Fiction — print. Sourcebooks Landmark, 2010. 503 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.
Although I do not normally review books I am unable to finish, this is one of those books were I feel like I have to say something. Subtitled “A Tale of Uncharted Love on the Open Seas” and billing itself as a retelling of Austen’s original, Louise’s novel places Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy on the ship Pemberley’s Promise as it sails to the New World.
Elizabeth is on her way to join her beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner while Darcy is off to fetch his sister Georgiana after she traveled to America in order to overcome Wickham’s treachery. Although the two had previously met, they did so without exchanging names and therefore did not immediately recognize each other when they meet again on Pemberley’s Promise.
One hundred pages in to Louise’s retelling Darcy proposes to Elizabeth a marriage of convenience. Elizabeth has given up her bed to a mother with sick children and, therefore, has taken to sleeping on the floor. What at first was a kind gesture meant to last a night or two becomes a major inconvenience after the mother also falls ill. Darcy, the secret owner of the ship, has a large compartment with an extra bed. Impropriety, however, prevents Elizabeth from utilize the empty bed without being married to Darcy so marriage he proposes.
At which point I set this book aside. I just could not suspend disbelief and believe that Darcy would propose marriage in order to provide Elizabeth with a bed. Just could not do it.
This is one of those books that, unfortunately, seems to be set on capitalizing on Austen’s current popularity. I’m not one to shy away from retellings, but this one is incompatible with the original on even the basic level of characters. Had the names been different, I would not have been trying to draw connections between the Darcy and Elizbeth of the original with this new Darcy and this new Elizabeth. In fact, I probably would have continued reading had the names been different. Louise sets the bar too high for her retelling by trying to in fact make it a retelling.
(Note: Louise’s novel was originally published as Pemberley’s Promise in 2007.)