Second installment of Aidan’s trilogy retelling Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view.
While An Assembly Such as This (2006) closely followed Jane Austen’s original opening chapters, the plot here wanders a bit farther afield as Darcy carries on his fictional life away from the world of the Bennetts. When his friend Bingley decides to forgo his love for Elizabeth’s sister Jane, Darcy is relieved but not exactly happy. He still pines for Elizabeth, but only secretly and from a long distance; she never actually appears in this rendition. Darcy socializes in London and spends Christmas with his beloved younger sister Georgiana, who has recovered from her infatuation with the evil Wickham and committed herself to charity. She challenges Darcy’s innate snobbery when she does the unthinkable and actually visits the poor in their homes. The bulk of the story, however, revolves around a country-house party Darcy attends in hopes of forgetting Elizabeth by finding a wife within his own social caste. The host, Lord Sayre, is a former Cambridge classmate, as are most of the other male guests. But Darcy soon realizes that the gentlemen are all bad-tempered fools, the ladies all desperately conniving to find husbands or lovers. Their petty intrigues take an ominous turn when the one genuinely innocent houseguest discovers a bloody piglet dressed up as a murdered human infant. Darcy is powerfully attracted to the bewitching charms of Lord Sayre’s Irish half-sister, but she and her old servant prove to have dark secrets of their own. This sort of revisionism definitely has a readership, but Aidan’s authorial arrogance and excessive reliance on research are evident in that she requires multiple installments to cover events that her predecessor nailed so deftly in a single volume.
More reminiscent of Wilkie Collins than Jane Austen.