“I am going insane. This cannot be happening,” Darcy grumbled.
George turned to his son so he could look him directly in the eye. “You are not losing your mind, but you are headed there. This is your last hope.”
(from Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy)
Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy is an enjoyable mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Barbara Tiller Cole’s novel imagines a brokenhearted Fitzwilliam Darcy who has abandoned all hope of winning Elizabeth Bennet’s love and plans to spend Christmas alone at Pemberley where he can drown his sorrows in drink. Although he orchestrated the wedding of George Wickham and Lydia Bennet, thereby rescuing Elizabeth’s family from ruin, Darcy thinks Elizabeth will never forgive him for failing to prevent the scandal in the first place. As a result, he does not return to Hertfordshire for his best friend Bingley’s wedding to Elizabeth’s sister Jane.
Seeing her son devoid of hope and on a steadily downward path, the ghost of Anne Darcy visits Fitzwilliam in hopes of helping him emerge from this misery. She explains that the ghosts of the past, present, and future will visit him that night to reveal some harsh truths and the choices that lay before him. Soon Darcy is forced to revisit his insult to Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, her despair at his absence from Hertfordshire, and the lives that await her and his sister Georgiana if he doesn’t realize soon that all hope is not lost.
I enjoyed Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy for its lesson about hope, the idea of a Christmas miracle, and the bits of humor from the ghosts in the midst of Darcy’s pain. The ghosts of Darcy’s parents and Mrs. Pat were delightfully funny and more than a tad impertinent. The only thing I didn’t care for was the epilogue, in which details about the angels and what transpired that night long ago are revisted in a more heavy-handed way that lessens the impact of Darcy’s experience. However, there were plenty of laughs in the final pages to make up for it.
As a novella, Darcy’s journeys with the ghosts pass quickly, and his troubles are resolved in short order, but this brevity makes for a sweet read during the busy Christmas season. Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy is another Austen-inspired Christmas tale I could see myself re-reading during the holiday season.
Disclosure: Fitzwilliam Ebenezer Darcy is from my personal library.