From the back of the book:
In this imaginative retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Amanda Grange now tells the class story through the eyes of its compelling romantic hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy, in a series of revealing letters that casts a sparkling new reflection on the manners and morals of the landed gentry in nineteenth-century England…
Here, for the first time, are the letters written by the exceedingly proud and stubborn Mr. Darcy, covering the life-changing events that defined him – from the death of his father, to his control of his Derbyshire estate of Pemberley, to his conflicted courtship with the lively, intelligent, and delightfully willful Elizabeth Bennet. Try as he may, he cannot deny his attraction to this woman with fine eyes, a playful spirit, and mind of her own… and an embarrassing family that is frankly and utterly beneath him. But it is Elizabeth who controls both their destinies, and whose surprises will change Darcy’s life yet again.
In all honesty, I’m not sure why this book was on my TBR. I had though my mother had lent it to me, but she swears she never read it… This has been sitting around waiting for me to read for a long time because of that. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. In fact, I had read one of Grange’s other books before picking up this one – Mr Darcy, Vampyre – and I hadn’t particularly liked it. I went in to this book a little concerned, especially since it was the same subject matter. Thankfully, in this case, it is very clear that Mr. Darcy is not a vampire and is exceedingly wonderful and Mr Darcy-ish, so I needn’t have worried.
This book was good – it was actually one of the best Pride and Prejudice retellings that I’ve yet to read. What made this one so successful was that it didn’t try to distinguish itself from the original too much. The events still happened in the same way as Austen’s original novel, the characters still who we already knew them to be, it wasn’t a modern day retelling… it could actually potentially be seen as more of a companion than a retelling.
Grange’s bio in this book says that she grew up on both Austen and Georgette Heyer, and it was really obvious that she knew the time period. Even though Austen’s book only touch very lightly on the Napoleonic wars, this book takes a better look at it – probably due to the fact that we see letters from people fighting it, and from those who are close with others in the war. There were also other aspects (how the characters acted, what hobbies they had, how they received education, etc) that showed Grange’s real familiarity with the regency time period. The fact that each of the characters acted and thought as they would have back then was definitely a good indication that this book was really well written and planned, and that work definitely paid off.
I really liked how Grange gave a deeper look in to some of the characters that were standing on the sidelines before. Even Caroline Bingley, who is rather dislikable at the best of times, was empathizable in more aspects when reading letters from her. Grange was able to make these secondary and tertiary characters three dimensional, which will definitely make reading the real Pride and Prejudice more interesting. There were also the primary ones, that she not only kept in character, but developed enough to make them her own.
There was one thing that really made this book stand out from the rest. The hilarity that Mary believes that Ann Radcliffe’s novels are works of non-fiction. This led to much much much giggling, and it made her even more silly than she had always been. Gothic novels were quite popular in that time, and many a woman was quite a fan of Ann Radcliffe’s work. So much so that Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a bit of a satire of the gothic genre as a whole.
And now I have to go and watch the 1995 BBC miniseries.
The Bottom Line
Recommended to Austen fans, and this has definitely made me interested in reading more of Grange’s (non-vampire) books.