As many of you know, “what if” variations of Pride and Prejudice are quite possibly my favorite type of Jane Austen fan fiction! The amount of material that authors come up with to further our favorite story lines of Ms. Austen’s is both amazing and fascinating. We are treated to new and unique plots that very well could have been what Jane wanted to write but never had the chance. As expected, Abigail Reynolds has done just this in Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World. This new take on Elizabeth and Darcy’s life post-proposal is new and exciting, and I couldn’t wait to crack it open and see what she had in store!
We find ourselves following Elizabeth and Darcy immediately after his initial proposal of marriage to her at Rosings Park. We all know of her famous rejection, perhaps the most stinging line in the entire novel, “”I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” It carried all the bubbling resentment that Elizabeth held against Mr. Darcy once she learned of his involvement with Bingley’s abrupt separation from Jane. However, what if she never got to utter those famous words? What if mistaking Elizabeth’s silence for acceptance, Darcy kissed her? What if this kiss was witnessed by Colonel Fitzwilliam? How would their marriage work with a complacent Elizabeth and a deeply in love Darcy? Thanks to the imaginative prose of Ms. Reynolds, we can see just that.
I kid you not when I say that I read this book like four times a year. It is one of, if not my favorite, Jane Austen fan fiction novels. When we see Darcy at the Rosings proposal scene in Pride and Prejudice, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of his character. We know that he is haughty, prideful, and arrogant, but we don’t know that he has fallen desperately in love with Elizabeth. What’s so great about Reynolds choosing this as the starting point for her novel is that we get front row seats for his emotional transformation. This novel gives us the unique viewpoint of a still, haughty Darcy married to a complacent Elizabeth. Because Elizabeth hasn’t yet professed her true feelings to Darcy, he has yet to have his nature and manners rebuked. When Elizabeth’s real feelings are finally voiced, it becomes time for Reynolds’ writing to shine. The despondency and despair that become the prevalent characteristics of the Darcy marriage are written so expressively that as a reader you develop your own well of sadness. This is not to say that the entire book is depressing, because it most certainly is not, but Reynolds’ writing abilities are able to take you as a reader on a complex journey of finding one’s self and becoming worthy of life’s greatest gift: love.
Reynolds’ ability to continually create unique experiences into which our favorite characters are thrust continues to amaze me. Fast paced, and a joy to read, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World will take you on an emotional rollercoaster that will delight JAFF fans aplenty!
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my thirteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds
Paperback: 248 pages