Mr. Darcy’s Obsession is author Abigail Reynolds’ sixth Pride and Prejudice variation, but the first of her novels not previously published independently. Her five previous novels are To Conquer Mr. Darcy (Originally published as Impulse and Initiative), Fitzwilliam Darcy: Last Man in the World, Without Reserve, By Force of Instinct, and From Lambton to Longbourn. (From Lambton to Longbourn is being re-released in the spring of 2011 under the title What Would Mr. Darcy Do?). Mr. Darcy’s Obsession poses the following what-if questions: what if Darcy had never proposed to Elizabeth at Rosings? What if Mr. Bennet died and Mr. Collins took over the entail at Longbourn? What if Elizabeth’s situation was lower than ever? Would Mr. Darcy still love her in even lower standards?
Mr. Darcy’s Obsession picks up two years after Darcy and Elizabeth part company at Rosings. (Darcy never proposed to Elizabeth, owing to her hasty departure to care for her ailing father.) Bingley meets Darcy one day in London telling him that he happened upon Elizabeth and came to find out that Mr. Bennet had died, and that due to the entail on the estate her family was thrust out of Longbourn. Elizabeth now lives with the Gardiners in London, Jane lives with her merchant husband, Mrs. Bennett, Lydia, and Kitty still live in Meryton at Mrs. Phillips house, and Mary is off taking care of an ailing cousin. Darcy declares to himself that he must seek Elizabeth out to make sure she is being properly taken care of. He decides to have an impromptu meeting with her during her morning walk about the park. Their first meeting is all it takes for Darcy to become completely love struck again. Elizabeth begins seeing a new side of Darcy and decides that Wickham must have been wrong about him. (Readers will understand that since Darcy never proposed, Elizabeth never received the letter explaining his actions against Wickham) She begins falling in love with him and Darcy realizes that it doesn’t matter what his family or society thinks of him, he can’t live without her. Darcy decides to propose to Elizabeth but regretfully miss-states his feelings, thus causing Elizabeth to think he proposed that she be his mistress. She slaps him and runs away distraught that he would ever ask that of her. Elizabeth comes to find out that she misinterpreted everything Darcy said and is deeply distraught over it, for she truly was beginning to fall in love with Darcy. Darcy on the other hand is so depressed thinking that if she could think he would ask her to be his mistress that she could never look upon him with love. The two ill-fated lovers try to engross themselves their lives but can’t and wind up missing the other company. Darcy vows he can’t live like that anymore and needs Elizabeth. He finds her out in the park one day and rekindles the repartee they had before his proposal. Circumstances arise however that forces Elizabeth to leave London and head back to help her mother and Jane in Meryton.
Unlike her other what-if variations Reynolds opted to make this one more about love overcoming all obstacles to tell Elizabeth and Darcy’s story, rather than make it a passion heavy story. Some readers will be delighted that there are not heavy sexual sequences in this book as there are some in Reynolds’ prior works. Everything in Mr. Darcy’s Obsession has a more sensual feel to it.
“She tipped her head to the side, and with a mischievous look, she touched her fingertips to his lips. A shock of desire shook him at the unexpected, but more than welcome, touch. He could not resist catching her hand and pressing first one kiss, then another, into the curve of her palm.”
Mr. Darcy’s Obsesssion is a work of creative genius. Reynolds has a way of truly being able to change one small piece of Austen’s original story and create an entirely new story, while still holding true to Austen’s conflicts, outcomes and original characters. The new characters she creates are just as vivacious as Austen’s original creations. If you have never read Pride and Prejudice I truly don’t think you would be able to figure out who is not an original Austen creation. This book made me love Elizabeth and Darcy all over again. Elizabeth for her strength and Darcy for his tenacity and unwillingness to let Elizabeth have anything less than she deserved. He is truly a caring and thoughtful character.
4 out of 5 stars
To read an interview with Abigail Reynolds and for a give-away of Mr. Darcy’s Obsession head on over to Austenesque Reviews