Sourcebooks, Apr 2011, $11.99
In 1784 two boys around the same twelve years of age play together at Pemberly. Fitzwilliam Darcy will one day inherit the estate while George Wickham is the son of the steward and will only obtain whatever his friend’s father gives him as he cares for the lad like a second son. Wickham’s mother wants her son to marry an heiress and gives him advice on how to use Darcy as his entrance into Polite Society.
Darcy’s father pays for Wickham to attend Cambridge with his son, but while the latter is a stern righteous person walking the straight and narrow, the former is wenching, gambling and drinking. When Wickham is caught with a prostitute, Darcy washes his hands of his former best friend and refuses to pay his way out of prison. A few years later Wickham finds it ironic when he meets Georgiana Darcy as she is a beautiful adult heiress living apart from her brother and he starts to court her. Just when his dreams are about to happen, Darcy intrudes.
This may be a novella, but it packs the punch of a novel as readers observe the influence Wickham’s mother had on him. She encouraged him to go above his station, feeling it was his earned right to use any means necessary. The grand divide between the classes is shown in stark detail as George covets what Fitzwilliam inherits. Amanda Grange who has written Darcy’s Dairy Fitzwilliam’s viewpoint to Pride and Prejudice gives Wickham the same insightful treatment.