From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder
With the amount of Jane Austen fan fiction writers that write “what if” variations, you’d think that by now they would be running short on new scenarios. Thankfully, new and imaginative writers keep entering this genre and introduce new variations on our favorite old classic. P.O. Dixon is one of these fresh new faces. I was first introduced to this creative woman when I heard of a novel that had mixed Arthurian legend with our favorite characters of Pride and Prejudice. He Taught Me to Hope was this novel, and after reading it, I’ve been a fan of Dixon ever since. Knowing how creative Dixon could be, I couldn’t wait to read her latest installment, Bewitched, Body and Soul: Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
After attending the ball at Netherfield Park, Jane Bennet’s heart is completely won over by the amiable and charming Mr. Bingley. When he promptly departs for London without much explanation, she is deeply depressed, feeling the loss of any chance she had at happiness in life. Her sister Elizabeth, genuinely disturbed over her sister’s sudden emotional change, decides that she must do something about it. She travels to Town to spend the holidays with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, although it is merely a ruse for her true purpose: to find Bingley and discover why he left Netherfield in the first place. Her search for Bingley leads her first to Mr. Darcy’s townhouse in the hopes that he will provide a measure of assistance in her search. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, Darcy flatly refuses and turns her out. To make matters worse, a sudden rainstorm drenches her and she falls ill at Darcy’s home. Sick with fever, Lizzie almost faints and Darcy rushes to save her. Will this sudden turn of events cause a shift in Darcy’s attitude towards Lizzy? What will become of Jane and Bingley?
While readers of Pride and Prejudice all know the outcomes to my questions above, the path to get there is long and filled with moments of despair, hope, and tender goodness. I truly enjoyed seeing all of the interesting new scenarios that Dixon came up with. She created varying scenes that allowed us to learn the tumultuous nature of Lizzy and Darcy’s individual minds as they struggled to come to terms with their changing feelings for each other. Dixon executed the description of Darcy’s riotous mind flawlessly—so in tune with him throughout the whole novel—that it only aided in my ability to connect with him as a character. The turmoil that Elizabeth feels at not being able to help her sister Jane in her time of need is also conveyed to perfection. As someone who has a sister myself, the storyline was extremely relatable, adding much to the work. I also have to give Dixon two thumbs way up for giving Mr. Darcy’s little sister Georgiana such a crucial part in the plot. I’m a big fan of authors who give her a voice and a bigger role!
On the other hand, the biggest problem I had with the last Dixon novel I read (He Taught Me to Hope, you can read my review here) was that there were some plot holes left open and unfinished at the end of the novel. This left me feeling slightly unsettled at the conclusion of the work. I’m happy to say that this is not the case with Bewitched. Everything ties together nicely, leaving the reader satisfied that all is as it should be with the Darcys.
Dixon has created a new variation of a classic favorite that is just as romantic and engaging as the original. In all, I foresee Dixon becoming more and more popular as people begin to discover her creative literary voice. I urge you to begin discovering her works on your own as they will be a delight to read.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Bewitched, Body and Soul: Miss Elizabeth Bennet, by P. O. Dixon
Trade paperback (182) pages
©2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose