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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 22 August 2004
Amidst all those many spin-offs and sequels to her books which nine times out of ten are very disappointing, this one is really very good. It's the first of a trilogy (under the heading 'Fitzwiliam Darcy, Gentleman'), and I am now rather frustrated that I did not order the second one (Duty and Desire) at the same time because now I have to wait a couple weeks before it arrives and I can continue the story.
This is Pride & Prejudice from Darcy's viewpoint. There are many of the scenes we're familiar with from the original, but also a few completely new ones, and others that were only referred to happening in Austen's,. e.g., 'and though they were at one time left by themselves for half-an-hour, he adhered most conscientiously to his book and would not even look at her'. That little scene is described in more detail in 'An Assembly'. It's not written in quite exactly the light, satirical style that Jane had, (this is Darcy's viewpoint after all, not Elizabeth's) but it also has its moments of ironical humour and Pamela Aidan gets the language and manners bang on the mark.
It's wonderful getting more insight into the nature of Darcy's friendship with Charles, his relationship with Georgiana and his priveliged position and life. I also loved seeing the character of Lizzie as we know her 'fleshed out' through the eyes of an outsider. Something that never really hit me as forcibly before was that, despite being a well-bred, intelligent gentleman's daughter, she really IS - especially compared to Darcy and the people he knows - a rather simple country miss. Aidan's made her a bit more 'sweet and dimpled' than I'd imagined Elizabeth to be, but she ended up being completely believable to me. Also, although we know that Darcy's pride is part of the problem and impasse between them, here the role her prejudice also plays in their ongoing misunderstanding is thrown into a bit sharper focus. You see how, at times, she really does enjoy bedevilling him just for devillment's sake.
Aidan rarely makes the mistake that so many other Austen wannabes do of going beyond the mode of decorum established in her books and describing or having things happen that Jane would never have put to paper. However, there is a tint, just a hint of the strong physical attraction Elizabeth ends up having for Darcy. In the book it refers to the fact that he is a man of 'strong feeling' which he keeps carefully in check and regulated. Here, you see just how strong his feelings can be *swoons slightly*
In short, highly recommended. It ends at the return to London after the disastrous Netherfield ball. I can't wait until the second arrives and am rather annoyed that I apparently have to wait until next year until the third is published. Pamela - write faster!
I hope it doesn't break any kind of copyright rules if I include a short excerpt:
"A more forward, opinionated little baggage I defy anyone to find! Such cheek and impertinence! So ready to do battle on the slightest pretense. He paused a moment, his conscience demanding that he examine his mental outburst for bias. Darcy heaved a reluctant sigh. Ready to battle with himself, to be sure. It was only he who seemed to call forth this rash barrage of penetrating wit. Perhaps, he even encouraged it in some way, for she was certainly most amiable and geniune in her tenderness with those she loved. Her face...when she looked on those others...such warm affection...
Why then, do you continue to attend to her? his inner voice interrupted in demand. Darcy left the window and threw himself down onto the bed. Suddenly, before thought could mitigate its power, the answer thrummed through his whole body. "Because she IS both and what you have always desired." For some time it was impossible to ignore the thrill and terror of his confession. But he had been well-prepared from birth for his station in life and what was due his family. As he turned onto his side and grasped a pillow firmly against his cheek, the resolution was already forming that, for both their sakes, no sign of admiration should escape him henceforth. The rapid thuddings of his heart finally quieted, but try as he might, sleep escaped him until the early watches of the morning."
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on 24 November 2003
Pamela Aidan has done a wonderful job in describing Mr. Darcy' point of view on Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice': how he notices that he is trapped by Elizabeth's charms, how he tries to escape and how he becomes the man that Elizabeth and we -the readers- come to love.
'An Assembly Such As This' is the first part of a trilogy that will make you wait with agony for the next two parts. Enjoy!
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on 29 November 2005
I am a fan of Jane Austen and particularly Pride and Prejudice, and I feel that it is hard to follow in her footsteps. Having said that I am eager to read more about these characters and wish that Austen had written many more books. As this is not the case I have started to read some of the many sequels now available. I have just finished Book I of Pamela Aidan's trilogy and I am rushing to order Parts 2 and 3. My only gripe is that they are not in one volume. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and feel that she has maintained the prose style admirably, and the descriptions of the lifestyle and characters expands on Jane Austen's original without adding too much of a modern twist. I recommend this book highly to any fan of the original.
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on 21 November 2003
I have read this book already as fanfiction on austen.com, I do not know how often. I was enchanted, moved, spellbound and amused at the same time. Never read a better story about Darcy. I also bought the book, and anticipate with impatience the next two. All I can say, buy and enjoy!
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on 5 February 2005
I thought this book would be all the same as the other books. How wrong I was, It was written well from the start to end. It was written from Darcy point of view, how his life changed when he met Elizabeth Bennett. Also having read the second sequal "Duty and Desire" which was even better, well done Pamela Aidan. Roll on for the third and final sequence "These Three Remain"
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on 11 August 2004
I found the book a very delightful and entertaining read,it does not only tell the story convincingly from Darcy's point of view, but is also quite humorous. What I appreciated very much, is that although the story is based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, it does not repeat it unnecessarily. I hope that the author will publish the promised two sequels very soon!
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on 14 November 2003
This is a book to treasure and re-read often. It brings to life the world of Fitzwilliam Darcy, showing us the process by which he becomes 'the best of men' for his Elizabeth. Buy the book...be prepared for enchantment!
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on 16 January 2006
I received this book on Saturday morning; I had finished it by Sunday afternoon. The only down side to this book is that it is split into 3 parts and am therefore having to wait for the next 2 instalments to arrive.
The writing style is faithful to the original which in my case sometimes means I need a dictionary to hand but I see that as a good thing. The author was evidently a fan of the BBC adaptation as even the dog howling at the start is featured in the book.
Mr Darcy is explained so well that you really understand his side of the story and the reasons for his 'odd' behaviour. I didn't think i could have liked Mr Darcy more but i do!
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on 23 May 2006
Very enjoyable - I shall read the other two in the series though the reviews are not too good. Suffers a little from the author being American (gratuitous introduction of manly gossip about the 1812 war and ungrateful colonists) but she manages to get more passion into it, making exchanges between Lizzie and Darcy really sizzle, and Lydia's exploits much more sexy. Irritating in some ways - Lizzie is called Miss Bennett several times, which is not only incorrect, but confusing - you think the narrative is referring to Jane.
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on 17 August 2009
One of the great joys I have as a reader is finding a modern day variation or amplification of the stories of Jane Austen, with my special favorite being books concerning the characters in "Pride and Prejudice". I have read many such books but the series of novels written by Pamela Aidan are my personal "gold standard" by which all others must be compared.

"An Assembly Such As This", book one in a three book series, begins with the arrival of the Bingley's, Hursts, and Darcy to the ball at Meryton and concludes on the day after the ball given by Bingley at Netherfield when Darcy and Bingley leave for London. What happens in the time between those two events is a completely faithful expounding of the thoughts and feelings of Fitzwilliam Darcy as he becomes more and more aware of his growing feelings toward Elizabeth Bennet.

Because Jane Austen concentrated so much of her attention on the female characters in Pride and Prejudice there has been an opportunity for other authors to give readers their ideas of what Darcy and Bingley's personalities might have been like if Austen had presented both sides of that story. This book portrays those men's feelings, thoughts and actions with wonderful sensitivity. Charles Bingley can often be dismissed as shallow and flighty by some authors trying to create a variation of Pride and Prejudice. Not so with Ms Aidan. Bingley is presented in all of his sweet, kind, shy nature with insights into why he defers to Darcy's opinions so often. Darcy, on the other hand, can often be written as much too haughty and self-assured. Here we see him wrestling with his own demons; the problem with Georgiana and Wickham as well as fending off the blatant advances from Caroline Bingley. Darcy was a man of substance, wealth, and prestige. He had been brought up to consider himself superior and society aided him in those feelings. Ms Aidan helps readers understand why his feelings of superiority were valid for his times.

I really enjoyed the way Pamela Aidan wrote about the relationship between Darcy and his valet, Fletcher. She allowed the readers to see a softer side of Darcy there, preparing us for the changes which were about to take place in his life. The part where the servants had conspired to dress Darcy and Elizabeth in matching colors for Sunday morning church services was just priceless. I also thoroughly enjoyed how we watched Darcy agonize over how to apologize to Elizabeth for his treatment of her at the Meryton ball. He came up with one plan after another only to scrap that plan and try to find a better one, just as I have done myself on many occasions. The problem was, there were events happening in Elizabeth's life of which he was unaware so no matter how hard he tried, the time and place and situation just never happened.

I can honestly say that I love this book. It satisfies my ideals of what Darcy was like as a person. It allows me to watch him change and grow and learn about himself. But most of all, Pamela Aidan uses the characters created by Jane Austen but she doesn't change their basic personalities. She leaves them formed in the Austen manner, just expanded for my continued enjoyment.
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