Wednesday, January 13, 2010



Abigail Reynolds

Historical Fiction
Sourcebooks, 2010

What if the most famous proposal rejection in literary history had been accepted?

Title: Excellent. Iconic hero name + instantly recognizable quote fragment = win.
Art: Semi-headless man looking neckless as well due to period fashion, wearing muddy-colored clothing, slouched posture in contrast to usual bearing of hero, Bonapartesque right hand placement. The only nice touch - watch fob showing heroine's portrait - undone by odd placement. This book deserved better.

What Works
The wave of stories using Austen as a springboard is gaining momentum. There is now a Jane-homage in almost any shape the reader may desire: time travel, newly discovered relatives, sleuthing, jaunts to other continents, espionage, paranormal. This story stayed more true to the original novel, imagining how drastically (or not?) a different decision would have altered the course of events and ultimate ending for the familiar group of characters.

It was an entertaining ride. The author is highly skilled at using the language and evoking the atmosphere of the original works, so that Apprentice Writer never once felt jolted by an anachronistic-sounding word or modern-feeling situation. AW was also intrigued by how the author would deal with some key moments, and pleased at how the previous actions were changed but in a way that felt satisfying and genuine for the characters. An encounter with ever-exasperating Lydia and reliably villainous Wickham was especially cathartic.

In the original, Pemberly seems like a mirage, too good to be true. It was nice to get to know that setting, and also to see more of the easy, loving relationship between Darcy and his sister. But most of all, it was wonderful to delve deeper into Darcy's character, and realize all over again what an unparalleled heroic figure he makes.

What Doesn't


After her arrival at Pemberly, Elizabeth spends almost all her time on the estate, with only Darcy, the servants, and later her sister-in-law for company. We already know that there is tension between the spouses, the sisters-in-law are more or less strangers to each other, and the servants don't count due to difference in social station, nor visits with tenant families for the same reason. There are no descriptions of trips to the local village, visits at neighboring homes, gatherings, or entertaining anyone beyond a brief stopover by her aunt and uncle. The story takes place with Elizabeth in virtual social isolation.

It wasn't hard to imagine possible writerly reasons: using limited wordcount for primary story, increasing tenstion between spouses to enhance the emotion, the logic of life on Pemberly being on a very different social level from her accustomed environment where she'd known everyone nearby all her life and participated in all sorts of gatherings. But even theouh Elizabeth's much more solitary state made sense in a way, it was strange that she herself didn't seem to recognize the effect this had on her. Also, part of the fun of Austenworld is how the characters bounce off each other and their unique conversations and interpretations of each other's behavior. To have the story remain so heavily concentrated on Elizabeth and Darcy alone made the story not seem quite as well-rounded as this reader would have preferred. Perhaps the next volume from this author will reflect social aspects of Austenworld more.


A lovely visit back to the world of P & P, where hero and heroine still push themselves and each other to figure out what pride and prejudice mean. This is a story to make any reader who ever loved Darcy love him even more.

Do you like Austen-inspired novels? Prefer the original? Think Apprentice Writer has no clue about art?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this story from the publisher,
and come back tomorrow for chat with the author
and a chance to win another copy!

The Fine Print:
1. US and Canada only, no P.O. Boxes please.
2. Leave a way to get in touch if your name does not link to a site.
3. Contest closes 21 January 2010.



Unknown said...

I never read Pride and Prejudice, but I certainly enjoyed PP&Z. I like these "classic mash-ups" and toyed with the idea of writing my own.

Great post!
~ Gina

mary sullivan said...

This was my first time visiting Apprentice Writer. What a great blog site--very interesting.

I have to agree that one of the draws of Austen's writing is always her great cast of characters, their dialogue and how they inter-relate. It would be a shame to see that diminished.

However, every young bride at that time left her home behind and joined her husband on his estate (if he had one). I would hope that our heroine's life would be every bit as full as the one she left behind.

Great concept, though. I would love to see how their relationship developed after marriage.


M. said...

@ storm - hello!
now i'm dying of curiosity about the concept you thought of writing. will you share? or is it too hush-hush?

M. said...

@ msullivan - welcome to AW, mary! you are right, pointing out it was something of a rite of passage for young brides of that time and era to leave home to go prove their mettle in their new husband's home. good thing lizzie has a whole lot of mettle!

Curling up by the Fire said...

I love anything to do with Pride and Prejudice and I have enjoyed a lot of the modern takes on this novel. It certainly has been interesting and fun.

This was my first time visiting Apprentice Writer and I will be back to explore it more fully when I have more time. It is interesting!

Unknown said...

@ storm - hello!
now i'm dying of curiosity about the concept you thought of writing. will you share? or is it too hush-hush?

I'm not sure if Blogger has a reply feature (I'm a livejournal gal) but anyway. I won't post My Brilliant Idea(tm) to a public venue in case I do decide to write it, but I will tell you next time I see you. ;-D

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I just love reading any Jane Austen sequel, prequel or other re-imagining, and this one certain sounds quite interesting to check out! :)

Lois, who forgot the email address earlier ;)

mindy said...

i just love reading these type of books thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

Jennifer said...

I absolutely love anything that has to do with Pride & Prejudice! This book looks great, thanks for the giveaway!


M. said...

@Stephanie - glad to see you here. which Austen recreations have you liked best?

M. said...

@Lois & @Mindy - hello! welcome to AW. glad you stopped by.

M. said...

@Jennifer - which movie adaptation did you like best?

Darlene said...

No need to enter me. Just popping by to say I have this entered at Win a Book for you.

jemscout425 said...

for anyone who loves pride and prejudice (& i am 1 of them) probably has daydreamed their future together. i'm eager to learn where the author has taken them

distractedmusician said...

I loved Pride and Prejudice, however I also love to read some of modern takes on the novel.

Really looking forward to this one - great review! I would love to win a copy =]

alannakurt at gmail dot com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I do "prefer" the original Austen novels, but I think the spin-offs are a lot of fun! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this one.

geebee.reads AT gmail dot com

Julie S said...

Sounds like an interesting story. Count me in on the giveaway. juliecookies(at)

Bcteagirl said...

I am going to star reading some spin-off books at the same time as the original! I think this book sounds like fun :)

M. said...

@ everyone who stopped by to comment:

thanks for sharing your views!

I loved Bcteagirl's idea of reading spin-offs concurrently with the original. Let us know what you think!

LittleEagle said...

It has been some time since I read P&P however I am intrigued to read this book. sharonaquilino at hotmail dot com

Denny, Alaska said...

Thank you for the opportunity to win this book!


Sue said...

I love all things Austen. Movies, books, spin-offs. Love 'em! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Aimee said...

I've loved all of the Austin books I've read; I think they are wonderful books. However, I've yet to read anything Austin-inspired.
This is my first time on Aprentice Writer & now I'm off to sign up for your RSS feed. Thanks!


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