So begins the timeless romance of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen's classic novel is beloved by millions, but little is revealed in the book about the mysterious and handsome hero, Mr. Darcy. And so the question has long remained: Who is Fitzwilliam Darcy?
In An Assembly Such as This, Pamela Aidan finally answers that long-standing question. In this first book of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, she reintroduces us to Darcy during his visit to Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley, and reveals Darcy's hidden perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice.
As Darcy spends more time at Netherfield supervising Bingley and fending off Miss Bingley's persistent advances, his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows, as does his concern about her relationship with his nemesis, George Wickham.
Setting the story vividly against the colorful, historical, and political background of the Regency, Aidan writes in a style comfortably at home with Jane Austen, but with a wit and humor very much her own. Aidan adds her own cast of fascinating characters to those in Austen's original, weaving a rich tapestry from Darcy's past and present. Austen fans, and newcomers alike, will love this new chapter of the most famous romance of all time.
©2006 Pamela Aidan; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
First off, yes, the narrator is odd, perhaps the oddest reading I've ever experienced; ah but thankfully second, give the story a good hour of listening, suspending your judgment, and you will find that you have become quite fond of the narrator, almost as if an eccentric and favored uncle (who flunked oh-so-veddy-pro-pah British butler school, but has retained the diction) is reading to you (while alternating bites of tofu noodle soup). But the story and characterization is the true gem here, as Ms. Aidan absolutely never fouls the spirit of Austen, never presents Darcy out of character, and even casts some new flashing crystal glimmers upon Lizzie, perhaps presenting her a little more intoxicating (if possible) than in "Pride and Prejudice." Many mysteries are solved as we experience Darcy's knotted anxieties as he falls in love despite himself, even in spite of his almost supernatural self control). The language is beautiful, and the novel is fully realized (despite this being Part 1 of 3), and a few new oddly eccentric characters come ice skating into the story. Unlike so many modern novels that attempt to extend classic stories, this one by Pamela Aidan does not sneer at the original work, but throughout is respectful and imaginative in building on a beloved tale, and even more beloved characters. Art et Amour Toujours
While this book purports to be about Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet is omnipresent. She intrudes upon every line. This work represents a thorough and a thoroughly pleasurable analysis of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen's world. The P&P story is placed in context of period customs, domestic strife, war, international intrigue and the last gasps of feudalism.
Ms Pamela Aidon weaves Darcy's story fugue-like around P&P. The melody of her story alternately rises above then falls below after touching P&P for an instant. She is always near the original and remains true to the Austen language and sensibilities. In true Austen fashion, discussions of books, ideas, art and music permeate this work along with a lively wit and social commentary.
The highly educated and well informed Miss Austen had no need to provide a historical context for her stories or explain contemporary social norms to her readers. Her focus was the soft feminine world of the drawing room with its choreographed mating rituals. Ms. Aidon's more masculine focus makes clear to 21th century readers, the motivations of the P&P characters and the rules governing their conduct. This is a splendid book. The author treats Miss Austen's work with respect and real understanding. The conceit and arrogance often found in such works is absent here.
In this first volume, the characters of Miss Georgiana Darcy, Col Fitzwilliam and Mr. Bingley are rounded out and their relationship with Darcy explored. In addition, three memorable characters are introduced, a hound named Trafalgar but called Monster by Darcy; Fletcher, a Shakespeare quoting, matchmaking, P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves style valet; and Darcy's close friend Lord Dyfed (Dye) Brougham who should be watched for more than one reason. Both hound and men play interesting and often amusing roles.
This is potentially quite an enthralling book - and maybe it is in the print version.
The problem is that.
It is spoiled by quite inappropriate.
Pauses which can even change the sense.
Of what was written.
By the author and so there is continuing.
I would like to listen to the other 2 volumes, but am not sure that I can handle the stress.
As I began to listen to this book, I was VERY distracted by the narrator -- I swear he breathes every 4-5 words. Either he has COPD or some other chronic respiratory issue, or a VERY affected reading style.
After about an hour, though, as another reviewer noted, I was so caught up in the story, that I stopped noticing the narrator.
But....every time I resume listening, I have to get used to it all over again.
Narrative makes the world go round.
I'm a sucker for Austen spin-offs, and while I think this would have made a great backyard read, as a listen it falls short. The narrator sounds like he is new to the job and doesn't communicate a love (or even warmth) for Regency period or things Austen-y. On the positve side, the author's prose is better than some Austen pretenders and she supplies interesting suppositions for Darcy's behaviour (well, maybe too many since there are three novels) and there are lots of Regency setting details and some good humour.
Who COULD be the voice of Darcy, though? Even Colin Firth might not be able to pull it off in an audiobook if we weren't also looking at him acting Darcy. I would have been more satisfied with a woman narrator - Kate Reading or Prunella Scales might have transformed this four star summer read into a five star fun listen.
That said, will I download parts 2 and 3? I'd like to think that I have better things to do with my time, but I know that I will hit "add to cart" (and probably soon) in moments of weakness!
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
Like other reviewers, I must confess that I have an addiction to all those sequels, variations, and other books which I just call "Austen genre." I have read quite a few and will continue to read more, even if they turn out to be disappointing attempts by writer and/or narrator.
Pamela Aidan's trilogy ("A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman") is among the very best of the Austen genre. Aidan writes quite well, conveying the atmosphere, culture, and daily life of the English upper class during the Regency Period. In addition, she provides a great deal of information about the politics, foreign affairs, and legal matters of that Period. And she does all this while staying very close to Jane Austen's characters and plot in Pride and Prejudice. I found her suppositions about the true natures of the P&P characters to be completely believable and understandable: her Darcy never puts a foot wrong or betrays his principles (until he sees that his principles are mistaken or no longer valid). I enjoyed seeing the fleshing-out of characters like Georgianna and Mr. Bingley, and the introduction of new characters, especially Fletcher, Darcy's valet.
As to the narrator, George Holmes, I had no trouble with his reading. While his cadence is a bit different because of pauses between phrases, the pauses are very slight and, to my mind, create a less-hurried cadence, one more suited to the age in which the book is set. It is my understanding from quite a bit of reading that the upper classes in the Regency Period actually did talk slowly, because they seldom had any sort of deadline which required urgency. In addition, I believe that George Holmes' voice is very well-suited to this book -- light, somewhat delicate, and very much like the voice of a Regency aristocrat (as I have imagined them or heard them in BBC productions).
This was a very enjoyable read, and I have already started volume 2 of the Trilogy.
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
The wrong narrator waters down this otherwise great story.
Having read and loved the three part series when it was first published, I was so excited to see them on audio and so inexpensive...that should have been a clue. I read so many mysteries it should have been obvious there was something wrong, namely the narration.
The stories are wonderful, truly the "he said" side of the argument. For those who loved to hate the detestable Caroline Bingly, more to hate she is a great bad guy for the Austen set.
However, as I stated before the narrator is horrible! He makes Darcy sound like an effeminate dandy, not the over proud slightly arrogant idiot he starts out as until he is enlightened. I'm not sure what happened after the enlightenment because the narrator then has him sounding like a 16 year old girl. Lord!
Loved, loved, loved the stories, could do without the narrator. However, even the performance couldn't totally ruin this great version of one of my favorite classics.
While I love this book series and enjoyed listening to the wonderful words of the author, I am not as wild about the reader. He does a great job with the different voices, but in my opinion, he sounds way too old for what I had imagined.
A great story about Mr. Darcy that makes one appreciate character from a different light. I just wished the author would have put a bit more effort into the ending of an otherwise very good book.
I actually can't tell if I like this book or not as the reader is so distracting with his odd phrasing and breaths, strange cadences and inappropriate pauses...and sounds much too old for the "voice" of the book. A shame...was really looking forward to this book.
"Darcy Falls In Love."
I have read all three books in the Novel and very much enjoyed this one. The Author gives us a wonderful insight into the heart and mind of Mr Darcy and leads us through his joy and pain as he meets and falls in love with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. A thrilling listen for any Pride and Prejudice fan.
"An Assembly Such as This"
This book, in general, is a very good continuation of the work of Jane Austin. The charactorisation is good and the view of the relationship of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy from a different angle is interesting. Unfortunately the author is lacking in knowledge of a gentlemans passtimes in the late 18th and early 19th centurys. A fowling piece is a smooth bore shot gun not a riffle and as such has no sights. Hunting was done on horse back with a pack of hounds. A shooting party would have been shooting birds driven by beaters towards the guns. A gentleman would have had a gun dog not a hound. A gentleman of Darcy's wealth would have taken a string of horses for hunting to a country house visit not just the one. I don't know weather these criticisms are due to a lack or research or to transatlantic misunderstanding.
"Jane Austen and beyond (1 of 3 books)"
This set of 3 books is well written.
New characters - Darcy's valet, dog and horse.
Brings in the politics of the time.
Written by an American. Not trying to be pedantic, but sometimes certain words and phrases used (sidewalk for pavement and Darcy asked his manservant to get Bingley's things"?!?) jarred in what are good stories.
Another reviewer talks about whether or not a man of Darcy's standing would have a hound instead of a retriever of some kind.
The other fly in the ointment is the style of the narration. George Holmes was a film star in Hollywood and there is a slight over accentuation of the "British" accent.
"An insight into Darcy's mind"
Serendipity effected my discovery of Pamela Aidan's novels of 'Fitzwilliam Darcy - Gentleman'. I'm so glad it did. I've been forsaking all my other iPod listening so that I could listen to these instead.
As a fan of P & P since I was 12 (a very long time ago), I've always been fascinated by the interaction of the characters. This series is a very welcome addition to my collection of books, DVDs and audiobooks.
The narrator takes a bit of getting used to, but the author's interpretation gels very nicely indeed with my perceptions which have been garnered over many years.
Anyone who is a fan of P & P should give these books a chance.
"Mr Darcy explained!"
I have really enjoyed this wonderful twist on Pride and Prejudice. Told from the point of view of Mr Darcy this book reveals all the antics we were left guessing about in Jane Austen's classic. Namely how exactly Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy came to be so in love with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. This first part of the trilogy deals with Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley's first visit to Netherfield where both become besotted with the Bennet sisters. This story also helps you understand why Mr Darcy acts the way he does and why his actions come across the way they do. I have just one reservation and that was the fact that the narrator took a small bit of getting used to as his accent is not as refined as one would have expected Darcy's accent to be but this does not detract from the story at all. I would still highly recommend this entertaining listen and I can't wait to start listening to the next book.
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