Sunday, February 04, 2007

Austen sequels

It is a truth universally acknowledged that my all time favorite author is Jane Austen and my best loved book is Pride and Prejudice. For many years, I have steadfastly avoided all the "sequels" to this masterpiece. Why mess up the little world I created in my own mind in relation to all these wonderful characters?

I have been trying in the past 20 months to seek comfort reading instead of comfort food. Thus, I have reread P & P about 6 times in those months (even a bit much for me). Last spring, I decided to venture one of the Austen imitators. I picked up the first book of Pamela Aiden's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series. The next two in the trilogy eventually came out in the following months. I liked the first one - it held true to the world Austen created and seemed to illuminate the story I held dear. The second one got just a touch weird - the author obviously had to try her own Northanger Abbey. Yet, it was still an enjoyable book. I must say I was getting tired of the lovey-doveyness that never seemed to end between Darcy and Georgiana. If he said, "Dearest" one more time to her, I thought I might gag. I found the final book about a month ago, and felt like Aiden had done well. The story was completed beautifully. I would recommend these to any Austen lover.

After all my years of suspicion ending so well, I picked up Elizabeth Aston's Mr. Darcy's Daughters. Now, my one big pet peeve is lack of consistency with characters (do you hear that people at Gilmore Girls?) Aston obviously has no problem with it. Otherwise, how could Darcy and Elizabeth end up being very neglectful, oblivious parents? How could Col. Fitzwilliam end up being a sex-obsessed, brutish boor? How else could vapid airhead Lydia get some observation skills and shrewdly make her way in society? And how on earth else could the very bright Caroline Bingley fill her life with junior high high-jinks?

Aston's book was one big soap opera. None of the daughters were likable. They were doomed to making very bad decisions after the apparent abandonment of their parents. One could only hope the book would end. Aston does create the world quite nicely and writes well. It was just a ridiculous, soapy story.
Aiden - B+, Aston - D+

I'm through with this experiment. Only the real thing (Austen herself) for me from now on.


restless said...

Hooray - you are back. I'm reading the History of Love. My book club chose it, based on your recommendation. Wonder if anyone else will finish it.

Katalina said...

Darcy's "Dearest" did not bother me nearly as much as all of the "Sweetlings." I am currently reading the third book which I am liking except I wish she had edited some of Darcy's pining and then brooding over Elizabeth. That part was a bit over the top for me.

Rio said...

I must have blocked it out of my brain - it was the "sweetling" that made me want to barf.