September 30, 2010

Review of "Mr. Darcy's Obsession" by Abigail Reynolds

Description:  What if Mr. Darcy never had the opportunity to propose to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford, and did not meet her again until her circumstances were reduced? In Mr. Darcy's Obsession, Mr. Darcy has an even greater social distance to bridge if he wishes to marry Elizabeth. Add in some Fitzwilliam relations with links to the Prince Regent and the loose morals typical of Regency high society who feel that Elizabeth is the material of which mistresses, not wives, are made, and Mr. Darcy has to make a painful choice between the demands of a decadent society and his personal moral sense. The background of this novel is the morally bankrupt ton which Jane Austen knew well, but did not describe in detail in her novels, perhaps because it was a given to her and her contemporaneous readers. Against this backdrop, the characters of Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet shine brightly as they seek to find an alternative to the bounds of decorum that constrain Darcy's usual marital prospects.

I considered myself very fortunate to have read what I considered a splendid Pride and Prejudice retelling in Kara Louise's Darcy's Voyage; now, I must considered myself blessed by Jane Austen herself to have read an equally worthy retelling in Abigail Reynolds' "what if" Mr. Darcy's Obsession

Ms. Reynolds takes an especially fertile prospect - -the death of Mr. Bennet putting the Bennet ladies into the hands of relatives due to the entailment on Longbourn and in much reduced circumstances - - and weaves an intriguing and romantic tale.  Her obvious affection for the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth permeate each page and, happily, neither characters strays from the path that Jane Austen herself structured two centuries ago.  Had Ms. Austen written Pride and Prejudice with the death of Mr. Bennet featuring in the novel, I have no doubts that she would have followed a similar path to the joining of Lizzy and Darcy. 

I was fascinated by Ms. Reynolds' colorful and decadent details of the immoral side of "ton", which is rarely featured in either Jane Austen's writing or in more contemporary tales of the Regency period.  Such descriptions took the story out of the more insulated and protected Longbourn, Pemberley and Netherfield and give the reader a better idea of what actually went on behind closed doors and in certain gentlemen's establishments and clubs.  As such, a great deal of the story and action takes place in London, rather than in Hertfordshire. 

Ms. Reynolds also takes creative license with a few of the secondary characters, with shocking and yet pleasing results, leaving this reader very content with the outcomes.  The introduction of characters wholly new or briefly mentioned in Pride and Prejudice is very welcome and adds a satisfying, as well as amusing, new divergence to the story. 

The writing flows smoothly and Mr. Darcy's Obsession was a relatively quick read, due to my desire to resume the story and learn the resolutions.  Austen lovers, including purists, will appreciate the novel take on the beloved classic, as well as additional characterization we get for several of the characters, including Georgiana Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Darcy's Obsession to any devoted reader of Jane Austen and historical fiction and romance readers. This book easily ranks in my top ten of Austen sequels, that's how enjoyable I found it.  I have read a few other Abigail Reynolds books and Mr. Darcy's Obsession is so far my favorite. 

Mr. Darcy's Obsession is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Abigail Reynolds, please visit her website

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.


Please be sure to stop back by Psychotic State Book Reviews on October 11, 2010, when Abigail Reynolds will be here for an interview!


Blodeuedd said...

Great review and I will read it, cos I loove Austen fic, lol, my weakness

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Thanks! I plan on reading this book.

Meredith said...

We posted our review on the same day! LOL! I greatly enjoyed reading your thoughts, you wrote a beautiful review! What other books by Abigail Reynolds have you read?

Tales of Whimsy said...

Cool concept :)

vvb32 reads said...

looks like a good one to add to my jane list. love the challenge name - jane austen is my homie too ;-D

Anna said...

I'm glad to see you really enjoyed it, too. I think the descriptions of the "ton" and Bingley's shunning of society were very interesting.