After putting off finishing Sharon Lathan's beautiful novel Mr. and Mrs. Darcy: Two Shall Become One, simply because it was so sweet that I hated to finish it, I picked it back up and devoured the last 1/3 of the book. This took me past midnight, but it was one of those escapes that one rarely notices, and moreover, enjoys so much that one feels a sense of sadness when it's over. It's that read that grabs you, and you realize will never be as it was the first time through! And oh how I love those kinds of reads! Before I continue rambling though, let me give my review. :)
Synopsis: Picking up where Jane Austen's famous, and iconic, Pride and Prejudice left off, we find Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth married and off to start their lives together. With momentary flashbacks at the beginning of the novel, that gather in some of what the engagement was like--torturous and long for the young lovers--, Darcy and Elizabeth are eager to share their mutual affection and adoration for one another, and essentially, to share their lives with one another. Thus, we begin with their honeymoon, journey back to Pemberley, and setting up of household routines and duties. Elizabeth is anxious about her role as the Mistress of Pemberley, and how she should assist Darcy in reaching his tenants and staff. We are carried along a beautiful journey as Darcy and Elizabeth meld into a happily married couple, and create new habits and traditions over a wonderful holiday season. Though the story is dream-like and long-awaited (by the Darcys and readers alike), there are hiccups along the road to establishing their lives together, that while small, do challenge the Darcys to communicate more clearly, and to continue to eliminate their pride...and prejudice...in building a strong marriage and family unit.
Review: What can I say? I fell in love, with love, once again! As mentioned in some of my previous posts, I admittedly felt hesitant about all the early romantic interludes between Darcy and Elizabeth. It somehow felt jarring from a cold-read sort of perspective, but I was so enchanted by Sharon Lathan's beautiful writing, that I kept reading. Lathan has a beatiful writing style that has a fluid nature to it, setting a control over the language and storyline that I found reassuring. Besides her fluidity, I thought her way of describing and creating an omniscent narrator to tell the story, really allowed us to get inside the story and witness it all first-hand. As an example:
"Rather like a fine bottle of aged red wine. The cork must be removed; the wine poured out and allowed to breathe. One must wait patiently for the aroma to rise in the air to captivate those who wish to partake of its delights. The wine warms in the glass as the flavor softens and mellows, exposing its true essence." She paused, her gaze locked on Darcy's startled but tender eyes as he focused on her to the exclusion of all others in the room. "Some people are structured so and are abundantly worth the wait," she finished in a soft whisper. (133)
In all honesty, I really began to realize that it was my own pessimism about love, and the possibility of love and romance to that degree, that made me scoff in the beginning. However, once I began to understand the characters that Lathan had crafted, from what Austen had left us, I felt I knew them better, and appreciated seeing these characters from a more personal, grown up perspective. As with any truly romantic read, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to the idea of what this might be like if you were in their shoes...and from my perspective, once I stopped my own prejudices, the possibility of true romantic love seemed real again. To be frank, I'm jealous of their relationship, and don't know if it's one that can be achieved, but definitely wouldn't mind giving it a shot!
Having said all this, I don't think I would readily recommend it to my high school students, but only because of the more mature scenes between husband and wife. (The sex scenes leave little the imagination, but were not gratuitous.) However, I think that to any adult that can appreciate what it takes to meld a couple together, heart and soul, will love seeing what could be for Elizabeth and Darcy!
As a side note...my good friend Doc (that's what she insists I call her here), just returned from Peru. I had dropped her an email while there, about this great new P&P sequel she had to read. Well, she hit my door earlier this afternoon, we visited for about an hour, after which she said, "Where's the book?" I handed it over, and she's been reading it ever since! :) I asked her what she thought, and she sighed and said, "This is so good. (Sigh) I'm definitely going to have to buy this series!" (Continued sighing...) If that's not an endorsement, then I guess I don't know what is!
For more information see: Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One (Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy)