My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book twice before reviewing as there was something that bothered me about it, but it took me a while to figure it out. I enjoyed the stories very much, but something didn't sit right.
This story is basically the story of both Bennet sisters; Elizabeth and Jane. The first portion of the book is almost strictly Elizabeth, but after she reaches an understanding with Darcy, the story shifts more closely to Jane.
Undone Business follows canon Pride and Prejudice fairly straightforwardly until we hit Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth at Hunsford. One thing slightly different from canon is the thoughts we hear from both Elizabeth and Darcy. Rose Fairbanks has let us into their minds a little bit so that we see more clearly what Darcy was thinking leading up to the proposal and what Elizabeth was thinking that allowed her mind to change fairly quickly in her feelings towards Darcy once the misunderstandings had been cleared up. Where the story takes the variation away from canon is that Darcy does not simply leave Elizabeth with a letter to read. Instead, he stays and explains to her his relationships with both Bingley and Wickham and how this has colored his actions. In this variation, Darcy explains himself such that Elizabeth begins to see his protectiveness of both she and Jane in his beliefs and actions. The writing in this portion of the story is lovely and the story of Darcy and Elizabeth is very sweet.
The second portion of the story involves Jane. When Darcy explains himself to Bingley, Charles makes a totally different choice from canon. This time he determines too much time has passed and he does not believe he will be received well by Jane. So Jane's story goes in a totally different direction from canon. She experiences a season in town with Elizabeth and Darcy after they are married and she is surprised by a prior acquaintance connected to the new residents of Netherfield. Jane turns out to be a much less serene angel and proves to be more like her sister Elizabeth than previously thought. Her heart is broken by Bingley, she is totally unnerved by her mother, and she longs to have what Elizabeth has found.
My problem with this story is the fact that it is two separate stories. Both appear to be artificially shortened in order to fit them into one book. I so wish the author had chosen to separate this into two books and expand upon both stories, but especially Jane's. She has two valid suitors in a very short space of time. We don't have an opportunity to experience any of the courtship with Jane. Yes, you don't fall in love with everyone who fancies you, but we saw very little of the interaction with Jane's suitors such that we have any preference for one over the other. Why did Jane pick the one she did? Show me, let me hear their conversations, and give them some time to understand each other before you yank one away and give the other Jane's whole heart. And, this Jane was not the bland Jane we see in most stories. This one has life and fire. Can't we see more of her life and her experiences? Let us see what Bingley missed and the two new suitors discovered.
So, although I enjoyed this story, I am confident this author could have given us one novella about Darcy and Elizabeth and probably an entire novel about Jane's story. Missed opportunity. What I discovered is the feeling that bothered me about this book was the frustration I felt knowing this could have been something wonderful. 3 1/2 stars rounded up to 4.
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