Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

In her latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, Abigail Reynolds offers a fanciful story, replete with anguish and raw emotion, exploring another possible road not taken by Jane Austen herself.

Not long after Miss Elizabeth Bennet returns home to Longbourn from her visit to the Collins’ at Hunsford Parsonage in Kent – and that poorly executed marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy – she boldly decides to take responsibility for her mother and sisters happiness. Since the wealthy Mr. Bingley has departed without proposing to her sister Jane, she agrees to an engagement with a childhood acquaintance, a very gentlemanly Mr. Covington of Ashworth House. But as fate would have it, Mr. Darcy returns to Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Today we are celebrating the release of a new Pride and Prejudice inspired novel, by bestselling author Abigail Reynolds. Mr. Darcy’s Undoing was published by Sourcebooks this week and is a variation on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The publisher has kindly shared an exclusive excerpt from the novel for our readers.

Enjoy!


BOOK DESCRIPTION

What could possibly make a proper gentleman come completely undone?

What if Elizabeth Bennet accepted the proposal of another before she met Mr. Darcy again?

In Abigail Reynolds’ bold and playful retelling of the Austen classic (originally self-published as Without Reserve), a devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he is willing to go to win the woman he loves. Consumed by jealousy, he knows that winning her will throw them both into scandal and disgrace, but losing her is unbearable. Mr. Darcy is going to have to fight for his love, and his life…


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

Darcy was cautiously pleased with how the evening was progressing. Although the degree of shock with which Elizabeth had greeted him had not been promising, she had agreed to dance with him, spoken with him with an air of comfort, and even teased him a little, if he was not mistaken. He had ached for her from the moment he saw her, standing by her sister with her back to the door, and the exquisite plea­sure of touching her hand as they danced had only reinforced his desire to win her. He could not quite bring himself to dance with another woman so quickly, so instead determined to demonstrate his attention to her reproofs by conversing with her family. Unfortunately, the only member of her family then available was her mother. Taking a deep breath, he approached Mrs. Bennet, giving her his compliments and enquiring after her well-being.

His reception was initially cold and ceremonious, but he persisted in his civility, just keeping himself from rolling his eyes at some of Mrs. Bennet’s ridiculous manners. Soon, however, the compliment of having such a man’s attention outweighed her former anger towards him, and she began to take advantage of the opportunity to tell him all the news of the neighbourhood.

“My sister Phillips’ eldest son married last spring to Harriet Letsworth, and that was quite the occasion,” she said. With pride, she added her coup, “And you have no doubt heard, Mr. Darcy, of my daughter’s engagement.”

Darcy’s wandering attention snapped back to her at these words. Miss Bennet engaged? Bingley would be devastated, especially if the look on his face when he danced with her was anything to judge by. This was a disaster; it would certainly make matters more difficult for him with Elizabeth as well. He cleared his throat, trying to mask his reaction, and said, “Miss Bennet is engaged? No, I have not had the pleasure of hearing the news.”

“Oh, no, not Jane!” replied Mrs. Bennet distractedly, her eyes travelling with satisfaction toward the figure of Mr. Bingley. “No, it is Lizzy who is to marry Mr. Covington—ah, yes, he has just arrived. My daughter Lydia is unfortunately not with us tonight; she is visiting Colonel Forster’s wife in Devonshire.”

Darcy was struck by a sharp shock of pain and disbelief at her unexpected words. His Elizabeth, promised to another man? It could not be! The possibility had never so much as crossed his mind that she might look on some other man with favour—that she might refuse him again, yes, but marry another, and so quickly? How could this have happened? His eyes sought her out involuntarily where she stood conversing with several acquaintances, and the taste of bile rose in his throat. He forced himself to say, “I do not believe that I am acquainted with Mr. Covington.” But I know enough about him already to wish he had never taken the first breath of life! he thought darkly. “Not know him?” cried Mrs. Bennet disbelievingly. “Mr. Covington is master of Ashworth House, and a fine gentle­man. Surely you must have met him last autumn, Mr. Darcy? There he is now.” With an embarrassing want of propriety, she pointed across the room to a well-built gentleman perhaps a few years younger than Darcy, with a handsome enough countenance though no particular claim to style, but fitting well into the company at hand. As Darcy watched with bitter jealousy, he approached Elizabeth and greeted her warmly, raising her hand to his lips.

Darcy’s eyes were fixed on Elizabeth, who welcomed the interloper with a somewhat absent smile, continuing her conversation and apparently including him without particular effort. Elizabeth, he thought despairingly.

Mr. Covington’s late arrival had not come as a surprise to Elizabeth; she knew he was quite busy at this season, and she was just as happy he had been absent during her dance with Darcy. She could not help but wonder what Darcy was thinking, if he had noticed the two of them together, and whether he was thanking heaven for his narrow escape. As Mr. Covington took her hand for the next dance, she braved a glimpse in his direction.

One look at his face told her something was terribly wrong. She saw her mother chatting away to him while he appeared oblivious, looking directly at Elizabeth. The realization suddenly hit her that he had not known of her engagement, that this was news to him; and a sudden wave of nausea passed over her. How cruel he must think she had been with her arch looks and teasing during their dances! She might not care for him, but he had been making a pronounced effort to be civil, and he did not deserve to be treated so. And what would Mr. Covington think if he knew she had been dancing with a gentleman who had loved her ardently and wanted to marry her? She felt heartily ashamed of herself, without quite knowing why.

Mr. Covington noticed her hesitation. “Are you well, Miss Bennet?” he asked with concern, noting her pallor.

Elizabeth swallowed. “Yes, quite well, sir,” she said. “Please, let us continue.”

End of excerpt…

I hope you enjoyed this visit with Darcy and Elizabeth!  I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about Mr. Darcy’s Undoing or my other books.


AUTHOR BIO

Abigail Reynolds is a lifelong Jane Austen enthusiast and a physician. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian, theater, and marine biology at Bryn Mawr College before deciding to attend medical school. She began writing Pride and Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her favorite characters. Her most recent releases are What Would Mr. Darcy Do? and an anthology of Pride and Prejudice stories, A Pemberley Medley.  Abigail is a lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of wild animals masquerading as pets.  Her hobbies include beading, reading, and finding time to sleep. 


BOOK INFORMATION

  • Mr. Darcy’s Undoing: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
  • Sourcebooks (2011)
  • Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (352) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1402240942
  • Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance

ADDITIONAL INFO | ADD TO GOODREADS

We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2011, austenprose.com.

Morning Light, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Morning Light, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

Abigail Reynolds’ latest self-published offering, Morning Light, is all about second chances, (maybe even thirds). Escaping complicated city life, and all the muddled baggage that it entails, widow Annie Wright is finally living her dream of running her own art gallery on Cape Cod and free of any male persuasion.  The locals let her keep her past life private, especially the details of her famous husband’s death, and that is how she likes it.  Then one day, her past in the form of her dead husband’s college friend Jeremy, walks back into her present, setting Annie’s life into a whirlwind… or tailspin.

Annie first met Jeremy ten years prior on the eve of her wedding to Paul.  Even though they felt an instant, almost cosmic connection, once Jeremy realized who the bride was, they did NOT act on Continue reading “Morning Light, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

What Would Mr. Darcy Do? Blog Tour: Chatting with Author Abigail Reynolds & a Giveaway!

What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)Please join us today in welcoming Austenesque author Abigail Reynolds for the official launch of her blog tour of What Would Mr. Darcy Do, a new Pride and Prejudice variation that was released on April 1, 2011, by Sourcebooks.

LAN: Hi Abigail. It is such a pleasure to have this opportunity to chat with you today about your new book, What Would Mr. Darcy Do? Previously self-published as From Lambton to Longbourn, this novel is your fifth Pride and Prejudice variation to be re-issued by Sourcebooks. Could you share with readers the premise of the book, and how you were inspired to write it? Are there any changes from the original publication?

AR: I started with one of Darcy and Elizabeth’s classic misunderstandings, when they part at the Lambton Inn, Elizabeth thinking that Darcy will despise her now and Darcy believing that Elizabeth understands his love for her.  That scene always makes me want to lock them up together until they talk instead of trying to read each other’s mind.  I didn’t lock them up physically, but I did make them use their words, as we tell quarreling preschoolers.  I’ve added a new scene at the beginning, but most of the book is the same as the original publication.  Sourcebooks outdid themselves with the cover – it’s beautiful. Continue reading “What Would Mr. Darcy Do? Blog Tour: Chatting with Author Abigail Reynolds & a Giveaway!”

What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds (2011)Guest review by Christina Boyd

Hard on the heels of Kara Louise’s Only Mr. Darcy Will Do and Mary Simonsen’s The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, comes another Pride and Prejudice “what if” from P&P variations pioneer, Abigail Reynolds. What Would Mr. Darcy Do is her latest re-imagining to be re-issued by Sourcebooks. Part of her Pemberley Variations series, it was first self-published in 2007 as From Lambton to Longbourne, and explores roads not taken in Jane Austen’s, Pride & Prejudice.

In Austen’s masterpiece, Fitzwilliam Darcy comes upon a distraught Miss Elizabeth Bennet just moments after she has received news of her youngest sister Lydia’s supposed elopement with Darcy’s nemesis George Wickham – and by that, the ruining of her family and all of the daughters chances for good marriages. After she shares as much to Darcy, he leaves.  “…she saw him go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia’s infamy must produce, found an additional anguish as she reflected on that wretched business.” Pride & Prejudice, Chapt. XLVI. However, Abigail Reynolds takes that tragic moment at the Lambton Inn and gives desperate resolve to both Elizabeth and Darcy allowing them to speak their hearts. Elizabeth declares, “…despite this unfortunate ending, these days in Lambton are ones I will always remember with pleasure.” p.7. Continue reading “What Would Mr. Darcy Do, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

UPDATED! Download Free Jane Austen-inspired eBooks on her Birthday, December 16, 2010

Sourcebooks Jane Austen Birthday Banner 2010

Update 16 December 2010: 1:00 pm PT

Breaking News:

Sourcebooks has extended the one day offer through 17 December 2010.

Next Thursday, December 16th is Jane Austen’s 235th birthday and Sourcebooks, the world’s leading Jane Austen publisher, is throwing a huge one-day-only birthday book bash. They will be offering ten of their best Austen-inspired novels for FREE. Yep. That’s right. FREE!

Anyone with a digital eReader, or free application on their computer, or blackberry, or iPhone, or Android, or iPad can download the books. Just go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. online on December 16th and download away! (I highly recommend Barnes & Noble’s free Nook applications if you do not already own an eReader like me! You can read the eBooks on five different electronic devices ) Continue reading “UPDATED! Download Free Jane Austen-inspired eBooks on her Birthday, December 16, 2010”

Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

Huzzah! The much anticipated Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, a Pride & Prejudice variation by author, Abigail Reynolds has come at last. In this clever re-imagining, Miss Elizabeth Bennet left Hunsford before Mr. Darcy’s ill-stated first proposal as her father fell sick and later died. His heir, Mr. Collins assumes the entail and the ladies of Longbourn must shift for themselves.

Elizabeth’s eldest sister, Jane marries a local shopkeeper, believing she is doing her best for her family. The three youngest, along with Mrs. Bennet go to live with Aunt Phillips in Meryton while Elizabeth is sent to her Aunt & Uncle Gardiner in Cheapside. After Mr. Darcy discovers her in such reduced circumstances, he tells himself he simply needs to be reassured that she is being cared for.  But after he contrives a “chance” meeting, he finds Continue reading “Mr. Darcy’s Obsession, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for August 2010

The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in August, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.

Audio

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer, read by Richard Armitage

In honor of historical romance novelist Georgette Heyer’s birthday this month, I am sure that Jane Austen will not mind if I place one of Heyer’s Regency romance novels first among the great selection of books available this month. If you hadn’t noticed, we are celebrating Heyer in a big way all month here on Austenprose, but this novel in particular of the 34 we will be discussing stands head and shoulders over the rest. Yes, the story is one of Heyer’s best with a strong hero and an endearingly flawed young heroine, but this audio edition really chases away any fit of the blue devils with its velvet-voiced reader, Richard Armitage. This is his third foray into reading Heyer for Naxos Audiobooks, and I cannot think of one actor more qualified to make half of the population of the world swoon. (Publishers description) Horatia Winwood is the youngest and the least attractive of the three Winwood sisters. She also has a stammer. But when the enigmatic and eminently eligible Earl of Rule offers for her oldest sister’s hand – a match that makes financial and social sense, but would break her heart – it is Horatia who takes matters into her own impetuous hands. Can she save her family’s fortune? Or is she courting disaster? Witty, charming, elegant and always delightful, Georgette Heyer – the undisputed Queen of Regency Romance – brings the whole period to life with deft precision and glorious characters. Naxos AudioBooks (2010), Abridged Audio CD, ISBN: 978-1843794417. Listen to a preview.

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)

Emma and the Vampires, by Wayne Josephson

More vampires in our Austen coming our way. This time, its Austen’s handsome, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse, with a comfortable home and happy disposition with very little to distress or vex her except her vampire neighbors. (Publishers description) In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires. Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs of her social circle with delightfully disastrous results. But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she’s the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart-his (literal) undying love for her… A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead. Sourcebooks Landmark (2010), Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402241345. Read the first chapter.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy, Abigail Reynolds

Originally published as Impulse and Initiative by Sourcebooks in 2008, this Pride and Prejudice variation asks “what if” after Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet he didn’t give up, but pursued her from Kent back to Longbourn? I reviewed the original edition if you would like to peruse my humble opinion. (Publishers description) What if…Instead of disappearing from Elizabeth Bennet’s life after she refused his offer of marriage, Mr. Darcy had stayed and tried to change her mind? What if…Lizzy, as she gets to know Darcy, finds him undeniably attractive and her impulses win out over her sense of propriety? What if…Madly in love and mutually on fire, their passion anticipates their wedding? In To Conquer Mr. Darcy, instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to Hertfordshire to prove to her he is a changed man and worthy of her love. And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she thought she despised, irresistible… Sourcebooks Casablanca (2010), Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1402237300. Read the first chapter.

Murder on the Bride’s Side: A Mystery, by Tracy Kiely

 

Last year debut author Tracy Kiely blew my bonnet off with her clever Pride and Prejudice inspired whodunit, Murder at Longbourn. Now her clever, but endearingly insecure sleuth Elizabeth Parker is back with a new mystery to solve that is inspired by Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. (Publishers description) Drawing from the classic Sense and Sensibility, Tracy Kiely continues the adventures of Elizabeth Parker, the likable Austen-quoting sleuth, in this witty and charming series. Elizabeth Parker suspected that fulfilling her duties as maid-of-honor for her best friend, Bridget, was going to be murder. And no sooner is the last grain of rice thrown than she finds herself staring into the dead eyes of Bridget’s Aunt Roni, a woman whose death is almost as universally celebrated as Bridget’s nuptials. The horror only increases when Harry, Bridget’s cousin, becomes the chief suspect. The idea is ludicrous to the family because Harry is one of the kindest, most compassionate people imaginable. To complicate matters, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Peter, appears to be falling for an old flame, a gorgeous wedding planner. Determined to clear Harry of the crime, reign in Bridget’s impulsive brand of sleuthing, and figure out where Peter’s heart lies, Elizabeth sets her mind to work. Minotaur Books (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0312537579.  Read my preview and an excerpt here.

Austen’s Oeuvre

Emma (Blackstone Audio Classic), by Jane Austen, read by Nadia May

Since one can never have too many audio editions of Emma to break the monotony of the work commute,  pop this one into your car CD player and enjoy an unabridged recording of  Austen’s nonsensical girl. (Publishers description) Often considered Jane Austen’s finest work, Emma is the story of a charmingly self-deluded heroine whose injudicious matchmaking schemes often lead to substantial mortification. Emma, ”handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” Her own great fortune has blinded Emma to the true feelings and motivations of others and leads her to some hilarious misjudgments. But it is through her mistakes that Emma finds humility, wisdom, and true love. Told with the shrewd wit and delicate irony which has made Jane Austen a master of the English novel, Emma is a comic masterpiece whose fanciful heroine has gained the affection of generations of readers. Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2010), Unabridged CD, ISBN: 978-1441755360

Nonfiction

The Jane Austen Pocket Bible: The Perfect Gift for a Literary Lover, by Holly Ivins

From the publisher’s description, this appears to be the be-all, end-all of Austen enlightenment. That is a lot of Austenology for this slim 192-page volume. (Publishers description) The perfect gift for a literary lover. Have you ever dreamt of Darcy? Wished for Wentworth? Or even envied the womanly wiles of Emma? Perhaps you want to know a bit more about the author who so accurately describes the ins and outs of courtship, and whose novels have never been out of print since they were first published nearly 200 years ago? If you’re nodding in excitement reading this then the Jane Austen Pocket Bible is one for you. This handy little book guides you through Austen’s beloved novels, explaining Regency manners, the class system, the importance of inheritance, and the delicate matter of landing a husband. Full of fascinating trivia about the world of Austen’s novels this book also contains details of Austen’s life, the writers who inspired her, the country estates which make up the settings for her romantic adventures, and details on the countless film and television adaptations which have been made. With facts on genteel dancing, a plan for an Austen dinner party and words of wisdom from the lady herself, it’s a must-have for every self-confessed Jane fan or those making their first foray into Austen’s carefully crafted world. Pocket Bibles (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1907087097

Austen’s Contemporaries & Beyond

Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain’s Greatest Monarch, by Kate Williams

There are a ton of Victoria biographies on the market, so why do we need another one? Kate Williams is why. If any of you missed her 2006 bio of Emma Hamilton, England’s Mistress, it is well worth a trip to the library or that gift card you have been hoarding from last Christmas. Her next venture into fascinating women from the nineteenth-century is with Queen V. Her slant is the Princess Charlotte tragedy and how it made the Royal family scamper to conceive the next heir to the throne. (Publishers description) In her lauded biography England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, Kate Williams painted a vivid and intimate portrait of Emma Hamilton, the lover of English national hero Lord Horatio Nelson. Now, with the same keen insight and gift for telling detail, Williams provides a gripping account of Queen Victoria’s rise to the throne and her early years in power—as well as the tragic, little-known story of the princess whose demise made it all possible. Writing with a combination of novelistic flair and historical precision, Williams reveals an energetic and vibrant woman in the prime of her life, while chronicling the byzantine machinations behind Victoria’s struggle to occupy the throne—scheming that continued even after the crown was placed on her head. Ballantine Books (2010), Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0345461957. Read the first chapter.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester

Not just your average compendium of Regency-era historical facts and figures, this volume uses Georgette Heyer’s novels as a springboard and ties in social, cultural and political customs and events, explaining it all for you, clearly and concisely. Read my review for full details and insights. (Publishers description) The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and the glittering Regency period. Immerse yourself in the resplendent glow of Regency England and the world of Georgette Heyer…From the fascinating slang, the elegant fashions, the precise ways the bon ton ate, drank, danced, and flirted, to the shocking real-life scandals of the day, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World takes you behind the scenes of Heyer’s captivating novels. As much fun to read as Heyer’s own novels, beautifully illustrated, and meticulously researched, Jennifer Kloester’s essential guide brings the world of the Regency to life for Heyer fans and Jane Austen fans alike. Sourcebooks (2010), Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402241369. Read the first chapter.

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Robinette Kowal

More fun with Jane. (sort of) This Regency-era novel has some similar Austenesque themes: two sisters with divergent personality seek love and happiness, but with Harry Potter magic thrown in the mix. It looks intriguing. Let’s hope the prose is light, bright and sparkly. (Publishers description) The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written. Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attention of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own. Tor Books, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0765325563. Read the first chapter.

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd:

I was anxious to read The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice: A Modern Love Story with a Jane Austen Twist, by Abigail Reynolds as I have been a fan of her Pemberley Variations series for a few years, own all her other commercially published and self-published books and look forward to anything new offered by this author. But I would be quite remiss if I did not warn you, as a friend, that this is a Sourcebooks re-issue of Reynolds’ contemporary romance Pemberley by the Sea, loosely inspired by Austen’s novel Pride & Prejudice. As a reader of many Jane Austen based prequels, sequels and what-ifs, I would have been miffed had I bought this book only to discover I had previously purchased it in 2008 under its original name or even Continue reading “The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for May 2010

The Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Jane Austen inspired books are heading our way in May, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.  

Editor’s note: This month’s selections are comprised of re-issued, re-titled and re-written selections. Shocking! Has the economic recession finally hit Austen bookland?  

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley, by Linda Berdoll 

Based on sales, Linda Berdoll may be the most successful Austen sequel writer ever. Inspired by the 1995 BBC/A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice, her first novel Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife was published in 2004 by Sourcebooks and continues the story of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy after the conclusion of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The second book in the series Darcy & Elizabeth continues the passionate story of Jane Austen’s famous romantic couple after the birth of their twins. Both books in the series have ardent fans who adore them and others who detest them. There does not seem to be any middle ground. Obviously the yays have outweighed the nays. This reissue of Elizabeth and Darcy by Fall River Press by arrangement of Sourcebooks is a beautiful new hardcover edition printed on quality paper and expertly bound. The text is identical to the Sourcebooks edition, but you can not beat the incredible quality and price at $8.95. Why they did not begin with the first book in the series is beyond comprehension. Publisher’s description: It is several years since the felicitous union of Elizabeth Bennet and the dashing Fitzwilliam Darcy at the conclusion of Austen’s novel, and the couple are settling down to a life of domestic bliss, raising their twin infants at the Pemberley estate. All should be happy at home and hearth—but dark clouds loom on the horizon of Derbyshire. On the continent, the Napoleonic Wars are raging, and Wickham, Lydia Bennet’s despicable husband, has returned miraculously from his presumed death with vengeance in his heart toward Darcy and all whom he holds dear. Meanwhile, haughty Lady Catherine de Bourgh, still stung by her nephew’s betrothal to Elizabeth, schemes scandalously to unite their families’ bloodlines. Fall River Press, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1435123908. 

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice: A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist, by Abigail Reynolds 

Previously published in trade paperback in 2008 as Pemberley by the Sea, Sourcebooks is trotting out yet another re-issue and changing the title, cover and size to (what one assumes) appeal to a larger audience? This modern take on Pride and Prejudice was well received by Austen genre readers who found it by word of mouth and not by its unappealing first cover. Unfortunately there is no mention of the previous title in the publisher’s description and unsuspecting buyers will be miffed when they discover they already own the first edition. Publisher’s description: A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist. Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family, while Cassie’s success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history. When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice…but will Cassie be willing to supply the happy ending? Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1402237324. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, adapted from the original novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards 

The infectious and unexplainable unmentionable P&P&Z franchise expands to a graphic novel format for art lovers and those who really do not want to read a work of world literature. Of all of the monster mash-up’s I still favor P&P&Z,  whose claim-to-fame is that it launced the mash-up genre. The graphic illustrations are, er, graphic, and should appeal to zombie fans everywhere. Publisher’s description: The New York Times Bestseller – Now An Eye-popping Graphic Novel of Manners, Morals, and Brain-eating Mayhem! It is known as “the strange plague,” and its unfortunate victims are referred to only as “unmentionables” or “dreadfuls.” All over England, the dead are rising again, and now even the daughters of Britain’s best families must devote their lives to mastering the deadly arts. Elizabeth Bennet is a fearsome warrior whose ability with a sword is matched only by her quick wit and even sharper tongue. But she faces her most formidable foe yet in the haughty, conceited, and somehow strangely attractive Mr. Darcy. As the two lovers meet in the ballroom and on the battlefield, they’ll soon learn that nothing—not even bands of ninjas, hordes of flesh-eating zombies, or disapproving aunts—can stop true love. Del Rey, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-0345520685. 

Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Comics), adapted by Nancy Butler from the original novel by Jane Austen and illustrated by Sonny Liew. 

Last year Marvel Comics issued their version of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. It was a big hit. So now they are moving on to what they describe as Austen’s second most popular novel Sense and Sensibility. Butler did a great job pairing down P&P and converting it into comicese, but the illustrations were out of sync. Sonny Liew, who had created the five covers for the P&P version has taken over the interior illustrations as well which is a huge improvement visually. He is quite talented so the combo of Butler and Liew make a great team. As with P&P, the comics will be published in five issues and hopefully combined into a hardcover edition after. This is issue number one. Publisher’s description: Award-winning writer Nancy Butler, adapter of Marvel’s best-selling adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, returns to Marvel with another Jane Austen classic: Sense and Sensibility! Alongside incredible artist Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie, Wonderland), Butler brings to life the world of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, two daughters without parents or means, forced to experience hardship, romance, and heartbreak, all in the hopes of achieving love and lasting happiness. Marvel Comics, available online at www.marvel.com or your local comic shop. 

Lady of Quality/Charity Girl: Two Novels in One, by Georgette Heyer 

Another re-issue of a re-issue. Regency romance Queen Georgette Heyer is hot again thanks to Sourcebooks’ dedication and commitment to reissue her classic novels originally published between, 1929 – 1975. This re-issue of Lady of Quality and Charity Girl by Fall River Press by arrangement of Sourcebooks is a beautiful new hardcover edition printed on quality paper and expertly bound. The text is identical to the Sourcebooks’ two editions, but you can not beat the incredible quality and price for two novels at $8.95. Publisher’s description: Lady of Quality is the story of Miss Annis Wychwood, a proud and independent young woman living on her own in Bath in the early nineteenth century. Bored by the few suitors who have called on her, Annis is resigned to a future of serene solitude until adventure enters her life in the person of Miss Lucilla Carleton, an heiress seeking to escape an arranged marriage. Opportunity follows in the person of Mr. Oliver Carleton, Lucilla’s guardian. Oliver is the rudest man Annis has ever met—and the only one who has ever provoked strong feelings from her. Sparks fly from the friction between them, and neither is prepared for the romance they ignite. Charity Girl is the tale of another runaway, Miss Charity Steane, who is in flight from her aunt’s household when the Viscount Desford encounters her on the road to London. Chivalry dictates that Desford help the naïve Charity, and propriety demands that he lodge her with his dear friend Henrietta Silverdale. With Charity in the picture, Henrietta’s feelings toward Desford warm, and the Viscount soon finds himself torn between two women in a gentle comedy of manners and mishaps. Full of charm and delight, Lady of Quality and Charity Girl are two jewels in the crown of the writer regarded as the Queen of Regency romance. Fall River Press, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1435123960. 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Mansfield Park (Enriched Classics), by Jane Austen 

This interesting new Enriched Classics edition by Simon & Schuster of Austen’s dark horse Mansfield Park could lift the black veil of complexity for readers looking for additional information and notes on MP. I find these expanded editions the best for new students and veterans alike. One can always learn something new by supplemental material and see a new perspective on Austen’s novels with these annotated texts. Let’s hope it sheds some light upon the misunderstood heroine Fanny Price to subdue the discordance in the Austen community about her merits. ;-) Publisher’s description: In Mansfield Park, considered Austen’s darkest and most complex novel, the wealthy Bertram family’s social and private worlds are revealed through the eyes of Fanny Price, a poor relation residing with them. This edition includes: A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information, a chronology of the author’s life and work, a timeline of significant events that provides the book’s historical context, an outline of key themes and plot points to guide the reader’s own interpretations, a detailed explanatory notes, critical analysis and modern perspectives on the work, discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction and a list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader’s experience. Simon & Schuster Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world’s finest books to their full potential. Simon & Schuster: Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1439169438. 

Nonfiction 

Jane Austen and her Predecessors, by Frank W. Bradbrook 

Ok, even the venerable Cambridge University is jumping on the bandwagon and re-issuing their back list. In this well-deserved reprint of the 1966 edition, readers will be enlightened by Dr. Bradcock’s critical analysis of art and culture’s influence on Austen’s writing. This is scholarly stuff, but well worth a peek from your local library edition. Kudos to Cambridge for making the price accessible at $19.99. Publisher’s description: This is a study of influences on Jane Austen’s art and views of life. She assimilated and transformed certain writings of earlier essayists and novelists; she was herself a potent influence. Dr. Bradbrook provides the literary critic with a fresh position from which to inspect the novels. He isolates several kinds of influence that had affect on Jane, which he inspects one by one. First there are the periodical essayists, the moralists in prose and the writers of conduct books. These were sources of general reflections on moral and social behaviour: and especially interesting to Jane Austen when they touched on the position of women. Dr. Bradbrook sketches her knowledge of and taste in the drama and poetry of the eighteenth century. In the second half of the book Dr. Bradbrook analyses the influence that earlier novelists had on Jane Austen. Useful appendices reproduce some of the rarer sources. Cambridge University Press, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-0521148252. 

Ephemera 

2011 Jane Austen Companion to Life mini wall calendar, by Sourcebooks 

I know. It’s hard to think about next year’s calendar in May – but here you have it. If you order it now you will not be stymied in January when you realize you forgot to buy your Jane Austen calendar and everyone is sold out. This mini-wall calendar was inspired by Sourcebooks’ new gift book Jane Austen Companion to Life and includes great quotes and Brock color illustrations. I have to hand it to Sourcebooks. Their designers are the best in the book biz. Publisher’s description: This title includes charming original four-color illustrations created by well-known illustrators of the time, Charles Edmund Brock and his brother, Henry Matthew Brock. Austen fans will adore this year-long celebration of Jane’s world. This is the only wall calendar on the market celebrating Jane Austen. Austen books constantly sell well, and fans are always looking for more. It is perfect as a gift or self purchase for this audience. It features original illustrations and font from Jane Austen’s handwriting. Sourcebooks, Inc., Mini-wall calendar, ISBN: 978-1402244308. 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

Inspired by Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, this contemporary romance begins on the summer seaside resort of Woods Hole, a research Mecca for marine biologist Dr. Cassie Boulton. As she overhears a conversation between Calder Stephen Westling, III, a rich Republican politician’s son and his friend Scott, Democratic humble inner-city Chicago Cassie casts Calder as pompous and insulting. Sound familiar? As a relationship grows between Cassie’s friend Erin and Scott (paralleling Jane and Bingley in the original novel), Calder and Cassie are thrown together on various excursions; and like Darcy, Calder Continue reading “The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review”

Impulse & Initiative: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds – A Review

Darcy tried to focus his attention on her kisses, tasting the passion that was clearly sweeping between them, but the rest of his body remained all too aware of how little stood between them, and as he finally pulled Elizabeth to him, the sensation of her softness molding itself to him stole away any remaining rational thought. Chapter 7 

In this retelling of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, author Abigail Reynolds re-imagines the famous plot and asks these burning questions. What if after Elizabeth Bennet’s refusal of Mr. Darcy’s first proposal at Hunsford, he does not disappear from her life, but arrives at her home at Longbourn determined to change her mind? What if Elizabeth seduced by his ardent attentions sets aside all propriety giving way to her base impulses? What if their mutual passion can not be abated, anticipating their wedding night? Ms. Reynolds then proceeds to creatively answer each of these questions with her spin on the retelling of Pride and Prejudice that might require some readers to suspend their disbelief and burning objections of altering one of the most cherished works in English literature, and just let go and let it happen.

The story opens with the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam at the Darcy townhouse in London. It is the summer of 1803 and two months have passed since he and his cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy had visited their aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh at Rosings in Kent. He is immediately informed by concerned servants and Georgina Darcy that Mr. Darcy is not quite himself, sullen and short tempered to the point of alarm. Darcy shortly reveals to him the cause of his misery; – the rejection of his marriage proposal by the woman that he loves, Elizabeth Bennet, and the reasons why she so flatly refused him. Colonel Fitzwilliam is not surprised by his attraction to the lovely Miss Bennet, only that she would refuse such an advantageous offer and Darcy’s reasons for separating his friend Charles Bingley from Elizabeth’s sister Jane. Inspired by Colonel Fitzwilliam’s advice he convinces Charles Bingley to return to his estate at Netherfield Park to renew his attentions to Jane Bennet with the ulterior motive of seeing Elizabeth and winning her heart and hand.

Readers of Pride and Prejudice will remember that after Elizabeth refuses Mr. Darcy’s first proposal that she returns home to her family at Longbourn and Mr. Darcy disappears from her life only to be re-introduced by a chance meeting at his estate of Pemberley when she is touring Derbyshire on holiday with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. In this scenario, instead of leaving their meeting to chance, Mr. Darcy has become the aggressor, taking the initiative to reconnect with Elizabeth and pursue her affections by ingratiating himself to her family, her friends and herself, first by gentlemanly means with little results, then by the Wickham school of charm and seduction which eventually breaks Elizabeth’s resolve, giving way to her passionate desires.

Impulse & Initiative offers Pride and Prejudice fans the opportunity to explore yet another avenue of a story that we all just can not seem to get enough of as evidenced by the many prequels, sequels, retellings and pastiches available. It is creative and clever in theory, but do the ‘what if’ questions really need to be asked and answered? Possibly, but at times while reading Impulse & Initiative I felt like I was privy to a creative writing assignment where students were asked to take a story from classic literature and believably alter the plot and characters to the opposite intention of the original author. In this case, the results can at times be both believable and baffling, but unfortunately not at the same time leaving the reader in a bit of a quandary.

Abigail Reynolds has taken a huge risk in her choice of changing a classic story that is quite delightful to begin with, and whose hero and heroine Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy may be the most iconic romantic couple in popular culture short of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. She might have succeeded if she had allowed the characters integrity to continue from Austen’s original concept. Instead we are asked to suspend our disbelief beyond equal measure and accept well known characters acting in a manner that does not constitute their happiness or ours. Reynold’s Mr. Darcy has changed from the honorable Regency gentleman that many expect into George Wickham, a plotting seducer and the type of man that Austen’s Darcy despises, and Elizabeth Bennet into a caricature of her younger sister Lydia, willing to throw off propriety for the pleasures of passion.

I am reminded of one on my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Bennet from the original novel. “One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.” Ms. Reynolds is a talented writer who shows flashes of wit and charm in her style. She has creatively blended a classic love story with a saucy romance novel, and if knowing that Darcy and Elizabeth are quite passionate about their love for one another before the marriage does not set off any decorum alarms, then this one deserves a slot in the queue on your bedside table. If you wonder why the “what if” questions needed to be asked in the first place, then try stumbling upon something else more witty.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Impulse & Initiative: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Abigail Reynolds
Sourcebooks Landmark, Sourcebooks, Inc. Naperville, Illinois (2008)
Trade paperback, 395 pages
ISBN: 9781402213571

Further Reading:

  • Review of Impulse & Initiative by Becky’s Book Reviews
  • Review of Impulse & Initiative at Turn About the Room
  • Reviews of Impulse & Initiative at Amazon.com

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: