What if Mrs. Gardiner and Lord Matlock Were Dear Old Friends?
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
In Lory Lilian’s third and much anticipated Pride and Prejudice tale she explores what would happen if characters like Mrs. Gardiner and Lord Matlock were more involved in the lives of their respective neice and nephew. She asks several what if questions: What if Mr. Gardiner passed away two years ago leaving Mrs. Gardiner a young, wealthy mother of two children? What if Mrs. Gardiner invited not only Jane, but Elizabeth to spend some time with her in Cheapside after the Netherfield Ball? What if Mrs. Gardiner and Lord Matlock were dear old friends and as a result the Bennet sisters spent a lot of time in his company?
Oh, how I ADORED Lord Matlock! Brava, Lory Lilian! Brava! Original characters that are delightfully eccentric, precocious, and overflowing with personality seem to be a staple in Lory Lilian’s novels. Similar to the unforgettable and vibrant characters Georgette Heyer creates, Lory Lilian has fashioned some very memorable and lovable creations of her own – sweet little Becky Gardiner from Rainy Days, daring and charismatic Lady Cassandra from Remembrance of the Past, and now we get to meet outspoken, mischievous, and impertinent Lord Matlock in His Uncle’s Favorite!
And yet…Lord Matlock isn’t the only original character introduced to us! (Oh happy day!) We also meet Lord Matlock’s daughter Lady Selina, who clearly has inherited her father’s forthright manner, Lady Brightmore, Lady Selina’s mother-in-law who is known to possess peculiar notions, and Lady Sinclair, who, even after marrying a man with wealth and title is still trying to catch Darcy in her traps! One my favorite aspects of this novel was seeing these new creations interact with Jane Austen’s beloved characters. I loved it when Lord Matlock teased Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley about the Bennet sisters, when Lady Brightmore issued thinly-veiled insults to Caroline Bingley, and when Elizabeth deftly redirected Lady Sinclair’s barbs!
Another area where Ms. Lilian’s talent truly shines is illustrating the ardent love and tender attachment between Elizabeth and Darcy. Darcy’s struggle and perseverance and Elizabeth’s discovery and growing affection were beautifully and exquisitely rendered. I loved Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s sweet moments together – on a horse-drawn sleigh in the snow, on Darcy’s horse Thunder, and on their private walks. (Note: in the last forty pages or so the embraces between Darcy and Elizabeth become a good deal more intimate and amorous and for that reason I’d recommend this novel for Mature Audiences only.)
As can be expected, Wickham comes onto the scene at the most inconvenient time to wreck havoc. But in this variation, things looked like they may take a different course…(Yes! Some new developments of Wickham’s character!) [POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD] I loved learning more about Wickham’s past relationship with Lord Matlock; it plausibly explained why Wickham was weak, why he had a sense of entitlement, and why he was so obsessed with the Darcy family. I was thrilled to see Lord Matlock become involved and I loved seeing Wickham finally receive the dressing down he deserves! (Go Lord Matlock!) However, I was disappointed that this change in course didn’t last…Not more than a few hours after having his demands denied and told he will receive no help from anyone (Yes! Good! Take that, Wickham!) Wickham is informed that his debts will be paid, a new commission bought, and a special license purchased so he can marry Lydia. (Gahhh!!)
Any disappointment I felt about Wickham’s fate was far exceeded by my delight in Lord Matlock and his fate! He almost stole the show away from Darcy and Elizabeth! Well done, Lory Lilian!