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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2006
This is an excellent book. Well-written, interesting, detailed and with some elements of humour, it is a great story about a man's struggles within himself over worries for his sister, the woman with whom he is falling in love, his servants and the other people he meets.

The first novel in this series of three, "An Assembly Such As This" covered the period up to the end of the Netherfield Ball when the Bingleys and Mr Darcy leave Hertfordshire for London. This book spans the time between that and just before Mr Darcy goes to Hunsford to make his first marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. In fact, Elizabeth does not appear at all in this book in person - but she is mentioned throughout as Darcy begins to understand what he is feeling about her, and to understand why he feels that way - her "goodness and good sense".

There are a whole host of new characters in this book, as well as some who were introduced in the former book (although not in Jane Austen's work) and they are well-fleshed out and believable - with a few exceptions. What really stands out about this book is that you don't feel you're reading a book that is having to `fit in' with another book already written - it stands on its own, and although you know that Darcy and Elizabeth are going to get together, and indeed how this will take place, you are still fascinated to see what's going to happen next with Darcy.

The exception to the believability of the book is in the central character of the latter half of the book - Sylvanie, who is the half-sister of another character and who is trying to seduce Darcy into marrying her by the use of dark arts. Her companion, apparently an old female servant but in actuality her mother, connives in this deception which involves leaving a dead pig at a local beauty spot and, eventually, the kidnapping of a child (and the possibility is always there that the child will be killed). This adds a certain whodunnit aspect to the book, perhaps trying to elevate the suspense, but for me it wasn't entirely successful. My purpose in reading this book was to follow the love story with Darcy and Elizabeth and the way that his sentiments change; as a side issue, it would be interesting to know more about Bingley (although that doesn't happen in this book), and Georgiana (well described); I felt the mystery aspect of Sylvanie's weaving a spell over Darcy wasn't entirely necessary.

Another notable theme in this book, and indeed in the previous volume, is the religious side of Georgiana, and to some extent, Darcy. Nothing is mentioned in Jane Austen's book except that they go to church - but in this book we hear a lot more of faith, of Georgiana's very devout faith specifically, of philosophy within a religious framework, and get to read a lot of the Prayer Book. It fits in reasonably, but to me had just a twinge of un-English (American!) religious fervour which may reflect upon the author.

The writer of this book, Pamela Aidan, has done an excellent job with the dialogue, historical detail, the feel of the period. However, as in so many other American-written novels, there are errors that leap out at an English reader - one examples of which are the use of "fall" for "autumn". Although I only counted four of these type of errors in the book (and none in the first instalment) I was rather disappointed that an editor hadn't noticed them and dealt with them as, for me, they jarred and brought me, however briefly, out of my complete immersion in the book. My particular edition of the book also had a number of spelling/typesetting mistakes - perhaps these will be corrected in a reprint, if there is one.

Overall I did enjoy this book, although perhaps not as much as Volume 1, and I am very much looking forward to reading the third and final volume when it is published. It's good to know that we have the visit to Hunsford and the first marriage declaration, along with all the events that lead to the second declaration, in store for us.

Read this book and enjoy it for the new and detailed insights it gives us into Darcy; just ignore the few oddities that perhaps don't quite sit right in this story.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2004
This book was so hard to put down, (as was the first in the trilogy!) and I can hardly wait for the last book to be published. Characters old and new seem so real and it does what a good book should - transport you off to another place.
To read the story from Darcy's point of view so enriches the reading of the original, although I must say, that if I had to choose I prefer this version!
If you fell in love with Mr Darcy the first time round then buy this trilogy, you won't be disappointed!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2004
Well what more can I say? For all Pride and prejudice fans this is a treat. What was Darcy thinking when he slighted/proposed/left Elizabeth? all the answers are in this trilogy (I know that the third and final part is on the way) it's really well written and with lots of new and funny characters. It's very Regency and close to our dear Jane Austen's spirit so no disappointment possible. I highly recommend it. trust me I'm a Jane Austen fanatic :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2009
Every time I sit down to read this entire three book series by Pamela Aidan I hope that I will enjoy this book, "Duty and Desire". So far, I just can't make myself do that.

This part of the Pride and Prejudice variation series just doesn't satisfy me the way the first and third books do. This one takes up immediately after Darcy and Bingley have left Netherfield to return to London. Bingley doesn't realize it but Darcy is purposefully getting him away from Jane Bennet before he can make her an offer of marriage. Darcy sincerely does not believe that Miss Bennet's feelings are as strongly engaged as Bingley's and he wants to prevent his friend from making a terrible mistake.

Once Darcy arrives in London this story is all from the imagination of Ms Aidan since Jane Austen was completely silent on the happenings in Darcy's life over this period. I wish I could understand exactly what Ms Aidan was trying to accomplish with this book. Yes, Darcy did revel in the maturity of his sister, Georgiana. But then he became concerned when he found out what had caused her to overcome her guilt about her mistake with George Wickham. He wanted her to grow up and mature but evidently only by using the methods he chose for her.

I honestly don't know what to think about the house party Darcy went to in order to search for a candidate for a wife. That entire idea just seemed to come out of the blue and didn't make much sense to me. Why should Darcy have expected to find a wife at this particular house party? Was he so desperate that he was going to chose just any woman who fit his requirements? I honestly never could believe that.

The only saving grace for me in this second of the three novels is that Darcy worked through some of his demons concerning the inappropriateness of Elizabeth Bennet as a woman for him to love. He struggled with his feelings for her and those feelings were allowed to grow and change over a long period of time by Ms Aidan. Once again the relationship between Darcy and his valet, Fletcher, was quite well used to indicate the softening and mellowing of Darcy's personality. But all of the things which took place at the house party made me uncomfortable. I didn't like it the first time I ever read it and I continue to dislike it now. I hate to say this, but readers can actually read only books one and three and have a perfectly wonderful variation of Pride and Prejudice. I still continue to read this one because of the revelations I see in the character development of Darcy and Georgiana.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2004
This is a cut above the usual Jane Austen "sequels". The author is erudite and brings intelligence and plausibility to the "mirror image" tale of Darcy's story, laying bare his mind and his heart as well as his doings through his long, almost complete absence in "Pride and Prejudice", following the first proposal at Hunsford and the second several months later at Meryton. Pamela Aidan makes perfect sense of his transformation in those months and amlifies our understanding of him delightfully through subtle plotting and the amplification of characters such as Georgiana and Colonel FitzWilliam. The points where the two stories come together, such as the meeting at Pemberly, are delicious indeed! The language and sentiments do full justice to Jane yet never lapse into the awful kind of parody that others of this genre tend to. Bravo. Jane fans would have to be severe indeed not to enjoy this.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2004
This book, the second in the Fitzwilliam Darcy Gentleman triology is a must read for all those who crave more Darcy. Of all the P&P sequels that feature Darcy, I have found this to be the best. The book meets and exceeds all the expectations that were established in book I, through thoughtfully written prose that engage the reader on multiple emotional levels.
If you haven't read book I, buy it, read it, and then read this. You will not be disappointed, but, you will wind up like the rest of us, anxiously awaiting book III.
I live in America, but brought book II from England, because I couldn't wait. That's how good this triology is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2007
I read this with the negative comments about some "weird" aspects of this novel constantly at the back of my mind, but i must say i was hooked from start to finish. It really explores Darcy's relationship with his sister Georgiana which is engrossing in itself for those who love Darcy. It helps the reader understand his beliefs and his sense of family honor which would explain his conflicting emotions concerning Elizabeth Bennett.Personaly, i thought the events at Norwycke castle were a refreshing break from the usual Austen-type scenarios - i thought i would be disappointed by them but Pamela Aidan writes so skillfully that the reader can accept this second book in her trilogy as a story separate from P&P. The characters introduced are interesting and i believed that they could be the types of people that Austen would write herself (perhaps with the exception of Fletcher - being a servant, he would probably be kept silent or have minimum dialog). I do recommend this book both to general readers of fiction based in regency England and Austen fans as i am sure you wont be disappointed!
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on 17 January 2013
Yes, this book is just about Darcy - a book about the months between leaving Netherfield and arriving in Kent at Easter and meeting Elizabeth again. There is no direct contact with Elizabeth during this time and yet he is constantly thinking about her and trying not to think about her. In trying to replace her in his heart and in pursuance of his duty he attends a house party of old university friends in the hopes of meeting a suitable wife. He meets someone he feels desire for but he quickly realises, with the help of his valet, that she is part of an intrigue in which he is to be the captured fly. He also realises that these friends of his own station behave as badly as he perceives the "common" persons of Hertfordshire, such as Mrs Bennett, to do. Elizabeth becomes his psychological anchor during this disastrous party and her embroidery threads which he purloined his talisman.

We see Darcy interacting with other people in his life: his sister, his valet, his cousin and a new character Dy Brougham. Each brings out different facets of the man and we see him more clearly through their eyes.

Although this book is not directly related to the events of Pride and Prejudice as is Book 1 and 3 of the trilogy, Aidan has skilfully woven Darcy into a wider circle of friends and events. He has a full life beyond his interactions with Elizabeth and in that life he is driven by the duty that he has been brought up to. This is his great dilemma - how can he have Elizabeth and do his duty by the family name. The book ends with Darcy having realised the quintessential goodness of Elizabeth and his love for her but being no nearer to reconciling himself to her low connections. Duty and desire remain in conflict.
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VINE VOICEon 1 January 2012
I've given this three stars because I think it's not necessary to read this in order to enjoy Pamela Aidan's interpretation of what Darcy was doing behind the scenes of 'Pride & Prejudice'.
This novel covers the period when Elizabeth and Darcy spend several months apart - from Bingley quitting Netherfield for London up to Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy heading off to Rosings for their annual stay with their aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Those who wish to know what Elizabeth was doing in that time can apply to 'P&P', for the rest of us, there's this novel following Darcy.
According to Pamela Aiden what he does is to attempt to put Elizabeth out of his mind and to look for a suitable bride from amongst the 'ton' (upper class society).
He attends a house party which is stuffed to the gills with eligible young women but none of them can hold a candle to Elizabeth, although one comes close to seducing him in a library ...
If you are on a limited budget, I would suggest purchasing books 1 and 3 and borrowing this one from a library if only for the reason that Aiden conjures up a world that is very convincing and alluring - there is something just so elegant and desirable about Regency England - and it's a joy to be immersed in that world for the duration of this trilogy.
I'm not sure that some of the events that happen at the aristocratic house party that Darcy attends are particularly realistic, but Aiden doesn't push them too far and they do reverberate through the final book of the trilogy as well. However, it's not strictly necessary to read this 2nd book in order to understand the 3rd, in my opinion.
So - in summary - worth reading for the world that Aiden has created and which reads as very authentic (in the main), and worth reading if you are hooked by the series itself, but otherwise, not as good as books 1 and 3.
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on 7 August 2015
After thoroughly enjoying the first book in the series I was really looking forward to the second and had high hopes. I was sorely disappointed. Although the first few chapter were fairly good the majority of the book delved into a plot so far removed from anything relevant or concerned P&P, together with a whole host of new characters that had no other reason for existing other than filling space on a page. I often found myself wondering what relevance this plot diversion, although interesting on its own really had to Darcy's overall envoy emery and struggle in P&P.

If you are looking to read a regency era mystery and are not concerned with it being directly linked with P&P, you should find the book fairly entertaining. If like me, Austin's characters is the driving force of your interest in this book you'll find yourself frustrated and irritated more than once whilst reading, wondering why you should care about any of the characters presented.

Hopefully the last book will follow the sequence of events of P&P like was the case of the first book in the series.
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