Thursday, March 03, 2005

Pride and Prejudice Redux

Remember two days ago I was lamenting the fact that there was no more Jane Austen to give us sequels to the stories I loved? That I wanted to know what happened to Elizabeth and her Mr. Darcy and to Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon, Elinor and Edward Ferrars, after they all said their "I dos" and rode off into the sunset?

Well, I found more. Sort of. In the form of "sequels" and "prequels" and "fill-ins" written by other writers. People who have valiantly taken on the challenge of mimicking Austen's style to give us thirsty readers a few more prescious drops. Just for trying I am grateful to these people. Of course, I have no idea if what's out there is pure drivel that makes a mockery of all things good in the original stories and sends poor Jane twirling in her grave upon every chingching of the cash register.

But figuring something was certainly better than nothing, I spent a good bit of time cruising Amazon and picking through the reader reviews of the various offerings out there. I finally settled on An Assembly Such As This: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman - Book 1 by Pamela Aidan. It looked to be the most promising both in terms of quality of the writing and in what it will give me in its story - a fleshing out of the one Austen character who remains the most intriguing to me yet the most elusive - Mr. Darcy. Apparently this book - the first in a trilogy - parallels the events presented in Pride and Prejudice except it is told from Mr. Darcy's point of view, offering not only his perspective on what's going on and how he really feels about Elizabeth Bennet, but also affording us some theories on why he is the way he is. Sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.

The only drawback to my choice is that Book 2 of the series - Duty and Desire - did not receive the same glowing reviews as Book 1 (only 3.5 stars as compared to 4.5 stars, respectively), so I do have a fear of getting myself all pumped up on Book 1 only to be let down when I have no choice but to go on to Book 2. And Book 3, the final in the trilogy in which we see the HEA, isn't even released yet! How long will I have to wait? What if Ms. Aidan changes her mind and never even finishes the third book? My mind explodes.

With these caveats in mind, I've received Book 1 and have read all of three pages, which do show a lot of promise. The writing is smooth and eloquent, with just enough of that Austen-ish feeling to put me in the right frame of mind. I'm looking forward to the rest. I'll let you know how it goes.

Good thing I have no desire to do the extensive research I imagine is necessary to write a truly good Regency era romance. I'd never manage to get the manners and precise protocols correct, not to mention how badly I'd mangle all the titles and proper naming conventions. Otherwise, I can see myself setting out to write my own P&P sequel.

What a frightening thought!

1 comment:

wendy said...

You know, there's actually a Jane Eyre prequel too. Wide Sargasso Sea tells Mr. Rochester's tale--most importantly how the mad woman came to be locked away in his house. I've never been a Bronte fan, always especially hated Mr. Rochester--brooding devil that he was. So, his story didn't draw me in...Austin's Mr. Darcy on the other hand, I would really love to know what's going on in his mind. Let me know how this trilogy goes.