Meredith's Reviews > A Pemberley Medley

A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds
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's review
May 27, 2012

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bookshelves: austen-esque, 2012, brits, historical-fiction, romance
Read from April 18 to 21, 2012

Originally published on The Librarian Next Door:

There is, perhaps, no other literary couple who has managed to capture readers’ hearts and minds the way Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy have. No matter how many new versions of the same story surface, readers everywhere are eager for more – more of Elizabeth’s witty teasing, more of Mr. Darcy’s stoic romanticism, more more more! Author Abigail Reynolds is one of the more prolific writers in the Austen “sequel” world. She has had several retellings of Pride and Prejudice published (and I myself have read nearly all of them). Among those retellings is A Pemberley Medley, a series of five short stories featuring the best loved Lizzie and Darcy.

Having literally devoured several of Reynolds’ other interpretations on Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship, I was interested to see what she could do with a shorter format and less time. Could she still capture the feeling of Elizabeth and Darcy? Would their eventual happy ending still feel as satisfying? The short answer is yes, for the most part. A Pemberley Medley includes five different short stories, each reworking a part of Pride and Prejudice in its own way.

“Reason’s Rule” is actually an alternative ending to Reynolds’ own alternative version of Lizzie and Darcy’s story. Though Impulse and Initiative (also known as To Conquer Mr. Darcy) has it’s own plot, Reynolds still liked the ending she ultimately passed on. From that comes “Reason’s Rule,” in which Lydia’s ill-fated elopement with Wickham comes after Elizabeth is engaged to Mr. Darcy. Though Elizabeth tries to shield Darcy from the coming scandal, Darcy takes matters into his own hands. I particularly liked the banter between Darcy and Mr. Bennett; though he probably deserves some of the criticism he receives, I’ve always liked Mr. Bennett’s wit (where else could Lizzie get it from, after all?).

My favorite story was “Intermezzo,” which finds Elizabeth and Darcy unexpectedly seated next to each other at Jane and Bingley’s wedding breakfast. In this version, they had not encountered each other at Pemberley, leaving them with no chance to clear the air after Darcy’s disastrous first proposal and his letter revealing Wickham’s dastardly deeds. Needless the say, the wedding breakfast is a bit awkward, as both Lizzie and Darcy make assumptions about the other based solely on body language and try to fumble their way towards a reconciliation. I especially liked how Reynolds has Georgiana take an active role in this story, doing her best to find the woman who has made her brother unrecognizable.

The other three stories are equally enjoyable, some straying further from Austen than others. All five stories, however, show a love and respect for Elizabeth and Darcy that I’ve come to admire in Abigail Reynolds’ novels. She clearly knows Pride and Prejudice inside and out and it shows in her writing, as her Lizzie and Darcy feel very much like Austen’s Lizzie and Darcy (with the added bonus of some fun sexy times!). Quickly finished and easily read, A Pemberley Medley is the perfect Austen-inspired book for a rainy day.

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