Letters from Pemberley by Jane Dawkins
Publication Date: May 1st 2007
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In this continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the best-loved novels in the English language, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself in a very different league of wealth and privilege, now as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and mistress of Pemberley.
Writing to her sister, Jane, she confides her uncertainty and anxieties, and describes the everyday of her new life. Her first year at Pemberley is sometimes bewildering, but Lizzy's spirited sense of humor and satirical eye never desert her.
Incorporating Jane Austen's own words and characters from her other works, the book is a literary patchwork quilt piecing together the story of Lizzy's first eventful year as Mrs. Darcy.
I love Jane Austen in general and Pride and Prejudice in particular, so when I realized this was a continuation of Lizzy and Mr. Darcy’s lives together, I jumped on the chance to read it.
Letters from Pemberley follows Elizabeth Darcy’s first year at Pemberley after her marriage to Mr. Darcy in the form of 25 letters sent to her sister Jane. Elizabeth describes daily life at Pemberley, and the goings on in and around the surrounding area.
While I enjoyed spending time with one of my favorite characters again, I was somewhat disappointed with Ms. Dawkins’ characterization of Elizabeth. Although it’s been some time since I read the original P/P, I’m surprised at how different Lizzy seemed. Somewhat subdued and doubting her own self-confidence.
I don’t feel like I gained any additional knowledge of Mr. Darcy’s character, either. He was mentioned, obviously, but mostly in abstract terms. I think if Ms. Dawkins had included return letters from Jane and/or perhaps Lydia, this may have been a more rounded sequel.
That’s not to say, however, that I didn’t enjoy it. Ms. Dawkins very cleverly introduced us to characters from other Austen novels, disguised by name change only. I think her writing, although not Austen herself – as no one could be – came as close to an Austen work as possible. I was entertained and very glad to catch a glimpse of life at Pemberley.
Naturally true fans of Austen are going to be disappointed somewhat – I feel that’s inevitable when the novel in question is written by anyone but the original author – but I would still recommend this as a way to once again visit the characters we so came to love in Pride and Prejudice.
Overall it was a quick, light read, entertaining and enjoyable, if not quite Austen herself.
3.75 out of 5