Thursday, October 15, 2009

The "What If?" Genre Part 3: Susan Adriani & Linda Wells

In 2008 both Susan Adriani and Linda Wells made contributions to the growing stock of, what I am calling, "What If?" stories based on Pride & Prejudice. It's a term I first encountered in Ms. Adriani's Affinity & Affection: A Pride & Prejudice What If Story and have been using ever since. This story begins while Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are staying at Netherfield and does a good job of depicting Darcy's torment over his growing affection for latter lady. When He and Bingley encounter Wickham in Meryton the following week he decides he cannot just ride away, instead warning Elizabeth not to trust the man. This act changes the way Elizabeth views him and their romance quickly blossoms. Wickham, on the other hand, has yet another excuse to despise his former friend and patron. This is a fun variation on the story (I particularly enjoyed the trials Elizabeth confronts in London as Darcy's intended) but some of the scenario that plays out is rather far fetched, particularly in regards to Lydia. Like most of the other "What If?" tales I've been discussing, I wish Ms. Adriani had left out the sexual content, but I know many other people enjoy it.

Linda Wells produced one tomb entitled Chance Encounters and managed to pump out another one in 2009 called Fate & Consequences: A Tale of Pride & Prejudice. She also just released a book last month called Perfect Fit: A Modern Tale of Pride & Prejudice which I haven't read (I have never gotten excited by the modernizations - maybe someday I'll go on a spree and pound through them all). Chance Encounters, for the first couple of chapters, had me grinning and giggling like Charlotte Palmer. There is no other word I can use but tickled to describe how much I enjoyed the premise. Bingley has postponed his residency at Netherfield, delaying the time when he and Darcy meet the Bennets. As she attends the theater in London with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Elizabeth catches Darcy's eye and both are instantly smitten. Unfortunately, as the book progresses it grows less compelling. Still, on my first read, I could barley put it down. It was only on my second pass through that I grew impatient, both with the bad editing and the amount of sexual content (since I was unconcerned with missing plot I just skipped over those scenes).

Fate & Consequences is a much more polished text than Chance Encounters but I didn't enjoy it as much. This story strays a bit from the standard "What If?" formula by not changing the action of a particular moment in Pride & Prejudice but what happened before the story began. Here Georgiana Darcy actually departs Ramsgate with Wickham and Darcy, along with Colonel Fitzwilliam, is forced to pursue them. Where do they catch up with elopers? Meryton of course, giving Elizabeth the opportunity to comfort a distraught Georgiana and begin a correspondence with her. It's a fun concept but it just didn't grab me in the same way that Chance Encounters did. Still, a worth while read.

I am sure that there are many more examples of "What If?" stories circulating online, I just haven't read them. If anyone would be so kind as to bring the better ones to my attention I would appreciate it.


  1. You know, I was just thinking of someone I know (Sarah Pawley) who wrote and self-published Finding Grace and Oh That I Had Wings might love to meet you. She has her books up for free on her website: Here's her myspace page: She loves authors like Jane Austen, so I think you would love her books and maybe even enjoy talking to her. Like I said, her books are free to check out. She's a really nice friend too. :-)

  2. Thanks Ruth. I will definitely check out her website.

  3. Abigail Reynolds has fantastic "what if" novels...

  4. Hi Anonymous. I couldn't agree more! This post was proceeded by one entirely dedicated to Abigail Reynolds. Did you see it?