From the desk of Katie Jackson:
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet impertinently tells Mr. Darcy that his “defect is a propensity to hate everybody” to which he replies that hers “is willfully to misunderstand them.” Austen enthusiasts everywhere delight in this flirtatious battle of wits over the topic of natural defects. With a title inspired by Mr. Darcy— “I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding”—Jennifer Altman’s second Pride and Prejudice-inspired novel, Faults of Understanding, follows Elizabeth and Darcy as they become better acquainted with each other through unforeseen trials.
At the Netherfield ball, Mr. Darcy is informed that Mr. Collins—a distant cousin of the Bennet family and heir to neighboring estate Longbourn—expects to receive a favorable reply to his planned marriage proposal to the second-eldest Bennet daughter at Longbourn. Darcy is shocked and dismayed by the revelation. “It could not be true. Elizabeth Bennet—his Elizabeth!—married to such a man?” (132) He wants to believe that she is far too intelligent to attach herself to the pompous imbecile, but also knows that she is a loyal and obedient daughter who would do anything for her family. “No! He could not leave her to such a fate. Something must be done, and soon.” (143)
When Elizabeth is summoned to speak with her father early the following morning, she expects to refuse Mr. Collins—until Mr. Bennet informs her that it is Mr. Darcy who has offered for her instead. Elizabeth is certain her father is joking. “I am astounded! Mr. Darcy despises me. You must have misunderstood.” (183) Mr. Bennet assures his daughter that Darcy was most serious about ensuring Elizabeth had a better offer to consider. Elizabeth, however, is resolute. “I cannot possibly accept Mr. Darcy or my cousin. If I were to wed either, I should be miserable every day of my life.” (208)
Darcy, though, is certain that they will suit each other quite well, assuring her that she will want for nothing and will be treated with kindness. Yet Elizabeth is torn. She wants to marry for love and affection. Then Darcy’s imperious aunt arrives unannounced at Longbourn to demand an immediate end to the connection. Elizabeth, in a fit of pique, insists that she will marry the woman’s nephew. “And there is nothing you can do to stop me!” (651)
Through a brief but pleasant betrothal, it seems the couple might have a promising future together after all. But on the morning of their nuptials, an unfortunate incident occurs that leaves Darcy reeling and Elizabeth wondering what happened to the congenial gentleman she had only just married. Time marches forward as the two lonely souls strive to make the best of their hopeless situation. Will they ever learn to trust and confide in each other, or are they destined to suffer from their faults of understanding forever?
I must admit that my implausibility button was tapped a couple of times in the first half of this story. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Darcy’s motivation to rescue Elizabeth from Mr. Collins, plus our usually perceptive Elizabeth was conveniently overlooking certain puzzling clues. What began as a solid four-star story, however, soon evolved into a full five-star, completely unputdownable tale. I found myself intrigued by the unique mystery, riveted by the action, and heartbroken by past tragedies. The misunderstanding between our dear couple—something that often aggravates me when it’s caused by a simple failure to communicate—was understandable. After some angst, I appreciated that readers were invited into the happily-ever-after to enjoy it for a while, instead of only being given what is typically included in a fleeting epilogue. It was a delightful conclusion after a dubious beginning.
Readers will revel in the emotional and enigmatic route to enlightenment in Faults of Understanding.
5 out of 5 Stars
- Faults of Understanding: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Jennifer Altman
- Self publihsed (June 17, 2021)
- Trade paperback & eBook (512) pages
- ISBN: 978-0578921556
We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose.com is an Amazon.com affiliate. We receive a modest remuneration when readers use our links and make a purchase.
Cover image courtesy of Jennifer Altman © 2021; text Katie Jackson © 2021, Austenprose.com