Monday, February 10, 2014

Pamela Aidan. An Assembly Such as This (2003)

     Pamela Aidan. An Assembly Such as This (2003) Aidan, a serious fan of Jane Austen, thought it was time to get Darcy’s side of the story. This is the first of a trilogy, which seems excessive, considering how economically Austen told Elizabeth Bennett’s version. Nevertheless, Aidan has managed a believable psychology for Fitzwilliam Darcy. The style is not quite as well done. Aidan wants to give us Austenite language, but too often she lapses into 20th century American. However, her register is generally consistent, so that after some initial irritation, I noticed only the most egregious mistakes.
     The central problem of Darcy is of course his realisation that Elizabeth Bennett is more than her social context, and his unwilling acceptance of his feelings towards her. His astonishingly condescending first proposal to her, and her rejection, form the pivot of the plot. Both he and she must recognise their failings before they can reconnect as equals. Aidan’s story takes us to the point where Darcy has raised doubts in Bingley about Jane’s feelings for him, and has persuaded him to leaves Hertfordshire, so we are not yet at that crucial juncture in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. Wickham has appeared, and begun to spread falsehoods about his connection to the Darcys.
     Since we know how the story unfolds, the only suspense in this version comes from Aidan’s skill in limiting Darcy’s knowledge of events, and her ability to show us that his lack of self-knowledge limits his ability to act as he should. Quite well done, I want to read the other two books, and may have to buy them as new copies. *** (2010)

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