If you appreciate alliterative allusions, find no punishment in puns, relish recalcitrant repartee and you can handle Mr. and Mrs. Bennet flirting with each other...then you will enjoy this Pride and Prejudice re-imagining: Mr. Darcy Takes the Plunge. And if all of those are not your cup of tea...then skim through them because the plot is pretty good too.
Blurb from the back of the book:
A pun filled tale featuring Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice characters with some added or addled, missing or missish, modified or mortified, healthier, wealthier, or wiser.
Impeccable comportment is mandatory in Regency England, a society governed by strict rules of conduct. Perfectionist Fitzwilliam Darcy, heir to an august ancestral estate, is the epitome of an unimpeachable gentleman, at least until...
Our hero's immaculate image is somewhat tarnished when he and his traveling companions arrive, hot and sweaty, at Pemberley and decide to take a fateful plunge into a scummy pond. An embarrassing encounter on the estate's lawn leaves a long-lasting impression on Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, who are new acquaintances of Georgiana and Anna Darcy....This romantic comedy is a lighthearted adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, featuring a softer, sweeter and sillier side of Austen's beloved characters.
(This is one of the best "back of the book blurbs" I have ever read because it really does set the appropriate expectation. And really, knowing what to expect with Pride and Prejudice spin offs is the whole reason I write these reviews. That and my poor memory.....)
Rehash vs. Revisit: A
Nit Picky Little Things: B
Wonderful Little Moments: A
The Moment I was Hooked: A
Language: One of the reviews on the front of the book reads, "I laughed, I snorted, smiled and groaned..." And that is a good way to describe reading this book.
It did make me smile to think that the same Jane Austen who stood before her family and recited funny stories, would have enjoyed the clever word games that Mrs. Croft employed. And I also considered that word games were entertainment during that time period. (I am thinking of Scrooge's nephew and his friends in A Christmas Carol. "Tight as...your uncle Scrooge's purse strings, a drum!" A Christmas Carol was published about 30 years after Pride and Prejudice.)
The word play is a bit like watching spinning plates. At first, you are interested because, hey, they are spinning plates. Then it goes on and you are less interested. Then, a minute more, and your mind starts to drift. Suddenly, you are pulled back because, look at that....those plates are still spinning! That is what the paragraphs with the plays on words were like for me. Interesting, my mind drifted and then....seriously, wow! She is on her 8th pun using the word bird!
Characterization: In a re-imagining, one has to suspend her disbelief of what she knows about Pride and Prejudice as fact. Just as one can watch Bridget Jone's Diary and see certain character traits and themes that stand out as being particularly Jane Austenie, there is much there that is not. The same is true for this book.
I think it is easy to dismiss some of the changes in characterization as simply fun interpretations. But what if Mr. and Mrs. Bennet did have a loving relationship? What if they didn't need to worry about the entailment of Longbourn? Would that have possibly contributed to their prosperity and raised their daughters to a higher level of society? I found myself thinking about these things long after I finished reading the book.
I believe that Mrs. Croft has written one of my favorite versions of Bingley.
Plot: I consider this a "re-imagining" I have several categories for Pride and Prejudice spin off books.
(All links are to amazon.com. All books in italics are books that I have reviewed. Reviews can be found in the archives here.)
So many details of the plot and characterization details are changed in this book, it falls into the re-imagining category for me. There are additional family members, improved social standings and some people, quite simply, are not dead.
The good news is that there is a delightful plot in addition to the word play. It is fun and entertaining. The bad news, for me, is that the word play does slow down the plot in places. But then again, I am a carnivorous reader. I blaze through a book, devouring the plot. Upon rereading this book for the 2nd and 3rd times, I appreciated the language much more. (This is why I always read a book 2 times before reviewing it. Ok, except for the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I. Just. Couldn't.)
There is also a bit of a nod to the 1995 BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice movie version in the significance of the pond. And really, who doesn't enjoy a little bit more of the pond?
Is the plot what I really think happens for Darcy and Elizabeth? No. Was it clever and entertaining? Absolutely.
Rehash vs. Revisit: No rehashing.
Nit Picky Little Things: I did not care for the cover art on the book cover.
Wonderful Little Moments: Darcy and Elizabeth's conversation about what makes a story romantic, Darcy's jealousy, Robert, the waltz, the discussion about the author of Sense and Sensibility. One of my favorite word plays came from Mrs. Croft working no less than 8 Colin Firth movie titles into a few pages.
Originality: Croft's language and plot are one of a kind.
The Moment I was Hooked: On page 3, there is a line that reads, "...please allow me to introduce you to Miss Georgianna Darcy and her younger sister, Miss Anna." I was like, what? A younger sister? (She is just one of the many surprises.) At that point, my curiosity was really peaked and I wanted to read more.
If this book were a movie, it would be rated PG 13 for language (a little bit of cussing) and for the bawdiness of some of the puns. They become a bit more scandalous as the book proceeds. (Missionary, pickle, plow)