The Darcy’s of Pemberly by Shannon Winslow

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

Again, I am late on my Pride and Prejudice post. In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013. Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog. This month’s review is The Darcy’s of Pemberly by Shannon Winslow. Below is the blurb and here is the link to Goodreads.

darcys of pemberly

A sequel true to Jane Austen’s beloved masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have been married for almost a year, and their heated arguments are a thing of the past. All that passion is now directed into more satisfying pursuits. But how long can the honeymoon last? The couple’s idyllic life together at Pemberley is jeopardized by secrets they begin keeping from each other, the troubles of their closest friends, and the threat of a villain in their midst. 

Layers of seemingly innocent deception are building between Darcy and Elizabeth, threatening their relationship. He is conducting some covert business dealings that he’s unwilling to share with his wife, and she likewise begins keeping things from him against her own better judgment. The couple also becomes embroiled in the tribulations of Mr. Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, and his friend and cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam. 

Fitzwilliam falls victim to their aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as the object of her latest scheme to make a noble match for her daughter. Georgiana runs the gamut of emotions as she comes of age and learns the pain of unrequited love. Meanwhile, the menacing shadow of Mr. Darcy’s life-long nemesis, Mr. Wickham, looms ever larger.

The Darcys of Pemberley is the tale of two romances: the continuation of Darcy and Elizabeth’s story, and the courtship of Miss Georgiana. For those who didn’t want Pride and Prejudice to end, this novel gives the opportunity to learn what happens after the wedding, to revisit old friends and foes, and to share the next chapter of their lives.

Well. That blurb might have taken some of the wind out of my review sails, as it pretty much tells you the whole story. So I will give you my impressions.

I really enjoyed this – and like most of the people I would recommend it to, I’m a HUGE fan of the original book and others of its time. Ms. Winslow successfully mimics that pace – slow, gentle, lots of visiting, dinners, letter writing and polite greetings. Ah, politeness. Decorum must be maintained at all times – even when you would prefer to take the nearest silver turreen from the sideboard and bash the visitor in the head with it. This is something I love, and wish was more common in historicals, which so often take on the modern pace rather than following the real-and-for-true Regency romance as it was written back in th’ day. Old school, if you will. The author seems to know her stuff where social behavior is concerned – which is refreshing The only place I think it strays is when a gentleman visits a woman in a sick room, which I do not believe would ever happen. But let us not pick nits.

Where it strays from the formula of the old novel, and in a good way, is the obvious affection and good-sex vibes from our main characters. Elizabeth and Darcy are an affectionate and passionate couple – behind closed doors as is proper (ie: not in front of the servants), and just as we would have them be. Please note, there are no sex scenes, just obvious randiness is clearly taking place between the principles “off page”. The author avoids excess of sap, which I appreciate, and the Darcy’s do have little spats, as two people of such different character should be prone to.

All our old friends are here and behave just as they should – even the odious Mr. Wickham and his dipstick wife. Lady Catherine resides over her court and ever gives advice that is not wanted. Mrs. Bennet is in full flutter at all times and Mr. Bennet is as droll as ever.

Please don’t think that things don’t happen. There is plenty of diversion on hand: Georgianna’s coming out, babies being born and as we approach the end (where all the good stuff always happened in those good old novels) larceny, kidnap, revenge! It’s great! If you didn’t want Pride and Prejudice to end, I would strongly recommend this one.


Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

I am sorry I am late on my Pride and Prejudice post. I’ve been terribly lazy about my online responsibilities lately. In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013. Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog. This month’s review is Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange.


Here is the link to Goodreads and here is the blurb:

Monday 9th September
“I left London today and met Bingley at Netherfield Park. I had forgotten what good company he is; always ready to be pleased and always cheerful. After my difficult summer, it is good to be with him again. …”

The only place Darcy could share his innermost feelings was in the private pages of his diary…

Torn between his sense of duty to his family name and his growing passion for Elizabeth Bennet, all he can do is struggle not to fall in love.

Mr. Darcy’s Diary presents the story of the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Darcy’s point of view. This graceful imagining and sequel to Pride and Prejudice explains Darcy’s moodiness and the difficulties of his reluctant relationship as he struggles to avoid falling in love with Miss Bennet. Though seemingly stiff and stubborn at times, Darcy’s words prove him also to be quite devoted and endearing – qualities that eventually win over Miss Bennet’s heart. This continuation of a classic romantic novel is charming and elegant, much like Darcy himself.

Pride and Prejudice has inspired a large number of modern day sequels, the most successful of which focus on the rich, proud Mr. Darcy.

This was a great read, like sliding your foot into a fuzzy slipper. Despite the familiarity of the situations, the characters, etc., this view of things from Darcy’s point of view shows us the other side of Pride and Prejudice. It is faithful to the original book as far as what happens, the behavior of the characters, but shows us more of what happened regarding Georgiana’s brush with Wickham and how things went during Darcy and Caroline’s deceitful removal of Bingley from Netherfield.

We also see Darcy at his most arrogant. In Austen’s original, he is an enigma. We see his actions and hear his words, but not his thoughts. He is most often silent. Now we are privy to his own opinion of himself and it is pretty high. He makes constant reference to all he has to offer and how he is courted by the debutantes. It rubs you the wrong way, but then he does say how it is simply the plain truth and much of it is stated as a matter of fact. He believes this, but you realize that he doesn’t equate it with himself – his own worth as a person, but as what Pemberley has to offer. Then you realize it is not conceit – arrogance, perhaps, but he doesn’t mince words when it comes to the truth. Which leads us to the unfortunate proposal.

It’s one of the most famous in all literature – and yet poor Darcy completely fudges it. He begins so beautifully, but then he begins to tell the truth  – as he sees it – and much of this is only described by Austen. However, Grange tells us everything he said, and she did it beautifully. Everything he said was in keeping with Darcy’s own voice and beliefs. And he doesn’t hold back a single thing. Very cringeworthy.

I was supposed to put this up last month but life got in the way. I should have read the book for the August review, but sadly, that one I did not like at all and I couldn’t get through it. So I decided to review this book instead, but had to re-read this to write up the review. I enjoyed it just as much the second time.

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013. Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog. This month’s review is Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife by Linda Berdoll. Here is the link to Goodreads and below is the blurb.

mr darcy takes a wife

What readers are saying
“Whoa, Darcy!”
“Some parts are hilarious and some a walk on the wild side for Austen characters. Curl up and enjoy!”
“Tells the tale I always wanted to hear…how the Darcys lived happily ever after…”
“The only fault I found with this book was that it ended.”
Every woman wants to be Elizabeth Bennet Darcy-beautiful, gracious, universally admired, strong, daring and outspoken-a thoroughly modern woman in crinolines.
And every woman will fall madly in love with Mr. Darcy-tall, dark and handsome, a nobleman and a heartthrob whose virility is matched only by his utter devotion to his wife.
Their passion is consuming and idyllic-essentially, they can’t keep their hands off each other-through a sweeping tale of adventure and misadventure, human folly and numerous mysteries of parentage.
Hold on to your bonnets! This sexy, epic, hilarious, poignant and romantic sequel to Pride and Prejudice goes far beyond Jane Austen.

Let’s just get this out of the way.

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy like to do it.

A lot.

It’s what we all hope for, isn’t it? I so rarely read romances with married folk in it. The author does go back a bit and tell us a little of Darcy’s sexual history and the lead-up to the marriage. I found the beginning of this a little uneven. Rather than being really sexy… it was really awkward. Focused way too much on the unfortunate aspects of sex (She knows nothing about sex and little of a man’s anatomy. It’s messy. Or at least the Darcy sex is incredibly messy. Do we really have to “see” him wiping away his leavings? Really? I don’t think we do.) I was also distressed that the author used that age old trope of giving our hero the penis of a small Shetland pony. The member is of such girth and magnificence that Mrs. Darcy was not sufficiently devirginized the first few times and continued to experience pain. Oh, she was gifted the aperture of a grape seed. The author-ial gift of size, you see… it abounds.

Ok, enough of my grousing. It does take awhile (8% according to the Kindle) for things to get past awkward, messy sex and for a story that does not include the Darcy’s sexual explorings to emerge. The author does a great job of sticking to the characters as put forth in Pride and Prejudice and weaves in new ones, friends and foes. In the beginning, the tone is almost farcical and overly wordy, but it smoothes out and finds its own voice. The plot also grows and expands.

Darcy’s first sexual conquest was a very willing maid, who had the bad manners to brag that she had seduced the master’s son. Darcy didn’t know that his rival to Abigail’s affection was none other than Wickham. Well someone (imagine who?) spread the word to Darcy’s father that his son was bedding a housemaid and she was not being quiet about it. Not wanting a scandal, the elder Darcy sends Abigail away and makes sure only women of a rotund appearance work above stairs. When next we see Abigail, she’s in dire straights and has had more than a few other dalliances. She has several children, including a tall, good-looking son named John who has witnessed his mother go from servant to prostitute to wife of a sailor who abuses her and her children. They have to flee London because he is coming back from sea, and she is more than halfgone with another man’s child. She returns to the land near Pemberly seeking work. For the first time, her son learns that he was conceived in the great mansion. He heaps all the blame for his mother’s unfortunate life on the head of whoever sired him. So…there’s that…

There is also the man responsible for Abigail’s flight from London, Tom Reed. He takes off for Pemberley as well, for different reasons. He’s heard from his brother (a footman in the Darcy’s employ) that it’s an amazing place. He thinks jewelry and silver will be for the taking and probably the living is easy. His brother’s word gets him a job. Reed is a horrible man – a brute, thief, and all-around jerk. He gets caught abusing a horse and sent packing by Darcy. But not before he’s got a serious thing for Elizabeth. He was hoping that if he stuck around long enough, his crass ugly face might grow familiar enough… I don’t know. I don’t know how this monster ever thought he’d get in mi’lady’s knickers, but he had his mind set on her. He doesn’t go far – and his return to Pemberley has dire circumstances.

I’m not even done. There are other villains out there – these are familiar to us in the persons of Lady Catherine and the perfidious Wickham! These four people descend on Pemberley and through various deeds and disasters weave our story. I can’t remember gasping out loud more during a book – also wanting to throw it. Not for bad reasons, you understand. Well, some things are bad but the story isn’t.  It is a bit long… I wondered how much more the author was going to do to me before I was done. But I give this very high marks. There’s a lot of tragedy, the deaths really pile up and you wonder if the hits will stop coming. But the love of the Darcys and their trials and tribulations are really enjoyable. And really painful. And really worth wading through the less than sexy sex in the beginning.

I understand there is a sequel. I’d like to get it!

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013. Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog. This month’s review is Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds. Here is the link to Goodreads, and below is the blurb:

m darcy's obsession

The more he tries to stay away from her, the more his obsession grows…

What if … Elizabeth Bennet was more unsuitable for Mr. Darcy than ever.

Mr. Darcy is determined to find a more suitable bride. But then he learns that Elizabeth is living in London in reduced circumstances after her father’s death robs her of her family home.

What if … Mr. Darcy can’t stop himself from seeking her out.

He just wants to make sure she’s alright. But once he’s seen her, he feels compelled to talk to her, and from there he’s unable to fight the overwhelming desire to be near her, or the ever-growing mutual attraction that is between them.

In this re-telling, the unfolding of events hits a snag. Elizabeth’s visit to Rosings is cut short when Mr. Bennet falls ill and dies. Mrs. Bennet’s worst fears have come to pass and they are homeless. We pick up the story after this point – Elizabeth has had to go and live with her mother’s brother and wife, the Gardiner’s, in Cheapside. She is essentially the governess to their children. As lowering as this may be in the eyes of society, she knows she has the better deal of all the sisters. Jane has been married to a shopkeeper, just so that she may have a home, and Mrs. Bennnet, Lydia and Kitty are living in Aunt Philip’s crowded dwelling in Meryton. I think Mary went to go live with another relative. So Mr. Darcy never got to make his ill-fated proposal and never wrote his beautiful letter. Lizzy does not know the truth of Wickham’s lies.

When we join Darcy and Bingley two years later, Bingley is still smarting from missing his chance at marrying Jane. He has learned of his sister’s deception, of not telling him she was in London. He has never gotten over her. Bingley tells Darcy he has seen Elizabeth and learned of the family’s unfortunate circumstances. This puts a bug in Darcy’s ear and he just can’t ignore it. He goes to London, convincing himself he is not going to see her, just to make sure she is in comfortable surroundings. He pays an urchin to bring him intelligence of her… which includes that she takes walks in the park. And so begins our story.

Ms. Reynold’s does a wonderful job with setting and tone. She doesn’t bother trying to sound like Jane, she writes in a nice, straightforward style and has a good understanding of the regency period. She widens the character base to include Darcy’s really horrible family. Jane Austen never wrote a scene that was just a conversation between gentleman – she claims she had no idea what such a scene would entail, having never experienced it. I hate to think they were so crass and vulgar, but you know what, they probably were. There is a scene where Darcy’s Uncle, his cousin Fitzwilliam’s father, is talking about Georgiana getting married (bear in mind she is only seventeen and not even out yet) that left me fuming. The treatment of women of the lower classes by the aristocracy is accurate, just upsetting. I know it happened, but I don’t like to read about it. I found it a bit jarring, because most Regencies I read are soft, gentle things, and that is what I like about them. They are a kind of fantasy of their own, where we ignore the horrors of the lower classes (for the most part) and go to fancy parties and wear poofy dresses and visit manor homes. Judge me if you will. Don’t get me wrong – the plot is amazing, I just wasn’t quite ready or expecting these subjects in a Jane inspired story. It is still very excellent. Georgiana plays a much bigger part in the story this time. And I loved Aunt Augustine. She’s a treat.

There are, of course, misunderstandings, long separations, letters, visits… all the good stuff of a regency romance. The only misstep I feel was at the very end. I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. There was a very public scene where some very horrible family secrets were thrown around inside a church. It never would have happened. No one would so forget themselves, especially not a member of the aristocracy. However, the ending is more than fabulous and well deserved after many twists and turns. I would gladly read other books by this author.

Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

In celebration of two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’m taking part in the Austenprose Bicentenary Challenge for 2013.Here is the original blog post if you are interested. The idea is to pick a challenge level (Ie: how many Pride and Prejudice inspired books, be they prequels, sequels, non-fiction, fan-fiction, etc., or movies or miniseries) then post our review on your blog.

This month I am reviewing Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

georgiana darcys diary

My first foray into Jane-ite fiction (not this book, a previous attempt) didn’t go so well. As a matter of fact, it was so bad I wiped it off my list of books for this challenge and replaced it with something else. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this one, but I’d heard it was a fan favorite. Well, consider me one of those fans. I want you to know, I am going to try really hard not to gush about this.

Here is the blurb:

Mr. Darcy’s younger sister searches for her own happily-ever-after.

The year is 1814, and it’s springtime at Pemberley. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have married. But now a new romance is in the air, along with high fashion, elegant manners, scandal, deception, and the wonderful hope of a true and lasting love.

Shy Georgiana Darcy has been content to remain unmarried, living with her brother and his new bride. But Elizabeth and Darcy’s fairy-tale love reminds Georgiana daily that she has found no true love of her own. And perhaps never will, for she is convinced the one man she secretly cares for will never love her in return. Georgiana’s domineering aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, has determined that Georgiana shall marry, and has a list of eligible bachelors in mind. But which of the suitors are sincere, and which are merely interested in Georgiana’s fortune? Georgiana must learn to trust her heart and rely on her courage, for she also faces the return of the man who could ruin her reputation and spoil a happy ending, just when it finally lies within her grasp.

When we meet Georgiana Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, she is a bit of a mouse. If memory serves, I don’t think she says a word of actual dialog. Elizabeth recognizes her alleged “pride” as shyness. Here she a few years older and under her sister-in-law’s gentle guidance and good example, she has seasoned a little. She is still a shy girl, but she isn’t satisfied to stay that way.

“I said before that I hate being shy, sometimes. But it is more than that. If I could change one quality in myself, I would wish that I could stand and fight more easily, rather than wanting to run away and hide every time I am shocked or afraid.”

I like that. It’s something I totally relate to. Miss Darcy might be shy, but she has pluck. When a gypsy woman starts to read her fortune, Georgiana stops her, mid-gush. “Hadn’t you better stop while you’re ahead?” I asked. “There aren’t all that many more nice, promising-sounding adjectives you can use to describe this mysterious gentleman.” Well, instead of getting a gypsy curse dumped on her head, the old woman laughs and tells her a true fortune. She says that a former love is going to come back and everything is going to change. Considering she is surrounded by possible suitors brought in my Lady Catherine, here known as Aunt de Bourgh, she is glad to hear it.

This is more than a romance – this has a wonderfully layered plot. There is Aunt de Bourgh, bound and determined to see Georgiana engaged. There is cousin Anne, who Georgiana wants to draw out of a shroud of imagined frailty. A mysterious Frenchman who fled the revolution has his eye on Caroline Bingley… or does he? And what is Caroline up to, sneaking out of the house and disappearing at odd hours? And then there is cousin Edward Fitzwilliam, the man Georgiana has been in love with since she was six years old. He has returned from the war suffering from a wound, and not entirely himself. Something stirs between them, but Georgiana fears he still sees her as a child. And of course, there is romance. It shows up in unexpected quarters, it runs away, it gambols in the meadows. I don’t want to ruin the pairings!

This was such an enjoyable, well balanced read. Great voice, wonderful main character, who is likable but not perfect. Mystery. Romance. Foolishness. Delight. Ok. that’s enough. I guess I better stop before Georgiana chides me for my excessive use of adjectives.

There is a sequel that I haven’t gotten yet.

Vanity and Verity by Jeanne Waters

Well, my friends, the next two reviews are going to be a delight or a disaster, depending on your feelings about Jane Austen and the sequels, prequels and spinoffs that surround her canonical novels. This is not part of my Jane Austen reading challenge for 2013 – I will be posting my next review for the challenge on April 1st. This is just something that came up in my Amazon recommendations. I was intrigued by a prequel about Darcy’s parents and the indefatigable Lady Catherine De Bourgh. I got the sample, found the writing to be very good, and then bought the book. I think the blurb is overlong – but here is the link to Goodreads, and part of the blurb:

vanity and verity

A prequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Vanity and Verity explores the London debuts of Lady Anne and Lady Catherine Fitzwilliam. Upon arrival in London, Lady Catherine is immediately taken with the striking Mr. George Darcy (father of Austen’s iconic Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy). But the circumspect Lady Anne questions the character and connections of the yet unknown Mr. Darcy. Anxious to please her proud and domineering mother and concerned about protecting the imprudent Catherine from herself, Anne hopes to forge the right friendships and alliances to steer the sisters safely through a season in 1780s London. However, the cautious Anne is in danger of giving Mr. Darcy entirely the wrong idea of her character, even as Anne herself begins to reevaluate her first impressions of the gentleman. Meanwhile Catherine, intoxicated by the London scene, pursues flirtations with Mr. Darcy, his friend Mr. Tyndall, her cousin, and even the tedious Sir Lewis DeBourgh while Anne struggles to remind her sister – and herself – of the importance of empathy and consideration for others.

I immediately liked the tone and writing style. It starts off reminiscent of Jane Austen, which is easy to do for a few pages, when one’s tongue is gently placed in one’s cheek to mock one’s supercilious characters. That won’t work for a whole novel, as we are none of us Jane, are we? Ms. Waters is aware of this and moves on to a light regency touch. It’s a comfortable, familiar voice, which always adds to a historical when done well. The focus of the book is Anne, the elder daughter, and future mother of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Her sister, Catherine, the future Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is unrecognizable as a spoiled, willful child who flirts with any handsome man who will pay her attention. Anne is far more contained. She is a sociable young woman, with the 19th century failing of most female characters: the inability to tell a pushy man to bug off! But let me back up.

Anne and Catherine’s father is a peer, but one with more title than fortune. His lady wife finds it reprehensible he will not hire a house in town so she can bring her daughters out. She didn’t care so much about Anne, but her beloved Catherine must have a season in London! The Earl doesn’t mind them going, as long as it doesn’t cost him any money. His solution: that his wife and daughters stay with his widowed sister. Lady Charlotte is only too happy to host them, being generous of nature and spirit, but lacking in understanding and social graces. The girls are soon caught up in the whirl of dances and entertainments. Anne has the misfortune of attracting the eye of her cousin’s friend, Mr. Wilson. An obnoxious bore, he reminds me of John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey. He attaches himself to her and won’t let go, despite her attempts to politely rebuff him. It is through Mr. Wilson that she meets Mr. Darcy and the comedy of errors begins. Mr. Wilson boasts of his friendship with Mr. Darcy. Having no idea of Mr. Darcy’s position, reputation or wealth, she doesn’t know that Wilson is only trying to make himself look good by association. Having no desire to spend the evening with more than one Mr. Wilson, she refuses Mr. Darcy when he asks her to dance. He graciously accepts her claim of fatigue and goes to dance with Catherine instead. Mr.Wilson has no intention of taking no for an answer. He drags her bodily onto the dance floor, despite her protestations, and pushes her into the line. Having rudely pushed several people aside and finding herself the center of attention, she has no recourse but to comply. In front of Mr. Darcy and everyone, she is required to dance with Mr. Wilson.

By the time Anne learns she has mistaken Mr. Darcy’s character, she feels she owes him some sort of apology. Her mother, however, does not believe that an Earl’s daughter should apologize for anything. Explain, she may, but apologize, never. Anne is trying to do this as delicately as possible, when her mother pipes up to assure Mr. Darcy that if Anne had known of his birth, she would surely have danced with him.

To a snob like Anne’s mother, this is acceptable, but to a man like Darcy, it makes a bad impression. And so another dance begins, this one metaphorical. Just as Anne begins to regard him, he pulls away from her. Does he despise her? Does she simply like him or does she like him like him? And why does she like him when he has shown her he thinks so little of her? Or has she misunderstood his natural delicacy? Is she reading too much into his actions? Why does he not ask her to dance? In the mean time, her sister is bouncing between Mr. Darcy and his friend Mr. Tyndall, imagining she can use the one to get to the other. A Mrs. Scott and her daughter ingratiate themselves to the ladies, to Anne’s dismay, and Miss Scott begins to flatter her way into Catherine’s good graces. Then there is another young gentleman of fortune named Lord Barham on the scene. Catherine drops all pretense of affection for Mr. Tyndall, she must realize Darcy is beyond her reach, and sets her cap at getting a Lord. And poor Anne is in the middle, trying to keep her sister from making a complete fool of herself and breaking Mr. Tyndall’s heart.

Misunderstanding is heaped upon misapprehension, confusion, lies, backbiting, rumors that are completely off the mark – all against the mix of people striving for engagements, gossip, a place in society, fortune gathering and flattery. I really enjoyed the relationship between Anne and Darcy when it finally started to bloom, and also enjoyed shouting at the pages when obstacles would come between them. In a good romance, you know everything will come out all right, but the author should have you wondering How?! How on earth is this going to be made right?

I do have a few complaints. I loathed Catherine as a character and thought she was nothing like the Lady Catherine of Pride and Prejudice. How she came to be with her husband, Sir Lewis DeBourgh, was unbelievable. Then at the end, the two main characters led us through a line by line review of their relationship that went on and on and on. And finally, as so often happens in these books, I felt the author lifted characters from other Jane Austen books and gave them different names. Most of these seem to come from Sense and Sensibility. A friend, Miss Augusta Anderson may well have been Anne Steele, Lucy Steele’s less manipulative sister. Lady Charlotte was like Mrs. Jennings. Lord Barham (SPOILER ALERT highlight the white text if you want to see who I think he is like ) is sort of a mix of Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park and the future Mr. Wickham.

Those are minor complaints. I enjoyed this book and the main characters. I think it was self-published, but it wasn’t riddled with errors or bad grammar like so many of them. Since it was a prequel, and so many characters were brand new, there was more leeway for the author. Though you know what is coming in the future, you don’t know these character’s pasts, so you aren’t looking to see what all the author might have gotten wrong. And we all knew Mr. Darcy’s parents had to be likable folk. I would read another book by this author in a heartbeat.

Pride and Prejudice: The Movie 2005

Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for 2013**

A little something different on the blog today. As you know, or not, I’m doing the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge. Here is the original post from Austenprose. The deal is to set yourself a goal of reading/watching so many Pride and Prejudice sequels, re-tellings (ie: books) or movies/miniseries and then to review them. I have gone all out and will be posting one review a month – mostly books, but this month I’ve chosen to review the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightely as Elizabeth Benton and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy. Here is the link to IMDB.

pride and prej

I think this adaptation is as close to perfect as a movie can get. There. I said it. This is always in my Desert Island list. I have watched an endless string of DVD commentaries and almost every director mentions the old adage about casting being 90% of the work. I think when it’s a book that is well loved this is an especially difficult task. I know I pay a lot more attention to the cast when I feel I already “know” the characters. And Joe Wright had 90% of his work done for him. I could go on and on about Matthew MacFadyen, but I think you would all ask me to stop. I know Colin Firth is the one and only Darcy for many of you, but I saw Matthew first. I thought he was imposing, handsome, carried himself like an aristocrat…. and was also shy, out of his element where Elizabeth is concerned and somewhat adork-able. But I wasn’t going to go on about him. Instead, I’ll go on about Keira Knightley.  Saying an actress is “radiant” in a role is a boring cliche…but it’s what comes to mind when I think of her. Joe Wright claims he didn’t think she would make a good Elizabeth, that she was “too pretty,” but when he met her, he changed his mind. She can be willowy and graceful, that long neck doesn’t hurt, but she can also use her height, her long limbs, to be tomboyish. I care little for tomboyishness, but she there is something in Keira’s face, her look, that makes you believe she is intelligent…and a little sassy. Two things that must be present in anyone daring to take on the mantle of Miss Eliza Bennet. And the two have chemistry. The famous and ill-fated proposal takes place in the rain, outdoors, under this sort of Grecian thing. They manage to be incredibly angry and insulted by one another’s words and behavior, and at the end of it, you know they want to just grab each other and start kissing in a most improper fashion. They don’t…. it’s not that kinda movie… but who didn’t want them to?!

This is period drama. There are costumes. There are fabulous old homes. But there is also a simplicity in the way this period drama is styled. I think Groombridge Place, the location of Longbourne, must have been very hot. Cheeks are always slightly rosy, skin glowing with perspiration, and collars and flounces tend to be a little limp. But it looks real. Of course, there are wigs, on men and women, but they don’t have the perfect, canned appearance of some PBS miniseries, where it looks like all the characters have been unpacked from mothballs. I think the public ball at Meryton where the Bennet and Bingly/Darcy introduction occurs is a fabulous example. Hair is not perfectly coiffed (remember, they didn’t have Wen hair products, let alone hair spray in 1797, when Joe Wright says he placed his adaptation). There are errant curls, frizzy wigs on extras, the cravats are a little crushed. These are regular folks, wearing their best, of course, but their best is not what would be expected in Grosvenor Square or even Emma’s dinner parties at Hartfield. These are country folk, engaging in the modern day equivalent of a football game at the local high school, only with more dancing and less pigskin. And they look like it. They also look like they’re having a great time. I think this movie was the first time I’d seen a dance in a period drama portrayed like a party, rather than a bunch of stiff-necked extras moving in circles. Modern adaptations have taken a note from Pride and Prejudice’s success. I don’t think we would have had that lovely dance in Emma between Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller without it.

The last bit of gush I will give this movie is the score. It is lush and gorgeous. I got the fancy boxed version of the movie that came with the soundtrack, and it’s one of my favorites. “Dawn” is just about the most beautiful piece of piano music I have ever heard.

So that is my take. I would love to hear your opinions on the movie, or your arguments for Colin Firth, in the comments.