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

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is our ninth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are now closed for new participants, but you can join us in reading all the great reviews and comments until December 31, 2013. Since I am traveling in England on a Jane Austen Tour, Christina Boyd is pinch-hitting for me in my absence and offers this great review of a classic Pride and Prejudice sequel.

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.) Continue reading

The Darcys, The Ruling Passion: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Linda Berdoll – A Review

The Darcy’s, The Ruling Passion: Pride & Prejudice Continues, by Linda BerdollGuest review by Christina Boyd

Best-selling author Linda Berdoll’s Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife and Darcy & Elizabeth have been hailed as “sexy, hilarious, poignant” and “wild, bawdy and utterly enjoyable (Booklist.)”  But also, “blasphemy, smut and trash,” are not uncommon adjectives used by her severest critics. Rarely has there been such a clear division of thought between two camps: those that fervently love her work and those that vehemently hate it. I for one am with Team Berdoll and at the risk of having my Janeite card revoked, boldly declare that Linda Berdoll sets the standard for this romance genre.  I will stride out even further by surmising that many “romance” writers of Pride and Prejudice re-imaginings and sequels strive to emulate not Jane Austen, but Linda Berdoll. Regardless of what side you defend or how you receive my pert opinions, having sold nearly 350,000 copies, one cannot deny Linda Berdoll is the reigning Pride and Prejudice romantic sequel writer to date.

The Ruling Passion, her highly anticipated sequel to the sequels, has finally come to fruition.  This self-published sequel opens in the year 1818, approximately two years after Darcy & Elizabeth: Days and Nights at Pemberley concludes; wherein Darcy had saved the family from scandal (again) and that scurrilous rat George Wickham has received his comeuppance — his “whennymegs” were shot off!

The Darcys still have an exceedingly loving marriage in this continuation of one of classic literatures most beloved couples.  “Despite their duties to hearth, park and children, they consoled each other’s enduring appetence with great enthusiasm.  Time and children had not mitigated their passion whatsoever.  If any consternation bedeviled them, it was finding privacy wherein to avail themselves of their desire, not want of it.” p. 8.

Albeit, what bedevils the Darcys is the re-introduction of Lady Howgrave, formerly Juliette Clisson, newcomer to the neighborhood, but as Darcy’s courtesan of his bachelor days, not new to this narrative.  As we discover that Juliette’s marriage contract was partially based on her presenting Sir Henry Howgrave with a son and heir, his own potency comes into question.  Although the beautiful Juliette could easily engage any number of competent studs, her own experiences with Darcy’s virile credentials and his now known accomplishment at fathering sons, she becomes well-nigh obsessed with getting him back into her bed.  Or carraige.  Or wherever she can entrap him.

Whilst Reactionaries and Civil Libertarians rally for political support, and as radicals and rabble rousers incite riots in London, sadness falls upon Pemberley: the Darcys lose an infant son to a putrid fever. Elizabeth slips into a deep depression and closes herself off to her husband and his comfort.  “Her love for her husband had not wavered.  But, imbedded in a muddle of fear and grief, she did not allow herself to take pleasure in their amorous inclinations.  She clasped his nightshirt and buried her face against his neck as he took her.” p. 172.  Therefore, as Elizabeth undertakes a circuitous quest for redemption from Pemberley to her childhood home of Longbourn and back, the Darcys too must find a way back to each other.

Berdoll weaves a rich cabal by her own coloring of classic Austen characters as well as those she thusly contrived.  Her style of recounting each character’s tale, entangling with all the others is mesmerizing and kept me turning pages as I puzzled out their fit.  I laughed heartily at the tongue in cheek (and other sensitive spots) euphemisms of the burlesque, smirked at her quirky yet exacting vernacular, smiled at the quick-witted teasing, and sighed at the tender exchanges between a man and woman who truly adore one another.  I might add, unlike the Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, when the Darcys were newly married and their conjugal proclivities numerous — and ubiquitous– this latest offering does not focus as much on those amorous seductions.  As much, but more on the vissitudes of Elizabeth & Darcy, Juliette’s scheming, and the intrigue of a Mr. Alistair R. Thomas.

If your sensibilities are offended by explicit, passionate love scenes with Jane Austen’s original namesakes, this is presumably NOT the book for you.  However, those who delight in reading about the Darcys beyond Pride and Prejudice, including all their complexities, and intimacies, (in and around the bedroom), and most particularly if you are a fan of Berdoll’s previous works, The Ruling Passion is not to be missed!  Yes, hold on to your bonnets as Linda Berdoll has quite done it again.

Note: For now, you can only purchase this through the author’s website www.lindaberdoll.us. eBooks and other outlets are in the works.

Christina Boyd lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two youngish children and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Bibi.  She studied Fine Art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Salisbury University in Maryland. She has for the last nine years created and sold her own pottery line from her working studio. Albeit she read Jane Austen as a moody teenager, it wasn’t until Joe Wright’s 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice that sparked her interest in all things Austen.  A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

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