Story: In My Next Life…!
Author: Pat M.
Story URL: Story Link 1
Alternate URL: Story Link 2 (Register at this site to access the password HERE to the MRR [Meryton Reading Room])
Word count: 44,000
Summary: Travel from the year 2008 back to Regency 1811, to discover how modern Elizabeth affects the original Pride and Prejudice story, and puts down Wickham, Miss Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Catherine, while Darcy falls in love with this ‘new’ Elizabeth.
This story was a blast! As a fellow Southern Belle, I loved how Miss Pat worked in such familiar colloquialisms and Southern attitudes into her story. And in fact, those bits of silly, humorous dialogue inserts set the tone for the entire story. The fic could have been an utter disaster, too absurd to work. Instead, it was just plain fun!
I’ve read two published novels in which a modern girl finds herself in Regency England. In one, the heroine actually interacts with Mr. Darcy. In both, I found the story tedious and absurd. The idea that Mr. Darcy, or any gentleman of consequence who was not a rake, would fall in love with a girl who behaved as those two protagonists did – with modern behavior that was, frankly, rather whorish in their cultural context – was quite irritating. I found it so distracting that it ruined the story for me.
Pat M. writes that concept far better than those authors did. Her protagonist behaves in public almost exactly as Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, however her inner monologue is still ours to giggle over. And those times when she does break character are just hilarious. (Poor Wickham! Poor Miss Bingley!) Elizabeth’s out-of-Regency-character moments are always at times when they can be excused as idiosyncrasies, or when they are overlooked or entirely missed for various believable reasons. As a result, the supporting P&P cast isn’t forced to behave in an OOC fashion in order for “In My Next Life…!” to achieve its romantic goal.
I’m so thankful this story was written, because without it I might still be sulking over those other two disappointing novels. They had ruined my fantasy of how much fun I would have as Elizabeth Bennet. Thanks to Pat M., I can resume my daydreams.
My Only Critique: I hate admitting it, but I actually skipped over this fic more than once, as I was deterred by the opening few paragraphs, in which the protagonist directly addresses the audience. I’ve never liked that narrative style, and so it was a turn off in this case. However, the story is so widely praised, and it has that “time travel” tag on it which has a moth-to-the-flame effect on me, so that I ultimately got over myself and gave the fic a try, much to my instant delight. Some may not enjoy the deliberately Mary Sue protagonist, but please keep in mind that this story is a parody. The author’s goal was to thrust a modern day girl, well-versed in fandom clichés, into Jane Austen’s Regency setting, and then watch the fun take off. Thus, if you take the story too seriously, you’ll miss its entire purpose.