Today I review These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston, a Pride and Prejudice variation where crime, love, history, family, legacy, mystery, religion, conspiracy meets. Not a rushed, patched up story where the author gives a little bit of everything for the sake of a good story, but it is a very well developed, well-thought-out story, where everything and everyone has its place and part. The book is longer than usual, but the story requires the length. It has at least 3 action threads which eventually come together and lead to the solution. In the first 20%-30% of the book, you might think that a few things you read is a subplot, but it will become vital for the grand finalé.
As I don’t really refer to the plot in my review, you might want to read the blurb first:
An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream that refuses to die…
Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.
Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.
Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.
When I made notes for the review, I have realised that I put a few hearts in the end of a couple of notes. My “hearts” were behind the notes on conversations. In the beginning of the book there is a very heart-breaking conversation between Jane and Lizzy (one of the bests I’ve read); not long after that the conversation between Lizzy and Caroline Bingley is priceless (very funny and entertaining), then towards the end of the book we have Darcy and Lydia’s conversation which is the mixture of the previous two. Darcy being Darcy with his awkwardness and Lydia being herself this dialogue is funny, clumsy, emotional and a clever touch from Ms Clarkston. I have to say, the author knows how to write perfect dialogues.
Ms Clarkston characters are rather interesting. There is Amália, Lady Catherine, Wickham and Mrs Annesley I would mention. Mrs Annesley is full of surprises, Amália is the “person” I hated at the beginning of the story, then something clicked or changed and I started to like her. At the end of the book, it turned out that she became one of my favourite characters. I’m beyond words with Lady Catherine… If you think she is overbearing in Pride and Prejudice or other JAFF books, you will find her more than that at here. I hated her with a passion and wanted to throw a book at the author. At the same time I like- well, more like feel for – Lady C in the end. And then there is Mr Wickham… Just like with Her Ladyship… I had hated him, and then I fell for his lies and by the end I almost like him or forgive him.
I find the scenes where Elizabeth is dreaming, hallucinating or thinking of Mr Darcy are the most clever, well-written, most heart-breaking and powerful scenes. As bad as it sounds, seeing Elizabeth suffering inside and her dealing with madness, grief, and qualm is more distressing and touching than watching Darcy suffer physically. Most of the time Elizabeth and Darcy are apart, but their love is so energetic, that you don’t realise or are not bothered by the fact. Especially that the author makes it up for the time spent apart and when they are together it is quality time.
Ms Clarkston did a brilliant job with These Dreams and I definitely recommend it especially that I hadn’t read anything like this before. I have always longed to read a book where 2 regency worlds meet: England and Portugal here. It is a very emotional book, prepare yourself. Because it is so disturbing, I couldn’t read it in one go. You might need time to process some of the scenes.