I’m definitely not one for fan-fiction. I’ve never written it, I’ve never read it online, and I’ve never, until now, realized that it can be published in book form.
The Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, series by Pamela Aidan tells the story of Pride & Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s perspective. This first novel takes place from the time Darcy and the Bingleys arrive at Netherfield and meet the Bennets, until they leave just before Christmas, supposedly never to return. I have very mixed feelings about this book.
The parts that I like, I like very much. When Aidan recounts moments we know from Austen’s story, moments when Darcy and Elizabeth are interacting, the story is interesting and fun. Aidan is even able to use some of Austen’s own words, especially in direct quotes, probably owing to the fact that Pride & Prejudice is now public domain. Any Austen fan – and let’s be honest, any fan who loves the 1995 BBC production – has to wonder what Darcy himself is thinking in all his interactions with Elizabeth. I love what this book suggests, that he’s a hopeless romantic and is deeply in love with Elizabeth from the moment he sees her. But the book certainly lags a bit when it moves away from Austen’s canon and into Aidan’s own creation. And that’s not a poor reflection on Aidan’s writing, which is capable, nor on her storytelling. It’s just that Austen created such a rich and wonderful world on her own that to add anything to it is almost not even worthwhile.
There are two more books in the series, which I probably won’t read. For only being 246 pages, this one took me an interminably long time to read. It just didn’t hold my attention for long stretches of time. Plus, I know how the story ends, and when I want an Austen-esque escape into the world of Darcy and Elizabeth, I’ll just read the original. Or maybe I’ll watch the mini-series again!