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 ) Continue reading