I just read Remembrance of the Past by Lory Lillian, a Pride and Prejudice variation premised on the idea of Elizabeth and Darcy meeting in London before she travels to Derbyshire, Mr. Gardiner's business having postponed their trip. This book is a tomb and there are parts of it I quite enjoyed but, like so many in this genre, it's too sexy for my taste.
Let me clarify a few things. First of all, I appreciate the fact that Ms. Lillian does not include any incidents of premarital sex between our hero and heroine (which really upsets me), though they do become fairly intimate and visit each other's bedrooms (cringe). Second of all, despite appearances, I am not a prude. I do not at all mind sex scenes in literature, particularly if they have a valid reason for being included, but it just feels so wrong in Austen. After all, what would Jane think? Does it matter?
Obviously there are two camps on this issue. I has to admit I think mine is rather weak. I base this on the fact that the vast majority of Austen fan fiction I read depicts Darcy and Elizabeth, particularly, in some sort of sexualized encounter. So I ask why? What is it about these two characters that inspires eroticism? Is it in the book somewhere? Did I miss it? Certainly no one is rushing off to depict Fanny and Edmund Bertram in the sack; it must be something about Elizabeth and Darcy. Perhaps, like the growth of the internet, sex could be the secret to Pride and Prejudice's status? I shudder at my reasoning.
Elizabeth and Darcy certainly have the most passionate romance in Austen, a result of their torment and inherent to the nature of their characters. Their marriage holds every promise of perfection. Of course this is probably why so many love this story: what woman doesn't want to be swept away to Pemberley by Mr. Darcy? The problem arises, so my theory goes, in the fact that modern readers have such vivid imaginations about what follows. Did Jane Austen intend to write a bodice ripper? I really don't think so.
These are deep philosophical questions to tackle and I am likely to spend a good portion of my life attempting to resolve them. I would love to know what other's think about this phenomenon - someone please defend the sex scenes and offer a better rationale than mine! I can't bear to think of dear Jane this way.
Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Remembrance of the Past, almost 500 dense pages of Elizabeth and Darcy. Its steamy aspects aside, the book's scenario allows the romance to unfold with a satisfying rapidity, though an understanding between our heroes does not come easy. Ms. Lillian has introduced a new, rather compelling character, Lady Cassandra, a longtime friend of the Darcy's and a new, thoroughly despicable villain, Lord Markham. It was a fun read, much better written than some of the other novels of this kind, but I would have enjoyed it more if everyone had kept their stockings on.