“I have divided them into stacks, the first being those we need not accept.”
“Is there such a thing?” Mr. Bennet asked over a lowered corner of his paper. “I had thought a lady must accept all invitations.”
“Indeed, sir!” Darcy smiled a little. “I am more interested in that pile than any other. I should make a study of how to extend an invitation into society in such a way as to have it not accepted, and then I shall give lessons to all of these others.”
Mr. Bennet smiled and nodded. “Very wise, Mr. Darcy.”
Elizabeth extended them an arch look. “Are you quite finished, the two of you?”
(from Longbourn to London, pages 18-19)
Longbourn to London is a different take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in that it’s not a re-imagining or a sequel. Instead, Linda Beutler aims to fill in the blanks left by Austen when it comes to the weeks of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s betrothal and the early days of their marriage.
Much of the novel focuses on Elizabeth’s worries about what awaits her on the wedding night, the difficulties she and Mr. Darcy encounter in controlling their desires before their wedding day, and their many amorous moments afterward. Yes, much of the book is about sex, and Beutler does not shy away from writing lengthy and quite descriptive sex scenes, so this is definitely a book for mature audiences only. Although there isn’t much of a plot, just a recounting of the events that occurred during this period, there are a few obstacles that crop up and are almost immediately resolved. I didn’t mind the sex scenes much, but given how many there were, they did start to get old after a while.
However, what I liked best about Longbourn to London were the humorous scenes, from the way Mr. Bennet and Mr. Darcy conspired to tease Elizabeth to Mrs. Bennet being put in her place about a certain wedding bonnet. Beutler lets readers see Caroline Bingley come undone, gives Louisa Hurst some personality, and enables Mrs. Gardiner to swoop in and save the day, or Elizabeth’s sanity at least. Even Mr. Collins made an appearance without trying my patience.
Longbourn to London is a sweet tale about two lovers — neither of whom expected to find such happiness, given Mr. Darcy’s disastrous first proposal and Elizabeth’s vehement rejection of it — navigating the nervousness and newness of getting married. Like most couples, they experience stress with the wedding planning, have to deal with tiresome relatives, and spend less time together than they’d like. Despite the abundance of detail when it comes to their most intimate moments, Beutler does a good job showing the joy Elizabeth and Darcy brought to one another and especially how Elizabeth softened Darcy’s rough edges. I admire Beutler for taking a chance with this Pride and Prejudice “expansion,” and I liked it more than I thought I would given its focus. If you’re looking for a happily-ever-after tale and detailed sex scenes don’t bother you, Longbourn to London provides some lighthearted entertainment for a lazy afternoon.
Disclosure: I received Longbourn to London from Meryton Press for review.
© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.