Linda Beutler’s (author of A Will of Iron – my review here, The Red Chrysanthemum – my review here and Longbourn to London) new novel, called My Mr Darcy and Your Mr Bingley covers one year and it starts with Bingley’s thoughts in London a few weeks after he left the Netherfield.
Ms Beutler is great at showing the ups and downs of relationships in this story. How Darcy’s and Bigley’s, Jane’s and Lizzy’s, Jane and Bingley’s, Lizzy’s and Lydia’s, Lizzy’s and Darcy’s, Darcy’s and the Gardiner’s friendships and relationships fall apart, then develop are refined.
To be honest, I have always wondered if someone will say it out loud, what is definitely not as romantic as we like to think, but very clear for me, that Darcy took notice of Elizabeth because she was pretty and he was physically attracted to her. Well… in the beginning of the story the narrator says that much, however it is smoothened in the end of the book when Darcy says he loved her mind first. Towards the end there’s a proposal and I have never read a proposal which was more unique than Darcy and Lizzy’s proposal here!
Ms Beutler knows how to describe reactions. You will like Bingley’s reaction, but then comes Jane… Now, her reaction is eye opening, unexpected more than one time during the storyline. Without saying too much, I love that it is pictured that Jane is after all from the same family as Elizabeth, and they are very much alike, especially that they grew up together and are very close. The beautiful, angelic, sweet Jane has wit and dignity. She is heartbroken after all and full of surprises! I love when she has depth and not as shallow as we might think about her in Pride and Prejudice.
Wickham is as bad as always, but his story is not a cliché. He causes problems but not we used to read which makes the book more colourful, and as you might know, I hate reading about him, but when the outcome is not the usual, I like it.
Darcy is brilliant, quite a comical figure in some scenes. The author has managed to paint him a bigger fool (in a funny way) than I thought it was possible. The Hunsford parsonage scene is amazingly ridiculous and what makes it more ridiculous is that I can absolutely imagine he would be like that, which means Ms Beutler has captured him very well despite the fact that she follows a very different plot. She has bright ideas how to spice up a character. She manages to do it with keeping the hero or heroine’s essential characteristic but sprinkles it with her own way of thinking about the character.
There are so many scenes I love in this book. One is the proposal but I think my favourite part is Darcy’s and Mrs Gardiner’s dialogue. A masterpiece, I have to say.
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Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does. The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.
Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.