I’ve finally finished reading ‘Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife’ by Linda Berdoll, the next work on the Pride & Prejudice list I made ages ago ;). It’s been a while since my last post, so quite a lot has happened in the meantime: I’ve finished the first year of my master’s program (only 3 more courses to go and then it’s off to my internship!), and the holidays were nice. I visited Austria with a friend of mine and her parents; we hiked through the Alps, which was pretty epic!
Also, reading the novel I will be reviewing in this post has taken me some time, since I’ve been busy rereading The Lord of the Rings as well as the Harry Potter series! And oh, how I’ve missed reading Harry Potter 😀 In fact, the fangirl in me has been awakened quite a bit and I’ve taken my old Harry Potter action figures out again and put them up in my new room in Maastricht (yes, I’ve moved, again). If you haven’t done so yet: check out Pottermore, a website by JK Rowling, including exclusive bits of background information on the books! And for those who are feeling a bit too intellectual for Harry Potter, HERE‘s proof that academics, politics, and Harry Potter can mix pretty well. 😉
So, I’ve been reading ‘Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife’ by Linda Berdoll, which I can heartily recommend, since even if it doesn’t have the most revolutionary plot ever, it is the funniest and sauciest Pride & Prejudice sequel I have read so far :D. In short, the book is about life after Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage and all the (often sexual) adventures they get up to in the following years.
This book was originally published in 1999, called ‘The Bar Sinister’ and then republished in 2006 as ‘Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife’. I have to say that the reviews I’ve read about this novel so far, are either fierily positive or unforgivingly negative. As they say, it is something you either love or hate. Generally, Austen traditionalists (‘purists’ as they are often called) tend to hate this sort of novel, because it is seen as perverse.
This novel is especially funny because of the language used. The author writes in an extremely pompous way, and I’m not sure whether it’s an attempt to imitate Austen’s writing or to parody it. Either way, it’s hilarious and remains funny throughout the book. Furthermore, the novel is sexual, very sexual. This is also pretty amusing, and I imagine it would satisfy the average reader of erotic fanfiction. After all, who doesn’t want to know how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth get on after marriage, as Pride & Prejudice itself is frustratingly sexless. (I’ve read in a Goodreads review that Charlotte Brontë said of this that “Austen can’t write past the wedding, because she herself knew nothing about the physical pleasure that comes after.”) SPOILER: Elizabeth and Darcy’s sex life is obviously fantastic, while Jane’s and Bingley’s really sucks. Isn’t that funny, but kind of not surprising at all? 😛
I really appreciate the liberty the author took with the plot. Again, I don’t know whether this was consciously done as a parody, or if the author genuinely tried to write something similar to Austen’s work. In any case, many new characters and situations are introduced. Berdoll, like many authors I’ve reviewed here before, took the obvious step to also include relevant historical events, mainly the Napoleonic Wars in this case. I always like it when authors of sequels do this, because it adds context to the original work. Berdoll also chose to go the Downton Abbey way, and included perspectives from servants in the Pemberley household. The inclusion of many storylines and characters sort of hides the fact that the main storyline isn’t very well thought through, but even so, it is entertaining to read. And I have to admit that the descriptions of the original characters’ thoughts and behavior are actually quite in line with what we already know from them: Berdoll managed to capture the essence of the original characters better than most of the sequels I’ve reviewed so far, even if the novel reads like a parody.
So, basically, this is not a good novel as such, but it IS great fanfiction. In a review on Goodreads somebody described this book as the equivalent of the ‘The Tudors’ tv series, while the original Austen novel is equivalent to Shakespeare’s account of Tudor England. I think this is a pretty good comparison, since there is a place and time for both types of interpretations. I mean, even if ‘The Tudors’ is pretty cheesy and historically inaccurate, it’s still incredibly entertaining. Most importantly, this novel should NOT be taken too seriously ;).
For more info, see Austenprose’s review.
1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813)
2. Mr. Darcy’s Daughters, by Elizabeth Aston (2003)
3. Darcy’s Story, by Janet Aylmer (1996)
4. Mr Darcy’s Diary, by Amanda Grange (2006)
5. Pride and Prejudice BBC/PBS miniseries (1980)
6. Presumption: An Entertainment: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, by Julia Barrett (1995)
7. Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, by Diana Birchall (2004)
8. Pride and Prejudice A&E/BBC miniseries (1995)
9. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, by Linda Berdoll (2004)
10. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, by Abigail Reynolds (2010)
11. Pride & Prejudice Universal Studios film (2005)
12. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, by Beth Pattillo (2010)
On another note, I made myself the desktop wallpaper shown below, using this amazing picture series called ‘Dancers Among Us’ by photographer Jordan Matter, which are basically many depictions of people dancing in everyday situations and which I think is AWESOME :D.
And before I leave you alone, check out this amazing excerpt from an old film about music: