Bargain with the Devil by Enid Wilson

Well, this is a weird twist: the covers, both back and front, suggest that Darcy is, in fact, the devil, and that Elizabeth is forced by events to make a bargain with him. Though the text does begin that way, the bargain about which the title speaks is more literally with the devil, and it’s not Elizabeth doing the bargaining.

The story begins with a meeting in a London park as Elizabeth asks Darcy for help in finding Lydia. He asks what she’ll do for him in return, and, if a bite is any suggestion, the favors will merit the title of the website of this writer (

The text uses a lot of original Pride and Prejudice language but, more often than not, not in the same context or even by the same character who utters the words in the original (e.g.: Elizabeth says the “I never knew myself” line directly to Darcy this time). This version of Darcy makes several grammatical errors (Bingley “will invite my sister and I to journey to Hertfordshire,” and Elizabeth could “return the favour and invite my sister and I to Longbourne”)—object pronouns in particular seem to give him trouble—and some of the scenes of passion are a bit disturbing inasmuch as they involve Darcy forcing himself on Elizabeth (and Elizabeth enjoying it). At one point, for instance, he squeezes her breast and then kisses her hard to muffle her scream.

This is not Austen’s Darcy.

Elizabeth fares a bit better, but even she is transformed, and, arguably, deformed by this text into someone more interested in a man than in her own family. When her father falls ill, she leaves him with the Gardiners while she secretly joins Darcy on a dangerous mission, after he has already told her to stay away. Upon the sad end of that affair, she is thinking more about her evening with Darcy than about the family member of hers who will never be the same.

The words Wilson gives these creatures may, indeed, be Austen’s, but these are not her characters.

The plot is exciting if not quite believable (it’s one thing for a small village to believe in witchcraft but quite another for witchcraftt to work!), but it was a fun little book for a weekend.

Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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