Story Title: Unequal Affections
Author Name: Suzanne O (aka OnlyaNovel or Lara S. Ormiston)
Category: Pride & Prejudice
Story Url: Amazon Link
Story Url: Story Link – Preface only
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 126,800 words
Story Summary: The shock of Darcy’s proposal causes Elizabeth to lose most of her prejudice against him. She might be willing to accept him, as long as he knows that she doesn’t love him. He might be willing to accept her on such terms too—but will they both be happy with the arrangement?
Amazon’s Book Summary: When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men—until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed.
Mr. Darcy’s passionate avowal of love causes Elizabeth to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about him. What she knows is that he is rich, handsome, clever, and very much in love with her. She, on the other hand, is poor, and can expect a future of increasing poverty if she does not marry. The incentives for her to accept him are strong, but she is honest enough to tell him that she does not return his affections. He says he can accept that—but will either of them ever be truly happy in a relationship of unequal affection?
Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice at the proposal in the Hunsford parsonage, this story explores the kind of man Darcy is, even before his “proper humbling,” and how such a man, so full of pride, so much in love, might have behaved had Elizabeth chosen to accept his original proposal.
“Unequal Affections” is another marvelous story which I found through the Derbyshire Writer’s Guild, though in a more roundabout way, as the story has now been published and only the prologue is online, at Fanfiction.net.
This story contains a bit more angst, albeit of the mild sort, than I’ve been up to reading lately. However, I was sucked into it so quickly that I couldn’t put the book down. It’s remarkably well written, with fantastic characterizations. The characterizations, in fact, are what really make this story standout. Mr. Darcy is cool, disinterested, barely civil, and utterly, passionately, fervently in love. Elizabeth is passionately angry, perfectly civil (on the surface), and certainly not disinterested. She is also in a questionable frame of mind to be entertaining the possibility of accepting a marriage proposal from a man she’s despised for months.
“Unequal Affections” feels like a very realistic look as to how things might’ve gone. The reality is that their society was so stifled, so straight-laced, that they didn’t have the blunt conversations most of us would’ve had in the place of these characters. Suzanne does a great job of conveying those boundaries, and the way that Elizabeth and Darcy can each both chafe at those restrictions, and simultaneously use them to hide behind, all in order to avoid having painful conversations. Unlike the Elizabeth in canon, this Elizabeth opts not to confront him immediately with all his mistakes and selfish behaviors. Once she realizes that they need to have that conversation, she lacks the courage to do initiate it, because by this point she does recognize that he is a good man who would be hurt by her anger. Thus we get to see him struggling along with no idea of how rude and uncaring he is behaving, nor any idea that Elizabeth disliked him and continues to be offended by his attitudes and actions. It makes for fascinating reading. How can either of them change if they won’t just fight it out already?
Suzanne’s marvelous story sucked me in from the very first page. Now if only there were two or three more novel-length books in this “universe.” 😉 Thankfully, there is a lovely vignette about the wedding day which can be found Here.
My only critique: As I mentioned, this is a bit more angsty than I usually read. However, I wouldn’t put it on the same level of angst as many marriage of convenience stories seem to deliver. I really don’t think the angst level is high enough to detract from anyone’s enjoyment, even if you’re a big baby like me.