Tact by Jeannie Peneaux (PersephonePenguin)

Story TitleTact: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
Author Name:  Jeannie Peneaux (PersephonePenguin)
Category:  Pride & Prejudice
Story Url: Story Link (Tactful Series sequels on AO3)
Content Rating:  All Ages
Status: Completed
Series Status: Open. Includes 1 novel-length story (Tact), 2 one-shots (Turned Out Well and Undercurrents), and 1 novel-length WIP, Tacked.)
Length:   83,869 words
Story Summary:  Elizabeth Bennet is blessed with tact.

Gioia’s Rec:
I’m crazy for this series. There are too few authors in the Jane Austen fanfic (JAFF) community as it is. There are fewer still who have such a creative mind, entrancing plots and characterizations, and the skill with which to wield such gifts.

To give you an example of how invigoratingly creative this author is, make note of the fact that the character of Mr. Collins is not actually repulsive. I think this may be a first for me. I can’t recall ever seeing any authors attempt such a feat, much less pull it off believable without totally re-writing Mr. Collins’ characterization and/or background.  But PersephonePenguin manages to stick to canon’s foundation while creating circumstances in which we can see Mr. Collins grow into a more likable character of worth (although still not actually someone with whom I’d want to hang out).

I had originally expected this story to be similar to “An Endeavour at Civility” by Jennifer Ray, an MIA story I’ve long admired.  However, I was very wrong. This is quite different.  In Jennifer Rey’s story, Elizabeth is making a one-time attempt to be courteous during Mr. Darcy’s disastrous proposal.  In this story, Elizabeth has, from a young age, striven to be kind and tactful with her words.  As Elizabeth has never been a purposefully cruel or caustic person in canon, this change is far more nuanced than I originally expected.  Lizzy doesn’t lose her sharp wit.  She simply makes it a goal in all of her interactions to give thought to the other person’s feelings, and tries to use her words to not merely amuse herself, but to uplift the other individual.  So, while much of canon remains the same, the biggest difference is in the relationships Lizzy has with those around her, not with the basic facts of the canon P&P.

This author is deserving of far more honor and accolades than either I or the small JAFF community can provide. Do consider diving in, regardless of your previous awareness of Pride & Prejudice. This series requires no such knowledge in order for one to thoroughly enjoy the tale.

My Only Critique: There are a handful of minor typos; very minor, and very few.  They should not interfere with one’s ability to enjoy the story, as they are typically errors of punctuation, not of grammar, which I, personally, find more distracting than something as little as a missed apostrophe.

About Gioia

I'm a wife and mother and, when not tied up with responsibilities, I read non-stop. I love to share my favorite stories with others, thus the existence of my blog.
This entry was posted in Character Study, Content Rating-P&P: All Ages (G - PG), Conventional (Canon) Couple, Deviates from canon at or post-Netherfield Ball, Deviates from canon in or just prior to Chapter 1, but consistent with canon backstory, Drama/Angst, Era: Regency, Features sibling of Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy, Fluff, Friendship/Mentorship, Het: M/F, Hurt/Comfort, Improved Lydia, Introspective, Mr. Bingley/Jane Bennet, Mr. Collins/Mary Bennet, Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet, Nicer Lady Catherine, OMC/Kitty Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, Protagonist with disability or impairment, Published Novel, Resolution earlier than in canon, Romance, Series, Unconventional Couple and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Tact by Jeannie Peneaux (PersephonePenguin)

  1. twowhlnut@yahoo.com says:

    Hello Gioia! I love your website and TOTALLY agree that PersephonePenguin is an excellent author. Very subtle and refined. One of my favorite variations.

  2. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for such a wonderful review of my work. 🙂 I am so so delighted that you have enjoyed reading it.

    My productivity is taking a serious hit now though because I simply must trawl through your whole site for more fics to add to my to-read list. 🙂

    • Gioia says:

      Your imagination and talent have been such a treat in which to immerse myself! But I’m totally going to run and hide in case any of your readers put a price on my head should you go MIA on us! 😁

      • Jeannie says:

        I hope that I won’t! 🙂 I can set up an automated response to my email that will say, “sorry, no time to write- too busy reading and it is gioias fault for doing such great recs!”

  3. Gioia says:

    *cowers under bed*
    😁

  4. Thrawn says:

    Hmm.

    I’ve read the series now, and I enjoyed it. As you mentioned, there’s rather a shortage of Jane Austen fanfics, and this had some good dry humour and decent characterisation.

    Two points bothered me. The first, and lesser, was how easily Elizabeth is able to ingratiate herself with Lady Catherine. She’s politer, yes, but that was hardly Lady Catherine’s only issue with her in canon; she isn’t well connected or wealthy, for example. Consider the discussion between Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst, where they declare that Jane (who is certainly as polite as Tactful Lizzy) is a dear sweet girl – but they still endeavour to sabotage her as unsuitable for Mr Bingley due to her lack of connections, with Mr Darcy leading the way, and I hardly think that Lady Catherine is more liberal-minded on that front. A warmer relationship with Lady Catherine makes sense, but to so quickly and easily consider her a viable prospect for Mr Darcy to marry seemed rather surprising.

    Second, and more concerning, was that Mr Darcy and Mr Warwick are not properly called to account for some abominable behaviour. Mr Darcy made it clear to Colonel Fitzwilliam that if he chose to pursue Lizzy, then Mr Darcy would financially ruin him, simply because he wanted Lizzy for himself. That’s a horrible abuse of his position, and exactly the kind of thing that Lizzy ought to beware of after making a fuss about Mr Bingley failing to properly defend Jane. It’s even worse than what canon Mr Darcy declared would have been a serious offence, namely if he had truly cheated Mr Wickham. Colonel Fitzwilliam was not only an old and dear friend, but also a close relation. And yet, there are no consequences; we do not hear a single thing about the matter after that chapter where Colonel Fitzwilliam humbly retreats in the face of such blackmail.

    As for Mr Warwick’s conduct, well, he certainly should have been arrested for assault, attempted kidnapping, and perhaps even an accessory to attempted murder, for one of his goons threatened to kill Lydia and only didn’t fire because she scared him. She at least didn’t immediately and completely forget about it, but he was never properly called to account, either. It’s all very well for her to decide it was a great adventure and forgive him her part, but poor Georgiana was left with nothing except an unsigned note that could just as easily have been written to lure her into lowering her guard, and Lydia never relieved her mind on the subject. I suppose that we can chalk that up to her being quite irresponsible, though perhaps less destructively so than canon…

  5. Luce says:

    Hi!

    I want to thank you for such an amazing recs site. I’ve been reading a couple P&P fics once and a while since I joined fandom in general many, many years ago but in the last few months I’m in such Lizzy/Darcy kick that I can’t seem to stop reading fics with those two and finding your site has been a gift!

    One of things I love about this fandom is just how many fics exist, so many of them are longfics and very well written. It’s wonderful but the downside is that it’s makes so hard to find what to read and then I found your site and it’s so well organized, you give such an amazing idea to what to expect that for me is just perfect because I’m kinda weird in a way that if I really start a fic I’ll finish it even if it drives me crazy so there has been plenty of hate reading in my life so again you’re lifesaver. I don’t really love every rec of yours but I know it will be a good story even if it’s not for my taste and I know what to expect and this is priceless! 🙂 I will probably bother you soon with my opinions on some of those recs, the ones I really loved and even the ones I wasn’t too crazy about it, I hope you don’t mind!

    I will start with this one, I read it on AO3 and I liked it, she’s an excellent writer, like you wrote, it’s great to find an new author who is so creative and talented. I always love her Elizabeth and since she’s my fave by far I can enjoy her fics and manipulative!Lizzy is a joy to read but I’ll confess she writes Darcy in a way that makes me not like him very much, it’s amazing to find a fic where I like Mr Collins more than I like Mr Darcy! Although after so many fics that sometimes feel a bit the same the fact this author is so unique is pretty much a good thing.

    Poor Darcy was already in trouble with me because I’m not a huge fan of stories where he doesn’t get verbally eviscerated for that proposal. It’s such a huge part of the book, I’ve read plenty of great stories where he gets him “Hunsford” moment in other ways and it worked beautifully but for him to say all those things and Elizabeth to NOT lose her tempter, changes their dynamic in a way that I don’t usually like. So the guy was already in trouble with me and then there was that thing with threatening Colonel Fitzwilliam that someone else mentioned that was bizarre, the whole thing amount making her not walk alone just for kicks because he could in Rosings was also strange and I remember that Lizzy was also not allowed to walk the gardens without a footman when they were engaged. Darcy just felt really controlling and if I had seen Lizzy actually calling him on that in any way, I would have like him more.

    It’s funny how Darcy can make or break a story for me, like I said I adore Elizabeth, one of my favorite characters ever, it’s not hard to make me like her in a story but I have more of a issue with Darcy. I need to find him really likable for the story to work, of course like in canon he doesn’t have to start as likable, he just needs to get there in the end. (As long as he wasn’t abusive, cruel, in need of a mistress, or an alphahole!)

  6. Gioia says:

    Your comments have just made my day! I’m delighted that you’ve been able to make use of this blog precisely as I have hoped.

    And I so understand what you mean about the hate reading even after a plot or characterizations drive you up the wall. There’s one particularly Elizabeth/Darcy fic which, to this day, just makes me mad even thinking about it, partly because I felt compelled to read it to the ending even though I hated it by that point!

    I feel the same way as you in regards to how the characterization of Darcy can ruin a fic for me more than the characterization of Lizzy. I’ve never thought that through before, so it’s a really interesting observation! Maybe it’s because I’m projecting so much of myself onto Elizabeth that I can subconsciously explain away any of her actions that I dislike, but cannot do so for Darcy..? Hmm…

    I’m running late now because I couldn’t stand to leave your comment unremarked upon, so forgive me if I’ve missed anything. Your observations on Tactful make me want to go back and re-read it to mull it over with your thoughts in mind.

    And if you run out of recs over here, note that in the sidebar I have links to my favorite fics on AO3 and FFN. In the Links section (above, in the header bar) you’ll find other P&P websites which frequently have story recommendation threads which have been a help to me.

    Thanks again for your kind words! You brought me joy!

  7. Luce says:

    Hi again!

    I’m just glad you didn’t mind my ramblings 🙂

    OMG I’m not even close to running out of your main recs but then I see there are more recs and people reccing fics for you and other sites with even more recs! I will never stop reading Lizzy/Darcy fics, oh well, that doesn’t sound too bad. 😀

    And yep, hate reading is the worse, like I said I’ve been reading a lot of P&P stories lately, even before finding your blog and there were a lot of hate reading going on, also thank goodness a lot of skimming and a lot of yelling to myself “why are you still reading this, self?” and “why is Darcy so damn awful?!” (I found that for me a lot of hate reading in P&P fandom involves a horrible Darcy and a suffering Lizzy)

    The thing with Tactful is I get why it’s popular because there are so many wonderful things there but her Darcy just reminds me of the ginormous unbalance of power between them which is fair and very true but I don’t want to be reminded of that in the end of a story, I wanna go “Yay, Darcy and Lizzy will be so happy together” instead. I mean the servant following her around is kinda a ridiculously tiny detail and her Elizabeth is fine with it but I remember how her walks are important to her, something that she can do with freedom but there she can’t even do that by herself because her husband doesn’t find it proper.

    Yeah, it’s funny how much the characterization of Darcy is important for my enjoyment reading a fic. I definitely think the fact Lizzy is my favorite gets me to empathize with her more and makes me more protective of her and to be honest, it’s not really fair but I expect more of Darcy since he has so, so many advantages over her.

    • Gioia says:

      I’ve been continuing to contemplate your thoughts, particularly regarding what it is that makes me like or dislike Darcy in other stories. And you’re so right, that the era’s power imbalance has the potential to ruin a Darcy if he’s not written as solicitous of her thoughts and feelings. I know that power imbalance is just how things were then, and canon gives us no hint that Elizabeth feels particularly frustrated at the thought of a spouse having power over her, provided it’s someone she deeply loves and respects. So maybe I’m indulging my modern mindset here. I probably am, lol. But yes, a more dictatorial Darcy can make me feel helpless and powerless — and furious! — just reading about him. Many well-written fics use the Hunsford refusal as the opportunity to curb such overly oppressive urges in Darcy, as in canon. But in those stories in which Darcy skips that painful confrontation, it seems there is far more potential for marriage misery. After all, until that point his only other experience with having a woman under his care involved either servants and tenants — who must bow to his authority without question — or his much younger sister, whom he helped raise. Just thinking about that kind of background makes me vicariously anxious on Lizzy’s behalf! So, yeah, I agree with your thoughts. Because if that’s what Jane Austen considered progressive husbanding, Heaven help Lizzy when she’s in a plot involving a more overbearing Darcy!

      Have you ever read Jasper Fforde’s excellent, creative book, “The Eyre Affair”? It involves a detective who can go into novels and solve crimes or fix problems that would otherwise derail a classic novel’s plot. I’m not a fan of Jane Eyre, largely because the male protagonist, Edward Rochester, is everything you & I dislike about a controlling man x 10000. So, in The Eyre Affair, it made me feel better to see the detective’s frustration and remarks about that kind of behavior.

      Thanks again for the discussion! This has been fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s