Epiphany By Jessie Lewis
Book/Novel Author: Jessie Lewis
Book/Novel Title: Epiphany
“Somehow, his hapless sister had begun a rumour that he was romantically attached to the penniless young woman, from an unheard-of and vulgar family, with whom duty and good sense forbade him from ever considering an alliance…but whose extraordinary wit and captivating eyes he had been entirely unable to banish from his thoughts.”HAVING RETURNED TO LONDON, in December 1811, Mr Darcy is appalled to learn that Anne de Bourgh, his vexatious spinster cousin, has embarked on a journey to Hertfordshire to visit Miss Elizabeth Bennet. From her correspondence with his sister, Georgiana Darcy, he learns that Anne intends to rid Miss Elizabeth of any false hopes she may have of marrying him. His dismay quickly turns into alarm when Anne begins to insert herself into Hertfordshire society, even attending balls with the dastardly George Wickham.ELIZABETH BENNET FINDS HERSELF INTRIGUED by Miss Anne de Bourgh. After all, what sort of lady could ever meet the standards of the proud and fastidious Mr Darcy? She soon comes to realise, however, that her understanding of their supposed engagement—and indeed of Mr Darcy himself—is distinctly flawed.As the cold days of December bleed into the new year, epiphanies abound for Elizabeth, Darcy, and even Anne, laying bare the machinations and desires of all those around them.
I really enjoyed this variation to the original. In this Anne de Bourgh takes on the haughtiness of her mother and travels to Hertfordshire to defend her engagement. Hilarity ensues. Her oblivious offensiveness made me laugh out loud several times. I felt like the characters in this version seemed more human, though Miss Bingley remained obtuse enough to get her comeuppance. All in all, a very fun read.
Full disclosure: I almost put this one away and returned it 1/4 of the way through. It seemed the trajectory would give almost no time to ODC, and this partly turns out to be true. But the gifts of this story are in the brilliant, witty dialogue worthy of A Lady herself. While Anne’s character is tedious, things come full circle and she becomes a round character. And…who better to face off with her than Mrs. Bennett? This version is one of the most sympathetic–and yet fitting–versions of Mrs. Bennett I have ever read. She is still in character, but you could say in this story we see her best side. The best parts of this story were the scenes with several lines of dialogue running parallel to each other. This often happens in families–where several conversation threads are going at once, everyone is talking over each other, and each linking thread could have several meanings. The “juice” in the story comes from the irony squeezed from these situations. It is SO Austenesque, and utterly brilliant. I laughed out loud often while reading. Thank you, Ms. Lewis, for a delightful read.
Normally I don’t like variations with Anne Debourgh. She’s either the helpless invalid or deliberately selfish and cruel. In this variation, Anne starts out as a minature version of her mother, autocratic, rude, and intrusive. She also uses her illness as part of her stratagems. After inviting herself to the Lucases, even the Lucases grow tired of her. However, their reactions as well as others means she grows and changes as well as of course Lizzy and Darcy. I also liked that Darcy and Lizzy have plenty of opportunities to talk as in the original but continue to misunderstand one another until the end. I’ve found that many variations are unable to pull this off believably without some other impediment. But the irony and the fun of this novel is that in trying to separate Darcy and Lizzy from each other, she helps them understand each other better. And then when Anne decides she no longer wants Darcy, her encouragement to Lizzy leads to another misunderstanding. There’s also a lot of witty repartee from several different characters. This is definitely a novel I’ll want to read again.
I’ve read hundreds of P&P variations. This was a unique take on Anne de Bourgh that was entirely logical, yet unexpected. Anne is incredibly arrogant, insensitive, and annoying – but also bluntly honest, direct, and shrewd. In short, she is not at all what Elizabeth Bennet expects, and even flummoxes the otherwise imperturbable Fitzwilliam Darcy. Miss de Bourgh’s demanding personality causes all kinds of chaos for the Lucases, Bingleys, Bennets, and Darcys, but somehow manages to further the two important romances of P&P. She has absolutely no social graces at all, and is deferred to by everyone because she’s rich, well-born, and sickly. The reader identifies with Darcy’s exasperation – you can’t decide whether to applaud Anne or slap her a good one upside the head, LOL I loved this story even though Anne is extraordinarily dislikable – yet you can’t help but respect her. The scene between her, Elizabeth, and Mrs. Bennet is one of the best pieces of P&P fanfiction I’ve ever read. So often Mrs. B is treated as a cartoon caricature, endlessly vulgar and obnoxious. It’s great to see her character given a stronger, more positive aspect. Recommended for P&P fans, as long as they can handle a Lady Catherine-substitute rubbing everyone the wrong way, even as those HEAs are achieved!
Epiphany. Revelations. This novel is surely abundant with them. The most shocking and surprising is Anne DeBourgh. Thought to be a weakling and a bore, the author transformed her here as a force to be reckoned with. Conniving, cunning and manipulative, Miss DeBourgh surely stole the show. At least she does it for the good albeit roughly and insensitively at times. Another surprise here is Elizabeth Bennet. There are times while reading other variations that this reader would have hoped that she was more demonstrative and outward with her romantic feelings for Mr. Darcy. With this one though, this reader’s hopes and wishes were satisfactorily granted in a very emotionally-charged, love goddess that Elizabeth Bennet has been turned into. One can’t believe how she can’t take her eyes and hands off Fitzwilliam Darcy once she knew the full extent of her affections for the man she once despised and rejected. What is bothering though is how fast her feelings changed and how that change is depicted in her actions. It is true that the sudden reversal is precipitated by Mr. Darcy’s letter, Miss DeBourgh’s own revelations and how he worked to right the wrong he has done towards Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley, not to mention Elizabeth owning up to the fact that if not for her vanity being injured, she admired the gentleman from their first meeting. Yet, there is this gap or jump from point A to D insofar as Elizabeth Bennet’s romantic feelings for Mr. Darcy is concerned. Finally, as much as this reader recommends this novel, it would be best to warn others of the informal and modernistic manner the characters converse. This somewhat takes away the reader from Regency social etiquette and manners, which ought to have been incorporated in the story. This quality diminishes the satisfaction that a JAFF enthusiast would have craved for and expected of a Pride and Prejudice variation. 3 1/2 stars, rounded down to 3.
I wasn’t sure I’d like your book in the first chapter or so, at age 85 life is too short to mess with dull books. Once you began to develop Anne’s character, I was hooked. Couldn’t put it down. Brava for letting her be uniquely herself!