Sunday, October 23, 2011
Review: MR. DARCY'S UNDOING by Abigail Reynolds
Abigail Reynolds's Mr. Darcy's Undoing, the latest in her Pemberley Variations, is an intensely emotional story in which Elizabeth accepts another marriage proposal after she refuses Darcy.
Darcy, still madly in love with Elizabeth, returns to Meryton to renew his suit. Although devastated to find her engaged, he cannot in honor to ask her to end her betrothal. With no other choice, he wishes her well and departs. Elizabeth, now in love with Darcy, never expected to see him again. Mindful of her duty to provide for her family after Mr. Bennet's death, she accepted the proposal of a childhood friend. But she cannot marry a man she does not love. Aware her action will precipitate a scandal, she breaks her engagement.
Mr. Darcy's Undoing is a terrifying portrait of the horrors a closed society can inflict on a defenseless woman who defies convention, even for an honorable reason. Especially bad is Elizabeth's lack of support from her family. Ms. Reynolds exaggerates all the distasteful characteristics of the dysfunctional Bennet family. Mrs. Bennet is a self-centered witch who blames Elizabeth for all their woes, conveniently forgetting Lydia's truly shameful behavior. Mr. Bennet is a spineless toad who lets his wife get away with her wrong-headedness. Jane is a cipher, although she does defend Elizabeth.
Elizabeth, all alone, cast down by the treatment she has received, and with nowhere else to go, is so demoralized she never fights back. Frankly, I expected better of her. She could have learned a lesson from Lydia, who is offstage in this story. Lydia was truly disgraceful, but she never repented of her sins, and she never suffered, either. I hate seeing the good suffer and the evil never paying for their transgressions. Elizabeth is too forgiving, but I would have liked to see Darcy make the blacklisters pay for their cruelty.
Mr. Darcy's Undoing is another of Abigail Reynolds's trademark emotional, accurate takes on the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice.
Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks