Wendy Lynn Brion's Reviews > Mr. Darcy's Decision: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Darcy's Decision by Juliette Shapiro
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May 30, 12

Read from May 24 to 28, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Run! Run away before you read this book!

At the back of the book we get a brief biography of Juliette Shapiro which says she is both a published author and someone who loves Jane Austen and regularly re-reads Pride and Prejudice. This does not qualify one to write a sequel.

I don't think we're dealing with an author who has studied Jane Austen or the Georgian period much at all. I think she's read Pride and Prejudice a few times and watched the BBC version and decided, "Hey, I'm going to write a sequel!" I've read other sequels and this one falls well short.

First, It took us several chapters to get around to finding a plot. Shapiro is so enamored with writing scenes for her favorite characters she forgets she's supposed to tell a story. Even when Lydia's crisis hits, it's almost an afterthought.

Secondly, the dialogue is stilted and unnatural. There's no flow to it. Shapiro is trying so hard to mimic Austen's style that she completely misuses the language of the time. Every so often she almost gets it, but no quite. Idioms are misused, phrasing is wrong, and she tries to quote Pride and Prejudice and make it sound like natural discourse. She fails. The characters sound like puppets and all the humor and wit is completely lost.

The characters are all wrong as well. Mr. Bennett is less sarcastic and more henpecked (if he really protested Mrs. Bennett's "solution to Lydia's situation, he wouldn't have written the letter, for example). Mrs. Bennett is more coniving and less hysterical. She has Mr. and Mrs. Bennett traveling to the Lakes, which I can't imagine they would ever do for any reason. Lady Catherine isn't as shrewd, she's just grumpy. Sir William, who loved his new son-in-law in P&P, suddenly can't stand him. The Gardiners now live at Pemberly (I guess running his business is less important than fishing). The only person who seems the same is Jane...but she probably wasn't a hard character to write to begin with.

I don't think she has any idea of Georgian/Victorian etiquette. The most glaring example was of the suitors of the various young women in the story writing to them before the engagement. This simply would not have happened...you didn't write to or receive letters from a young man unless his intentions are clear...that he is going to or has proposed. Yet it happens three times.

Then there is her tossing out the last chapter of the book and writing her own ending. Apparently Jane Austen didn't know what she was doing and Shapiro decided to "fix" it. As a result, although Austen makes it clear that Wickham was never welcome at Pemberly, he is not only invited, but given a home on the estate! Also, at the end of P&P we are told that Elizabeth and Jane work together to keep contact between Kitty and Lydia to a minimum, but here we have Kitty spending an extraordinary amount of time with Lydia...and Georgiana too (and I would think Lizzy would not want her sister-in-law in close proximity to Lydia for any length of time.) We also learn that, instead of becoming her mother's companion after the other girls are gone, Mary becomes the companion of Anne DeBourgh until she makes Lady Catherine angry.

Over all, I think Shaprio was writing what she wantted the characters to be, not who they actually are. She's also basing her sequel on both the book and the BBC movie. She needed to pick one or the other because as a result she has several inconsistencies...Mr. Bennett either does know or doesn't know how Darcy helped Lydia...you can't have it both ways.

Avoid this book at all costs. There are better sequels out there.
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