Duty and Desire

[openbook booknumber=”0743291360″]


The second in the series by Pamela Aidan, this novel chronicles the second part of Pride and Prejudice from the viewpoint of Mr. Darcy. This novel takes place during the quiet time over the winter when Mr. Darcy drops off Elizabeth Bennet’s radar. What happened that fateful winter? Apparently, a lot!

The novel starts off with a lot of what one would expect. Christmas at Pemberly, meeting Miss Georgiana Darcy, and of course getting to see Darcy in his element working with his staff and tenants and going about the business that he was raised to do. This was fascinating to read and revealed even more about Mr. Darcy and his family and friends.

After Christmas things take a turn and the novel takes on a new tenor. It strikes out into the uncertain waters of a Gothic romance. The creepy castle, the strange guests, the even stranger going-ons will all have you on the edge of your seat wondering about this new mystery and what is going to happen next. I especially enjoyed the revelation of the close relationship between Darcy and his valet Fletcher which was shown in good light in this novel.

There was little danger of encountering the Bennet sisters ever again.”

Well, Pamela Aidan had to do something with him during this book to make it novel length. I do think some of the things in this novel (starting with the arrival at Norwyke Castle) were far fetched and didn’t seem to match up with the first book or the last. It’s almost like that time in the castle was time spent in the Twilight Zone. The author did say that this was a tribute to Jane Austen’s own foray into the Gothic genre (Northanger Abbey) and since I didn’t read that novel perhaps that is why I found the transition so uncomfortable.

The other thing that I didn’t enjoy in this novel (it’s in all three but is particularly long lasting in this novel) is the endless fascination Darcy has with Elizabeth. It consumes nearly his every thought for the entire winter season. Yes, he is in love, yes it is terribly sweet, but even someone completely in love thinks about some other things from time to time. I have heard Pamela Aidan being accused of writing Mr. Darcy with the emotions of a woman and I think it goes a little beyond that. I can’t remember thinking that much about anyone else since high school crushes gone by. And, he’s a bit mature for that kind of mooning, though his is just as thoughtless as such a brand of crush, he’s thinking about her, but only in light of himself.

In the end, I’d say if you loved the first book, bear through this one and you will be amply rewarded with the third. If you enjoy Gothic romance (a la Jane Eyre and company) you will enjoy the mystery and suspense of this second novel, hopefully on its own merits as, in the context of the rest of the series, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

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