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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Alice McVeigh places us back in the Regency era with the familiar Charles Bingley considering renting Netherfield, and Jane and Elizabeth Bennet jesting about Mr. Bingley's intentions. The family is excited and hopes are high when the ball follows with the titular Mr. Darcy in attendance. The classic story is left intact with McVeigh filling in Darcy's blanks in Austenesque prose. George Wickham's arrival causes tension, Elizabeth cares for her sick sister Jane at Netherfield amidst Miss Bingley's criticism, and Darcy's defense of Elizabeth's family status emerges in conversations. Miss Bingley's aversion and Darcy's growing admiration for Elizabeth are revealed through his diary entries, as are family concerns, and eventual tensions. Darcy, however, has a dark secret that he left pining for him back in Italy. He must work through his deepening feelings for Elizabeth while trying to mitigate two potential scandals.
Alice McVeigh delivers one of the best expansions on Jane Austen's most beloved novel that I have come across in Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. There is an onslaught of books that attempt the similar floating around there, but McVeigh succeeds as a result of prose that sings with intelligent wit and a collection of voices that sound deeply authentic. We know these characters already, and McVeigh understands and respects this. I enjoyed the murkiness of Darcy's connection to a songbird in Rome and having that in my back pocket went a long way in fleshing out his probable resistance to Elizabeth. It is through journal entries that this is revealed and, as Austen herself would have done, McVeigh sends the wonderful Colonel Fitzwilliam to Italy to try to salvage Darcy's reputation. Giuditta is a spanner I had so much fun working through, piling up on top of the familiar Lydia Bennett and the backstory of the prior Georgiana mess. The period details, dialogue, and storytelling are all spectacular, and Darcy was an absolute joy to read. Very highly recommended.