“Do not look at me like that, Jane. I already have a plan. I shall ask Mr. Bingley to introduce me to some of his wealthy friends, but from a less lofty position in society than Mr. Darcy. However, if I do not find a husband, I shall live in an attic room at Netherfield and become the governess to your many children.”
Jane took her sister’s hand in hers and smiled. “Lizzy, I would never make you live in the attic, and you have my permission to teach the children how to play the pianoforte but, please, no French. Your accent is worse than mine.”
(from A Wife for Mr. Darcy, page 51 in the ARC; finished version may be different)
It amazes me that I can read so many different variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice without getting bored, and just when I think all the possibilities must have been exhausted, another one is released and I’m hit with a breath of fresh air. A Wife for Mr. Darcy is just what I’m looking for when it comes to the Austenesque — a unique twist on one of my favorite books, with humorous dialogue and entertaining characters. A novel where readers still recognize Austen’s characters, and one that respects the original even while taking the romance up a notch.
A Wife for Mr. Darcy keeps the basics of Pride and Prejudice in place, although some of the pride and some of the prejudice are erased in the very first chapter, when Mr. Darcy calls on Elizabeth Bennet at Longbourn to apologize for the rude comment he made about her at the Meryton Assembly. Right away, he is captivated by her good looks and her wit, and readers don’t have to suffer through chapter upon chapter with Elizabeth insisting that she hates the very sight of him. But with their attraction evident from the beginning, and Mr. Darcy not standing in the way of Mr. Bingley’s proposal to Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, readers might wonder how Mary Lydon Simonsen builds tension and puts an obstacle in the middle of the path to a happy ending.
Well, even if Bingley can marry whomever he chooses, a Darcy cannot, and Darcy needs to find a wife and have a son because of the entail on the family estate, Pemberley. Unfortunately for Darcy and Elizabeth, Darcy has already shown interest in a Miss Letitia Montford back in London, and everyone is expecting the two to be married. Of course, Darcy must do the right thing, even if it means marrying out of obligation instead of love.
Meanwhile, Simonsen introduces a few new characters to liven things up, including Bingley’s sister, Mrs. Crenshaw, and her obnoxious children and Lord Antony Fitzwilliam, Darcy’s cousin and a philanderer known for charming the married women of high society into bed. Lord Fitzwilliam’s interactions with Elizabeth’s aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, are hilarious, as are the moments when his brother, Colonel Fitzwilliam, shamelessly flirts with Elizabeth when Darcy cannot. Simonsen gives both Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, bigger roles in her novel, and I especially love her portrayal of Georgiana as strong and anything but shy.
A Wife for Mr. Darcy was so engrossing that I truly feared for the happiness of Darcy and Elizabeth, and I was so wrapped up in the whole mess with Miss Montford that I didn’t even miss all the chaos associated with Lady Catherine, who did not make an appearance. Simonsen does a wonderful job making Austen’s characters her own, and the addition of her original characters make for a richer read. I can’t wait to see where she takes the Darcys, the Bingleys, and the Bennets next.
Check out my reviews of other books by Mary Lydon Simonsen:
Disclosure: I received A Wife for Mr. Darcy from Sourcebooks for review.
© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.