This is a reread rather than a first-time read, but my favorite (so far) of the re-tellings of Pride and Prejudice from a different point of view is Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. Pride and Prejudice itself is not entirely from Elizabeth’s point of view, though Jane Austen is famous for never writing a scene with no women present. There are parts that suggest Darcy’s point of view, especially during the period when Elizabeth is nursing her sister at Netherfield. But we are only given hints, and Darcy’s change of heart is never explained.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman is entirely from Darcy’s point of view. Here we see a Regency gentleman who, as he finally says to Elizabeth, was “given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit.” Here we see him in his natural mileau, torn increasingly between his feeling that Elizabeth offers what he most wants in a wife, and what he sees as his duty to society and his family. We are introduced to new characters, the most important of whom are Darcy’s valet, Fletcher, and an old school friend, Lord Dyfed Brougham.
The parts with Elizabeth are amusing, as the same happenings and dialog are presented from entirely different points of view. But the most enjoyable parts of the trilogy, from my point of view, are of Darcy away from Elizabeth.
The first book of the trilogy, An Assembly Such as This, for the most part follows Jane Austen’s book. My favorite part, however, is the end, when Darcy is trying to use the enticements of London to distract Bingley from Jane and gets a bit more than he bargained for! Beau Bummel and a scandalous new dance called the waltz are too much for Darcy!
In the second book, Duty and Desire, Darcy tries to forget Elizabeth by going wife-hunting at a Regency house party. This section is delightfully atmospheric, but the possible wives on display make Carolyn Bingley look like a bargain. This section of the trilogy has no direct relationship with the original Austen book, though it occurs during the time Jane is in town. Elizabeth appears only as a memory, but a memory that keeps Darcy safe in this “den of vipers.”
The third book of the trilogy, These Three Remain, starts with Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam’s annual visit to Lady Catherine. Here Darcy agonizes over his relationship with Elizabeth and manages to misinterpret everything she says, leading up to his first, disastrous proposal.
I’ve always wondered at the change in Darcy between Rosings and Pemberly. In this book it is natural, though not easy. Initially Darcy is angry, though still obsessed by Elizabeth. It takes a near-entrapment into blackmail and a drunken evening to begin his reformation, but he eventually determines to strive towards “a conduct of his life that would have gained Elizabeth Bennet’s approval,” even though he recognizes that the chances of ever actually making her his wife are slim, if not non-existent.
Probably my favorite scene of this third volume is the descent of Lady Catherine de Burgh on Darcy’s town house, with the news that eventually sends him back to Hertfordshire.
I am sure there are many books from Darcy’s point of view I have not read, and which I cannot compare with this trilogy. But of those I have read, this is my favorite.