Impertinent Strangers by P.O. Dixon (audio)

Source: the author
Audiobook, 5+ hrs.
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Impertinent Strangers by P.O. Dixon, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, revises the time line of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice quite a bit. Elizabeth Bennet is visiting Charlotte Collins at Hunsford Parsonage when she meets Mr. Darcy, and both view the other’s behavior as impertinent. Through quick assessments, Darcy and Miss Bennet have decided the other is not worthy of notice, and Elizabeth takes particular dislike to being told to warn her family against Mr. Wickham, whom she still holds in high esteem even though he abandoned her in pursuit of Mary King. Despite overhearing Darcy speak of her as merely “tolerable”, Elizabeth vows to be civil to him. Over the course of time, both begin to admire the other, but how can they bridge the gap that their earlier perceptions have wrought?

Hewitt is a fantastic narrator for this type of fiction. She does an excellent job voicing different characters so that they do not get confused by the reader, and her accent is spot on. Dixon’s story is surprising in how the original timeline is played with, which made the story enjoyable. However, the only drawback here is that the story seems rushed at the end and the description of the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth could have been fleshed out more with body language cues, etc., particularly in mixed and restricted company.

However, these do not detract from the overall story in which Darcy and Elizabeth must come together, learn to see past their own per-conceived notions, and dare to dream for a marriage that society would deem inappropriate at best. Impertinent Strangers by P.O. Dixon, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, is lovely and unique, especially as Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves able to get to know one another in unusual circumstances — on long walks from Rosing to Hunsford and in the east library at Rosings.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

P.O. Dixon has authored several Jane Austen “Pride and Prejudice” adaptations, all written with one overriding purpose in mind—falling in love with Darcy and Elizabeth. Sometimes provocative, but always entertaining, her stories have been read, commented on, and thoroughly enjoyed by thousands of readers worldwide.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 9+ hrs
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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.

RATING: Tercet

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About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds has spent the last fifty years asking herself what she wants to be when she grows up. This month she is a writer, a mother and a physician in a part-time private practice. Next month is anybody’s guess. Originally from upstate New York, she indecisively studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school, a choice which allowed her to avoid any decisions at all for four years.

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.