Mr. Darcy has taken it into his head that his wife’s portrait must hang next to his in the gallery at Pemberley and wishes to visit the Summer Exhibition at the Academy with a view to selecting a painter. For my part, I told him, there are already more than enough Darcys hanging in the gallery, and in any case, why go to the trouble of taking a likeness of merely tolerable beauty? A face once taken was taken for generations, I pointed out. Mr. Darcy, who slowly becomes used to my teasing, replied that it is intolerable that my memory so perfectly recalls events it should have forgotten long ago.
(from Letters From Pemberley, page 34)
Letters From Pemberley is an epistolary continuation of Pride and Prejudice that is a pure comfort read. It contains the letters written by Elizabeth Darcy to her sister Jane Bingley during her first year as Mistress of Pemberley, from February to December 1813. I read the book in just a couple of hours, and it was a pleasant way to spend an evening.
The novel basically is a one-sided conversation, as only Elizabeth’s letters are featured, but Dawkins does a good job showing how Mr. Darcy has changed since their marriage and the stresses Jane must endure in living so close to their mother. Elizabeth’s fears about entering society as Darcy’s wife are detailed in the letters, and of course, readers see her become more and more comfortable in her role.
The best part about this little book is how Dawkins plays homage to Austen characters in other novels, as Darcy’s neighbors at Pemberley closely resemble such characters as Sir Walter Elliot, Anne Elliot, and Lady Russell from Persuasion, Emma and Mr. Knightley from Emma, and the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility. Readers come to know these characters as Elizabeth describes dinner parties for her sister in great detail, and I thought it was fun to pick out the references to Austen’s other novels and even her own life.
There’s not much else to say about Letters From Pemberley as there isn’t too much that happens plotwise. It’s just a fun Pride and Prejudice sequel that provides a couple of hours of light reading spent with some beloved characters. I enjoyed it so much that I was excited to see that Dawkins wrote a sequel, More Letters From Pemberley, and I quickly gobbled that one up, too. Stay tuned for that review!
Disclosure: I borrowed Letters From Pemberley from the public library.
© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.