The amazing Khanh (check out her awesome blog Bookistry, under the list of blogs we follow) once mentioned we needed to form a support group for those of us horribly addicted to Pride and Prejudice retellings - and, more often than not, I'd finish one of these retellings feeling like I really, really needed help escaping this addiction: too much drama, too much angst, both Darcy and Elizabeth behaving like they'd been replaced by pod people considering how out of character they were both behaving.
Then the usual plot of Darcy and Elizabeth, once having declared their love, becoming these nauseatingly, irrecognisable, diabetic-induced-coma sugared versions of themselves: constantly spouting Hallmark card-worthy declarations of devotion. ...And I kept reading? And I couldn't stop? HELP!
But then we get books like Unequal Affections! Those rare treats that make it all worthwhile!
In this book Elizabeth is still the recipient of Mr Darcy's infamous declaration of love and proposal of marriage. She's shocked, as we'd expect her to be - but Ormiston took a turn I hadn't even considered: she made Elizabeth pause and think, "All this time I assumed he was attempting to put me down, showing his scorn... but he was actually in love with me. What else have I mistakenly believed about this man?"
So, while not blithely setting aside the insulting manner of his proposal, she decides to give him a chance. She asks for time to consider his proposal, and best of all, she actively tries to get to know him.
She tells Darcy she does not share his affections - hence the title - but she is willing to get to know him better and perhaps become his wife.
I really, REALLY, liked this! No lies, no pretending. Just an honest:
“Sir, I think it only right to tell you that I cannot, at this time, return your affections. If you wish to withdraw your offer in light of this information, then I would understand completely and not hold it against you.”
It's so refreshing to see historical romance characters behaving like rational, pragmatic adults!
And throughout the book we see them coming to terms with their pride, their prejudices. We see them trying to better themselves for the other, because that's what a healthy relationship is about: someone bringing out the best in you.
This book isn't all just happiness and sunshine. Both Darcy and Elizabeth, prior to their courtship, had been quite vocal about their thoughts of the other one's failings. These come back to cast a spectre over their blooming relationship, as do the expectations of their friends and relations: they had both been so adamantly adverse to each other, it's not easy to accept their new-found courtship. Some of them were quite funny, I must admit...
“Well, la, why should he want you, Lizzy?” asked Lydia tactlessly.
There are only two things I must point out in this book:
There was a lot of talk about the difference in Elizabeth and Darcy's stations but, as Elizabeth herself told Lady Catherine, he is a gentleman, and she is a gentleman's daughter. Darcy has no title, what he has is money.
Also, Elizabeth makes mention in the book that she has no dowry. In the original it's mentioned the girls will have £5,000 between them - therefore £1,000 each, with a further £100 per year while their father is alive.
But these are small things when considering how lovely it was to read this book!
If you like Pride and Prejudice retellings then this is the book for you!
Lara S. Ormiston's blog
Buy Unequal Affections
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)