“But, Lizzy, this is the same man who befriended Mr. Bingley, a man whose fortune was made in trade, and he tolerates Mr. Bingley’s unpleasant sisters. Is this not evidence of a decent man who is open to change?”
“Even if everything is as you say, in all your enthusiasm for this match, you have forgotten one thing. Mr. Darcy has not met Mama.”
(from A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park, pages 70-71)
Mary Lydon Simonsen’s novella, A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park, is a Pride and Prejudice retelling that imagines that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet do not formally meet until Kent, when Elizabeth is visiting her friend, Charlotte Collins, and Darcy is visiting his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Elizabeth remembers the scowling, arrogant Darcy and the rude things he said about her and her neighbors at the Meryton assembly. But Darcy doesn’t remember her, nor does he know about his friend Charles Bingley’s engagement to Elizabeth’s sister, Jane.
Although it’s plain to see that Darcy and Elizabeth are passionate about one another, Elizabeth can’t understand what Darcy sees in her and doesn’t want to get her feelings hurt. She isn’t well acquainted with the real Darcy, so he has to work hard to earn her affections. And even if Elizabeth admits her feelings for Darcy, is it possible he could still love her after meeting her family?
Simonsen has a knack for re-imagining different romantic scenarios for Darcy and Elizabeth, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was nice to see Charlotte blossom in her marriage to Mr. Collins, and I love when authors give Anne de Bourgh a mischievous streak. I always end up wishing Simonsen’s novellas were full-length novels, as I get so wrapped up in her versions of Austen’s characters, and this one wraps up their love affair while retelling only one part of the original novel.
Simonsen includes a bonus short story at the end, “Mr. Darcy Steps In,” which is a funny look at what might have happened had Darcy realized that Mr. Collins had his sights set on Elizabeth. Although he’s confident that Elizabeth would never accept a marriage offer from a ridiculous buffoon like Collins and that she’s not cut out to be a preacher’s wife given her inability to keep her strong opinions to herself, Darcy doesn’t want to think about Elizabeth marrying another man. Darcy bravely and humorously submits to the attentions of Mr. Collins in order to put his plan into action.
A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park and “Mr. Darcy Steps In” are perfect for Austen fans who want a quick and satisfying couple of hours with their favorite characters. There aren’t any dramatic plots here, and the pride and the prejudice that cause so much tension between Darcy and Elizabeth in the original novel are absent, but there is plenty of passion and romance, making it a pure feel-good read.
Disclosure: A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park is from my personal library.
© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.