An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, Book 1

Synopsis: « She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me. »

So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen’s classic novel is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?

In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley and reveals Darcy’s hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice. As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley’s persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows—as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.

Setting the story vividly against the colorful historical and political background of the Regency, Aidan writes in a style comfortably at home with Austen but with a wit and humor very much her own. Aidan adds her own cast of fascinating characters to those in Austen’s original, weaving a rich tapestry from Darcy’s past and present. Austen fans and newcomers alike will love this new chapter of the most famous romance of all time.

Review: I confess I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, but it is a movie adaptation that I love. So when I had the opportunity to read this book following the story about Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from the beginning but from the point of view of the young man, I did not hesitate. I must say that this is a very mysterious man and it’s hard to know what he really thinks, as his feelings. But here, Pamela Aidan allows us to discover all this and much more, allowing us to attend passages hitherto unknown.

I admit that I took a great pleasure in discovering Darcy and what he thought. I do not expect to see much tumult in him after his meeting with Elizabeth. It is strange to stand on this side, the two are very different and at the same time a lot alike. But his love for her is so incomprehensible and this woman so different from others that he never knows how to behave with her. Admittedly, as we know, our dear Bennet did not mince her words and does not care about decency when she has something important to say.

I was fascinated by the way the author had managed to take the essence of the characters we all know and I looked forward to every meeting with Elizabeth. However I had a bit more trouble to attend the parts not known in the original novel because she went beyond what we know, and the story of Darcy I was less interesting in those moments. I was also surprised to see that the novel does not stop at the end of the story of our two heroes. Indeed, there is still so much to say and the story ends before big events. And I’m curious to see what Pamela Aidan has for us for the rest of the story.

I also took a lot of pleasure to discover a little more about Charles here. Everyone easily mocked him by his simplicity and generosity, but I just think that’s what makes him an extraordinary character. And knowing the nature of Jane Bennet, we can only approve a couple such as this one. I’m just surprised that he also leaves her love easily fall over without a fight.

It was a pretty novel full of ideas, although it resumes the original work. I’m curious to know more about Mr. Darcy now and what he thinks later in his history.

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