Sunday, April 11, 2010

Remembrance of the Past*

*I stayed up like all night reading this book and am so tired that I didn't notice at first that I typed "Remembrance of the Spats". Seems kind of redundant, no? You would definitely remember If you saw someone wearing Spats.

What I have to say about this book will be brief as I am super tired and want nothing more than to be eating a cheeseburger in bed. Possibly a milkshake too.

I'd like to start by talking about the first half of this book. It's a "What If" P&P retelling, with a coda and some extras thrown in. Two months after his first disaster of a proposal, Darcy, Col. Fitzwilliam and Georgiana bump in to Lizzie and Mrs. Gardiner in Hyde Park. This would be about a month before Elizabeth and the Gardiners go on their tour of the Peak District. It's a clever scenairo, and is very well done. I was so in love with this story and the writing and was already wondering how I could have found two excellent fan-based P&P books back to back. I began to like it so much that I started thinking of it as "Alternate Universe Pride & Prejudice", which goes to show how much of a nerd I am, and that I probably watch too much Fringe, but whatever...Joshua Jackson is hot now so it's all good.

In the first chapter, we can already see that Mr. D has forgiven Lizzie and is trying to soften her opinion of him. Her reaction goes along swimmingly with the original book, though there is a bit of a monkey wrench in the form of a new character, Lady Cassandra. She's a close personal friend of both Mr. and Miss D and Elizabeth finds herself confused and even mortified when she realizes that she's jealous of Cassandra. I have to say, I'm usually not overly thrilled with new characters, but I did rather like this one. She's sort of a younger, hotter, funnier Lady Catherine. There is also a new character by way of a villain, and it's not Wickham! (Though that guy is pretty much the same) We also get glimpses into the narratives of some of the characters that are always on the sidelines in P&P. There is a good deal of time spent of Colonel Fitzwilliam (who I am now officially labeling a Dreamboat), and some of the story we get through the eyes of Bingley, Caroline, Mr. Bennett and even Jane! I also have to note that this is the least annoying version of Georgiana I've read since the original. A lot of these books make her overly sweet or crying every 2 seconds (though she does cry more than once in this book I let it go because she's SIXTEEN).

After a fortnight of bumping in to each other at the theater and making calls between Grosvenor and Gracechurch Streets, Darcy invites the Gardiners (but mostly Elizabeth) to visit Pemberly during their stay in Derbyshire. Some serious wooing takes place at Pemberly, and Elizabeth and Darcy find themselves in one awkward situation after another. And by Awkward, I mean "hot". A lot of small bits and pieces get moved around but the story flows so well I honestly never minded. We go through the whole Wickham/Lydia debacle, but this time Lady Cassandra and Col. Fitzwillaim lend a hand as well, the former scaring the crap out of Wickham and making me laugh with delight. After the return to Longbourn and a very awkward conversation with Mr. Bennett (who is far more observant that Darcy ever gave him credit for) everything seems peachy for (almost) everyone involved.

And Then...

When I read these books, and the second proposal and/or wedding happens only in the middle, I've learned to be seriously skeptical at what else the author has to offer. No one of course can match Austen's wit or style, and a lot of the books seem to suffer from the lack of source material. I won't say that's what happened in the second half of this book, it was still a compelling read and a good story, it just became a completely different story. It became a total Romance Novel.

For one, it had "the Sex", and that wasn't too badly done. In fact the first instance of "the sex" in this book was actually pretty steamy , and it wasn't Lizzie & Darcy, though there was plenty enough of that later. My philosophy when it comes to Sex with these P&P books is "less is more", and this book just suddenly became a bodice-ripper, albeit a very entertaining one. I really think the author should have split this in to two volumes, or two completely separate books. There was more villain action, another love story besides the Darcys, and some frustrating moments where I was ready for the pace of the story to pick up a bit. The very last chapter was very sweet and rewarding and should have capped off the first half of the book and left out the rest (or consigned the rest to a separate book). If it had, it would have gotten 9 & 1/2 or even 10 out of 10 stars, but as it is it sits at a strong 8.

One more thing, and this is just a peeve I have....whenever the subject of Sex would come up between ANY of the characters, they all referred to it as " know." At first it was cute. But after a while I was just wishing she had slipped in a mention of "dirty monkey sex", just to liven things up a bit.

Remembrance of the Past by Lory Lillian.

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