Can Darcy overcome his heart-wrenching struggles to resolve the greatest conflict of his life?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Lately on some of the sites where readers discuss JAFF, several readers have mentioned Stan Hurd’s “Darcy’s Tale: Volumes I, II, and III.”. As someone who adores what Mr. Hurd has created as a “companion” text to Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” I found myself feeling like a “Book Bully” whenever another person pondered if and/or when he/she was going to read his series.
However, I explained on Goodreads to fellow reading friend and JAFF mentor, Ceri Tanti, author of the blog, Babblings of a Bookworm, that I am going to attempt to use my powers of “persuasion” in an effort to convey my undying “prejudice” towards this series while using my “sense and sensibility” to describe why she, and many other readers, should start this series as soon as possible! So Ceri, this review is dedicated to you and all of the JAFF readers who still have Stan’s series on their TBR list…
My love of this series is tremendous; so much so that before I started blogging, I spent a few hours this past summer writing a review for Stan’s series nearly the very next minute after I read the final pages of his last book in this series. Yet, not only did I write a review and post it on Amazon, I felt compelled to structure my review as a letter that I composed to Jane Austen herself.
It was an odd thing to do, and yet I thought it was worth sharing here on my blog, as I’d love to be part of the tide that helps some readers move past the tipping point of browsing at this series on their virtual shelves and inspiring them to press the cover to download the book, swipe open past the title page and begin their journey through “Pride and Prejudice,” as told through Darcy’s POV, in a way that maybe only a male could really truly ever capture and describe for us.
For me, the stranger part is that I, myself, didn’t read Stan’s books for quite a while, as I was utterly convinced that a male writer couldn’t write a story that I would enjoy in this subgenre.
I am delighted to say that Mr. Hurd truly proven me wrong and opened up my mind to not judging a romance novel by the gender of its series; which by the way, Austen herself would probably appreciate the irony of this situation. I know this is a rather long letter, however, I really try to capture the essence, along with some of the memorable moments of Mr. Hurd’s series here in this letter to Austen.
Dear Jane Austen,
As I closed the final pages of Stanley Hurd’s three book series, titled ” Darcy’s Tale”, I felt compelled to write this letter to you to share the joys I experienced as I read Mr. Hurd’s series. I know that during your lifetime, you said you didn’t write about events that you yourself didn’t experience, such as conversations that occurred between two men alone in a room. Now, please don’t think I am complaining about this decision of yours because you must know I have most ardently admired and loved your book “Pride and Prejudice” for the past 16 years of my life. In my heart and in my mind, it has been one of my most constant companions…
I wanted you to know that Mr. Hurd has carefully constructed a text so brilliant and sparkling… just like your very own P&P, (I hope you don’t mind my beloved abbreviation.) Where his diverges from yours is in his ability to weave the male psyche into your story, as he offers his readers new perspectives and experiences that are told here from events within “Pride and Prejudice,” yet from Fitzwilliam Darcy’s own point of view. I know other authors have attempted to write similar stories from Darcy’s POV, and some of them are quite good. Yet, in my humble opinion, after reading all types of JAFF, (another abbreviation I hope you don’t mind!) Mr. Hurd has created a masterpiece in his retelling, due to his careful attention to historical accuracies, his original and realistic plot lines for Mr. Darcy and friends, and his precise construction of the English language, which closely resembles in many ways your own clear and sparse prose.
I have to confess, I put off reading this series for one reason; it’s written by a male writer. I just didn’t believe I’d enjoy P&P from a male perspective. Aren’t only those female hearts able to savor and swoon at a beautifully written romantic story, let alone write one themselves? Yet, here I believe I am pleased to admit how wrong I was in this regard. Mr. Hurd’s writing is romantic, historically astute, reflective, well-paced, and filled with charming little details, which includes his creation of beloved and entertaining new characters who sweep readers back into 1799 Regency England, where we cross numerous English countrysides, spending blissful hours with an extraordinary and eclectic cast of friends and family.
Of course, while this is going on, we have front row seats as we witness Mr. Darcy’s utter despair and suffering over the loss of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Naturally, this is where the story was really exceptional for me. I developed such insights into Darcy’s inner struggles, along with his theories and beliefs about the changing world surrounding him. I came to develop an even deeper respect for his sense of honor and duty, as he genuinely approached this situation in such a scholarly manner, seeking out thoughts and views from respected friends and family members, in his efforts to help him understand his struggles and reconcile his heart with his mind, during a time when emotions weren’t regarded or understood as they are today within our modern world.
Now Jane, please understand that I don’t mean to make this sound like boring, scholarly writing that is too cerebral to enjoy… That’s certainly not the case here! Mr. Hurd gives us our romance and offers us sweet memories for our dear couple in new and pleasurable ways. We also come to understand more about his struggles with Wickham, as we watch Darcy settle the Wickham/Lydia affair with his tremendous strength of character and gorgeous manliness. Oh, how he struggles to keep Wickham alive under such overbearing struggles… This is definitely a favorite part of the story for me.
I also adored Darcy’s relationship with his aunt, Lady Andover. Their conversations about love, duty and the desires of the heart made me reflect a bit about my own life. “Overmastering passions overmaster us,” the lady replied, a hint of sadness in her tone. “That’s how you know what they are. There is no fighting them.” These are words I have continued to reflect upon for a long time.
I also loved Darcy’s relationships with Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Bingley. Both men enjoyed such intimate and close relationships with Darcy. I treasured their conversations, especially as we hear more about Bingley’s own personal crisis, as he tries to find happiness without the quiet and demure Jane Bennet in his life. Bingley is not portrayed here as overly sad or weepy, but we feel his anguish and his regrets as he realizes how much Jane meant to him and how empty his life feels without even the slightest possibilities of her in it with him.
The new character I must also mention to you is a Mr. Vincent Pender, who is a former professor from Darcy’s Oxford days. Pender is held in the highest regard by Darcy for his great philosophical mind. Darcy expends great efforts to travel to speak with Pender during his struggles, as he is sorting and sifting through his feelings for Elizabeth. Through his wisdom and his abilities to truly discern Darcy’s true concerns, Pender offers some of the most unusual and interesting advice for Darcy.
After Darcy voices his concerns about introducing the Bennet bloodlines into the Darcy bloodlines, Pender compares animal breeding with human genetics, in an attempt to help Darcy understand that marrying Elizabeth doesn’t warrant for him much concern about their future offsprings, when Pender understands Darcy’s preconceived notions about what he considers “superior breeding.” This gives us quite a bit of insight into how men of Darcy’s station really believed in the strength of their “inherited” traits and how much of their culture was reinforced through their ideas about “superior” birth and breeding, (which we know Aunt Catherine constantly reinforces throughout the story.)
Once their discussion diverges into what happens when dogs are “bred too closely to their own pedigree,” we know the discussion has really turned into some fascinating revelations about how people who only stay confined to other people within their own stations, thus inevitably contribute to their own offspring’s weakened states. What a concept!
“One breeds from out of the line to reintroduce strength. It is the most common way to improve the breed…. “ Darcy’s voice trailed off. So Elizabeth is really the strength needed to continue the strength of the Darcy legacy! Touché!
On closing Jane, I wish to say to you that your decision to leave the male perspective of “P&P” to a male only raises my esteem for you because now, over 200 years later, we have this masterful series to read alongside your timeless classic. “Capital, capital!” I must say to you. I can never thank you enough for writing “P&P” and to Mr. Hurd for writing his series!
Have you had the pleasure of reading Stan’s series? If so, would you share with other Just Jane 1813 readers (including Ceri) why you think this book should be on their short TBR list? If you haven’t read Stan’s series, is it on your TBR list? Please tell us your thoughts and ideas about this series…
I’d also like to thank Ceri for being such a generous and willing JAFF mentor. When I have a question about a book or I am searching for a specific JAFF work online, she’s one of my go-to reading friends who I can count on to respond through GR or to answer an email, all the way from the other side of the pond. She also writes a wonderful blog that has inspired me along the way during my own blogging adventures!