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A deeper understanding

Cover of Unequal Affections
A review of Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has a difficult hurdle to overcome if it is to distinguish itself from all the other retellings, homages, inspireds by, etc. And if I tell you dear reader that Ormiston succeeded in that feat? I would only be relaying the truth.

Ormiston uses Darcy's first insulting proposal, at Hunsford Parsonage, as the jumping off point of her story. Instead of coldly rejecting him, Elizabeth stops to think for a moment. He's telling her he loves her ardently and to say that she's stunned to hear it, would be an understatement. She begins to ask him some questions. And as she talks with him, she begins to get a very small inkling that their previous interactions might not have been exactly as she'd perceived them to be. What she needs now is some time to think. Though Darcy is shocked that she doesn't immediately say yes, even with as badly as he proposed, he agrees to give her the time she needs to get back to him with a decision. After a week of thought about all the pros and cons, Elizabeth accepts his hand in marriage - but emphasizes to him multiple times that she does not (and may never) return his affections. Darcy is sure that he loves her enough for both of them, though he hopes she will come to care for him as well. Thus they are engaged. That's all in the first couple chapters. Though this earlier engagement is big news for Austen fans, that's just the beginning of the story as Darcy and Elizabeth now have to navigate all the challenges that family, friends and community bring them.

By changing the outcome of that first proposal, Ormiston is giving many faithful readers what they've longed for. A glimpse of what life might be like for Darcy and Elizabeth as a couple. And she captures so beautifully the tone and feel of Austen. They come alive in deeper dimensions, as do their families and friends. They still struggle with those two 'P's' and there is real suspense in whether they will get to their happy ever after which made this as much of a page-turner for me as the original. Wonderfully done.

Sep 28, 2023