Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review-- Pemberley Manor

Title: Pemberley Manor, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Continues...
Author: Kathryn L. Nelson
ISBN: 9781402218521/ Sourcebooks, Inc., 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction, ARC
Rating: B

First Line: Of all the guests at Meryton Church that morning, one pretty young woman glowed with unadulterated pride as she watched the proceedings.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. One of those desert island books, if I were the type of person who'd want to spend my time on the island re-reading books. Usually when a book has entered my "pantheon", I stay away from copycats. They usually disappoint, and I don't like putting dings in my plaster walls. (It's an old house, and I don't like to patch plaster.) I did make one very pleasurable exception to my rule: I read Pamela Aidan's Pride and Prejudice trilogy written from Darcy's point of view. I thought they were excellent. So...when I was given the chance to read Pemberley Manor, I decided to take a chance. I'm glad I did.

Nelson begins her novel with the marriage of Jane and Elizabeth to Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Although most P&P devotees would expect Jane and Charles to go on their blissful way, they would wonder how Darcy and Elizabeth would fare. The answer is...not nearly so blissful. One of the things I always wondered was how Darcy came to be so proud. Nelson's answer to that is: his parents. She creates a whole back story involving the tempestuous marriage of Darcy's mother and father. Another key player in Darcy's childhood is Trevor Handley, a young man Darcy looked up to as an older brother, but who was thrown out of Pemberley under a mysterious cloud. Yet another new character, Robert Alexander from nearby Great Oaks, is introduced as the friend of Darcy's father and the person who may be able to help Darcy put all the pieces together. Even the old gatekeeper, Thomas Hill, helps with his calming influence whenever an overwrought Darcy shows up at his doorstep.

Both old and new characters blend well, and Nelson is adept with her plot and the language since I felt immersed in Regency England. I did have a couple of small problems with the book. Darcy seems to cry at the drop of a hat in Pemberley Manor. He never put me in mind of a man who would do that, so his seemingly constant tears made me raise an eyebrow a time or two. His weeping may be the sign of a touch of twenty-first century sensibilities creeping into the narrative, since everyone reacted so calmly to Trevor Handley's big secret. I doubt everyone would've been that calm and accepting in the Regency time period.

The plot also bogs down from time to time. Parts of it were a hard slog to get through, possibly due to Nelson's attention to every detail. On the whole, however, I did find it easy to set aside my minor complaints and enjoy this book. Nelson took me back to a world and characters that I love. I found her back story very believable, the characters' motivations true to Austen's classic, and the setting close to perfect. All in all, an enjoyable read and a fine addition to the genre.

I'd like to thank Danielle Jackson of Sourcebooks, Inc. for giving me the opportunity to read this book. Two historical fiction novels, two good reads!

What about you? Is Pride and Prejudice one of your favorite novels? Have you read any of the modern follow-ups? Do you have any that you would recommend? Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. You know I am not really crzy about Austen or 'Pride and Prejudice'. But I like it okay, enough to sometimes want to read spin-offs.

  2. I am also very leery of "copycat" books as well, although Pamela Aidan's series has been sitting on my shelf for over a year now because I have heard such wonderful reviews.

    I am glad to hear that this one is worth the read, even if it is not nearly as perfect as the original Pride and Prejudice :)

  3. I agreed with you almost totally! I liked the characters, backstory, language, and felt that it all fit Austen's world, but the plot does bog down at times. I really liked it though.

  4. Pride and Prejudice is high on my list of classics, together with Emma and that really funny parody of gothic horror (oh, what is the title? Well, if you love Austen you probably know which one I mean).
    Interesting review. Amazing that a modern writer can hit the old style so well.

  5. Meghan--do you have a review of this book? I'd love to link to it!

    Dorte--Northanger Abbey?

  6. Of course it is Northanger Abbey.
    I knew you would remember it :D

  7. Thanks for the great review, Cathy. I freely admit I didn't believe in sequels until I wrote one - go figure! I always love to hear what readers think. Thanks, everyone.

  8. I'm so ashamed to admit this but I've never actually read anything by Jane Austen much less Pride and Prejudice. I don't think I've ever even seen one of the movie adaptations... I know, I know! I will eventually, I promise!

  9. Ms. Nelson--thanks so much for stopping by my blog. Do you have another book in the works?

    Tink--don't force yourself on my account. Austen isn't for everyone, and if you feel no real desire to sample her in any of her present forms, something tells me you shouldn't!

  10. Thanks for the honest review. I've seen this book around and wondered how true to the characters the author was. It sounds like a book I would still read, even if Darcy is more weepy than I would like.

  11. sounds good--the only other p&p spin-off i read was 'mr. darcy takes a wife'...and whoa! it should have been called 'mr. darcy enjoys marital relations (on virtually every page)'. ahhaha. i'm so provincial, right?

  12. Hi - I'm enjoying hearing from all of you. I have another book at the "just about a first draft" stage, nothing to do with Pemberley Manor. Now that I've lept into the blogosphere with both feet, it may never get beyond that point! Thanks for posting your review on Amazon, Cathy.

    Kathy (Ms Nelson is definitely not me!)

  13. Natalie--I know what you mean. I've seen this happen in more than one book, and I think the author feels as though they're "spicing up" a stuffy old time period. One of the things I liked about Pemberley Manor is that, although it's obvious Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth were enjoying "conjugal bliss", it was in no way graphic, added to the story, and didn't interrupt the flow of the narrative.

    Kathy (I know what you mean...I'm not Ms. Cole either!), it's good to hear that you have another book in the works, and I certainly hope you find time to complete it. Having enjoyed PM, I would definitely be interested in reading it. As for my reviews, I always post them on Amazon, Paperback Swap, Good Reads, LibraryThing and the online book group of which I'm list owner.

  14. I'll make a note to send you a copy, Cathy. Just don't be holding your breath yet.

  15. I won't, Kathy. I need all my breath for housecleaning. I've got 4 family members from the UK arriving Tuesday for two weeks!

  16. I hope these are relatives you really like!

    P.S. Went out looking for my book this morning and found it on shelves at two stores. What a hoot!

    Thanks, Cathy, and all of you for your encouragement.

  17. They're great people, Kathy, and I'm looking forward to their visit...although it's the first time in my life that I've shared my home with two young children for any significant period of time. I'm hoping they spend a lot of time in the pool!

    It would be so great to walk into a bookstore and see your very own book on the shelves. Dream come true! Here's to many more such experiences!


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