In A Most Excellent Understanding Elizabeth learns while she is in Kent that it was Darcy who separated Jane from Bingley, so she decides to return earlier to London. When Mr. Darcy learns why she departed, he decides to follow her and ask both her and Jane for forgiveness. After a most sincere conversation between the three of them, the story continues with Elizabeth and Darcy in a much closer relationship then they had prior to his admissions, so readers who like it when this couple get together earlier in the story will certainly enjoy this plotline.
I found the premise of a Most Excellent Understanding interesting, and I particularly liked the initial chapters in which Elizabeth is able to create several humorous situations with her heated reactions to what she has just discovered. It is visible from the start that this book has a fresh style that is appealing and invites readers to continue reading the story.
However, even though I enjoyed the freshness of the writing style, I also had a hard time adjusting to everyone’s bluntness. It appeared that everybody said exactly what was on their mind to everybody else. I didn’t see the usual restrain people living in this era would have in social interactions and that was a quibble for me. Even Georgiana lectures Mr. Bingley for being persuaded to leave Netherfield in front of Jane, Anne and Colonel Fitzwilliam, that was something I found not only out of character, but also not in accordance with the behaviour ladies would have in the 1810’s.
Jane Bennet is an important character in this book, and she is much stronger and less forgiving than what we are used to, which is something I personally like, but the changes in her character also seemed a bit too much for me, especially as she found it very easy to forgive Mr. Darcy, but not Mr. Bingley who was treated very harshly. Her different reactions to both gentlemen was something I couldn’t understand in her character, but maybe it is simply a personal preference and other people will not be bothered by this inconsistency. Readers who can focus solely on her backbone when it comes to Mr. Bingley will certainly enjoy their interactions.
A relationship I enjoyed in this book was that of Elizabeth and Lady Catherine, I think the author made a very interesting choice, and something I would like to see more often in books. I also liked Lady Catherine’s character, I think her actions were quite in line with her character, even if I also found it hard to accept that someone arriving at a household of people she did not know and started giving specific orders of how the girls would be raised et cetera, would be considered proper behaver at the time. I can imagine Lady Catherine doing something like that, what I cannot imagine is everyone condoling such behaviour.
I didn’t consider this story overly romantic, but there are several intense and strong romantic sentences proffered by Mr. Darcy. Some of the sentences I read were swoon worthy and the type of line that we want to quote all the time. However, despite these beautiful sentences, I also found it hard to believe that Elizabeth would go from hating and despising Mr. Darcy to accepting his courtship after only one simple conversation, and to love him deeply in a matter of days.
I liked the way Colonel Fitzwilliam made Lydia understand she would need to change, it was quite fun an creative, but again doing it in front of everyone and upon meeting her for the first time didn’t seem believable to me.
Summing up, there are many different details that are interesting and entertaining in A Most Excellent Understanding, and the author did a great job when it comes to adding small fascinating aspects in the book, but I also found the behaviours of the characters more in line with what we would expect in our own century then in 1800’s, so it was difficult for me to truly enjoy the story as a regency one. I believe that readers who are willing to accept 21rst century behaviours in a regency novel may enjoy this book much more then me.
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