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Several months ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Christina Morland’s debut novel, “A Remedy for Sin.” As soon as I saw that she had published another book, I was able to set aside some time to give it the time and attention it deserved. I am certainly glad that I found the time as soon as I did to enjoy another emotive, and original variation by Ms. Morland.
In “This Disconcerting Happiness,” Elizabeth and Darcy meet at the same point in time as they did in Austen’s story, but in this variation, they are both harboring family secrets that are deeply affecting both of them; Darcy has recently lost custody of Georgiana due to incidents at Ramsgate and Elizabeth has just learned that one of her parents is fatally ill. Events conspire to bring them together and before they know it, they each have found a new friend and a confidant. Before long, not only are they both grateful for their friendship, but they are also experiencing the early stirrings of romantic feelings for one another. Can they both really hope to find happiness amongst the despair that is threatening to take over their lives?
Once Darcy and Elizabeth decide to share their lives together, they face numerous challenges as a couple. First is the development of their relationship. They are still so new to each other, so the way their relationship develops is delicious to witness. The crafting of her dialogues between Darcy and Elizabeth really highlights Ms. Morland’s writing talents. She did a beautiful job developing their relationship through a variety of heartfelt and honest exchanges, where I felt submerged within their conversations and finding myself more and more drawn into the story. They are long, intense, and all-too-important exchanges, where feelings are shared, caressed, and brought right up to the bubbling surface before cooling down again, bringing both the reader and the characters back down to real life.
I loved the distinct, yet plausible changes that Ms. Morland made to Austen’s story, which winds up varying a great deal from Austen’s story. Darcy’s relationship with his sister takes quite a different turn, as he and Ana, as Georgiana finds herself preferring her new nickname, sadly grow apart in certain aspects as the entertainments afforded to her through her connections with the Fitzwilliam family become of greater and greater interest to her. Naturally, as Darcy prefers the quieter lifestyle found at Pemberley, he is dismayed by the growing disparities in their preferences, and thus, finds himself in unchartered territories. With only Elizabeth’s support to sustain his hopes, he finds himself forced at a point where he may need to accept some harsh, new realities about his future relationship with Ana.
Throughout this time, Elizabeth must come to terms with the grief that has taken hold of her life. Faced with the grim realities of her own family’s situation, she must find a way to see the silver lining in all that still remains in her life, while also building a life with Darcy and his extended family. This is a story where very little comes easily to Darcy and Elizabeth, and also one where the loose ends of their lives remain somewhat untied and are left blowing in the wind. The essence of this story is built upon the very real fact that our lives are fragile and that we must seize happiness when the opportunity arises in our lives. I loved the very natural way the story and the characters are shaped throughout the story.
Ms. Morland writes with a gentle hand; she is neither dramatic nor overly-angsty in her approach. There is a subtle, yet persistent energy that I felt while reading this story that kept me glued to the pages and at the same time, concerned about the story’s outcome. While the plot moves at a consistent pace, it’s mainly the actions of the characters that attracted my attentions and pulled at my emotions throughout this book. Witnessing two strangers who feel a strong, and yet uncertain attraction to each other, come together to build a life together built on passion, respect, and a newly emerging, shared vision for their young lives, is one of my favorite kinds of JAFF stories to read. This is one of those quietly drawn, emotive stories that I am coming to see more and more as Ms. Morland’s storytelling style. As long as she continues to write JAFF stories, I will continue to make the time to read them… as soon as I can give them the time and attention they truly deserve!
I recently interviewed her and I think you’ll love catching up with her as much as I did. She is presently working on a “Sense and Sensibility” variation, which has me jumping for joy! I highly recommend giving her stories a try.
I would like to offer two of my Just Jane 1813 readers a chance to win an ebook of “This Disconcerting Happiness.” Please leave a comment on this blog by midnight ET on December 6th. The winner of the ebook will be announced on this blog on December 7, 2016.
Thank you to Ms. Morland for writing such a creative and heartfelt JAFF variation. I certainly look forward to reading your next story!
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