The day a favorite author announces the release date for their latest novel is one of those wonderful bookworm moments–this book is real and is finally coming! Then there are the days, weeks, months of anticipation all leading up to the day that we (not so) patiently await delivery, those of us choosing a digital copy often waiting til the wee hours of the morning for our Kindles (Nooks etc) to update. And then, just when you think you can’t wait any longer–it arrives! Fans of Abigail Reynold’s Pride and Prejudice Variations Series are used to this by now but it doesn’t diminish the sheer joy and celebration we felt when her latest novel, Mr. Darcy’s Journey, was released earlier this month. After waiting for what seemed like forever (which it really wasn’t, Ms. Reynolds has a very good publishing schedule actually) we were finally getting our hot little hands on this much teased new twist on Darcy and Elizabeth’s story and boy were we in for a ride.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Reynold’s work, her Pride and Prejudice Variations series takes the established elements of Pride and Prejudice to a certain point and then throws off the story with a “what if” scenario. For example, what if Elizabeth never read Darcy’s letter, what if Elizabeth accepted Darcy’s first proposal, etc. Each of these spinoff stories explores the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy in a different way, adding in a fair amount of angst (fair warning, tissues or alcohol may be required in some cases), but always finishing with a happy ending. Mr. Darcy’s Journey isn’t really an exception to this rule but, in my opinion, it is quite different from Ms. Reynold’s other variations.
Mr. Darcy’s Journey spins off from the events at Rosings and takes Elizabeth’s travels to Derbyshire in a completely different direction. Those familiar with English history may know that the time that Elizabeth and the Gardiners were touring Derbyshire (summer 1812) was actually a period when no one would have ever thought to take a pleasure trip to that area. In fact, it was a hotbed of activity for the Luddite rebellion. Since Austen wrote the book before these events it makes sense that she wouldn’t have incorporated them into her story but…what about Austen Authors today? Wouldn’t it make a great plot twist? Apparently Ms. Reynolds thought so, and I’m inclined to agree! In Mr. Darcy’s Journey, Elizabeth meets Mr. Hopewell, a Luddite radical, travels to Derbyshire in the company of Darcy and his Fitzwilliam relatives, finds herself in the middle of a riot, and nurses an injured Darcy–all in the span of a few weeks!
I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’m just going to say that, as someone who has read every one of Ms. Reynolds’ Austen Variations, Mr. Darcy’s Journey definitely had a different feel to it. The political elements of the story weren’t what I would have expected had I not read the teasers beforehand and I can see how they might take a reader by surprise. But please, don’t take that as a negative by any means–on the contrary it’s refreshing. I’ve read hundreds (really hundreds and hundreds) of JAFF stories but I think this is the first that I’ve read that incorporated Elizabeth and Darcy into the story of the Luddites. But that’s why I’ve come to love Ms. Reynolds’ novels. It takes a lot to surprise me or to think that a JAFF story has a unique premise but somehow she does it time and again. I highly recommend Mr. Darcy’s Journey (and all of Ms. Reynolds’ other works) to anyone looking for more from Elizabeth and Darcy or simply looking for a great historical fiction read. As for me, I’m just going to have to start the impatient wait for the next book, lol!
Want to learn a little bit more about Abigail Reynolds? Then check out our Ten Questions Q&A. If you’d like to find out about Ms. Reynolds’ novels or to read an excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s Journey, check out her website.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Title: Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
Author: Abigail Reynolds
Release Date: June 10, 2016