Story Title: Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation
Author Name: Abigail Reynolds
Category: Pride & Prejudice
Category: Published Book
Story Url: Author’s website & Amazon
Content Rating: Mature
Length: 240 pages
Story Summary: Trapped for three days by a flood, and trapped forever by society because of it…. The river isn’t the only thing overflowing in Hunsford when a natural disaster forces Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy to work together. The residents of flood-stricken Hunsford, seeking refuge in the parsonage atop the hill, are unaware they are interrupting Darcy’s disastrous proposal. Even worse, the flood has washed out the only bride to Rosings Park, stranding Darcy with the woman who has just refused his offer of marriage. But it may already be too late to redeem Elizabeth’s reputation…. In this Pride & Prejudice variation, the lane dividing the Hunsford parsonage from Rosings Park has been replaced by one of the flood-prone Kentish rivers. The storms are real – the spring of 1811 was remarkable for numerous thunderstorms in Southeast England.
Abigail Reynolds is one of my favorite authors. Her books are most assuredly among those I call my literary comfort food. This particular one was new to me, and I inhaled it over a 24-hour period, in which I slept far less than I ought.
One of my favorite aspects of Dr. Reynolds’ books is that she knows the difference between dramatic tension and unnecessary angst. (I’m not a fan of the latter.) The backdrop to this story is a devestating flood which sweeps through Hunsford village on the night that Mr. Darcy shows up at the parsonage with an ill-worded, ill-timed proposal. But the excitement doesn’t end there. This book surprised me with several dramatic plot twists. The various ways that our well-known characters and side-characters respond to those plot twists kept me captivated.
I was particularly moved by a few pointed depictions and denouncements of certain cultural norms for the Regency era. In particular, the way Britain treated its children, its most precious and fragile assets, is horrifying. Dr. Reynolds has our protagonists respond to this in culturally appropriate ways, yet with the sort of outrage that suits my modern sensitibilities. Those reactions weren’t preachy or disrupting to the flow of the story, though. Instead, the way that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth respond to those circumstances allowed each of them to come to a better understandanding and appreciation of the other.
My Only Critique: This doesn’t count as critique, but just in case… One complaint I hear periodically about Dr. Reynolds’ books is that, because she originally posted many of them as fanfic, and then published the books, and then occasionally had another re-release of the books, some of her novels were known by two or three different titles. So, when in doubt, check the author’s website, where the titles are clearly listed. As it is, this particular book, Mr. Darcy’s Refuge does not appear to have been published or posted under any other name. So this advice is not actually needed in the case of this specific title.