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
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. Iâ€™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 Halsteadâ€™s Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride: A Sequel to Jane Austenâ€™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 Iâ€™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 Austenâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 Austenâ€™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 â€˜what-next?â€™ 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.)