I hope the sun is shining at your house today and spring is in the air. We are ready for spring around here!
Today I am really excited to share my review of Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston. I first heard about this book from Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies when she shared it as part of a TTT list. I knew I had to read this book. I checked my library and it wasn’t there. Checked Hoopla and it wasn’t there. So you better believe I bought it on Amazon that day. I was so positive I would love it! Luckily I was right, haha.
This is a Pride and Prejudice retelling. What if Elizabeth had accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal? This novel explores that alternative timeline. Lately, I rather enjoy retellings in my favorite book universes. I just finished Marilla of Green Gables and loved it too. It’s a fun way to go back into favorite settings and to revisit favorite characters.
- If you love Pride and Prejudice, you’re going to love this one. It feels like something Austen herself would write and the romance is just lovely. This book belongs on my P&P book list from several weeks ago.
- It might be hard to let go of the original storyline and interactions between characters. But try to! At first, it was hard to let go of the original story but when I did, I just fell in love with this story. I think y’all will enjoy this story so much more if you can consider it a separate story within the Pride and Prejudice universe rather than a replacement of the original novel. We all love the original but it’s possible to love this one too 🙂
Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston tells an alternative story in the world of Pride and Prejudice. What if Elizabeth had accepted Mr. Darcy’s first proposal? According to Goodreads, “When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men–until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed.Mr. Darcy’s passionate avowal of love causes Elizabeth to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about him. What she knows is that he is rich, handsome, clever, and very much in love with her. She, on the other hand, is poor, and can expect a future of increasing poverty if she does not marry. The incentives for her to accept him are strong, but she is honest enough to tell him that she does not return his affections. He says he can accept that–but will either of them ever be truly happy in a relationship of unequal affection?”
I love the character development in this novel. Darcy and Elizabeth are as complex and fantastic as ever. We get inside Darcy’s head in several meaningful scenes. I found his inner struggle even more fascinating than in the original one. I also appreciated how Elizabeth changed much like in the original story. She isn’t perfect and must work through her own pride and prejudices to find love. I really love the way Ormiston gives Mrs Bennett some endearing qualities. It gives her character added depth which makes her more likable. However, Lydia is still ridiculously annoying and makes the same ridiculous types of decisions in the original. And I love Jane and Bingley. They are as kind, soft hearted, and in love as ever. It was fun to get a different side to familiar characters. Ormiston does a lovely job being true to the original characterization while also adding new depths and complexities.
I enjoyed the focus on the Longbourn setting as well. The story is set primarily in the Bennett family home rather than anywhere else. I realized that P&P travels quite a bit around England (Loungbourn, London, Kent, Derbyshire, etc). This one is much more focused which adds to it’s charm. I think because Ormiston focuses on a smaller location she is able to develop her story and characters more effectively. She isn’t trying to rewrite every detail of Pride and Prejudice. Instead, she is givings readers a new story in a familiar setting.
I was blown away by the subtle and clever ways Ormiston connects her story to the original. She really sounds like Austen herself sometime! I loved how she quotes or paraphrases from the original text–even moments that occurred after the original proposal that Elizabeth rejected. I love the idea that so many things would be said regardless of the context. The whole story is true to the original in the storytelling and word choice. It reads like Austen. It felt like seeing an old friend in a new way or like being wrapped in a favorite blanket in a new home–familiar and new at the same time.
While I hoped I knew the ending from the beginning, I loved the new way that Elizabeth and Darcy find their happily ever after. This is one of those novels that you read to understand the journey to the ending rather than to see how it ends. I knew how it ended. Darcy and Elizabeth would marry each other for love. But how would they get to that point from this new perspective? I loved the way Darcy changes for the better and Elizabeth as well. They truly make each other better people during their engagement. They are kinder and more forgiving of each other and their families; they share secrets together and they help each other see the world better. It was beautiful.
I loved this novel! A perfect novel for me right now. Couldn’t put it down! If you love Pride and Prejudice or Jane Austen in general, read this book!
What are your favorite retellings of classics?
What other P&P retellings should I read?