, as it’s a page-turner. I for one am certain to delight in picking up and re-reading wherever this book falls open!
4 out of 5 Stars
Darcy’s Voyage: A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas, by Kara Louise
Trade paperback (512) pages
Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2010; text Christina Boyd © 2010, Austenprose.com