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The approaching death of Mr. Bennet threatens to leave his five young daughters at the mercy of the vengeful Mr. Thaddeus Collins. But Mr. Bennet plays one final desperate card before he passes, calling on his distant relatives—the Darcys—to provide his children with a home.
Removing themselves to Pemberley after their father’s death, the girls are protected by the estate’s current master, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, who looks after them as conscientiously as he does his own sister.
When chance takes the Bennets and their Darcy relations to the estate leased by Mr. Bingley, little do they know that their father’s thwarting of Mr. Collins has only fanned the flames of his envy and hatred. He is determined to secure a Bennet daughter as a wife for his son, and he will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal.
Elizabeth has become consumed by love for Mr. Darcy, but since he remains oblivious to her feelings, Elizabeth’s desperation forces her to consider going into service as a governess, if only to obtain some distance from the object of her affection. But Mr. Collins has no intention of letting Elizabeth escape his grasp so easily, and everything finally comes to a head when he meets with her in an explosive showdown.
Shadows Over Longbourn is a variation in which the Bennet sisters, as distant relatives of the Darcy family, were forced to be under Mr. Darcy’s care.
This story obviously deviated from the original, and yes, some of the characters’ personalities were not as they were in Pride and Prejudice, but it was what made this story appealing to read. Elizabeth served as her sisters’ strong front, Jane and Bingley had a backbone, Mr. Darcy was more congenial (as compared to Darcy before the Hunsford proposal incident in P&P), the younger Bennets improved due to the company they kept, and Georgiana was not as bashful.
I loved Elizabeth and Darcy’s companionship. The two always were of like mind, and to see them interacting in such a comfortable air made me ache for Elizabeth more. This time, Elizabeth was the first to realize her romantic feelings, and although Darcy held her in esteem, it took longer for him to realize the strength of his affection for Elizabeth. Oh the woes of unrequited love!
The antagonists were as infuriating as they were in the book, although I have to admit, Thaddeus Collins, father of William Collins, topped the cake for the worst possible human being to live (at least in Shadows Over Longbourn). He had Lady Catherine’s stubbornness and air of superiority, Caroline’s unpleasantness, and Wickham’s cad-like thoughts. This man made me pity William Collins, and I never really liked Collins in P&P.
There were some decisions Elizabeth made that didn’t sit well with me. She does not seem the type to be easily influenced by her emotions or the type to do things without thinking of the consequences, but I believe I’ll be spoiling you if I expound on it.
All in all, I enjoyed reading Shadows Over Longbourn as much as I enjoyed reading Jann Rowland’s other works. I look forward to reading his other works in the future.
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