It’s the most heart-warming of love stories with a dazzling heroine and superb hero – is it any wonder we don’t want Pride and Prejudice to end? When Jane Austen in Emma describes a visit as perfect because it was a little too short, she could well have been opining on the optimum length of a novel. Plenty of attempts have been made to continue the tale of Elizabeth and Darcy but here are 2 offerings which take a fresh angle on what happened next.
1. Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens
Yes, you read that correctly. Lydia has been abducted by extraterrestrials, curious lights are hovering over Rosings and Charlotte has become a fan of Byron (and I don’t mean in the A-level set text sense). Aliens are taking over Regency England although it is debatable at times whether they would do a worse job than the locals. Demure this book ain’t but neither really was Austen. Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens was originally written as a blog serialisation which gives it an episodic quality. Allusions to Austen trivia and to sci-abound and there are perhaps a few too many in-jokes but this does not detract from the work as a whole.
It is difficult to believe that author Jonathan Pinnock’s first forays into the publishing world centred on software manuals but he went on to establish himself as an accomplished short story writer. Beneath the light surface of Mrs Darcy there is craftsmanship in holding together concurrent plotlines and in the pacing. The book does not take itself too seriously and that is the key to enjoying it. Purists may well be offended but, then again, purists usually are. For me, this is a sequel of some spunk and originality with a lot of chortling guaranteed.
2. Death Comes to Pemberley
P D James is over 90 and could well have laid down her pen with equanimity. Instead she promised us more. But cast aside her intuitive poet sleuth Adam Dalgliesh – now enter a rip-roaring world of crime and Austen. Wickham turns up on the scene again, there are various suitors for the hand of Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, and in the midst of this there is a mystery to be solved. In spite of the overlay of genteel manners and elaborate ways of speaking, there is sharpness and acidity to the prose. Baroness James has said this book is an indulgence. It is a rather good one.
p.s. P D James’ autobiography Time to Be in Earnest contains an in-depth discussion of Emma as a detective novel – v. good too.
Take heart, Hard Luxe Living