I Met Mr Darcy Via Luton by Fredrica Edward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read portions of I Met Mr Darcy Via Luton online at the Fan Fiction site, but it was nice to be able to sit down and read the entire thing. This story is very out of canon and I do not believe it would appeal to purists. I enjoy Fredrica Edward's writing and enjoyed reading this title, however, I am giving it only 3 stars as it felt as if there was just something missing.
Mr. and Mrs. Philips have moved to Luton and Jane and Elizabeth set out to visit them in the Bennet carriage. There is an accident right outside the entrance to Netherfield and Jane is slightly injured. Bingley and Darcy come to the rescue and take Jane inside. Thus, both couples meet prior to the assembly ball. This was a very interesting way to start the story, and I thought this was a great premise. Although it changed the story for many of the lesser characters, the main story of Elizabeth and Darcy did not change all that much. Darcy still insulted Elizabeth at the assembly and still convinced Bingley to give up Jane.
This turned out to be true of several changes made to the original P&P in this variation. The author would vary the story in an interesting way, but then it did not seem to matter in the relationship of Darcy and Elizabeth. They still had the same misunderstandings. Dr. Gregory was a very interesting character to bring into the mix, but that never developed into what I would have anticipated - a serious rival for Darcy. Wickham never became an important character, but Elizabeth still championed him and believed his story. There was a quick meeting while Elizabeth and Jane were in London, prior to Elizabeth heading to Hunsford, but that did not affect the story. The Hunsford proposal was changed in an interesting way, but that also seemed to make little difference in the long run. Mr. Bennet was even more detached than in the original, but that made little difference. Each of the Bennet sisters were more responsible and had certain adventures, but those lead to nothing changing in Darcy's opinion of them, etc.
In this variation, Darcy is a more sexually active man than Austen would have written. But, I am pretty certain this author has the right of it, that at Hunsford Darcy, even in the original, was working more from his physical attraction to Elizabeth than to a real love. However, we see and feel Darcy changing in his feelings toward Elizabeth, but Elizabeth seems to come to the decision to accept Darcy with her head, rather than her heart. So, a large issue I have with this story is the lack of tender feelings shown by the characters. They are definitely physically attracted to each other, and they mentally determine the other person is the right one for them based on what they learn along the way, but we rarely see them actually falling in love.
There are a couple of strange errors in the book that might be corrected. In one instance Mr. Bingley indicates he is looking forward to becoming Elizabeth's brother and they should call each other by their first names. But, this occurs after Jane and Bingley are married and are seeing Darcy and Elizabeth once their engagement is announced. They are already brother and sister and should have had this conversation prior to the Bingley's wedding, not prior to the Darcy's wedding.
I Met Mr Darcy Via Luton was an interesting and enjoyable read, but I just felt there was something slightly off about it. It is difficult to name, but I have to go back to two factors - 1. little chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth outside of physical attraction, and 2. very interesting variations that don't seem to make a lot of difference in their story. I read a second story by this author on the Fan Fiction site and I look forward to seeing her publish it, as I believe it is the better of the two stories. Fredrica Edward writes well and I look forward to more from her.
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