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Jan 4, 2010

Book Review: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in The World by Abigail Reynolds

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in The World by Abigail Reynolds
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 1, 2010)
Fiction / Romance / Historical
ISBN-13: 978-1402229473
The Burton Review Rating:Almost 3.5

In this sexy Jane Austen sequel, Elizabeth Bennet accepts Mr. Darcy's first marriage proposal, answering the "What if...?" question fans everywhere have pondered
"I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
Famous last words indeed! Elizabeth Bennet's furious response to Mr. Darcy's marriage proposal has resonated for generations of readers. But what if she had never said it? Would she have learned to recognize Mr. Darcy's admirable qualities on her own? Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy follows Elizabeth and Darcy as they struggle to find their way through the maze of their prejudices after Elizabeth, against her better judgment, agrees to marry Darcy instead of refusing his proposal.
Two of the most beloved characters in English literature explore the meaning of true love in a tumultuous and passionate attempt to make a success of their marriage.

It's another Darcy sequel! Or is it? I would say this is more of an Austen variation. This isn't just what happens to Darcy and Eliza after they marry, this one changes the original story so that Eliza feels forced and rushed into marriage. She doesn't love Darcy, she was actually put in an uncomfortable position when she was caught being kissed by Darcy. So, instead of setting things right, such as smacking him across the face, she demures and accepts his proposal of marriage. Haughty Darcy assumes this is what Eliza wanted all along, and is blind for quite awhile to Eliza's sad state of heart and mind. "Tears of loneliness and fatigue slipped down her face."

At first, I wanted to throw the book. Far! The first twenty or so pages irritated me greatly. It resonated with negativity and a hopeless situation, and the Eliza we are introduced to is not at all like we would like to imagine her. The same is true for the horrific Darcy, the guy-who-has-it-all-and-knows-it.. slap!! And he had the audacity to ask Eliza to refrain from seeing her family! "I would prefer to minimize our connections with them."


The story moves on with both Eliza and Darcy becoming slightly more human, thankfully, and the plot gets more dramatic and slightly romantic. If it hadn't, well then, I can't imagine I would've inhaled this book like I did. As luck would have it, the story picked up its pace with Darcy getting ill and Eliza waiting on him, therefore realizing, hey, I love my husband!! And of course Darcy wakes from his stupor and orders her out of his sight. (Darcy is not exactly loveable in this version.)

It goes on like this, back and forth for awhile, but I was beginning to enjoy the semantics. It reminded me that I have a darling and wonderful husband who doesn't care a fig about Pemberley, and at this point, that would be a fantastic thing. Darcy was shocked and hurt that Eliza hadn't loved him, and he felt the whole marriage was a lost cause. Of course he was only human when no one was looking. When Eliza tried to thank him for a gift, he didn't want her thanks because he felt she said it only out of a sense of duty. Thinking of the actual terms of pride and prejudice, that is exactly what is going on here between these two wanna-be love birds. Thankfully, it gets a little deeper than that, and we even meet Mr. Wickham and Lydia again while on their illicit flight. We don't meet Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, unfortunately, and there are just a few scenes with sister Jane and previous best friend Charlotte. We do, however, add depth to the story with Darcy's little sister, and also with the commoners who live on Pemberley where there are a few adventures in that area.

All in all... with just 256 pages, this was a quick read, the writing style itself was easy to get lost in, and if Darcy and Elizabeth weren't such stubborn people most of the time I would've enjoyed it a lot more. The first quarter of the book was a bit of an annoyance, as mentioned, due to the adverse characterizations of two beloved characters. And then, as with many romances, we went back and forth between the lack of communication and then great sex and then lack of communication..and back in bed again. Sex? Austen? What? Moving past that, I think this one could be recommended to those Darcy fanatics out there. Those that enjoy the classic story the way it was meant to be, may be a little affronted with the whole plot.

For those Jane Austen junkies out there, this book is a reissue of Reynold's "Impulse & Initiative: What If Mr. Darcy Didn't Take No for an Answer?" and "Last Man in the World" and "The Last Man in the World: A Pride & Prejudice Variation" so if you've read any of these before, this is the same story.
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