Monday, 13 May 2013

Mr Darcy Takes a Wife By Linda Berdoll

This is the first Pride and prejudice continuation I have ever read. Let me start by saying that although it's the first I feel it has set the bar and am now curious to see if I can read one to beat it!

I read this book knowing that it was not Jane Austen! So many dissatisfied reviews seem to suggest the reader thinks it is! I read this book with that in mind and only looked at whether the author had taken the gift that Jane Austen has given us in Pride and Prejudice and done it justice.

I will start with saying wow! Although I did not think that straight away, the first chapter started a bit shaky and I was unsure how I felt, but the last lines of the first chapter had me intrigued to go on. Lydia Bennett had me in stitches in chapter two and I felt at the time Elizabeth and Jane were in keeping with the characters Austen had created. Throughout the book there were times I wasn't convinced of an Austen Elizabeth but was trying to take into consideration the book spans over years and people mature and change. I loved the description of Mr Wickham's life in chapter three I was happy he wasn't happy!

When the question of Mr Darcy's virtue was addressed  I was uneasy from this point on wards and read the book feeling unsettled (if you've read the book all I will say is Abigail and Juliette). Although I will say the author kept Mr Darcy's character to the letter (apart from Darcy in the bedroom which we wouldn't know anyway ) I felt Mr Darcy was in keeping with Austen's, he acted as I would have expected. While I am on the subject let me say passion wise, if explicit is not your thing then you may find fault; but the tender side to Darcy that is shown as a result is wonderful. Without giving anything away when I read these lines I was so sad "do not despair " he said "do not despair" and I loved Mr Darcy all the more for it. I respect the author for giving Elizabeth such a  husband while still keeping Darcy as the powerful, proud, brave and respectable gentleman that he is, bravo! I would not be able to tolerate a lovey dovey Darcy.

Okay let me move on, the book is separated into three books within one. The first book I was saying "ooh I am not sure yet but I cannot put this down, I need to get my head around this". By book two I was on an emotional roller coaster from "oh no why did the author have to do that" to laughing myself to tears at 4am in the morning (yes I was that hooked) at the spectacle that is Mr Collins (all I will say is chapter 27 I imagined Mr Collins from P&P BBC 1995). At this point in the book I was anxious, happy, sad and riddled with emotion. But by book three I trusted the author and felt safe that she was a true Austen fan and would take this story where it needed to go. Finally I could relax and enjoy.
If you take into account it's not Austen's continuation but the authors in her own right it is a wonderful book . Yes there were scenes I felt "no that would not happen" or "I am not happy about that" but that was all part of the exhilarating ride. I certainly would not be hooked if I just read Elizabeth and Darcy lived happily ever after 'The end'.

I finished this book in four days (no sleep), would have finished it sooner but found myself rereading many of the passages, which showed just how much Darcy loved Elizabeth and visa versa. Purchased the book the Ruling Passion immediately and had that finished in three! (it wasn't even on my list for the challenge.)

Here are just a couple of my favorite lines without giving the story away.

I fear I am no longer able to find sleep without you.” (Darcy)

I can ensure the happiness of only one woman, Lizzy. Let it be you.”(Darcy)

I should sooner die than not be a wife to you.” (Elizabeth)

In this passage Darcy pretends he has hurt himself after falling from his horse and Elizabeth rushes over fretting, only to find he is pretending. I loved this playful side of Darcy which was rare.

`She smote him on the shoulder with a closed fist. “What mockery!” she cried and rose to leave. He caught her arm and drew her down to a kiss. “If you are to nurse me, begin with my lips.” “You, sir, shall be fortunate if I do not deliver you true impairment, for you deserve it!” - L.Berdoll

There are too many chapters and scenes to mention. I had the book on my Kindle but felt it was worthy of a a place on my bookshelf, so one is on it's way.

Lastly I take my hat off to you Linda for writing the continuation that we all (well maybe not all) wanted to read.
The writing in regency dialect was great (sometimes harder to read than Austen, my kindle dictionary was used quite often) and your research was extensive. Born and breed in London and recently moving to Cambridgeshire, I was pleasantly surprised that Linda was a `Texas farm wife' (her words not mine) I felt I was fully emerged in Edwardian England.

Okay so I've read the book again (a week later) since writing this. Enjoyed it all the more the second time around as I was more relaxed! At a second reading I see now that if we had to go there with the "is Mr Darcy a man of the world" then Juliette is but a tool, to show how much Darcy loves Elizabeth, that Elizabeth was his first love (I would not except anything less) and lastly chapter 80 all I can say is touche Elizabeth she definitely is an extension of Darcy.

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