Becoming Mary: A Pride and Prejudice Sequel, by Amy Street – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Becoming Mary A Pride and Prejudice Sequel by Amy Street 2014 x 200What is it about Mary Bennet—that pedantic, unromantic middle daughter in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? She has less than a dozen lines of dialogue in the entire novel, but what an indelible impression she has made on centuries of readers. How could anyone forget such gems like these?

I admire the activity of your benevolence,” observed Mary, “but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” Chapter 7

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

Priggish, sanctimonious and asexual, there is nothing like a big challenge to inspire modern writers into a major makeover for her character and create a happy ending. Over the past few years, we have received a wide variety of Mary Bennet sequels, both good and bad. Pamela Mingle’s The Pursuit of Mary Bennet and Jennifer Paynter’s The Forgotten Sister land in the praise camp, while Colleen McCullough’s  The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet lies somewhere between awful and atrocious. (I apologize in advance to my Victorian grandmother for speaking ill of the dead if she happens to run into the author in the afterlife.) Continue reading

Unequal Affections: A Pride and Prejudice Retelling, by Lara S. Ormiston – A Review

Unequal Affections, by Lara S. Ormiston (2014)From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Have you ever read a book that culminated in such a passionate love/hate relationship that you were compelled to read it again to understand what it was that evoked such a profound reaction? I have. Like failed love affairs, I can remember each of them without hesitation: Wuthering Heights, Tess of the D’Urberville’s, Mansfield Park, The Wings of a Dove and Anna Karenina. I am now adding Unequal Affections to my “bus accident” list.

While some may foresee this question as a polite warning of a negative review lurking in the shrubberies, I have no wish to influence you either way—yet—but rather keep you in suspense, “according to the usual practice of elegant females.” Bus accidents are terrible, tragic, things, and terribly hard to look away from.

This Pride and Prejudice “what if” starts out one-third of the way into the original novel at the pivotal moment when Mr. Darcy proposes to our heroine Elizabeth Bennet. This scene contains some of Jane Austen’s most brilliant dialogue revealing two protagonists so totally at odds with each other that we cannot see how they could possibly end up as a loving couple by the end of the novel. Mr. Darcy begins…“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” He then proceeds to explain how he loves her against his will, against his reason, and even against his character. Insulted by his prejudice against her family, appalled by his injustice towards Mr. Wickham and angered by his part in separating her sister Jane from Mr. Bingley, she finalizes her refusal by proclaiming that he was “the last man in the world whom [she] could ever be prevailed on to marry.” Continue reading

Most Truly: A Pride and Prejudice Novella, by Reina M. Williams – A Review

Most Truly A Pride and Prejudice Novella by Reina M Williams 2013 x 200From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

The thing I like best about novellas is that they are typically quick, fun reads that don’t take up much time, but offer a lot of fun in return. When I first mused reading Most Truly by Reina M. Williams, I was intrigued as it seemed to have all of these good characteristics of a novella and was a Pride and Prejudice sequel to boot. Additionally, although this isn’t the first time I’ve read something that featured Kitty (I’ve also read Maria Grace’s Twelfth Night At Longbourn), it is always a treat to find something dedicated to the Bennet sisters who don’t steal the headlines in P&P. So, with that in mind, I set aside a short block of time and dove right in! 

Most Truly begins with Col. Fitzwilliam having recently returned from the war, weary and happy to exchange his fellow soldiers for members of his family and friends. This is no fleeting visit though, as the Col. is in possession of a tidy sum of money for his efforts.  As such he now intends to enter into a marriage and begin life anew as a civilian husband. He travels to Pemberley, where his beloved cousins Darcy, Elizabeth, and Georgiana reside. There he finds Kitty Bennet, who surprises him completely by catching his eye. Her charms and mannerisms make him think twice about his values and his position as a gentleman and what that entails. Kitty, meanwhile, does not want to get embroiled with military men (as she did in her past), and will not risk attracting attention from her family. She has settled into a happy new life at Pemberley, and can’t risk ruining it. However, she can’t deny her feelings for Col. Fitzwilliam, and he, in turn, has eyes only for her, bringing him at odds with the wishes of his aunt, Lady Catherine, and his parents. What will become of this tense situation? Will Kitty have her moment in the spotlight? Continue reading

Presumption: An Entertainment: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, by Julia Barrett – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my sixth 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 open until July 1, 2013.

My Review:

Before Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister (2010), Miss Darcy Falls in Love (2011), Georgiana Darcy’s Diary (2012) or Loving Miss Darcy (2013), or any of the other numerous Pride and Prejudice sequels elevating Georgiana Darcy to main character, there was Presumption: An Entertainment, by Julia Barrett (1993). Of all of the minor characters in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy’s younger sister is the logical choice to continue the story. She has many points in her favor. Being young, beautiful, wealthy, and accomplished she is certainly heroine material—and living at Pemberley with her brother Fitzwilliam and sister-in-law Elizabeth does not hurt either.

The first Pride and Prejudice sequel ever published, Pemberley Shades (1949), also continued her story. What could go wrong in this scenario you ask? Well plenty, if the author takes the liberties that Barrett does—but that does not mean the story is not enjoyable—if you can abide change, and the characters acting in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, or lady. I will hint that the title Presumption foreshadows more than mirroring Austen’s use of verbs in her own titles. Continue reading

The Passions of Dr. Darcy, by Sharon Lathan – A Review

The Passions of Mr. Darcy, by Sharon Lathan © 2013 SourcebooksFrom the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder: 

Some series are just too good to let go, whether they be movies, TV, or books. Sharon Lathan’s Darcy Saga, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is one such series. I’ve had the pleasure of reading all six of the previous novels, and I was sure that book seven, The Passions of Dr. Darcy, would not disappoint me in the least. So, without further ado, I sat down and began to read about another member of the Darcy family: Uncle George.

While a young Master Fitzwilliam Darcy is enjoying his childhood at Pemberley, another member of the Darcy family is out making a name for himself in the world. Dr. George Darcy, Fitzwilliam’s bright and engaging uncle, has quickly become noted around the countryside as one of the greatest physicians in the area. He enjoys all the attention, but becomes restless and decides to make a drastic change that will take him away from all the rich and bland clientele he is used to. So, he sets off on an assignment with the British East India Company, which at the time had expanded far and wide into the Indian subcontinent. Excited to take on this new opportunity, Dr. Darcy then embarks on a journey that is full of wonder and experiences that will last forever. He then returns after many years and recounts his tales to the now older Fitzwilliam Darcy, his wife Elizabeth, and their family. We join in the experience as Dr. Darcy describes the adventures which have shaped him into the gentleman he is today. Continue reading

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard Blog Tour with Author Belinda Roberts, and a Giveaway

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide and Prejudice, by Belinda Roberts (2011)Please join us today in welcoming Austenesque author Belinda Roberts for the official launch of her book blog tour of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard: A Tale of Tide & Prejudice, a new Pride and Prejudice contemporary retelling that was released on June 1, 2011 by Sourcebooks.

Salcombe is a lively, fashionable seaside town on the south west coast of England – the sort of busy place where you turn a corner and whoops!  Excuse me!  Sorry!  After you!  You have had an encounter with a young Mr. Darcy.  They are everywhere, mixed in with young Mr. Bingleys, anxious Mrs. Bennets and shrieking Kittys and Lydias making themselves heard from one end of Fore Street to the other.  So, having spent many happy family holidays ourselves in Salcombe, I suppose it wasn’t so much an inspiration rather, as Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times would say ‘FACT’ that drew me to write a modern day version of Pride and Prejudice.  Jane Austen’s characters are there, in Salcombe, alive and kicking – or splashing about at any rate!  In my mind the ball gowns of Pride and Prejudice started to be replaced by bikinis, ‘Pemberley’ became a magnificent sixty-two foot yacht, the militia took on the role of lifeguards – it was a book waiting to be written!

What is more, Salcombe has a wonderful Town Regatta each year – a week of events that bring the whole of Salcombe society together.  Assemblies, balls, dances are all there still – but in a slightly different guise.  The famous Netherfield Ball, for instance, could become the equally famous Salcombe Estuary Swim.  At both, society comes together: there is the chance to mingle, to avoid certain people and to search out others – Darcy and Elizabeth could hold their conversation whilst swimming the choppy waters.  The Greasy Pole and Sandcastle Competition, along with the beautiful cliff walks, golden beaches and plenty of opportunities for frolicking about in the sparkling seas offered further wonderful opportunities.  The links seemed perfect and I couldn’t wait to start.

My opportunity came when I went down to Salcombe to accompany my eldest daughter, Sophie, who needed some peace and quiet to write her dissertation on Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.  This was a serious endeavour.  We both sat at the little kitchen table of our terraced house in Island Street Salcombe, set up our beloved MacBooks and started to write.  I was keen that my book should follow Jane Austen’s original chapter for chapter in plot and characterization as best I could.  The combination of reading Pride and Prejudice, translating it into a modern seaside setting and trying to keep quiet was too much and I kept bursting out laughing – which was not helpful to poor Sophie!  The hardest part was ‘modernizing’ Lydia’s disgraceful behavior, which of course, would hardly be noticed these days. I hope I came up with a suitably sensational solution! Continue reading

Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, by Maria Hamilton – A Review

Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, by Maria Hamilton (2011)Guest review by Christina Boyd

You are mistaken Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way than it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.” Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XXXIV

The tragedy of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s ill-stated proposal in the Hunsford parlor is one of the most notable exhibitions in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, allowing generations of readers to ponder how it all might have been different had his behavior and delivery more agreeable. As in Austen’s masterpiece, Darcy is angered and shocked when Elizabeth refuses his hand in marriage… but in debut author Maria Hamilton’s Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, Darcy quickly realizes how poorly he acted and decides how he must make amends.

In this alternative story, Darcy goes back to Hertfordshire and calls on the ladies at Longbourn, specifically Miss Bennet, Elizabeth’s older sister Jane, to confess his interference in persuading Mr. Bingley against her… and to discover if she might still harbour feelings for Bingley and welcome his renewal of attentions to her.  But of course, Mrs. Bennet  (and Elizabeth!) misinterprets Mr. Darcy’s visit, blunders in communication between Bingley & Darcy/Darcy & Elizabeth/ Darcy & the whole of Meryton, and even a rival for Elizabeth’s affections, nearly throw Darcy’s honorable plan off course.  Fortunately, the Bennet’s, and even the good people of Meryton, benefit from this more retrospective Darcy as he “practices” his social skills… and by this grace, slowly becomes a man worthy of Elizabeth’s affections.

Much in the writing style of romance author Abigail Reynold’s, Maria Hamilton clearly has a handle on the ruminations and passions of both Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

As she leaned over the map to look for herself, she felt him by her side, his breath brushing her ear as he continued to explain the boundary dispute.  His rich voice seemed to have a hypnotic effect on her as she struggled to listen.  As he leaned ever closer to trace the line for her on the map, she felt her pulse quicken and hoped it was not obvious to him.  Equally caught up by her proximity to him, his narration temporarily faltered.  As they both stood there, looking down at his hand on the map and hers inches away, he swallowed hard and then unconsciously leaned even closer toward her.” page 241

Swoonworthy, indeed.  But I must include one of my all-time favorite romantic fan-fiction scenes when Elizabeth and Darcy, at a Longbourne family dinner, are overcoming one of those communication blunders aforementioned, She suddenly understood his position.  Impulsively she brought her hand to her lap and then slowly it moved toward Mr. Darcy’s chair where his hand sat by his side.  With a surge of determination, she reached over, took his hand, laced her fingers in his, and squeezed his hand to express her reassurance…  His eyes flew open.” page 264  Shocking but delicious, is it not?

I first read Hamilton’s story when posted on line years ago under the title, By Every Civility in His Power… and was delighted to learn it was to be published by Sourcebooks.  The story has been tightened somewhat by deleting and, or revising some of the interaction with Caroline Bingley, as well as regrettably reworking an amusing, provocative riding lesson– but in essence, the story remains the same.  Fair warning however: after a very long speech by Elizabeth, explaining to Darcy why she already feels she is his wife, and why she does not feel the need to wait to be truly “man and wife,” Darcy and Elizabeth do indeed anticipate their vows. By the by, if Sourcebooks was going to chop anything from Hamilton’s original, I would have preferred the three letters Darcy writes Elizabeth the morning after their faire l’amour.  They were a little over the top.  That said, all 446 pages of Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman will certainly keep you entertained. Congratulations to Maria Hamilton!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, by Maria Hamilton
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (528) pages
ISBN: 978-1402244186

Milestone! Christina’s review is the 200th book review posted on Austenprose! Congratulations, and thank you to all who have contributed reviews.

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

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.

Darcy, equal in his courage asks that she continue her friendship with his sister, “offering her a way to continue their contact by proxy.”” p.8.  They share a comforting embrace, but it is at that exact moment that her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner return and discover such intimacy! After Darcy explains to Mr. Gardiner that he has asked for Elizabeth’s hand months prior– and been refused– both agree to not force Elizabeth into marriage, but allow Darcy time to properly woo her. And so begins this clever twist.

In an endearing exchange of letters between Elizabeth and Darcy’s demure younger sister Georgiana, we begin to see Reynolds’ creative use of humor as light-hearted Elizabeth encourages some rather saucy teasing of Mr. Darcy.

“If your brother is again watching you as you read this, be sure to give an occasional gasp, and to say ‘Oh, no” from time to time, or perhaps ‘she couldn’t possibly!’ Then, when he asks you what is the matter, explain that you could not possibly tell him, since the letter is full of secrets that I begged you to hold in confidence.  Then, if he keeps asking, you may tell him that he may perhaps read the last few sentences, but only if he promises not to look at the rest.” p.48.

Later, when Georgiana is invited to Longbourne, this reserved, quiet girl continues to bloom into a young, playful lady under the attentions of Elizabeth’s silly sisters, Kitty and Mary. In turn, they benefit from the new friendship becoming more confident and mature young women of refined breeding.

In Austen’s original, critics are quick to point out that Miss Elizabeth’s change of heart of Mr. Darcy from repulsion to attraction is rather hurried. However, in Reynolds’ novella, she carefully fleshes out Elizabeth’s struggle within revealing her inner thought process.  Personally, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What’s her problem?” Rich, handsome man who adores her, and who, she discovers, is the preserver of her sister and family from disgrace and is desperate to marry her! I was inclined to prescribe to her Aunt Gardiner’s way of thinking.

I have had an ongoing concern that you seem to underestimate the strength of his attachment to you. I am, in fact, rather glad to see you are suffering just a bit in the name of love, since it tells me that your attachment to him may be becoming the equal of his for you.” p.161.

Although Darcy is portrayed as painfully vulnerable to Elizabeth’s love for much of the novella, I will yield him this one flaw. But, only because of his disastrous first proposal at Hunsford and having previously misinterpreted her so many times. Besides, aren’t we all rather exposed when violently in-love? “I want to bind you to me in every way I know, because I am terrified that you are going to tell me you want nothing further to do with me.” p.155.

This re-issue also includes the addition of four pages at the beginning of the novel fleshing out the backstory that occurred up to this point in Austen’s original novel, and, allowing Darcy to moon incessantly over Elizabeth’s smile. What? I had thought he was bewitched by her fine eyes! Regardless of which part of her anatomy he is gushing over, of all Reynolds’ Pemberley Variations, What Would Mr. Darcy Do? may be my least favorite. In offering a caveat to my disappointment, it is a relative statement and must be understood in its proper context. I own all Reynolds’ self-published as well as Sourcebooks published books – and I adore her “what ifs.” This one pales in comparison To Conquer Mr. Darcy (a.k.a. Impulse & Initiative), or Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World. Not only is it not as epigrammatic as her previous offerings, but Darcy’s continued insecurity, at first sweet, became syrupy, and more importantly, Elizabeth’s perpetual willingness to accept Darcy’s passionate kisses yet reluctance to accept his hand grated against her character.

Astute Janeites will note the omission of Lady Catherine’s pivotal (and highly amusing) confrontation with Miss Elizabeth in the prettyish kind of a little wilderness in Austen’s original and sigh with regret at the missed opportunity for a great sparing of two mighty forces. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of raw emotion, humorous exchanges and romantic interludes to move the story forward and bring Darcy and Elizabeth to their final happy understanding. What Would Mr. Darcy Do is a diverting amusement in the crowded field of Mr. Darcy what ifs, and worthy of your consideration and enjoyment.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

What Would Mr. Darcy Do?, by Abigail Reynolds
Sourcebooks (2011)
Trade paperback (240) pages
ISBN: 978-1402240935

© 2007 – 2011 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

Darcy’s Voyage, by Kara Louise – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd 

In this latest twist on Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, author Kara Louise’s Darcy’s Voyage: A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas embarks on a tale of romance, intrigue, and adventure. Setting the scene for all to follow, Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet meet whilst sharing a post carriage – and following the familiar Pride & Prejudice formula – Darcy and Elizabeth’s first meeting is far from stellar. An inattentive, intolerable Darcy has, of course, offended Elizabeth by impetuously colliding into her, nearly knocking her to the ground. (In his defense he is pre-occupied with being forced to take the post as his carriage is under repair.) However in the brief hours spent conversing, they make a remarkable impression on one another.  Alas, at the change of horses, the young people separate and continue on with their own travels.

Fast forward two years, and again the two are travel bent. This time Darcy is off to America to escort his younger sister home from a visit with her old companion – and Miss Elizabeth is traveling to meet her uncle and aunt Gardiner, who are on a business trip in New York. They meet on the ship he owns, Pemberley’s Promise, and as they set sail the highly eligible bachelor Darcy unwittingly insults Elizabeth when she overhears him making a disparaging remark about the young ladies on board.  Fortuitously, they both relish starting the day with a brisk walk on deck and are thrown in one another’s company, thusly building an amicable rapport. Although they do not instantly recognize the other from that shared carriage ride of two years prior, they are curiously drawn to each other. They both fail to acknowledge their shared attraction because both are unwilling to overlook the inequality in rank and wealth.  However, when Elizabeth falls ill amongst the steerage class, Darcy takes it upon himself to secure her a remedy – altering the course of their lives forever.

Although this story is chock full of unlikely scenarios: would Mr. Bennet really have allowed his favorite daughter to travel all the way to the New World unchaperoned, or for that matter… in steerage? Was Elizabeth really so indisposed as to merit such drastic action and still be able to bid farewell to her steerage companions? And if Darcy and Elizabeth had made such a striking impression two years previous, surely would they not have recognized each other without delay?  And yet — it is still a sentimental favorite of mine. Kara Louise has successfully taken our beloved characters and created an entirely original story, whilst keeping each true to their nature and personality traits. For example, Wickham, the deceitful charmer, not only runs off with Elizabeth’s youngest sister but steals an important document from Darcy, sending Darcy on a wild race to London to preserve his future life with Elizabeth. What I find so refreshing in this re-imagining is how this author artfully reconstructs Jane Austen’s masterpiece: setting these well-known characters out on a journey across the Atlantic and back, throwing original obstacles and conspiracies in their path, and all the while ascertaining that their love triumphs in true Austen style… ending happily ever after.

Originally self-published in 2007 under the name Pemberley’s Promise, Darcy’s Voyage is a romantic novel that made me sigh in all the right places and laugh out loud at the most surprising moments. Make sure you settle in for 512 pages of comfortable prose, as it’s a page-turner.  I for one am certain to delight in picking up and re-reading wherever this book falls open!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Darcy’s Voyage: A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas, by Kara Louise
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (512) pages
ISBN: 978-1402241024

© 2007 -2010 Christina Boyd, Austenprose