Pemberley Manor … Darcy and Elizabeth, for better or for worse.
By Kathryn L Nelson
From Sourcebooks Landmark, April 1, 2009
From a review by Dana at Reading Romance Books:
Kathryn Nelson was incredibly successful in importing the Regency era into my mind and then whisking me away into the world of the Darcys’ new marriage. The characters were true to the original and the issues they faced far from any happily-ever-after fairytale endings we might have conjured on our own.
Thanks for inviting me to join your blog today. I never tire of spending an hour with one of the most romantic couples I’ve ever met. For me, the allure of Jane Austen’s best-known couple, Darcy and Elizabeth, is that while they are drawn together by a fierce chemistry, they are held apart by lofty principles, spiced with a good measure of lies and misunderstandings. And in spite of Austen’s hasty wrap-up in Pride and Prejudice, wherein all differences are explained and all grievances forgiven, I didn’t buy the idea that there would be no further disturbances between these two lovers.
I hope that doesn’t leave the impression that things end badly for the Darcys in Pemberley Manor. What kind of a romance would that be? It did, however, take Darcy and Elizabeth a full year to work out the bumpy barriers to true marital felicity. Take, for instance, the surprising turn of events on their wedding night. Darcy’s long-repressed passion is unleashed a little too quickly and he frightens the bride.
Elizabeth misunderstands the problem, as she is wont to do, and is ready to give up before they’ve even begun:
“It can serve neither of us to continue as man and wife when there are so little grounds to suppose we could offer one another any reasonable hope of future happiness. Indeed, it seems certain that our expectations of one another are wholly irreconcilable.”
Needless to say, they manage to overcome that hurdle, but troubles continue to arise. After an uncomfortable piece of family history pops up, Darcy takes a rather self-centered turn and Elizabeth is forced to point out the flaw of his logic:
“Fitzwilliam Darcy, do you really see yourself as the only injured party in this tragedy? Can you find no room in your heart to pity anyone but yourself…You once extolled to me the superiority of your reason. Is it reasonable that they should have created a world of misery for the pleasure of making you unhappy?”
Elizabeth is by no means blameless, as Jane Austen so artfully demonstrates in Pride and Prejudice. She leaps to conclusions that are often founded on her own wishes rather than fact, as in her acceptance of the villain Wickham’s lies. Because he flatters her, she believes him honest, and its corollary: because Darcy does not, he must be a liar. When she discards a firmly held belief, she has barely enough shame to produce a blush.
I’ve attempted to help Elizabeth mature and Darcy relax in Pemberley Manor. He makes a valiant and successful effort at wit as the honeymoon continues, much to Elizabeth’s surprise:
“You had the advantage of catching me completely off guard this time, for I had not thought of wit as one of your gifts, but rest assured that I, having had more practice, and being now forewarned, will never be content until I can cause you as much discomfort as you have caused me.”
“I am happy to see you have regained your wit at last,” he replied, still breathless with laughter, “but I will not take the blame for causing you grief, for your own nature has brought this upon you. Did you not confess just a few moments ago that your judgements are hasty and flawed…?”
Well, honeymoons are all very well, but then life creeps in, and as the couple returns to Pemberley, the Darcy family’s past comes tumbling out of the closet. The disapproval of neighbors and the meddling of Caroline Bingley add seasoning to the stew. Elizabeth’s stubborn optimism does battle with Darcy’s ghosts.
Does love conquer all – or even most? I’d love to hear from readers.