What if when Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy met one another, Elizabeth was living in such a reduced circumstance that the master of Pemberley only saw her fit to serve as his future employee?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Source: I received an ARC of this story from the author for a fair and honest review.
Joana Starnes is one of the first JAFF authors whose stories I completely fell in love with as a new JAFF reader. By the time I started reading JAFF, I had the good fortune to read most of her books within a short span of time because once I read the first story, I couldn’t wait to read them all! I also couldn’t believe my good luck that I loved them all so much, similar to the way a parent loves a child; each story is unique, each story has its own endearing charms and each story sets out to claim its own distinguished mark upon my heart. Her latest story, “Miss Darcy’s Companion,” is certainly no different in these regards and has eagerly claimed its place as my sixth beloved book by Mrs. Starnes!
From the very first pages, readers will know that Mrs. Starnes has crafted this story from a fresh, new angle; Miss Elizabeth Bennet is living in reduced circumstances since the recent death of her father and is earning a living as a temporary governess for Lord and Lady Stretton, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s eldest brother and his lordship’s wife. When Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam meet up with their family in London and meet Miss Bennet, they both bristle at the treatment she receives by the haughty and insufferable Lady Stretton.
Over time, Georgiana finds herself at ease with Miss Bennet’s open and pleasing manners, and she asks her guardians to consider Elizabeth as a future companion for her, instead of the shrewish Mrs. Younge. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s mother, Lady Malvern, isn’t too keen on this idea and attempts to persuade the gentlemen to pursue a different path by reminding Darcy of his need for a wife. Lady Malvern pleads:
“Still, one cannot dispute that everything would be a great deal easier if you were married.”
“I would much rather choose a lady’s companion for now, Ma’am,” Darcy replied smoothly. “At least she could be dismissed if she proves herself a disappointment.”
Eventually, a plan falls into place and Elizabeth travels to Pemberley with Georgiana to fulfill the duties of a lady’s companion.
Life at Pemberley soon transforms itself into its own harmonious melody; Georgiana and Elizabeth develop an intimate bond over shared activities and often spend their evenings in the company of Mr. Darcy. After countless hours spent in one another’s company, Darcy and Elizabeth realize that their personalities and interests are quite well-suited to each other. For Elizabeth, her reduced situation only confirms her deepest sorrows; as a former gentlewoman of little dowry and no connections, she would hardly have been considered to serve as the future mistress of Pemberley. Now, as Georgiana’s companion, her chances are nonexistent. She must set her eye towards a future in a more suitable situation and the new vicar of Kympton, Mr. Bradden, may prove to be the gentleman she can build a respectable marriage with in the near future.
Yet, the heart wants what the heart wants, and Elizabeth Bennet is no different from any other lady who unexpectedly finds herself in love with an unobtainable gentleman. Here, we get to savor a bit of the agony and suffering usually reserved within JAFF stories for Mr. Darcy, and I have to admit, it’s a lovely change! NormalIy, I enjoy watching Darcy pine for Elizabeth as much as the next reader, but witnessing Elizabeth’s private descent in this story as she bravely endures her aches and pains over Darcy was a nice twist on their relationship. Joana Starnes eloquently captures the precious, intimate moments where Elizabeth’s emotional struggles painfully seep through the cracks of her sorrowful heart. How did she allow herself to become so attached to a man that she knows she can never hope to marry?
Once again, Joana Starnes brings her fluid and effortless writing style to this story, combined with her personal knowledge of the English countryside and Regency era culture, which allows her to skillfully embellish her story with those tiny, significant details that help her create such lively and energetic dialogues between her characters and that allow readers to feel truly immersed within the settings of her story. In “Miss Darcy’s Companion,” she has crafted a character-driven story that offers a bit of the emotional tension found between Jane Eyre and her own employer, Mr. Rochester, in Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” and lovingly develops her own unique storyline with our favorite characters and settings from Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Her supporting characters seamlessly reside alongside Austen’s own characters in this variation, while she focuses her prominent storyline on Elizabeth and Darcy’s evolving relationship. It’s a tenderly romantic journey punctuated with misunderstandings, light-hearted humor, and clever curves along its path.
At the end of this book, Joana shares a list of her characters, to help serve as a reference for her readers, along with an excerpt from the first chapter of her upcoming book, “Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter.”
These images shared above are from this newly created Facebook page, All Roads Lead to Pemberley, where Joana shares many of the gorgeous images that she has captured throughout her travels in England, which have inspired various storylines in her books. I think readers will love the pictures and the stories behind these images! These two images inspired two of my favorite scenes from “Miss Darcy’s Companion.”
Joana Starnes has brought a generous giveaway for my Just Jane 1813 readers. She is offering an ebook of “Miss Darcy’s Companion” for one lucky winner. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment about one of your favorite scenes from one of Joana’s books or tell us about any of your reading plans that include one of Joana’s books. All comments should be left at the bottom of this post by midnight, ET on May 22nd and the winner will be announced on this blog by May 23, 2016.
I’d like to thank Joana Starnes for her generous giveaway offer and for writing a book that allows us to endure a bit of pining in Elizabeth’s corner. What a fun book you have written for readers!
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