It’s been a while since I read a Pride and Prejudice variation, and I was beginning to feel a little bereft as a result. I’d seen Bewitched, Body and Soul by P.O. Dixon on Goodreads, through someone that I follow, and it seemed as good a book as any to try to satisfy my Austen craving with.
The story picks up the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy as Mr Bingley and his party take leave of Netherfield Hall. Lizzy is determined to rectify what she is sure is just a misunderstanding and reinstate the happiness of her dearest sister Jane, so decides to take her Aunt Gardiner up on an offer to visit with them in town. Her determination to get a resolution to the situation lands her in a questionable position with Mr Darcy, which gives very different weight to his first attempt at a proposal to her. Nonetheless, similar events to those that take place in Pride and Prejudice ensue, albeit in a slightly different order and under a slightly different light. The question is, will Darcy and Lizzy come to their well-famed happy ending?
At the point the novel starts, Darcy has already discovered his own feelings for Lizzy and is in the process of trying to suppress them. This means that most of the story retains its focus on how Lizzy discovers her feelings for Darcy; though the turn of events introduced by the author put quite a different (though not unrecognisable) slant on how this discovery takes place. That in itself is what makes this story seem fresh and interesting, and what kept me reading.
The characters in the story were pretty much identical to those that lovers of Pride and Prejudice are familiar with – Lizzy is headstrong and wilfully set against Darcy, Darcy is on a mission to prove himself worthy of Lizzy after realising his errors at his attempted proposal, Bingley is an easily led fool in love, Jane is heartbroken and trying to get over Bingley and Lady Catherine was as vile and vindictive as ever. This made the story very easy to read, because I already felt acquainted with the characters and their personalities.
I liked the underlying plot that came about from Lizzy having spent a night recovering in Darcy’s London townhouse; it gave a deeper sense of familiarity and cohesion between the two main protagonists and gave them something else to contend with on their way to a happy ending. It was an approach to their relationship that I’ve not really seen done in the variations that I’ve read so far, one where Lizzy is responsible for putting them both in a very compromising position in terms of how society might view them both. It was nice to see Lizzy’s impertinence and stubbornness as a character get her into trouble in a way that Austen didn’t explore.
Overall, while I’ve read Pride and Prejudice spin-offs that have had more of an impact, I have also read worse attempts. This was a fairly quick and easy read and I enjoyed it greatly.