Today I am very pleased to post a review as part of the blog tour of The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams.
This is the second novel released by this author, and one that I have been eagerly waiting for. I read Caitlin Williams’ first novel, Ardently, shortly after it was released and fell in love with it. One year after its release date, Ardently is still one of my favorite books, and I dare say on my Top 5 best JAFF books.
Ardently caused such an impression in me that I remember staying up all night reading it and writing its review. I just could not let go of the story and the characters, so you can imagine how happy I was to learn that Caitlin Williams was releasing another novel.
This second book is The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet and it takes a completely different direction than Ardently. If you read the blurb you’ll understand why.
The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.
But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.
The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty-one. She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart?
*** My Review***
The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet is organized in 4 volumes, each volume centered on one year of Elizabeth’s life.
The first volume starts with a grieving 15 year old Elizabeth suffering the loss of her dear father and having a hard time accepting she will be sent to Derbyshire to live with people she has never met, leaving all her family and friends behind. This becomes too much for her to bear, and she decides to run away precisely on the day Mr. Darcy and his father are supposed to take her away with them.
Young Mr. Darcy offers to find and bring her back home safely, but the search will not be what he is expecting, and circumstances dictate that 23 year old Fitzwilliam Darcy marries 15 year old Elizabeth Bennet to save both their reputations.
Elizabeth is obviously not pleased with the outcome of her foolish behavior, and the first chapter of the book will show us a “Lydia like” Elizabeth adapting to her new life and family.
I confess the first volume was quite hard for me to accept because Elizabeth was, in my opinion, too immature and insensible, and Mr. Darcy too spoiled, cold and proud. But as I continued reading the book, I’ve come to understand that it was necessary for me to see these characters as such, because only by seeing how they were at this age, I would be able to enjoy the following chapters, which will show us, through an incredible understanding of human nature, how these characters will grow to become the perfect match.
On P&P we meet a witty mature Elizabeth at 20 and a proud and honorable Darcy at 28, but they were not always like this, and Caitlin Williams takes us into a journey that will show us how, despite the changes in their lives, they will grow to become the characters we dearly love. I must say the outcome is one of the most faithful descriptions of these characters I have ever seen. By the end of the book both Darcy and Elizabeth’s characters are true to the concept Austen created.
As Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy were growing into the characters we know, so was I growing fonder and fonder of this book.
It gave me particular pleasure to see Mr. Darcy become the man I know him to be. Even though this book is told from Elizabeth’s perspective, and Mr. Darcy’s is not present during great part of the book (much as in Pride and Prejudice), it was his character development that I loved the most. I liked seeing how his relationship with Wickham was before Mr. Darcy realized what a bad influence he was for him. And I liked seeing a Mr. Darcy who was not yet stern, hurt and full of responsibilities due to his parents death. I had never seen a book describe so well Mr. Darcy’s growth from a young man without major responsibilities into a responsible brother and landlord.
The book continues describing Elizabeth’s daily life and the battles she has to overcome to become the witty, cheerful girl we know her to be, and in volume 3 when she decides to go downstairs to dismiss her maid from her duties, I knew that Elizabeth had become the person we know so well. She realized she had to change and earn her place, and so she did.
By volume 4 I was already completely and utterly in love with this book. This last part of the book gave me some of the most romantic scenes I have ever read on a JAFF book. Elizabeth and Darcy’s first kiss was just absolutely perfect and no words can describe the feelings it brought me. In fact, all scenes that occurred on Elizabeth’s 21st birthday were incredibly well written, full of powerful, well designed scenes such as the offering of her birthday present, the first kiss and Wickham’s appearance.
Summing up, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet is certainly a very different book that caused so much controversy feelings in me I will hardly forget it. It is an intense, wonderful life story that will show us how people can grow and learn to be better. It describes a love story as I have not seen described in JAFF before, Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship evolves slowly, it is built over the years and they learn to know, respect and love one another. Their biggest obstacles appear at a stage where they are both sensible enough to talk and trust one another, so I guess Caitlin Williams took pity of our poor nerves and had Elizabeth hear Miss Bingley’s comments and Darcy hear Wickham’s tale when they could no longer arm the feelings that were carved in their hearts.
I can only hope Mrs. Williams will give us further pleasure and write this story from Darcy’s POV. He was my favorite character in this book (even though Col. Fitzwilliam was really close to perfection by being the voice of reason to both Darcy and Elizabeth), and I would dearly love to see his point of view and to know what happen during the periods he was away. May I dare hope?
You can find this book on:
Amazon.com – The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet
***About the author***
Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England, with her family. She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.
Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.
Her debut novel, Ardently, was written as a hobby, usually with her laptop balanced on the kitchen worktop, typing with one hand, a glass of wine in the other, while she also attempted to cook dinner and keep her children from killing each other. The success of Ardently was as much a surprise to her, as it was to anyone else, and she has been thrilled and genuinely thankful for the positive responses and reviews it generated.
Her second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, is a portrait of a much younger Elizabeth, who is thrown into an extraordinary set of circumstances due to the premature death of Mr Bennet, and she hopes you all enjoy it very much.
You can reach the author on the below social media:
Excited about this book? The blog tour is just starting, don’t miss the other reviews, excerpts, interviews etc.
June 13/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post/”Happy Birthday Fanny Burney & The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet” & Giveaway
June 14/ So Little Time… / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 15/ Just Jane 1813/An Exclusive Interview with Caitlin Williams
June 16/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
June 17/ Margie’s Must Reads/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 18/ The Calico Critic/Book Review & Giveaway
June 19/ Babblings of a Bookworm/”The Education of a Young Lady” Guest Post & Giveaway
June 20/ Half Agony, Half Hope/Book Review
June 21/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway
June 22/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice /Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 23/ Liz’s Reading Life / “A Nod and A Wink to Austen” Guest Post & Giveaway
June 24/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review
June 25/ Laughing With Lizzie/ “The Young Master” Guest Post & Giveaway
June 26/ A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/ “A Most Scandalous” Guest Post
***It’s Giveaway Time***
To celebrate the release of her second novel Caitlin Williams is offering 8 ebook copies of The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet.
All you have to do is comment on a blog tour post and click on this link to guarantee your entrie.
Good luck everyone!