Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman–Pamela Aidan


I may have a problem.   A Pride and Prejudice problem.  Apparently I’m not alone.  I chose Duty and Desire because it was in the A section that I’m working on, was paperback, and is a P&P novel.  It’s the second in a trilogy, but my library did not have the first, so I risked it.  This particular novel deals with the “silent period” of P&P when Darcy goes off with Bingley and apparently tries to overcome his feelings for Elizabeth Bennet. 

This is not a good book.  The first half is full of melodrama about Georgiana and her recent depression due to the Wickham affair and Darcy’s struggle to deal with, and hide, her “born again” status, which has helped her come out of that depression.  Providence plays a thematic role here.  The second half of the novel has Darcy deciding to find a suitable wife and, to that end, visiting an old Cambridge friend.  Thence commences a Gothic mystery complete with sacrificed piglets and charms created from blood and bits of hair, a castle with shadowy corners and an Irish princess.  Darcy does not seem much like Darcy in this half of the book as he flirts and chatters and becomes a sleuth with his valet as a Shakespeare-quoting side kick. 

What is it about P&P spin offs that encourages the mediocre?  And why are they published?  Are those of us with P&P addictions so desperate that we’ll do anything to meet Darcy again and again and again?  Clearly publishers believe this to be true.  And it seems to have worked as I noticed, in looking for the image of the book, that one reviewer on Amazon counseled skipping P&P and reading Aidan’s trilogy.  I could not have forced myself to continue this volume of Aidan’s trilogy if I weren’t already addicted to Austen’s characters.  Austen’s characters, whom she crafted through witty dialogue and engaging plot lines.  There’s a reason it’s the most loved novel in the English language.  And probably a reason my library has only this volume of the trilogy.  Sorry, Ms. Aidan, this one just wasn’t for me.

Finished 11/5/11


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