by Amanda Grange
Okay, I admit it: I’m a sucker for a good Pride & Prejudice retelling/sequel. Tragically, there are FAR more bad ones than there are good ones. Some of the ones that are delightful ideas involve rather graphic love scenes (Abigail Reynolds… her ideas are really intriguing; her stories frequently just smut). Just not my thing. But every once in a while, I’ll find one actually worth the reading. And Dear Mr. Darcy falls into that category for me.
Basically, Grange uses letters to tell the entire story of Pride & Prejudice, and she uses this format to give us insights into characters whose perspectives are not always explored in the original story. By starting a few years before P&P opens, Grange also allows us to see how the death of Mr. Darcy’s father shaped a great deal of his future thoughts, words, and actions. The letters also incorporate some found in the original story (think: Mr. Collins’s letter to Mr. Bennet), although not all of them (for instance, Mr. Darcy’s letter to Elizabeth after his disastrous proposal in Kent). Grange also explores some of the more minor characters (like Mary), and gives some plausible reasons/pen-pals by creating a family that actually owns Netherfield, but is forced to lease it out. (By making one of the daughters of this family Elizabeth’s friend, Grange creates another person in whom Elizabeth can confide, as Charlotte does not always fit the bill. There are also daughters who are friends of Mary – surprisingly entertaining – and Lydia/Kitty.)
All in all, this is a frivolous, fun, clean little romp through the characters of Pride & Prejudice, and, for once, one that I don’t think would make Austen turn in her grave. 4/5.