cover image Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World

Abigail Reynolds, . . Sourcebooks, $14.99 (248pp) ISBN 978-1-4022-2947-3

Originally self-published as a “Pride and Prejudice Variation,” Reynolds (From Lambton to Longborn ) introduces a few twists to the Austen classic, a project that purists will surely abhor, but which should prove a pleasing diversion for more casual fans. In this spin on events, Reynolds excises Elizabeth Bennet's famous rejection of Fitzwilliam Darcy's initial proposal (“the last man on earth” she'd marry), instead putting them together from the get-go (despite Elizabeth's lingering doubts). This romantic trifle is marred by occasionally hysterical sentiment (Darcy: “But ardent love will not be denied. I can no longer imagine a future without you by my side”) and the incongruous notion that Austen's willful proto-feminist would feel constrained by a kiss, however public. If romantics can overlook the subversion, they should enjoy witnessing Elizabeth as an industrious and caring wife, administering to Pemberley's tenants, learning how to be an equestrian and growing to love that perplexing Darcy; characteristic trepidations, setbacks and miscommunications stick close to the spirit of Austen. (Jan.)