Mister Da’arse

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan

I had this urge to read Pride & Prejudice fan fiction. I’ve seen a couple of these in Fully Booked which have really nice covers. I considered P.D. James’ mystery take Death in Pemberly because she was already a familiar author to me and I believe she could create an atmosphere close to Austen’s own adding her own style—a vivid setting, consistent characters, and the air of mystery. I decided to search for more P&P fanfiction/spin-offs, preferring something lighter and even a bit romantic realizing I wanted to read some cute and sensible romance. I visited a Goodreads’ list and scrolled a bit, clicked a couple, read a few reviews, and finally chose Aidan’s Gentleman Series (reluctantly). For one thing, Darcy had always been a curious character, and even if it’s fanfiction, I’d like to read a story about him. The other thing, well, I might end up taking the book seriously and fail to enjoy it.

The Occasions:

AASUTAn Assembly Such as This

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

 So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s classic novel is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?

In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemantrilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley and reveals Darcy’s hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice. As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley’s persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows—as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.

Duty and DDADesire

Pamela Aidan’s trilogy finally answers that long-standing question, creating a rich parallel story that follows Darcy as he meets and falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet. Duty and Desire, the second book in the trilogy, covers the “silent time” of Austen’s novel, revealing Darcy’s private struggle to overcome his attraction to Elizabeth while fulfilling his roles as landlord, master, brother, and friend.

When Darcy pays a visit to an old classmate in Oxford in an attempt to shake Elizabeth from his mind, he is set upon by husband-hunting society ladies and ne’er-do-well friends from his university days, all with designs on him — some for good and some for ill. He and his sartorial genius of a valet, Fletcher, must match wits with them all, but especially with the curious Lady Sylvanie. 

I’m gonna make this bullet-styled as I’m having difficulty forming coherent paragraphs these days and feel more comfortable with dotted entries where I could easily organize my thoughts without thinking if it’s going to fit with the next sentence or connect to the following paragraph, which is quite tedious and painful who hasn’t been sleeping much these days. It took me, like, half an hour just to form the first paragraph. Maybe it’s an episode, maybe I’ll be doing it forever. I don’t know.

Thoughts:

  • Aidan’s prose was definitely not Austen’s though I very much appreciated that she tried.
  • Because I read this after 50 Shades and Aidan was so much better, despite being a fanfiction, and you could see that she really put effort on this
  • Even though it isn’t comparable to the original or near perfect on its own, there were moments where she characterized Darcy very well, giving his character more form and personality unlike the stiff guy we knew.
  • And I like that she tries to make Darcy both likeable and not, not a gorgeously perfect male lead but a human who can be an ass many of times
  • I loved Austen because of her dialogues but this was poorly done in Aidan’s. Many of times Aidan starts an interesting conversation but quickly ends it, though she makes justice by showing how lousy Darcy’s companions are, which is good to a certain degree
  • Aidan is more action-driven, which is difficult to get used to in P&P, spin-off or not
  • Really, the first book was nothing but riding horses, drinking tea, reading books, riding horses, changing clothes, thinking about Elizabeth, eating, dogs, more horses
  • I thought it was supposed to show how a man’s life is during those times
  • And how terribly boring it must be
  • But Darcy seems to love this and I don’t even know if it’s a character thing
  • Or maybe it’s to make him cute, which didn’t really work.
  • I kinda liked Fletcher and he somehow makes things comical. He should get his own book as Darcy (and most of the people in this era, somehow) cannot seem to do anything on their own and I think a servant’s, definitely Fletcher’s, perspective would be far more interesting than Darcy’s
  • The second book was so much better
  • at first
  • If I were to recommend this, read the whole first book and only read the first half of the second book
  • Or maybe skip the first book since we know what happens to it anyway and read the first half of the second book
  • Duty and Desire focuses on, you guessed it, duty and desire
  • And Darcy is like Elizabeth Elizabeth, where art thou
  • Elizabeth doesn’t appear so no witty dialogues copy pasta from the original but Darcy swoons at the thought of her every other minute and it’s kind of irritating, I admit, because it makes Darcy rather childish and cute, which the author somehow leans into as a comical aspect of Darcy’s character and it’s just obvious
  • The first half that you should definitely read is about Darcy and Georgina’s relationship and it’s pretty adorable
  • It is where Aidan really explores Darcy’s character, both his good and bad characteristics, and does well with it. Hurray.
  • Aidan gives Darcy’s boring buddies life such as Colonel Fitzwilliam and an additional Burroughs. Their dialogues with Darcy are quite entertaining and witty
  • The second half gosh. I want to forget about it
  • Actually, it started rather interesting. I like that Darcy is put into a different environment, the bit of mystery added into it, and his find-a-wife mission. The setting was pleasantly built-up, the women introduced, some grim tale is told then a pig was killed and I was suddenly reading what? Nancy Drew? Batman? Huh
  • I admit I didn’t expect that
  • It was quite a bold take in a quiet novel but then Aidan kinda likes explosions happening in the end which felt out-of-place
  • It doesn’t feel like, I don’t know, a social commentary nor it makes the best of Darcy’s character
  • I couldn’t say that this book changed my perception of P&P. There were times when Aidan hit the mark and times when she didn’t, which were horrible times, and times where I’m just left confused then try to remind myself not to take this novel canon.
  • I am still gonna read the third one because Elizabeth’s definitely there and I heard it’s good
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