Fiction — print. Intertidal Press, 2007. 204 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.
Reynolds is one of my go-to authors for variations and sequels to Austen’s beloved classic. This variations asks what would have happened if Fritzwilliam Darcy faced a true rival for Elizabeth Bennet’s affections. Austen gives us Wickham and Colonel Fritzwillaim; Reynolds gives us Mr. Covington, a neighbor who offers Elizabeth a comfortable home with an agreeable man. Elizabeth agrees to the engagement after her return from Kent, after her beloved sister returns from London still heartbroken over Mr. Bingley’s department.
The set up for this variation is quite well done. I could honestly see Elizabeth self-sacrificing for Jane and agreeing to an engagement with a more agreeable man, one who has not forever crushed the happiness of her beloved sister. Unfortunately, the execution begins to fail after Darcy leaves to rescue Lydia. His return leads Elizabeth to reconsider her engagement and, by the time he reappears months later, she has broken off her engagement with Mr. Convington.
Regency norms dictated that a woman who breaks off an engagement remain forever alone. She is nearly as scandalized as a fallen woman. Mr. Darcy won’t take no from this newly single Elizabeth and creates a plan with Mr. Bennet whereby she will have no choice but to say yes. I can’t imagine Mr. Darcy marrying a “fallen” woman and it is even harder for me to believe Darcy and Elizabeth having premarital sex at Netherfield with Georgiana in the next room.