In publishing His Good Opinion, Nancy Kelley joins a long line of authors who have written Pride and Prejudice from the viewpoint of Fitzwilliam Darcy. When I first heard about this novel I was intrigued; what could Kelley have written that hasn’t been done before? Interested enough to take the plunge and see Darcy from another’s perspective I dug right in.
In His Good Opinion, Kelly treads familiar ground. In a wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Kelly sights Darcy in her cross-hairs as she details his progress through the novel in a new and refreshing light. Still as arrogant as ever in the first portion of the book, we view Lizzy’s rejection of his proposal from a new angle, feeling more for Darcy as (from his point of view) the proposal seems genuine and honest, and his feelings of rejection and despair are more apparent than we ever thought before. Later, we are able to view Darcy’s self-doubt that leads him to change in such a drastic way in order to win Elizabeth’s affections back. In addition, Darcy’s relationships with Georgiana, Wickham, and Col. Fitzwilliam are all expanded, with new information regarding each that allow for a more detailed observation of his personal life that helps to bring new light to what went on “behind the scenes” during Pride and Prejudice. In all, Kelly gives us a detailed biography of Darcy’s actions and thoughts that really help to support the original work and provide new questions and discussion.
Wow. Nancy Kelley is an author to definitely keep on your radar. Her writing easily transitions into Austen-like prose, giving her novel a feel of elegance that is difficult to find in the Jane Austen fan fiction world. I’ve read a LOT of Pride and Prejudice retellings from Darcy’s viewpoint and find many of them choppy. Choppy in the sense that you can tell where the split between Austen’s original text and the author’s new ideas begin. Kelley does a fantastic job of seamlessly transitioning her interpretations of what Darcy’s feeling with Austen’s original story text. Kelley’s interpretations of Darcy’s thoughts and misconceptions are all excellently thought out and written. Rarely have I felt like I was reading Austen’s own version of P&P told via Darcy instead of Elizabeth.
I truly enjoyed when Lady Catherine came to Darcy’s townhouse, revealing the outcome of her meeting with Elizabeth. The joy that Darcy feels upon hearing Elizabeth’s remarks are entirely palpable to the reader. My heart was ready to leap out of its chest as he made his anxious return to Hertfordshire. Kelley’s ability to translate his despair, anxiety, depression, happiness, etc to the written word is one that must be highly commended.
My one complaint was that I felt like the ending was cut short. Granted, it was beautifully written, but it just felt abrupt. I would have enjoyed a bit more story, but that’s just me. I can’t get enough of Lizzy and Darcy’s story. Maybe Kelley has more in store for us? Time will tell. We can only hope that her subsequent work is as exciting and as detailed as His Good Opinion is!
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my first completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley
Smokey Rose Press (2011)
eBook 351 pages