From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:
Way back in 2011 when reviewing What Would Mr. Darcy Do? for my blog I wrote, “I would like to hereby bestow the title of ‘Queen of the Austen Retelling’ to Abigail Reynolds.” Although many years have passed since my proclamation, not much has changed. Every time I get to read a new work by Reynolds I’m always so excited to get a slice of her creative energy that makes her works so exciting. It also doesn’t hurt that her variations typically involve the always handsome and charming Mr. Darcy in some type of a Pride and Prejudice reimagining. With this being said, I quickly devoured this work and got these thoughts on paper immediately, such is the effect that Reynolds has on my reading habits!
In her latest release, Alone With Mr. Darcy, we find Elizabeth and Darcy paired together by fate after the Netherfield ball, with Elizabeth encountering him, injured from a riding accident, while she herself is walking home alone. An impending snowstorm makes them seek shelter in a small cottage for a few days to wait out the weather and tend to Darcy’s injuries. While nursing him back to strength, she learns a lot about him and his feelings towards her from his frequent outbursts and semiconscious state, although she is not sure what is fact and what is fiction. Fortunately, the two survive and even befriend a small kitten that Darcy finds in a woodpile. Darcy offers to marry Elizabeth after the ordeal in order to protect her reputation, but she declines and they decide instead how to keep the events of the past few days from becoming public. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, that is exactly what happens. Through a series of misunderstandings and shady dealings, her reputation becomes tarnished throughout Meryton and Darcy is nowhere to be found. Will she be able to marry any young man and set the rumors to rest or will she be destined to scandal?
I know that I mention it time and time again when reviewing Abigail Reynolds’ works, but I am struck every time by her ability to imagine such intricate recreations based on Jane Austen’s novels. In Alone With Mr. Darcy, Reynolds even creates a story-within-a-story with her inclusion of Snowball, the kitten in the cottage. While Darcy and Elizabeth’s interaction with Snowball is enough to warm your heart, it’s even more amazing to find that this kitten is based on Abagail’s real-life kitten, Snowdrop, who has become somewhat of an internet celebrity. You can read more about it here (warning, keep your tissues at hand!) This is a great example of how Reynolds is able to create a multilayered story that so easily captures your attention from the beginning. These personal connections, whether they be to the kitten in the story or the emotional connection one feels when examining the heartache between Elizabeth and Darcy after they leave the cottage are enough to make Reynolds’ writing leave an imprint on your heart. Alone with Mr. Darcy was just as entrancing as I imagined it was going to be, and the magic of the first half when Elizabeth and Darcy are alone set the stage enough to make the usual misunderstanding and miscommunication between them afterward that much more stinging. I could imagine Elizabeth’s horror as she realized that not only was her reputation tarnished, but her very livelihood was under attack as well. Being a spinster was not just a social problem, but she could have faced very real challenges if her name became synonymous with a common harlot.
It’s been a while since Reynolds has come out with new work, so I was building up my hopes as the time came for Alone With Mr. Darcy to finally hit the shelves. I am happy to report that Reynolds has met my high expectations and given me, even more, to be excited about. I consider her to be a cornerstone in the Jane Austen fan fiction community, and I’m so grateful that she is still writing such intriguing stories to share with us. Alone With Mr. Darcy is another great addition to this lineup, and it is full of fantastic and imaginative scenery and plot lines that are sure to make you read all of Reynolds’ works if you haven’t already.
5 out of 5 Stars
- Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
- White Soup Press (2015)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & Audio Recording (378) pages
- ISBN: 978-0692420157
- Genre: Austenesque, Pride and Prejudice Variation, Historical Romance
We purchased a copy of the book for our own enjoyment. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of White Soup Press © 2015; text Kimberley Denny-Ryder © 2015, austenprose.com