Daily Archives: October 7, 2008

Review: Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride

Author: Helen Halstead
Title: Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

Publisher: Ulysses Press
Media type: Trade paperback, 320 pages
Release date: March 23, 2007
Reading period: September 2008
ISBN-10: 1569755884
ISBN-13: 978-1569755884
Category: Adult historical literature

[NOTE: This book has been previously self-published and then published by Random House Australia as A Private Performance.]

Everyone knows that when a book ends, it ends. Especially a classic novel such as Pride & Prejudice.

Well, there are slews of authors and readers who crave reading more about Darcy and Elizabeth, and go on to write or read various imaginings of What Happens Next. I’ve read some tolerable published sequels, put others down after a few chapters due to boredom or disgust, and have deliberately avoided yet others. And then there is Helen Halstead’s Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

To sum it up and give away the review in a single phrase: This is the best Austen sequel or spin-off that I have ever read.

Normally I’m happy to let classic stories lie as the author intended and steer clear of sequels and spin-off, but I am occasionally curious about how other people imagine what might have occurred after the final pages of a novel. Helen Halstead captures all the original characters very well, creates necessary new ones in keeping with Austen’s own characters, echoes Austen’s writing style easily and fluidly (unlike some other sequels I have attempted to read, which seem to think that convoluted phrasing equals a Regency writing style), and perhaps most importantly doesn’t throw in a lot of sex or duels or out-of-wedlock characters bent on revenge. The plot is sympathetic in style and ideology to Austen’s original, and for that I heartily applaud her.

The premise of the novel is simple. Once married to a less-than-socially-acceptable woman, Darcy must then integrate her into his social set. Elizabeth melts some hearts with her wit, simple beauty, and intelligence; others reject her, and she in turn laughs and chooses to dismiss them instead of obsessing about it. Throughout this trial by fire, Darcy and Elizabeth reiterate their character traits as firmly established by Austen in Pride & Prejudice, which causes miscommunication and marital friction until the experience stimulates personal growth and new understanding. Halstead handles it all very capably without resorting to lurid or histrionic invention, remaining true to Austen’s originals. Reading her ‘what-next?’ is a pleasure, and one I am happy to recommend to other readers. I read it in a single sitting; I hope others enjoy it as much as I did.

Many thanks to Mini Book Expo and Karma Bennett at Ulysses Press, through whom I acquired the review copy of this book.

(Yes, Mum, you get to read it next.)

Publisher web site: http://www.ulyssespress.com/
Author web site: HelenHalstead.com

Cautiously Optimistic

Ah, sweet, sweet crackers. I have eaten half a box of Carr’s already and am feeling very chuffed. Next: The fresh bread that will be done in, oh, forty-five minutes. And the rest of yesterday’s soup.

The new cell phone is operational. The last customer service rep I spoke with was very supportive and sympathetic about the lost-then-stolen-phone plight, and we tsked together over ‘people today.’ Now I get to spend half an hour entering numbers from the address book. Oh, joy.

And there will be writing today, too, especially since I notified the central whatsit of the company for whom I’m currently doing freelance evaluations to tell them that it’s day five and I still don’t have the required material to complete the assignment given last Friday, so I’m telling them to take the assignment off my to-do list because even if they get it to me today I can’t hand it in by the deadline this Friday. As for what I will write today, I don’t know if it will be Orchestrated or some developmental work on the collection of essays I thought up the other day. (Upon a quick scan of the posts I’ve made over the past two weeks I see that I have not mentioned this project here at all. Consider this your notification, gentle readers: I thought up a themed collection of personal opinion essays the other day. There.) Or I could work on both, too. Nothing stopping me from working on one till I run out of steam, then turning to the other.