Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Noteworthy Courtship by Laura Sanchez

This was a delightful story! When I stumbled across this in my Amazon recommendations the idea behind this variation intrigued me...

“A Noteworthy Courtship is an Austen inspired tale, where the familiar characters of Pride and Prejudice, along with a few new ones, discover what would have happened if the storyline had strayed from the plot of Jane Austen's novel. What if the Netherfield party had not left Hertfordshire immediately following the Netherfield Ball, and what if Mr. Darcy in particular had given himself inducement to remain? Comical entanglements and exploits thicken the familiar plot as various characters break their canon form. Two are repeatedly drawn to the bookshop in Meryton with little explanation, and a gentleman from Kent is not so easily dissuaded as he might otherwise have been. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are as lackadaisical and troublesome as ever, and Mr. Bingley and Miss Jane Bennet are left to their own inclination without the untimely interference of their friends. A new set of characters allow the escapades to continue before finally a resolution can be reached, with much the same happily ever after as Jane Austen intended. Adapted in part from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and inspired by the film You've Got Mail.”

The idea that Darcy and Lizzy would get into a correspondence through secret messages was something I had not come across before in many of the other variations I have read or heard about. Added to this was the fact that I very much like the film You’ve Got Mail.

The notes exchanged between Darcy and Lizzy are my favourite parts of the story as the conversations are hilarious! I especially loved the references to Sense and Sensibility – it felt rather strange reading about Darcy and Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen talking about Edward and Elinor from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (or rather, “A Lady”).  I wanted to keep reading and reading just to see how long it took before one of them clicked who the other person was receiving and answering the notes and it was funny when one realised and then very sweet when the other one was told!

My favourite secondary character in this story was Bingley; he has a backbone! He stands up for himself and the result is that he and Jane get engaged much sooner!  As well as standing up for himself and to his sisters, he is a great brother-in-law to Lizzy in helping protect (yes protect!) from the (in this variation) much more persistent Mr Collins! It was also sweet seeing a little more of Jane and Bingley as a married couple.

Similarly to the film, at one stage towards the middle Darcy decides to reveal himself but it doesn’t go to plan and because Lizzy doesn’t like him at all, she will not even contemplate that the gentleman she has been writing to is the proud and disagreeable Mr Darcy! I felt for him a lot during this scene when he came to realise the extent of Lizzy’s dislike and therefore her denial that Mr Darcy could possibly be the secret correspondent!

I found it quite funny how Mrs Bennet, because Mr Collins is very persistent, tries to throw Kitty in Mr Darcy’s path; it gave Kitty a bigger role for once as well as being rather funny – I mean, can you imagine Darcy and Kitty? No, it really doesn’t work.

As well as Kitty having a bigger role it was also nice that Mr Darcy decided to inform the necessary people about Mr Wickham’s character, therefore pretty much eliminating him from the story – he doesn’t feature at all really and Mr Collins becomes the bad guy of the story I suppose, which is rather funny as well as brilliant because Mr Collins finally gets what I believe he deserves and what I have wanted to do to him since first coming across this slimy character in the original story! I will say no more...   

Darcy also informs Lizzy about Mr Wickham’s true nature and links to his family and it was again interesting for Darcy to see Lizzy’s initial reaction to what he had to say, as opposed to her reading it in a letter.

There were many familiar quotes and snippets from conversations from the original story, some used in different contexts and others spoken by different people about or to different people – I always like recognisable quotes popping up every now and then! A few examples... the famous ‘most handsomest woman of my acquaintance’ is spoken, the accidentally over-heard ‘not tolerable enough’ conversations is referred to, as is the ‘accomplished woman’ conversation and the conversation during the dance at the Netherfield Ball and my favourite, the use of the famous words from the first proposal used rather later on in the story!   

In the second half of the book, Darcy is so lovely!  He is very gentlemanly and amiable as well as quite teasing! I loved seeing more of Darcy’s relaxed side, like we see a little of in the original during the visit to Pemberley. It was also lovely to have Lizzy and Darcy together so much in the second half when Darcy was much more relaxed and trying to please a woman worthy of being pleased.

I thought it was very clever how the story runs pretty parallel to the original, but with very different changes being made to what we expect from the original...
Darcy’s first proposal and the ensuing argument is similar to the confrontation which follows the meeting of Darcy and Lizzy when Darcy was planning on revealing himself as the secret letter writer, only, just like the proposal, it doesn’t go as planned!
The explanation letter that follows said proposal is instead a conversation between Mr Bennet and Lizzy when he warns Lizzy’s about not believing everything she has been told by Wickham.  
The trip to Derbyshire and meeting at Pemberley is very similar to trip taken to Ashington to visit some friends of Bingley’s, to which Darcy is also invited.
The letter about Lydia which Lizzy receives is similar to a letter she receives from her father, beginning ‘be not alarmed on receiving this letter’ but the content of the letter is referring to Mr Collins instead of Wickham.
The visit from Lady Catherine instead of being about a supposed engagement between Lizzy and Darcy is instead of a rumour that an engagement between Lizzy and Mr Collins has in fact not taken place! (As you can see, Mr Collins features heavily!)  
In the original when we meet Darcy again in Meryton he has reverted to his old, reserved self and similarly, once returned from the trip to Ashington, the colder Darcy returns, confusing Lizzy greatly.
(It suddenly hit me after the first few points I have just made how similar but different it was to the original!)  

Mr Darcy had a more developed relationship with Mr Bennet in this variation, Mr Bennet guessing the identity of Lizzy’s secret correspondent and then approaching Darcy about it, resulting in multiple conversations between them. I also enjoyed Lizzy’s relationship with Georgiana which was explored more in this variation. (I mentioned in one of my last reviews about Lizzy not seeing Pemberley before marrying Darcy making a nice change from most variations (as well as the original) and again this happens in this story. It also resulted in a sweet conversation about Pemberley between the (by now engaged) couple as what Lizzy was to expect when she finally sees Pemberley.

The romance was sweet in this story, especially in the second half as I have already mentioned. The ending was also perfect, perfect in relation to the rest of the story and the theme of the story, though I don’t want to mention too much and ruin it for anyone!  As well as the perfect ending there is also a short epilogue assuring you of the ‘happily ever afters’ of the three main couples of the story.  When you finish the story there is an additional surprise of a selection of alternative and extra unused scenes for our enjoyment and I enjoyed reading alternative scenes and endings.

This was definitely one of my favourite variations I have read because it is very unique. This was a very enjoyable and funny story and I highly recommend this story for a lover of Pride and Prejudice or the film You’ve Got Mail.

Your affectionate friend,
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