Story Title: His Choice Of A Wife
Author Name: Dolly1981
Category: Pride & Prejudice
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])
Content Rating: Mature
Length: 170,200 words
Story Summary: A what-if variation that imagines how P&P would proceed after Hunsford if Darcy quickly realized that his behavior needed correcting, and if Elizabeth realized much sooner that Darcy has some redeeming qualities after all. More importantly, what if Darcy and the Colonel were still visiting with Mrs. Collins when Elizabeth returns after having read Darcy’s letter?
“His Choice of a Wife” is a captivating, action-packed story, without a single dull moment. By “action-packed,” I don’t mean to imply that Elizabeth and Darcy are off on a grand adventure to personally defeat Napoleon and save the British Empire. Rather, the author manages to so thoroughly immerse her readers into the world of Jane Austen and the engrossing emotions of her protagonists, that this dramatic story can’t help but be positively thrilling. To be frank, in the hands of a less talented writer, I suspect that any story focusing largely upon the ups and downs of a courtship between a lady and gentleman in the Regency era could be dull as toast. Dolly1981’s story is exciting not simply because of the plot she has adapted or the original elements she has included, but because she is a gifted storyteller.
The story opens up with some changes at Hunsford which result in an earlier courtship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I love that things aren’t perfect, aren’t instantly resolved, and that there is not an imediate understanding between the pair. They have miscommunications, arguments, and a few hurtful moments between them before things really settle down into a real communion of souls. That seems entirely realistic and helps to keep the story from feeling rushed.
The portion of “His Choice of a Wife” dealing with the Wickham/Lydia debacle particularly appeals to me because of my own experiences dealing with a foolish sibling during my engagement. I liked the way that the author deeply explored Lydia’s behavior, adding introspection to what might otherwise be brushed over. In canon, that situation is relayed to Elizabeth primarily through letters. Here, we see first hand what occurs, the feelings of those involved, and have a better understanding of the repercussions. Dolly1981 looks at the entire mess from multiple angles (though that doesn’t mean there is a lot of head hopping), allowing us to better understand multiple perspectives on this mess.
I was also struck by the unusual, though not dramatically different, portrayal of Mary Bennet. In both canon and fanon, Mary comes across as a generally good person who is simply using her theological studies and moralizing to define herself as a unique individual in a household of strong personalities. I like how this author takes that portrayal and adds a little more detail. Mary’s behavior is, in its own way, as selfish and self-absorbed as the giggling, man-chasing behavior of her two younger sisters. Dolly’s Mary isn’t merely trying to define herself, she is obsessed with herself. In many ways, she is a mirror of Mr. Bennet’s isolationist behavior in this book; same self-centered behavior expressed through slightly different interests. I’d never thought of Mary quite like that before, and it was very interesting to contemplate her in this light. I definitely see the author’s point.
“His Choice of a Wife” contains the most dramatic, riveting confrontation between Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy I’ve ever read, all without being needlessly angsty. Of course, I say that as one who read the story all in one go. Had I been reading a chapter at a time when this story was being posted as a work in progress, it is quite likely I would have torn my hair out over one or two cliffhangers! 🙂 Instead, readers of the complete story will, I am confident, join with me in absolute awe over the author’s fantastic gifts in writing such a spell-binding story.
My Only Critique: First, I must say that the author does an excellent job of writing in a manner consistent with the Regency era. As a result of her careful attention to detail, I want to be upfront in admitting that my detection of a scant handful of presumed typos is, quite possibly, merely a result of my lack of skill in this area. The dialogue from that time period can often seem awkward to my modern ears. That’s my fault; not the author’s. So I could be completely wrong about even those few “goofs.” Beyond that, I think I caught four or five apostrophe errors. Given the story’s 170,000+ words, that low ratio should be sufficient evidence of how well written and edited this story is. Kudos, Dolly1981! I envy your skills!