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Like a fine wine, some things actually do improve with age! Now that Linda Berdoll has released the fourth book in her series of “ Pride & Prejudice” sequels, “ The Darcys: New Pleasures” I can happily add the Darcys’ marriage to this list as well!
When Austen scholar, Patricia Meyer Spacks spoke with Five Books about her love for “Pride and Prejudice,” she describes how the ending of this novel differs in one significant way from all of her other novels:
Pride and Prejudice is the only one – at the end of Pride and Prejudice, the author really thinks that her central characters are going to live happily ever after. It’s a wonderful ending.
At the end of Persuasion, which I was talking about as a love story, there is a happy marriage. But there is a reminder of the quick alarms of a sailor’s life that are before Anne, because she is married to a sailor. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with marrying a sailor, or the particular sailor she’s married to, but it is a reminder that she isn’t going to be nothing but happy. But at the end of Pride and Prejudice you can believe that they aren’t going to be anything but happy.
True to Professor Spacks’ assertions, in this new story that takes place twenty-five years into Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage, the couple certainly finds themselves still enjoying the fruits of their very happy union. It’s also all in the family included here in Linda Berdoll’s new book, where the couple who are now celebrating their silver anniversary also find themselves under the scrutiny of their very own three adolescent children. Yet, as much as the Darcys have come to know and love their own children, surprises are in store for them as the bonds of blood are put to the test. Thus, Darcy and Elizabeth truly find themselves in new and uncharted waters.
Middle age has certainly hit the Darcys and Linda pulls back the curtains on their lives as she takes us up and down the back stairs of Pemberley to get an up-close and personal look at how the master and mistress of Pemberley have fared as the parents of said adolescent children, who are also coming to terms with their own positions within the illustrious Darcy family. As they experience the growing pains of young adulthood, the younger Darcys also must learn who they can and can not trust to guide them through these turbulent times. It truly is no easy task!
The Darcy children also become increasingly curious about various events from their parents’ earlier years, including Darcy’s premarital affairs, and they must decide how to sort out their feelings regarding their parent’s past actions. Did their father truly “mingle” with a French courtesan, and did their dear, sweet mother actually face abandonment when their father left her all alone in her pregnant state, to search for their Aunt Georgiana, all the way over in war-torn France?
If there are any questions about whether or not the passionate existence between our beloved couple would fade into anything resembling the middle-age doldrums that so many married couples eventually face, then readers will enjoy discovering how the Darcys have maintained their deep affection for one another, even throughout this difficult period in their lives. Their physical intimacy is still a presence in this story, but I thought it was more subtle than in Linda’s first three books. The love and respect Darcy and Elizabeth have for one another serve as the bedrock of Pemberley, where Darcy and Elizabeth choose to spend most of their time with their family.
It should come as no great surprise that age has not diminished Darcy’s appeal to the opposite sex, and when Elizabeth faces a mysterious illness, it becomes apparent that there is at least one other female waiting in line to replace her if the need should truly arise. Troubles lurk throughout the story, mainly from those near and dear to the family, and the Darcys must decide which battles are worth fighting and which secrets are worth concealing. It’s a tangled web of mischief, mayhem, and a few well-crafted surprises that kept me happily turning pages until the very end of this book. I really enjoyed the new characters that Linda Berdoll created for this story, as well as the small appearances made by some of my old favorites.
I smiled, I laughed, I swooned… Thank you, Mrs. Berdoll, for taking the time to write a new book in this series, and even more for leaving plenty of doors wide open, for what I hope will be a fifth book in this series. Hopefully, we will get another glimpse into the Darcys’ marriage; perhaps next time as doting and somewhat flummoxed grandparents!
Linda Berdoll would like to offer one autographed paperback copy of her new book, The Darcys: New Pleasures, to one Just Jane 1813 reader with a U.S. mailing address. Please leave a comment on this post no later than midnight, ET on November 29th. The winner of this giveaway will be announced on this blog on November 30, 2016.
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