The Other Mr. Darcy - Monica Fairview
Summary: Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin. Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?
Comments (some spoilers): How can I possibly feel bad for Caroline Bingley - groan? Oh, but I do. Anyone who has ever had their heart well and truly broken can feel for her. But to be honest in Pride and Prejudice, I never thought Caroline had a heart at all - just ambition. And to be seen in such a state by a man you don't know - let's just compound grief with humiliation to start things off right. Ouch. Seriously, Ouch. But Caroline and Louisa return from the Darcy wedding to Netherfield to spend time with Jane and Charles Bingley. Caroline has become more civil, more thoughtful perhaps, and seems a real help to Jane. Jane seems to be counting on Caroline's assistance, But Jane is so sweet, it is hardly surprising. In contrast, Louisa Hurst has become more crass. Perhaps the death of her basically useless husband, is the case... or perhaps it's because she can't have any fun because she's in mourning.
It has been several months since Darcy and Elizabeth married, and an unexpected arrival takes place at Netherfield - Mr. Robert Darcy arrives with news for Jane to come to Pemberly as Elizabeth is unwell. Of course she does with Charles immediately, but Caroline and Louisa wait to let Mr. Robert Darcy rest and for the arrival of a proper escort in the person of Col. Fitzwilliam. Caroline couldn't be in much more of an awkward situation, but does want to be a help to Elizabeth - or specifically Jane at Pemberly.
So this is where the fun begins... the 4 journey to Pemberly, get way laid by geese (geese! of all things), visit to a fortune teller at the fair, and spend several days at the home of a friend of Col. Fitzwilliam's. There are proposals, engagement rumors, fake engagement, and finally making it to Pemberly. Where the adventure continues with the arrival of the entire Bennet clan, then Lydia, stolen jewels, and finally Caroline realizing her own self.
Caroline rises to the occasion, more than once and proves herself worthy of all that is good and will make her truly happy.
It was at the fair that I started to realize that Caroline's upbringing could not have been much fun. She and Louisa were in a position to become ladies with the knowledge that their family money came from trade. They couldn't do anything (such as attend a fair) that would place them closer to the trade side of their family instead of being girls, and later ladies, of importance. That could not have been fun. Is that what makes her so conceited? Robert Darcy hits a key point - Caroline is always blaming herself for things - does that too go back to her upbringing. We find out more about her parents and that I think illuminates something of her personality as well. Ms. Fairview has created a very three dimensional character.
There were so many funny references to Pride and Prejudice in this book. I won't point them out, but you'll see them. Some made me laugh out loud. I'm not sure about all the traveling - the Bennet family, Lydia, etc. it gave me pause, but did not distract me nor did it distract from the novel. I really enjoyed Robert Darcy's open character and his practical way of thinking. He is a lovely character and a true American.
I enjoyed this book so much that I have added The Darcy Cousins to my ever growing Everything Austen II list. This was a great read about a character I never thought I could like, but in the end, I liked Caroline Bingley a great deal.
Lovely book Ms. Fairview!