Fitzwilliam Darcy, a man who has been speculated about, revered, and loved throughout the ages, finally gets his own take on the action of Pride and Prejudice. In Pamela Aidan’s trilogy, including An Assembly Such as This, Duty and Desire, and These Three Remain, we encounter Darcy’s mind and heart on what is happening during the period of P&P.
Having read the first novel, An Assembly Such as This, a few years ago, I was a bit lost on what happened, but it wasn't too hard to catch up in Duty and Desire given this is based on my favorite novel. Duty and Desire starts at the “silent period”, as I've heard it referred to, in P&P where Bingley and Darcy leave Hertfordshire and are not seen for a bit of time. Well now we hear what Darcy was up to.
Darcy goes to Pemberly to visit his sister and see how she’s progressing after the unfortunate incident with Wickham. He finds her altered for the better and becoming a fine young woman. Darcy, himself, feels the need to exercise Elizabeth Bennett out of his system and thus accepts an invitation to an old college friend’s gathering at his estate. While at this gathering, Darcy decides he must seriously start wife hunting and thus sets his eyes on the women at the party. Lady Sylvanie, the stepsister of the host, soon catches his eye with her fairy like looks and mysterious past. What started as a mere gathering of old acquaintances soon turns upon its side. The host, Sayer, is in financial trouble and on the edge of ruin. Darcy’s cousin’s fiancé is overly attentive to Darcy’s person, and an afternoon excursion to a local spot turns sinister. Soon Darcy finds himself in the middle of a mystery and events that can only be described as from a gothic novel.
I was utterly surprised by the turn this novel took. Not in the least did I expect this would take a Gothic twist or that Mr. Darcy would be embroiled in such events. That’s certainly not what I’m sure anyone thought would happen when Darcy was separated from the Bennetts. I think I spent most of the buildup going “no this isn't where Aidan’s taking this novel. She wouldn't turn all Mysteries of Udolpho on us!”. She did. Although it was a turn from Austen’s form of story and writing (outside of the parody in Northranger Abbey), it was intriguing. I cannot say I preferred it to the regular line of Regency drama however. Social graces and foibles are the usual and I missed that.
Aidan gives Darcy a passionate, yet reasonable character who shows affection to those he loves and forethought on his actions. However, this trilogy has left me bored and waiting at points. I want more out of them than what Aidan offers.
I suggest this trilogy for those of you who enjoy Pride and Prejudice and all things Austen and would love to hear how others perceive Aidan’s drawing of Darcy’s character. I will finish the trilogy because the ending is my favorite part and now I must know Darcy’s take on the events that occur.