Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Book Review: The Darcys Give A Ball

Elizabeth Newark's novel The Darcys Give a Ball is subtitled "A gentle joke, Jane Austen style" and it is an amusing little continuation of Jane Austen's novels. While the title focuses on the Darcys (I love the Darcys), the book largely concerns the Collins and their interactions with the Darcys.

As the back of the book says,

Whatever will Mr. Darcy say . . . when his second son falls in love with Mr. Collins's daughter; his first-born, Juliet, is almost lured into an elopement; and Georgiana's timid daughter Lucy becomes the new target of Miss Caroline Bingley's meddling?
The book is divided into a prologue and 13 chapters of varying lengths, each beginning with an appropriate Jane Austen quote. The first three chapters are sort of visits, by the reader, to Hunsford Parsonage, Longbourn, and Pemeberley. At each place, the reader learns how the lives of the inhabitants have spent the last 25 or so years, their children, thier occupations, and their plans.

Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Bingley decide to hold a ball at Pemberley, now that their children have reached marrying age. They invite all sorts of characters from other Jane Austen novels (and some of their children) to attend: Brandons, Wentworths, Bertrams, Knightleys, Elliots, Churchills, and more. Miss Caroline Bingley is still trying to make matches. Various young people are meeting and falling in love (to the dismay or happiness of their parents). Much of the first half of the book is dedicated to preparing for and arriving at the ball. The second half of the book takes place at Pemberley and at the ball, where lots of things are happening. It was very interesting to see all the characters again, meet their children, and see which characters would pair up.

The Darcys Give a Ball is a pleasant book and a very quick read. It was enjoyable to "see" many of the familiar JA characters again and "meet" their children. As usual, any number of the children from different novels pair up by the end of the book. Most of the characters remain true to form. Elizabeth Darcy is a rather more snobbish than I would expect her to be, but mellows by the end of the novel. Mr. Darcy, however, is exactly as I would expect him to be after 20+ years of marriage to Elizabeth: a very wonderful man who, though very rich and high in the world, knows how to make everyone feel welcome.

I enjoyed reading The Darcys Give a Ball. Although it wasn't exactly as I would expect Pemberley and my favorite characters to be after years and years, I was happy to read it as "a gentle joke, Jane Austen style," and laugh at and with the characters. If you can't get enough JA adaptations, I recommend you pick up a copy of The Darcys Give a Ball by Elizabeth Newark. It is in stores now.

Book Information: The Darcys Give a Ball by Elizabeth Newark (Sourcebooks Landmark; ISBN: 1-4022-1131-7; $12.95; 176 pages; paperback)

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