Diane Wilkes's Reviews > Pemberley Ranch

Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell
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Sep 06, 2011

it was ok
Read from August 31 to September 06, 2011

This is definitely a twist when it comes to the Austen fan fiction genre. Wild West Austen sounded too kicky for me to miss, so I picked up PEMBERLEY RANCH and read it to the end, despite wanting to put it down fairly early on.

As opposed to Austen's bit of ivory, Caldwell has chosen a wide swath, combining civil war and post-civil war history with a retelling of the classic PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. While the first is probably done well (I'm no expert in the field), the second is wide of the mark. VERY wide of the mark.

The writing is as broad as Austen's literary pointillism is refined; some of Caldwell's sentences made me positively squirm. If he had approached the book as camp, it might have succeeded, but he seems to take the story seriously. It is impossible for this gentle reader to do so.

"Will" Darcy is Texan rancher who fought on the side of the Confederacy who--wait for it--is also Catholic and partially of Indian and Spanish descent. "Beth" Bennet is originally from Ohio, and, since her brother died fighting for the Northern side, is stuck inside of Texas with the Yankee blues again.

When I think of how Jane Austen would blanch at her Lizzy converting to Catholicism without a second's thought in order to make her husband happy...I can't go on. I seriously think she'd feel more comfortable if Lydia was turned into a sex slave.

Which, in this book, she is--though her name has been changed to Lily.

I think this book could have been a lot of fun. Sadly, it is tedious.
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