From the desk of Katie Jackson:
In a November 1814 letter to her niece, Jane Austen wrote that “nothing can be compared to the misery of being bound without love.” She had brilliantly illustrated her point with many unenviable couples in her novels serving as warnings of what her protagonists should strive to avoid. Likewise, readers found in her most famous story, Pride and Prejudice, a hero dutifully resigned to such misery and a heroine determined to evade it. Prolific Austenesque author Shannon Winslow explores that hero’s path from misery to love in her latest Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words.
Fitzwilliam Darcy believes that he is destined to fulfill his familial duty by securing a society-approved mate for himself and proper mistress of Pemberley—and by choosing prudently, hoping for mutual respect at best, and knowing that love was neither desirable nor wise. “My early years had taught me, again and again, that to love was to suffer pain. To love was to surrender a part of oneself, to give the object of that love power over one’s life – power to wound or to destroy, either by accident or with intent.” (189) Therefore, Darcy resolutely heeds his late father’s advice by discreetly selecting a decorous lady from a suitably wealthy and consequential family, ever mindful of his family’s expectations and his own responsibilities. “To choose the wrong path, to be careless of the way, to neglect minding every step, was to invite calamity of a kind most painful and permanent.” (171)
After George Wickham nearly absconds with Darcy’s young sister at Ramsgate, Darcy finds himself shaken to his core by the barely avoided catastrophe and questions his own wisdom. Wishing to counteract his tendency to brood, he seeks diversion with his cheerful friend Charles Bingley at Netherfield Park. “In part, I had come to Netherfield hoping for a cure.” (1546)
Unbeknownst to Darcy, however, his dutiful resolve is about to become untenable once he encounters the saucy smile, fine eyes, and pert opinions of the incomparable Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Their charged interactions have the potential to further unravel his determination as he tentatively steps off his sensible path and veers toward a life he’d never imagined might be his. Far too soon, though, reality invades Darcy’s hopeful dreams to remind him of his prior obligations. As he settles “one final contest of will versus inclination, of duty versus desire” can he summon the courage to choose the path that follows his heart? (3968)
It is rare to read a first-person narration from Darcy’s viewpoint, and it felt like we were having a fireside chat as he explained his perspective of all of the events that transpired not only in Pride and Prejudice but also during those previously silent times when he was away from Elizabeth. Hence, the story was at times quite unputdownable. My only frustration was that I was hoping for a bit more romantic yearning from him, but he was far too true to his stoic character to melt from Elizabeth’s presence overmuch. He also felt honor bound by his other commitments, however tenuous they may have been. Still, I was quite content with his cerebral musings about how he’d fallen in love without suspecting or allowing it and was grateful for his loss of control. As he said, “My happier outcome depended on the slimmest thread of unlikely circumstances being precariously strung together without error. At any one of a dozen junctures, the course of my life could have carried me in a completely different direction.” (109)
Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words provides an enjoyable opportunity for Pride and Prejudice enthusiasts to have a cozy tête-à-tête with their favorite fictional gentleman.
5 out of 5 Stars
- Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words, by Shannon Winslow
- Heather Ridge Arts (April 30, 2021)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (283) pages
- ISBN: 978-0989025973
Book cover courtesy of Heather Ridge Arts © 2021; text Katie Jackson © 2021, Austenprose.com