I hope you are enjoying your summer! It is so hot at our house so we are spending a lot of time playing in the basement and eating otter pops. I’m starting to turn my sights on fall — my favorite season of the year!
Today I am excited to share a review of the Brides of Pemberley series by Nancy Kelley. This three book series takes readers in the world of Pride and Prejudice with a retelling of the novel from Mr. Darcy’s point of view and two new stories about Georgiana Darcy and Kitty Bennett.
I enjoyed these stories that felt like fan fiction. They aren’t the most in depth stories and there are grammatical mistakes in the copies I bought. But the chance to go back to the world of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy was a lot of fun. If you’re a Jane Austen fan, I think you’d enjoy these!
According to Goodreads,”Book 1: Though tired of Society’s manipulations, Darcy never thought to be enchanted by a country maiden. However, on a visit to rural Hertfordshire, Elizabeth Bennet captivates him. . . . Unfortunately, her connections put her decidedly beneath him, and the improprieties he observes in her family do not win his favor. . . . When chance throws them together, Darcy can no longer deny his love, but Elizabeth, put off by his manners, refuses him. To change her mind, he must set aside his proud ways and learn how to please a woman worthy of being pleased. It takes a serious incident for his true character to shine, and for Elizabeth to learn just how valuable is… His Good Opinion.
Book 2: Georgiana Darcy watches daily as her brother and his wife fall more deeply in love and dreams of similar love and a home of her own. However, after the disaster years ago with Wickham, she does not believe that any man will have her; thus, the idea of a Season in London holds no appeal for her. Richard Fitzwilliam was tasked with watching over Georgiana and seeing her married to a deserving gentleman. The problem is finding a gentleman he approves of. . . . When scandal breaks and all Georgiana’s worst fears seem to come true, will Richard realize in time how deep his affections run, or will they lose their chance at happiness?
Book 3: Quite comfortable in his role as the family black sheep, [Sebastian Montgomery] has made a life for himself as one of England’s most valuable agents against Napoleon. Now he will be expected to remain at home as the Earl of Lisle. . . . Kitty Bennet met Seb when he was just Mr. Montgomery [but now assumes] an earl is out of her reach. Sebastian however has no interest in a grand alliance. If he must marry, he will choose a wife with the capacity for intelligent conversation. Kitty’s gift for witty banter draws him to her; any affection he feels for her is simply an added bonus. But their potential happiness is threatened by someone they don’t even know: the man who killed Sebastian’s grandfather and uncle. . . . Can [Sebastian] solve a decades old family mystery in time to keep [Kitty] safe?”
My favorite parts of these books was getting inside the heads of other well known Pride and Prejudice characters. Seeing their potential for happiness and understanding how they see the world was intriguing and fun.
- Getting inside Darcy’s head is so fun and actually surprising as well. I enjoyed how Kelley built his affections for Elizabeth and how his pride really does get in the way of how he sees the world. The fact that he really thinks she will accept him the first time is very well developed. I loved how he misreads many things she says and the looks she gives him. But that second half is pure enjoyment. I loved how Darcy really seeks to change for the better. To connect with his tenant farmers and to actually listen to his friends. To apologize when needed and be truthful upfront. To get to know people rather than judging them by their station in life. Darcy’s transformation held many good lessons for us all.
- I enjoyed the dual perspectives (of course) in book 2 and the slow burning love story. Poor Georgiana was really affected by Wickham’s using her and that seems to drive her every move. I was sad for her that she didn’t feel like she could truly open up with others about that experience in particular. Richard was clearly in love with Georgiana from the first pages of the book. But they seemed destined to not be together for so long and had so many obstacles that just kept coming up. I would have liked an epilogue or something afterwards that gives us some closure on their story.
- I loved getting inside Kitty’s head. I think her character is one of my favorites in the series. It was neat seeing how she has changed and what she has learned from her past. And I love that she speaks her mind and is so interested in so many things like history, politics, and more. She is a very well rounded character that I would have liked even more of in the series. Sebastian Montgomery is a great hero. I love the twist on his fate and how he has to change to fit society but is still himself. His growing love for Kitty is quite lovely
I enjoyed seeing characters, scenes and lines from the original story intertwined quite well with the new stories Kelley creates.
- In the first book, it was fun to read so many lines from the original story. And I enjoyed reading the scenes I have loved retold from Darcy’s perspective. I found the start of the book to be very intriguing with Darcy discovering Wickham’s design on his sister Georgiana. That background was very helpful in shaping his character and actions throughout the book. I loved the added scenes that give us a fuller picture of Darcy. Certainly these are all fictitious themselves. But seeing those early interactions between Georgiana and Darcy after he saves her from Wickham’s deceptions were so endearing. And his private conversations with Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Gardners were also so enjoyable and helped create a fuller understanding of him. His search and discovery of Wickham and Lydia is very well done. From the details with Mrs Younge and the way he convinces Wickham to marry her were very true to Austen’s story I thought. I enjoyed seeing how much he was willing to do for Elizabeth.
- Fun to see favorite characters from the original story come into book 2 as well. I loved seeing Elizabeth and Darcy as a married couple and the fun story lines and clever asides between them. Also it was really fun to have Kitty as a more prominent character in the story without Lydia. I enjoyed her growing friendship with Georgiana. We even get a glimpse of the other members of the Bennet family at Pemberley for Christmas and their personalities were fun to see continue after the events of Pride and Prejudice.
- Book 3 continued the fun appearances of other characters from Pride and Prejudice like Elizabeth and Darcy, Mr and Mrs Bennett and the Gardiners. I loved seeing the growing closeness between Elizabeth and Kitty as well as how the Gardiners help Kitty in her courtship with Sebastian. My favorite interaction is between Seb and Mr Bennet when he asks permission to marry Kitty. It was nice to get Mr Bennet’s changed opinion about Kitty in that scene. My main qualm here is that I would have loved to see Elizabeth and Darcy’s baby!!
I did not find these books consistently engaging; at times I struggled to get invested in the story and at others I couldn’t read fast enough.
- The first half of book 1 was a bit slower for me. Perhaps just the action is a bit slow but Darcy’s first visit to Netherfield was not as engaging as later visits to Rosings and of course to Pemberley. And perhaps the best part of all was the ending. When Elizabeth finally accepts his proposals and they are both so deliciously happy. I loved their conversations and the elaborated ways they discuss how much they mean to each other. I love that he is so protective of Elizabeth and all he does to protect her from his family (the connections between Lady Catherine’s and Mrs Bennett’s manners were fun in this one as well!)
- It was clever to move the story in book 2 to London so it was easier to introduce new characters. I would have liked more development of many of the characters but as this was more of a novella, I guess it made sense. Crazy twist with Georgiana’s past brought back to the ton but I think it could have been more developed. It felt a bit disjointed to suddenly have someone who was supposed to be Fitzwilliam’s friend turn into the villain. It just felt sudden. A longer novel would have had time to develop that plot line better.
- Book 3 felt more like a novella than a novel. And I wish it had been more developed! It took a big for me to get invested in the story. Once I finally was invested, I really enjoyed the main plot about Seb’s family mystery. But it felt rushed at times. I would have liked more development and more courtship with Kitty. Also would have liked an epilogue with them married. I always enjoy those.
Overall, a fun series. This isn’t the most sophisticated Jane Austen inspired series that I’ve read. But it’s fun. Reads more like fan fiction and has some grammar mistakes. I would call it escapist literature. My favorite book was probably the first one. The characters are familiar and the added point of view gives a richer picture of them rather than a totally new and unconnected one. I appreciate that it was true to the original and I loved the ending. While the others were not as engaging for me, I still enjoyed them all. And very clean content which I appreciate. A fun take on what could have happened to the characters in Pride and Prejudice after the original story!
What are some of your favorite fan fiction or retellings of classics?
Any Jane fans other there? What are your favorite Jane inspired novels?