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on 14 August 2007
It is a truth universally acknowledged that one of the most romantic stories of all times must be in want of a sequel. And so, Pride and Prejudice gains another completion, this time in the form of Pemberley Manor, by first time author, Kathryn Nelson. Unabashedly inspired by A&E's Miniseries, Pemberley Manor gives new life to familiar characters as they seek their individual Happily Ever Afters.

The story begins on "the day on which Mrs. Bennet got rid of her two most deserving daughters" and as one might expect from the title, follows the Darcy's as they adjust to married life and a deeper knowledge of each other. Other characters are portrayed in varying degrees of domesticity, including the Bingley's, both Charles and Jane as well as his sisters, Colonel Fitzwilliam and of course, Georgiana Darcy.

Jane Austen gives us only a glimpse into the future awaiting the new couples and Ms. Nelson expands on that theme with surprises at every turn. New and interesting characters are introduced even as Pemberley's ghosts begin to materialize.

Family history is revealed showing how Darcy, who claims to "have been a selfish being all [his] life, in practice, though not in principle" and "was taught what was right, but...not taught to correct [his] temper...was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit" came to be the man found at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice. These same family forces will not be easily erased. Elizabeth soon discovers that it will take all her love and a family tragedy to ultimately free him from this dark past.

As much as one would like to think of the senior Darcys as models of propriety and manner, Ms. Nelson chooses a path of more realism. Darcy's mother, the late Lady Anne, is not the shy retiring gentlewoman one might expect. She proves to be much more like her sister, Lady Catherine DuBourgh. She is a woman who married in haste only to repent at leisure. It is this personality which shaped Darcy's childhood, causing him to explain that as "an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own."

Throughout the book Darcy is shown as a man conflicted by his past prejudices and present happiness. As he comes to a better realization of the life his parents shared, he learns to cherish the fresh opportunities he has with Elizabeth at his side. Friends of his late father, the Alexanders, play a pivotal role in his new understanding, and a childhood mentor returns to Derbyshire with surprising revelations about Darcy's past.

This story is presented at times from Darcy's point of view and at others from Elizabeth's. The plot is well written and tightly knit, with loose ends being neatly tied up by the conclusion. The text is sprinkled with dialogue and while some readers may find it wordy, it is easy to imagine Elizabeth and Darcy settled into their life at Pemberley sharing just such conversations.

As Elizabeth adjusts to her new role as Darcy's wife, she must face the scrutiny of the neighborhood and the Darcy's lifelong friends. Enjoyable scenes play out as she develops her niche in society as the mistress of Pemberley.

Georgiana Darcy is given nearly as many pages as the happy couple, and her character is developed in a delightful way. Her new friendship with Elizabeth causes her once shy personality to bloom. Even as her new found self possession unfolds, a satisfying romance falls her way.

Perhaps the most interesting change of heart is given to Caroline Bingley who appears at first much as she did in the original. Her pride damaged by Mr. Darcy's abandonment of her expectations, she takes desperate measures to restore her self esteem. Through the ensuing events Charles Bingley is finally awakened to his responsibilities as brother and friend. Jane (Bennet) Bingley remains her sweet, uncomplicated self.

Not for the faint of heart, this sequel runs well over 400 pages and explores themes along a darker and more adult line than the original. Questions of Georgiana's parentage are brought to light and answered through a surprising plot twist. Scenes of marital felicity between Darcy and Elizabeth abound and are explored in a delicate and tasteful way. Sometimes heartbreaking and often humorous, the story will keep readers intrigued to the last, though the revelation of a main character's alternative lifestyle will shock most and offend many.
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on 27 March 2009
There are a great number of Pride & Prejudice sequels that have been published and they vary much in terms of quality. Fortunately Kathryn Nelson's 'Pemberley Manor' is one of the good ones, sympathetic to the writing style of Jane Austen, not changing any of the characters significantly and adding a few of her own characters to enliven the story.

'Pemberly Manor' begins the day of the double wedding between Lizzy and Darcy and Jane and Bingley. We follow Lizzy and Darcy's first months together as they learn about each other and as their different temperaments adjust to one another. The author writes with real affection for the characters, showing their love for each other on each page, and yet also giving them some privacy from the reader in terms of bedroom scenes (a welcome aspect of this book when I compare it with some of the others I have read which have detailed the sex lives of these much-loved literary creations; too much information for me!)

The central theme of this book is understanding why Darcy seemed so proud and unfriendly at Meryton when the servants at Pemberley described him so positively to Lizzy when she visited during P&P. Kathryn Nelson has looked to Darcy's parents for the explanation of this side of his nature and the book is a gradual unfurling of the history of the elder Mr Darcy and his wife and how their individual behaviour reflected on their son and, to some extent, on Georgiana. This theme was quite heavy throughout the book and it felt very much focused on Darcy rather than Elizabeth, although of course she is there throughout the pages. We are also reacquainted with Bingley, Jane, Caroline Bingley, Mr & Mrs Hurst and some Pemberley servants such as Mrs Reynolds. Some characters from P&P don't occur in this story, such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr Collins, and most of the people at Meryton are only mentioned briefly.

Although I enjoyed this book and felt that Kathryn Nelson's grasp of the language of Austen's book was good, there were a couple of things about 'Pemberley Manor' that didn't sit quite right with me. The first was the title - the author has affixed 'Manor' to the name Pemberley and refers to the house as the Manor in places in the text. The thing is, Manor isn't a common word for a country house in the UK, unless it is part of the house's official name (which it wasn't in this case, or in the case of another house which she also calls a Manor). The author's use of English was very good in this book but she did slip into a few Americanisms, such as using the verb 'quit' and having people 'visit' to mean 'converse with people', as well as referring to the third season as 'fall'. However there were fewer examples of these errors than usual in American-authored Regencies so I was impressed.

The other big issue with this book, for me, was its rather twentieth century habit of navel gazing, revisiting the past, trying to come to terms with events from one's childhood. Now I have no doubt that childhood events affected people's adult lives in the 19th century but somehow I couldn't quite believe that Darcy and Elizabeth would talk quite as they did to each other, particularly with regard to exploring Darcy's history and unfolding it slowly and, at times, in a rather irritatingly bitty manner. Darcy also seemed an exceptionally emotional man, regularly succumbing to tears, which didn't chime with my reading of his character from P&P.

The book was a very long read and seemed to try to work itself up to the big final scene but for this reader the pacing and scene building didn't really work, the major upheaval at the end felt a little flat, and the revelations about and reactions to events surrounding Darcy's parents' marriage seemed rather more modern than the time in which they were set. The author is good at crafting new scenes, showing the ways in which Darcy and Elizabeth interact with far more detail than Jane Austen gives, whilst still keeping from prying into the bedroom, but I felt that the book did drag in places and some aspects of the story were too simplistic.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
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on 21 April 2007
What a sumptuous book! I loved Ms Nelson's story of what happened to Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy after their marriage. The writing is witty and insightful and the seemingly effortless plot kept me guessing till the end. The characters we know so well are completely recognisable and believable, and the new ones just as entertaining. A real tribute to Jane Austen, a sequel to re-read and treasure. This is a lovely big read, I laughed and cried - a tale which will stay with me for a long time.
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on 11 April 2014
What a brilliantly written book. The characters and their interactions attest to the authors impeccable ability to continue the love story after the marriage. Nothing is left wanting in this version of events. I hope she has written more about the continuing love story and misunderstandings of the Darcy and Elizabeth.
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on 8 May 2009
What happens after the end of Pride and Prejudice? Will Elizabeth continue to have to deal with Darcy's reticence and lack of emotion? What on earth could have made him the way he is? The dark secrets of Darcy's childhood and his parents' marriage continue to overshadow the early days of their marriage, starting with their wedding night.

The arrival of Trevor Handley, a mysterious man out of Darcy's past, and the malicious animosity of Caroline Bingley, compound matters. Trevor had disappeared quite suddenly when Darcy was in his teens. They had been great friends, ever since Trevor had been taken in by Darcy's parents when his father died. Darcy could never understand why Trevor had left so suddenly and had never been in touch.

The true nature of Darcy's mother and her relationship with Trevor is hinted at, and Darcy's mistrust of that situation clouds his relationship with Elizabeth. Darcy's anger and resentment of his father was never settled before his death, and Darcy regrets it terribly. Finally he becomes friends with a man who was close to his father, Mr. Alexander, and this helps him come to a better understanding of his father and his torments. Caroline visits with Jane and Charles, and she decides to set into play events make the Darcys miserable, using suspicion and mistrust as her weapons. Will she succeed in driving a permanent wedge between Darcy and Elizabeth? Will Darcy ever overcome his feelings about his father and mother? Will Caroline ever be forgiven?

Nelson has created an excellent backstory for Darcy, and re-creates the feel of Jane Austen's witty dialogue and deep characters with great success. If you love Austen, you will most certainly love this story!

Armchair Interviews gives this book a "fun-read" label!
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on 14 January 2014
Not a good representation of the true characters that jane austen wrote both seemed to have taken on a new character with darcy particularly now having a teasing Sence of humour and Elizabeth showing anger she never showed in pride and prejudice if you have never read p&p then read this otherwise give it a miss you have been warned
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on 14 October 2013
Did not enjoy this book at all. I bought it as it had so many good reviews on Amazon but I found it very dull, too wordy and boring. The author could not even get Colonel Fitzwilliam's name correct - his name is Richard and not James!!! Come on this is basic. I did not recognise this Darcy at all - he was like a cross between Mr. Rochester and Heathcliffe - ended up skipping a few chapters but just found this overall to be extremely dull and boring.
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on 21 December 2012
This book follows on from the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy and shows how two very different personalities can come together as one! It is well written and also shows a bit of Darcy's history and that of his parents. Will the past overshadow the present and the future? Will the animosity of Caroline Bingley and her meddling cause irreparable problems for Elizabeth and Darcy? Well worth reading and highly recommended.
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on 20 April 2007
From beginning to end of this book I was rivetted. It held my interest throughout and found it very difficult to put down. Having not read any of Jane Austen's novels this has stimulated my intentions to do so.

I sincerely hope there is a sequel to Pemberley Manor.
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