I was really looking forward to reading this variation as the premise of a more confident Georgiana who has noticed the interest her usually reserved brother is showing this particular woman Miss Bennet and taking it upon herself to visit her sounded interesting. It was very high on my to-read list but then the lovely Jeanna Ellsworth contacted me asking if I would review her story on my blog for her and I was only to happy to be provided with such an opportunity to read a book I have been wanting to read since I heard of it. And I was not disappointed! (I was provided with a review copy in ebook form however this is my honest and unbiased opinion.)
"Jane Austen’s classic Regency story comes alive again in a tale of pride, prejudice, and a promise. Georgiana Darcy makes her way to Netherfield Park to meet the woman her brother so admires. While at first Georgiana’s presence smooths the course of true love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the ghosts of her past appear to wreak havoc on all of them. Unhappily, Elizabeth finds herself placed in the care of the Darcy family at Pemberley. Assuming he knows the cause of Elizabeth’s distress, Mr. Darcy makes a promise on his gentleman’s honor. The promise, although made with good intentions, becomes nearly impossible to keep for Mr. Darcy, and somewhat vexing for Elizabeth. Some promises are made to be broken but will the ever-trustworthy gentleman let go enough to secure Elizabeth’s heart?"
As I said, I enjoyed this more confident side to Georgiana. She was very sweet and I loved her sisterly relationship which grows between her and Elizabeth. Another great character which was developed in this story was Col Fitzwilliam. He was such fun, constantly telling (pretty bad!) jokes and generally causing amusement wherever he goes! He is one of my favourite characters in the original Pride and Prejudice and I always love to see his character developed further in these variations.
There are a few on going themes throughout this story, one of which was symbolism. There were many times throughout where feelings and emotions or meanings behind actions were disguised very cleverly with the use of symbolism and riddles. The simple act of riding a horse, playing a card game, swinging on a swing or feeding some chickens all suddenly have a double meaning. (Some of these riddles are easy to puzzle out while others are not, but the explanation of the more significant ones are explained beautifully.)
Another theme was (surprise surprise!) promises, and how some promises are made to be broken. Mr Darcy is very much the gentleman to Elizabeth throughout the story and all these promises which he makes become an important part to their relationship (even if some promises are broken very quickly and others kept for far too long!)
A lovely new addition to the story was Lizzy's maid Serafina. She became almost like a replacement for her sister Jane who she had to leave behind at Longbourn, who helped her deal with her sudden marriage and comfort her in times of distress (as well as give her some very important relationship advice which I myself might remember for future reference!)
I realise I haven't as yet talked about the main characters of the story, so let me rectify that by beginning with Darcy. I greatly enjoyed this version of Darcy; his sweet and caring side of his nature is shown through his treatment of Elizabeth and also through his treatment of Georgiana, his servants and his tenants - it was nice for this to be expanded on as we are given glimpses of such behaviour in the original story. Another aspect I enjoyed was Darcy's perseverance in trying to win Lizzy heart. He does everything to help her feel comfortable in her new situation and is very patient with the hope that Lizzy's opinion will change. This perseverance and patience result in some very funny and very touching scenes.
Elizabeth goes on an interesting journey through this story and, staying true to the Elizabeth spirit, tries to make the best of a seemingly bad situation. Her acceptance of the loveless marriage she is expecting and her resolve to make the best of it (even if this resolve seems hard to keep at times) was sweet and yet sad to read as we all know of Lizzy's wish to marry for love and love only! (You begin to realise pretty quickly that some of the main problems between the couple would be solved sooner had they been more open with each other, but then again, given their peculiar situation such a conversation would have been difficult to have, not to mention the fact that if such a conversation had taken place then there would be no story!) Later on Darcy too experiences a similar problem to Lizzy of needing to make the most of a bad situation, however I will not give any of the particulars as I do not want to spoil it. Both of their reactions and responses to their problems were touching and show a true strength of character (which I personally think fits with what we would expect from Darcy and Elizabeth), as well as shows a clear desire from each of them to make their relationship work.
Darcy and Elizabeth have a difficult journey through the story - what else would you expect from a practically forced marriage - but watching the relationship between them grow and change was wonderful. Seeing them face many problems together but also begin to get to know and love the other more and slowly become a true married couple made for some great reading! I was pleased to have Darcy and Lizzy and their relationship as the main focus of the story, meaning that most of the scenes were between them. There are some conversations and escapades which will have you laughing while others are wonderfully romantic. Again I will not give away too much but there are fun scenes including a rather amusing shopping trip and a muddy episode with some chickens! Dangerous moments due to a raging fire and the actions of a certain (so called) 'gentleman'. And romantic scenes of near kisses (and actual kisses!), night-time adventures in a barn, the accidental sharing of a bed and dreams being made a reality.
Of course where would a Pride and Prejudice variation be without the infamous Mr Wickham! He plays a very important role in this tale and causes more than his fair share of incidents - nothing new there then! (As always, good will triumph over evil and so Wickham gets what he deserves!)
I thought my happiness gage was going to over flow as I was reading the final few chapters as the superb writing of this story made me feel so drawn into and a part of Darcy and Lizzy's journey that seeing everything finally work out for them I couldn't help but feel so very happy for them (more happy then perhaps I should have been for a pair of fictional characters in a fictional story!)
As I always love to have at the end, there was an epilogue giving brief explanations of what happens to the characters in the story as well as a glimpse into the 'happily ever after' of our beloved hero and heroine.
I really did love this variation and I was thrilled to hear that she has 2 other completed stories and is in the process of completing another! I look forward to being able to read them.
Read chapter one of Mr Darcy's Promise here as well as find out about her other stories due to be published soon here.
As I have said in some of my other reviews, a sign that I loved the book is if I read it on my kindle first but then afterwards buy the paperback for my shelf... it should be arriving tomorrow and it will have pride of place on my shelf! This is a superbly written, highly romantic, funny and clever exploration of an alternative path for the classic story of Pride and Prejudice which is so loved all around the world.
Your affectionate friend,