Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, is a variation that begins in a flood — a flood of the river near Hunsford during the disastrous proposal of Mr. Darcy and a flood of emotion. Thankfully, Darcy’s proposal is interrupted by the villagers who seek refuge at the house and in the nearby barn, requiring Darcy to focus his energies on those he deems it his duty to protect and care for, including Miss Elizabeth Bennet, who happened to be at Hunsford because of a headache. Reynolds carries the characteristic banter and misunderstandings through this variation, but given the current situation, Miss Bennet may be viewed as compromised unless Darcy marries her.
An entertaining variation, but it could be viewed coolly by some readers who prefer certain characters to remain as they view them in Austen’s original work. Mr. Bennet, for example, is not his laid back, mocking self so much as an ogre spurred by adolescent grudges from his own past, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is jovial, seems a bit less enamored with Miss Bennet than readers may expect. Despite these character changes, the kernel of Austen’s characters remains beneath the surface. Readers, however, will most likely object to Jane Bennet’s new perspective and on Bingley’s less than amiable nature. Of all the variations available, Reynolds is testing her readership’s preconceptions and she’s forcing them to consider something very new.
The narrator does a commendable job, but at the beginning, I was less-than-impressed by her voice for Mr. Darcy — he sounded very angry all of the time, but that tapered off about halfway through. Her narration of the other characters was wonderfully done, though Charlotte sounded very high-pitched and very similar to the young girl rescued during the flood.
Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, will test readers’ notions about Austen’s characters. Most of the plot centers on Darcy and Elizabeth, as readers would expect, but the subplots — especially those involving Jane, Bingley, and the Colonel — seemed rushed and under-developed. This was a satisfying listen over a few days in the summer heat, but this reader wanted more from the secondary characters and the bit about the rescued girl seemed very rushed.
- Pemberley by the Sea
- Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World
- To Conquer Mr. Darcy
- What Would Mr. Darcy Do?
- Mr. Darcy’s Undoing
- Alone With Mr. Darcy
About the Author:
She began writing Pride & Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her very favorite characters. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to seven other Pemberley Variations and two modern novels set on Cape Cod.