Just finished reading Particular Intentions by L.L. Diamond, staying up two nights to read: first to start it and again to finish it. That’s how compelling I found the story and the writing; I had to know what happened next! From the exquisite cover to the final “Welcome to Pemberley, my love,” it is a most enjoyable read. I don’t think I’ve presented you with a spoiler here; other than the movie Lost in Austen, every JAFF variation I’ve seen has its Darcy-and-Lizzy happily-ever-after ending. As does Particular Intentions.
The story is a departure from canon; Darcy and Elizabeth get on quite well almost from the start, which I liked very much, and they are betrothed within the first hundred pages. As you might expect, however, the course of true love does not run smoothly for our dear couple. The obstacles and angst that separate them simply take place a little further on in their relationship.
And if you must have your Hunsford proposal, you will be disappointed. I did not miss it.
Perhaps this would be a good juncture to interject my own opinion of Elizabeth Bennet’s character, which I realize is not shared by most Janeites. I first read P&P when I was a young teenager and could not yet appreciate the story or the writing. When I revisited Jane Austen as an adult, my first reaction to Elizabeth was “Why is she listening to this stranger’s gossip, and why is she passing it along to others? Yeah, the guy dissed her, but – yuck. And why do she and her father claim she has such excellent insight into reading other people? She’s practically a blind beetle!” When I saw the 1995 film version, I wanted to punch her in her “fine eyes” several times. The dance at the Netherfield Ball, when she kept pulling faces, summed up her character for me. What arrogance! What sanctimoniousness! How judgmental! Pride and prejudice? Yes! Both terms described Elizabeth to a T!
This gives you an idea of how I read any P&P variation. I am always surprised, and usually pleased, when Elizabeth is drawn without these negative qualities.
In Particular Intentions, the angst begins at the Netherfield Ball, when they are already betrothed, with Elizabeth overhearing part of a conversation and immediately drawing the wrong conclusion, then over-reacting with typical stubbornness and self-righteousness – which nearly brings her idyllic situation with Mr Darcy to an untimely end. Fortunately, with a little help from her loved ones, she admits her mistake, and humbly returns to Mr Darcy.
Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly clear that someone – or some ones – wish ill to both Mr Darcy and his betrothed. Who are they and what are their intentions? As the wedding day approaches, the threat becomes more imminent. A surprise attack on the couple in the middle of London leaves them both injured and their families shocked. Now it is up to Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam to discover who was behind the assaults, and whether they need to prepare for further attacks or can catch the person or persons responsible before they send their goons out to strike again.
What I liked most: Elizabeth acting like a love-struck teenager; it is most endearing! Colonel Fitzwilliam coming to the rescue when danger touches his cousin. The humour, especially in the portrayal of the wedding night. No, no, it’s not what you think; their wedding takes place after the assault. Their intimate moments described with the suggestion of what takes place between them. I confess that I do not care for detailed descriptions of their marital (and sometimes extra-marital) relations contained in some JAFF; I prefer not to be a fly on their bedroom wall. This story went into just enough detail to get the reader’s imagination working!
I also liked the happy, although unexpected, outcome for a character who was under-served in the original.
And the story hit my own “must-haves” for successful JAFF: there must be sufficient face-time for Colonel Fitzwilliam, and I must fall in love with Mr Darcy all over again. Otherwise why read JAFF?
What I liked least: Although I enjoyed the writing and the story itself, there were a couple of instances of group discussions that included no “said-isms.” This made it difficult to keep track of who was speaking. By the end of the discussions it became clear who had said what, but I would have preferred clarification while I was reading it.
In short: A well-thought-out and well-written story that I enjoyed very much. If I had to give it a star rating, it would be 4.75 out of 5.0 (just a bit taken off for the slightly short supply of said-isms).
Purchase Particular Intentions at amazon or your favourite book/ebook dealer.
(I received an e-ARC in return for an honest review.)
The giveaway: The author is offering a Jane Austen gift pack to one lucky reader. There are no residency restrictions.
Included in the prize:
- One Pride and Prejudice Journal
- S&S postcard
- Persuasion postcard
- Fashion plate postcard
- Fashion plate note card
- Pack of 5 JA quote & fashion plate note cards
- Austen Variations bookmark
To enter: Comment on this review by Sunday, November 27. The winner will be announced here on Monday, November 28, 2016. The Comments link is at the top-left of this post.