Anyone who has seen the 2005 movie adaptation Pride & Prejudice and been moved by the final scenes when Mr. Darcy proclaims to Elizabeth that she has “bewitched him body and soul” will immediately connect with this book. In Mr.& Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, author Sharon Lathan has reverently followed the tone of Deborah Moggach’s screenplay and Joe Wright’s direction to continue the impassioned story of the Darcy’s life after the nuptials. Is this Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice after the marriage? NO! Is this one person’s interpretation of the ultimate Darcy and Elizabeth fangirl fantasy? YES!
In the author’s foreword Ms. Lathan attempts to disarm reproof right out of the gate. She had not read the original novel prior to her first movie viewing and was not influenced by it when she began writing her fan fiction which ostensibly became this novel. Her inspiration was solely based on the romanticized movie adaptation and her personal reaction to it. Therefore it is not unreasonable to review this book based on what it actual is: a sequel, inspired by a movie adaptation, loosely based on a novel.
The wedding is finally over and Mr. Darcy is relieved to be past all the constant pressure of wedding plans and family arrangements to be with his beloved Elizabeth. To get to this point, they both had to overcome some serious obstacles of vanity and misunderstandings impeding their romance before they realized that they were in love and destined to be together. Elizabeth is also pleased and thankful that her husband has planned a quick retreat from the Netherfield wedding reception to a coaching Inn where they will stay the first two days and nights of their married life together. Here we witness their first innocent and unsure moments alone as newlyweds. Next they are off to Pemberley where Elizabeth’s first experiences as Mistress are intimidating, but Darcy and Mrs. Reynolds are there to support her. Her first family event in her new capacity will be a Christmas gathering, which will include Darcy’s younger sister Georgiana, his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and his aunt and uncle Lord and Lady Matlock, among others. She is also introduced to the local gentry at a Twelfth Night Masquerade Ball where she meets the Marquis of Orman who admires her beauty and spirit far too intently. Not wanting to reveal everything, I can allude to the expectation of a young olive-branch, and a sword duel before the novel concludes.
In addition to experiencing Lizzy and Darcy’s first months as newlyweds at Pemberley, Lathan gives us a descriptive glimpse of Regency life managing a grand estate including a palatial manor house with acres of rooms, an army of servants, stables, extensive grounds, and a county of farmland. However, this is merely window dressing to the real heart and soul of this novel which consumes about two-thirds of the narrative; Darcy and Lizzy’s passion, devotion and abiding love. Yep! This is definitely a romance novel of the first order. Lathan is quite generous with her intimate descriptions devoting entire chapters to one night. After about the 20th go round, I turned the shag counter off and just hunted for the plot, which pretty much did not arrive until about 125 pages in.
Even after other characters arrive on the scene, we are never in any doubt of the Darcy’s rapturous affection for one another. As a writer, I could see Lathan’s style improve and develop as the novel progressed. She smoothly supplies us with all the elements of the ultimate female fantasy – marry Mr. Darcy, the definitive literary romantic icon, who proceeds to billet you out in high style, shower you with expensive gifts and sentimental trinkets, clothe you in opulent fashions, supply you with more pin money than your grasping ma’ma could ever hope for, and worship you beyond all reason whilst making love all over the place. Swoon! That’s great if you’re trying to be the next Julie Garwood or Jude Deveraux, but this is Darcy and Lizzy, sacred ground, and even if author Linda Berdoll has straddled that precipice all the way to the bank, do we really need a successor?
If you read Pride and Prejudice before you saw the 2005 movie and cringed over the American ending, then this novel might not be for you. If you enjoy enthusiastic romance passionately written featuring the indefatigable Mr. Darcy and his wife, then “I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours“!
3 out of 5 Stars
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, by Sharon Lathan
Sourcebooks Landmark, Naperville, IL (2009)
Trade paperback (295) pages
Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com