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The Pemberley Platitudes
on 9 September 2008
Congratulations! I wouldn't have thought it possible to turn Elizabeth into a gently weeping heroine, whose main pasttime consists of giving moonstruck looks to Darcy and Darcy returning them! Evidently I was wrong in assuming that Jane Austen's characters couldn't be misread so far.
Of course, I have to admit to belonging to that despised group of people actually working with and interpreting literature and the implied author makes it more than clear that those are beneath her notice and that she intends simply to continue Austen's delightful work without any thoughts for critics - or indeed, Jane Austen's style of writing, which "She at no time presumes to imitate" (Vii) as indeed, she'd be completely incapable of, writing more in the vein of Danielle Steel or Rosamund Pilcher.
If you are looking for a travesty of the wit and irony we've grown accustomed to associating with Jane Austen and would prefer a wet time with dozens of handkerchiefs necessary to dry the rivers of tears, and enjoy a narrator, who is none too sure to which time she's supposed to belong and thus keeps changing without rhyme or reason, I'd advice you to go ahead and bury yourself in this work - preferrably with this work, for then I wouldn't have come across it and attempted to read it earlier on.
In this astonishing sequel female characters are transformed into astoundingly gentle weeping willows, ready to fall into their husbands' arms at the slightest provocation and frequently bereft of speech as far as expressing their love is concerned. One can't help wishing the narrator were as bereft of speech and thus stopped narrating and eulogising this fact, but maybe that is too much to hope for, given that Elizabeth is still decribed as sparkling and witty without giving one single amusing or ironic comment during the first ninety pages - after which I gave up in disgust and utter boredom.
However, Mr Bennet and Mr Darcy have certainly caught her affliction and prove unable to exercise their wit as well. Clearly, that has been drowned by the oceans of tears around them.
Finally, just to mention the language once more: Here at last the narrator proves to be true to herself, for she certainly manages to avoid even resembling Jane Austen's style and thus stays within her capabilities. This assures that the reader never once manages to forget that Collins' text was written in the twenty-first century and completely dispels even the tiniest attempt at losing oneself in the story.
Frankly, it's a waste of paper (if there were minus stars, I'd award them!) and if you'd like to read any sequels, I'd recommend the ironic tones of Julia Barrett's "Presumption" or the fascinating character studies of Elizabeth Newark's "The Darcys Give a Ball".