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J. W. Garrett
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I knew going into this story that it was going to be a difficult read. For one thing, our author was attempting to take a major Austen character and vilify him. In order to do that, we the reader had to be desensitized to the OOC [out of character] behavior of one of JAFF’s favorite characters.
First, the name was changed. We know and love Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. Thank goodness this was Colonel Andrew Fitzwilliam. I was already feeling the growing distance between our beloved character with that of this new guy.
Next, we had to see that his character was not the honorable, full of life, guy that we all know and love. That was accomplished when we heard Darcy’s thoughts regarding his cousin’s behavior toward drinking and his treatment of women.
Lastly, that cousin/brother relationship that we adore, had to be broken. Andrew’s behavior was so bad that even Darcy didn’t want him near his younger sister Georgiana.
So, now, this character was as a stranger to me. In the back of my mind I was beginning to form a picture of someone with a Wickham like persona; a person that thought only of their own pleasures and had no regard for woman. Once I did that, I could approach the story with Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam safely hidden away in my heart and mind.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss
The assault/attack was not a full-on rape; however, it was a violation of another kind. It was the violation of the innocence of heart, soul and mind of Elizabeth Bennet. Her body was battered as Andrew aggressively restrained and struck her as she resisted him. She, being gently bred, had no notions of being treated in such a manner. As a gentleman’s daughter, she had some semblance of station and was due respect as a gently bred woman. His actions, deprived of decency and honor, were crude and sexually explicit as he man-handled her and expressed his intent with vulgar, base language meant to demean and injure.
Completely oblivious to her pleas and tears, he left her bruised, battered, and broken, with a promise that he would return later that night in order to complete their tryst. He also promised to ruin her reputation and that of her family if she did not comply. He declared that as the second son of an earl, he had the clout to do it. And that was how Darcy found her as she attempted to return to the parsonage.
Our author was most excellent in researching the numerous steps necessary in Elizabeth’s recovery from her trauma. You can find any number of online sites that describe in detail what needed to be done. Most agreed that the first step was to establish the safety of the victim… physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Physical: Darcy removed her from Kent and his cousin’s further threats. This altercation was awesome. He immediately took her to her relations in London, where she was given time for her body to heal from it bruises. Her father came as soon as he received the express from Gardiner.
Emotional: “PTSD is whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” Susan Pease Banitt
Elizabeth needed to deal with the emotional ramifications of her assault. There was a myriad of symptoms, similar to what we know as PTSD: nightmares, sleepless nights, anxiety, panic episodes, night sweats, jerking at sudden movements, irrational fear, lack of trust, being uncomfortable in new and social situations, aversion to being touched unexpectedly, not walking outside without at least a footman near, and being withdrawn in company. In other words, the lights in those fine eyes had gone out.
In her emotional state, Elizabeth had to delve through feelings of culpability. Was there something that SHE did that instigated the attack? Was it something that she wore, was her manner of dress suggestive? Perhaps it was something that she said. Was her manner of speech suggestive or attracting? Was her behavior too familiar… flirting? The author lead us through this self-analysis in a most excellent way as it lead Elizabeth to the final conclusion that she needed to reach in order to heal.
Spiritual: “God wants you to be delivered from what you have done and from what has been done to you—Both are equally important to Him.” Joyce Meyer, Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Emotional Healing.
Slowly, as our dear girl worked her way through her feelings of distress and shame. She now faced not wanting to go to church. She was consumed with the feelings that she was unworthy, self-conscious that everyone was looking at her, judging her and finding her unworthy. Her shame was all consuming. Our author used a gentle religious touch in what would be relevant to Elizabeth’s faith base. It was not preachy in any way. This was a victim who felt she was undeserving of God’s love and forgiveness. It was beautifully done.
“When you go through a traumatic event, there’s a lot of shame that comes with that. A lot of loss of self-esteem. That can become debilitating.” Willie Aames
Discuss it: Normally, after a victim’s safety [physical, emotional, and spiritual] has been established, a form of therapy would follow. Since therapy didn’t exist, she would have a need to talk to someone. Here is where Elizabeth struggled. Her relationship with her dear sister Jane became strained at this juncture. Jane, like Elizabeth, was a maiden and it would not be appropriate or good for Jane, who thought the best of everyone, to hear of the depraved nature associated with her assault. Elizabeth couldn’t do it, especially since the relationship between Jane and Bingley had been restored. Jane didn’t need to hear such things. Her Aunt Gardiner was a good candidate.
The last thing to do, after all the other steps had been addressed, would be to simply get on with her life as best she could. The author brought the story back to a JAFF, D&E, HEA. We ended on a good note and an excellent epilogue. I loved how this finished.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” Oprah Winfrey
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I find myself returning to this excellent piece periodically. It's everything I look for in JAFF: engaging characters, stirring romance, flowing writing, and unusual plot with purposeful development throughout.
I know some readers are put off by the fact that Colonel Fitzwilliam is irredeemably evil, but if it helps, you can imagine him as a different cousin with a similar pleasing, garrulous personality who hides vicious licentious tendencies (sort of like Mr. Wickham). Perhaps the Fitzwilliam family has two sons, both colonels, one named Richard (the good one) and one named Andrew (the evil one)!!
Every time I read this, I'm more impressed with the author's sensitive, insightful portrayal of a strong female character who suffers an unexpected assault by a man she trusts. While there are no long-term physical effects, the psychological ones are devastating and difficult to recover from.
The book begins with the assault. Although it's described vividly, it's rather tame in that Elizabeth Bennet is overpowered but not stripped of her clothes or raped, although Andrew indicates he plans to come to her later and finish what he started. If she doesn't comply with his demands, he threatens to ruin her and destroy her sisters' ability to marry well.
As distressing as this scene is, it really isn't the focal point of the story. Instead, the book centers on the effects of that event-- the high waves giving way to less threatening ones, gradually diminishing to ripples and then smooth water-- on the lives of the characters involved.
Obviously, that starts with Darcy and Elizabeth. He is determined to protect her, first from his cousin, then from the possibility of scandal attached to her reputation, and then he's eager for her to put this behind her before he can declare his love.
He shows tremendous tenderness and sensitivity when he discovers her on Rosings grounds after the attack and realizes what must have happened. His gentle demeanor surprises Elizabeth so much that she exclaims, "Who ARE you??"
As Darcy accompanies to safety, her shock and sense of unreality over what's happened leads her to be more forthcoming about her prior opinion of him than she otherwise would be, and he realizes that if he had proposed to her as he'd intended, she would have refused him. He learns that Jane Bennet really does love Bingley and immediate determines to correct his error at his earliest opportunity. He also regrets his dismissive behavior toward Elizabeth's family and the Meryton residents, who are obviously superior people to his cousin Andrew and his Aunt Catherine.
Darcy has an uncomfortable interview with Lord Matlock, forcing his uncle to face harsh realities about his son. They determine a way to mete out justice without creating a scandal. It was interesting to read about the perspective of the family of the guilty party; these two love Andrew but are sickened by his dissolute lifestyle.
Elizabeth goes through gradual changes throughout the book from shock to withdrawal and fear to a pretense of "normalcy" with feelings of shame and guilt to eventual recovery of her previous spirited nature. Only Darcy, his Uncle Matlock, the Gardiners and Mr. Bennet know what happened, as well as a new character, Mrs. Higham, who Darcy enlists to accompany Elizabeth for the sake of propriety as he brings Miss Bennet to her Aunt and Uncle in London. All are supportive and sensitive to Elizabeth's needs during this difficult period.
Among other things, her thoughts are revealed to question whether there was something in her manner or dress that attracted such unwanted attention and what she should change. Even though everyone around her assures her that she was blameless, she is frantic to feel some control in order to avoid having any similar experience in the future.
Mr. Bennet wants to bring his daughter home but realizes that hustling bustling London (specifically the Gardiner household) is actually a more restful environment for Elizabeth to recover than the daily chaos of Longbourn would be. He finally takes control of his family with dramatic results.
I love that Mary becomes a regular correspondent with Elizabeth, which results in Mary and Kitty eventually growing closer after Elizabeth suggests that the two read Sense and Sensibility together and discuss it. Lydia is a tougher nut to crack, but two of my favorite scenes are centered around her. One is between her and Mrs. Annesley, who gives her something new to think about. The other is with the daughter of one of Longbourn's tenants.
The ending is quite satisfying, with the most poignant and perfect Epilogue that I can imagine. "Remember the past only as it gives you pleasure," indeed!
Be warned that there is one extremely violent scene where the villain gets his due. Considering all that the reader learns about his character, he has it coming, but it is rather graphic.