Memory is a "What If?" Pride and Prejudice re-imagining premised on the notion that Darcy and Elizabeth meet many years earlier than they do in the original story. Volume one, Lasting Impressions, begins with Fitzwilliam Darcy returning from a grand tour of the continent only to learn that his father is in failing health. Overwhelmed with the potential loss and the responsibilities it thrusts onto his shoulders, he escapes his London town home for Hyde Park, where a young girl's laughter cuts through his grief and makes a "lasting impression" upon him. This is Ms. Wells strength - creating gloriously romantic scenarios to bring our favorite couple together. Unlike the course of events in Miss Austen's story, Ms. Wells always has Darcy and Elizabeth make an instant connection in her books. In this novel, they see each other in passing several times over the course of many years, always separated before they can speak. In am amusing twist, it is Charles Bingley who ends up playing matchmaker, his social background acting as a link between Elizabeth and Darcy's worlds.
Trials to Bear and How Far We Have Come (respectively), are largely dedicated to finding comfortable situations for the rest of the cast. I particularly enjoyed Ms. Wells' handling of Mary Bennet, who also finds herself mistress of a rather impressive estate. Jane Bennet takes a very different path than that we are familiar with, and Lydia Bennet is forced to see the dangers of her ways before bringing disgrace upon the family. Readers of Ms. Wells' other books will recall how harshly she deals with Mr. and Mr. Bennet, the latter usually bearing the brunt of her disapproval. In this book, it is Mrs. Bennet who is irredeemable. I continue to feel that Ms. Wells is rather harsh in her analysis of both these characters, but directing that disapproval towards Mrs. Bennet sits a bit more comfortably with me than when it is focused on Mr. Bennet.
I must end this post with a question. Does anyone know if the Linda Wells who writes Pride and Prejudice fan fiction is the same Linda Wells who is a beauty editor at Allure? I have been wondering this since Chance Encounters was published but have never found a definite answer.