(This review first appeared on Indie Jane.)
Finally, Darcy yelled out, “What are you talking about! I never proposed two days ago! A man would remember that!”
At that moment, it hit Elizabeth; he didn’t remember the proposal. She looked at his face and saw beads of sweat forming on his brow. He was obviously quite irate. She was dumfounded. She didn’t know what to do. Not only had she agitated him, but she had hurt him once again. Once again, he had his hand at his chest. Once again, she had not held her tongue. Once again, she had been rude and unforgiveable in her refusal. Not only had she not apologized, she had repeated the same mistake.
(from Pride and Persistence, page 52)
A retelling of Pride and Prejudice must be really unique to grab my attention these days, and fortunately, Jeanna Ellsworth’s latest novel, Pride and Persistence fits the bill. Ellsworth picks up the story after Elizabeth Bennet refuses Mr. Darcy’s disastrous proposal. Right after delivering the letter that explains his role in separating Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, from Mr. Bingley and reveals Wickham’s true character, Mr. Darcy is injured in an accident with his horse. Elizabeth witnesses the accident and plays an instrumental role in saving his life.
Mr. Darcy is too injured to be moved from the Hunsford parsonage, where Elizabeth is staying with her friend, Charlotte, and the odious Mr. Collins. Feeling guilty about the harsh words she said to him in rejecting his proposal, Elizabeth agrees to read to the unconscious Darcy, who is calmed by her presence. It’s soon obvious that his memory has quite literally taken a hit, as he does not recall the accident or his previous proposal and subsequent rejection — and proceeds to propose again, with the same arrogance…and the same result.
This latest refusal causes a setback in Darcy’s condition, so Colonel Fitzwilliam — with the help of the local doctor, Mr. Cummings, and Darcy’s nurse, Madeline — convinces Elizabeth not to reject him outright if he proposes again, in the hopes that he will continue to recover and eventually remember what happened before the accident on his own. Watching Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy navigate the challenges of his memory loss makes for a hilarious and sweet take on Jane Austen’s beloved novel.
Ellsworth brilliantly works in several original characters, my favorite being Mrs. Wilkinson, the Collins’ horrible cook and Elizabeth’s new friend and confidante. She also expands on the secondary characters, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at Colonel Fitzwilliam’s efforts to outwit Lady Catherine — who is hellbent on Darcy marrying her daughter — using battlefield tactics.
Pride and Persistence is definitely a story of, well, persistence, and Ellsworth’s humor makes it a must-read for fans of the Austenesque. If you didn’t think Mr. Collins could be more repulsive, think again. If you never imagined Lady Catherine having deep, dark secrets, then you’ll be gasping and laughing at the same time. Ellsworth’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice is fresh, imaginative, fun, and especially difficult to put down.
Disclosure: I received Pride and Persistence from the author for review.
© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.