How do we decide if we can share our darkest secrets with the people that we love?
Rating: 4 stars out of 4
Ever since I reread “Pride & Prejudice” last year, I have longed to read more about those three “accidental” meetings that occurred during Elizabeth and Darcy’s visits to Kent. In “Pride and Prejudice,” Austen says:
“More than once did Elizabeth in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought; and to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first, that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time therefore was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third.”
This is a part of “Pride and Prejudice” that I have often wished Jane Austen would have provided us with more details, especially in regards to the time that Elizabeth and Darcy spent together during these rambles. How did Elizabeth not see Darcy’s admiration for her after meeting her there “accidentally” three times and inferring that on her next visit to Rosings Park she would probably stay at main house as well? What were the actual exchanges between Darcy and the “unsuspecting” Elizabeth? I have pondered these questions many times, while at the same time wishing that Andrew Davies would’ve elaborated on these scenes when he wrote the screenplay for the 1995 BBC version of “Pride & Prejudice.” But it was not to be…
So imagine my joy when Pamela Lynne published “Sketching Character” this year, and gifted us with plenty of those up-close and personal scenes between Elizabeth and Darcy in the woods of Rosings Park. What pure happiness I experienced as I was able to actually read some of the most beautiful scenes created between Darcy and Elizabeth during their time at Rosings Park! Once I started reading these scenes, I couldn’t put this book down.
The events of this book’s plot follow canon in many ways, while Pamela Lynne does create some significant changes within certain characters and events. From the beginning of the story, we learn that there is a terrible secret tearing the Bennet family apart, as Elizabeth tries to maintain the peace within her family, while she attempts to conceive of a way to salvage her family’s reputation. This secret is at the heart of many of the character’s motives, as it has far-reaching effects on our characters’ lives.
As Elizabeth travels to Kent to visit her friend, Charlotte, she inadvertently meets Mr. Darcy, who she does not hold in high esteem. As she spends time with Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam during her visit, she becomes less confident about own feelings, as she attempts to sketch the several characters she is surrounded by throughout her visit. How can she know the intentions of others, when she herself is working so hard to withhold a terrible secret from so many of the people in her own life?
I know I enjoyed the darker and more devious version of Colonel Fitzwilliam’s character that was sketched throughout this book, as this isn’t a characterization I have often seen of him in most JAFF books. It makes a lot of sense that there’s a side of Colonel Fitzwilliam that probably envies the fact that Darcy is the wealthy heir of a grand English estate, who has been afforded greater liberties in the choices he can make regarding his personal life. I thought Mrs. Lynne handled these changes well throughout the entire story. I felt satisfied reading his personal journey and I was glad I had the chance to experience this alternate path concerning his relationship with Darcy. It also wasn’t overdone or heavy-handed in any way.
“Sketching Character” is a P&P variation that contains many twists and turns; some of these changes are familiar to a JAFF reader and a few are quite original in their execution. There are also some bold changes in a few of our main characters as well, and there are other characters, such as Caroline Bingley, who remain the same in essentials throughout this story. Some of these changes were quite appealing to me; such as the bolder Jane Bennet we meet in this story; yet the deviations to Lydia’s storyline from Austen’s work was the one part of this story that I really had trouble with, as her “transformation” didn’t feel as believable for me by the end of the book. I felt that her earlier actions in the story made her outcomes difficult for me to accept. Yet, I do know that after reading various other reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, that many readers wrote that they enjoyed this revision in Lydia’s storyline. Therefore, my criticism may just be a sticking point that is more specific to my own tastes and preferences.
There was such a lovely romance at the heart of this book, which made it such a compelling read for me. There are many beautifully, well-drawn love scenes between Elizabeth and Darcy, as Pamela’s carefully selected word choices allow the reader to experience the growth of a very strong and devoted love between Darcy and Elizabeth. An important aspect of this was the way Darcy and Elizabeth expressed their love for each other, as this can be a place where some JAFF reads a little too “flowery” for my tastes. For me, their love story is the greatest strength of this book.
Pamela Lynne’s writing is well-paced, as her story never feels bogged down. I couldn’t wait to read the next part of this book each and every time I had to put it aside. Now, after reading her first two books, I can eagerly say I look forward to her third book, which I hope is her sequel to “Dearest Friends!”
Pamela Lynne has offered our Just Jane 1813 readers an opportunity to enter a giveaway for an ebook copy of “Sketching Character.” To enter this giveaway, please tell us about your own feelings toward reading a JAFF book with a “darker” and more devious Colonel Fitzwilliam. All comments should be submitted by November 17th. The giveaway winner will be announced on this blog on November 18, 2015.
I want to thank Pamela for not only writing these wonderful scenes in the woods of Rosings Park, but also for her generous giveaway for our Just Jane 1813 readers. Today, we also have an interview featuring Pamela Lynne, that will be shared in a separate post today with our readers.