It was his confrontation with Collins that had been the most troubling. How unnerving it was to see his own face, twisted by Collins’ indecision as he swung between pride and folly. Moreover, Collins’ declaration–“I am Darcy of Pemberley!”–had shaken him to the core.
At the landing Darcy paused and hung over the bannister rail, lost in thought. If Collins could never be Fitzwilliam Darcy, then he could never be William Collins.
(from Darcy By Any Other Name)
Laura Hile’s Darcy By Any Other Name is among the most unique variations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I’ve thus far had the pleasure to read. In a Freaky Friday sort of scenario, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins switch bodies after being struck by lightning at the Netherfield Ball. When Darcy wakes up as Mr. Collins, he is thrust into life in the Bennet household at a time when Mr. Bennet has fallen ill. He is given a chance to understand the Bennet women, get to know Elizabeth in particular, and view life through the eyes of someone who can enter a room without being noticed. Elizabeth sees a change in Mr. Collins, realizing he is no longer pompous and has stopped sermonizing and praising Lady Catherine at every turn.
Meanwhile, Collins turns Darcy into a bumbling idiot and a bit of a slob. He is initially excited to be elevated to Darcy’s wealth and social standing but soon learns that he does not have the intelligence or common sense to fill Darcy’s boots, no matter how good he looks in them. With no idea how the body swap occurred and no way to reverse it, the men are forced to come to terms with the reality of their new lives and position in society as chaos erupts around them and life-altering decisions must be made.
Darcy By Any Other Name was the perfect way to start off my 2017 reading. It’s a laugh (and even gasp) out loud kind of novel, one that actually makes you worried that there isn’t any possible path to happily ever after. There were plenty of humorous moments, such as Collins flirting with Caroline Bingley and admiring himself in Darcy’s upscale wardrobe, but there are plenty of deeper moments as well, especially as Darcy contemplates why he became Collins at this particular moment in time and is humbled by his experiences.
This is a fairly long novel at more than 600 pages, but don’t let that stop you. The book reads quickly and is difficult to put down. I was literally on the edge of my seat during the last several chapters. I had no idea how it all would play out, and it was a roller coaster ride until the end. Hile takes time to develop Elizabeth’s relationship with Darcy (as Collins), and she does so in a way that feels completely natural and never forced. She also gives the men sufficient time to learn from their changed circumstances, and there are many lessons at the core of the novel, mainly that a person’s true self is more important than their outward appearance. The differences in how Darcy and Collins approach their new selves and the opportunities presented to them feel true to character and provide both many laughs and much food for thought. Moreover, Hile takes on the issues of pride, faith, and duty in way that I will not soon forget.
If I’ve made you excited to read Darcy By Any Other Name, then you’re in luck! Laura is generously offering a Kindle copy to one lucky reader. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and tell me what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Sunday, January 15, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post.
If you want to start reading Darcy By Any Other Name right this minute, you’re also in luck! The Kindle version is currently on sale for $3.99. It also is available through Kindle Unlimited.
Disclosure: Darcy By Any Other Name is from my personal library.