Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of Searching for Pemberley and The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, is back with yet another opportunity for us to wander down that “what if” path with our favorite Pride and Prejudice characters: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. This time, our variation begs the question: what if, after Mr. Darcy made that terrible “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me” comment, he goes to apologize to Elizabeth and beg her forgiveness instead of never addressing it? We find out in A Wife for Mr. Darcy, Simonsen’s third P&P fan fiction novel.
Our story opens with Mr. Darcy heading to Longbourn to make his apologies for the dreadful comment he made about Elizabeth at the previous night’s assembly. It is here in the Longbourn sitting room that Darcy gets to truly meet lively, witty, beautiful Elizabeth Bennet. Completely shocked by how she is able to draw him out of his taciturn nature, Darcy begins to realize that she is unlike any female he has ever met. As Jane and Bingley spend more time together, so do Elizabeth and Darcy. The two flourish in each other’s company, and they quickly realize that they have feelings for each other. Darcy, however, finds that he cannot voice his true feelings for Elizabeth due to the duty he feels he owes his family to marry and have a male heir. Due to an entailment upon Pemberley, it’s impossible for Georgiana to be given the estate. Therefore Darcy must have a male heir. As such, he begins showing a favor for Miss Morton prior to his trip to Netherfield. Now upon meeting and falling in love with Elizabeth, he is struck with following his heart or following what he knows to be his duty. Even though his courting of Miss Morton had not been going on long, he felt that ending the relationship abruptly would hurt Georgiana’s chances at a proper marriage. Will he be able to untangle himself from the loveless courtship he’s begun with Miss Morton and take his rightful place at Elizabeth’s side as he dreams?
Simonsen is a master at getting her readers to feel the emotions that her characters are feeling. For most of the book, I felt the angst that Darcy was feeling when trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. I felt Elizabeth’s depression, as she realized she loved Darcy, and also realized that he could never marry her due to her low social standing and lack of wealth. Simonsen’s descriptive prose flows from page to page, as you become engulfed in the emotions of her storytelling. It’s a fantastic reading experience, one I get from reading every one of book of hers.
It always amazes me how variation authors are able to create such completely different storylines just by changing one small piece of the plot. You would think that with the drastically changing plot you would get dramatically altered characters. Surprise! You don’t. I think if Austen were able to read Simonsen’s work, she would definitely approve of the new directions that her beloved characters are taking. While Austen purists might not enjoy the new plot, I think even they would be satisfied with the characterizations of the characters.
You’re definitely going to want to add this emotional rollercoaster of a book to your “to read” pile. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
5 out of 5 Stars
A Wife for Mr. Darcy, by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Trade paperback (384) pages
Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2011, Austenprose.com