Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion: An Austen-inspired Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion, by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright — A Review

Mr Darcys Persuasion by Cass Grafton and Ada Bright 2021From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s final complete novel, Persuasion—published six months after her untimely death—the heroine, Anne Elliot, is influenced by her prideful father, a baronet, to break off an engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth, who was considered a poor match due to his low social status and lack of wealth. Similarly, in Austen’s earlier novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the prideful man causing heartbreak over his disapproval of an undistinguished family. The consequences of such prejudiced persuasion collide spectacularly in Mr. Darcy’s Persuasion by prolific writing duo Cass Grafton and Ada Bright.

Mr. Darcy is in denial. In a letter to his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, he insists, “Despite your suggestion to the contrary, no young lady has caught my attention.” (152) Yet he flees Hertfordshire posthaste following the ball at Netherfield hosted by his friend Mr. Bingley, whom he has advised to avoid a growing attachment to Miss Jane Bennet. All the while, Darcy knows his own hypocrisy as he likewise advises himself to avoid the undeniable attraction he feels toward Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth. He acknowledges that the Bennet family is far beneath the notice of a wealthy gentleman landowner such as he, thus he removes himself from danger and warns his smitten friend to do the same.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet holds a grudge, knowing that interference has led to her beloved sister’s heartbreak and now may lead to an even worse fate. In a happy twist of fate, however, she becomes acquainted with Miss Anne Elliot and is soon delighted by the diversion of an invitation to join her new friend for a fortnight’s visit to the Elliot family’s estate, Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire. Elizabeth finds Anne to be “a genteel lady, a little older than I, but we appear to have much in common. I find I like her very well.” (235)

For the benefit of his sister’s health and to avoid a harsh winter at Pemberley in Derbyshire—as well as to escape his memories of a certain bewitching young lady—Darcy travels south, hopeful of warmer weather in Somersetshire, where he has leased a property for the winter from Sir Walter Elliot. He is, therefore, rendered speechless when he discovers “Elizabeth Bennet. The woman he thought he had relegated to the past sat across the room from him, as alluring and unattainable as she had ever been, and raising inexplicable emotions in Darcy that he struggled to conceal, let alone comprehend.” (1457) Continue reading

Fallen, by Jessie Lewis — A Review

A lady’s reputation was everything during the Regency era, as we are so sanctimoniously reminded of by Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice after her sister Lydia’s scandalous elopement.

“…loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable—that one false step involves her in endless ruin—that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful—and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.” (Chapter 47)

Fallen, Jessie Lewis’ new Jane Austen-inspired novel, embraces this dictum and explores the predicament of a fallen woman and to what lengths a family will go to hide the truth to save their social standing. When that family is from wealth and circumstance, such as the Darcy’s of Pemberley, it makes the tale even more intriguing to those who enjoy Austenesque variations. We shall see what it takes to make a brittle reputation break.

The story begins cryptically with a prologue involving two unnamed men discussing the plight of a pregnant woman in their charge. She is crushed when she overhears that their decision will ruin her reputation. That leaves the reader immediately guessing and sets the theme of the story that will be interwoven throughout the narrative.

“Do not talk to me of scruples as though she overflows with them! Nothing you say will change my mind. I will not marry her.” (2)

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Darcy and Elizabeth Beginning Again: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Elaine Jeremiah — A Review

Elizabeth and Darcy by Elaine Jeremiah 2021From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:

A twisted ankle, a sudden rainstorm, and an unmarried man and woman forced to take shelter in a nearby unoccupied cottage. These reputation-ruining tragic turn of events lead to a reimaging of Pride and Prejudice that is full of settee-gripping adventure. Elaine Jeremiah’s newest book, Elizabeth and Darcy Beginning Again, takes Jane Austen fans on a Regency route of possible ruination and ruthless wickedness.

When I saw that this was a Pride and Prejudice variation that involved a “marry or face ruination situation”, my interest was immediately piqued. Could Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s story be just as fulfilling if they had no choice in marrying? I was determined to read and find out.

The story sets out with the ever-familiar walk Lizzy Bennet takes to go visit her dear sister Jane who is sick at Netherfield. While out on her walk, she happens to be startled by a fast-riding Mr. Darcy. Shocked at the closeness, she stumbles and twists her ankle and becomes unable to continue her walk. Suddenly, the sky opens up with rain and the two are left with little choice but to seek shelter together to escape the elements. Elizabeth detests the thought of being in the debt of Mr. Darcy but she has little choice in her current condition.

“Perhaps we shall be alone together a while longer,” she said. “The rain appears to be unabating. I should imagine the roads will be flooded soon.”      

“I am not sorry for it”

His reply and direct look caught her unawares.” (279)

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Sons of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Reimagining, by Elizabeth Adams — A Review

Sons of Pemberley by Elizabeth Adams 2020From 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. Continue reading

Ladies of the House: A Modern Retelling of Sense and Sensibility, by Lauren Edmondson — A Review

The Ladies of the House by Lauren Edmondson 2021From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Some might quote that old chestnut about ‘when life tosses you lemons…’ to those who are going through life’s trials, but in the cutthroat world of DC politics in this exciting new release, one learns the only thing to do with lemons is cut them up and put them in a cocktail while saluting backstabbing one-time friends. Lauren Edmondson chose to retell a classic and portray three women going through the refining fires of grief, loss, and political scandal. While The Ladies of the House stays true to the heart of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility it also accurately portrayed life in America’s capital and politics that will resonate with many.

Daisy Richardson is at the top of her game as chief of staff for a progressive, up and coming senator from Maryland and the admiring daughter of a senior senator at the top. All that comes crashing down when her dad dies in the bed of his secretary! In addition, it has been leaked in the news that he was misappropriating funds. Her mother, Cricket, needs her to sort out life after scandal and death. Her best friend, Atlas, a star journalist who has been her secret love for years is back in the states and wants to do an expose’ into her father’s life and seems to only want friendship. And her sister, Wallis, who has been doing relief effort works in Southeast Asia, has come home only to fall for the son of a senator from across the political aisle, making Daisy’s already tenuous job even harder. The family must learn to live on less and live under the disapproving eyes of those who were once friends down to total strangers on the street. Daisy is a fixer and discovers that there are not enough Band-Aids in the world to fix the mess her father left behind him. However, she also discovers that in this adversity that she didn’t know herself and those around her like she thought she did, and here-in lies the beginning of something more if she has the courage to accept a new path.

Ladies of the House introduces a world that I have watched from a distance on TV or in fiction—the world of Washington DC. That said, I felt that the author captured it so well that natives of the town and the political world would nod in appreciation for the setting of the story. Daisy has grown up in this world and chooses it for her own career. Her sister is an activist, and her mother is a political wife. All three women are integral to the story even though Daisy does the sole narration of the story.

In the early pages, I was not as taken with Cricket or Wallis. They seemed content to let Daisy shoulder the load, and this is true to a certain extent. However, later, they grew on me when insightful scenes and dialogue between the Richardson women showed other sides to them. It becomes obvious that what is Daisy’s strength is also her weakness. She lives for work and responsibility and must lose all this before she sees her own worth as not just in how she can serve others—or, sadly, make up for her dad’s failings by serving penance to others—and the worth of her mother and sister. Cricket teaches Daisy that a woman can bend and not break while Wallis shows her that her daring to take chances in love and be herself completely takes more courage than playing it safe and hiding her true self. Wallis tells Daisy, “Be the Brick!” in reply to Daisy’s fear of what others think and that another brick might get thrown through their window. Continue reading