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review 2018-02-23 14:57
A joy of a novel recommended to fans of Pride and Prejudice. Excellent for book clubs.
The Elizabeth Papers - Jenetta James,Christina Boyd,Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou

I was introduced to the work of this author via a collection of stories called Dangerous to Know: Janes Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues Ed. by Christina Boyd, which I loved, and had also read a number of reviews of this novel, as it had won the Rosie’s Book Team Review award for historical fiction 2016, and I am a member of the group but hadn’t read it at the time. When the editor of the collection offered to put me in touch with some of the authors featured, I jumped at the opportunity and was lucky enough that Ms. James offered me an ARC copy of her book.

I’ve seen this book defined as a ‘sequel’ of Pride and Prejudice, and I guess in some way it is, as it follows on from the events on that novel, and we get to revisit quite a few of the characters in the previous one (especially Elizabeth Darcy, née Bennett, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and their family, although also Elizabeth’s sisters, mother, and Darcy’s sister Georgiana, and his friends and relatives). The story goes beyond that, moving across several generations, and the storyline is divided into two timelines, one in the Regency period (in the 1820s) and one much more recent, 2014. In the present time, we meet Evie, a young painter preparing her first exhibition and coping as best she can with a tragic family situation, and Charlie, a private detective, handsome, charming (yes, he would have fitted into the role of a rogue if he was a character in the other timeframe), and unencumbered by concerns about morality, who is asked to dig into a possible irregularity in the terms of a trust fund set up a couple of centuries ago. The case sounds like a wild-goose chase, but Charlie is intrigued, at first by the case, and later by Evie.

The author alternates chapters that share Elizabeth’s diary, written in the first person (and some of Darcy’s ‘official’ letters), with chapters set up in the present, from Evie’s and Charlie’s points of view, but written in the third person (there are some later chapters from other minor character’s point of view, that help round the story up and give us a larger perspective). This works well because readers of Pride and Prejudice (and, in my case, it’s my favourite Jane Austen’s novel) will already be familiar with the characters and will jump right into the thoughts and feelings of Elizabeth. I felt as if I had stepped back into the story, and although the events are new (as they happen after the couple has been married for a few years); I felt they fitted in perfectly with the rest of the narrative, and the characters were consistent and totally believable. Yes, they love each other. Yes, Darcy is still proud and headstrong at times. Elizabeth is aware of her family’s shortcomings and wonders at times why her husband puts up with her relations. She also doubts herself and can be annoyed at what she perceives as Darcy’s lack of communication. With all their humanity and their imperfections, they feel so true to the characters Austen created that they could have come out of her pen.

The modern part of the story provides a good reflection on how things have changed for the family, the house, and society in general. It also allows us to think about family, legacy, and heritage. How many family secrets have been buried over the years! While the characters have only a few traces and clues to follow, the readers have the advantage of accessing Elizabeth’s diary, but the truth is not revealed until very late in the novel (although I suspect most of us would have guessed, at least the nature of the truth, if not the details), and however convinced we might be that we are right, can one ever be sure about the past?

The writing is perfectly adapted to the style of the era, not jarring at all, and the historical detail of the period is well observed and seamlessly incorporated into the story (rather than shoehorned in to show the extent of the author’s research). The author’s observational skills are also put to great use in the modern story, and create a vivid and vibrant cast and background for the events. The pace and rhythm of the novel alternate between the contemplative moments of the characters, in the past and the present (emotions run high and characters question their behaviour and feelings), and the excitement of the search for clues and the discovery of new documents and evidence. The settings are brought to life by the author, and I particularly enjoyed visiting London with the modern day characters. Although there are love and romance, there are no explicit sex scenes, and, in my opinion, the book is all the better for it.

A couple of lines I highlighted:

To know him so well and still to be touched by him in darkness and light is surely the greatest fortune of all.

While fans of Austen will, no doubt, enjoy the parts set in the XIX century, the modern section of the novel is an attractive mystery/romance in its own right. I am not a big fan of love-at-first-sight stories, and I must warn you that there is some of that here, at least for Charlie, who is mesmerised by Edie from the very first time he meets her, but he does not have the same effect on her. In fact, he has information about her already (it is not a situation of love is blind), and he is taken by surprise as she is not what he expected. As we learn more about both of their stories, it is easy to see why he would feel attracted to her and her circumstances, as they are quite similar to his own. He was pushed into a business of dubious morality to help his family, and she has also had to cope with family tragedy, but in her case, she had the advantage of the Darcy Trust Fund. They are not copycats of Darcy and Elizabeth, but they complement each other well and bring out the best in each other. The rest of the characters in the modern era don’t play big roles but they are endowed with individual touches that make them relatable and distinctive.

The ending is left to the observation of one of the minor characters, allowing for readers to use their imagination rather than elaborate the point.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel that is beautifully written, with compelling characters (I fell in love with Elizabeth and Darcy once again) and a joy for any of Austen’s fans. I don’t think it is necessary to be a connoisseur of Pride and Prejudice to enjoy this novel (as most people are bound to have seen, at least, an adaptation of the story, and there are references to the main plot points scattered throughout the book) but my guess is that many people who read it will go back and read Austen again. And will look forward to more of James’s books. I surely will.

(Ah, the book has a series of questions and answers at the end that makes it an eminently suitable read for book clubs).

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review 2018-01-28 17:44
Review of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen,Anna Quindlen

I can't believe it took my until age 39 to read my first Jane Austen.  I enjoyed the read even though it wasn't exactly in my wheelhouse for books I usually enjoy.  There is literally no plot outside of who is going to marry and fall in love with whom, but the story was a fascinating look into upper-middle class Victorian England.  I can see why Austen is so popular as a writer.

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review 2017-12-06 23:38
A joy to read despite the shortcomings
Only Mr. Darcy Will Do - Kara Louise

I’m such a sucker for these kinds of books featuring Pride and Prejudice. There are so many different types of retellings and most of them are good. This one has its moments and it was enjoyable to read.


So in this twist, our beloved Mr Bennet dies prematurely and Elizabeth becomes a governess. This was rather interesting, and it does suit Elizabeth rather well - although back then in the day it’s a drop in the society ladder and everyone she knows makes sure she knows it.


So she meets Rosalyn which I thought at first, was an ideal friend for our dear Lizzie. She’s a bit  vapid and valley girl type of character. Especially when Mr Darcy is around (can’t blame her, we all love Mr Darcy) but it’s almost to the point where she’s annoying about it.  It’s not until the latter half of the novel where Rosalyn does a complete 360 and she becomes a pretty awful person (including her mother).


The plot in this one tries to stay within the main one we’re all familiar with it just diverts the path a bit and comes back to full circle. Which is nice as it tries to stay true to the original story at the same time you just get a different “what if” scenario to enjoy reading. I’d have to say I enjoy reading Hamilton (another cousin of Darcy’s) playing along with Elizabeth. It was playful banter and he sounded like the type of rogue we all love to read and fall for (albeit, foolishly). It was a bit hard to get into at first but it’s worth going through to the end as once Rosalyn does her 360 turn, everything becomes much more interesting.


The only thing I did not enjoy reading is towards the end Darcy does something completely out of character and it just did not sit well with me. He’s not the type to be outspoken even when it comes to be madly in love. Don’t make him something he’s not. It nearly ruined the entire book as it was doing so well staying close to the true nature of the characters only to have him do something he wouldn’t EVER do (nor can you picture him doing so).


Also, the ending just dragged too much for me. We get it. We all know what’s going to happen. We all know what did happen. There’s no need for extra fodder in the last few chapters of the book. It could have just ended with the proposal or wedding and done. Perhaps the last few chapters could have been made into an entirely new idea for another book to be made. It was just so unnecessary.


Overall, it was a good read for those that love Pride and Prejudice “what if” scenarios and fans. I enjoyed it despite those changes in characters that nearly caused me to grind my teeth and yelling out certain expletives.

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review 2017-10-19 03:55
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa de la Cruz

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.


Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is a festive retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.


The book starts with Darcy Fitzwilliam returning to Pemberley, Ohio because her mother has had a heart attack.  Eight years earlier, Darcy had a furious row with her father because she did not want to marry her boyfriend Carl who came from a well connected family in Pemberley.  When her father threatened to stop financially supporting her she fled to New York.  Darcy is now a partner in a hedge fund and is the third wealthiest woman under 29 in New York.


Her mother is recovering well from her heart attack and insists they should still hold their annual Christmas party.  At the party she is reunited with her best friend from high school Bingkey Charles who now lives in LA.  She gets very drunk with Bingley at the party and she meets her neighbour Luke Bennett.  At school she hated Luke and he thought she was selfish and entitled, as they start trading insults under the mistletoe he kisses her passionately.  Darcy is shocked because she felt sparks.  Luke is a simple carpenter happy with his lot in Pemberley, how can she be with a man like that?


In my twenties I only read chic lit books.  Now I am older I read psychological thrillers mainly but I still read Marian Keyes, Katie Fforde and Holly Martin . However I love Christmas and I enjoy festive romcoms this time of year.


This was not a bad book, however I thought the plot was unsophisticated and lacked any humour.  The explanation for Darcy becoming estranged from her whole family in the first place was ridiculous.  I could understand why she wanted a career before marriage but why did she allow herself to be cut off from her family for 8 years. Also Darcy was supposed to be a successful 29 year old million heiress but I found her immature and tempestuous. I think this booked is aimed more for teenagers then adults 




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review 2017-10-12 21:28
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa de la Cruz

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

Author:  Melissa de la Cruz

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Four



"Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe" by Melissa de la Cruz


My Thoughts...


If you are looking for a 'feel good' quick read for the holiday you may like this one by this author focusing on Darcy Fitzwilliam and Luke Bennet.  We find that a lots will happen as Darcy returns home for the holiday after her mother has had a heart attack.  Darcy was quite a successful woman however she also had a life that was full of insecurities.  I enjoyed how this author was able to deliver a modernized retelling of 'Pride and Prejudice' and let's not leave out the Mistletoe where there will be a 'complete flip of characters.'  What will happen when one of the richest women who doesn't have time for nothing but work...comes home after been gone for eight years, having to deal with her strained relationship with her father, mother's illness and having to attend her parents's yearly Christmas party? Will a lots of the events that take place in this story set off some events from the past that seem to collide with Darcy's future? What will happen when Darcy meets up with Luke Bennet...the carpenter?  What happens when Darcy begins to think that maybe living the simple life would be better than the one she now has?  Now to get all of these questions answered and so much more you will have to pick up this novel [Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe] and understand that its a spin off/flip of the original 'Pride and Prejudice,' a Jane Austen Classic however, this will be a quite a different story that is full of  twist and turns, 'lightheartedness, self discovery and second chances.'




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