Story Title: One Thread Pulled
Author Name: Diana Oaks (aka Artemis Acorn or fiveoaks)
Story Url: Available on Amazon *
Content Rating: All Ages
Status: Completed with a sequel in progress
Length: 177,500 words
Story Summary: An AU version – What would have happened if Lizzie did not hear the insult “She is tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me” at the assembly ball?
I was delighted with “One Thread Pulled” from start to finish. In my experience, the ability to make the kind of significant change(s) from canon necessary for a dynamic, what-if premise, while keeping the new AU plot and character developments true to canon, is a balancing act few authors achieve. I.e., in spite of the departure from Jane Austen’s P&P world, everything within this story feels like it occurs in her universe. Diana nails it. It is extremely exciting in points, and always fresh and interesting, while still featuring entirely canon-consistent characterizations and story development.
For example, while staying at Netherfield during Jane’s illness, Elizabeth is seen reading Plato’s The Republic, and meditating upon the nature of justice. Mr. Darcy is quite noticeably impressed “in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading,” and by her thoughtful intelligence, exhibited in her discussion of it. Both her reading material and her understanding of it are very much as one would expect from this 20-year-old Elizabeth. She is intelligent, but not worldly-wise, and her naïveté feels very realistic for Miss Austen’s Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s reflections upon this book and the nature of justice do not feel as if Diana were getting off on a rabbit trail, grandstanding (So sorry, but I have seen other stories in which it felt as if the author were more intent upon showing off their education or research, rather than furthering the plot. This is decidedly not the case here.), or dragging the story out. These scenes add to the humor, when contrasted with Caroline Bingley’s banal attempts to impress Mr. Darcy; or they add insight into the characters’ of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. For example, it is easy to understand how Elizabeth was ever taken in by Mr. Wickham’s smarmy charm when one considers her inner monologue here:
“Lack of experience in life may make it difficult to own an opinion on justice, she reflected, for she had never even known a true criminal, or even a scoundrel. No, Meryton had its share in quarrels and strife, and petty crimes did occur from time to time, but overall, her world did not much depend on the scales of justice balancing. ‘If I met a scoundrel, would I know him as such?‘ She answered her own question almost immediately, for Elizabeth prided herself on an ability to take the measure of a person in her first impression of them. ‘Of course I would know him, for evil would be in his countenance and I would discern it in a glance.’”
Oh, my dear Miss Bennet. Your pride and your youth are showing there!
One aspect of this story which I also loved was the way the author gave us fantastic insight into side-characters, such as Anne de Bourgh or Caroline Bingley, as well as some marvelous time spent in Mr. Darcy’s head. I found it much easier to forgive Mr. Darcy’s pride when I better understood where he was coming from, thanks to a very in-character depiction of his thoughts and struggles.
“One Thread Pulled” is an intelligent, perceptive, witty, captivating (i.e., weekend-absorbing!) and altogether fun story. I loved how the author found creative ways of accomplishing the same goals of canon (disabusing Elizabeth and Darcy of their pride and prejudice for the sake of their individual character growth, and gradually cultivating their romance), while using completely unique means to get there. There are a couple of similarities contained therein to a few, favored fandom clichés, largely rooted in the BBC miniseries, I suspect; but the author does an admirable job of taking such ideas and making them entirely her own, with very unique, fully fleshed-out spins upon them.
This story is complete, but there is a sequel in progress which continues Elizabeth and Darcy’s tale.
* This story is now available for sale on Amazon for the Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, keep in mind that you can read Kindle books on your computer or use a free software such as Calibre to convert a Kindle publication to another format (such as for a nook or tablet).
My Only Critique: I read the story in its first draft form, not in its current incarnation as an amazon e-publication. So, I cannot speak to that final version. In the version I read, I think I may have caught two apostrophe and comma errors, each. Given the story’s epic length, and the trivial nature of such typos, that should give you some idea of the excellence in writing and editing skills exhibited there. You are certain to find far more writing goofs in this short story rec of mine.