September 17, 2009
Review of Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris
By Carrie Bebris
Forge Books - 2004
Trade Paperback ISBN 0-765-31843-1
Mass market paperback ISBN 0-765-35071-8
Hardcover ISBN 0-765-30508-9
Book #1 in the Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery series
Synopsis: When Caroline Bingley marries a rich, charismatic American, her future should be secure. But strange incidents soon follow: nocturnal wanderings, spooked horses, carriage accidents, an apparent suicide attempt. Soon the whole Bingley family seems the target of a sinister plot, with only their friends the Darcys recognizing the danger. A jilted lover, an estranged business partner, a financially desperate in-law, an eccentric supernaturalist -- who is behind these events? Perhaps it is Caroline herself, who appears to be slowly sinking into madness. . . .
Pride and Prescience is the first novel in a series of romantic mysteries featuring Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as reluctant sleuths who become embroiled in intrigues surrounding their friends and family. The newlywed Darcys' courtship hasn't ended, and their adventures have just begun.
I found this book, entirely by accident, while searching thru either Amazon or Barnes & Noble for Pride and Prejudice fan fic. Those of you who know me are aware that I have a strange obsession (quite possibly a book disorder) with Pride and Prejudice and any fan fic. So I will willingly admit that I can be predisposed to like a Pride and Prejudice fan fic book merely because it continues the story of some amazing characters. (By the same token, I can hold these books to a higher standard due to their Austen connection and will expect more out of them than just coasting by on the Austen name).
Pride and Prescience is an amazingly satisfying read on several fronts. First and foremost, if you’re an Austen/Pride and Prejudice fan, you will be delighted not only at seeing your old friends Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy fresh off their wedding but at how honest and true Carrie Bebris is to Jane Austen herself. Unlike some pieces of Austen-themed fan fic (and I call them “themed” because they stray about as far off the Austen path as artistically possible) Elizabeth has retained the wit and sass that Ms. Austen graced her with and Darcy, while seemingly haughty and proud, is still the caring gentleman Ms. Austen made us fall in love with. (Although Colin Firth certainly helped out). Pride and Prescience is not a bodice ripper (no offense to bodice rippers) nor soft porn disguised as a “continuation”. It is the now Mr. and Mrs. Darcy returned for some good old fashioned intrigue!
To delight readers even further, Ms. Bebris has chosen to move the once secondary character of Caroline Bingley to the forefront. While in Pride and Prejudice Miss Bingley was a pretentious and well seasoned snob (and one with designs on Mr. Darcy), I did enjoy her presence in the book. Would I want her as a friend or relative? Absolutely not! But she added the same type of diversion to the book that I felt Mrs. Bennet’s comic relief did. And she continues her sense of diversions here, in Pride and Prescience, albeit ones of a very different nature.
And this leads me to the second point of why Pride and Prescience works. Elizabeth and Darcy work a mystery much like Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man fame. It comes naturally, as does their repartee and charm. You can’t help but like them and enjoy them gracing each page. There is the typical mystery of “whodunit”, as well as mystery of the supernatural and paranormal - - one which this reader found immensely satisfying. The dark overtones of the supernatural give Pride and Prescience a gothic flavor, which keeps very true to Jane Austen (think of Northanger Abbey) as well as the time period in which Ms. Austen wrote her books.
So, with all this praise is there anything in Pride and Prescience that doesn’t work? Honestly, no. Not really. The storyline is so fluid, the characters so enticing and portions of the dialogue so sharp, there is very little to find fault with. Perhaps the “real” Elizabeth Bennet Darcy would not so quickly accept the idea of supernatural forces as a possibility for the mystery but within the context of this story, and with Ms. Bebris’ smooth writing, it all comes together and works like a well-oiled machine.
Pride and Prescience succeeds, ultimately, because it’s a well-crafted tale, told in a sparkling voice with much-loved characters who some readers have been vested in since Pride and Prejudice. Ms. Bebris doesn’t try anything fancy and she doesn’t give the reader inexplicable situations or diminish the characters in any way. She also doesn’t commit what I consider the cardinal sin of rushing the story or solving the “whodunit” with a character brought in at the end or with very little “face time”.
If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, do not fear that you won’t delight in or understand Pride and Prescience. It is still a remarkable, fun read, for Austen fans or for mystery fans.
So wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket, get a mug of steaming tea or chocolate and settle in for a lovely read. Prepare, though, to want to continue your adventures with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy throughout the series.
Originally posted at Cozy Murder Mysteries.
Author Carrie Bebris' official site.