Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Last Man in the World

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds.
Sourcebooks Landmark 2010. 248p.

This title is one of Abigail Reynolds P&P variations stories.  Imagine this: Elizabeth on a rambling walk around the grounds of Rosings Park, Darcy joins her.  She pays not attention to his gentle and quiet prattle becuase she is annoyed at his joining her on her once solitary walk.  Unbeknown to Elizabeth, Darcy proposes somewhere in his talk, Elizabeth responds in what he thinks is the affrimative but she wasn't really paying attention and it's unclear what she actually responds to.  Then Darcy goes in for the kiss.  She's a bit shocked, but both are even more so when they both realize Colonel Fitzwilliam just glimsed the kiss.  Elizabeth knows her duty to save her reputation (and her family's) and goes along with Darcy in that they are engaged.

So, Elizabeth never gets to say those famous lines "even if you were the last man in the world...." but it's implied throughout half of the book.  The witty and feisty Elizabeth acquiesces to her fate as Mrs. Darcy.  She is miserable and argumenative and not the Lizzy we know and love.  But this is mostly her own fault because she seems to live in her own little self-absorbed world and doesn't really pay attention to Darcy (or his attentions or his true generous nature) or her surroundings.  She just wallows in self-pity for a while.  It's a bit of a maddening read to start because we don't get to enjoy the wit and life that Elizabeth brings to the novel.  But it does begin to ring true to Austen's characters and temperament about half-way through and proved to be quite enjoyable in the end.

Author Abigail Reynolds has a keen knack for finding subtle nuances in the P&P story and tweaking them just so to create a different turn of events that keeps us coming back for more.  Keep writing Ms. Reynolds, keep writing.  3 Bonnets.

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