What 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
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 in an instant: 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
From 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
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.
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
From 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
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