1932 by Karen M. Cox last night and finished it poolside this afternoon. It's a setting that makes any book better, but this one would have been enjoyable anywhere. Ms. Cox takes Pride and Prejudice and relocates the characters to Depression Era Kentucky, a period in time which has particular resonance with our contemporary economic situation, while simultaneously asking a very similar question to that Abigail Reynolds posed in her novel Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World - what would have happened if Elizabeth had not refused Mr. Darcy's initial proposal? Mr. Bennet (now Dr. Bennet) having lost his position as a college professor, and, subsequently, his home in Chicago, is forced to relocate his family to the small Kentucky town of Meryton where they try to make a living at the farm (Longbourn) where Mrs. Bennet grew up. Elizabeth quickly catches the eye of Mr. Darcy, whose farm at Pemberley is the most prosperous in the district. Thinking his interest in her is based in disapproval, Elizabeth is taken aback when she receives his unexpected proposal but agrees to marry him anyway due to the dire straits of the Bennet family's finances.
This is not the only way in which our original tale has been turned upon it's head. George Wickham does not rear his ugly head until well after the Darcys marry, proving a complication to the couple as they struggle to build a loving relationship. Also, since Darcy has never learned to check his pride, Elizabeth attempts to hide many aspects of her family's struggle from him, creating a further source of distrust in their fragile relationship. I found these aspects, as well as others, provided an effective and compelling perspective on this beloved story. Ms. Cox stays true to the essence of the characters while casting them in an entirely new scenario, keeping me interested and engaged from beginning to end.
I must express my discomfort with the sex scenes, rather inevitable in JAFF that focuses on the Darcys' post-marital relationship, but I give Ms. Cox credit for seeing the couple safely married before exploring the more private aspects of their relationship (an issue still paramount in 1930s society), as well as for doing so in a non-gratuitous fashion. If we must have sex, at least in this novel it is relevant to the plot. Having provided this caveat, I have no qualms with giving this novel an enthusiastic recommendation. It is both well written and entertainingly original.
I apologize for the brief nature of this review, but I am on vacation. I will begin another resetting of Pride and Prejudice, Pemberley Ranch, this evening, and will provide a review of it when done. I am interested in comparing these historical reimaginings - a decidedly new take on Austenesque - side by side. They have been sitting on my desk beckoning to me for too long, and I am thrilled to finally have the leisure to devour both.