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Out of the Blue

Italian book blogger. Loves Jane Austen, ice cream, and the colour blue.
The Last Man in The World - Abigail Reynolds I learned about Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy - The Last Man in the World on The Book Rat. In one of her vlogs, Misty mentioned she started reading a couple of chapters out of curiosity and then stayed up the whole night to finish it. You can read Misty's complete review here.

Up to a certain point, you might call this book "Pride and Prejudice fan fiction", as it belongs to a series of novel which explore the "what if"s and the roads not taken in the main novel. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth reacts to Darcy's proposal with a harsh refusal: "I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry." But what if she had never said that?

The Last Man in the World opens with Elizabeth and Darcy arriving at Pemberley as husband and wife. While she was visiting the Collins and having a walk near the Rosings gardens, he proposed to her and kissed her in full view of his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Darcy didn't have the slightest doubt that he would be accepted. After being kissed in public, Elizabeth found herself unable to reject Darcy's proposal. She decides to accept to protect her own reputation, as well the honour of her whole family. Thus, Elizabeth and Darcy get married after a very short engagement.

At first, Darcy is a tender and passionate husband, while Elizabeth, in an attempt not to displease him, becomes increasingly withdrawn in herself. When Darcy asks her the reason of her unsual attitude, she tells him that she married him only because he compromised her. He's shocked, hurt, and angry. Elizabeth's early prejudice and Darcy's hurt pride set in motion a chain of events that nearly distruct them both.

I loved this book and found it very engaging. More to that, it made my heart pound. The subject matter is nothing new - I've read the original book at least ten times, and know it backwards and sideways - yet Reynolds manages to bring the readers close to the heart of the two main characters, making us privy to their conflicting emotions. It's hard for Elizabeth to convince Darcy of her genuine love for him, as much as it is difficult for him to overcome his own hurt pride.

I liked the opportunity to get to see more of Georgiana, Darcy's younger sister. In the original novel she appears very shy and almost frightened of Elizabeth. In The Last Man in the World, Georgiana sounds initially colder, more standoffish. Her intuition immediately tells her that Elizabeth is not happy with her marriage. Georgiana thinks her new sister-in-law must be a fortune hunter, and commiserates her brother's poor choice of a wife. Georgiana is very distrustful of men and does not want to get married. Of course, she warms up to Elizabeth eventually.

Abigail Reynolds has a real talent for taking Jane Austen's characters beyond the original text and making them her own. As a result, we get to see Elizabeth and Darcy acting passionately, while remaining faithful to their original characterization. I'd like to read other books in the series and would certainly recommend The Last Man in the World to Austen fans, at least to those who are old enough to enjoy a good romance novel.