Title: First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice
Author: Alexa Adams
Formats: Kindle, Paperback
“A tale of less pride and prejudice.”
In Pride and Prejudice Fitzwilliam Darcy begins his relationship with Elizabeth Bennet with the words: “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.” What would have happened if Mr. Darcy had never spoken so disdainfully? First Impressions explores how the events of Jane Austen’s beloved novel would have transpired if Darcy and Elizabeth had danced together at the Meryton Assembly. Jane and Bingley’s relationship blossoms unimpeded, Mary makes a most fortunate match, and Lydia never sets a foot in Brighton. Austen’s witty style is authentically invoked in this playful romp from Longbourn to Pemberley. The book First Impressions is followed by the sequels Second Glances and Holidays at Pemberley (Third Encounters).
One of the most fun aspects of the book was the subversion of plot points. The plot is the same for the first half of the book, but with just enough changes for a butterfly effect. What would have happened if Lizzy hadn’t met Wickham in the street in Meryton? If Bingley had more of a spine and stood up to dissenters when he wanted to marry Jane? If Collins didn’t propose to Lizzy? If Wickham eloped with someone else we know! I enjoyed the exploration of these other variables. It reminded me of one of those novels with choose-your-endings, and I got a real kick out of it.
Everyone is good
Perhaps good is a stretch, but every character is the best version of themselves. From the beginning, Darcy behaves like a normal person. He’s polite enough to dance with Lizzy at the ball, and only reasonably arrogant. I’ve never really liked Darcy, but this Darcy I could warm up to. If Darcy isn’t rude to Elizabeth, Lizzy doesn’t form any prejudices about him. Their courtship chugs along unhindered. While the lack of angst may draw some ire from other readers, I did found the absence of misunderstanding between Darcy and Lizzy rather relaxing.
You know it’ll be Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley, but what of the other players? Mr.Collin’s choice of bride so was perfect, I’ve often wondered why Miss Austen herself didn’t make the match! Wickham’s match was satisfying, if a little unrealistic. (I think she’s too class-conscious to go for him) But because it’s great that they do end up together, because… just deserts!
First Impressions has the most Austenesque prose of all the JAFF books I’ve read so far. It was such a delight to find Austen’s voice in the turn of phrase, or the delivery of a punchline – the writing really shines with natural charisma. Which is why it’s a shame that it can be inconsistent. There are a few errors, including sudden lapses into modern speak, and some typos. The book does need an edit. But to be honest, I hardly noticed them. Mistakes aside, it was a joy to read.
A beautiful book
It’s a beautifully designed book. From the cover image to the font, the blurb, and even the type of paper used, I fell in love with it. Actually, I fell in love with all the covers for Alexa’s First Impressions series when I saw them. But then Alexa’s covers are always gorgeous. Just look at them!
(FYI Darcy In Wonderland is her latest release, check it out on Amazon here.)
Everyone is good. Too good. This is tale of less pride and prejudice after all, but if everyone is the best version of themselves, where is the conflict? There is none. While I personally found the lack of drama refreshing, I can see why many wouldn’t. A less obnoxious Mrs. Bennet, a (relatively) reasonable Lady C?! No exchanges of slights between Lizzy and Darcy? It cannot be!
This book is an exploration of what would have happened if the road blocks our protagonists faced in the original P&P were removed. But does ironing away the obstacles in the original novel help or hinder the plot of First Impressions? That is the question only you as a reader, can answer.
Read if you don’t like misunderstandings and drama. Don’t read if you’re looking for angst. This book is a relaxed read with satisfying endings for every story-thread. Perfect to relax with a cup of tea on a rainy day.