Khanh the Killjoy

Wonderful cozy read

Unequal Affections: A Pride and Prejudice Retelling - Lara S. Ormiston

I'm sick as a dog. I have the flu. My head hurts. I read this book curled up in bed in the wee hours of the morning while every cell in my body is aching.

This book was just what I needed. It is one of the best Pride and Prejudice reimaginings I have ever read.

I read a horrifying amount of Pride and Prejudice fan published fiction. There is just something about Darcy and Elizabeth and Jane and Bingley that keeps me wanting more. I want to know what happens when they get married. I want to know what could have been if only this happened, if only that didn't happen.

This book tries to reimagine what would have happened if Elizabeth, instead of refusing Darcy outright at the parsonage, had decided to accept him instead.

The characters are adequately represented. There were few instances in which my head was screaming at me "WAIT A MINUTE, DARCY WOULD NOT---" or "ELIZABETH WOULD NEVER"...

You catch my drift.

Elizabeth's emotions and fears concerning her impending marriage was real. This book brought forth issues I never thought to consider, like what her neighbors at Longbourne must think of her when she accepted Darcy's offer of marriage.

Even more dismally she recalled the vehemence with which she had criticized and laughed at Mr. Darcy the previous autumn. How much she wished she had been more moderate in her expressions, more discreet in her opinions! Would there be a person among them who would doubt that she accepted him only for his wealth? In her mind’s eye she could see her neighbors’ knowing looks and half-hidden smirks. No one would blame her, of course. They would think her uncommonly clever to have made such a match, even while they pitied her for her proud and unpleasant husband.

It offers an alternate view of Mr. Bennet that may seem controversial, but I found believable.

"[The younger Bennet sisters] are spoiled, vain, and silly, with no sense of propriety and hardly even of common decency. Their mother positively encourages them, while their father has the sense to know better, yet chooses to mock them rather than make any attempt to restrain them.”

I have to admit that is sadly true, Mr. Bennet obviously adores Lizzy and Jane, but he is sadly neglectful of his younger daughters, choosing to ignore them instead of disciplining them. Undoubtedly, he plays favorites, and this book points this fact out quite well in a way that I found to be quite reasonable.

Darcy is not a man instantly changed by love. He is gentle towards Elizabeth, but his standoffishness and discipline retains that of Pride. He is not a jerk, but he still thinks himself better than others, even when conducting himself with Elizabeth's family and her neighbors, whom he deems unworthy. It took a dressing-down from Elizabeth to make him realize his faults. Her friends, her neighbors, however silly they may seem at first, are people too. People who mean much to her.

She sighed, sitting down on a fallen log. “It’s not just Sir William, you know. Mrs. Long, the lady you once sat next to for half an hour without speaking? She can seem like a foolish old woman when you first meet her, but she has a very tender heart. Nearly all of her free time she spends making clothes for local children."

“Even my mother has her moments,” she continued, a reminiscent tone taking over her voice. “One year we got news that one of our tenants had an infant son who was sick and going to die. Perhaps because it was a boy, and she had never been able to have one herself, but there was a look on her countenance I never saw before—or since—and before I knew it, she was out the door with Hill and blankets and hot soup and a bottle of Hill’s all-purpose remedy that she used to dose us all with regularly as children, and we did not see anything more of either of them for the rest of that day or the night. When morning came she returned, looking tired, and went straight to her room. She never talked of it—I think she thought a woman of her station should not be nursing the tenants’ children—and out of respect for her neither did Hill, but we heard afterwards that the little boy recovered, and his mother swore that my mother saved his life.”

Darcy and Elizabeth's courtship---naturally, does not end with the acceptance of the engagement. She has to struggle with her own emotions and guilt in entering a marriage she admits, with somewhat mercenary attitudes at first. He has to struggle with the fact that he may be forcing a woman he loves and respects into a trap, rather than a marriage. Darcy has to come to terms with the fact that he doesn't have the solution when it comes to Elizabeth.

“I was selfish!—because I thought only of how much I wanted her; I was arrogant because I was so certain that marriage to me would be an unalloyed good for her. She was poor; I would make her rich. She was unmarried; I would make her a wife. She was unappreciated and unequalled in her current company; I would take her and place her among society worthy of her. I would give all and be all, and never did I consider how little she truly desired anything I had to offer.”

Lest you think the whole book is based on histrionics and bold declarations of love---it's not. It is sweet, the relationship and love and misunderstandings between Elizabeth and Darcy and her family are well built and believable. This book presents dimensions within the original that I never expected. I loved it.

Forgive me for using so many lengthy quotes. It's just impossible to adequately capture the tone of the book otherwise.