Story Title: Mr Darcy: The Man with a Plan
Author Name: Lucy S.
Story Url: Story Link
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 69,700 words
Story Summary: Soon after his disastrous proposal in Kent, Mr Darcy unexpectedly sees Elizabeth in London. He seeks her out again, ostensibly to ensure she now thinks better of him. He quickly decides that he wants to win her affections and in order to do so he needs a plan.
First, I must tell how delighted I was that this story included a bit of canon detail which I’ve never yet seen in any Jane Austen fanfic: Georgiana living in her own home, separate from the Darcy townhouse in London. In Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Darcy says that when Georgiana was taken from school, “an establishment formed for her in London.” That has always stood out to me when I’ve read the book, because it strikes my modern sensibilities as odd that a fifteen-year-old girl was set up in her own home, separate from her guardians, at such a young age and before she was “out” in society. Someone with more knowledge of the Regency era than I may correct my interpretation of Mr. Darcy’s statement, but that’s certainly how I’ve always understood it. Oddly enough, though, until now I’ve never seen a fanfic, published or not, which acknowledged this. Everyone seems to have written Georgiana in as a resident in Mr. Darcy’s houses, with no mention of there ever having been a separate home for her at any time. So although this wasn’t really a plot point in this story, I use it as an example of the author’s attention to detail and incorporation of a very rich, thorough background for her characters. Such well-developed background details are also evident when Elizabeth first sees Pemberley and learns some captivating details about the estate’s history and management. The overall effect of the author’s skill in this regard is that she creates a world that feels very real and captivating.
In an odd way, this story actually could be said to serve as a defense for Jane Austen’s canon. Lucy S. shows how things would have progressed for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth had Mr. Darcy pursued her more aggressively after Hunsford. And what stood out to me in the end was that Jane Austen knew what she was doing. That isn’t to say that “Mr. Darcy: The Man With A Plan” is an angsty fic (it isn’t) or that things go disastrously wrong (they don’t). Instead, we see that Elizabeth, whose confidence in her own insight was badly shaken post-Hunsford, needed those months away from Mr. Darcy in order to better understand her heart and her mind. The truth is that Elizabeth Bennet was not only a social creature, she was also a deeply introspective individual. One reason she could become frustrated with her life at Longbourn was that she craved those moments of quiet solitude in which she might examine her thoughts and feelings. She was as much a studier of her own character as she was of others’. Therefore, a rushed romance would not have been to her liking. We can see proof of that from Elizabeth’s conversation in P&P with Charlotte, in which the future Mrs. Collins attempted to persuade an incredulous Elizabeth that rapid courtships are preferable, because “it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”
I therefore found myself loving this story, as Lucy S. does a fantastic job of showing us that although love can conquer all, and Elizabeth and Darcy truly are are a perfect compliment to one another, in the end one cannot rush through these things if they want to have lasting happiness in marriage. In fact, an interesting part of this story occurs when we compare and contrast the Darcy/Elizabeth relationship vs. the Bingley/Jane relationship. Just as the story asks how Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship would have differed if he had pursued her soon after Hunsford, so, too, we must discover how things would have changed had Mr. Bingley returned for Jane sooner, allowing more time for a courtship, and more time for his sister to object to that courtship. How would Jane have felt about him, given more time to know him? And what does all of that say in regards to the odds of future happiness for both couples?
Ultimately, the story ends with a very happy conclusion for all concerned, so have no fear in that regard, should you be as wimpy about angst as I am. And while this fanfic wound up feeling far more true to canon than a majority of the Jane Austen fanfics available, there are still some alterations made to canon. In fact, I like that nothing is guaranteed in Lucy’s story, because we’re forced to re-examine things from a different perspective. But such changes as were present in this story all felt so completely in-character for everyone concerned, thanks to how introspective this story is, and how very, very well Lucy S. knew the minds of her characters.
My only critique: As with virtually every unpublished fanfic (and many of the published ones), there are a handful of typos here and there. However, there is nothing present which I think will hinder the enjoyment of even the most ardent grammar goddess. 😉