June 24, 2010

Review of "The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice" by Abigail Reynolds

Synopsis:  (Previously published as Pemberley by the Sea) 

Marine biologist Cassie Boulton likes her coffee with cream and her literature with happy endings. Her favorite book is Pride & Prejudice, but Cassie has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab.

Silent and aloof, Calder Westing III doesn't seem to offer anything but a famous family name. But there is more to Calder than meets the eye, and he can't get enough of Cassie Boulton. Especially after one passionate night by the sea. But Cassie keeps her distance. Behind the veneer of scientific accomplishment, wit, and warmth, she is determined to hide secrets from her past. That means avoiding men who want to get too close, especially tempting and dangerous ones like Calder.

Frustrated by Cassie's evasions, Calder tells her about his feelings the only way she'll let him: by rewriting her favorite book, with the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. But only Cassie can decide whether to risk her future by telling him the dangerous truth.

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice is the first book of The Woods Hole Quartet, a series of interlocking novels set in the seaside village of Woods Hole.  (from the author's website)

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice was my first book by author Abigail Reynolds and from one Pride & Prejudice lover to another, she did the classic justice. 

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice wasn't what I thought it was going to be and yet I still found it a romantic and engrossing read.  I thought the book would be a modern retelling of the beloved classic and while it wasn't exactly a perfect retelling, there were reminders, coincidences and unmistakable parallels to Darcy and Elizabeth that made this book a joy.  Indeed, I felt somewhat like an amateur Austen sleuth as I tried to pick up some of the  more subtle nuances to the book that would correspond to the trials of the original Darcy and Elizabeth, from heroine Cassie's first meeting with aloof (soon to be) hero Calder to their uncomfortable perceived dislike and finally, to the realization that both had been painfully wrong about the other. 

Heroine Cassie was a strong willed and intelligent character, who was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, thank you very much.  It was refreshing to see a lead female character who had a prestigous job but wasn't considered icy or who was married to her career to stave off bitterness against men.  And a marine biologist was genius - - I, for one, cannot recall the last time I read a book about any character who was a marine biologist.  Cassie did her part as well to keep up with Elizabeth Bennet's zinging wit, aiming more than a few well placed barbs at Calder. 

Knowing that Calder was the Mr. Darcy of this book, I absolutely loved him.  Yes, he's aloof and a bit rude in the beginning of the book and seems downright borderline antisocial and more than just a bit of a party pooper but I knew he would turn out to be the exact opposite at some point during the book, making it easy for me to root for him.   I liked that through the book's progression we find out more about his character and his family which, sadly, we were not given the luxury of with the original Mr. Darcy. 

The story moved quickly - - perhaps too quickly in places to my Pride & Prejudice addled mind, where I wanted to savor more of the conflict and chemistry - - but the plot flowed along in natural ebbs and tides.   There was also a subplot involving Calder's friend Scott and Cassie's friend Erin that mirrored Bingley and Jane nicely, as well as a character on Calder's side that would rival Lady Catherine for sheer audacity and meanness.

The only thing I didn't care for in the book personally was Cassie's continued habit of wantonly misreading Calder, and thereby assuming the worst, although it did fit into the overall Pride & Prejudice theme.  I had hoped that at certain points in the book Cassie would have realized that she could have trusted Calder, or at least asked him before making assumptions.  Truly, I wanted to jump through the pages of the book to shake Cassie and tell her "He's your Mr. Darcy!  Helllllooooo!"  

All in all, there was far more to like and to love about the book.  I immensely enjoyed the book within a book that the reader is treated to midway through.   I also liked the family connections Calder has, as well as his secret that shocks Cassie and begins changing her perception of him.   The descriptions of the marshes and various forms of marine biology were interesting and  informative without bogging down the story or sounding as though the reader is thumbing through notes from a college lecture.  Most of all, I loved the adult love story between Cassie and Calder and the warm, satisfying comparisons between their tale and that of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

While this was my first book by Abigail Reynolds, it certainly won't be my last.

I would recommend The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice to any Jane Austen/Pride & Prejudice enthusiast, as well as readers who enjoy a good romance (albeit one that does have some sexual situations, although they are not overly graphic).  The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice will leave you happy, satisfied and desiring a re-read of Jane Austen's brilliant classic.

The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice (formerly published as Pemberley by the Sea) is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

To learn more about author Abigail Reynolds and her "Pemberley Variations" series, please visit her website HERE.

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

This review is part of Book Rat's month-long event JANE IN JUNE


Tales of Whimsy said...

A fast moving P&P? Sounds awesome. I'm off to add this to my list.

Meredith said...

YAY! I'm so glad you liked this book, Lori! Your review is awesome! Abigail Reynolds is one of my favorite Jane Austen authors! I hope you enjoy her Regency novels just as much!

Margaret Metz said...

Great review - thanks. I'm a huge fan of all things Pride and Prejudice so I'll have to look this one up.