Pemberley, or Pride And Prejudice Continued

Written by Emma Tennant
Review by Jane Kessler

Recently there has been a proliferation of books featuring characters from Jane Austen’s novels. This particular offering is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice. Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for a year. The Christmas holidays are approaching, and Elizabeth finally decides to invite her newly widowed mother and unmarried sisters for a visit. Unhappily, due to bad weather, the Darcys end up spending the holiday with a full house, including their least favorite relatives: Elizabeth’s sister Lydia Wickham and her family, Darcy’s aunt, the unpleasant Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Charles Bingley’s sister.

The author’s attempt to imagine Darcy and Elizabeth’s life together doesn’t work. Some aspects, such as Elizabeth’s struggle to learn the management of the large household at Pemberley, ring true. But Darcy and Elizabeth don’t act consistently with their characters as previously portrayed by Austen. Elizabeth especially does not display the spirit and self-confidence that she had in Pride & Prejudice. Tennant reduces her to an overwhelmed worrywart full of self-doubt. Darcy is alternately portrayed as being head-over-heels in love with his wife and then treating her unkindly. Supposedly, it has been a blissful first year, and yet Elizabeth easily believes gossip about her new husband and never discusses it with him, getting all her information from neighbors and relatives. In addition, Tennant has taken liberties with Austen’s timeline that some readers may find objectionable. It is a year since the events of Pride and Prejudice, yet Lydia Wickham now has four children. True Pride & Prejudice fans will want something closer to Austen’s characters.