On a crisp winter morning, in a small country church, Miss Elizabeth Bennet married Mr Darcy – and her quiet, tame existence had abruptly changed. The second daughter of a country gentleman is now many different things, to different people. Beloved wife. Mistress of a dauntingly great estate. Reluctant socialite. Daughter. Sister. Cousin. Friend. Her world is very different too, touched by a series of events that the creator of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ would have recognised. And as the days of her married life go by bringing both joy and turmoil, the man that stands beside her is her shelter and comfort in the face of family opposition, peril and heartbreak.
Three very different Christmas seasons come to serve as landmarks to their lives and there are blissful days and times of sorrow at the old English country house. And before too long, a time would come when Darcy must decide if he is prepared to risk everything for the sake of a full life together - or succumb to the collection of his fears.
Although Elizabeth stated in Pride and Prejudice that since Darcy was a gentleman and she was a gentleman’s daughter they were equal, it wasn’t strictly accurate; they lived in very different worlds. Darcy’s estate was much larger than the Bennet’s, so even if Elizabeth was well-versed in the duties that she’d need to fulfil as mistress of a home, being the mistress of a grand estate may well have been daunting. Also, Elizabeth had very likely never navigated London’s fashionable circles, something she’d need to do successfully to ensure a good marriage for Georgiana as well as for any children that she and Darcy would have. I’ve often wondered whether she’d struggle, or if it would be plain sailing.
Joana Starne’s story picks up 9 days after Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding. When the story begins, we find a few obstacles that Elizabeth has already encountered; the housekeeper at the London townhouse is unwelcoming towards her, and Lady Catherine is not the only one of Darcy’s Fitzwilliam relatives that is opposed to his marriage to Elizabeth. With the exception of Colonel Fitzwilliam, none of the Fitzwilliams are welcoming to Elizabeth. If Elizabeth had come from the same social circle as Darcy, she would have been able to rely on the support of her own family, but of course, this isn’t the case as her parents don’t have the connections to be able to launch her into society. Luckily, some of Darcy’s more distant relations are more amenable and agree to assist.
The book follows the events of the Darcy household over the next few years. Darcy and Elizabeth are a very loving couple (although, don’t worry if you don’t like sex scenes, there are none in this book). We see them settle into their roles as husband and wife, and we see how much they come to rely on each other, particularly in the face of his family’s opposition. Elizabeth breathes life that has been missing since the death of Lady Anne into the rather staid Darcy household. The growing relationship between Elizabeth and Georgiana is lovely to see, and Elizabeth really helps Georgiana grow and find confidence in herself, something that is vital for Georgiana’s launch into society. The book is as much about Georgiana and her blossoming into womanhood as it is about Elizabeth and Darcy. The family face a number of hurdles, some harder to overcome than others, and we will get the opportunity to see how well Mr and Mrs Darcy have overcome their old faults of hasty judgement and distain for the feelings of others.
Although I enjoyed the book from the outset, it took a good while to grip me. It was fairly slow going at the beginning, and although issues were faced initially, they were pretty easily overcome, and I’d have liked a bit more tension in the first half of the story. The book has its share of angst, but it is concentrated, so it hits you even harder when it arrives.
Both Elizabeth and Darcy’s families appear in the book. I felt the depiction of the Bennet side of the family was generally faithful to Pride and Prejudice, aside from the Gardiner’s sons who were older than canon. In the world of Austenesque fiction, you often find Mrs Bennet drawn very harshly, but here I felt she was properly represented in all her embarrassing glory, and you couldn’t help wincing at some of her comments, but also sympathising with her when she succeeded in her life’s ambition of marrying off all her daughters and then felt bereft. I’d have liked to have seen a bit more of Elizabeth’s sisters. As for Darcy’s family, both Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Catherine are featured in this story, and we meet the more distant relatives who assist Lizzy’s launch to society. The connection between Darcy and these relatives is described in a bit too much detail for me, I read the paragraph about 5 times before I had it straight in my mind, but distant cousin pretty much covers it!
One thing I particularly liked about this book was the humour, such as this gem showing Miss Bingley’s views of the Christmas entertainment at Pemberley:
‘“What game is that, pray?” Lady Mellor’s youngest piped up, understandably inexperienced in what passed for entertainment in Cheapside and the wilds of Hertfordshire.’
We see three Christmases in this book, the first two Christmases following Elizabeth and Mr Darcy’s wedding which form a stark contrast to each other, and the third Christmas celebration in the epilogue, 24 years down the line where we get the chance to catch up with the futures of many of the characters. Personally, I love an epilogue, and the epilogue in this book I particularly enjoyed.
Review written by Leatherbound Reviews contributor Ceri Tanti.
I read ‘Sense and Sensibility’ back when I was a teenage bookworm. I liked that book enough to move on to ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and I absolutely fell in love with it, completely captured by Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy’s story, and quickly moved on to read Austen’s other main novels. Fast forward to Christmas 2011 and my husband got me a kindle for Christmas; when I looked on Amazon for my Jane Austen favourites I found that there was a whole world of Austen-inspired fiction that I never knew existed before. Thank you Jakki, for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on ‘From This Day Forward’ with you all.
Connect with Joana Starnes
Read It Now!
Joana Starnes has kindly offered up ONE (1) ebook copy of From This Day Forward for giveaway! Open internationally! To enter, comment on the review.
For extra entries, you may also do the following:
*Tweet the review (comment you tweeted)
*Comment on my interview with Joana on Thursday
*Tweet the interview (comment you tweeted)
*Share on Facebook
Giveaway ends Wednesday, October 2.
Best of luck!! =)