Story Title: Officious Interference
Author Name: Alex9903
Story Url: Story Link
Alternate Url: Story Link 2
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 114,000 words
Story Summary: This story starts with the walk in the park at Rosings where Elizabeth learns from Col. Fitzwilliam that Darcy has purposely separated Bingley and Jane, only rather than get sad, she gets mad and goes to dine at Rosings anyway.
“Officious Interference” was one of the best novel-length fics I’ve read in quite awhile. I’ve had the frustrating experience of attempting a few such stories, only to be distracted by major writing flaws. Due to erratic internet issues at my home, I often download stories and read them in MS Word. When I found myself unconsciously doing major copy editing revisions on certain stories, I nearly gave up on reading anything unpublished for awhile. Thus it was a real treat when I found some recently completed, well-written stories, including this remarkable gem. At one point I debated leaving this author a list of examples of her outstanding punctuation, as I was utterly thrilled by her technical writing expertise, particularly given how challenging it can be to write in a style consistent with the Regency era. (I decided that such a review might be a bit too batty, even for someone as insanely obsessive as I am.)
Aside from the author’s writing skills, “Officious Interference” merits the highest praise for its excellent plot and the brilliant use of symmetry and parallels within the text. The story opens with Col. Fitzwilliam imparting to Elizabeth that damning information about Darcy’s interference in Mr. Bingley and Jane’s relationship. From there, the story goes in a different direction. Rather than conforming to the strictures of their society and leaving Col. Fitzwilliam in ignorance as to her strong reaction, Elizabeth gives in to the temptation to unleash her temper just enough to explain her irritation.
It was very interesting to see from there how things changed. The story was very character-driven, which meant that much of what we see is regarding the alterations in both Elizabeth’s behavior and that of other characters. The author certainly never takes things into the realm of out-of-character behavior. Rather, she follows things through to their logical end. What happens when one allows anger and bitterness to take seed? How can one’s officious actions affect those around them, even when those actions are well intentioned? When is it acceptable to interfere in preventing a friend’s downfall, and when must one step back and let others face the path they have chosen? These questions aren’t merely addressed with Elizabeth and Darcy, but with a number of other main characters, side characters, and even original characters. (And I must add, Alex9903 writes fantastic, fully fleshed-out original characters!)
One drawback to character-driven stories can be that they often seem to drag, weighed down by too much inner monologue and reflection. That is not the case here. The story is rapidly-paced, and I simply flew through it. There was always something exciting taking place. The ramifications I referenced above are not solely addressed through dialogue or inner thoughts, either, but by the actions and behavior of those affected. Alex9903 is obviously quite adept at handling the old writing adage, “show, not tell.” I greatly appreciate that, as one thing I find as irritating as an inability to use commas appropriately is for a story’s narration to tell me what I’m supposed to be thinking and feeling about each scene, rather than letting the story speak for itself. “Officious Interference” speaks for itself, telling a thoughtful, exciting story with extremely vivid characters and emotionally powerful scenes. I loved it.
My Only Critique: I think I caught two occasions where a word was missing. Given the length of the story, that rarity should speak volumes about the story’s high quality. Readers should be aware that there are a few paragraphs toward the end of the story in which one character (a surprising one, at that) reflects inwardly on the possibility that another character has remained single for so many years due to homosexual desires. These thoughts are not graphic, nor is Character A’s inner monologue excessive in length or details. The short section actually explains a lot about why Character A has behaved a certain way toward Character B. The passage is therefore presented in a way that is relevant to the overall story and neither anachronistic nor explicit. Thus, I don’t think the passage should be too troubling, particularly as it greatly helps us to understand Character A’s behavior. I mention this inclusion as it is true that this material would never have been included by Jane Austen, and therefore might be startling for readers to encounter in a Austen-based story.