Young Master Darcy by Pamela Aidan

12363167Fiction – Kindle edition. Wytherngate Press, 2010. 122 pgs. Purchased.

Set at Christmastime in 1797, Aidan’s novella helps to explain how Fitzwilliam Darcy would become the prideful man tormented by the unsuitability of his love for Elizabeth Bennet. Arriving home from his first term at Eton, thirteen-year-old Darcy learns his mother is dying and desires to make her last Christmas a memorable and happy one.

Darcy is determined to carry out her wishes, but he is also a boy toeing the line between childhood and adulthood. He knows his childhood playmate, George Wickham, should no longer be a friend of his, but struggles to cut him lose out of fear for the Darcy name.

He wants to provide a diverting yet not too juvenile holiday for his two Matlock cousins, Richard and D’Arcy. Most of all, he wants to join in with a group of children who plan to put on a play in Lambton – at the same time Darcy is supposed to attend church with his parents.

The events of this short novella impress upon Darcy both the difference between himself and other children and the importance of finding a suitable bride. But, for all the lecturing Darcy is submitted to, Aidan’s novella upholds the merriment of the season, allowing the reader to share in the joy Darcy feels as he makes new friends and enjoys the time he has remaining with his mother.

She provides rich characterization for the whole cast of characters, including a number who remain on the periphery of Jane Austen’s original tale. It is clear why Darcy would later be drawn to Elizabeth when he has this warm yet formative memory to look back on. Just a delightful story.

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