A gentleman cannot survive without his best friend...
Fitzwilliam Darcy and colonel Fitzwilliam couldn't be more different. Darcy is quiet and reserved, and carries the weight of his responsibilities on his shoulders. His affable and vivacious cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam is a confirmed bachelor whose military feats have made him a hero, and whose devil-may-care personality hides the torments within. Cousins, best friends, and sparring partners, Darcy and Fitzwilliam have always been there for each other.
Then life gets complicated, with unrequited love and unresolved deeds from the past raising their ugly heads, and family difficulties threatening even the most steadfast friendship. Will these two strong personalities find a way to align, or will the vicissitudes of life and love tear them in different directions and destroy the family they have always worked together to protect?
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Among Jane Austen’s many characters, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam are some of my favorites. In Pride and Prejudice Fitzwilliam won our hearts as he won Elizabeth’s, and Richard maintains a playful and caring role within the Darcy family. I always enjoy it when Pride and Prejudice retellings give these characters new treatments for readers.
In Karen V. Wasylowski’s Darcy and Fitzwilliam, these two cousins take center stage. We are able to see their relationship up close, and it’s great fun. They squabble like siblings and rib each other like fraternity brothers. Although they occasionally have moments of contention, their underlying friendship and history together always keep their relationship strong.
After a short prologue, Darcy and Fitzwilliam begins two months after Darcy and Elizabeth have married. They are in the throes of newlywed bliss, completely in love. Colonel Fitzwilliam pays them a visit at Pemberley. He is home from war, having just survived and triumphed in the great victory at Waterloo. While he regularly calls Darcy “brat” and gives him much teasing over his newlywed glow, Richard is thrilled to be with his friend and they have a lovely visit together.
Wasylowski’s story then recounts the following three years, as the cousins navigate their way through many challenging life issues. Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and Darcy becomes a basket case as he worries for the life of his wife and unborn child. Richard, always known as a bit of a playboy, becomes besotted with a beautiful widow who is too encumbered with family issues to ever remarry. Caroline Bingley is still on the prowl, and she once again sets her sights on Darcy, despite his married status. And then there’s Lady Catherine de Bourg, unsupportive of Darcy’s decision to marry Elizabeth and alienated from her beloved nephew because of it. All of this makes for some very interesting dilemmas and experiences for Darcy and Fitzwilliam.
Karen V. Wasylowski has done a fine job with these Austenian characters. She has stayed true to the original vision of their temperaments, yet brings new aspects of who they are to light. Their witty repartee is always fun, as they regularly jab at each other in non-cynical brotherly ways. Darcy and the Colonel passionately love their women, sometimes going to extremes to protect them and those they love. There is much drama in this narrative, although it doesn’t cross over into melodrama in the least. There was more than one night when I had trouble putting the book down to go to bed!
Being the men who they are, there are a few moments that are a bit PG-13 as far as language and sexual content. I mention this only for those who are particular about these issues or are considering this for young readers. Most of the bedroom material is within the confines of marriage, and Wasylowski doesn’t go overboard with frequent gratuitous moments of intimacy or colorful tirades. Thank heavens this isn’t some tawdry bodice-ripper with blue dialog every other minute.
Darcy and Fitzwilliam was an enjoyable read. Karen provides a epilogue that occurs decades after the main story, and I think she could easily draft a sequel in the future. I readily enjoyed her treatment of these characters and hope she continues to revisit this world. Her work is page turning, humorous, maddening (Caroline!!) and touching. This is a fine edition to the ever-growing library of Austenesque novels. It’s definitely a “bromance” worth an Austen fan’s consideration.
This title was provided to me by Sourcebooks Landmark.