Searching for Pemberley

Written by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Review by Andrea Connell

Searching for Pemberley is a historical romance and mystery of a sort, set in the aftermath of World War II. While living in London, American Maggie Joyce “stumbles upon a rumor that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was based on the lives of a real couple.” Maggie meets the couple’s relatives and over time, through correspondence and long-forgotten diaries and letters that are shared with her, Maggie learns the history that is so similar to that in Jane Austen’s novel. At the same time, Maggie describes her life in England as the war-torn and battle-weary nation struggles to cope with the consequences. Her own Austen-like romances and struggles intertwine with her discoveries about the origin of the book, adding an element of complexity to the well-designed plot.

I wanted to adore this book, and I appreciate the fact that this was not just another Austen remake. However, I struggled to get past the monotonous lecturing tone of the writing. The amount of telling and explaining caused me to disengage from the plot and characters, as much as I wanted to be engaged and connected. I felt as though I was looking on from the outside, being kept at bay, rather than being drawn into the heart of the story.

I would still recommend Searching for Pemberley to ardent Austen fans who will hopefully be able to look past this complaint of mine and enjoy this well-thought-out story.