I always enjoy P.O Dixon's stories, Darcy and Elizabeth are always slightly different in each one, due to some change in particulars, often meeting one another following a life changing event, such as Darcy being younger or Elizabeth as a widow.
I was excited to read this new instalment from Dixon, which is a Pride and Prejudice 'what if'.
Dear Jane, never makes it to Netherfield as she turns around in the down pour of rain and heads home.
I always did wonder at Mrs Bennets' comment that 'nobody dies of a trifling cold', as I was under the impression that in Austen's time it was possible and ever more probable in comparison to today, is this to be Jane's fate?
Mr Bennet has a sister, Lady Vanessa, her husband has died and left everything to her. With no children to inherit she intends to pass it down to her niece Elizabeth. Lady Vanessa has had little to do with Mr Bennet, since he married a woman who's family was in trade, therefore Elizabeth will now live with Lady Vanessa, in order to breech the rift between the two siblings. If Lady Vanessa is pleased, Elizabeth will become her heiress, solving the problem of the Bennet estate being entailed away from the female line, to their cousin Mr Collins.
“It is a shame; however, I cannot pretend to be surprised. Horse racing is the sport of a gentleman, and your father practically forfeited his claim to such a distinction when he married the daughter of a tradesman.” - P.O.Dixon
Lady Vanessa's closest friend and sister in law is Lady Clarissa Holland, the two of them have designs on making a match between Elizabeth and lady Clarissa's son, lord Holland. With Lord Holland destined for Elizabeth, does Mr Darcy have competition?
On that note, enter Mr Darcy, who is staying with his friend Lord Holland at his estate Avondale, while his horses compete in the races. The world of horse racing is a first for me in JAFF and this added extra I found refreshing.
Another positive about this book was the absence of Elizabeth's usual dislike of Darcy (well almost absent) and the two become firm friends very quickly. This development was nice as Elizabeth was slightly insecure and in much need of a friend!
“Though our meeting was by happenstance, as Betsy likely told you, I do not know that I would describe him as amiable.” In fact, I found him arrogant and a bit condescending. “As for your second question on whether he is handsome, I would say he is tolerable.” Yes—tolerable is the word I would choose. “Tolerable? Your description of the gentleman is in striking contrast to how Betsy described him. She spoke of his tall person and handsome mien and his eyes. She said if one were not careful, one might risk drowning in his eyes.” - P.O.Dixon
Lady Vanessa is like Lady Catherine in her haughty manner, which is an inevitable consequence of ones' rank is it not? Yet she has a good side to her and most probably a soft spot for Elizabeth, although she does not show it. Lady Vanessa went up in my estimation when she had a quiet word in the ear of Miss Bingley, I do delight in Miss Bingley getting a set down!
This book was a pleasant read with some lovely moments, Elizabeth's private riding lessons with Mr Darcy for one. With a rival in Lord Holland, a jealous Darcy always adds to the excitement, although his boldness did board on arrogance at times. Elizabeth's inner thoughts were funny and a nice added touch, while original P&P lines were interwoven often bringing a smile to my face.
I have read most of Dixon's books (He taught me to hope is one of my favourites) and this was another delightful read. Albeit it was a short read, however that did not stop me from enjoying yet another JAFF P&P variation. Keep them coming P.O.Dixon I eagerly await another!!
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