When Mr. Darcy finally arrives, will he be able to keep from interfering when he meets this young lady his friend so greatly admires? When Jane returns from touring the Lake District with her aunt and uncle, will the young gentleman who returns with her prove to be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was?
In this Pride and Prejudice variation, chance and circumstance greatly affect the way several of Jane Austen's characters arrive at their happily ever after, but not necessarily the way you think.
As a master of romantic fiction, Jane Austen played the role of matchmaker to some of the most beloved characters in literary history. When examining Pride and Prejudice however, there are many readers who have questioned why Austen made some of the choices she did. We can hardly imagine Elizabeth’s fate with anyone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy, but what if her destiny lied with Charles Bingley, who is an amusing, affable character? Mary Bennet is oftentimes seen as a wallflower, only receiving attention when she deigns to share her mediocre piano skills with society. Austen could have easily created a love interest for her, but that was not the intent of Pride and Prejudice. Other relationships in this classic novel have been examined for generations of readers now, and one way of expanding those speculations further is through the medium of the variation novel.
Kara Louise has been offering her alterations to Austen’s work for almost two decades, and she has consistently entertained her readers with her adaptations. Her 2010 novel Darcy’s Voyage remains one of my all-time favorites in Austenesque fiction. With Chance and Circumstance, Louise has once again provided a delightful diversion with her twist on Pride and Prejudice.
It can be confirmed that everyone does receive their “happily ever after”, but the roads that take them to that place are not what you would expect. In addition, the pairings that Austen created are not always replicated in Kara Louise’s vision. I was quite pleased with the choices that were made in the literary matchmaking, and one relationship in particular very much took me by surprise. Chance and Circumstance kept me guessing, wondering what would become of all the characters, almost until the conclusion of the book.
The content of Chance and Circumstance is very family-friendly as well. I can easily recommend it to my conservative readers. From what I recall, there is no colorful language and definitely no bedroom scenes. The concept of “wifely duty” is mentioned, but the circumstances surrounding it are actually quite amusing and sweet. Romance is a dominant theme of the book, but it is never exploited for salacious purposes. I applaud Kara for her choices in this matter. This is a wonderful example of quality writing that could be shared with anyone.
Chance and Circumstance is a fine addition to the world of Austenesque fiction. While liberties were taken with the original choices that Jane Austen made, Kara Louise has retained the personalities of the characters, and the circumstances in which they find themselves are very believable. Because Austen’s pairings are not always retained, the reader gains a sense of uncertainty, which builds suspense as we ponder where the narrative is headed. As the story progressed, I found myself becoming more intrigued by the chapter, which led to a very satisfying read overall. I heartily recommend Chance and Circumstance, and hope that you find it as delightfully diverting as I did.
About the Author
Kara Louise has been writing Jane Austen variations since 2001 and has published 11 novels. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, but now lives in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, and their ever-changing number of dogs and cats. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending time with their son and his wife and their two granddaughters, who live nearby.