Friday, July 20, 2012

Austenesque Review

Austenesque Review

Presumption : An Entertainment by Julia Barrett (Julia Braun Kessler and Gabrielle Donnelly) -- Austenesque -- Sequel to Pride and Prejudice

It's been over a year since the happy events at the end of Pride and Prejudice and the Darcys and the Bingleys are enjoying married life in Derbyshire. Elizabeth largely ignores the gossip of the neighborhood and feels she can handle anything as long as her beloved husband is by her side. Georgiana delights in having a new sister to teach her levity and to guide her to womanhood. Mr. Darcy has hired a brilliant young architect, James Leigh-Cooper, to redevelop the landscape of Pemberley into a more natural setting. When Georgiana is finally ready to come out, her brother holds a magnificent ball where she attracts several admirers, including the gallant Captain Heywood. Then the Bennets descend on the Bingleys and Darcys with distressing news - Aunt Phillips has been arrested for allegedly stealing lace from a Meryton shop! This news fuels the local gossips with new reasons why Darcy should never have married anyone with such low connections. Holding firm to this belief as always is Lady Catherine, but there is another who will not accept Elizabeth, much to the dismay of Georgiana and her brother. Georgiana's godfather Sir Geoffrey Portland adheres to the strict preservation of rank and refuses to acknowledge Elizabeth. While Mr. Darcy heads off to London to deal with the law, he leaves Elizabeth and Georgiana behind in the capable hands of Mr. Leigh-Cook, a man Georgiana does not seem to get along with. Headstrong and romantic, Georgiana is furious over the latest slight to her beloved sister so she decides to champion the cause with her Aunt Catherine. The fact that Captain Heywood is also staying at Rosings can not but help influence her decision. Meanwhile Elizabeth is left alone to deal with the neighborhood gossip. Georgiana and Kitty Bennet learn to become adult women through their social interactions and discover that the path to true love is often the one least looked for. This book borrows heavily from the plot of Pride and Prejudice along with events from Jane Austen's own life to bring to life another chapter in the life of the beloved characters from Jane Austen's second novel. 

The authors try to capture Jane Austen's writing style and do a fairly good job of it though the style is not a good one for moving the plot forward. I found myself falling asleep in the middle of the book and having to reread passages because the language required close attention. (This does not happen when I read Jane Austen's original words). The plot is predictable right from the beginning. I judged which suitor was right for Georgiana from their first meeting. One of them I felt to be smarmy and he let off negative vibes that a silly teenage girl would not notice except that that teenage girl is Georgiana who has experience dealing with rogues. Therefore, I found the entire love story unconvincing. I also did not like how the character of Georgiana seems to have undergone a dramatic change. In two years she has gone from shy and demure to bold and outspoken. I found that change a bit too much to believe but it made her character more interesting. Lady Anne deBourgh has also changed from sickly to dutiful daughter and excellent rider with a quick temper. Elizabeth's character seems to have switched places with Georgiana and she turns into a watering pot for half the novel despite her determination to hold her head high in public. The other Bennet sisters have not changed a bit but there's a subplot about Kitty that is also hard to believe given what we're told in the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. The conclusion to Lydia's story also does not seem accurate. The biggest thing I disliked about this novel is that Lizzie and Darcy are hardy ever together. We're told of their love for each other but hardly get to see it. We're told a lot of things we don't get to see. This story possibly suffers from the dual author syndrome because the first quarter of it is pretty good but then the story becomes radically different from how it began. I would not recommend this book for Janeites but casual fans of Jane Austen movie adaptations and books might enjoy it.

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