Book Review: A Sense of Obligation by Rose Fairbanks

A Sense of ObligationOnce again, I have been fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of a book to review. This work is one of a universe of novels inspired by the works of Jane Austen, who has provided us with one of the most beloved couples in literature, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

In this charming Pride and Prejudice variation, a chance encounter in the library leads to a series of misunderstandings between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. With differing recollections of the events of the evening, the two end up with very different understandings of the sense of obligation that requires them to marry. One misunderstanding leads to another, until the truth threatens to destroy what they have so carefully built for themselves.

If you enjoy Pride and Prejudice variations, you will definitely enjoy this novel. The story is sweet, but not cloying so, and the characters are believable and true to their inspirations. Ms. Fairbanks does a lovely job of getting inside their heads, and it is especially interesting to see what happens in Mr. Darcy’s mind, especially since we know so little of him from the original tale by Jane Austen.  She provides some nice insight into several other characters too, which further builds their credibility. There are no two-dimensional characters in this work. All of Ms. Fairbank’s creations live and breathe on the page, and some end up with rather unexpected fates!

Ms. Fairbanks has also clearly done a lot of research for her story. Darcy and Elizabeth engage in several fascinating debates on topics political and (primarily) literary, and as well as expounding the topics admirably in the course of these debates, Ms. Fairbanks has provided for us some interesting and informative footnotes to these topics, as well as to other cultural references in the novel. These debates, again, bring to life the growing relationship between the lovers, as we see them engage each other at an intellectual, as well as a social and physical, level.

And, on a personal note, as a musician and mother of a cellist, I love that this Mr. Darcy plays the cello!

There are a few minor typographical errors and editing glitches, but no more than one would find in any published work. On the whole, the writing is clean and crisp, displaying Ms. Fairbanks’ obvious and slightly cheeky sense of humour. Ms. Austen would approve.

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