Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Christmas At Pemberley

I won a copy of Christmas At Pemberley at the author's blog a year ago during a Jane Austen Birthday giveaway. I'm not a huge fan of Jane Austen Sequels and this was interesting but I almost stopped reading several times during the first few chapters, but the urge to know what would happen to these Pride and Prejudice characters kept me going.

by Regina Jeffers

Plot: Darcy has invited the Bennets and the Bingleys to spend the Christmastide's festive days at Pemberley. But as he and Elizabeth journey to their estate to join the gathered families, a blizzard blankets the English countryside. The Darcys find themselves stranded at a small inn while Pemberley is inundated with refugees seeking shelter from the story.
  With her brother's strong presence, Georgiana Darcy tries desperately to manage the chaos surrounding the arrival of six invited guests and eleven unscheduled visitors. But bitter feuds, old jealousies and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface  Has Lady Catherine returned to Pemberley for forgiveness or revenge? Will the manipulative Caroline Bingley find a soul mate? Shall Kitty Bennet and Georgiana know happiness?
  Written in Regency style and including Austen's romantic entanglements and sardonic humor, Christmas At Pemberley places Jane Austen's most beloved characters in an exciting yuletide story that speaks to the love, the family spirit and the generosity that remain as the heart of Christmas. - from back cover

Author Regina Jeffers
Author's Website & Blog:

Author: A teacher for nearly 40 years in the public school systems of three different states, Regina Jeffers is a Time Warner Star Teacher Award winner, a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, a Columbus Educator Award winner, and a guest panelist for the Smithsonian. She served on various national educational committees and is often sought as a media literacy consultant. Like many "snow birds," Jeffers moved to the South several years ago. She is late to the publishing business, having written her first book on a dare from her students, who, literally said, "If you know all this, why do you not do it yourself?" On a whim, she self published her first book, and from there, everything happened at once. Now, writing for Ulysses Press in California, Jeffers is the author of several Jane Austen adaptations including Darcy's Passions, Darcy's Temptation, Vampire Darcy's Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley, and Captain Wentworth's Persuasion. She considers herself a Janeite - a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and spends lots of her free time involved in such. Jeffers has now branched out into the Historical Romance genre. Her first book in the Realm series, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, will be released in early 2011. - from Amazon bio

Historical Accuracy: The story adheres well to Regency manner and customs. A true Regency Christmas is described with the possible exception of the mistletoe that may or may not have been a part of Regency Christmas tradition. Some historical events such as a British/American war is mentioned, and the stories of a few historical characters are explained a bit. Ms. Jeffers includes a historical note at the end of the book about Regency Christmas traditions and the historical events she mentions in the book. I think even the bad winter weather mentioned in the book is historically accurate.

True To Austen? In many ways it is true to Jane Austen's original characters. One neat thing is the quotes from Pride and Prejudice that are blended well in the story. Dialog is actually quite up to snuff and most of the time is close to what Jane Austen herself might have written - only maybe not quite as witty. Unlike some badly written sequels the personalities of the characters are fairly well preserved, although after a while I found Georgiana, Kitty and Anne De Bourgh sounding a bit too much like Elizabeth, especially Georgiana gets a bit too much of Lizzy's pertness. Elizabeth Bennet I found quite true to the book, Mr. Darcy a bit less so but I suppose more like Mr. Darcy at the end of P&P sounds. Kitty and Mary Bennet's stories sound very plausible and something like Jane Austen would have written but Georgiana and Anne De Bourgh's stories are a little oddly worked through while Caroline Bingley's is just quite silly (although hilarious that that should happen to her!) There's a bit more about romance, kissing and a birth described that would not at all have been talked about by Jane Austen.

My Thoughts: I was not really partial to Elizabeth and Darcy's part of the story; it was sweet in it's way but sometimes got a bit tedious. The Darcy's spend most of their part of the story either discussing how wrong they were to be proud and prejudiced towards each other back when they first met - this is something I don't think they would have done all that much since in the second proposal in P&P Mr. Darcy even said: "But think no more of the letter. The feelings of the person who wrote and the person who received it are now so widely different from what they were then, that every unpleasant circumstance attending it, ought to be forgotten. You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure." (P&P, Chapter 58). The other half of their time is taken up with slightly pornographic thoughts or descriptions. I mean, I know they are married and because they truly loved each other Darcy and Lizzy would probably enjoy their married life completely, but does that really have to be mentioned in the book at all, let alone so frequently? No, this is not a true "bodice ripper" but neither is it a book for very young ladies. The most interesting bits of the book for me were when the story jumped to Pemberley and the stories of the family and friends that were gathered there. Four romances emerge which are great fun to see unfold, and it's neat to hear updates on the Bingleys, Colonel Fitzwilliam, the Collinses and the Bennets. Among the "courting couples" at Pemberley I do think there was a bit too much kissing under the mistletoe, some of which almost leads to impropriety and mentioning that a young lady has been "compromised". Also sometimes situations or thoughts are over-explained which can get a bit tedious. There is a bit of a mystery which is quite interesting, even though when it's solved the explanation doesn't quite make sense. I think my favorite bit was Kitty Bennet's story because it's quite sweet and she has a chance to show how kindhearted she really is. I was a bit disappointed in Georgiana Darcy's part of the story, it was cute but lacked some of the sweetness and tenderness it should have had. Overall it was an interesting continuation to Pride and Prejudice but I probably won't read it again - at least any time soon.

My Recommendations: Because this novel features some "bedroom" scenes/thoughts between Darcy and Elizabeth as well as a description of birth I would only recommend it for older teens to adults. It doesn't get as graphic as a "bodice ripper" romance novel might, but there were some things that I skipped over, rolled my eyes and said "oh, brother" at. Christmas At Pemberley is fairly true to Jane Austen which makes it a fun read but I wouldn't rate is as high as Letters From Pemberley which I love.

Have you read any of Regina Jeffers' books?

Would you like to spend Christmas at Pemberley?

Georgiana Darcy, Kitty Bennet, Anne De Bourgh or Caroline Bingley - which lady do you think Colonel Fitzwilliam would be most likely to marry?

1 comment:

BatZion said...

I hadn't heard of this book untill reading this review... I think I would read it, but only from the library (that way if it is really bad I could take it back without worrying about the money I spent on it :P)...

Of the four mentioned ladies, I think that Georgiana would be best for Colonel Fitzwilliam, both of them are kind-hearted... In my opinion, any of the other three ladies would be ridiculous.

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