12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Doesn't do justice to Austen's characters,
This review is from: Lady Catherine's Necklace (Hardcover)
Luckily, this book doesn't deal much at all with Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Concerned mostly with Anne DeBourgh, the book can pull off its association with the original novel, Pride and Prejudice, without risking mutinous readers. While calling such a book a Pride and Prejudice sequel may have contributed to a larger readership, I don't think it quite merits that status. Aiken changes the very personalities of many of Austen's characters, which to me suggests that she should have written the work as an 'alternative reading' to Austen's original work, and not a continuation. As a very avid Pride and Prejudice fan myself, I could not help being very disappointed in the novel, which at times smacked of a cheap dime-store mystery novel. That genre perhaps has its merits, but not as far as it concerns such an author as Jane Austen, part of whose charm is that she leaves much up to the reader's own imagination and intelligence. After finishing this book and others of hers, I had to give thanks that Aiken had not taken on the greater task of portraying Elizabeth Bennet, for undoubtedly a perusal of such a book would have been unsatisfactory verging on the point of painful.
That being said, part of the merit of this book, from a standpoint less involved with the characters as Austen wrote them, is that it *does* address all the many social issues that Austen leaves out. Whereas Austen tends to give very little character to servants (they hardly ever speak), and she next to never mentions members of the poor social classes, Aiken makes them a pivotal part of this and other of her books. She also deals more with issues of feminism, pain, death, sexuality and dishonesty. Her endings (without giving anything away) tend to be distinctly un-Austen, something which might be more interesting if they weren't abrupt, very unbelievable, and largely unexplained and without preparation or build up. Whenever I read them I feel like Aiken has all of a sudden realized that it is time to end the book, and done it in such a way that it feel like a surprise ending without those subtle clues embedded in the rest of the text that make the reader marvel that they didn't pick up on it before.
All in all, on its own it is an interesting and relatively entertaining read, but if you are an Austen fan, beware that you may be unable to read the book through without feeling a certain amount of indignation for Aiken's treatment of some of your beloved characters.
Other books by Aiken (loosely) based on Austen novels include Eliza's Daughter (Sense And Sensibility), The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (S & S), and the Youngest Miss Ward (Mansfield Park).