After surviving his first term at Eton, thirteen year-old Fitzwilliam Darcy is all excitement and eagerness to be returning home for the holidays. Young Master Darcy fully intends to spend his holiday season in good cheer, cavorting with his cousins, doting on his two year-old sister, and enjoying some Darcy family Christmas traditions. However, due to his mother's recently diagnosed and serious illness, Darcy's plans for merriment and mischief may have to be put on hold this year...
Because of the oppressive grief and tension that surrounds Pemberley this Christmas, Master Darcy takes to riding his horse into the village of Lambton each morning. One morning, he happens upon a local mummers* troupe working on a play, and decides to befriend them and provide some much needed lessons in sword-fighting. Master Darcy soon finds a comfortable camaraderie with the troupe and ends up taking a part in their play! Are these suitable companions for the heir of Pemberley? Will his parents approve of his playacting in public? How will he manage to participate in a play when he is suppose to be sitting in church with his family?
In Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour, Pamela Aidan captures the essence of the dignified and honorable Darcy family with excellent precision. I found her style to be superbly Austenesque and I appreciated how she remained true to the time period and Jane Austen's original novel. Moreover, I loved how invested I felt in her characters; I cried, smiled and laughed with them.
One element I loved was seeing Darcy, the Fitzwilliam boys, and George Wickham as young lads. Ms. Aidan drew from what is known about these characters and astutely illustrated what they might have been like as children. In addition, Ms. Aidan provided the same treatment to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Her Lady Anne (Mrs. Darcy) was an affectionate and understanding person who "dearly love[d] a laugh." And her Mr. Darcy Senior, while being a loving and devoted father, exhibited some traits, such as pride, reserve, and high morals, that will later be seen in his son. I also took delight in her rendition of Lord Matlock, who frequently made me laugh by referring to his sons as "little hellions!"
In the wide array of Austenesque literature, Pride and Prejudice prequels are a rarity! I am so pleased that Ms. Aidan took it upon herself to tell us about Darcy's youth. While Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour does not encompass the whole of Darcy's childhood, there is a promise of more to come, and according to Ms. Aidan this novella might possibly blossom into a multi-volume series!
If you are interested in seeing the austere and fastidious Mr. Darcy as a young boy, learning life's lessons, getting into scrapes, and preparing to be the Master of Pemberley this is a novella you will not want to miss!
*According to dictionary.com, a mummer is a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume while merrymaking or taking part in a pantomime, especially at Christmas and other festive seasons.
**Note: Just wanted to point out that this is a 120 page novella, not a full-length novel. At the price of $12.50, some might be expecting a lengthier work. Perhaps it will be available in eBook soon at a reduced price?