Any attempt at a Jane Austen sequel can be deemed very brave or very stupid, but as there are so many die-hard Austen fans amongst us, I am sure either way, they are very lucrative.
Whether you are a purist, a romantic at heart or just curious to find out what happened to the characters, Pemberley is a quick read and a fun discussion point for Austen fans. Take heed though, to avoid disappointment, don’t expect the genius of Austen’s classic.
Pemberley is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and was written by Emma Tennant in 1993, some 180 years after the original work.
Any attempt at a sequel written by someone other than the original author is always going to prove tricky but whether you are a purist, a romantic at heart or just curious to find out what happened to the characters, Pemberley is a quick read and a fun discussion point for Austen fans. Take heed though, to avoid disappointment, don’t expect the genius of Austen’s classic.
Pemberley is the name of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s mansion in Derbyshire where he resides with his new wife Elizabeth Bennet, one of the greatest ever heroines in English literature.
The story starts one year on from their marriage in the build up to Christmas, which will see a horde of guests descending on Pemberley, including the likes of Mrs Bennett, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Caroline Bingley, and Elizabeth’s sister Jane with her family.
Not only is there the tension of having all of the characters, many of them unlikeable, under one roof, but Elizabeth has also been unable to fall pregnant and thus produce an heir for the grand estate and is feeling somewhat estranged from her loving husband.
Darcy is also acting strangely and has cancelled the Christmas concert with the village children that Elizabeth has worked long and hard to produce. He also disappears for great lengths of time without mentioning to his wife what he is doing and where he is going.
When the ever-viperous Caroline Bingley hints at a mysterious “French woman” who everyone seems to know about except Elizabeth, and Darcy is seen about the village with a small boy who Elizabeth also doesn’t know, she comes to the conclusion that Darcy is not quite the man she thought she had married. From here things start to go a bit downhill.
Elizabeth then decides to become a governess and leave to visit her old home where her friend Charlotte resides with the preposterous Mr Collins. When she is informed that her sister Jane is ill following child birth she returns to Derbyshire and all is revealed.
Plot Problems in Pemberley
One of the main problems I had with this novel was that the timing was all wrong and there were some major errors. Bad editing or just free range with the plot?
For one, although Elizabeth and Darcy have only been married for one year, and that in turn means that Jane and Bingley have also only been married for one year, the Bingleys have a toddler and another child due soon. How does that add up?
Their younger sister Lydia, who was married not long before them, has four young children, none of them twins. That may be pushing the believability button just a bit.
Despite these and many other anomalies, I still enjoyed revisiting some of the characters that Austen created. Mrs Bennet is still annoying; Lady Catherine is still a snotty-nosed cow and Mr Collins is still spineless and ridiculous. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Bennett has lost some of her wit and sarcasm which we all adore.
Pemberley by Emma Tennant (Sceptre, 1993, ISBN: ISBN: 034060963X, 184 pages.)
My rating: ★★★★