She wished she might be so fortunate in life as to be able to show her displeasure, rather than always hiding behind an obsequious mask.
(from “Jane & Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling”)
“Jane & Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling” is a short story by Alexa Adams that retells the beginning of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the eldest Bennet sister, Jane. Jane has long been known as beautiful and good, with never an unkind word for anyone — not even Mr. Bingley’s condescending sisters. But Adams puts Jane’s thoughts on display, from her desire to be more than just beautiful and elegant to her embarrassment over the actions of her mother and her youngest sister, Lydia.
The story begins after Elizabeth is slighted by Mr. Darcy at the Meryton Assembly and follows Jane through her illness and extended stay at Netherfield Park to her second dance with Mr. Bingley at the Netherfield ball. Jane’s thoughts run from her admiration of Mr. Darcy to her distress at Elizabeth’s impertinent remarks to the gentleman and interest in the shady Mr. Wickham.
Adams’ portrayal of Jane is refreshing because I’ve always found it hard to believe that she’s so perfect and good, and I have long wondered what she really thought about being forced to ride to Netherfield on horseback in the rain or listen to her mother’s obnoxious prattle. I was surprised at Jane’s thoughts about the obviously besotted Mr. Bingley but glad to see her portrayed as having more depth.
“Jane & Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling” is an enjoyable take on the eldest Bennet sister, bringing the saying “still waters run deep” to mind. That Jane let her need for an advantageous marriage guide her interactions with Mr. Bingley provides much food for thought. Was Jane not as crazy in love with Mr. Bingley as we like to believe? It’s not often that a Pride and Prejudice retelling assumes Jane’s point of view, so I was reluctant for it to end. Adams is talented in dreaming up alternative scenarios for Austen’s novels and characters and giving readers just enough to get them thinking. She is definitely not afraid to give Austen’s heroines less than the expected happily ever after, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for her next “Twisted Austen” tale.
Disclosure: “Jane & Bingley: Something Slightly Unsettling” 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.