Thursday, March 3, 2011

Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen Wasylowski: A Book Review

Darcy and Fitzwilliam: A tale of a gentleman and an officerDarcy and Fitzwilliam: A tale of a gentleman and an officer by Karen Wasylowski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did someone say Colonel Fitzwilliam? YES! A minor character is getting and given some love. Did someone say bromance? Yes, A bromance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. I’m sold. Plus the cover is divine. I came, I saw (read), I was extremely satisfied. READ THIS BOOK!

Volume I- Darcy and Elizabeth

I found myself a bit board by the first part of the book, which is no fault of Wasylowski. It has to do with my being sick of reading about Darcy and Elizabeth. They’re everywhere and after a while you grow tired of just one couple and long for other Austen characters to get their day in the spotlight. However, this is a review of Wasylowski’s book and if I put aside my fatigue with all things Darcy and Elizabeth I have to say she has written them well. She gives us a story and not all this mindless sex. Thank you!

Elizabeth is written as the strong woman we grew to love in Austen’s masterpiece Pride and Prejudice, but she has her flaws too. She is slightly insecure in her marriage and when she finds out that Darcy had a brief liaison with Caroline Bingley she flies off into a fit of rage. In regards to her insecurity I think we have to remember that while she is a gentleman’s daughter they were not rich and I believe it is realistic to portray her as insecure in her new role as Mistress of the grand estate Pemberley. Wouldn’t you be intimidated by the expectation of acting like a proper Mistress for a huge place like Pemberley, where one minor mistake could set the servants tongues wagging?

Secondly, is her fit of rage at finding out Darcy had a liaison with Caroline Bingley. I think this would upset any woman. Caroline Bingley makes no secret of her dislike for Elizabeth as she is competition for Darcy’s affections. I think Elizabeth views this as a sort of betrayal, despite the liaison being before her marriage to Darcy, but I also think it has to do with the fact that being from a small country town she has never had to deal with someone openly disliking her. It creates insecurities in her and because she only ever spent her life in the country she is not well versed in what men of the world do. She has been sheltered so it comes as a surprise to her that Darcy has premarital relations and so she questions her trust in him.

Many may not like how Elizabeth is portrayed in this novel, but I think we need to remember that they are human and have faults like the rest of us. I do not think it fair to expect Elizabeth and Darcy to be perfect all the time. Darcy was a man of his time. He was educated and it was not uncommon for them to step out for a nip-and-a-cuddle before marrying. It happens and to think it didn’t is a disservice. Reality is not always pretty.

Volume II- Colonel Fitzwilliam

I adore a man in uniform. This part of the book, staring Colonel Fitzwilliam, was my favorite. It was so touching to get to see Colonel Fitzwilliam really fall in love after years of roughish behavior while serving his country in the Army. When a man like Colonel Fitzwilliam falls in love he falls hard, fast and intends things to work in his favor with military precision. The American widow Amanda Penrod has some fire of her own and disrupts all of his plans. There were some extremely hilarious and heartbreaking moments between them.

Amanda Penrod, a character of Wasylowski’s creation, was a match for Colonel Fitzwilliam. She is a widow with a young son and a monster-in-law. Monster-in-law has custody of Amanda’s son (her grandson) and makes Amanda’s life hell because she believes she is unfit to raise her own son because she is American. A mother’s love is not to be trifled with and there is no doubt that Amanda loves her son. There is also no doubt that Colonel Fitzwilliam and Amanda are passionately in love.

There are some minor sex scenes between the Colonel and Amanda, BUT they are not explicit and they have a reason to be there. They drive the plot. The first intimate scene between the Colonel and Amanda is beautiful. It is the first time the Colonel has made love to a woman and not just used her for sex. It is the final awaking for him and his decision to make Amanda his wife and spend the rest of his days with her. For Amanda it is the first time she has had real intimate relations (her first husband does not count) herself and it is also a discovery for her into the nature of Colonel Fitzwilliam.

I have to commend Wasylowski here because while she had minor sex scenes, if she hadn’t had them at all I would have had no doubt as to the love and passion between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Amanda. The same can be said about Darcy and Elizabeth who had no intimate scenes in this novel. She was able to convey the love, romance and passion through other thoughts and actions. That is difficult to do and she did is exceptionally well.

Volume III- Family

The final volume brought full circle the first two Volumes. Colonel Fitzwilliam and Amanda, with her son, get a happy ending after the battle with the monster-in-law for custody. Darcy and Elizabeth have a newborn and settle their disagreement in regards to Caroline Bingley. They are family men now. It is beautiful to see these men portrayed as bachelors and then taking on the role as husbands and fathers.

The ending scene of the novel almost made me cry. It cements the bromance between Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy which is a prevalent focus throughout the novel. These two men were so different and yet they are two peas in a pod. They complete each other and would truly be lost without each other. Through their trials and tribulations they are there for each other, accepting their flaws and helping each other grow and mature.

It was so wonderful to see the relationship between these two men and from their point of view. Wasylowski writes from the male point of view which is refreshing. The men get a chance to shine. She has done an excellent job of showing how these two men grow together, as individuals and in their relationships. It was a treat to be invited to hear their story.

Lastly, I have to say I found Wasylowski’s portrayal of Lady Catherine to be a delight. Lady Catherine is up there in years, so at times a bit senile, but usually sharp as a tack. We as readers get to understand why she is the way she is. She loves her family and will always protect it. She is still the domineering woman of the original novel, but with a softer side. Lady Catherine provided some of the other humorous scenes. I actually wanted to read more about Lady Catherine. I grew to adore this Lady Catherine and that is not something to be taken lightly.

If you have not read this book you should. Darcy and Fitzwilliam was a wonderful ride that I would gladly take again.

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1 comment:

Debra Brown said...

A very good descriptive review~ makes me determined to read the book. Thanks for helping me out after my question on Twitter.