My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am a very impatient reader. After reading for 50 some years, I recognize that I don't have enough time in my life to spend reading books I don't enjoy. So, it surprises me to say I did not really warm up to this book until about half way through. Usually I would not give a book this much time. But, I kept giving this book the benefit of the doubt and found it to be worth my while.
Mr. Bennet is widowed, having lost his wife at Lydia's birth, and is now dying. Jane is 19 years old, compared to 21 in canon, so all of the girls are, obviously, younger and will need guardians once Mr. Bennet passes away. The Mr. Collins who will inherit Longbourn is the father to the William Collins we know - Mr. Thaddeus Collins - and he is not a good man. The girls' uncles, Mr. Gardner and Mr. Phillips could raise the girls, but their lives would not be those of gentlewomen. However, there is another option - a distant cousin, Mr. Darcy. Despite his young age and having only recently inherited Pemberley, Fitzwilliam Darcy agrees to take in the five Bennet sisters as his wards to raise alongside his sister Georgiana.
The first half of the book is mostly about the mechanics of getting the Bennet sisters to Pemberley and getting them situated. There are adjustments and the butting of heads between Darcy and Elizabeth who takes on the "mother" role for her sisters. During this portion of the book I just could not warm to either character, or actually many of the characters. It felt like the readers needed to get past the first half of the book, so the author just went about spelling out the circumstances of initial meetings and marriages, the Ramsgate situation, etc. in a fairly rote kind of way.
About half way through the book, Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, Jane and Charles, take on the property of Netherfield. The Bennets all return to the neighborhood where they grew up and the neighbors they loved. At Longbourn, the nasty Mr. Collins, father and son, resent the loss of Jane to Bingley, as they felt she should have married William Collins, and hold this against the party. Now the story starts to pick up. Elizabeth and Darcy begin their dance of uncertainty in love, and William Collins begins his pursuit of Elizabeth.
Once the story turns to Netherfield, we begin to see the characters blossom and become more three dimensional. It feels almost as if the author should have started the story at this point. We begin to really see the characters come into their own and to feel the romance blossoming. I particularly enjoyed the way the author handled the William Collins character. Through Elizabeth's eyes, we see there is more to the man than the silly character we have known and Elizabeth feels pity for his situation. The actions taken by him at the end of the book make sense and feel realistic given Elizabeth's viewpoint.
I cannot give the book more than 4 stars, and actually should round it down to 3 1/2 given the amount of material we have to wade through to get to the good parts, but I enjoyed the overall book and can recommend it.
View all my reviews