“Now you question those values?”
Darcy hunched and looked away.
“You were born a Darcy. That makes you a better man than your tenant, Mr. Martin?”
“So I was taught.”
“Perhaps,” Bradley shuffled to his side, “you were born a Darcy because you lack the strength to have been born a Martin.”
(from Darcy’s Decision, page 8)
Darcy’s Decision is Volume 1 of Maria Grace’s Given Good Principles series of Pride and Prejudice variations. The first book in the series is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice that focuses on Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth Bennet is nowhere to be found in this book, but she will certainly make an appearance soon, as this novel follows Darcy until just before he and his friend, Charles Bingley, travel to Hertfordshire — where the Bennets live — to check out an estate Bingley wants to lease there.
Grace introduces readers to a younger Mr. Darcy, the new master of Pemberley, a man struggling to fill his father’s shoes. He is still learning what is expected of him as a landowner, the operator of a grand estate, and as a man in high society. Much to the disappointment of his relatives, he has sought the guidance of John Bradley, a curate who soon is given the living that the gambler and womanizer George Wickham insists was promised to him by Darcy’s father. Bradley is a good man who has had his share of heartache and who loves Darcy like a son. He helps Darcy see how being a good person sometimes means going against society’s dictates for a man in his position. For instance, Bradley teaches him the importance of appreciating the hard work of his tenants, rather than viewing them simply as a means to increase his wealth.
As the son of George Darcy’s steward, Wickham grew up with Fitzwilliam, and Fitzwilliam has long wondered why his father gave in to George’s every whim yet treated him sternly. Chaos erupts when Wickham comes to Pemberley, asking Darcy for money and attempting to turn Darcy’s teenage sister, Georgiana, against him.
In Darcy’s Decision, Grace imagines how difficult it was for Darcy to take the reins at Pemberley and how Wickham came close to ruining his sister. She creates numerous original characters, from the wise Bradley to Mrs. Cooperton, who attempts to show the stiff and arrogant Caroline how laid back life is supposed to be in the country. Grace touches upon some heavy themes like forgiveness and mercy, but there are lighter, more amusing moments as well.
I especially liked Grace’s writing style, which is more modern than Jane Austen’s but incorporates phrases and manners of speech that transport readers back to an earlier time. I enjoyed the inclusion of older slang and appreciated the few footnotes being on the same page so I didn’t have to flip to the back to find out what these sayings meant. I enjoyed getting to know a younger Darcy and meeting his parents’ friends, who comprised the support system that helped Darcy move on after their deaths. Even though, at just over 100 pages, the secondary characters are not as well developed as Darcy and Bradley, I liked that the book read quickly.
Darcy’s Decision takes a tender approach to the grieving Darcy and the repentant Georgiana, and I can’t wait to see how Grace handles the Bennets. There is a free bonus chapter about Darcy’s parents, which is the epilogue to Darcy’s Decision, available here.
Disclosure: I received Darcy’s Decision from the author for review.
© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.