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Regency/ Jane Austen / Short stories
19th Century/ 21st century/ crossover
This edited collection of short stories, edited by Christina Boyd, features fifteen original, previously unpublished short stories based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Each story is told from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, though none of the tales are a simple retelling of the famous story of Austen’s original novel. Each, of course, puts its own creative spin on the beloved novel, even those that are a fairly straightforward retelling of the story from Darcy’s perspective.
As with any anthology or collection of stories, not all of the works in The Darcy Monologues appealed to me, nor are they likely to appeal universally to every reader. There are certain settings and interpretations of which I am simply not a fan, but which are still wildly popular, although not necessarily my favorite variety. Most of the short stories here were sweet and light, a few were touching, and a couple simply missed the mark for me. All, however, were well written and well edited. That, alone, would be more than enough to strongly recommend the book. This was a treat to read overall, and there is something here to delight any Austen fan.
I cannot leave a review without highlighting the stories I felt were the strongest of the lot. Of course, other readers may have different opinions, but for my two cents, these are some of the best of the anthology:
From the Ashes by J. Marie Croft. This story showed, among other scenes, the famous letter Darcy handed to Elizabeth after his first proposal to her. However, this was the author’s version of the letter’s first draft, which was much more colorful than the elegant and articulate missive Elizabeth actually received. It made me laugh out loud more than once.
The Beast of Pemberley by Melanie Stanford. This is a Pride and Prejudice / Beauty and the Beast mash-up. It’s possible that someone, somewhere, has written one like this before, but it has escaped my notice. It was a perfect fit for the two stories to be blended like this! I have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with Beauty and the Beast because of feminism! But this short story balanced the two narratives superbly.
Without Affection by Jan Hahn. This is a thoughtful retrospective piece. Darcy is looking at Elizabeth wandering in the gardens of Pemberley when they are old, after 50+ years of marriage, and he is trying to think of when he thought she was the most beautiful. He decides the time he would choose, and it leads him to recall a troubled period in their marriage. This was, in my opinion, the most poignant of the tales in the collection.
© Kristen McQuinn
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