On a particularly melancholy afternoon, I picked up Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship. I drew myself a warm bath and poured a glass of campaign. It was 2 in the afternoon... While imbibing at that hour is hard to promote, it turned out there is "no enjoyment like reading" a Sharon Lathan novel and drinking champagne to turn the day right.*
The blurb from the back of the book: Accepting a marriage proposal is merely the beginning...How did Lady Catherine restore Mr. Darcy's hope to prompt his second proposal? Did Caroline Bingley yield gracefully? Were the Bennets and Meryton citizens approving?
Readers of The Darcy Saga have shared in the romance, life and marital escapades of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Now the "prequel to the sequel" recounts the weeks between as the two new lovers prepare for happily ever after.
Embark on the journey as Darcy and Elizabeth overcome the rocky past and discover the depth of their love. Delight in the budding passion and sweet romance. Enjoy the wedding planning and adventures during the initial weeks of their engagement.
Rehash vs. Revisit: A+
Nit Picky Little Things: A
Wonderful Little Moments: A
The Moment I was Hooked: A
Language: Without too many words of description, I always feel as if I can picture Sharon Lathan's chapters as if they were scenes from a movie. I am far too lazy to do all the figuring it out myself and far to easily bored to have every nuance of a room explained to me. I used to judge the language of books by the Austen like vocabulary. I have since learned to have an even greater appreciation for the Austen like scenes in this series.
Characterization: While I generally feel like I know how Darcy and Elizabeth should act, Jane Austen leaves a lot of room for development of most of the supporting characters. I really enjoyed the relationships explored between Lizzy and Jane, Bingley and Darcy, Mr. Bennet and Darcy, and Caroline and everyone else.
I greatly appreciate that shyness does not mean a lack of personality in the quieter characters such as Jane or Georgianna. And congeniality does not mean less intelligent with respect to Bingley.
Also, Lathan alludes to several new characters who are featured later in the series, like Dr. Darcy. They are so well crafted and woven into the story that you will find yourself positive that Jane Austen herself included them in her original work. (Much like the famous Darcy in the pond scene at Pemberley is now inseparable from Pride and Prejudice text in my mind.)
Plot: For a plot where only so many things can happen based on Austen and Lathan's own Darcy and Elizabeth storyline, it is quite satisfying. I have read other accounts of their betrothal that swung wildly about in dramatic fashion. (Think "I love John! I hate John" which works for Emma adaptations but not quite for our Lizzy). In a much more believable way, there are little moments, misunderstandings and great conversations where they learn more about the person they are going to marry.
It is hard to talk about any of the books in the series independently. So I will say, I love a well told saga: Star Wars, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, The Darcy Saga. This is definitely my favorite series because it is as if this is the way it really happened and Sharon Lathan is telling us interesting bits over coffee. Or campaign.
Rehash vs. Revisit: A brief revisit of the proposal moment. Everything else felt new and not at all a rehashing of things we already knew.
Nit Picky Little Things: I always forget that Sharon Lathan was inspired by the 1995 Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen Pride and Prejudice movie. So, as I read about the proposal scene, I was like.."Why on earth can she see his neck? What has become of Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy's cravat?!" Most people can hold onto this bit of information better than I can and will not, therefore, find this particular nit to pick.
Wonderful Little Moments: Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bennet's conversations, "If he had given it any thought, he might have suspected her tear ducts were dysfunctional," Georgianna and Darcy awaiting their guests in the dinning room, "Maybe there is a merchant selling character and decency."
Originality: I am sure there are many books that cover the betrothal days of Darcy and Elizabeth. This story with all the boxes it had to check to comply with what we know will happen still felt new and fresh.
The Moment I was Hooked: I became hooked on the series long ago. However, the moment my brow raised and my reading picked up pace was on page 3 when Lady Catherine de Bourgh came bustling into Darcy House upon leaving Elizabeth in Hertfordshire.
If this book was a movie: The movie would be PG but because you read their thoughts and responses in a book, I would rate it PG-13. But not for 13 year olds.
I went to put this book on the shelf and then pulled it back down and thought, "Well, just one more read through...."
*Caroline Bingley quote and part of this kerfuffle.
Other books I have reviewed in this series by Sharon Lathan:
Book 3: My Dearest Mr. Darcy: An Amazing Journey into Love Everlasting My review of it here.
Sharon Lathan's personal web site: www.sharonlathan.net