So I was inspired by my lovely book exchange gifts to attempt to read through all of the Pride and Prejudice variations I currently own. I say “attempt” because it’s a lot. I started off with A Very Austen Christmas, an anthology of Christmas stories, because it’s seasonal I guess. And the wifi is broken at my house, so that means more reading at home instead of noodling around on the internet!
“Her Christmas Gift” by Robin Helm
This is a Pride and Prejudice story, and it’s delightful. It’s one of those “what if one thing changed” stories, and in this Lady Catherine never made it to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth, and so Darcy never heard her response, so he never knew that he had a chance. Elizabeth and Maria travel to Hunsford to help Charlotte in her confinement, and so are at Rosings near Christmas. There are all sorts of illnesses, so we get the added character of Mr. Thomas Jones, a visiting physician and childhood playmate of Elizabeth! There are misunderstandings and changes all around, but in the end it all works out, as it should. This is well-written and fits along with what could have happened very easily.
“The Matchmaker’s Christmas” by Laura Hile
This is my least favorite of the bunch, and it’s a cross-over. We have P&P characters coming and going after the Netherfield Ball, but then Emma Woodhouse shows up with Miss Bates and Tom Bertram, insisting that they stay for Christmas on Bingley’s invitation. An invitation in his hand that he doesn’t recall writing. They are all connected by “Aunt Jane” Austen, and it just feels a bit immature and contrived.
“No Better Gift” by Wendi Sotis
Another P&P, and this time Darcy is heading to Matlock for Christmas when he swings by Netherfield to pick up a gift he left behind for his sister. He finds Meryton practically abandoned, and discovers that a pox epidemic has swept the area. Netherfield has become the quarantine house, and Darcy finds Elizabeth trying to do far too much to nurse everyone back to health. This one is nice, but not my favorite, and a little less plausible than the first and last stories.
“Mistletoe at Thorton Lacey” by Barbara Cornthwaite
And so we witness the efforts of poor Edmund to propose to Fanny Price. It’s a comedy of errors, and a nice little piece. I’m not familiar with the source material, (Mansfield Park, I’m assuming) but it was still a lovely read.