Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris

This novel was a quick read. Were I without distractions, I most likely could have finished it in a day. However, those pesky students keep writing essays I assign, so I must pay them some attention.

Bebris has created a spot-on imitation of Jane Austen in this "sequel" to Pride and Prejudice. Caroline Bingley becomes engaged, and she seeks Elizabeth’s advice in planning her wedding. Elizabeth, somewhat miffed that Caroline’s wedding follows so closely upon her own, responds, “With your own taste to guide you, I am sure your celebration could derive no further benefit from my opinions” (19). Classic Austen with the drop of acid she so ably inserted in her prose.

Only occasionally does a modern anachronism pop into the story. The physical relationships are also quite more detailed than Austen gave us. The reader glimpses a private scene between Elizabeth and Darcy. One night, “Darcy rolled over and spooned against her” (123). Several of these tidbits made me smile.

Bebris also slips in quotes from several of Austen’s novels. My favorite comes from Sense and Sensibility. In Bebris, Mr. Gardiner (also a character in Pride and Prejudice) discusses the library of Pemberley, Darcy’s elegant home. “But the library of a great house can never have too many books” (29). What a wonderful sentiment! The Augustan view of Americans and the colonies also provides a good bit of humor.

I won’t give away any plot details, but I will say I found the path to the end disappointing. Elizabeth and several of the characters embrace some rather silly hocus-pocus to explain the mysterious goings on a Netherfield. Woven into this nonsense is a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation of greed and human nature.

The novel mostly has the feel of a lost work by Austen herself, but I doubt I will delve any further into the series. Apparently this is the first of three -- so far. Lovers of Austen will enjoy this story. Four Stars.

--Chiron, 4/2/10

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