Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Impressions by Alexa Adams

In Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy begins his relationship with Elizabeth Bennet with the words: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." What would have happened if Mr. Darcy had never spoken so disdainfully? First Impressions explores how the events of Jane Austen's beloved novel would have transpired if Darcy and Elizabeth had danced together at the Meryton Assembly. Jane and Bingley's relationship blossoms unimpeded, Mary makes a most fortunate match, and Lydia never sets a foot in Brighton. Austen's witty style is authentically invoked in this playful romp from Longbourn to Pemberley.”

I was contacted by the lovely Alexa Adams asking me if I would like to review her trilogy, Tales of Less Pride and Prejudice, and I was only too happy to agree!  If you wish to read more about the entire trilogy and the reasons and inspiration for this trilogy then have a look at the Guest Post from Alexa Adams.

I was provided with a review copy but this is my honest, unbiased opinion. This ‘what if’ variation captured my intention as soon as I read the blurb – I had always wondered what might have happened had Darcy danced with Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly rather than insulting her, resulting in Elizabeth's opinion not being immediately prejudiced against this mysterious man, and their relationship beginning on a much happier note.

Summing up... This is Pride and Prejudice with all the same events taking place, but perhaps as they should (or rather, could) have happened, had all gone smoothly! I say ‘should have’, but I do not really mean ‘should’ – after all, Pride and Prejudice is Pride and Prejudice, and it is loved for all the misunderstandings and miscommunications between Darcy and Elizabeth! But, it is enjoyable to read a version of Pride and Prejudice where, for example, all carries on smoothly between Bingley and Jane and Elizabeth is warned much earlier of the true nature of Wickham and therefore does not fall for his charms.  Basically, all the things which while reading the original make you think ‘if only so and so had/hadn’t done this or that...’ happen that way in this variation.

It was a nice change to read a variation which keeps very close to the original - all the assemblies and events being the same - with only the slight (but important!) difference that Darcy and Elizabeth are favourably disposed towards one another. I haven’t read a variation which kept this close to the events of the original before, and I like it.  There were many familiar conversations from the original story coming up but with the addition of Darcy and Elizabeth's budding relationship being included; for example, the talk after the Meryton assembly between Jane and Elizabeth includes both Bingley and Darcy as they discuss the evening, both with big smiles and many girly giggles and feeling very happy! Also there is the talk with Charlotte Lucas about the importance of encouraging both Bingley AND Darcy in their affections.

It was a very strange variation to read, I will admit – I think the strangest aspect was reading the characters we know and love behave very differently and very unlike their normal selves, and it was bizarre to read - but fun! A few examples of what I mean by this... 
It was very extraordinary, but lovely, to see Mr Darcy being described in such a favourable light so soon in the story! Elizabeth thinking him agreeable and gentlemanly from the first moment of their acquaintance!  Mr Darcy also acts differently (and more beneficially for himself) in his actions.  Louisa Hurst, too, takes a different view towards Bingley’s attachment to Jane and also towards her sister Caroline’s continual pursuit of Mr Darcy!   And Mr Bennet decides to take an interest in his family and curb some of their more embarrassing behaviour! Bingley, too, is a more authoritative character and (perhaps most surprisingly) we are presented with a much more giving Lady Catherine de Bourgh – unheard of!

I always like to have some sort of description of the marriages and then the ‘happily ever afters’ which follow, as well as the futures of most of the other characters who have been part of the story and I was not disappointed here.

One of my favourite aspects to this story was the authoress’ style of writing - the narration style is very story like and the story is told in a very charming manner meaning it always remained interesting and never dragged.  Transitions between different settings and between characters are also very smooth – we have interactions, conversations and insight into the thoughts of many characters throughout the story!

I love the way she interacts with the reader - 'and so dear reader' type of thing - and when the author is talking almost directly to the reader like that, it makes it feel more personal which I enjoy.  Most of the time there was an omniscient narrator who knows all and who is always present, commenting and remarking on the unfolding events in a very funny manner, with satirical comments or rhetorical questions. One of my favourite examples of this would be when Darcy and Georgiana are reunited after an extended absence, and the narrator remarks, ‘after exchanging the mandatory pleasantries which must be attended to upon any reunion, regardless of their value conversationally, Darcy said, “I stop here...”’ – it’s just brilliant.  This way of speaking to the reader with the added sarcastic comments on society, mannerisms and etiquette is very much in the style of Jane Austen.

I am looking forward to the next two stories, seeing Kitty's and Charlotte's paths to love.
What I will admit is that I would have liked to have more romantic interactions between Darcy and Elizabeth, however that is just my romantic nature wanting more as I fully understand and appreciate that the focus of this variation is not the romance, but it is the humour and twists to the story and characters! And anyway, there were still enjoyable moments of sweet words and shared looks.

I found it a very refreshing change to read a story which was low on misunderstandings and angst, where everything goes to plan and unfolds as it should with minimal problems!  It may not be a favourite variation romantically, but it is most certainly a favourite for the comical style and for the uniqueness of the story. 

Your affectionate friend,
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  1. For once, I knew about this variation before reading your post :) A "blog-friend" of mine read it last summer and I really want to read it too! But before I have the book 2 of the Darcy Gentleman series by Pamela Aidan waiting for me, as well as "Mr Dear Mr Darcy" by Amanda Grange. And for Christmas holidays, I want to read "A Darcy Christmas"! Do you know it? It seems really fun.

    1. I love Pamela Aiden's trilogy! Read it several times. The second book is actually my least favorite, but only because it gets a bit sensational. Her portrayal of Darcy is awesome. If you haven't read it, you should definitely check out her novella showing the same Mr. Darcy at the very end of his boyhood years. It's one of my favorite books, and a great Christmas story.

      A Darcy Christmas is also a lot of fun. The first story, Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol, is phenomenal. I reviewed the book on my blog!

    2. I really need to check this trilogy out!

      Mr Darcy's Christmas Carol sounds like so much fun! I am looking forward to that one! :D

    3. I can't find your review of A Darcy Christmas Alexa, but here's the review of your book by my friend Matilda : I hope you read French a little bit to see how much she liked it :) She enjoyed it a lot and made me want to read it! I have it on my e-reader and hope to read it very soon.
      Mrs Darcy I think it is a pretty good time of the year to read A Darcy Christmas ;) I will obviously!

  2. It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it! I am so far enjoying book two as well :)
    I can't wait to read both those two you mentioned you have waiting, My Dear Mr Darcy in particular!

    I have just bought that, well it was on free promotion (but I would have bought it anyway!) it sounds like three very fun stories and after finishing book two by Alexa Adams I am going to read A Darcy Christmas as well as the novel 'Once upon a Christmas' by Diane Farr. I also have another collection of short winter stories called 'Winter Anthology' to read :)


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