Recently I was joined by author Laura Hile for a guest post and excerpt of her new book, 'Darcy By Any Other Name'. I was also lucky enough to read the book, so here's what I thought of it.
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It sounds fun, but for the angst-weenie such as myself, there is a lot to worry about. Firstly, what if Elizabeth finds herself falling in love with Darcy-in-Collins’-body (DiCb) and then they somehow switch back? Could she find herself permanently tied to somebody she can’t respect? What if Collins-in-Darcy’s-body (CiDB) agrees to marry somebody? What if Lizzy marries DiCb and then has children who are like the real Mr Collins in personality? What if they never change back? Will Lady Catherine make DiCb’s life a misery and will CiDb make Georgiana’s life a misery? If Lydia elopes, who will save them, as DiCb has no money and CiDb won’t care enough to make any attempt? For the person who worries, there is plenty to worry about here. There is also the ‘Ewwwwww’ factor, although to be fair Collins isn’t described as physically repellent in P&P, it’s just how I imagine him!
When you consider how short a time the Bennets knew Mr Collins before the ball it’s quite feasible to think that their opinions of him might change as they seem him behaving unexpectedly but in the event, of the Bennets it’s only Elizabeth who is observant enough to notice that anything might have changed.
“Perhaps we have misjudged him?”
Elizabeth’s steps slowed. “I do not see how that is possible, for his character was clear. And now it—isn’t.”
Changing bodies is a huge eye-opener for both men, but particularly Darcy – in Collins’ body he gets no flattery from anybody and a marked degree less of deference from acquaintances, family members and servants alike. This one quote sums up Darcy’s experience beautifully. He is talking about looking at an illustration in a publication here, but it very much applies to his experience too:
“By viewing from a different angle, one’s observation is enhanced.”
There are a number of things I enjoyed in this book – I liked Elizabeth's changing relationship with her 'cousin'. She fights it, but she finds there is much more to admire in 'Mr Collins' than she had thought. Despite herself, she starts to care for his welfare and appreciate that he has more intelligence than she gave him credit for. I enjoyed her picking up on Darcy-in-Collin’s-body’s acerbic comments that nobody else notices:
“That fellow,” he muttered, “is a perfect chameleon. It suited you to see Mr. Darcy as Wickham’s enemy. And it suits Anne to see Mr Darcy as Wickham’s friend.”
Elizabeth tied a knot in her embroidery silk. “What a suspicious mind you have.”
“Then prove me wrong. You’ll not see him leave her side all evening.”
I enjoyed Collins-in-Darcy’s-body’s confounding of expectations when he is freed up to choose things for himself rather than have a fettered choice like he would as himself.
‘Collins felt himself cringe. What scheme had she hatched? In truth, he had no need for this alliance. He was Darcy of Pemberley!’
I give the author kudos for having some believable safeguards on the real Mr Collin’s behaviour as you may have thought him free of all restraint in his new situation.
Although this is a long book, it actually doesn’t feel it, the story whizzes by very entertainingly. My only reservations about this story were some of the decisions that Darcy makes. He justifies them but I thought some of them were really overstepping, and ratcheted the angst-level up a bit. In fact, although I’d expected some angst, I found the story had more than I’d anticipated. The more weedy reader may well have to peep ahead to the end for their peace of mind (like I did!). I promise you that there is a happy ending that I was satisfied with, though I found the ending a little bit rushed. Also, some of the behaviour and events toward the end of the story seemed unlikely to me (I know, I accepted a body-swap without a quibble, but it’s the the central focus of the book!).
This book has such an unusual premise, with lots of fun scenes resulting from it. If are interested to see the potential chaos that might result from a Collins who is suddenly gentlemanly and intelligent and a Darcy who is suddenly less of both of those things and you can cope with some angst I think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this book. I’d rate it as a 4 star read.
*My thanks to the author, who provided me with an e-book of 'Darcy By Any Other Name' for my honest review