Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mr Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview

Please excuse my lack of post this week, I have been so busy at work, and in addition to this, I helped out at an election this week, which was a 17 hour day! Hopefully my reading will get back on track now! 

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to review Mr Darcy's Pledge for Leatherbound Reviews, and here's my review... 
***

I’d only read one book by Monica Fairview before this, Steampunk Darcy, which I really enjoyed, so I was very grateful to Jakki for the opportunity to try something more traditional by this author. Mr Darcy’s Pledge is a Pride and Prejudice variation, from Darcy’s perspective, beginning just after the Hunsford Proposal. Darcy is returning to Georgiana at Pemberley to lick his wounds and he has made a momentous decision – he made a huge mistake in offering for Elizabeth Bennet, and now he needs to put it behind him, and marry somebody else.

He wants to do this partly to help him get over his unreciprocated infatuation for Elizabeth (which is obviously a very bad and risky idea!) and partly because he is beginning to think of launching Georgiana into society, and so he needs a woman to help him do this. In preference to his relatives, he considers enlisting the help of a neighbour, Lady Renwick, who was good friends with his mother. Lady Renwick has her niece staying with her, Miss Elinor Marshall, who is the most beautiful woman that Darcy has ever set eyes on. This makes Darcy wonder whether finding a bride might be easier than he’d first thought. However, there is a lot to distract him from his quest to find a bride, with a multitude of visitors to Pemberley, both expected and unexpected, and perhaps even a London tradesman and his wife and niece visiting the area of Lambton on a summer tour...

This could have been quite an angst-filled variation, firstly because Darcy is genuinely heartbroken and suffering and secondly, because he is planning to marry in haste and potentially repent at leisure. Deep down, he knows this, and while he is trying to convince himself that he has recovered from his infatuation for Miss Bennet and is ready to move on he really isn’t ready to do so:

“His heart protested, but he was having none of it. His heart had no say in the matter. Consulting his heart in the matter of marriage was a foolish indulgence, nothing more. Men fell in love and out of love all the time. It was a passion of the moment, forgotten soon enough. Marriage was about producing heirs and managing a household. It was the choice of a lifetime.

                He could not help feeling that a lifetime was a very long time.”

The other thing that saves this from being a sad read is the humour. There is so much humour, from wry asides here and there, to the awful comic creations of Lord and Lady Matlock.  Ms Fairview’s Darcy falls short of eccentric but he’s leaning towards it in a loveable and amusing way. He decides to determine what character traits he is looking for in a wife as a starting point to finding his bride:

“Choosing a wife would take more careful thought than he had imagined. Already the mental list was growing longer by the minute. He should write it all down.”

I loved the way the lists he made were contradictory, as he’d list what he thought were ‘proper’ qualities in a wife, and then he’d cross them out and replace them with the qualities he really wanted.  Darcy is uncharacteristically impulsive in his efforts to overcome his heartbreak and his behaviour really confuses poor Georgiana, who doesn’t know what has effected this change in her previously staid and dependable brother.

One of the things I liked best about this book was the development of Georgiana, who goes from a timid, shy girl, to a girl bewildered by the change she’s seeing in her brother, to a woman who is able to stand up for herself and is not afraid to show her claws when she’s under attack.  Darcy and Georgiana’s relationship develops too, from a father/daughter style relationship to a more equal footing.

Darcy gave her a disbelieving look then realized she was joking. “Since when have you turned into a jester?”
“Since I realized the sky will not fall down on me if I make a joke,” said Georgiana. “And since I discovered my brother is rather fond of laughter.” She threw him a significant glance.

I was a little unsure of the familiarity between people in the story. Both new characters and existing seemed to get on familiar terms very quickly. In some cases this was used as a device to highlight encroaching characters but in others it didn’t sit quite right with me, especially when some of the people were on less familiar terms in Pride and Prejudice than they are here, however, this was a minor issue and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

Mr Darcy’s Pledge is volume one of ‘The Darcy Novels’, so be warned that it’s not a complete story although thankfully it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. We see some Elizabeth, but not as much as I’d like. There is the definite promise of more page time for Elizabeth in Volume 2. The only real shame is the wait I’ll have to have until I can read Volume 2, which is not yet available!


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