1.01.2010

Review: The Darcy Mysteries (Books 1-3), by Carrie Bebris

I've never really been one for Austen continuations. I read P+P+Zombies because I felt I must. And it's more of an alternate reality than continuation. I read Pamela Aidan's Mr. Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy because they were recommended to me and they are beautifully written and, again, they're of a parallel nature. I've been very stubborn about Austen continuations and Austen fanfiction. I've always been a purist when it comes to my Janeite membership.

But somehow or other I was led to read Carrie Bebris' Darcy mysteries. I believe the suggestion came through librarything.com. I figure a database that has all of the books I've read and what I think of them must have some good suggestions. Turns out, they were right. Unfortunately, I'm only 3 books-in. Ms. Bebris has created a fictional--though logical and realistic and very very appropriate--"ending" to Pride and Prejudice in the form of a series in which Mr. and Mrs. Darcy begin their new lives and (like many couples) experience bump after bump in their new road of life together. But their bumps, in Ms. Bebris' world, are extremely-well-researched mysteries in which the author has managed to pull the Darcys on a fine thread through all of Austen's novels.

The first of these is Pride and Prescience in which the couple is married, only to immediately have Caroline Bingley announce her immediate engagement and impending marriage to an American we have never heard of. And instead of a happy honeymoon, we get a dangerous and murderous mystery that ends up being much more interesting than the smut and fluff that so many other adapters have dragged Austen's characters through. And while the mysticism at the root of the events is a little lackluster, it's enough to make you want to read the next one. The second novel is Suspense and Sensibility which takes an even deeper turn into the darker realms. Now Ms. Bebris is on a roll.

She has literally steamrolled us into Sense and Sensibility but about 15 years later AND has expanded the original story's origins. In this story, the magic is darker and more volatile. This story is much more dangerous and as a result is much more interesting, especially because it expands the character of Kitty Bennett. While the first novel resisted expanding Caroline's character by subduing her through the magic, this one is more willing to take steps beyond the inspiring work and gives Kitty a chance to breathe.

 The third novel is North by Northanger in which our Darcys (now only months away from the birth of their first child) are tied into the story of Northanger Abbey. This one was interesting because there was no man-made magic. Most of the mysticism relies on religious faith and on the trust we place in love. It has its share of mystique, but this one was more predictable to me. I don't know if Ms. Bebris intended the dramatic irony, but I knew right away who the culprit moving things in the bedroom was. Not only that, but I was waiting and waiting and waiting to see who else would be in the novel besides Mr. Henry Tilney (we learn almost immediately that "Frederick" is not actually Frederick so I won't mask that from you). I thought surely that the imposters played as "Frederick" and "Dorothy" must have been in the Northanger story. I scoured my brain and, for the woman I could only come up with one answer. Hence, it was no surprise when Henry recognized her and her companion towards the end of the book. I wanted to love this book and, for all my love of old letters and gardening, I put up a good fight. But it was just a bit too predictable for my tastes. I will say, though, that making the mystery a bit more spiritual and more ABOUT Elizabeth's connection to that spirit did win me over.

Ms. Bebris has finished 2 other novels of the series - The Matter at Mansfield and The Intrigue at Highbury; the former is already out, though I don't have it yet, and the latter is due out in March. I only want for her to get around to adapting Persuasion to her scheme. And I only hope it doesn't involve Sir Walter--though his family ledger would make an interesting starting point. Hmm. Think it over, Ms. Bebris.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could download the 5 books as they're not and will not be available in my country...EVER

    that's what happens when ur 1st language is Spanish...

    ReplyDelete

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