From the desk of Sophia Rose:
A few authors have written variations that speculate on how Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice would alter if the Darcy parents had not passed off the scene so early in the story. I enjoy these “what-if” scenarios and was eager to take up this latest novel by Elizabeth Adams, particularly because I enjoy her heartwarming and often whimsical touch to her writing.
Sons of Pemberley beings as a prequel to the original, opening during the youth of George Darcy and Samuel Wickham, the fathers of Fitzwilliam Darcy and George Wickham. After Wickham saves Darcy’s life, they become fast friends. Darcy grows up to become the master of Pemberley whose youthful wish is realized by making his best friend the steward of his grand estate. The two men go on to marry: George Darcy has the joy of marrying a woman he loves dearly, while poor Samuel Wickham who on the eve of courting sweet Rachel, ends up with her cunning, beautiful cousin Rebecca. Lady Anne Darcy has her husband’s love and a beautiful son, and then the Darcys along with the Wickhams, receive their share of heartache when she loses her next baby.
The ongoing story follows of the Darcys and Wickhams lives, along with those connected by family, friendship, and neighborhood, continue forward as their children grow up and the parents are tangled in complicated situations.
Alternating with this past story is the later years when Lady Anne and her grown children visit Hertfordshire with her son’s friend, Charles Bingley, and his family at Netherfield where they get to know the lively Bennet family. Lady Anne observes her quiet, serious son come to life with each new encounter with vivacious Miss Elizabeth and she shares a special connection with Mrs. Bennet while guiding all the young people through love and life after she has acquired her own life wisdom over the years.
Sons of Pemberley is told in two timelines that alternate back and forth starting in the 1780s and 1811. The earlier timeline moves forward over about a twenty-year period while the latter covers mere months. The reader is introduced to the large extended Darcy-Fitzwilliam family that includes a bustling group of cousins that are mostly close and feature prominently in the latter story, while their elders are the younger group of the earlier story. Readers will recognize perhaps half of the cast of characters from the original novel, and as can be imagined, this leads the story well off the Pride and Prejudice course. In fact, the very addition of Lady Anne and some others like Samuel Wickham are such strong influences that even familiar character traits are muted or altered altogether.
The story was full of romance while still being a beautiful tribute to family and those who become family. It is also very much Lady Anne’s story, something that we did not experience in the original since she died with the birth of her daughter, Georgiana. She is the central figure in both stories, and it is her actions and words that make all the difference in the world for more than one situation. This is where I give fair warning to prospective readers who are looking for “all Darcy and Lizzy all the time.” They are there, and have their moments, but are not central figures.
Now, I must admit that this story had me worried a few times. I am not fond of lots of drama and sometimes one can see a dramatic situation coming from a mile away. There is a certain antagonist in this story who one would call in more modern times ‘a marriage wrecker’ and this person had already been at work destroying one marriage, seducing many, and was after the biggest prize of all. I was so worried that they would succeed that I was reluctant to keep reading while at the same time I was compelled to lose sleep because I had to know. In my worry, I was forgetting my author because, thankfully, she did not blow up the whole story into a soap opera and send me into a book fugue. This story might have had a few moments when I shed tears, but it was heartwarming and uplifting at its core.
I had one issue and it is not a huge one. More of a distraction/curiosity issue. The very last scene of the story was fabulous, and I was so glad it happened. Without any spoilers I will say that in the epilogue, that catches up on all the cast, I was thrown off by the choice not to place that scene a little earlier in the story since it involves secondary characters and ends it all with a different scene involving principal characters.
In summary, this was a beautiful multi-generational story of a family and how they come to find and hold onto love. There are growing moments that are tender, whimsical, and a few sad times. Sons of Pemberley is a compelling story worthy of rereading when I want to cozy up with an enchanting story. I think this one will have wide appeal from those who appreciate light historical saga fiction to romance lovers who don’t mind the romance sharing the spotlight with other story elements.
5 out of 5 Stars
ADDITIONAL NOVELS BY ELIZABETH ADAMS
- Sons of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Reimagining, by Elizabeth Adams
- Independently Published (November 27, 2020)
- Trade paperback & eBook (468) pages
- ISBN: 979-8583659739
- Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Elizabeth Adams © 2020; text Sophia Rose © 2021, austenprose.com.