Story Title: Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure (version 1)
Author Name: Daniella H
Story url: Story Link 1
Alternate url: Story Link 2
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 49,900 words
Story Summary: The marriage of the Age has ended in tragedy. Countess Saffron Walden, once Elizabeth Bennet, comes home to Hertfordshire disillusioned of love. Darcy helps her to forget the villian that was her first husband.
Please Note: This story was revised in 2014. I have not read This Revised version. This recommendation is for the 2003 version. Once I read the 2014 version, I will update this recommendation accordingly.
Due to my cowardice in regards to reading angsty stories, it took me quite awhile to summon up the courage to read “Marry in Haste.” As it turned out, I worried for no reason. In fact, I actually debated tagging this story as containing “fluffy” moments.
I should first explain, though, that the author has written two equally intriguing stories based off of this same premise, in which Elizabeth Bennet married an abusive lord a few years before Mr. Darcy’s arrival at Netherfield with the Bingley party. In Version 1, the story opens at the Meryton Assembly, where Darcy meets the widowed Lady Elizabeth, who is recovering from her abusive marriage. In the alternate story contained in Version 2, the story opens a few months later, when Darcy meets the married Lady Elizabeth while he is escorting Bingley to London in preparation for Mr. Bingley’s marriage to Jane. In Version 1, the story centers upon how the widowed Elizabeth, recovering from her dreadful marriage, would feel about the prospect of falling in love a second time, considering how badly her judgment failed her with her first marriage. In Version 2, the story centers upon how Elizabeth and Darcy would cope with falling in love at a time when she is trapped in a horrifically abusive relationship. I chose Version 1 for this recommendation, due to my preference for low-angst stories.
The author deserves high praise for the amount of research she invested in her story. I was impressed by the number of details she worked in about the estates of the region, all without lapsing into info-dump. She did well in showing us, not telling us, the many interesting facts which helped to flesh out the background of her stories. Those details helped the story avoid feeling like a rehash of canon, as the entire world felt different here, as exemplified by some of the slightly different settings.
It is not the background details alone which make this story feel fresh, though. Darcy notes to himself upon first observing Elizabeth, that she appears to be wearing an emotional mask, much as he has seen on Georgiana’s face in the months following Ramsgate. And so he takes the unusual step of reaching out to Elizabeth in an effort to help her come out of her shell. The idea of Darcy taking the initiative in those first moments of their acquaintanceship would normally feel out-of-character for him, except for the parallel he draws in his mind between Elizabeth and Georgiana. Because his mind is so focused upon his beloved sister’s pain, it makes perfect sense that he would instinctively respond to the pain he sees Elizabeth attempting to hide from others. And because of the gentle, quiet comfort he offers Elizabeth at a chaotic time in her family’s lives, it is understandable why Elizabeth would in turn respond instinctively to him, in spite of her vow never to marry again. Daniella thus does a marvelous job of establishing a symmetry of spirits between the pair very early in the story, a foundation which is crucial for understanding how their relationship and the story as a whole develop from that point on.
The story continues in that sweet vein, loosely following the major events of canon, but with our attention focused upon the quiet, calming friendship between Elizabeth and Darcy, as it gradually grows into something more. There are lovely lessons to be learned here, as the story contains a great deal of depth. But I read it and enjoyed it for the beautiful narrative and captivating plot, and I recommend it to you for those very reasons.
My Only Critique: There are very few typos in this extremely well-written story, and certainly nothing that I think would hinder one’s enjoyment, assuming one even notices those few rarities. On another note, be aware that in Version 2 of “Marry In Haste,” an alternate, far more angsty story line is presented in which the Earl is still alive and abuses Elizabeth severely. The author is not graphic in the presentation of those scenes, mercifully drawing the curtain each time the abuse begins. Version 2 also includes an adulterous relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy. With all of that in mind, that version of this fantastic story may be troublesome to some readers, who may prefer this low-angst Version 1 instead, as I did.
Regarding the Story Tags: The two violence tags used for this story rec pertain to allusions of abuse which occurred in the past, but which is not in any way depicted in Version 1. (See the above note regarding the abuse which is depicted in Version 2.) Please also be aware that, as always, the “Out-of-Character Behavior (Deliberate)” tag is NEVER used on this blog as a form of critique. In this case, the tag references Elizabeth’s early behavior in the story as a woman recovering from an abusive marriage. She initially behaves in a withdrawn manner which is out-of-character for canon-Elizabeth. This is a deliberate plot point and very central to the story development.