From the desk of Sophia Rose:
In a heart-tugging mash-up of It’s A Wonderful Life and Pride and Prejudice, author Anngela Schroeder gives Austen’s most beloved hero the opportunity to witness a world in which he had never been born. A Pride & Prejudice world without Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy? Gasp! Exploring such a possibility had me clearing some time and settling into my cozy reading chair.
After delivering his marriage proposal and having Miss Elizabeth Bennet not simply reject it, but vociferously state that Mr. Wickham would have made a better Master of Pemberley than he, Fitzwilliam Darcy pens a response letter and his own private wish that he wasn’t around to feel the pain and dejection from her stunning refusal of his love and all that his wealth can give her. In addition, long ago, a gypsy predicted he would have a monumental decision to make in his life.
Not long after the delivery of said letter, an accident befalls him and he awakes in a world that makes little sense. The same people surround him, but their circumstances and his own are vastly different. What has happened? Is he even awake? His physician, Clarence, explains. Darcy wished he hadn’t been born so… he hadn’t been born. He was now Mr. Fitzroy, gentleman and owner of a small estate and nobody to all the familiar people around him. Familiar people, who seem to be suffering painful and bizarre fates. Why? He wonders and the enigmatic Clarence reminds him that this is the result of him never being there during pivotal times in these people’s lives.
While in the person of Fitzroy, Darcy has a new chance with Miss Elizabeth and a new life before him if he wishes to take it. If he chooses his former life, he can restore what is lost and lose love a second time.
A Life Worth Choosing is a magical variation that deviates from the original at the point of Darcy and Elizabeth meeting in Kent and the Hunsford proposal. It is definitely a story that works best for readers who are already familiar with both the Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life and Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice. Because of the nature of the story, the variation sails far off course into a riveting nightmarish version that had me sitting up and taking notice. It didn’t take great leaps to see that the scenario wasn’t all that implausible if those affected were allowed to make poor choices and exhibit the strongest flaws in their characters. There were a few strong nods to scenes from the movie, and I loved that Clarence played his role once again.
The last quarter of the book explored both paths in a unique way and I did get somewhat distracted trying to keep straight what storyline I was in (Fitzroy or Darcy). There was a big suspenseful scene that had me glued to the book to find out what happened next. The Fitzroy story had some exciting secret reveals tucked in and some surprise actions from a couple of the characters like Anne de Bourgh that I loved. I thought the choice of a double epilogue that explored both storylines into the future was a great treat to the reader.
In summation, this was a clever, heartwarming exploration melding two old-time favorites and getting one splendid result. Those who enjoy mash-ups, the inclusion of a little magic, and sweet historical romance shouldn’t pass this one up.
4 out of 5 Stars
A Life Worth Choosing: A Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Anngela Schroeder
Independently published (January 23, 2021)
Trade paperback & eBook (341) pages
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Cover image compliments of Anngela Schroeder © 2021; text Sophia Rose © 2021, Austenprose.com.