Young Mr. Darcy in Love: Pride and Prejudice Continues (The Darcys and the Bingleys, Volume 7), by Marsha Altman – A Review

Young Mr Darcy in Love by Marsha Altman (2013)From the desk of Shelley DeWees:

“Geoffrey Darcy considered himself a reasonable person. He was calm and patient, and not given to impulse. His father had taught him that, and he tried his best to keep his first reaction in check and judge the situation dispassionately. The last few weeks, however, he had been devouring the post. It wasn’t worth his time to deny that each time he saw her handwriting and return address on the envelope he smiled. [Today] was such a day…when the mail arrived, Geoffrey jumped at the announcement.” 

The problem with long-distance love is that it’s…well, long-distance. One partner is there, the other here, each living a life separate from the other and receiving only letters with all the affection and tenderness that passes between two lovers. Some people can do it, and others can’t, but the time in history where Young Mr. Darcy in Love is set was more attuned to those who could. Boys went there, girls stayed here. One was in Ireland, the other in London, then Brighton, then Eton — it’s a wonder ladies and gents were able to cultivate relationships at all!  But if you could figure it out, if you could keep him interested via post with all your aimless musings, boy oh boy, you’d hit the jackpot! Romantic letters from a romantic boyfriend? How romantic! Continue reading

The Knights of Derbyshire: Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Marsha Altman – A Review

Knights of Derbyshire, by Marsha Altman (2012)From the desk of Shelley DeWees: 

Tell me.  Do you think this sounds like a Jane Austen novel?

“Gawain!” he screamed as he pulled himself free at the sound of his dog’s cry.  From the corner of his eye, he could see his assailant grab the other man’s cane out from under him and raise it to strike, but that did not register until the blow came down, fast and hard on the man’s head, and he still had not reached his dog.  Somewhere between the slam of wood into his own temple and the completion of his fall backwards he saw it all – the limping dog running off, the men shouting, one grabbing the wall for support.  It all became a haze as Gawain disappeared from his vision entirely.  “Go,” he whispered, and hit the ground.  The shock of it was too much for his head to take, and everything went black.

Or how about this?  Jane Austen?

Jane was already gone when he rose that winter morning.  With nothing pressing on his schedule while his business partner was abroad, he yawned luxuriously and washed his face before thinking about preparing for the day.  He was still toweling his face when he heard the scream. 

Perhaps.  Perhaps it was Jane Austen’s tormented twin whose dreams bubbled to the surface unbridled, unrestricted, and unbelievable—maybe writing them down was an exercise insanity.  Perhaps this is what Jane Austen would’ve written if she lived next door to Sherlock Holmes.  Who knows? Continue reading

The Road to Pemberley: An Anthology of New Pride and Prejudice Stories, edited by Marsha Altman – A Review

The Road to Pemberley, edited by Marsha Altman (2011)Guest review by Shelley DeWees – The Uprising

Did you ever wonder about Georgiana Darcy, cooped up in her big mansion waiting for a few letters from her big brother?  Or how about a mushroom trip at the dinner table, with only the snide Caroline Bingley to keep any clear-headed company?  Ever wonder what that would be like?  What about Kitty Bennet?  Whatever happened to her?

Yes, if you’ve ever wondered about these things, then The Road to Pemberley is for you.  Stemming from our beloved Pride and Prejudice, this anthology of twelve short-stories rolls nearly every character, plot device, setting, and love interest into a big wad, smashing and smooshing, mixing and fixing, wringing out story after story of creative fan fiction where every sentence is dripping with possibility.  And really, many of them ooze with NEW possibility!  Things you’ve never thought of before!  Things more exciting than Darcy and Elizabeth with a gaggle of children and millions of dollars to play with!

Edited by The Darcys and the Bingleys series author Marsh Altman, she also supplies the introduction and her own short-story “Pride and Prejudice Abridged.” Regina Jeffers is another familiar Austen sequel writer and offers up “The Pemberley Ball.” The remaining ten authors are debuting fan fiction writers: “But He Turned Out Very Wild” by Sarah A. Hoyt, “A Long, Strange Trip” by Ellen Gelerman, “An Ink-Stained Year” by Valerie T. Jackson, “The Potential of Kitty Bennet” by Jessica Koschnitzky, “A Good Vintage Whine” by Tess Quinn, “Georgiana’s Voice” by J.H. Thompson, “Secrets in the Shade” by Bill Friesema, “A View from the Valet” by Nacie Mackey, “Beneath the Greenwood Trees” by Marilou Martineau and “Father of the Bride” by Lewish Whelchel.

These short-story writers are to be commended for a number of reasons, not the least of which being a complete and utter destruction of my expectations in terms of plain ‘ol creativity.  There are few accounts of a perfect, problem-less life between the Darcy  pair, and instead many more anecdotes from angles I never expected: a gander at Darcy as a rambunctious child (a story that also features actual, properly-formatted citations and footnotes….thank you!), a Downton Abbey-esque retelling of Darcy’s life through the eyes of his valet, a mysterious tale of extortion from a rare male Austen fanfic writer, and a what-if scenario featuring Darcy, Bingley, a locked cellar, and many bottles of port.  What else could an Austen worshipper ask for?

These stories all stand out in a sea of Jane Austen materials, and to see them bound together in one volume will enamor every Austen lover out there.  Characters will come alive again, if only briefly, and sing their tale with new energy and enthusiasm that will take your beloved copy of Pride and Prejudice virtually apart, throw the pages in the air, then stitch them back together in a manner you never thought possible.  Wickham’s story especially will grip you, and you’ll find yourself wondering if Ms. Austen didn’t deliberately leave out some important details…ahem.

Though we have Marsha Altman to thank for collecting the words of these budding authors, her own additions are not her best efforts.  The introduction is a confusing foray into the beginnings of Austen fanfic with a decidedly sarcastic tone, and the short prefaces that begin each story serve more as a platform for Altman’s opinion and less as a space to share excitement for the new author.  Those add-ons, compiled with references to her own works that dot the book, cloud the pages of The Road to Pemberley in a disappointing way.  Having been overjoyed at her Ballad of Gregoire Darcy, I was taken aback by her methods here!

Nevertheless, The Road to Pemberley might be just what you’re looking for: short, engaging stories for these hot, summer days.  Though you might be wearing a bathing suit on the outside, The Road to Pemberley will make you feel like you’re wearing a Regency dress on the inside…no doubt sweating your booty off.  But don’t worry.  I won’t tell anyone.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Road to Pemberley: An Anthology of New Pride and Prejudice Stories, edited by Marsha Altman
Ulysses Press (2011)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-1569759349

© 2007 – 2011 Shelley DeWees, Austenprose

The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Marsha Altman – A Review

The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Marsha Altman (2011)Guest review by Shelley DeWees – The Uprising

If there was ever an “About the Author” section that seemed to speak to me, directly to me, it is this one:

Marsha Altman exists more as a philosophical concept than an atom-based structure existing within the rules of time and space as we know them.  She is the author of four books set in Jane Austen’s Regency England as well as the editor of an anthology of Pride and Prejudice-related fiction.  When not writing, she studies Talmud and paints Tibetan ritual art, preferably not at the same time.  She lives in New York, New York, and does not own any cats.

Diverse.  Engaging.  Just plain cool.

And somehow, someway, Altman’s distinctive personality (at least the one she’s chosen to portray publicly) has been transposed onto a 432-page doorstop of a book that is just as diverse, engaging, and cool as she is.  The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy is the fourth installment in Altman’s what-happens-after-pride-and-prejudice universe, and it will have you hooked within moments.  Want to travel the world with Darcy and the gang?  Want to say HI to his illegitimate brother Gregoire in Spain before he shows you what crazy apparatus he wears?  How about India?  What would Charles Bingley look like with a monkey on his shoulder?

All this, and more, can be yours.  The story drips with spirit and intrigue while unique characters, characters who still somehow manage to stay in the realm of Jane Austen’s originals, carouse and laugh and pray their way around their various estates.  Gregoire Darcy is forced to leave his lonely monastery on the windswept shores of Spain, abandoning his life in the church and returning to England to live out the rest of his life.  But how shall he cope?  What will he do now?  With the support of Fitzwilliam Darcy and his every-expanding family, Gregoire finds himself free to explore the world and his own inner mysteries, and is quite surprised at what he discovers!

Elizabeth Darcy herself is in the background most of the time, along with all her sisters and a mountain of nieces, nephews, and children from her own loins (4 of them).  Caroline Bingley and her husband, Dr. Maddox, along with all their offspring often frequent the pages, while Georgiana and her husband, Dr. Maddox’s brother and his wife and their cohort Mugin, and even Charlotte Collins and her own brood are all present as well (which will make you very thankful for the family tree Altman has so thoughtfully included).  Gregoire himself, Darcy’s half-brother, is a likeable person, generous and reverent to the end, and although his story is mired in trouble and heartbreak while he attempts to conform to English society.  Problems are many, and finding solutions makes each character bloom all the more.

Yes, it’s a rip roarin’ good time.  Funny, well-written, and projecting the image of one seriously practiced researcher and writer.  The structure is beautiful with frequent page breaks being the only exception…but you’ll get used to it.  The book as a whole flows with a lovely sense of development and prose, which becomes all the more enjoyable when you stumble upon sassy scenes like these:

“What are rich people like?”

He laughed.  She hadn’t meant it seriously—there was no way that she could have.  That didn’t mean he was exempted from providing an answer, so he took a piece of potato floating in the soup and put it in his mouth, chewing on it to give himself time to mull over the question.  “Do you wish to know a secret?”

She squealed, “Aye!”

“They are terribly, terribly bored.”

Neither of them could hold back their laughter at that.  He was glad that he had swallowed his food properly, as he could not have held it in.  “They have their servants do every menial task.  The do not even dress themselves, and are left with nothing to do.  So they read books and go own walks and then sit down for long dinners where they discuss reading books and going on walks.  And then they write people about it, because writing takes time.”

Read this book, take a long walk, then come home for dinner and tell everyone about it.  They’ll want to read it too!

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Marsha Altman
Ulysses Press (2011)
Trade paperback (432) pages
ISBN: 978-1569759370

© 2007 – 2011 Shelley DeWees, Austenprose

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 )

Here is the list of amazing titles available:

  • Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken – 9781402225963
  • The Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman – 9781402233227
  • Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll – 9781402234859
  • What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown – 9781402227370
  • The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins – 9781402234996
  • The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview – 9781402245329
  • Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange – 9781402225727
  • Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan – 9781402235184
  • Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe – 9781402234651
  • Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds – 9781402246289

But that’s not all – read on.

The party doesn’t stop there. For one day only Sourcebooks will also be offering free illustrated eBook editions of all six of Austen’s major novels filled with unabridged texts and the legendary color illustrations by the Brock brothers circa 1898.

  • Sense and Sensibility: The Illustrated Edition 9781402256813
  • Pride and Prejudice: The Illustrated Edition – 9781402256776
  • Mansfield Park: The Illustrated Edition 9781402256875
  • Emma: The Illustrated Edition – 9781402256790
  • Northanger Abbey: The Illustrated Edition – 9781402256837
  • Persuasion: The Illustrated Edition 9781402256851

♥ Here is a link to Sourcebooks for the free Jane Austen eBooks with all of the links to download for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Sourcebooks, Google eBookstore and Sony eBookstore. 

Don’t be a Mr. Knightley and miss the party. Make haste and mark your calendars today.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks for their generous tribute to our favorite author!

Cheers,

Laurel Ann

© 2007-2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape, by Marsha Altman – A Review

A campy, madcap adventure story, Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape is Marsha Altman’s third book, in her Pride and Prejudice Continues series.  The year is 1812, seven years after Elizabeth Bennet and her devoted sister Jane married Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley respectively, and the families are all returning to Longbourn for the wedding of Kitty Bennet, daughter number four. Within the first 100 pages, Elizabeth Darcy finds herself immersed in the intrigues of the Napoleonic War as she races across the continent to the rescue of Mr. Darcy, who has become imprisoned in a medieval cell in Transylvania!  Unbelievable? Quite, but hang on . . . there’s more. 

Licentiously diverting is Altman’s treatment of her own original character’s as well as Jane Austen’s canon characters. Altman’s Mr. Darcy was half brother to George Wickham who he apparently killed in a duel in Book 2, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A Tale of the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s.  And, Darcy’s other illegitimate brother Gregoire, by his father’s dalliance with his mother’s French maid, is now a monk in Austria and favors prominently in this bold undertaking. Mary Bennet is now the mistress of Longbourn, although having been compromised while on tour of the Continent. (also in Book 2) Oh, and there is also an utterly convoluted entail of Rosings that deems Darcy as heir apparent, regardless of the fact that Anne is now married to Colonel Fitzwilliam. And, if that is not enough action there is also an insane Oriental assassin en route to Pemberley.  This is all cleverly forged to create an eyebrow raising, humorous, 486 page saga. 

Wild? Far-fetched? Contrived? Yes, to all. But Marsha Altman bravely undertakes this continuation of Pride and Prejudice and makes it entirely her own. Although inspired by Jane Austen’s masterpiece, little if any of Austen’s original is obvious in this series. However, that’s not to say that readers won’t enjoy this fun romp. In the same vein as the British ITV series “Lost in Austen,” those that want more of the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s might find this wicked tale a satisfying joke. “I can hardly write for laughing.” 

Reviewed by Christina B. 

3 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Interested? Read chapter one of Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape

Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape: A Tale of the Darcy’s & the Bingley’s by Marsha Altman
Sourcebooks, Naperville, IL (2010)
Trade paperback (496) pages
ISBN: 978-1402224300

Additional Reviews

GIVEAWAY CONTEST

Enter a chance to win one of three sets of the Pride and Prejudice Continues series by Marsha Altman. Visit Jane Austen Today for the details. Contest ends February 16th, 2010.

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for August

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange (2009)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. 

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

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, by Amanda Grange 

Amanda Grange, the best selling author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary continues the story of Pride and Prejudice after the wedding revealing a truly dark secret. Yes, gentle readers, that noble mien and brooding demeanor was all a front to disguise the truth during their courtship, and now on their honeymoon through Europe his new bride Elizabeth will shortly discover that her husband is much more than the proud man she married. Yep, you guessed it! Mr. Darcy is indeed a vampyre. Shocking you say? Quite. (Publisher’s description) Mr. Darcy, Vampyre starts where Pride and Prejudice ends and introduces a dark family curse so perfectly that the result is a delightfully thrilling, spine-chilling, breathtaking read. After reading this dark tale, readers will re-imagine the original Pride and Prejudice and Darcy’s brooding nature and prideful demeanor with new reason – he’s not shy or reserved: he’s a vampire! A dark, poignant and visionary continuation of Austen’s beloved story, this tale is full of danger, darkness and immortal love. Sourcebooks, ISBN: 978-1402236976 

The Plight of the Darcys Brothers, by Marsha Altman (2009)The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A tale of the Darcys & the Bingleys, by Marsha Altman 

For those who enjoyed the gentle rancor and lively pleasantry of Marsha Altman’s humorous first novel The Darcys & the Bingleys, you will be glad to know the story continues with the second installment in the series. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to the Continent in pursuit of family honor and the seducer who deflowered Elizabeth’s sister Mary leaving her in a family way. In addition to Altman’s imaginative and swashbuckling style, readers will be introduced to new foreign Darcy relations, and treated to her signature a duel at dawn. (Publisher’s description) In this lively second installment, the Darcys and Bingleys are plunged into married life and its many accompanying challenges presented by family and friends. With Jane and Elizabeth away, Darcy and Bingley take on the daunting task of managing their two-year- old children. Mary Bennet returns from the Continent pregnant by an Italian student promised to the church; Darcy and Elizabeth travel to find the father, and discover previously unknown—and shocking—Darcy relations. By the time Darcy discovers that there’s more than one sibling of questionable birth in the family, the ever-dastardly Wickham arrives on the scene to try to seize the Darcy fortune once and for all. Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN: 978-1402224294 

James Fairfax (2009)James Fairfax, by Jane Austen and Adam Campan 

If Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did not quell your curiosity of other writers lifting Jane Austen’s text and inserting their own kibbles and bits, then get ready for another literary mash-up. First, remove your tar headed Janeite purist bonnet. Second, imagine a gender bending alternate universe. Third, turn off your gaydar cuz Jane Austen’s characters from Emma are in same sex relationships. This will either be extremely clever, or the Post carriage ride from Highbury to hell. Enuff said. (Publisher’s description) It’s same-sex marriage in Jane Austen’s Regency England! In this stunning, gender-bending, stylish dance-of-manners version of Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel Emma — an alternate Regency where gay marriage is commonplace and love is gender-blind — matchmaking Emma Woodhouse tries to find a suitable spouse for her lover Harriet Smith, and is embroiled in the secrets of the relationship between the mysterious and accomplished James Fairfax and the handsome Frank Churchill. Norilana Books, ISBN: 978-1607620389. Read a review on AustenBlog 

Arabella, by Georgette Heyer (2009)Arabella, by Georgette Heyer 

Every month for over a year, Sourcebooks has presented us with a new re-issue of a Georgette Heyer Regency romance classic. After my introduction to Sophy Stanton-Lacy last month in Heyer’s novel The Grand Sophy, it’s hard to imagine that she could produce yet another engaging and unforgettable heroine like her, but Arabella Tallant will both surprise and charm away any doubt that Georgette Heyer is not the most incredibly gifted Regency romance writer ever be placed upon that august pedestal. (Publisher’s description) Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host’s, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments. When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella’s impetuous young brother. Sourcebooks Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402219467 

Biography 

Jane Austen, by Helen Lefroy (1997)Jane Austen, by Helen Lefroy 

A reprint of the 1997 biography of Jane Austen by Helen Lefroy, a cousin four times removed from Jane’s youthful flirtation Tom Lefroy, and vice-chairman of The Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom. This short biography is a basic introduction and a quick read at 128 pages. The cover image is from the 1997 edition. (Publisher’s description) The perfect introduction to one of the most-loved novelists of all time. Jane Austen’s reputation rests on the six novels she wrote in her short life – enduringly popular novels which have become part of the fabric of English life, and which have reached new audiences through recent dramatisations on screen and stage. This book, which draws on her letters, describes Jane’s life in the vicarage at Steventon and later at Bath and Chawton, and her relationships with family and friends – especially her beloved sister, Cassandra, and the engaging Tom Lefroy (who it was rumoured was the love of her life). It also describes the parties and balls in country houses and assembly rooms which she attended and the detail of nineteenth-century life which she so sharply observed and which provided the background to her novels. This book is a pleasure for anyone wanting to understand the life of one of our great novelists. The History Press Ltd, ISBN: 978-0752453187 

Austen’s Oeuvre  

Pride and Prejudice (Pengiun Classics Deluxe Edition) 2009Pride and Prejudice: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition), by Jane Austen 

Do you judge a book by its cover? Penguin Books is hoping you do, doling out the big bucks and commissioning acclaimed fashion illustrator and sculptor Rueben Toledo to transform Lizzie, Darcy &C into “Couture Classics.” These striking silhouettes might look like stick insect runway models strutting to the black and white ball at Netherfield, but they are actually our favorite literary duo appropriately walking away from each other (Darcy stepping on her dress!). I just imagine that Darcy has just given Lizzy the “be not alarmed madame letter” and it all works for me. Get hip Janeites. We can now all be Austen fashionistas and exhibit our superior designer taste on our bedside tables. Now, (pray forgive) if our husbands, boyfriends, significant others or friends were ever in doubt of our obsession, this will certainly seal the deal. In defense, you can remind them that this new edition with the haute couture cover contains Penguin Classics definitive text and an excellent introduction by Tony Tanner that Paris Hilton won’t read, but she might deem useful as a door stop. Penguin Classics, ISBN: 978-0143105428 

Austen’s Contemporaries & Regency era 

Old Morality (Oxford World's Classics) by Sir Walter Scott (2009)Old Mortality (Oxford World’s Classics), by Sir Walter Scott 

“Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!” 14 March 1826 

Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) liked Jane Austen, more than a little. He was one of the first critics to praise her novel Emma when it was published in 1815. A prolific talent, he excelled at writing historical novels in on a grand scale. Old Morality is one of his earlier works in the Waverly series. Written in 1816, Jane Austen could actually have read it before she died the next year. This edition contains an introduction and notes by scholars Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson. (Publisher’s description) Old Mortality, which many consider the finest of Scott’s Waverley novels, is a swift-moving historical romance that places an anachronistically liberal hero against the forces of fanaticism in seventeenth-century Scotland, in the period infamous as the ‘killing time’. Its central character, Henry Morton, joins the rebels in order to fight Scotland’s royalist oppressors, little as he shares the Covenanters’ extreme religious beliefs. He is torn between his love for a royalist’s granddaughter and his loyalty to his downtrodden countrymen. As well as being a tale of divided loyalties, the novel is a crucial document in the cultural history of modern Scotland. Scott, himself a supporter of the union between Scotland and England, was trying to exorcise the violent past of a country uncomfortably coming to terms with its status as part of a modern United Kingdom. This novel is in itself a significant political document, in which Scott can be seen to be attempting to create a new centralist Scottish historiography, which is not the political consensus of his own time, the seventeenth century, or today. Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN: 978-0199555307  

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann 

The Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Austen around the blogosphere for the week of September 28th

A new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice opened at The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada this week. Austenprose was lucky to snag a review by local Janeite Deborah Jane and you can read all about this stunning adaptation here.

Lost in Austen concluded triumphantly this week with episode four as heroine Amanda Price dashed about from century to century attempting to fix the mixed up plot. Some critics loved it, others did not. You can read about all the deconstruction discussion on AustenBlog, and reviews on Jane Austen’s World, BlogCritics, And Leaves the World, The Journal of the Browncoat Cat, and Austenprose. Now that it is over, I hope that producers out there in TV and movie land will consider another Austen novel re-imagining. It certainly got the media and people discussing and watching our favorite authoresses work, or sort of her work since the plot was not quite what Austen penned.

Inspired by Lost in Austen? One of favorite Austen blogs from down under has some ideas on what producers could do with the plot and characters in Mansfield Park. Too funny!

Austen-esque book reviews for the week, Cassandra & Jane, times two, and three, All Things Austen, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and The Darcys and the Bingleys. In addition, check out the reports and interviews from Austenesque authors, Rebecca Ann Collins, Jill PitkeathleyJane Odiwe, and the summer 2008 book reviews have been added to JASNA on line.

Author Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds) was interviewed about her new Austen inspired book, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, that hit book stores in Australia on October 1st and in the US on December 9th. This highly anticipated sequel is McCullough’s chance to stick it to the literati who dismiss her novels as pulp and write something tongue-in-cheek to tweak a few noses. Oh my! If the book is as outspoken as Ms. McCullough, Miss Mary Bennet might be as grating as her singing.

Who is Sophia Sentiment, and what is her connection to Jane Austen? The Becoming Jane fansite offers some possibilities this week along with some nice physical descriptions of the author by her family.

It looks like major casting is now complete for the Broadway bound musical Pride and Prejudice by the selection of Laura Osnes as literary legend Elizabeth Bennet. Readers might recognize Ms. Osnes as one of the winners in the TV reality show, ‘Your The One That I Want’ which aired last summer and selected the two starring roles of Sandy and Danny in the Broadway revival of Grease in a round robin type audition-off. Miss Bennet could not have a more beautiful or talented actress to portray her. Best of luck Laura!

Pride and Prejudice character Lydia Bennet is one fun and naughty young lady, and author Jane Odiwe is her celebrated channel as she continues penning her journal at Jane Austen Sequels blog.

The Annual General Meeting for JASNA opened today in Chicago celebrating Austen’s Legacy. I’m pea green over all my Austen friends having so much Jane fun without me. Be sure to have an Austentini for all of those absent Janeites!

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey kicked off this week here at Austenprose. The Austen novel event will feature a group read of the novel, guest bloggers and free giveaways. Check out the introduction to the event to catch up with the celebration. Here are a few participants; Becky’s Book Reviews, Jane Austen Reviews, Cherishing Darcy, Bookbath, Kimberley’s Cup, A Striped Armchair, Wings of EaglesA Moment Captured, and Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker. The Northanger fun continues until October 31st, so please join us.

Until next week, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

The Darcys and the Bingleys, by Marsha Altman – A Review

Now they had come to it, the moment he dreaded. “We are to marry in nearly two days -“

“It has not escaped my notice, I assure you.”

“- and I find myself in need of some . . .  advice.”  Mr. Bingley & Mr. Darcy, The Darcys & the Bingleys 

And so gentle readers, begins the premise of the latest sequel to Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, entitled The Darcys and The Bingleys. In this debut novel by Marsha Altman the story is centered on the friendship of Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy, elevating Mr. Bingley to co-protagonist with his future brother-in-law. We are immediately reconnected to the original story as Charles Bingley, that amiably good natured friend of the commanding Mr. Darcy ruminates over their approaching marriages to the Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth. Endearingly true to character, Mr. Bingley is not quite sure of himself or how to resolve a pressing matter. After much deliberation he determines that his closest friend Mr. Darcy is the best man to approach on the delicate subject of martial relations and entreats his advice. Mr. Darcy responds by presenting him with a wedding gift; — ‘the book’– an illustrated and transcribed ancient Indian text of the Kama Sutra. 

Not only is Charles Bingley concerned about his wedding night performance, his future bride Jane Bennet is in turn confused and alarmed after the obligatory mother-daughter chat on wifely duties that her mother unloads on her and sister Elizabeth the day before the wedding. Luckily their aunt Mrs. Gardiner was also present to smooth the waters so-to-speak, but even cool and clever Elizabeth is befuddled by the vagueness of the information and asks her fiancé, Mr. Darcy for reassurance. 

As the invited guests arrive for the wedding, we are re-acquainted with many familiar characters from Pride and Prejudice; Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Rev. Mr. Collins and wife Charlotte, Mr. & Mrs. Bennet and their daughters Kitty and Mary, Lydia Wickham, Anne de Borough who has escaped from Rosings and the clutches of her mother Lady Catherine, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Georgiana Darcy, Mr. & Mrs. Hurst, Caroline Bingley, and one uninvited guest, George Wickham who is unceremoniously pitched out the second floor window of Netherfield Park and into a manure pile by Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley. The men folk then proceed to throw a stag party, and Mr. Darcy has a bit too much to drink. 

We are also privy to a snipet of the back story on the friendship of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy many years before “Netherfield Park is let at last” when Pride and Prejudice begins, enlightening us further on their personalities and relationships. Bingley and Darcy became fast friends at Cambridge University after Bingley rescued him from a scandalous situation after their introduction at a faculty soirée. A nineteen-year old Mr. Darcy was deep in his cups, seduced by a disreputable young lady and found in another student’s dorm room incoherent and disheveled. With Bingley’s help, the matter was swiftly smoothed over, but since it was so unlike his friend’s usual reserved manner, he continues to chide him about it whenever he needs to privately put the grand Mr. Darcy of Pemberley in his place. 

At the conclusion of the wedding ceremony and dinner, the Darcy’s and the Bingley’s depart for there respective townhouses in London, and hopefully on to connubial bliss. Like Mr. Darcy’s new bride Elizabeth, we see a more relaxed and casual husband after the ceremony. This Darcy makes jokes with his new wife. 

“I shall do my best to be an upstanding gentleman, ignoring your presence almost entirely in company, and never endeavour to gaze upon you or whisper private jokes in your ear at parties_ “

Her response was to kiss him. Well, to kiss him and to climb on top of him, the ultimate assertion of authority. “That is not what I prefer, Mr. Darcy.”

“Then we are in agreement. I will treat you with great love and compassion in front of guests and as a wanton wench in the bedchamber.”

To this, she could not find a reason to raise dispute. 

On the other martial front, the sun rose on the Bingley household and Jane exclaims, “I do not believe that I have ever been so happy.” Charles Bingley credits the book and then shows it to Jane. 

Six months have passed and Jane and Elizabeth are both with child and expecting at the same time. In appreciation for his friend’s considerable favour of the wedding gift, Bingley sends Darcy a new book that he has tracked down and imported from India, the Ananga Ranga, another sex manual. The ongoing competition between the two friends continues to the point of their placing bets on whose home will be used for their wives confinements, and who will be first to deliver a child. Bingley wins the £5. 

The second half of the novel involves Charles Bingley’s sister Caroline, who as you will remember in Pride and Prejudice tries her hardest to attract Mr. Darcy, but he does not give her a moment’s thought in the romance arena. She is a caustic and abrasive character in Austen’s novel, and gets much of the plum biting dialogue. In this treatment she is more sympathetically portrayed, and many of the faults and foibles in her personality are smoothed out and explained. When the two friends Darcy and Bingley are called into action to check out a prospective beau of Caroline’s, the ongoing comedy continues and the story ends just like Austen with a wedding. 

Recently, author Marsha Altman was interviewed on the Risky Regencies blog by fellow Austen-esque author Janet Mullany, who asked her how she felt about taking on Jane Austen? 

I’m trying to have fun with her characters. As to whether she would mine, Miss Austen has posthumously endured her nephew and extended family publishing all of her unfinished writing and personal letters for profit, numerous sequels and adaptations, books analyzing her personal life, and even movies about her starring actresses wearing heavy lipstick. So, if she’s been spinning in her grave, she’s probably tired by now and may well have gotten over it. That or she understands imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, if that phrase existed in the Regency period. 

Fun is the operative word here, and if one reads this book within the context of expecting a light, frothy, humorously diverting comedy written in a contemporary style based on Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice, you will not be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are expecting a Regency novel whose language, plot, character development and historical reference are similar to Austen’s, this may not be for you. 

Ms. Altman states that imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. I do not think that imitation was her intention here, and Miss Austen may have to take a few more spins at Winchester Cathedral.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 Regency Stars

The Darcys & The Bingleys: Pride and Prejudice Continues
by Marsha Altman
Sourcebooks, Inc.
Trade paperback, 415 pages
ISBN 978-1402213489

Further reading

The Austen Tattler: News & Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Around the blogosphere for the week of September 1st

The first reviews for Jane Odiwe’s Lydia Bennet’s Story are in, and honestly not a suprise!

Austen-esque author Marsha Altman is featured at Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen in Vermont discussing her new book The Darcys and the Bingleys published by Sourcebooks, and now available at bookstores.

If you are as excited as I am about the premiere of the movie Duchess, staring Austen actress Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice 2005), check out The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th-century. This informative and slightly sardonic blog is like a gossip rag from the 18th-century but with a modern twist. I particularly enjoy the Tart of the Week posts, and the recent Hunk alert on Richard Brimsley Sheridan written as a hip singles ad. Jane Austen would have been amused!

Some people understand what makes a Jane Austen heroine tick, they just don’t want to be one! And then, a few days later they change their mind!

Austen-esque author Diana Birchall is interviewed about her two books currently in print, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma and Mrs. Elton in America by Vic (Ms. Place) at Jane Austen’s World. Discover what makes Diana one of the most admired sequel authors in print, and where she got her wicked sense of humor from.

Join the Jane Austen Book Club Online as they read a novel a month. September is Emma month, so break out your copies and delve in to Highbury again!

Lost in Austen, the new time travel inspired slant on Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice was televised in the UK on September 3rd. The advance reviews have been mixed, to put it kindly. AustenBlog has all the scoop and updates, so check it out.

Do you know the 7 key elements to Jane Austen’s writing success? Romance writer Tina M. Russo does and explains it all for us in her clever an insightful post, What Would Jane Do?, at The Seekers blog. Enter a comment for a chance to win a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict or The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

The Becoming Jane Fansite chose one of my favorite quotes from Emma for their quote of the week.

Austenprose is happy to announce a new weekly column entitled ‘An Austen Intern Reports In’ running on Saturdays until December from Virginia Claire Tharrington, the newly appointed intern for The Jane Austen Centre in Bath. This very lucky young Janeite will be sharing with us her weekly news and insights from Bath, England, the heart of Jane Austen’s world and the home of The Jane Austen Centre. Please return on Staurday, September 6th for her first installment as she shares with us how she turned her passion for Jane Austen into a once in a life time opportunity. Stay tuned for this very exciting Austen adventure. Woundn’t Catherine Morland be jealous?

Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

*Watercolour engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, Jealousy, The Rival (1787)