Book Quick Facts
Title: Unequal Affections: A Pride & Prejudice Retelling
Author: Lara S. Ormiston
Okay, can I just start this review by saying how much I love Unequal Affections? Is that even allowable in the book review world? Because if it isn’t, it should be. This book is amazing. Which honestly really surprised me.
But let us start from the beginning.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened had Elizabeth accepted Mr Darcy’s first marriage proposal in Pride and Prejudice? Yes, I mean the proposal where he insulted her, her family and her station in life. What would their marriage have been like? Would she have ever come to love him? Would he have ever met humility? Would she have come face to face with her own biased prejudice?
Well, we no longer need to wonder. Unequal Affections answers all of those questions and more.
Unequal Affections begins immediately after Lizzie turns Darcy down–wait, I mean it starts immediately after Lizzie doesn’t turn Darcy down. Instead, she tells him that she needs time to consider his proposal. From there, an entirely different ending begins to one of literature’s greatest romances.
An entirely different ending begins to one of literature’s greatest romances.
Ormiston does a remarkable job keeping the characters true to their Jane Austen originals. The very first few pages, where Lizzie doesn’t turn down Darcy, are truly the only ones where Lizzie doesn’t seem entirely like herself. She seems almost like Lizzie in a daze, where her high spirits have suddenly left her because of the shock of the proposal. That soon evaporates, however, and we get to see Lizzie and Darcy back in their elements. After getting over the brief suspension of disbelief required to start this alternate Pride and Prejudice reality, the rest of the story and characters feel incredibly believable.
The writing flows smoothly and the plotline kept me turning the pages. It felt wonderful to be back inside the world of Pride and Prejudice, only instead of knowing exactly what would happen upon my 10 billionth reading, I had new twists and turns to discover.
Instead of knowing exactly what would happen, I had new twists and turns to discover.
I think one of Ormiston’s strengths is knowing where to stay true to Austen and where to stay to true to herself. While the characters and values of Austen remain the same, the author jumps between different characters viewpoints much more freely in her writing. My one, somewhat, criticism is that even though Lizzie and Darcy are engaged, I feel that Regency manners would not so freely allow the displays of affection they share.
I mentioned at the outset that I was somewhat surprised by how much I like this book. That surprise sprung from the many, many Austen related books I have read. Few have even fallen in the category of somewhat good. The characters in these books are usually stiff facsimiles of the originals, who inhabit a shallow plotline and awkward prose. Meanwhile, Ormiston seems to understand Austen and her characters. She understands the spirit and the rhythm to which the story’s heart beats. She captures all of that and, combined with her great skill as a writer, she creates something beautiful.
Recommendation: If you love Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice then you should definitely read Unequal Affections.