Review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder
Whenever I finish an Abigail Reynolds book, I never feel like I’m completely done with the story. What I mean by this is her writing always gets me totally engrossed in the stories making me wish they’d never end. I always feel satisfied with where they’ve gone plot wise, but she writes characters so well that I always end up wishing for more. Fortunately for us Reynolds fans, she published A Pemberley Medley, a collection of short stories that represent different “what if” scenarios for our beloved Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. All five short stories are variations on the original Pride and Prejudice that we all know and love. I wanted to leave you surprised by the plot of the majority of the works, but I couldn’t pass on the chance to tell you about my favorite (and also the first) short story of the book.
Entitled “Intermezzo”, it takes place on Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley’s wedding day, although Darcy is nowhere in sight. He is still too brokenhearted and raw over the failed proposal attempt at Hunsford. He decides that staying away and not seeing Elizabeth would be a better option. What would happen if Darcy chose to show up at the last minute, only to find himself seated next to Elizabeth for the wedding breakfast? Will he find a changed Elizabeth, or will she still be filled with hatred and contempt for him?
The other creative short stories are entitled “Such Differing Reports”, “Reason’s Rule”, “The Most Natural Thing”, and “A Succession of Rain”. Fans of Reynolds’ To Conquer Mr. Darcy will want to pay special attention to “Reason’s Rule”, as it’s a scene from that novel that was left on the editing room floor. The Most Natural Thing is a novella told in three parts that see Darcy as a “dark” character. Fans will definitely be pleased with the variety of stories this compilation offers.
I feel that Reynolds has always excelled most at her characterizations. She writes wonderful soliloquies that offer great insight into the character’s thoughts, feelings, and wishes. Her ability to really connect with what her characters makes them that much more lifelike, and adds to the authenticity of the work as a whole. Perhaps that is what makes Reynolds such a bastion of the JAFF world. She keeps us wanting more, and makes any retelling of Pride and Prejudice seem like it’s the first time we’ve ever read anything outside of the original.
I especially enjoyed the short story format, which allowed Reynolds to cover more characters and plot than she would have in a traditional novel, and this added to the quickness and overall tone of the work. I felt as if I covered a lot more ground in one reading than I would have with a detailed novel. (Maybe these short stories will be fleshed out into full length novels? We can only hope!) It was a fresh approach that I hope Reynolds will repeat in the future. Overall, it came as no surprise that I enjoyed all of these short stories, especially the one that required the biggest change of heart for Mr. Darcy. I’m always a sucker for a good romance, and Reynolds knows just how to appease my palate. Bravo for a job well done!
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Pemberley Medley: Five Pride & Prejudice Variations, by Abigail Reynolds
Intertidal Press (2011)
Trade paperback (212) pages
Kindle: ASIN: B0069TPCQ8
Kimberly Denny-Ryder is the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association. When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.
© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose