From the desk of Christina Boyd:
It’s a wonder what wanton hubris an author must possess to undertake such a task of continuing a great work such as Pride and Prejudice. Regrettably more times than not, I have found the work falls short; but this is not the case with author Helen Halstead’s sequel Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride.
I knew after the second paragraph as I was silently grinning at the words that I was in for a treat! The story begins where Jane Austen’s masterpiece ends. Elizabeth is launched into the world-wind intrigues of London’s upper circles when she finds herself sponsored by the exclusive and powerful Marchioness of Englebury, becoming one of the most sought after of the Ton. Inauspiciously, Darcy struggles with Elizabeth’s surprising social success and as such, they must both discover that fine balance to maintain a happy marriage. The side stories of Kitty Bennett and Georgiana Darcy as they emerge into society are curious and compelling as well.
Halstead successfully translates Austen’s canon characters and her many new players are just as well developed and believable. I particularly enjoyed the sparkle and wit of Elizabeth and the subtle references to the deep adoration and protectiveness that Darcy feels for his bride; and although their misunderstandings are somewhat frustrating to the dear reader, as in any new marriage, they are very discernable. However, I did not like the author’s initial interpretation of Mrs. Bennet; I thought she was a bit more caustic and unfeeling towards Elizabeth than I believe Austen’s original. Fortunately she is given the opportunity to redeem herself as the novel progresses. The author’s comprehension of Regency social graces and expectations lend much credibility; and the smart dialogue and well intended phrasing had me reading into the wee hours of the morning.
I had read this novel when it was previously published in Australia in 2004 as A Private Performance, and was pleased to see it presented to North American readers in this new edition by Ulysses Press. Happily, Helen Halstead gets quite a bit right! I can only imagine Miss Austen herself would be pleased to have inspired such a work. This story was captivating to the last – I only wish it had not wrapped up as quickly as it did.
5 out of 5 Stars
Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Helen Halstead
Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA (2007)
Trade paperback (320) pages
Cover image courtesy of Ulysses Press © 2007; text Christina Boyd © 2009, Austenprose.com
I have recently read this book. The author has great understanding of Regency period and good language. I liked that this book wasn’t based on any adaptation.
I love most of her presentations of JA characters- they are wonderfully three-dimensional, they have flaws, but also are believably developed. I loved Kitty, who earlier I never cared about- she was still silly and frivolous, but also capable of strong, sincere feelings and maturing. I loved also Georgiana- shy, but possessing inner strength. I am grateful that she wasn’t turned into feisty, outspoken girl. Miss Bingley also shown character and heart. Lady Catherine was obnoxious, but also human.
Unfortunately, for all these advantages, this book had major flaw- which was portrayal of Elizabeth. She was a regular Mary-Sue: flawless, described in superlatives and adored by almost everybody. I was disgusted by constant praises of her, which everybody was singing- I actually preferred parts concentrating on Kitty, Georgiana or even Miss Bingley! They were deeper, more human and interesting than Lizzy.
Therefore, despite all positives of this book, i would give it only three stars.
I recently read this book and I really liked it.
I especially liked that it also told more about other characters in P&P like Georgiana and Kitty.
Only thing I really did not like was the fact that everyone started to love Elizabeth so much, no one saw flaws in her.
This was originally titled “A Private Performance: a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice” it is the same book but the new version has been re-titled.
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Neoma, MarySue? Hmmm… That is a funny term; never heard it. But will tuck that little nugget away. I did see Elizabeth as being that perfect sister, perfect wife, perfect new star on the scene… because IMO, of course, I don’t want Jane Austen’s Elizabeth sullied by imperfections of normalcy. In my happily ever after, I want her to be that success in society, and be that wonderful life that Darcy adores. Anything else, I would make me gag. But even by my absurd and prejudiced standards I hold for Elizabeth, in Halstead’s Elizabeth I did see quite a bit of flaws. That she wasn’t brave enough to confess her devotion and love that Darcy so keenly needed to hear, was a despicable flaw. That she didn’t tell her sister Kitty, until it was almost too late, that she did love and appreciate her, was a flaw. That she let the whole Deepdene and Marchioness situation spiral out of control, when all she really needed to do was bite back her pride and let Darcy take the reigns, that was another. But I loved this Elizabeth despite all these flaws because in the end, she learned these great lessons. Oh well. I am glad you enjoyed the book overall. I obviously did. I thank you much for your feedback.
I have different expactations of sequels- for me, the whole “Elizabeth as star of society” was overdone and improbable. Powerful Marchioness, who rules the Ton, begging Elizabeth not to leave her?
It’s interesting how differently certain Austen sequels strike us. This was one of the early sequels that I read… and consequently turned me off modern Austen sequels for a long time. The lovely book cover and premise of the story compelled me to buy the book, but the execution was disappointing. I didn’t cotton to the style of prose (seemed a bit forced for me) and the Pollyanna portrayal of Elizabeth. I badly wanted to like this sequel… =\
Thanks for your honest opinion Joanna. I Have not read this sequel personally and it was reviewed by Christina. Interestingly you have divergent views. That can be intriguing and make me want to read something. Since I value both of your opinons, I may just have to!
hi! this sounds great and I think I’ll have to get it! though, I was wondering, do you know if this is the same book as Mr. Darcy’s Decision is the same book under different names? If not, which is the best?
I enjoyed most of the story but I hated the end. I have put a marker on the book “do not to read from here and beyond” =). I think the end takes one star off a great entertaining story.