I would like to hereby bestow the title of ‘Queen of the Austen Retelling’ to Abigail Reynolds. Abigail is the author of six different variation novels and is in the process of writing a sequel to one of them, Mr. Darcy’s Obsession. She writes exquisite Pride and Prejudice variations that grip the reader from start to finish. Her latest publication, What Would Mr. Darcy Do? was originally published with the title From Lambton to Longbourn.
What Would Mr. Darcy Do brings us back to that fateful day in Lambton when Elizabeth Bennet is given the news that her sister, Lydia, has run away with Wickham. The novel begins with Darcy going to the Inn at Lambton to see Elizabeth after their succesful reintroduction at Pemberley. He walks in, sees her face, and realizes that she’s in distress. Elizabeth confides in him that her sister has eloped with Wickham and that she must hurry back to Longbourn to help in the search for her. Here is where the plot takes a different path from Pride and Prejudice: instead of the two separating not knowing the other’s true feelings, they both express their growing feelings with a kiss. Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle chose the very moment of their kiss to return to the room. The two quickly separate and are put in separate rooms while Uncle Gardiner discusses the situation with Darcy. Darcy lays his heart out to Uncle Gardiner, telling him about his first proposal to Elizabeth and that his intentions towards her are absolutely honorable. Uncle Gardiner says he won’t press Darcy to marry Elizabeth, as he believes Elizabeth would be close to accepting Darcy if he proposed again. Darcy begins to have hope that Elizabeth could be his if he plays his cards right. Will he figure out how to win Elizabeth’s heart, or will Elizabeth’s feelings be torn between their past and present?
I feel the need to begin my review by giving shout-outs to Georgiana, Kitty, and Mary. The three of them became very different young ladies while in the presence of each other. Georgiana has become less shy while Kitty has learned to not be so boisterous. The two bring Mary out of her constantly somber mood and teach her to have a bit of fun. The three became exactly the young ladies I always hoped they’d be. In short, they kept me entertained, and I just wanted to give them credit where it was due.
At times I felt like the storyline got a bit repetitive. Elizabeth is on the fence for a good portion of the book as to her true feelings for Darcy. She reflects on their past together and what she knows of his personality. Additionally, I had a question with what I viewed as the main conflict of the story: Elizabeth’s inability to discover whether Darcy’s transformation is truly that, a transformation. She’s conflicted with the thought that if they were to marry he might return to his taciturn and prideful manner. While I belive this to be a valid conflict, I wish it was resolved a bit sooner, because I LOVED the scenes of Darcy and Elizabeth in complete understanding of each other. It is once their love for each other is voiced and realized that Reynolds’s writing truly shines. She creates many memorable romantic scenes that will tickle the fancy of those in love with these characters.
For those who have never delved into variation may I highly suggest you do so soon? Yes, the storyline strays from the original (it is a variation after all!), but it gives us the opportunity to meet our favorite characters once again in a new and creative way. Definitely not a PG rated book, so keep that in mind when chosing this as your next read. Thanks to Abigail for writing yet another excellent novel.
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my nineteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge