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But Elizabeth was always unsuitable for him in Pride & Prejudice, just like Cinderella was unsuitable for the Prince, but modern readers find it difficult to understand the nuances of the time. The simplest piece of it is money. To the gentry, keeping the estate intact was of primary importance. That’s why they didn’t divide up property between children, and why property was often entailed. It was part of the landowner’s duty to preserve the estate and to add to it if possible. Darcy’s estate is already facing a loss – 30,000 pounds for Georgiana’s dowry, to be precise – and he would be expected to bring home a bride whose dowry would at least compensate for that loss. He is failing in his family duty.
The social nuances are more complex. Despite their meeting at Netherfield, Darcy and Elizabeth would not ordinarily move in the same social circles, as the Bingley sisters make clear. As Darcy is presented as the future son-in-law of Lady Catherine; Elizabeth is a poor cousin of one of Lady Catherine’s dependents. Elizabeth would not be accepted among the ton, whose languid snobbery would be offended by her presumption. Darcy’s social status would fall if he married her. Worse yet, so would his sister’s. Georgiana’s marriage prospects would be significantly harmed by such a marriage.
Elizabeth also has low connections, including kin in trade. Being in trade was a mark of low upbringing, and children of tradesmen had a difficult time being accepted by the ton. This is why Darcy is seen as superior to Bingley, and why Bingley will never be seen as quite up to snuff in society. And Elizabeth, unlike Bingley, isn’t even stylish or well-to-do.
Those alone are enough to make it extraordinarily unlikely that a gentleman like Darcy would consider marrying so far below him, but that’s not enough for Jane Austen. She stacks the deck yet further by giving Elizabeth embarrassing relations and a disgraced sister. Darcy knows perfectly well that he will be the subject of mockery because of her family’s behavior, and he’s right. But his love for Elizabeth is more powerful than all those things. He is truly a man before his time.
MR. DARCY’S OBSESSION BY ABIGAIL REYNOLDS—IN STORES OCTOBER 2010
The more he tries to stay away from her, the more his obsession grows...
“[Reynolds] has creatively blended a classic love story with a saucy romance novel.” —Austenprose
“Developed so well that it made the age-old storyline new and fresh…Her writing gripped my attention and did not let go.”—The Romance Studio
“The style and wit of Ms. Austen are compellingly replicated…spellbinding. Kudos to Ms. Reynolds!” —A Reader’s Respite
In this Pride and Prejudice variation, Elizabeth is called away before Darcy proposes for the first time and Darcy decides to find a more suitable wife. But when Darcy encounters Elizabeth living in London after the death of her father, he can’t fight his desire to see and speak with her again…and again and again. But now that her circumstances have made her even more unsuitable, will Darcy be able to let go of all his long held pride to marry a woman who, though she is beneath his station, is the only woman capable of winning his heart?
About the Author
Abigail Reynolds is a physician and a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast. She began writing the Pride and Prejudice Variations series in 2001, and encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking “What if…?” She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Madison, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit http://www.pemberleyvariations.com/ or http://www.austenauthors.com/.