Lady Cordelia #CBR5 Review #90: Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan

UnknownThe second part of a fan fiction trilogy that retells Pride and Prejudice with Darcy as the central character, this novel takes an unexpected direction.  Covering the mid portion of Austen’s novel where Darcy disappears from the narrative after the Netherfield ball, there really isn’t any intersection with the original story, except when we hear in a letter from Miss Bingley that she concealed a London visit by Jane Bennet from her brother..  So what has Darcy been up to in the meantime?

It starts out quite logically: Darcy returns home to Pemberley.  There is the business of running the estate to see to as well as his sister, who is still overcoming her narrow escape from degradation at the hands of Wickham.  There is a cute moment when Darcy gifts Georgiana with a selection of novels lately purchased in London, where one is clearly intended to be Sense and Sensibility – another Austen novel.  This is when Aidan starts casting around for Darcy to have something a bit more to do, and so sends him off on quite an unlikely adventure.  Still pining for Elizabeth, Darcy accepts an invitation to be a guest at the house party of an old university friend. No longer quite respectable due to some financial misfortunes, the party is a lively one with several unmarried women in attendance.  In an effort to overcome his unsuitable partiality towards Elizabeth, Darcy tries to be attentive in finding a more logical bride.  And this is where it all starts getting a bit heavy-handed.  The women, while all of suitable birth, all have a major flaw and as such are very one-dimensional.  In short, we have the timid mouse, the butch suffragette, the slutty ho, and the Irish one, who is obviously some kind of witch.  Sigh.  Anyway, things get even stranger with the addition of standing stones, blood sacrifice, a missing village child, and before you know it… we have villagers with flaming torches and pitchforks.  Plus a weird subplot about a sword.

Anyway, Darcy finally comes to his senses and gets the hell out of there, heading back to his sister at Pemberley.  I can only assume the third novel in the trilogy will get back to the original storyline, but it seems like there’s still an awful lot of plot to cover, if we are still yet to get through Rosings Park, two marriage proposals, Elizabeth’s surprise appearance at Pemberley, the Bingley engagement and the marriages.  Still, I guess Darcy had to be doing something in the interim, and this sequence of events does give some weight to his realization that character is more important than rank or connections, but still.  This entire novel felt a like a wasted opportunity to really explore Austen’s story more deeply.

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