The front cover of my copy of Simonsen’s novel says that “Mr. Darcy obviously needs the help of a good matchmaker…or two…”. The matchmakers come in the form of Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, and his cousin, Anne de Bourgh; both will do everything within their power to assure their beloved relative’s happiness.
“After Darcy returned to his room for the night, Anne thought about all that had happened between Will and Elizabeth and recognized that her cousin had got himself into a real mess. But Fitzwilliam Darcy was in love with Elizabeth Bennet, and Anne had seen real interest on Elizabeth’s part during their evenings together at Rosings Park, so something had to be done. Before retiring, she had settled on a course of action. It was as complicated as any battle plan, and it would take luck and timing to make it work. But her cousin’s happiness was at stake, and so she began to work out the details of her scheme.” (pg. 37)
Anne maintains a written correspondence with Elizabeth after she leaves Rosings, after she has rejected Darcy’s proposal (which Darcy tells Anne about), and it is Anne who orchestrates Darcy and Elizabeth’s reunion at Pemberley. What happened by happenstance in Austen’s original novel has now been attributed to the intervention by the conniving Anne and Georgiana. A retelling, indeed.
However, although multiple events were changed slightly, the overall framework was maintained. The best part of this retelling is the focus it places on previously minor characters, especially upon Anne. No longer the meek character Austen introduced us to. Moreover, some new faces include George Bingley, Charles’s older and financially astute brother; Lord Fitzwilliam, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older and often inebriated brother; and another suitor for Jane, Mr. Nesbitt.
Simonsen’s Darcy is a bit more loose lipped than Austen’s Darcy; more willing to tell others about Elizabeth’s embarrassing rejection. The scenes that Simonsen found important are drawn out while other scenes are rushed. The story quickly jumps from the scene where Darcy meets Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly to his proposal in Kent, and then continues on from there. The book maybe should have started with his proposal in order to be more fluid and less jumpy at the beginning.
Overall, a fun retelling of Austen’s original. I do so enjoy reading books that make Anne seem less like a stick-in-the-mud and a liked member of Mr. Darcy’s family. After all, it’s not her fault that her mother continues to insist that Darcy marry her.
- Simonsen, Mary Lydon. The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2011. Print. 381 pgs. ISBN: 9781402240256. Source: PaperBackSwap.