Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Matter of Chance by L.L Diamond

This is my first modern JAFF !! I finally plucked up the courage to move out of the Regency era and luckily for me this book did not disappoint!' I think the key for me was whether I would be able to recognise Austen's Darcy 200 hundred years later and the answer was yes. Surprisingly a modern day Mr Darcy seemed more tangible, 1800's Darcy is a fantasy, yet modern Mr Darcy seemed real!!!

With a no nonsense approach we get straight into this story. After Elizabeth's failed marriage to an alcoholic wife beater, Greg Wickham, (oh why does that not surprise me!) Elizabeth turns up on Jane and Bingley's door step battered, bruised and about to give birth. Fast forward two years and Lizzy is ready to move on, taking possession of an antebellum house called Longbourn, which was left to her by her aunt Gardiner. At the same time Darcy returns from England and is staying at Jane and Bingley's guest house.

It was the blend of old and new, Austen's original dialogue and constant nods towards canon that endeared me to the story. The mixture of traditional and modern continued seamlessly throughout. For example when Darcy, Richard and Bingley would retire to Bingley's study for glasses of scotch it reminded me of the Regency customs of propriety. Darcy was always the gentleman holding car doors open, (heck any door for that matter) offering his coat and the list of gentlemanly gestures went on!!

Darcy offends Lizzy as per usual and instead of the grand gesture of saving Lydia, he has another grand gesture in mind. This goes some way towards making amends for his proud, haughty and insulting behaviour, wow 200 hundred years later and nothings changed! With references to the restoration of his ancestral home Pemberley, the author very cleverly ties in the current restoration work that is taking place at Chatsworth house as her model for a painting Lizzy does. So it would seem Austen's Darcy is modern Mr Darcy's ancestor.

"Lizzy was shocked when she came in the room to find her daughter sleeping soundly in William Darcy’s lap.  What was even more incredible was that he didn’t seem to mind it in the least.  In fact, he was stroking her hair softly as he spoke with Charles.  She’d noticed early on how handsome he was, but he’d often ruined her appreciation of his looks with his haughty demeanor.  Now, he was sitting there, cradling Melanie in such a gentle manner, that she found herself genuinely attracted to him.  What was it about a man holding a baby that could generate lust in the most frigid of women?  Jane had commented after Melly was born how sexy she found Charles when he held the baby.  Lizzy had never seen Charles as anything more than her brother, so she hadn’t truly understood the comments until now." -L.L.Diamond

This Darcy was likeable and swoonworthy! Put into one word, he was adorable. Funnily enough Darcy was the prejudiced one, while Lizzy was the proud one. Lizzy is a lovely person (no surprises there) and I took to her quickly. Her daughter was cute and watching Darcy take on the role of her father was heart warming to see. Jane, Bingley and Richard were there in the all the essentials and you could definitely relate them to canon.


Witnessing Darcy gain Lizzy's trust after her terrible marriage to Greg Wickham was enjoyable. Although not a clean read I enjoyed how the author tackled the issue around such subjects and it was very tastefully done. Elizabeth had already been married and Wickham had been her only partner. While Darcy although no stranger to the bed, was a gentleman in all the ways I would imagine him to be in the 20th century, where old ideals are so far and few between.

Elizabeth is an artist in this and considering the Author is also, it was easy for her to portray Elizabeth as an artist also. As we know food plays an important role in Austen's books and tells the reader a lot, simply by the dishes that are cooked. I can only surmise that the author is a lover of food because you are often left hungry. I have a very unadventurous palate as I am a fussy eater but even I was left curious as what some of the dishes would taste like. Oh how I could I forget! Mrs Reynolds is in this and is as delightful as ever, she can cook too!

If I must offer any criticism is it petty and will be short lived, so here goes, as in Diamond's other novel Rain and Retribution the remaining Bennets are antagonists that I loathe dislike, there I said it!

Back to pleasantries I really enjoyed seeing what a modern day Darcy would be like, I think what is unique in comparison to Regency set JAFF's is that you get a mixture of what Darcy is like before and after marriage. For instance when Darcy is at Elizabeth's house while they are dating, he would often come up behind her and give her a hug, these are what I call 'sweet Darcylicious intimacy moments' that you would only get after marriage in a Regency novel. I have no scruples in admitting that as a result of these 'Darcylicious moments' I am now eager to read some more modern takes on Pride and Prejudice! Thank you Diamond for a delightful introduction to 'modern Mr Darcy'!

This book deserves Four and a half  hearts - Mr Bingley & Mr Darcy

As always it is a pleasure to hear your thoughts!!!

7 comments:

  1. "Darcylicious Moments" I love it! So heartwarming and happy to see how they were together, wasn't it? Such a lovely little family. I agree with you about the food too. :)

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  2. Totally agree Meredith and wasn't the epilogue just great. I really enjoyed modern Mr Darcy! Give me more :)

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  3. I read this one on A Happy Assembly, and I just loved the epilogue too, so funny! I'm glad you enjoyed a modern update Tamara. When I first started reading Austenesque I preferred modern updates because it didn't bother me as much when Lizzy and Darcy did things that seemed out of character for Austen's characters. I had trouble accepting character changes within the same period, but I could cope with it if it was in a different era and they were different people.

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    1. Yes Ceri I agree that totally makes sense! I have 1932 on my kindle which you recommended, can't wait to read it :)

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    2. I'm glad you enjoyed the epilogue. That was something that happened in my house and I had to write it. I saved the piece of paper where my kids wrote out the eulogy to "Lobsty" and used it word for word. I wish I could claim that one, but that was all my children!

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    3. I was so pleased that you put it in the published book as it was just so sweet and funny! It gave you a laugh as it touched your heart :)

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  4. I can't believe I never commented on this! Sorry about that, Tamara! I am a food lover, but food is kind of a big deal in the American south. Much of this book came from places I've been or even my own experiences. Even the description of Lizzy's artwork was how one of my art teachers described my watercolours. Some of the fun was using my own experiences to make a scene (Going out to lunch with friends happened to me. I was Lizzy in the back seat while my friends danced and sang Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive in the front.). Overall, Darcy is more gentlemanly than most young southern boys, but when I was in Uni, it was commonplace for the boys to hold the doors for girls as we moved from building to building for classes. I did try to give Darcy more of that southern gentleman demeanour than the old fashioned British gentleman :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Thank you! Your comments are always welcome