Customer Review

237 of 242 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story but let down in too many places, 29 May 2006
This review is from: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues (Pride & Prejudice Continues) (Paperback)
I bought this book on the strength of the reviews from Amazon.co.uk and, to some extent, these reviews were accurate. The overall feeling from these reviews is that this is a fun, lighthearted, saucy adventure which worthily carries on the P&P story but this time shedding light on the marriage in all its facets, including in the bedroom.

Yes, this book was (in some places) fun and lighthearted; it was certainly saucy (although that side of things petered out more after the middle of the book), but did it worthily carry on from Jane Austen's original?

In my opinion, no. The main difference (apart from the sex scenes) being the language. Austen of course had the significant advantage of writing about her own era, Linda Berdoll is having to compose dialogue for people living 200 years ago on another continent (she's an American author). Unfortunately she doesn't succeed. Admittedly this is a very tricky thing to do, but Georgette Heyer managed it writing as recently as 1971 so it's not impossible. Part of the problem seems to be that someone's told her that there are a whole load of conjunctions that will seem appropriate for the era - such "Albeit" and "Howbeit" as alternatives for "Although". And they're not. At least not all the time. So you get sentences like this: "Forthwith of Goodwin's leave-taking was a splash as Darcy got into the tub." Forthwith??? And another example, "Howbeit that was odd, Hannah was not a busybody. Miss Bennett had married Mr Darcy. Period." Howbeit??? Period??????!!! ("Period" is an Americanism; for Brits it usually means menstruation - unfortunate in this context. We would say "Full stop".)

Americanisms abound as usual (sigh). The third season is "fall", Mr Darcy "inquires" rather than "enquires", the insidious "gotten" appears again. These mistakes are all really common in Regencies by American authors but it's so frustrating to read them. In mitigation for Ms Berdoll, this book was originally self-published so she presumably didn't have a professional editor - she doesn't seem to add more Americanisms than most other American authors who DO have editors, so this is one mark in her favour. Interestingly, in my UK edition the spelling was generally British English (colour, favour), except for in the aforementioned "inquires".

Reading the book, the prose is turgid and chock-ful of supposed 19th century phraseology - only it's wrong. Mainly there's too much of it. An example: "Enlightenments upon life at Pemberley in general and being a wife specifically came with all due regularity. These wisdoms rained down upon Elizabeth with such dispatch, she occasionally had to stop and take a breath to be able to function at all. In all this befuddlement, the descent of her monthly terms was not remotely a comfort." Yes, they are discussing Elizabeth's Full Stop there. This is just a random example on the first page I turned to of the thicket of weird phrases one has to fight one's way through to make progress in the book. Again, this improved after the middle of the book - perhaps Linda Berdoll hit her stride there - but it rendered the beginning of the book very difficult to read. In fact, if I hadn't bought it but had borrowed it from the library, I'd have probably stopped a third of the way through and taken it back.

And Geography. Someone REALLY should have given this author a map of England with a scale. I was amazed to discover that one character had considered walking from Pemberley (Derbyshire) to Portsmouth in a day. Mind you, seeing as Darcy and Elizabeth were able to journey by carriage from London to Pemberley in a day, this is perhaps not so astonishing. The geography went very haywire in the third part of the book, where after taking the carriage (rather than walking) to Portsmouth this character apparently travels half of the length of England NORTH to get to Dover. Obviously Linda Berdoll had the map held at 90 degrees when reading it, as well as awarding her horses superhuman speed and stamina in order to make these 2-3 day journeys happen in an afternoon. Most amazing of all, Lady Catherine de Bourgh has to leave home (Rosings Park, in Kent) before sunrise in order to arrive at Pemberley mid-morning. Wow. It would take me longer than that to drive from Kent to Derbyshire at 70mph with empty motorways so her horses and carriages must be true marvels. Perhaps it's mean of me to poke fun at these errors but they seriously detracted from the story to me - and they would be SO easy to check up on. Kent to Derbyshire is about 200 miles, and surely Berdoll could have found this out easily enough, had she bothered to look.

And now on to the sex scenes. Well, they weren't as `bad' as I had expected. Of course Jane Austen didn't write about this kind of thing, no doubt partly because she never married. But this side of the book, although maybe a little tacky, does give you the fun aspect of the book. You also learn an amazing amount of euphemisms for body parts and sexual acts, although I'm not entirely sure how useful this knowledge is.

Berdoll introduces many new characters and these are fairly well done. It's what she does with the characters we know and love that is disappointing. Their morals and behaviour aren't as I expected them to be, knowing how Jane Austen left the story. I won't write any more as it would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say the "Mr Darcy Takes A Wife" characters are more earthy and, dare I say it, 21st century, than Jane Austen's characters.

In conclusion, there is much about this book that is fun. There's also much about it that's surprisingly dark, and it is by no means a jolly read. People die, people's lives are blasted by circumstance, people's marriages have pain. It's worth a read, but in the knowledge that it's a very different story from Jane Austen's.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Sep 2009 17:32:54 BDT
PLR says:
I suspect I had more enjoyment from reading this review than I ever would from reading the book. Thank you.

I would love to hear what you think of the tv/film adaptations.

Posted on 5 Sep 2010 15:03:52 BDT
Annabella says:
I despise poorly-researched books - I mean to say when things don't fit with the era, or geographically, etc. (And out-of-place Americanisms are a bete noire to me). It's almost an accomplishment that she managed to fit so many different types of error into one publication! I did, however, enjoy your review immensely, so thank you for that!

Posted on 18 Jan 2011 04:24:32 GMT
I. Omenai says:
This review really has made my day! Pure comedy! I have literally been laughing out loud at almost every sentence!

Bloody Americans... with the easy access to internet etc we have today, really, a little research is not much to ask for.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Mar 2011 20:39:00 GMT
Helen Hancox says:
Well I love the BBC adaptation of P&P with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, of course. I didn't particularly like the film with Keira Knightley but that's because it was too short really and had to cut corners. The problem with the BBC P&P, just as with its Brideshead Revisited, is that nothing else afterwards ever really matches up. Rather like books following on from the classics, such as this one!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jun 2011 15:52:04 BDT
Barleygold says:
Hahaha! Agree agree! I'll give this book a miss for the sake of my blood pressure. Seriously considering setting up an editing service for American self-publishing P&P fans....

Posted on 6 Sep 2011 18:04:01 BDT
Laura says:
Elizabeth's full stop. Pah ha ha ha ha!

You need to write your own book.

Posted on 11 Sep 2011 05:17:47 BDT
JF says:
I agree with the previous comment urging 'Auntie Helen' to write a book.
I found Helen's review most entertaining and well written.
I too loath the creeping 'Americanisation' of our Lingua Franca.
Seething that despite my best efforts to re-set the dictionary my computer's spell check function wants me to put a bloody zeeee in Americanisation and doesn't recognise ------ now the mongrel machine wants me to put a zeeeee in recognise!' Lingua Franca .......Ahhhhhggggg.....

Posted on 1 Jan 2012 22:35:34 GMT
Hello there,

I would love to read a follow on to P&P. I see many books have been written but cannot really decide on one.
Could you please recommend one?
Thanks for your review it saved me from wasting my money!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2012 22:47:42 GMT
JF says:
Hello there,
I am afraid that I am yet to find a reasonable 'fan-fiction' continuation of any of Jane Austen's works.
Might I be so bold as to go completely off track and recommend that you read the Diana Gabaldon 'Outlander' series, starting with the first book called 'Outlander' in the U.S. and 'Cross Stitch' in the U.K and elsewhere.
If you are looking for intelligent, fastidiously researched, historic romance then you cannot better Diana Gabaldon's books. I never ever re-read but on finishing the series found myself picking up the first book to start all over again. They are compelling,compulsive reading.
Wishing you happy reading this holiday season,
Warmest regards
Janet
Brisbane
Australia

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2012 19:05:34 GMT
C. Hayer says:
I have recently read 'Darcy's Diary' which I really enjoyed (I ended up staying up until about 4 am - on a work night - reading it until I really HAD to put it down). It was well written and without any Americanisms in it and made me fall in love with Darcy even more than previously! Hope this helps.
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Location: Essex, England

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