I absolutely loved the premise of Agony & Hope. In this book Mr. Darcy is unaware of Lydia’s elopement and therefore is not able to force Wickham to marry her. As a result, Mr. Bennet suffers an apoplexy after learning the news, Jane and Elizabeth are forced to live under Uncle Gardiner’s protection, and after hearing they might become too much of a burden to him, they decide to leave his house. Uncle Gardiner tries to find them, but when he discovers where they were living, he is told by their neighbours that the sisters became ill and died.
Throughout the initial chapters of the book, we learn everything that happened to Lydia and how Mr. Darcy coped with the news of Elizabeth’s death. He has vowed never to marry again and is silently suffering in his own home where night after night he takes refuge in his liquor to help him slumber and remember Elizabeth.
I absolutely loved to read about Darcy’s misery because it made me feel attached to him as a character. I loved his constancy and the strength of his love for Elizabeth. I could feel his pain and I couldn’t stop reading until some glimpse of hope appeared. This isn’t much of a spoiler, but Elizabeth and Jane are very much alive in this book, and we learn that when Jane knocks at Mr. Darcy’s door begging him to help Elizabeth who is extremely sick and without medical attention. It is then that Mr. Darcy comes to the rescue and brings the ladies to his house where they receive medical care.
Once more I was hooked to this part of the book because Ms. Diamond made me feel Darcy’s despair and hope. He was the perfect romantic hero when he was taking care of Elizabeth and I could not wait for her to get better to finally provide him the much-deserved happiness.
The first half of the book is dark but beautifully written and it was everything I could hope for in this type of story. However, as the story progressed, I started feeling a little more detached from it because at times it felt that some dialogues and even the characters thoughts or reports about a certain situation were somehow repetitive and not adding much to the story. I would have preferred if instead of those lines we would have known more about Lydia’s character, for example. That was my only quibble with the book because apart from Darcy’s character I also loved what the author did with the secondary characters. I liked to see how close Mary and Georgiana became, Lydia’s fate was something I had never seen before and which I loved, and Lady Catherine was just fabulous. Some readers may find Lady Catherine much changed in this book, but in my opinion, that worked really well. I loved her character in Agony & Hope as much as I loved her dialogues with Darcy and all the support she gave to him.
Agony and Hope is a short and enjoyable read. It has its degree of angst but it is quickly replaced with the hope for a better future. I loved the simplicity of the plot and the fact that there aren’t far fetched subplots in it. It is solely focused on the characters feelings and how they are able to overcome their misery. If you’re looking for a romantic story which portrays a gentleman every lady would love to have by their side, this is it.
Elizabeth Bennet’s Level
As always, Stevie Zimmerman did not disappoint. She is clearly one of the best narrators out there, and in Agony and Hope that was once more visible. In this book, I would like to stand out her ability to make us understand Elizabeth’s illness and recovery due to the inflections she gave her voice. Well done! I do recommend the audio version if you like audiobooks.
You can find Agony & Hope at: