Mary Lydon Simonsen is back with her sophomore novel, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. (Can I also say that there is no sheer coincidence that the word “perfect” is in the title of this novel? More about this later!) Her first novel, Searching for Pemberley, was a partial venture into the world of Jane Austen fan fiction. The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy is a uniquely interesting Pride and Prejudice variation that lets Austen’s supporting characters take the reins of her original work.
Anne de Bourgh sees that something is happening to her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, during his yearly trip to Rosings Park. She comes to find out that Fitzwilliam has fallen in love with Ms. Elizabeth Bennett, has proposed to her, and has been rejected. Anne having seen the two together at Rosings know that they are absolutely perfect for each other. Once Fitzwilliam leaves Rosings, Anne realizes that she must play matchmaker to bring Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam back together. Anne begins to set her plan in motion by visiting Elizabeth at the Collins’ rectory and securing her friendship. During her visit Anne finds out that Darcy’s letter had a positive effect on Elizabeth’s feelings and that she feels regret for some of the things she said to Darcy. This revelation from Elizabeth is the sign Anne needs to know that she is doing the right thing in bringing Elizabeth and Darcy together.
As I said earlier, the word perfect being in the title is no sheer coincidence. Simonsen wrote a truly incredible novel with fantastic characters. Granted, the characters are changed and molded from Austen’s original writing, but my are they molded in an entertaining way. I doubt you’d be able to find one fan of Pride and Prejudice who would say they didn’t want to see an assertive Anne de Bourgh. Her character change alone makes the book worth reading. Anne isn’t the only character that undergoes a change in The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. Another supporting character undergoing a total transformation is Georgiana who now becomes a rambunctious teenager who enjoys society and is unafraid of meeting new people. The characterizations of the new Anne and Georgiana are a joy to read. Anne and Georgiana’s match-making schemes give them a strong resemblance to another Austen character, Emma Woodhouse. Along with Georgiana and Anne, Jane and Charles Bingley also get makeovers.
I’m always a huge fan of Austen fan fiction novels that take the supporting characters of Austen’s original work and give them a chance to be in the spotlight. Simonsen does just that here, giving the storyline a new twist, with these “new” characters. You get to read the story in a new light and begin to hear it through a new character’s thoughts.
I wouldn’t recommend this book for those of you who are unwilling to part ways with Austen’s original storyline. With the changes to Anne and Georgiana’s characters the storyline deviates from the original work, but ultimately has the same outcome. For those unfamiliar with the original work, this variation might be a bit confusing for you. The first half of Austen’s original novel does not exist in Simonsen’s work, as it picks up after the horrendous first proposal. I have to say I was so happy to read a variation as creative as this. After reading so many Pride and Prejudice sequels and variations, I get tired of the original storyline being told over and over with a small difference here and a small difference there. It was absolutely refreshing to read a complete overhaul of the original story and I truly can’t recommend it enough.
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction ChallengeThe Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen Sourcebooks (2011) Paperback 400 pages ISBN: 9781402240256
For More Reviews of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy Check out the Following:Austenprose Diary of an Eccentric Austenesque Reviews Savvy Verse & Wit