I just finished my very first Jane Austen fanfiction, after being...well, quite afraid to. Misty's Jane in June event over at The Book Rat has had me itching for Jane all month. I only read P&P for the first time two months ago, and now I'm rearing to read everything the woman has ever written. I even went and bought three more of her books during B&N's Buy 2, Get 1 Free Sale on their classics. So, when this book popped up on my TBR list, I decided to give it a whirl and see where it would take me...
"She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me."
So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen's classic novel is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?
In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley and reveals Darcy's hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice. As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley's persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows--as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.
Setting the story vividly against the colorful historical and political background of the Regency, Aidan writes in a style comfortably at home with Austen but with a wit and humor very much her own. Aidan adds her own cast of fascinating characters to those in Austen's original, weaving a rich tapestry from Darcy's past and present. Austen fans and newcomers alike will love this new chapter of the most famous romance of all time.
And what I had to say about it:
An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Having reading Pride & Prejudice a mere two months ago for the first time, I fell in love. I'm already contemplating re-reading it again. So when I noticed that there are so many Jane Austen re-tellings/continuations/etc., I was very interested.
Looking at some ratings and reviews for many of the fanfictions, I wasn't sure I was going to like this. I can be pretty open-minded when it comes to stories, but when it comes to my favorite books, I'm not sure I want to have them any other way.
However, this was a delightful read, and before I knew it, it was over. (Yay for having two more books to look forward to!) I've noticed that people have complained that she splits the events of P&P up over the course of three books, but I found that I didn't mind the slower pace. I enjoyed immersing myself into the time period and the places of my favorite characters. This isn't a page-flipping thriller by any means, but it was a perfect read for an idyllic summer day.
Now, the main thing everyone seems to dislike about fanfictions of any kind are how true the author stays to the beloved characters. I have to say that I think Aidan did a fantastic job at this. I loved seeing what was motivating Darcy's actions and what was going on in his swoon-worthy head. There was nothing out of character and nothing to make me roll my eyes. There were definitely some "Awww" moments, mostly with regards to Georgiana. We see that he does have quite strong feelings for Lizzie, but that he is fighting against them. My biggest worry going into this was how Aidan was going to portray the inner thoughts and feelings of my beloved Darcy, and I was quite pleased with the end result.
What I also enjoyed about this book was seeing a glimpse of what may have happened upon the return trip to London. It was nice to not just be a strict page-for-page retelling of the original plot, and Aidan added just enough side plots and new faces to make the story interesting, without detracting from Austen's story.
Overall, I was very pleased with my first Jane Austen fanfiction, and I would recommend to fans who are looking for more from their favorite characters. In the mean time, I'll be looking for book two of the series...
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