Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Interview with... Me!

Today I am going to post an interview I recently took part in. The lovely Michaela of Stepping Toward The Son contacted me to ask me if I would be willing to take part in an interview for her blog. Of course I was happy to and I would just like to say thank you very much to Michaela very for asking me. I feel very honoured to be asked and the questions were a lot of fun to answer - it actually got me thinking about what I personally do really love about Jane Austen, given that I had to put it down in words (and I promise I do love all of Jane Austen’s work and not just one of them in particular, which it may appear to you when you read this interview!) 

1.      When did you encounter your first book by Jane Austen?

My first book by Jane Austen... well I think to explain that I need to talk about my first ever experience with anything Austen. A few years ago when I was 9 (ok, so maybe it was more than a few years, nearly 9, in fact; wow) I saw the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen but I was too young to really understand the language so it didn’t exactly make an impression on me... I watched that film quite a few more times and as I grew up I began to love it – as I could understand it! But I still wasn’t hooked on Austen (I think I was more just hooked on Mr. Darcy!) However, in 2011-2012 I was going to study the novel Pride and Prejudice for my English lessons at school, so the summer of 2011 I had to read it. Ok, so up to this point I really wasn’t a reader and had never read another ‘proper’ book before! (I know I know it’s appalling!) However even though I wasn’t a reader and given that I enjoyed the film I was rather looking forward to reading it! Over the summer when I went on holiday I read it in a week (which is pretty quick for a new reader!) I could not put it down once I had started!  My mother found it strange to see me reading as until then I had been like Emma Woodhouse in regards to books and reading... I re-read it straight away afterwards and I really enjoyed studying it at school. As Pride and Prejudice was my first, it will always remain my favourite and hold a special place in my heart, as will the 2005 film as that was my way into the world of Austen (and I cannot imagine my life without her!)


2.      What was your impression after reading your first book by Jane Austen?

I was astounded by the humour and sarcasm and the way the narration describes certain scenes which I remembered from the film. I knew Jane Austen was funny because of  the films I had seen but you really don’t get to appreciate her wit first hand unless you read the books; something seems to get lost in translation when it is gets made into a film, the true Austen humour must be experienced straight from the authoress herself. It then struck me that the film had to leave out and condense a number of scenes, and I loved reading all these scenes in full or discovered new scenes which I didn’t know existed! It also surprised me how accurate the 1995 mini-series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth really is (with the exception of adding a few scenes where Colin Firth is wearing... minimal (or wet) clothing, but who’s complaining?) and I immediately wanted to re-watch the mini-series again (which I did.)  I think my main reaction after reading the story was to immediately seek out and read her other novels! So, I read Sense and Sensibility, then Emma, followed by Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and finally Mansfield Park. I loved them all I was completely addicted, fascinated and captivated by Jane Austen and the regency world; I wanted to learn more and more about her and her works as well as find other authors writing similar regency romances for me to read!  I also wanted to discuss the books with other people however no-one else in my class at school had any interest in this subject (very few even read Pride and Prejudice for the English classes so I had no one at school to discuss it with!)  I eventually found Goodreads, a wonderful website which I describe as a literary version of Facebook and I am part of many groups (two Jane Austen ones, one of which I now run.) I also wanted to get my hands on as many of the film and TV adaptations as possible (and a few months ago I finally completed my collection – that was a very proud moment!) 


3.      What are some of your hobbies?

My hobbies... Well, many of the hobbies are very ‘Jane Austen heroiney’ activities. But I didn’t start all these after becoming obsessed with Jane Austen, honestly! My favourite hobby I think would be playing the piano. It is my way of relaxing after coming home after a stressful, busy day at school! I love to play the music of composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Phamie Gow and Helen Jane Long but I also enjoy playing (since watching more and more Austen films) the soundtracks from the films. My favourite music to play is from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film (‘Dawn’ and ‘The Secret Life of Daydreams’ in particular) but the theme to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and some songs from Sense and Sensibility and Emma are also a lot of fun!  I also enjoy cross stitch (ok, so I am now cross stitching Jane Austen quotes but I started cross stitch before my addiction took hold, I did, I did!) and I used to do knitting as well, but I prefer cross stitch these days. I take pleasure in baking as well – that is baking sweet things, not cooking savoury things! Obviously since beginning my blog about a year and a half ago I have been blogging, and I try my hand out at drawing but... well let’s just say the National Art Gallery won’t be knocking on my door any time soon! Oh, well I suppose I should also say reading but I don’t think that should be classed as a hobby – I think it should be a compulsory daily activity!   

4.      Which is your favourite of Austen's books?

I think you may have already guessed this by now... but my favourite is *drum roll* Pride and Prejudice! As I said, it will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first Austen (and my first... book...) but, aside from it being my first, Pride and Prejudice is just, to me, perfect in every way. I won’t discuss my every reason but my main two reasons I think would be... One, it has an ideal balance of characters to love and characters to hate as well as having very relatable characters; everyone knows a flirt like Lydia, a chatterbox like Mrs Bennet, a buffoon like Mr Collins or an overbearing interferer like Lady Catherine! And then there is the hero and heroine; Darcy and Lizzy are two of the most famous character in all literature! Their classic hate growing to love relationship is a great story to read and I think most people come away from reading Pride and Prejudice with a strong literary crush on Darcy – I certainly did! Many of my favourite conversations were between them. And two, Pride and Prejudice contains some of my favourite (and I personally think her best) humorous comments, witty conversations and sarcastic remarks. Mr Bennet made me smile and there are many moments when I laugh out loud at what Austen writes (of which, again, I won’t (and no doubt have no need to) list now!) The entire feel and combination of everything makes Pride and Prejudice, to me, so enjoyable to read (as well as to watch) and in a word, perfection.    

5.      If you had to choose, who would you say is your favourite of Austen's characters and why?

(Ok, I am really starting to sound completely bias towards Pride and Prejudice but I would be lying if I didn’t say this (I mean, have you seen my blog?!)) Elizabeth Bennet. Do I really need to explain why? She is such a wonderful character; she is witty and fun, likes to defy society and its rules and she is a great tease! Like the best characters, she is not, by any means, perfect; she may think she is a good judge of character but she can be too quick to judge (as Darcy finds out!) and she is also proud and can become easily prejudiced! I love her connection with her sister Jane as well as with her father, and not to mention how her relationship with Darcy alters. Her character development through the story is a great development to read about as, to me, it seems very realistic and entirely plausible given what she experiences and has to learn through the story.    


6.      What do you love most about Jane Austen's books?

I have already mentioned the humour, wit and sarcasm as well as the wonderful and realistic characters but as well as that I really enjoy the complex story lines of Austen’s novels. When I first learned the story of Pride and Prejudice I was taken in by Wickham and found Darcy rather proud and disagreeable and I never guessed the real relationship between those two! Emma as well – I was always wary of Frank Churchill but never did I imagine him to have been secretly engaged to Jane for the entire novel! Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility as well, and so the list goes on and on... Her stories are so well written that it is hard to make all the connections between characters and I much prefer stories when you don’t know what is going to happen! I also enjoy the light-hearted nature of Austen’s stories; a happy ending is guaranteed and this leaves you feeling much happier than those stories which have a very unsatisfactory ending!  The romance in her stories is also so pure and innocent, not like the gothic romances that were becoming increasingly popular thanks to the novels of the Bronte sisters. I much prefer the clever conversations and cheerful atmosphere portrayed in Austen stories to hearing constantly about the pain and torment the heroines are experiencing which is being, coincidently and conveniently, reflected by the weather all the time! (Yes, I am not a Bronte fan.) 

7.      If you could be the heroine in one of Austen's stories, who would you choose to be?

I have often thought about this question as well as which heroine’s story I would not like to experience. I am going to start with those I would not want to experience; I would find Anne Elliot’s story hard to live through... I admire her patience! I also would find Fanny’s life hard; what she suffers and the hands of her supposed relations is horrible! I wouldn’t mind being care-free, mistress of the house like Emma – I think I would rather enjoy the match making, however badly it goes! But, what a surprise, I would mostly like to be Lizzy...( Is this getting boring? I know how much of a typical Janeite I am!) I would love to be Lizzy because, as I have already said, I love her journey through the novel! I also love the sound of Meryton and her neighbourhood where she lives. Ok, yes there are some relations I would hate to have to experience but there are many others I would love to meet (Jane, Colonel Fitzwilliam, the Gardiners, Georgiana Darcy, the list goes on!)  What would the best thing be about being Elizabeth Bennet?  I get to become Mrs Darcy of course! And to live at Pemberley, located in the gorgeous and beautiful Peak District.... The love which you can see Darcy has for Elizabeth would be something which I would love to experience (and which I do hope I will experience from my own husband, whoever he may be, not just from my literary husband!)

8.      What is your favourite genre of literature?

What would you say if I said psychological horror or paranormal fiction, that you don’t believe me? Yes, yes ok maybe that is not true (Am I really that obvious in my preferences?) Astonishingly, my favourite genre of literature is historical romance and in particular regency romance – shocking isn’t it. I wanted to read more books by authors similar to Jane Austen and it is definitely my favourite genre – I enjoy the regency era in particular but have read everything from medieval romances to romances set during the war and even the industrial revolution.  I love to read a romance because I am such a hopeless romantic but I think I prefer to read ones set in a historical era because it is a nice way to escape from this modern world in which we live in today – I love the manners, behaviour and the world of regency England.   It is also interesting to read about historical eras to learn more about the past cultures and social customs. Reading a contemporary romance has no appeal to me – I know what life is like today – I live in it – and I find that what is considered and passes for romance today is... mostly not romantic at all; the regency world is much more appealing to me which I why I like to read books set in this genre, it is my escape.   


9.      Do you aspire to be like any of Jane Austen's characters?

I aspire to be like many characters from Austen’s stories, well certain aspects of her characters; all her characters have their flaws (and anyway, being perfect I think would be... boring!) Let’s think about the obvious... well, Elizabeth Bennet for her the sharp wit, Emma Woodhouse for her care free attitude, Elinor Dashwood for her self-control and sense and Anne Elliot for her patience.  Other than heroines, I also admire other characters such as Mrs Gardiner and Mrs Weston for their kindness and Jane Bennet and Eleanor Tilney for their sweet natures.  I also admire both Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley for their ability to see the best in people and not to judge people too quickly. As well as aspiring to be like some of her characters, I also seek to avoid being like some other of her characters, at all costs! I hope to not end up as a chattering Miss Bates or Mrs Bennet or act as silly as Lydia Bennet or be as deceiving and false as Caroline Bingley, Isabella Thorpe or Mrs Elton! (This list could continue and go on and on for a long time which just shows how diverse a range of characters Austen has written into her 6 wonderful stories!) 

10.  If you had to compare yourself to one of Austen's female characters, who do you think you are most like?

I am sure you have done the ‘Which Jane Austen heroine am I?’ quiz, (and probably the one saying who your hero is as well!) I have, and, happily, I got (I’ll give you three guesses)... Elizabeth Bennet. I have done a lot of those quizzes and every time I get the same answer (and I always get the same hero too, and yes, it is Darcy, and no, I don’t rig my answers to get the answer I wish for (well, not much anyway!))  
I am like Lizzy in many respects – I do have a rather teasing nature (but nothing like her sharp wit) and I also have her wish to go against the grain of society and not to follow the rules and conventions you are expected to follow. As well as Lizzy, I am also very much like Marianne Dashwood; I am, just like Marianne, a complete and utter hopeless romantic and my romantic sensibilities can get the better of me... If I was to be swept of my feet after spraining my ankle (which I do do frequently, I am so accident prone...) by a handsome man on a white horse I would fall for this man without really finding out much about him first (and believe me, I have gone for many long walks in the rain in the hope of being rescued... as yet I have had no luck, but I will keep trying! Someday...) The final strong characteristic I share with a character would be the naivety of Catherine Morland; I am not so naive as to not realise I am naive, but I am still quite inexperienced and clueless about some things and also I am very much like Catherine in being a very easy target for teasing! I can be wound up, mocked and laughed at far too easily (which I discovered to my cost...) Of course, I much prefer to think of myself as a Lizzy rather than a Marianne or Catherine!

Once again, go over and check out Michaela lovely blog Stepping Toward The Son 

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beautiful Cross-Stitch Patterns

I rather enjoy embroidery and cross-stitch (and not because that is what the Austen heroines do!) and I was looking to try and find some Jane Austen related patterns to have a go at and hopefully frame for my bedroom wall. My research brought my to the website Etsy and a wonderful shop called EBStitchery, owned by the lovely Emily Bloomquist.

I saw in her shop that she had this lovely pattern...

... decorating the famous declaration of love from the besotted Mr Darcy to the rather confused and angry Elizabeth Bennet!

I bought this pattern immediately (very reasonably priced I might add - some people charge ridiculous amounts for a pattern!) and when I received the instant download to print off I was very impressed with how easy the pattern was to follow and the detail included with the instructions and colour suggestions, so I contacted the lovely Emily to see if she would be willing to design a few more patterns for me with a few of my favourite quotes...

... and she was happy to! And the result has been these beautiful 4 other designs which I cannot wait to complete, frame and hang on my wall!

This fantastic quote from Sense and Sensibility

This rather hopeful (or wistful...) design...

Ok, I know this isn't actually a direct quote from the novel but it appears in both the 2005 film and the 1995 mini-series and I think it perfectly sums up Lizzy's (as well as my own!) view on marriage.

And finally this one, which is a wonderful piece of philosophy which I try (even if it doesn't always succeed!) to live my life by.

I am very grateful to Emily for designing these for me and I urge any Janeite's looking for a cross-stitch pattern to go to this shop or, in fact, anyone who enjoys cross-stitch to have a look as there are many other beautiful designs and if you contact the lovely Emily I am sure she will be happy to design one of your very own! I was so pleased with these designs that I just had to share them!

Here is the link again, (just in case you missed it the first time!)

Thanks again Emily!

Your affectionate friend,
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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Mr Bingley

I have just finished reading Mr Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman and I was intrigued by the portrayal of the character of Mr Bingley. It really made me think more about my opinion of Bingley.

What first brought to my attention this different take on Bingley’s character was when Darcy stated this to Bingley:

"It is a good thing that you are so friendly and good-natured.  It fools most people into thinking that you are simpleminded.  It allows you to observe the world unencumbered. Very little gets by you, though, and most people never recognise it."

As soon as I read that, I stopped reading and thought about what it was actually saying, and it made me rethink my opinion of his character.  My first opinion of Bingley I remember was that he was a little ... well, not quite simpleminded but... a simpler person and a little weak. I think this was mainly down to his ease at being persuaded by Darcy and his sisters to quit Netherfield and forget Jane.

But, the new light thrown onto Bingley’s side of the story regarding his actions to Jane made me reconsider my snap judgment I had made about him and his actions.  I had done that a lot with Darcy's character and behaviour as we are, as the readers, led to do that as Darcy's behaviour seems so awful that when we discover the truth, we automatically think about all his past behaviour from a different angle. With Bingley, however, you are not so much led to do this as Bingley was always a lovely character and so you don't automatically think about why he just left Netherfield with no intention of returning, as things work out for him and Jane without the need to think anymore about it really – him and Jane are happy, you can put the past behaviour behind you – whereas with Darcy, this re-evaluation of his character and past behaviour is vital to Lizzy’s and the readers opinion of him, and eventually the assurance that he is a gentleman whom we would be happy for Lizzy to settle with!

Marital obligations were much more important back in the regency period and I think that if you are told about the unsuitability of such a match by your esteemed friend and your sisters, as well as having it suggested that the woman in question is (to use a modern vulgar phrase) a ‘golddigger’ and after you for the wrong reasons, then, as it is such a personal topic close to the heart, it might be easy to begin to second guess yourself and believe what they are telling you, over what you think (I mean, Jane's affection wasn't that obvious (which is what caused Darcy to act as he did) and so I think Bingley could easily start to think over his relationship with Jane and begin to interpret it in another way once the trusted and important friend and sisters had mentioned their concerns and voiced their doubt. It is also clear that Bingley really values Darcy’s opinion.)

Darcy himself has a real internal struggle with the same problems which face Bingley and it takes him a while to finally let his heart win over his head, but while Darcy did allow his heart to win over his head and propose to Lizzy and Bingley was guided not to and didn't let his heart win, I now think he should not be looked upon so badly for such an action.  Bingley is in no way as strong-minded and strong-willed as Darcy is, but this still does not make him simple-minded in my opinion.

Let’s think about Anne Elliot; she was persuaded to reject Wentworth, but you really cannot consider Anne simple-minded (even if she was 19 at the time) because she took the advice of a friend, as she certainly is not simpleminded.  

I raised this question about Bingley in a discussion post on the site Goodreads and I began to become very defensive of Bingley, which is strange because I am much more a Darcy girl!  

Many good points were raised during this conversation, adding to my new opinion of Bingley. One good friend pointed out that “Darcy clearly isn't attracted to people with a weak understanding. I doubt he would have made a great friend of an idiot.” This is, I think, very true. Why would Darcy befriend a simple-minded buffoon? As well as Darcy, I do not think that Jane would have loved Bingley if he was a bumbling idiot as Jane is in no way simple-minded!

I also think that the age difference partly would contribute to Bingley’s belief in Darcy’s opinion. Bingley is 25 and Darcy is 28 and I know from experience that it is natural to respect the opinions of someone older than you and even be influenced by them, even if the age gap is very small. I know at school I could be easily influenced by the opinion of someone older than me, even if they are only in the year above. 

In response to this another good friend commented that “his worship, so to speak, of Darcy is not due to age, as it is due to class. Darcy has more money and comes from ‘older’ money; he even has aristocracy in his family line. Bingley and his sisters have newly acquired their money, from trade if I remember correctly. They are desperate to distance themselves from that fact and climb as high socially as they can. For Bingley, Darcy's opinion is the only one that matters. It is not from simple mindedness, but from blind devotion. Bingley is easily swayed especially by his manipulative sisters, who want nothing better than to marry him to Georgiana and firmly establish their family in society.” I cannot but agree with this as the Bingley’s did earn their money in trade, even if Caroline has conveniently forgotten that fact, and so a connection to the Darcy's of Pemberley in Derbyshire would be a great success and very important connection indeed!   

I will say that my original opinion of Bingley was not improved from the portrayals in some of the adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. Another good friend on Goodreads mentioned a certain scene in particular in the 1995 adaptation, the one “where he asks Darcy for his blessing. I thought that scene showed an understanding of Bingley's character”, Bingley’s character being rather simple and weak. Although I understood what she was referring to, again going on the defensive of Bingley, I did not agree as I took that scene in a different way.  I think that Bingley simply wanted Darcy's blessing because he so values his friendship, but if Darcy had said no (which, by that point, we all know he wouldn't have!) I do not think that would have stopped Bingley – in fact I know it wouldn’t have stopped him; he says himself in response to Darcy question about whether he needs his blessing 'No, but I should like to have it all the same.'

I did not mind, as much, Bingley’s portrayal in the 1995 mini-series – he didn’t seem so... feeble. But, I am afraid to say, however cute the Bingley in the 2005 film is, he was portrayed as a bit of a buffoon and a little (I am sorry to say!) pathetic!  

So my new found opinion of Bingley has been decided and I much prefer this way of looking at Bingley and his behaviour and it makes me happier that he was indeed a brilliant husband for Jane.

I would be interested in your comments about the character of Mr Bingley :)

Your affectionate friend,
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Monday, September 02, 2013

Mr Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton

“When Elizabeth Bennet refuses his hand, Darcy is devastated and makes it his mission to change. By every civility in his power, Darcy slowly tries to win her affections, but Elizabeth is not easily swayed. Darcy vows to unlock the secrets that will make her his. He curses himself for his social awkwardness and appearance of pride, and sets out to right the wrongs he's done her family.
Elizabeth's family and friends misunderstand his intentions, and being in Elizabeth's presence proves to be both excruciating for the shy Darcy-and a dream come true. For the first time in his life, he must please a woman worth having, and the transformation leads him to a depth of understanding and love that he never could have imagine.”

I was really intrigued by this story and it was one of the ones I was most interested in reading as I always wondered how the story could have panned out had Darcy taken more steps towards showing Elizabeth his true nature, instead of acting upon it when the chance encounter at Pemberley brings them together, or at least act upon some of the criticisms Elizabeth lists off to him in the ill-fated proposal, such as the relations between Bingley and Jane, and I was not disappointed by this story!

This story really made me feel for Darcy; the way his feelings and emotions were described really made me pity him.  You could really feel how much Lizzy’s criticisms of his character and behaviour when he was rejected affected him, hearing her rebukes over and over in his thoughts.  Seeing into his innermost thoughts and feelings really opened up his character, more than in all other variations I have read.  Given that the story was told predominantly from Darcy’s point of view, there was also quite a lot of background given to Darcy and a few tales told about his childhood and his time at Cambridge which gave depth to his character.  I also felt I understood him more and the reasons behind his behaviour. 

Once Darcy has decided to begin making amends for his actions, a rather unique relationship builds up between him and Jane, as he takes it upon himself to admit to Jane all his involvement with their separation and his wish to bring them back together.  It was interesting to see those two talking at such length (giving Mrs Bennet the wrong impression which was rather amusing), as they do not speak much in the original story. You could feel how sorry Darcy felt as he was telling Jane how he accepts the blame for everything that has happened involving Jane and Bingley.

Once Darcy has explained to Jane, he then returns to explain himself to Bingley. For Bingley to completely understand, a full explanation, including his relations with Lizzy, was needed. I really enjoyed hearing his side of the story of the events leading up to the proposal.

Many times through the story, the authoress brought to my attention aspects of the story and to characters which I had never thought about before. I won’t give away all of these observations but a few favourites... It was interesting when Elizabeth started to think about Darcy more closely, realising that they do in fact have many things in common, many which I had never thought about before, for example how both Darcy and Lizzy felt familial obligations to marry for convenience and material considerations, perhaps Darcy more strongly than Lizzy (but then again, actually maybe not) but how neither will give into the pressure of these obligations as they would both wish to marry for love. I had never thought about it before in that way...  

My favourite new aspect to a character was undoubtedly Bingley.  In many variations he is portrayed a rather simple-minded character and in some adaptations I have seen he seems even a little (I am sorry to say) pathetic.  I will admit that when I first read Pride and Prejudice I thought Bingley was a little simple and not a strong character, mainly down him being so easily persuaded by Darcy and his sisters in regards to Jane. But this story threw a whole new light on the situation and while Darcy and Bingley were discussing all that had passed involving Jane, I came to realise why Bingley was so easily persuaded and it made him seem a much stronger character. I think my new opinion on Bingley is summed up in this wonderful quote spoken by Darcy to Bingley: "It is a good thing that you are so friendly and good-natured.  It fools most people into thinking that you are simpleminded. It allows you to observe the world unencumbered. Very little gets by you, though, and most people never recognise it." I think that is a perfect quote and I really enjoyed this new way of viewing Bingley’s character.

Towards the middle of the story there is a perfect scene set in the library at Netherfield, as well as being a very romantic scene between him and Lizzy, it also gives even more insight into Darcy’s character; he is working through his correspondents which need seeing to and it makes you think about the weight of responsibilities he has upon him and at such a young age. You are also shown more into the way he handles his tenants and how he really is the best landlord and the best master, as Mrs Reynolds describes him.

As Lizzy and Darcy begin to build up a friendship, you see more and more of how those two do have dispositions which really do suit each other. Some of their conversations are very funny and witty and even teasing at times.  Theirs is, understandably, a peculiar friendship but no less amicable all the same.

Mr Bennet is portrayed in almost a bad light, or rather (for a change) his faults, which he does have, are highlighted and are in fact contrasted and compared to Darcy, which was very interesting to read. (An example being how Darcy solves all the problems which he is told about from his tenants as soon and as fairly as possible, whereas, Lizzy observes, Mr Bennet ignores such problems in the hope that they will just solve themselves or go away.)

For once in a ‘what if’ variation the story does not end with Lizzy and Darcy coming to an understanding, getting married and then a short epilogue showing a a glimpse into their future lives, all happening in about 20 pages. In this story they reach and understanding with still 150 or so pages to go.  This allows for some very sweet conversations between the couple about their wedding plans as well as some wonderfully romantic scenes where they manage to steal a few secret kisses and intimate conversations. Although they have come to an understanding it was wonderful to see how their relationship still developed further once they were engaged, Lizzy taking on the role of mistress and taking care of Darcy as a wife would do. Their openness with each other is touching but also assures you (if you need assurance!) that their marriage is going to be a very happy and successful one.

(I will say here though that the only thing which bothered me about the whole story was that in the last 150 pages after they are engaged their behaviour becomes a little more intimate and eventually results in premarital relations.  This would normally bother me a great deal but it did, in a way, fit with the story line and there was nothing too explicit so it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story.)

There is an epilogue to this story, which I always enjoy reading, and for once it was based entirely around Lizzy and Darcy instead feeling the need to resolve the stories of all the characters in the book. This epilogue gave a wonderful insight into glimpses of their marriage as well as the preceding weeks after (which I personally prefer rather than skipping to 5 or 10 years later), providing every assurance that they will be completely happy together.

Overall this was a fantastic read, mostly because of the depth of character the story gave to Darcy as well as the new insights which the authoress explored, resulting in new ways for me to consider certain behaviour, actions and aspects of a character.  It was wonderfully romantic, very funny at times and an extremely interesting take on my favourite novel.

Your affectionate friend,
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