“Lizzy, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life,” he said, with his ear tuned to Mrs. Bennet in a nearby room giggling with Lydia.
“I can spare you that, Papa, because I do respect Mr. Darcy. I may not like him all that much, but he is a man worthy of my respect.”
(from All the Wrong Reasons, page 31)
For All the Wrong Reasons is a novella that imagines what might have happened in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had Pemberley been entailed away from the female line and Mr. Darcy was forced to marry and produce an heir to protect his sister in the event of his demise. The next in line to inherit Pemberley is Darcy’s cousin, Peter Grayson, with whom he’s had a falling out. When Darcy learns that Grayson is engaged to a spiteful Caroline Bingley, he is furious and determined to prevent them from gracing the halls of his beloved home. Darcy and his friend, Charles Bingley, pour over lists of eligible women to find him a suitable match, but the only woman he can imagine marrying is Elizabeth Bennet, the sister of Charles’ wife, Jane.
Elizabeth has no idea Darcy’s opinion of her has changed so dramatically since his biting comments at the Meryton assembly, and even though her father can’t stand the thought that she would sacrifice herself for the financial security of her family, she is willing to entertain Darcy’s marriage offer. There seems to be more to him than meets the eye — which she learns after befriending his sister and touring his grand estate — and it’s not like there are men lining up to marry a woman with strong opinions and a meager dowry.
Mary Lydon Simonsen never fails to charm me with her romantic retellings of Pride and Prejudice. For All the Wrong Reasons is a sweet tale of two people oblivious to the feelings of the other and worried about the prospect of happiness in a marriage built on necessity, rather than love. It certainly is a different take on Austen’s beloved couple, given that their ability and desire to marry for love has been stripped away, which was the unfortunate reality for many people in Austen’s time. Even though I know Darcy and Elizabeth are always going to misunderstand and misinterpret the actions of the other, their anguish still touched me.
For All the Wrong Reasons is an enjoyable novella, but because it is so short and only retells a part of the original novel, it may leave some readers wanting more. I wish Simonsen had actually shown Grayson interact with Darcy, rather than paint his portrait through Darcy’s thoughts and conversations with others, to really give a sense of urgency to Darcy’s need to marry. I also had a hard time believing that Elizabeth would consent to marry a man she didn’t love for the sake of her family, given that she turns down both Darcy and Mr. Collins in the original novel for that very reason (among others). Even so, I thought it was an interesting premise, and readers looking to spend a few hours with their favorite Austen characters won’t be disappointed.
Disclosure: For All the Wrong Reasons is from my personal library.
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