When Elizabeth Darcy suffers significant memory loss after an accident at Pemberley, what will the future hold for the entire Darcy family?
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Source: I received an ARC of this book from Meryton Press for a fair and honest review.
From the Pages of “Side By Side, Apart”
“You see what a strange circumstance it is,” she said, feeling some fleeting relief. “You know our acquaintance has not been easy.”
Elizabeth Bennet—stubborn, quick to judge but slow to revise her opinions, and entirely prejudiced against the man who had just proposed marriage at Hunsford—awakens to learn she has been in an accident. Bedridden in an unfamiliar house, she learns eleven years have passed since the last moment she can remember.
She finds herself a married woman, the mother of four, and pregnant yet again. Her children are strangers, and most mystifying of all, Fitzwilliam Darcy is her husband! How could she have married a man she loathes?
Confined to the house by her injury, Mr. Darcy’s company is inescapable. But is just being side by side enough to overcome their differences? What happens when Darcy, improved in manners and happily married to Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy, is faced with an obstinate, bewildered Miss Elizabeth Bennet?
As an avid lover of “Pride and Prejudice” sequels, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with Ann Galvia’s debut JAFF book, “Side By Side, Apart,”which I originally read when it was published online as “Bruises.” While I have enjoyed numerous JAFF sequels, stories such as this one, which takes us beyond the earliest years of Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage, are less common; therefore, they offer readers a rare glimpse into the Darcys’ solidly-established married life.
The cover of this book beautifully depicts the way that Ms. Galvia has crafted this story. Through her eloquent words and creativity, she unfolds Elizabeth Darcy’s married life and draws us into her bittersweet story, which first reveals itself almost as a series of blurry and forgotten family snapshots that are gently brought to life.
What sets this sequel apart from most is that this story revolves around the fact that Elizabeth Darcy has suffered a recent head injury, which has left her with a significant amount of memory loss. The heart of her greatest difficulty is that her only memories of Fitzwilliam Darcy are the ones she has during and before his poorly delivered Hunsford proposal, which occurred eleven years prior to this injury. Therefore, in her mind, she is 20 year-old Elizabeth Bennet; a young maiden living in a grand estate among servants and family members that she views as total and complete strangers.
Yet, her new world quickly loses its static nature, throwing one unsettling discovery after another her way. As the layers of the last eleven years are gradually peeled back one by one, her own physical state provides her with enough reasons to face her new situation with a certain measure of hope and optimism. After all, Elizabeth wasn’t formed for ill-humor and with her husband at her side, she must try to find the silver lining in her present life.
Not only did I relish catching up with the Bennet and Darcy families so many years after Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding, I enjoyed being part of the small, everyday moments as Elizabeth tries to reestablish her place as the Mistress of Pemberley. From what truly feels like an intimate perspective, readers are privy to the awkward moments shared by them, as Darcy attempts to enlighten Elizabeth about her own daily habits and preferences, inserting stories of their shared past experiences in-between these exchanges. During one of my favorite scenes, Darcy tries to console Elizabeth about the decision behind her choice to marry him. He says to her :
“I cannot account for it. I do no know what I said or did that made the beginning, but you married for love. I would not have you think otherwise.”
There was also a very palatable vulnerability between Darcy and Elizabeth since they are both so alone in their struggles to find some sort of level playing ground in their new life with each other. Can you imagine the Master of Pemberley trying to reconcile himself to the fact that he no longer can indulge himself in the warmth and wit of his closest confidante… his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth?
At the same time, Darcy serves as the only parent who is familiar with the quirks and the needs of their individual children, which also leaves Elizabeth feeling disconnected to her family. She even occasionally finds herself asking whether or not she has been part of the decisions that have been made regarding her children’s’ rather formal upbringing, as she becomes concerned about how her children fare under the expectations of such a strict and proper father. She just can not fathom how she has co-created this life as Fitzwilliam Darcy’s wife!
I gave this book a five-star rating for several reasons. First, because it tugged at my heart in so many of the right places. When I wasn’t feeling Elizabeth’s guilt and sorrow, I found myself anxiously caught up worrying for Darcy and wondering how he was faring in such a dire situation. The unselfish manner in which Darcy behaved throughout his wife’s illness made me love him even more! Second, it was a story that stayed with me for quite some time. I continued to replay numerous scenes in my mind because I enjoyed reliving the small moments shared between the Darcys and their children. Third, because it was a book that allowed me to experience so many of the sweet pleasures involved in having Darcy and Elizabeth rediscover each other in such an authentic and gradual manner. This wasn’t a book about Elizabeth being swept off of her feet in a dramatic manner; it was a story where Elizabeth must learn through the ordinary, little things around her whether or not the life she has built with Darcy is one that she can truly admire and respect.
This story may have been stronger if it would have been written to include more insights from Elizabeth’s own perspective, and perhaps even included some of Darcy’s own thoughts about his inner struggles too. There are spaces in their story that I felt were left a bit empty for my tastes. Yet, the story remained as emotionally gripping to me when I reread it for the second time, which makes this a book that I highly recommend to all JAFF readers! I believe Meryton Press has found another talented new writer with a promising future as a JAFF author.
Ann started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.
Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and some time after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words to express ideas.
And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.
Visit Amazon to add this book to your bookshelf.
This book is also available through KindleUnlimited.
Visit Goodreads to see what your friends are saying about this book.
5/2: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
5/3: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
5/4: Excerpt & Giveaway at Romance Novel Giveaways
5/5: Author Interview & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight
5/6: Review at Just Jane 1813
5/8: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
5/9: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
5/10: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
5/11: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
5/12: Guest Post & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
5/13: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
5/14: Excerpt & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
5/15: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
5/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
I’d love to hear my readers thoughts about this story. Have you read it? If so, what did you think about this sequel? If not, did I help you add it to you TBR list? If so, can you share with us what sounds intriguing to you about this story?