Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Linda Berdoll – A Review

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, by Linda Berdoll (2004)From the desk of Christina Boyd:

Author Linda Berdoll’s first novel in her continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was originally self-published in 1999 as The Bar Sinister. This reviewer, however, discovered her work in 2006, after Sourcebooks had re-published it under the new title (in 2004) Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife. Mind, I had only discovered the world of fan-fiction and life after Pride & Prejudice through the elegant writing of Pamela Aiden’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman… and had no idea what to expect from this madcap, puckish sequel that opens as Mr. & Mrs. Darcy embark on married life and harkens back to the impassioned moments reined in during their engagement. Nevertheless, not until after their ardent wedding night do they discover how truly well-matched they are for one another. However, it’s Berdoll’s explicit voyeurism into the Darcy’s enthusiastic and abundant love-making that many devoted Austen readers have taken offense to, thus, separating readers into two camps: those that fervently love Berdoll’s work and those that vehemently hate it. (Note: as I have stated previously in other Berdoll reviews here at Austenprose, I am clearly on Team Berdoll.)

Contrary to the gossips, there is more to this landmark work of fan-fiction than numerous amorous seductions and copious conjugal proclivities between two of the literary world’s most beloved couple. Several emotive subplots, almost straight from Austen’s masterpiece, whilst others entirely of Berdoll’s contrivance, create a believable verve after Pride & Prejudice. As the newly married Elizabeth Darcy establishes herself as mistress of Pemberley, she soon comprehends there is much to learn about her new role and the great estate she now holds dominion over, second only to her husband who she suspects might very well have an astonishing, yet furtive past.

He had exposed this flaw to the very person whose admiration he most desired. Upon this internal revelation, his countenance reflected repentance. (115)

As much as she did not relish the topic of his past prior to their marriage, she is determined to know it all, what with her suspicions of Darcy possibly fathering an illegitimate son. But some secrets might better be left undisturbed.

As agreeable as her own marriage bed maybe, her profusely fertile sister Jane still wonders what all the fuss is about and despite Elizabeth’s contradiction, believes obliging her husband “’tis a woman’s lot.” Notwithstanding Darcy and Elizabeth’s fervent dedication to the production of a Darcy heir, their efforts fail to yield. In addition, a ruthless servant becomes obsessed with having Elizabeth for himself; savagely stealing her away and only Darcy can rescue her.

The roaring panic in Elizabeth’s head almost drowned out the sound of the door as it was kicked open and smashed against the wall.  But it startled Reed, who looked thither from attempting to pintle Mrs. Darcy, to be greeted by the unthinkable harrowing sight of Mr. Darcy himself. And he did not appear to be in a forgiving mood. (201)

This 465 page Pride & Prejudice continuation, fraught with euphemisms of the burlesque, quick-witted dialogue of our Austen favorites as well as a cast of new characters surrounding those we know so well, was a pioneering fete in 1999, even 2004 for that matter, selling well over 350,000 copies as well as the subsequent offerings in Darcy & Elizabeth, Nights & Days at Pemberley, and The Ruling Passion, Pride & Prejudice Continues. Since then, many writers have plunged into the publishing waters of this Pride & Prejudice historical romance genre (more specifically of a pulsing, bodice-ripping nature) so I cannot but wonder if Berdoll’s work has become any less an abomination amongst the haters. She has even been included in the recently published Among the Janeites: A Journey Through The World of Jane Austen Fandom by Deborah Yaffe (of which I favorably refer to as “Who’s Who Among Janeites.”) Actually, Yaffe devotes an entire chapter to Linda Berdoll & Pamela Aiden’s pioneering efforts!

The happy couple made love at the drop of a bonnet—in a carriage clopping along the road to Pemberley, atop a Chippendale dining table, in a forested glad on the grounds of the estate. And Linda, whose research had uncovered a vast number of Regency euphemisms, entertained herself by using a different one (‘love torch,” “timbered appendage,’ “Larydoodle”) every time she needed to mention the male member. Her book wasn’t a joke—she cared about her characters’ experiences and relationships—but she had a sense of humor about the whole enterprise.” Deborah Yaffe, Among the Janeites (2013)

My own remembrances of the past upon first reading Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: my freshly minted Janeite eyes wide open, tentatively turning pages at first, then laughing heartily at Berdoll’s quirky word-choices, ribald descriptions, and later, breathless with anticipation as the authoress laid out her tale, and finally my thirst for more (Darcy) was satiated as the wholly pleasurable and poignant story unfolded. Albeit not as satisfied as Mrs. Darcy, of course. So naturally, I had to read the whole thing again!

Even during times like this, of self- publication and on-line fan fiction, when there is a plethora of Austen sequels, adaptations, re-imaginings, films both serious and campy, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife is still incomparable! In my experience, one can never have too much Darcy & Elizabeth.

5 out of 5 Stars

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Linda Berdoll
Sourcebooks Landmark (2004)
Trade paperback (476) pages
ISBN: 978-1402202735

Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark © 2004; text Christina Boyd © 2013,

63 thoughts on “Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Linda Berdoll – A Review

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    1. Re: your Bridget Jones’ Diary review. I am going to be reading an advance copy of her next book. I suppose I will have to re-read both books. When I first read Bridget Jones’ Diary, I recall liking the movie better– and that rarely happens. Thanks for sharing!!


    1. Great challenge review– I was wondering if I should let my 6th grader read Spies and Prejudice… So thanks for saying there are some steamy episodes… I will hold off for her awhile.
      Enjoy the Berdoll’s book– it’s all in fun!


  1. Another enticing and stellar review, Christina. Usually I prefer the bedroom door to be firmly shut. But-but….sheeesh! The ARE married are they not? No big deal. Add this one to my already towering to-read stack.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book has one of the all-time funniest scenes in JAFF history – when Lydia explains marital relationships to brides-to-be Jane and Lizzy. An enraged squirrel indeed! Definitely in my top 10 P&P sequels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great review! Yes, Berdoll uses many quirky phrases and is very bawdy, if not downright vulgar at times– but I also think it’s a fun read. Surely not Austen. But it’s not supposed to be– just look at the cover, right? Thanks for sharing.


  3. Christina, I shan’t pelt you with tomatoes since my aim is so poor and I am so far away in Winchester tonight. You are so right of course about readers reaction to this novel. However the chips fall no one can deny the lasting impact that Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife has had on the genre. Berdoll’s sales are amazing and the envy of many. It is one of those novels that we are compelled to read and everyone has an opinion of. Thanks again for filling in for me during my Jane Austen pilgrimage. Cheers, LA


    1. Well thanks for not pelting me with tomatoes– considering you did ask me to write it!! But I do appreciate you dropping a line from across the pond as you scamper about the countryside…Whilst the luckless Christina continues repining my fate in terms as unreasonable as my accent is peevish.


  4. I for one will give this one a leave – I prefer the bedroom door to be shut. The more so, when a couple is married – that is called private life – where private parts are at play …


    1. My opinion of this book is: I have read it and wish I had not. I got rid of it soon after reading it. I was actually amazed at finding it mentioned in “Among the Janeites” – please forgive me if I’m offending anyone.
      My reasons: I agree with franhunne4u about keeping the door shut, and more importantly, these are NOT Jane Austen’s characters, in my opinion. That’s what I look for in JA Fan Fiction.

      The reason I’m writing this is for those who have a giant TBR stack, as I do: in my opinion, it’s really not worth the time it takes to read it. You undoubtedly have much better books in that stack to read. I wish someone had told me.


      1. Ha Cathy, this book causes extreme reactions. You either love it or hate it. Just read the Amazon reviews and it is all of the place with praise and criticism. I am glad you spoke up. It is not for everyone and reader beware. There were parts I really enjoyed and others I did not. No, it is not a book Jane Austen would have written, but if you can accept that from the beginning and just laugh then were is hope.


  5. Sounds more interesting (if best read tongue in cheek) than the “serious” book I’m reading for October–might get it for November. Meanwhile I was halfway through Mr Darcy’s Guide to Courtship when it was reviewed last month and my own review is at
    I also used quotes from Pride and Prejudice last week on Twitter, and their contexts are today at . Next month’s “serious” offering (if I get it finished) is “Jane Austen, Game Theorist.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have this one on my shelf, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m glad for the insight into what tone it takes. As to the passion level in an Austenesque, it can go either way for me. My big thing is pacing and the emotional impact it has on the story which means done right; its fine. Done wrong? Meh.

    Here are my two reviews for this month:
    The Journey by Jan Hahn and here’s the link:
    A Most Civil Proposal by C.P. Odom and here’s the link:

    That makes my total at 16.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhhhh… Jan Hahn and CP Odom. Two of my favorite JAFF authors! I too enjoyed those books. I can’t wait to hear if Jan Hahn has anything else in the pipeline. And CP Odom’s next offering is so poignant and beautiful, it will make you cry. Due out late 2013-early2014.


  7. I reviewed this as well – I enjoyed it, but not the “love” scenes – which I thought were clumsy and well….kinda gross. I liked the book much better after the plot actually got going. Since I mentioned it, I thought I’d link to it if anyone is interested.

    For my review this month I read The Darcy’s of Pemberley by Shannon Winslow. I really enjoyed it. Here is the link:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I too enjoyed her books! Shannon Winslow is a terrific writer who I have had the pleasure of her company at Laurel Ann’s garden tea party this summer! She even signed my books.


  8. I have this book but I have not read it yet. Your review is great! I agree with those who like bedroom door shut but I will read it thank to your words :)

    My selection for this month is “Pride and Prejudice” 2005 movie:

    I am always skeptical when there are television or movie adaptations about famous novel, especially novel I love. Joe Wright’s “Pride & Prejudice” was a lovely surprise. Perhaps it all depends on the director’s talent or the actors’ skills or simply the amazing landscapes chosen for the scenes. Anyway, it is a beautiful adaptation. Keira Knightley is a perfect Elizabeth Bennet. She has the spirit, the wit of the heroine described by Jane Austen and, although she shows much anger than it was needed in refusing Mr. Darcy’s proposal, she can easily personify the future Mrs. Darcy.

    About that. It is always a huge challenge to be Mr. Darcy, I think for every actor in the whole world, probably because of the excellent Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in the famous BBC adaptation. No one can compares to him! I must admit though that Matthew MacFadyen has something that hooked me from the beginning. His Darcy is unpleasant, surly and proud like the original. I always imagined Mr. Darcy like that! Without smiling, confident, uncomfortable among people who are different from him because of money, social class or any reason. He is exactly like Mr. Darcy is. And the most important thing is that he was able to be something else from Colin Firth’s portrayal. He played his own Mr. Darcy without reproduce already seen attitudes and this is a remarkable quality.

    The only thing I did not like (and this is a pity in this particular case) is the lack of accuracy to the book. There are several details missing and even if it is normal if we think about the fact that the movie is only two hours long, it is impossible to accept some completely changed scenes. For example the proposal. I appreciated the rain falling while Darcy and Elizabeth argued, there is something of special and romantic in that, but it would have been better to recreate the original scene. Same thing for the moment when Elizabeth understands her real feeling for Darcy while seeing his portrait during the visit at Pemberley. In Wright’s movie there was no portrait, instead there was a bust. Last thing I did not like is the second proposal. Do not misunderstand! I loved the words Darcy uses to renew his intentions, they are wonderful: you bewitched me, body and soul and I love, I love, I love you… is the most touching thing a man can say to a woman, but the scenario is totally dissimilar from the novel. I guess it is unusual for a nineteenth-century woman to go out alone in the early morning, no matter how likely the chance to meet a man like Darcy is.

    A special mention goes to the music. It is simply magic! Dario Marianelli is a talented composer who can easily express love, emotion, happiness and a feeling of peace through his music and his incredible work. I just love this soundtrack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with just about everything you said! And despite the huge liberties taken with Austen’s masterpiece for movie production, I am still a huge fan of this adaptation. I just roll my eyes at the pig walking through Longbourn, Elizabeth walking out in the morning with just a coat over her bedclothes… It’s beautifully shot and the music is gorgeous. Matthew Macfadyen is a lovely Darcy. And Judy Dentch is my favorite all time Lady Catherine! And it is terribly romantic. I can’t help but adore it. Btw– did you listen to the director’s comments?? I thought rather insightful as to his interpretation and choices. Thanks for sharing your review.


      1. Thank you, Christina! I agree with you, it is very romantic! Yes, I listened to the director’s comments and you are right. I think it is a special quality of Joe Wright. In every movie he tries to go beyond the simple descriptions of facts and to give a deeper meaning to the different actions and scenes. That is why I like his works!


        1. I also agree with everything you said. This was the first P&P I watched so it has a special place in my heart. I’ll need to rewatch the director’s comments, it’s been awhile since I listened to it. Thanks.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Berdoll books are all in fun!
      “All Roads Lead to Austen” — That’s one read I’ve missed. Thanks for the heads up!


  9. Ha ha! This is so timely, as my latest review for the challenge enters into the sex in Austen debate, with which I feel very uncomfortable.

    Nevertheless, I have read both of the books in this series, even though the graphic depictions left me in a constant grimace. I was fascinated my Berdoll’s depiction of servants and the criminal underworld of early 19th century England. She is an impressive writer, but I admit to snatching this book out of the hands of a 12 year old at an Austen festival a few years back while fervently declaring to her mother that it was pornographic, which it is. Great review!

    I reviewed His Uncle’s Favorite by Lory Lilian:

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Death Comes to Pemberley
    This is my 11th review for the Jane Austen challenge.
    I won my copy of this book on Austen prose so I felt it right to read it for this challenge hosted by Laurel Ann. I was glad I reopened the book. I enjoyed reading this book more on the second reading. Possibly because I had got over the author note in which PD James grovels to Jane Austen and apologies for writing this sequel to Pride and Prejudice? It had me cringing and asking why writes this part that seems to be a defence for writing the novel at all and it felt unnecessary to me. Then on more mature reflection I thought about why I had this adverse reaction and maybe it is something to do with marvelling at a talented writer like PD James writing like that as it seemed to be writing a sequel needed no apology.
    The book is dedicated by PD James to Joyce McLennan friend and personal assistant who has writes P D James typed out her novels for thirty five years and ends with affection and gratitude. Maybe PD James could also have thanked Jane Austen at this point and that to me would have been enough. This is however not to do with the story so I will move briskly on.
    The book begins on the eve of a ball as guests assemble at Pemberley. This is an important ball held in honour of Darcy’s mother Lady Anne birthday. Lady Anne is now dead but the ball continues to be held. All the local rich gentry are eager to come to it. Elizabeth is anxious that all goes smoothly and she is seen as a good chatelaine of Pemberley worthy to be with Mr Darcy.
    Elizabeth can rely on her sister Jane to be a help to her cope with the ball. However Elizabeth has a lot more than the ball to cope with as Lydia also shows up uninvited to the ball bringing a whirlwind of trouble in her wake. Lydia she rides in at speed in a carriage on the eve of the great ball shouting that Wickham her husband is dead shot by Denny his friend whom he has quarrelled with.
    In the house already watching Lydia’s chaotic arrival are Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Charles Bingley, Georgiana Darcy who is Darcy’s sister, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Henry Alverston who is a young lawyer. When Lydia arrives shouting wildly Jane and Elizabeth try to calm her. Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Alverston go into the haunted woods where Lydia has convinced herself Wickham lies dead. When the men get into the woods it is not Wickham who is dead it is he is friend Denny and Wickham becomes the chief suspect.
    I liked the way P D James wrote about Alverston and how his character is developed. Georgiana can speak freely to Alverston and even speak to him about how she and Wickham nearly eloped together at Ramsgate. Georgiana can speak about Wickham and how he may have loved Georgiana to Elizabeth and I like the way the two have become friends and can discuss lots of subjects together in this book but she cannot speak to Darcy even though he is her brother. Maybe it is because Darcy is her brother and he always sees the need to protect Georgiana rather than treat her as a fellow adult.
    Elizabeth seems to have become a capable woman able to speak and listen to others including Colonel Fitzwilliam, Alverston and Georgiana in her new home. She does find the thought of running the ball daunting and I like the way she copes with that by consulting Darcy and Jane

    James writes about Elizabeth noticing Alverston and Georgiana and the way there are together and she can talk with Georgiana about this and watch the lawyer and Georgiana as they enjoy each other’s company.

    To my mind Colonel Fitzwilliam is one of the nice characters in Pride and Prejudice and in my first reading of Pride and Prejudice many years ago when I was still at school I quite thought Elizabeth might marry Colonel Fitzwilliam. Even in Pride and Prejudice the colonel does warn Elizabeth that second sons like himself cannot marry where they please but must wed daughters of good family and fortune so maybe I was seeing the Colonel even then with rosy spectacles and he was more calculating then I first thought. However in this tale the colonel comes over to me as a much darker character. His brother dies so he comes to inherit the family fortune so he feels he must now think about family honour and who he will wed to benefit the family. Love is certainly not a big consideration for the Colonel when it comes to marrying.
    Colonel Fitzwilliam does consult Elizabeth about marrying Georgiana and Elizabeth replies that is up to Georgiana who she marries and decide where and with whom she will find happiness. This struck me as quite modern but Georgiana has her own fortune.
    Alverston is described as well mannered intelligent lively and god looking and he spends a great deal of time studying when he visits Jane and Charles Bingley. He also seems to be a great favourite with the Bingley children and comes across as a likeable gentleman.
    Mr Bennet comes into his own in this book as he oversees the Bingley library and acquisition of new books and is a friend to Darcy. Even the servants at Pemberley miss Mr Bennet when he returns to Mrs Bennet who is having such palpitations and fluttering that he needs to return to Longbourne.
    All in all an exciting reread and one I would recommend.

    Not sure I want to read this month’s offering from Linda Berdoll ( sorry Christina – it was a great review) but I did enjoy Pamela Aiden books so maybe I should continue my journey into Jane Austen sequels and be openminded

    look forward to reading about Laurel Ann’s adventures

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading my British publication of this and being very excited because of all the hub bub. Must have been all the hype because I felt left down afterwards. Expecting so much more especially having read many many many Austenesque books and knowing the quality of this proven writer. It’s very contrived and I don’t always agree with the character development. Having said that, I liked it well enough. And this offering wont her hurt anyone’s sensibilities for having read it.


      1. Do excuse those typos. Fat thumbs on the iPhone this morning. Sorry. And thank you for your thorough and well thought review.


      2. My initial response is re: your review of Death Comes to Pemberley. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. Btw– looking fwd to the movie — the stills look gorgeous. (I think you should give Berdoll’s first book a try– it’s really more than just sex sex sex. Well drawn characters and LOL funny.)


        1. I too am looking forward to Death comes to Pemberley movie.
          I will try reading the Linda Berdoll novel and see how I get on.
          Again thank you Christina for the balanced Berdoll review

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Apologies to P D James and to readers of my review – the name of the lawyer in Death comes to Pemberley is Henry Alveston and I added an r to his surname incorrectly in the review.


  12. Thank you for your great review, Christina. As some others have said, I prefer the explicit sex left out of my JAFF and have a list of books to read without this one! I do think it would make a very interesting discussion subject. Deeply romantic and emotional stories written in beautiful prose, are my delight.

    I am late with my September review because I spent so much time reading all the discussion and the excellent reviews here! I read, “Darcy on the Hudson” “A Pride and Prejudice Re-Imagining” by Mary Lydon Simonsen. It was at first disconcerting to have it take place in America, but I quickly came to appreciate it as I found the historical aspects illustrated about the relationship of England to America broadened my outlook and added a new depth to the story. Mr. Darcy takes his friend Mr. Bingley as well as his sister with him on a business trip to America following the almost elopement with Wickhem, as a way to help Georgiana recover while he investigates a new business adventure in a foreign land. Bingley has an uncle living in America that he wishes to visit and they stay with him. The Bennetts are American, and while their characters mostly remained true to the originals, Mrs. Bennett is quite different… wise and lovable… and I found her delightful and enjoyed her part in the story excessively! Georgiana is a bit more outgoing, and learns some amazing American ways. And Carolyne Bingley is a cousin to Charles, rather than a sister, but retains much the same disagreeable role, but told slightly differently. The story takes place in 1811 and presents a new perspective to the one learned in our American education, and I thank Ms. Simonsen for this insight, as well as the delightful story. And I have purchased her book, “When They Fall in Love, Darcy and Elizabeth in Italy” for my next read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I read that one too! I believe I enjoyed it too. I think. It’s been so long since I’ve read it– and so many stories told from Darcy’s POV, they often run together in my memory unless I have the book right in front of me.


    1. Interesting review– I haven’t read that one and am still hesitant to add it to my very large list to be read. The attraction between the colonel and Georgianna could be likened or imagined to that of Emma and MrKnightley– so it doesn’t creep me out anymore than the knowledge of first cousins marrying back then. It’s a period thing that I just accept. But thanks for your thoughtful review.


    1. I appreciated your extensive explanation of Kate Fenton’s book (spoilers don’t bother me, usually!) and then read her website and ended up ordering her book! I look forward to this very different story line for P&P! Thank you.


      1. That’s great to hear, I’m glad my review has interested you so much in what I thought was a really well-imagined book. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


    2. I read this as Vanity & Vexation years ago. Meh! It was ok. But good review. I read and very much enjoyed Longbourn. Looking fwd to reading how you liked it.


  13. I read this way back in March and thought it was a hoot. I thought she captured the spirit of P&P very well. I was less impressed with the second one so didn’t finish it until nearly June. I didn’t even know there was a third. I’m not sure if I’ll go back for it. (My review, for what it’s worth:

    My somewhat-less-tardy-than-August’s review is in a back-to-school vein: The Annotated Jane Austen and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: a Sourcebook. Both were fascinating, and the second in particular was a nice surprise.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It is a trust universally acknowledged that friendships forged over a love of Jane Austen last forever!

    “What separates the casual Jane Austen fan from the Aficionado? The number of times she’s read Austen’s novels or her consuming love for Mr. Darcy.” (a favorite quote from Austenland, the Movie)

    Another Jane Austen film – really how good could it be? But what if it was about a girl like us, obsessed with Jane Austen, her novels, the time period and of course, the BBC/A&E version of Pride & Prejudice. Anyone who kisses a life-sized cutout of Collin Firth and brags that she memorized the first 3 chapters of the novel when she was 13 is number 1 in our books. Clearly, since we are all sending a year blogging about Pride & Prejudice, we can identify with her obsession. YaY! Nicole and I identified with the main character, equally obsessed or at least wanting to share our obsession as well. Countdown to the movie’s release commenced!

    And, boy did it deliver! After weeks of anticipation and failing to secure tickets to the NYC opening, we watched the film at the Ritz East (Philadelphia). The theater was classic and a perfect backdrop for the movie. Sadly, we were only joined by 6 other people. Knowing it was an independent film, we weren’t expecting much by way of Oscar-winning performances. The writing was over the top, bordering on comical/absurd, but was thoroughly enjoyable. While not a direct adaption of Pride & Prejudice, it did play heavily on story and, specifically, the A&E miniseries. Our major disappointment was that the A&E movie didn’t play a more prominent role in her obsession.

    True to form, Keri Russell finds her Jane Austen romance. Will the DVD be purchased? Absolutely! Will we memorize it over the years? Absolutely! Another Austenland quote to leave you with on how we measure the men in our lives against Mr. Darcy: “I am single because apparently, the only good men are fictional.”

    Jacinta & Nicole

    Liked by 1 person

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