All too often it’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the Regency era. Jane Austen’s novels make us crave for a time filled with proper manners, fancy ball gowns, and stolen kisses in the moonlight. Getting lost in this time period makes it easy to forget all of the modern marvels that would not have been available back then. In Becoming Elizabeth Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen, we get to see what happens when a modern woman is thrown into Austen’s era, and how these modern marvels changed people’s lives when they were introduced.
Elizabeth (Beth) Hannigan has the swine flu, and a fever so bad it’s caused her into fall into a coma. It is in this state that she follows a boy through a bright tunnel, awakening in the body of Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy. She is at first astounded that she’s somehow time traveled to Pemberley, and secondly scared that she’ll never return. When Darcy comes home from a weekend hunting trip, she quickly realizes that all is not well with her favorite literary duo and that helping them solve their marital woes might be her ticket out of the Regency era. Beth realizes she must convince Darcy that she is not his Elizabeth in order to begin solving the problems of the Darcy marriage; problems that her modern-day knowledge of medicine can help with. After speaking with Darcy, Beth learns of the multiple miscarriages Elizabeth has suffered and her depression caused by the unfortunate death of their only child. Will Beth be able to give Darcy the knowledge he needs to save his marriage to Elizabeth? Will Beth be able to get back to 2010 and beat the swine flu?
Becoming Elizabeth Darcy is the darkest JAFF novel that Simonsen has written to date, but that does not mean it is in any way diminished from her other works. On the contrary, it is better than ever! Simonsen gives us a believable scenario in the sense that even the happiest of marriages can go through extremely dark times. After reading so many JAFF novels that picture Elizabeth and Darcy in the happiest of circumstances, it was refreshing to read a novel unafraid to tackle such dark issues as depression and postpartum.
Simonsen’s humor does however still get an opportunity to shine through as she opens our eyes to the reality of what the Regency era was like. The lack of flushing toilets, absence of anti-bacterial soap, and prevalence of unhygienic situations, offer Beth’s character ample amount of material to freak out over, making us laugh. These satirical sections of the novel help to level out the darker and more complex remainder of the storyline. That being said, I feel that Simonsen has a great balance between these themes of humor and seriousness, and this makes the novel an exciting and fulfilling addition to he fan fiction world. Simonsen has once again shown that she can tackle any JAFF genre and is a force to be reckoned with. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my fifth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
Becoming Elizabeth Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Quail Creek Publishing (2011)
Paperback 324 pages
Special thanks to Mary for sending me my review copy!