Story: Better For Loving You
Author: Helen (niping)
Mature-rated Story URL: Part 1 – Part 2
PG-rated Story URL: Story Link
Word count: 275,300
Rating: Rated “Mature” at AHA; Rated for “All” at DWG
Summary: Miss Elizabeth Casterton and Mr Darcy meet when he comes to Hertfordshire and, though he slights her at the Meryton Assembly, they come to admire one another. A secret from her family’s past, however, comes between them and they must both overcome their pride and prejudice to eventually find happiness.
This is a fantastic AU take on P&P, in which Elizabeth is not one of the Bennet sisters, but is instead a neighbor and the daughter of Lord Casterton. As mentioned in the summary, a secret from her family’s past ends up interfering with her growing friendship with Mr. Darcy and leads to Darcy snubbing the wealthy, highly-connected Elizabeth in this fic just as he snubbed the poor, virtually dowry-less Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice. It’s interesting how the the author manages to bring us back to the same basic dilemmas in spite of Elizabeth’s improved circumstances. She still struggles with her mortified pride and indignation; he struggles with his prejudice against her circumstances. She learns not to judge so hastily and harshly; he learns to distinguish between obligations to society and obligations to his conscience.
I went looking for this fic over at AHA when I forgot its title, as the confrontation scene between Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth has long stuck with me. It’s a brilliant setup, and I’ve always felt this urge to punch the air and shout, “Yes!” each time I read it. At the same time, the story makes it quite clear why such an approach was not attempted in Jane Austen’s version.
The emotions in this fic are so richly described that it is no wonder the story has both deeply touched me and deeply distressed me. If you like angst, you’ll love this. If, like me, you are angst-phobic, you’ll still love it. Get past that angsty spot within the first half and you’ll be amazed at how quickly things get better, and how little the story can ultimately be characterized as angsty when viewed as a whole. What will stick with you in the end is a sense of abiding love that can defeat any obstacles. As Elizabeth states very firmly in this story, it would be foolish for her to marry a man who does not respect her. By the end of this story it is obvious she has found a man who will stand up for her and fight for her when she needs it, but who respects her enough to let her fight her own battles when she wishes. As a strong-willed woman myself, I can appreciate the need for a spouse to be both the knight in shining armor, and the cloak bearer. Mr. Darcy learns to be both, and Elizabeth learns to trust him to be whatever she needs. It’s quite meaningful.
A couple of last notes: the Bennets are still very much themselves in this fic and play almost as significant role in this story as they do in canon, thanks to Jane and Elizabeth’s friendship, as well as the close friendship between Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth’s father. So readers are not cheated out of any of their favorite moments in canon with those side characters, even as we also gain some noteworthy, nicely developed OCs, such as Elizabeth’s father, Lord Casterton.
My only critique: There are a very few minor typos and punctuation errors, but they are barely noticeable, particularly given the length of the extremely well-written story.