Review of “A Most Civil Proposal” by Colin

Time period: Regency

Rating: NC-17 (in later chapters, very intense and descriptive love-making scenes. Nothing violent)

Relation to Original: “What-if” scenario of Mr. Darcy’s first proposal attempt at Rosings is overheard and gossiped about by the Rosings staff, forcing Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy into an engagement.

Language: A very nice blending of modern story-telling, with a great deal of dialogue exchanges, but vocabulary and diction reflecting the time period. This isn’t a fan fiction full of unfamiliar vocabulary, but enough clever word choices to make you feel like it could have been a draft Jane Austen herself penned with an alternate ending.

Link to Story:
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One of the first Pride and Prejudice fan fictions I read that amazed me with its storyline, characters, and “what-if?” scenario. Like many Pride and Prejudice fan fictions, the story departs from Austen’s story during Elizabeth Bennet’s visit to Rosings. In A Most Civil Proposal, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are thrown into a forced engagement due to gossip-spreading servants in the employ of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

The characterizations are very true to the original story. There is some softening of Mr. Darcy’s harsh, principled actions. Thanks to an omniscient narrator, the introspection of Darcy’s motivations reveal a man slightly unsure of himself, but never apt to revealing this side of himself to others. Instead, the story reveals a very logical, romantic, and reasonable Mr. Darcy. If you are desiring a villain out of Darcy, this isn’t the story for you.

Additionally, Colin reveals delightful scenes with many of the background characters of Pride and Prejudice. If you ever wanted a little more chutzpah from Anne and Mrs. Collins, enjoy this story!!! Elizabeth’s showdown with Catherine is one of the best I’ve seen, and the story is altered a little for the Lydia/Wickham debacle. In some ways, the author Colin is extremely generous with Miss Lydia Bennet, but still captures the action we all so wish we could do to her, if one could reach through the pages.

Overall, “A Most Civil Proposal” is a wonderful twist on Jane Austen’s regular story, but there aren’t any major plot devices to blow your hair back. Thankfully, there are plenty of romantic dealings between Darcy and Elizabeth, and the love scenes penned include every delicious detail, without overt vulgarity. If you want a simply fluffy, minor bumps in the road, tale of what would have happened if the first proposal was known by those who would bandy gossip around, you can’t go wrong with “A Most Civil Proposal.”

Beloved Part:
In anticipation of their upcoming wedding vows, Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet spend a little alone time in Mr. Gardiner’s study, with the door open for propriety’s sake. After a few liberties are taken, Mr. Darcy criticizes himself for not waiting until the wedding night to do more than hold Elizabeth’s hand. Elizabeth gives Mr. Darcy a funny, and firm chastisement for treating his future wife like a Vestal Virgin. Find it on page 90 and enjoy a smirk with me.

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3 responses to “Review of “A Most Civil Proposal” by Colin

  1. Nat KC

    I agree that this is an excellent piece of work, worth enjoying again and again. (I have done and will continue to do so.) Thanks for sharing your opinion with us; I hope your review will allow many readers the pleasure of living through this story.

    I have two beefs with it, though.

    1. (The lesser beef:) The “very intense and descriptive love-making scenes” were rather gratuitous for my taste. It would be sufficient to know that they enjoyed each other thoroughly and passionately, without a touch-by-touch recounting of the event. In most worlds this holds true for my taste; in Jane Austen’s world it is especially so. It is uncomfortable, a breach of privacy, to be forced to act as a voyeur spying on your friends. One might suggest that I resolve the problem by skipping those parts: I generally do. But I think the story would be better without them.

    2. (The greater beef:) I find it hard to forgive the violence done to Mr. Bennet, who is a friend of mine. He is indolent, sarcastic, and quirky, and has other faults, but to turn him into the humorless, implacably resentful, stupid and bitter man of this story is a criminal assault on his character. I realize that this drives the plot of the last half of the book, but cannot think it is worth it.

    • I loved the very descriptive love-making scenes. It reminded me of another favorite Pride and Prejudice continuation I read over and over again (Linda Berdoll’s Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and Days and Nights At Pemberley). It’s nice sometimes to remember very little was prim and proper during that time period, it was all just an act. Behind closed doors, well, sex wasn’t very different than today.

      As far as your second beef goes, I think when any fan fiction so drastically changes the main story, like here where we lose the delay in their marriage that is in the original work, a new antagonist must arise. Unfortunately, the victim might be a beloved character for the reader, like in your case. Growing up the oldest of three girls though, I didn’t find Mr. Bennet’s behavior that odd at all. I find the behavior in the original out of the ordinary. When my father didn’t like who I was dating, and I am very close to him, I felt it acutely. He wouldn’t even be in the same room as me if he could help it, because we’d argue about it. With my own marriage, it took some time before my Dad was okay with the idea of me getting married. He wasn’t mean to my husband, but it took about 2 years before the two generally warmed up to each other. Now having a daughter myself, and watching my husband with her, I can only imagine the pain he’s going to feel when he is no longer the only man in her life. I can imagine, because I also have a son. And I really don’t see me thinking any woman is good enough for him. :)

  2. Nat KC

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, though not with the thought that it was all just an act, i.e. pretty pure hypocrisy. The Puritan and Victorian mindsets (and others in between, such as JA’s) were far from being the joyless prudishness they have so often been portrayed as. They did include very strong convictions about when and how sex was to be indulged in: within marriage and in privacy, behind closed doors and outside of the pages of books. The purpose of this wasn’t repression but keeping sex healthy and families (within which the resulting children should be raised) strong. Of course there were prudes and libertines who would deviate from that ideal. I’m most happily sure that there was plenty of exuberant sex in my parents’ and grandparents’ lives, and in my brothers’ and sisters’; I just wouldn’t want (and don’t think it would be good for me) to look in on them enjoying it, or have them gawking at that aspect of my own marriage.

    Similarly, I do understand the possessive and overprotective jealousy that a parent can fall into wrt his or her children. (Though I’m *very* glad for the warm welcome my parents gave to my wife and my siblings’ spouses, and very glad for our own sons and daughters-in-law, who were not hard to love.) Yes, sometimes a favorite character has to be sacrificed. I just wish it hadn’t happened this particular way in this in many ways quite marvellous piece of work.

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